Archive for category SCSL
UN reports on chemical weapons in Syria: On Tuesday, 4 June 2013, the UN released a report finding “reasonable grounds” to believe chemical weapons were used in four attacks in Syria this March and April. The UN was unable to establish which side used the chemical agents and neither the Syrian government nor the rebels have claimed responsibility. The UN conducted 400 interviews of refugees and examined various online videos for the report, but suspect the organization could have discovered more if not prevented from collecting samples at the attack sites by the Syrian government. In related news, France provided the UN with samples taken from Syria that tested positive for sarin gas. Additionally, the siege that began two weeks ago on Qusair, Syria, has left hundreds of civilians trapped and wounded.
Mixed reactions to ICC Gbagbo ruling: The ICC’s ruling Monday giving the prosecution more time to conduct a proper investigation into acts committed after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat of the November 2010 election was received with mixed reactions in the Ivory Coast. Some hailed the decision as a victory and demanded the former President’s immediate release. These individuals feared President Gbagbo’s continued detainment would hamper reconciliation between the President’s supporters and opponents. Others who witnessed the violence were discouraged by the Court’s finding that evidence to support charges against the former President for crimes against humanity was “apparently insufficient.”
Bemba defense witnesses to testify by video: The Jean-Pierre Bemba trial at the ICC was scheduled to resume today, 5 June 2013. Bemba’s defense is expected to call six witnesses this month. Five witnesses are to testify by video link and one has recently been given authorization from his home government to travel to the Court in The Hague. A defense witness has been dropped from the revised list due to serious security concerns. Bemba faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the CAR from 2002–03.
SCSL elects new President of Special Court: The SCSL elected Justice George Gelaga King of Sierra Leone President of the Sierra Leone Special Court on 4 June 2013. Justice King has been at the Court since it began in 2002 and will remain as President until completion of the Court’s mandate. Justice King was formerly President of the Sierra Leone Court of Appeal and Court of Appeal of Gambia. He also served as Ambassador to a number of countries as well as the UN. Justice King follows Justice Shireen Avis Fisher of the US.
Court/Tribunal: Special Court for Sierra Leone
Decision Title: Judgment in Contempt Proceedings
Chamber: The Appeals Chamber
Case Name: The Independent Counsel v. Hassan Papa Bangura, Samuel Kargbo, Santigie Borbor Kanu, Brima Bazzy Kamara
Date: 21 March 2013
Decision Background: The decision comes from an appeal by the defendants to the Trial and Sentencing judgments from September 2012 and October 2012, respectively. The defendants were charged with knowingly and willfully interfering with the Court’s administration of justice by attempting to bribe a witness to the Court. The were also charged with knowingly and willfully interfering with the Court’s administration of justice by otherwise interfering with a testifying witness. Kamara was specifically indicted for knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by disclosing information relating to the proceedings, in violation of a court order.
Kargbo plead guilty to the charges, pursuant to an agreement whereby he would become a witness at the trial. The judge stayed his sentencing until a determination regarding the other three defendants was reached. The other three defendants plead not guilty. The Trial Court found Bangura and Kanu guilty of the bribery charged, but acquitted Kamara as to that charge. The three accused were all otherwise found guilty on all of the other charges pending against them. Bangura received a 12-month sentence (taking into account time served on remand and rights abuses he experienced). Kargbo was sentenced to an 18-month suspended sentence due to his guilty plea and subsequent cooperation with the Court. Kanu and Kamara were both sentenced to 1 year 50 weeks for each count upon which they were convicted, to be served consecutively after already-existing sentences.
Kargbo filed an appeal, but did not actually appeal his sentence or conviction. Rather, he submitted that the Trial Court erred during his trial in three ways: failing to provide a reasoned opinion on an issue of fact and law appropriated raised during trial, failing to accord due weight to the threats against himself and his family as a result of his cooperation with the Court against the co-defendants, and failing to provide Kargbo appropriate protective orders.
Kamara filed notice of appeal in October 2013. The filing did not clearly set out the grounds for appeal, but appealed the conviction and sentence as being inordinately high due to the fact that it would run consecutively to other existing sentences.
Kanu also filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence, citing 27 grounds for appeal, which the Court noted failed to comply with the relevant Practice Direction guidelines, in form and content.
Although he asked for—and was given – an extension within which to file a proper Notice of Appeal, Bangura failed to do so.
The Independent Counsel filed responses to the defendants’ notices and grounds for appeal.
Decision Review: The Court noted that the Appeals Chamber reviews appeals from contempt convictions in the same manner that it reviews appeals from regular judgments, and that the applicable standards of review of judgments apply equally to contempt convictions. Because Kanu’s appeal focused on issues of fact, the Court re-iterated the standard for review of errors of fact, namely that it gives deference to the fact-finding of the Trial Chamber, and will not lightly overturn its findings. The Appeals Chamber will only reverse the fact-finding of the Trial Chamber and conduct its own analysis if the evidence relied upon by that Chamber could not have been accepted by any reasonable tribunal, or where the evaluation of the evidence was “wholly erroneous.” The Appellant claiming factual error must clearly articulate how the error of fact “occasioned a miscarriage of justice” – aka, how the error was critical to the verdict reached.
The Appeals Chamber also noted that it holds the discretion to determine whether any submissions by parties lack merit, and reserve the right to find that a party’s submission may not warrant a reasoned opinion from the Court in response. The Appeals Chamber noted that if submissions by any party are obscure, vague or otherwise insufficient, the Chamber may summarily dismiss those submissions. Generally, the Appeals Chamber will dismiss submissions where the grounds for appeal or other factual allegations in the submission are insufficiently developed. Mere allegations that the Trial Chamber failed to consider relevant evidence, or erred in its evidentiary evaluations, without providing information, evidence or argument in the pleading to show why this is the case, may be summarily dismissed by the Appeals Chamber.
In regards to the Kargbo’s appeal, the Appeals Chamber first noted that the Independent Counsel’s response to his appeal was not made within the applicable time window for filing a response. As such, the Appeals Chamber did not consider the Independent Counsel’s response. Going to the substance of the appeal, the Chamber noted that Kargbo was not appealing his sentence or his conviction, and was only addressing concerns regarding a protective order. Since he was not appealing his conviction or his sentence, the Chamber found that his submission was outside its competence to pass judgment, and dismissed the appeal.
In regards to the Kamara appeal, the Chamber noted that the defendant’s submission entirely failed to comply with requirements that the appeal clearly contain the grounds for appeal, and clearly indicate which filings contain the grounds for appeal, and which contain submissions by the party based on those grounds. The Appeals Chamber noted that this constituted a “fundamental flaw” with the defendant’s filings. As such, the Chamber found that it would be impossible for it to determine what information constituted grounds for appeal and which constituted submissions based on those grounds; for those reasons, the Appeals Chamber dismissed Kamara’s appeal in its entirety.
In regards to the Kanu appeal, the Chamber found that the defendant filed 27 grounds for appeal regarding his conviction, and 3 grounds regarding his sentence. He asked the Appeals Chamber to reverse the findings of guilt and convictions, and to vacate the Judgment in favor of a Judgment of Acquittal. The Chamber found, however, that the grounds submitted by the defendant in his appeal were obscure, contradictory, or vague. Noting that for this reason alone the appeal could be summarily dismissed, the Chamber proceeded to examine the defendant’s grounds for appeal.
In regards to the appeal of his conviction, the Appeals Chamber examined each ground, and found that each of the 27 grounds had fundamental flaws that necessitated their dismissal. Common issues that were present in many of the grounds were as follows: advancing the wrong type of claim, absence of submissions to support alleged grounds for appeal, failure to cite supporting law or principle, and confusing matters of substance and procedure. Additionally, throughout Kanu’s grounds for appeal, there was an overall lack of development of his arguments; namely, he continually failed to provide backup evidence or information to support his contentions, failed to provide adequate reasoning or support for his arguments, and generally failed to show or allege how certain allegations of error created the requisite “miscarriage of justice” needed to sustain an appeal.
In relation to Kanu’s sentencing appeal, the Chamber noted that in addition to arguing undue length of sentence considering his other sentences, Kanu also argued that the sentencing Trial Judge failed to take into account “mitigating actions” undertaken by Kanu, and that there was a significant disparity between the sentence he received and that given to co-defendant Bangura. The Appeals Chamber found that Kanu failed to even mention or address the mitigating factors that the Trial Court failed to consider, and summarily dismissed that element of the appeal. It further rejected the rest of Kanu’s grounds for appeal, noting that it took the time to examine the grounds for Kanu’s appeal – even though it could have summarily dismissed them due to the plethora of defects— in order that future counsel be reminded of the proper standards for submitting an appeal.
To access the full Decision, click here.
Abdullah Senussi charges will be released in one week: On 25 January 2013, the prosecutor general’s office in Libya confirmed that charges will be brought against Senussi in one week. Over 2,000 pages of evidence have been compiled against the ex-spy chief since being extradited by Mauritania back to Libya. Senussi will likely be charged for being allegedly involved in the commission of various crimes against humanity. He is expected to appear in court within the next two weeks. Libyan officials are hopeful that a successful legal proceeding will advance a government struggling to attract investment and control former rebels who have refused to put down their arms.
Prince Taylor found guilty of contempt: On 25 January 2013, the former defence investigator for Charles Taylor, Prince Taylor, was found guilty on all five counts of contempt. Taylor was found guilty on four counts of trying to persuade former witnesses to recant their testimony through Senessie, a member of the RUF. He was also found guilty of instructing Senessie to provide false information to the independent counsel appointed by the registrar. Taylor is due to be sentence by the Special Court at a later date.
Charles Taylor appeals end: On 23 January 2013, prosecutors and defence lawyers finished their oral arguments before the SCSL Appeals Chamber. Taylor’s defence filed 42 grounds of appeal, calling the Trial Chamber’s decision a “miscarriage of justice”, and asking the Appeals Chamber judges to reverse the conviction and quash the sentence. Arguments focused on points of appeal stemming from Taylor’s conviction on 26 April 2012, and his sentence of 50 years handed down on 30 May 2012. SCSL judges will now deliberate and are expected to hand down a decision by the end of the year, according to a statement from the Court.
UN human rights experts call for halt of executions of five activists: On 28 January 2013, independent human rights experts appointed by the UNCHR have called for the Iranian government to halt the execution of five activists. The five activists are all founding members of Al-Hiwar, a scientific and cultural institute, and were arrested in their homes in Ahwaz in 2011. UN experts are concerned these individuals have been imprisoned and condemned to death for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, opinion and expression, and affiliation to minority groups and to cultural institutions.
Prosecutors seek longer sentence for Charles Taylor: On 22 January 2013, Prosecutors for the Special Court of Sierra Leone made submissions during an oral appeals hearing. The Prosecution stated that they will seek a stiffer sentence for Charles Taylor, who was sentenced by the SCSL to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Sierra Leone Civil War. The Prosecution’s grounds for appeal seek to see charges for the direct commission of war crimes also added to Taylor’s convictions and hope to raise his prison sentence to 80 years. On the other hand, Taylor’s defense lawyers are appealing the initial conviction, arguing that providing resources to rebels does not constitute aiding and abetting because Taylor did not know that they would be used for criminal acts. Taylor is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremburg Trials. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Malian troops accused of summary executions of suspected Islamic radicals: On 10 January 2013, at least three alleged Islamic radicals were summarily executed by Malian troops in Sevare, Mali according to an anonymous witness. The military blocked journalists from entering Sevare, the location of the alleged killings. Malian Army Captain Modibo Traore stated that the allegations are false. Many human rights organizations have expressed that there would be human rights abuses against persons suspected to have connections with radical Islamists. FIDH has called for the creation of an independent commission to investigate a reported 33 killings by Malian forces since 10 January. Human rights abuses by Malian troops may complicate the current ICC investigations focused on Northern Mali.
Caprivi Treason Trial accused dies after 13 in trial detention: On 20 December 2012, Branson Kwala, who had spent the last 13 years in Namibian prison on accusations of treason, died from unknown causes related to a burst intestine. Kwala had been incarcerated since August 1999, he was arrested for treason with 119 other persons for discussing the possible secession of the Caprivi Region from Namibia at a meeting. Kwala and his co-accused began trial in March 2004, but no sentences have been handed down. Kwala is the 22nd person in the treason trial to have died in prison.
On 23 January 2012, the Kenyan United Republic Party placed two ICC witnesses, Jackson Kosgei and Kiprono Chepkwony, on their ballot for the March 2013 election. The witnesses are running for Baring senator and Kericho governor, respectively. The two are both defense witnesses for current Eldoret North MP William Ruto, who is accused of crimes against humanity by the ICC for his involvement in the 2007-2008 post election violence in Kenya. Ruto and his running mate current Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who are running for Vice President and President respectively, may both stand trial at the Hague even if they are elected.
Hagel board member of NGO who advocates for United States to join the ICC: On 22 January 2013, it was revealed that United States Secretary of Defense nominee, Chuck Hagel, is on the board of The Ploughshares Fund, an organization that invests in advocates promoting global peace and security. One organization that Ploughshare supports, Connect U.S. Fund, promotes the United States becoming a state party to the ICC. Proponents of the United States becoming a state party to the ICC argue that more U.S. global engagement will promote greater national security and international peace, while critics worry that the international community may target United States citizens and soldiers. Hagel’s position on the board of Ploughshare may hamper his Secretary of Defense confirmation as many United States Republicans are opposed to United States cooperation with the ICC.
Abdul Kalam Azad sentenced to death for crimes against humanity: On 21 January 2013, Abdul Kalam Azad, who was tried in absentia before the ICT of Bangladesh, was sentenced to death for committing crimes against humanity. Azad is a former senior member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and campaigned in 1971 against Bangladesh’s war of separation from Pakistan. Judge Obaidul Hassan pronounced Azad guilty of crimes including murder, abduction and looting during the war. A number of human rights groups have expressed concern about the flaws in the process and the tribunal proceedings. Azad is believed to be currently residing in Pakistan.
SCSL will hear Charles Taylor appeal: On 22 January 2013, prosecutors and defence lawyers will begin oral arguments before the SCSL Appeals Chamber. Arguments will focus on points of appeal stemming from Taylor’s conviction on 26 April 2012, and his sentence of 50 years handed down on 30 May 2012. Prosecutors are likely to argue for a heightened sentence of 80 years due to Taylor’s alleged orders to the RUF and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). Taylor’s defence has filed 42 grounds of appeal, calling the Trial Chamber’s decision a “miscarriage of justice”, and asking the Appeals Chamber judges to reverse the conviction and quash the sentence. Taylor’s April 2012 conviction by the SCSL Trial Chamber found him guilty of aiding and abetting groups involved in mutilations, the use of drugged child soldiers and sex slaves during Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war.
UNCHR likely to vote for an inquiry into N. Korean human rights abuses: On 14 January 2013, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for a “full-fledged international inquiry into serious crimes” in North Korea. It is reported that the UNHRC is likely to vote for a commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea when the issue comes before the February-March session of the Council. North Korea is suspected of forced labor, restricting access to food, rape and forced abductions of foreign nationals. North Korea remains non-cooperative with all UN human rights mechanisms.
Posted by iclmediareview in Admissibility / Primacy, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gaddafi, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Responsibility to Protect, Rome Statute, SCSL, Syria, UN Security Council, War Crimes, Witnesses on January 15, 2013
Lawyer for Libyan ex-spy chief seeks trial at Hague: Lawyers representing the former spy chief for Muammar Gaddafi, Abdullah Al-Senussi, have petitioned the ICC, the UN Security Council and the UK Foreign Office in order to seek Libya’s compliance with the ICC’s order to transfer Al-Senussi to the Hague; stating that if Al-Senussi is left in Libya he will receive an unfair trial and be subsequently executed. These moves came in response to an announcement on 1 January 2013 by the Libyan Prosecutor General’s office that Libya would commence a national trial against Al-Senussi and co-accused Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi (also indicted before the ICC), and that Libya is not obligated to comply with any ICC order, as it is not a member of the Rome Statute. The lawyers alleged that Libyan authorities have ignored their obligation to co-operate with UN Security Council Resolution 1970 which ordered the Libyan authorities to cooperate with all ICC orders and requests. Al-Senussi’s lawyers have also called to question the extradition of Al-Senussi from Mauritania to Libya, stating that the $200 million payment to Mauritania made it an illegal rendition. Questions have also been raised about any involvement of the UK in questioning Al-Senussi while he was detained in Mauritania. Al-Senussi is wanted by the ICC to stand trial on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
ICC seeks information from Libya on Gaddafi related trials: On Thursday 10 January 2013, the Pre-Trial Chamber assigned to the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi issued an order for Libya to answer to widespread media reports of Libya’s announcement to commence with the trial against both accused in February, despite an undetermined and on-going admissibility challenge in regards to Gaddafi’s case before the ICC. The ICC Chamber gave Libya until 15 January 2013 to provide observations on the alleged announcement. Following the ICC’s indictment of Abdullah Al-Senussi and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in June 2011, the ICC requested the immediate transfer of both suspect to The Hague. Libya sought to revert the trials of both men, who are in Libyan custody, but only filed an admissibility challenge against Saif Gaddafi. The absence of an admissibility challenge in the case against Al-Senussi provides no basis to postpone the transfer request, and obligates Libya to comply with the ICC’s request. Libya is not a member of the ICC but it has an obligation to ICC to turn over both men based on UN Security Council resolution 1970.
ICC has released list of witnesses and time table for Kenyan trial: On Thursday 10 January 2013, the ICC Prosecution released its pre-trial brief and a list of witnesses submitted by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in compliance with the ordered disclosure schedule. The witnesses will be testifying against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and journalist Joshua arap Sang, in each of their respective cases which are due to commence in April 2013. The prosecution stated that it expects 826 hours of court time to present each of its cases against the four accused.
Kenyan Government refuses to disclose or freeze assests: On 12 January 2013, the Kenyan Government responded to a request from ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and stated that it would not identify or freeze the assets of the four Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity before the ICC stemming from the 2007-2008 post-election violence. In a letter sent to the ICC, Kenyan Attorney General Githu Muigai stated that Bensouda’s request had no basis and any decision relating to asset freezing could only be taken after a Kenyan court order was issued. Muigai argued that Article 77 (2b) of the Rome Statute could only take place in regards to reparations and after the accused had been convicted. He also asserted that goods and assets could only be forfeited if it was clear that they were gained through the crimes they are facing at the Hague-based court. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Pathologist testifies about exhumations at Hadžićtrial: On 11 January 2013, the trial against Croatian Serb Goran Hadžić resumed with the testimony of prosecution expert witness Davor Strinovic; a pathologist who worked with the Commission for Missing Persons and Prisoners of War in Croatia. Strinovic told the court that the investigation of mass graves in 1992 had been obstructed by government interference. Further he testified that, from the analysis forensic experts were able to do, it appeared that the majority of the victims found in mass graves were shot at close range and in execution style. In July 2011, Goran Hadžić, who held senior political positions in Croatia in the 1990s, was charged with 14 counts of war crimes and is currently on trial at The Hague.
Prince Taylor contempt trial open to the press: On Monday 14 January 2013, the contempt trial of Prince Taylor commenced. Prince Taylor is a former Special Court investigator who worked for Charles Taylor’s defense team. Prince Taylor was charged on 4 October 2012 in an Order of Lieu of an indictment with 9 counts of contempt related to witness testimony.
Expert witness testifies at Mladic’s trial that civilians were targeted: On 10 January 2013, expert witness Van der Weijden told the ICTY Trial Chamber that Bosnian Serb positions reported during the siege of the city could be used as sniper positions to target civilians. Van der Weijden’s testimony is based on his analysis of the origins of sniper fire which he gathered through witness statements. Former Serb commander Ratko Mladic is charged with terrorizing civilians in the Bosnian capital with prolonged shelling and sniper fire campaigns, genocide, expulsion of the Bosniaks and Croats, and taking international peacekeepers hostage.
Video shows foreign sponsored militants committing war crimes in Syria: On 9 January 2013, a video surfaced that shows foreign-sponsored militants committing acts which human rights groups have called war crimes. The video showed militants firing at an airport and downing a commercial airliner in the eastern part of Syria. The Syrian government says that much of the current chaos in the country is a result of foreign-sponsored militants. The Syrian government is currently on the offensive with hopes of quashing foreign-sponsored militant action.
Haradinaj acquittal is final: On Wednesday 10 January 2013, the ICTY announced that the acquittal of Ramush Haradinaj, Isriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj had not been contested, and according to ICTY procedures, there can be no further retrial. On 29 November 2012, the ICTY ruled that the three accused were not guilty of war crimes committed during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s. The November 2012 acquittal was issued in the retrial of the three accused, and was the second time each had been acquitted of the charges by the ICTY.
Posted by: Spencer Casement
Oral hearing in Taylor appeal postponed to January: On 5 December 2012, the Appeals Chamber in the case against former Liberian President Charles Taylor rescheduled the oral hearings on grounds of appeal after both the Defence and Prosecution asked the Chamber to reconsider its scheduling order which set the date of oral hearings for 6 and 7 December 2012. The Appeals Chamber decided to reschedule the oral hearing to start on 22 January 2013. The oral hearing will allow the Defence and Prosecution to present each teams’ grounds of appeal made after the Trial Chamber’s judgment on 26 April 2012. The Prosecution has raised 4 grounds of appeal which include the length of the sentence handed to Taylor, and the Trial Chamber’s decision not to convict Taylor of ordering and instigating the charged crimes. The Defence will present 45 grounds of appeal at the January oral hearing, which include the Trial Chamber’s factual finding that Taylor was involved in the attacks on Kono, Makeni and Freetown, and allegations of insufficient deliberations by the judges leading to Taylor’s convictions.
Ivory Coast considers trying Mrs. Gbagbo: On Tuesday 4 December 2012, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara stated that the government has not made moves to transfer Simone Gbagbo to the custody of the ICC since the ICC unsealed on 22 November 2012 a warrant of arrest issued by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber because the government is leaving open the possibility of trying Mrs. Gbagbo itself. Ouattara said that the government would respond to the ICC request for transfer of Mrs. Gbagbo “in weeks or months ahead.” A decision to not comply with the ICC request for transfer of Mrs. Gbagbo would be in contradiction to the government’s self referral to the ICC of jurisdiction over crimes committed as a result of the 2011 post-election conflict.
Posted by syhoekstra in Admissibility / Primacy, Balkans, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gaddafi, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTR, ICTR Residual Mechanism, ICTY, Investigations, jurisdiction, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, NATO, News about the Courts, Ocampo, Other domestic courts, Responsibility to Protect, Rwanda, SCSL, STL, Syria, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on November 12, 2012
Possible new ICC Libya cases: Last Wednesday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gave a presentation to the UN Security Council in which she stated the court will soon decide whether to bring a second set of cases related to the 2011 Libyan revolution. Allegations of sexual violence against both the Gaddafi government and the rebel forces are currently being investigated. Tripoli, however, has already brought challenges to the existing ICC cases related to the revolution, claiming Libya’s justice systems can adjudicate them without international involvement. Some speculate any new ICC cases would be met with similar challenges (for additional information on this topic, please 1. Click here, and 2. Click here).
Ocampo says NATO could arrest Assad: Former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the Canadian Broadcasting Company on Friday he believes NATO has a solid case for issuing and executing a warrant to arrest Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Since, he claims, it is clear Assad’s forces have killed civilians during the country’s current conflict, NATO could make the arrest with the justification of protecting civilians. Ocampo, however, is not in favor of the international community commencing any military action in Syria.
Kenyatta and Muthaura to be tried in the Hague: Last week, a three-judge panel in the Hague decided to reject two Kenyans’ request to have their cases tried in either Kenya or Tanzania. The two suspects, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former head of the civil service Francis Muthaura, face charges of crimes against humanity related to Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007 and 2008. The suspects argued the change of venue would ensure a smoother trial process because of the convenience for victims, witnesses, and the accused (for more information on this topic, click here).
Haradinaj verdict on 29 November: Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader Ramush Haradinaj will receive a verdict in his case on 29 November 2012. Haradinaj was originally found not guilty of all 37 counts against him and two alleged co-conspirators for crimes committed in the illegal prison camp at Jablanca during the Balkan War. The new verdict will determine his guilt again on 6 of those counts pursuant to an appeal brought by the prosecution. He is currently under house arrest, but will be flown to the Hague before the verdict is given. He plans to return to Kosovo and reenter politics if acquitted a second time.
Taylor challenges verdict: Defense lawyers for Former Liberian president Charles Taylor claim they have found 45 separate significant errors in the conviction of their client, 42 of which they are appealing. Last year, the Special Court for Sierra Leone pronounced Taylor guilty on all 11 counts in his indictment of aiding and abetting crimes committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war. Taylor’s lawyers claim parts of the verdict were based on inadmissible hearsay, and that some prosecution witnesses received bribes. They further reiterate their assertion that Taylor’s sentence is disproportionate given that the convicts he allegedly aided received shorter sentences. The oral argument for this appeal is scheduled for January.
STL Registrar comments on upcoming cases: The Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon held a question and answer session last week on Twitter regarding the upcoming cases against 4 in absentia defendants. He said that the Lebanese authorities have been doing all they can to arrest the men, who are accused of involvement of assassinating former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Their trial is set for March, and the court will broadcast it live. The registrar also noted that the STL would only launch investigations into the killing of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces Intelligence Chief Wissam al-Hassan, which took place just a few weeks ago, with the consent of the Lebanese government and the UN Security Council. Hassan’s death is not currently under the jurisdiction of the STL, which only extends to events that occurred in 2004 and 2005.
ICTR to close December 2014: Last weekend, a spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda announced the court will meet its 31 December 2014 deadline for ending all judicial activity. Only one case remains to be decided in the first instance, that of Rwanda’s former planning minister Augustin Ngirabatware, and the court plans to make its determination by the end of the year. 7 cases are currently on appeal in front of the residual mechanism for the ICTR, which the UN Security Council created to help the court meet its 2014 deadlines. These appeals and the judgment in Ngirabatware’s trial are the only judicial tasks remaining for the ICTR.
5 Gbagbo government officials sentenced: On Thursday 11 October 2012, an Ivory Coast military tribunal sentenced the first defendants convicted of crimes related to last year’s post-election violence that claimed at least 3,000 lives. The defendants were convicted of kidnapping and murdering a colonel during the fighting that took place when former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office after losing the presidential election. The most prominent of these convicts is General Bruno Dogbo Ble of the former president’s Republican Guard. He received a 15-year sentence. The other convicts are Ble’s chief of staff, two sergeants, and a soldier who confessed to killing the victim.
Karadzic begins his defense: Tomorrow, 16 October 2012, the defense of Radovan Karadzic begins in front of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Karadzic, a military leader during the 1992 – 1995 Balkan War, faces 10 charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He is representing himself in front of the tribunal, and will begin by bringing witnesses to counter the charge that the death of Muslim men and boys in a small Bosnian town called Srebrenica amounts to genocide. Karadzic admits his involvement in the killings, but claims there were fewer killings than the 7,000 charged, and says he was unaware that his troops were killing prisoners. He was the last of the former Yugoslavian suspects indicted by the ICC to be captured, spending 13 years on the run.
Hadzic trial begins: Tomorrow, 16 October 2012, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will begin the trial of Goran Hadzic, the final suspect to be charged by the tribunal in relation to the atrocities committed during the Balkan War. There are 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The alleged events took place in the earliest days of the war.
U.S. diplomat comments on Bashir indictment: Scott Gration, the former U.S. Envoy to Sudan stated on Saturday 13 October that he believes the ICC’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is interfering with the country’s ability to participate in international political forums. The ICC has charged Bashir with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity that allegedly took place during 2003 in the country’s western region of Darfur. Gration noted the President’s travel difficulties and instances in which other governments have cancelled Bashir’s visits to their country. Sudan’s Investment Minister on Saturday responded by saying that the warrant for Bashir’s arrest has had some negative consequences, but has not substantially effected the President’s travels.
ICT Bangladesh brings total trials to 14: Last week, the International Criminal Tribunal for Bangladesh began trial proceedings against 6 more defendants charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity that allegedly took place during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of liberation. There are now 14 ongoing trials in front of the tribunal, 12 of former and current Jamaat-y-Islami leaders, and 2 of Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders. The charges include mass killing, rape, torture, and arson.
SCSL sentences four for interference with justice: On 11 October 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone sentenced four men who were convicted of interference with justice last month. Two of the men, already in prison in Rwanda for war crimes and crimes against humanity, received sentences of two years for each of two counts against them to be served concurrently. These sentences were reduced by two weeks due to pre-trial detention conditions. The court sentenced another defendant to two 18-month prison terms to be served concurrently. The fourth defendant will not spend time in prison provided he is found to be in good behavior for the next two years. He received this lighter sentence in exchange for pleading guilty and testifying for the prosecution.
Posted by iclmediareview in Admissibility / Primacy, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, News about the Courts, Nigeria, Other domestic courts, Rome Statute, SCSL, Truth Commissions, War Crimes, Witnesses on October 13, 2012
UN requests release of Inquiry report from Ivory Coast: The UN’s independent expert in the Ivory Coast, Doudou Diene, has asked that the nation release the entirety of the report which was completed in early 2012 by the National Commission of Inquiry. Diene stated that releasing the report in full is a “condition of reconciliation.” The call to release of the full report follows allegations from human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, that current President Alassane Ouattara is committing ‘victor’s justice’ by only prosecuting those loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo is currently in detention in The Hague and waiting proceedings against him before the ICC.
HRW says conflict in Nigeria could involve crimes against humanity: On 11 October 2012, Human Rights Watch released a report which stated that human rights violations may have been committed during the conflict in Nigeria between the Islamist group Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces. The report details specific instances of attacks and abuses which could constitute crimes against humanity and which occurred since fighting began in 2009 when Boko Haram sought to create an Islamist state. Possible crimes cited in the report include attacks on Christians and on Muslims who criticize the group.
Kenyan applicant seeking to find ICC cooperation unconstitutional wants judge removed: Okiya Omtatah, an activist who is seeking to have the Kenyan Court’s find Kenyan cooperation with the ICC unconstitutional, has asked that High Court Judge David Majanja hearing his case disqualify himself. Omtatah has argued that Judge Majanja cannot sit on the bench because he is likely to be a witness in the case and this would cause a conflict of interest. Omtatah’s application argues that the referral of the Kenya case to the ICC was based on Kenya’s failure to constitute a special tribunal to hear the case, and not based on the failure of the criminal justice system. Omtatah argues for annulling the ratification of the Rome Statute; saying that it continues to violate the Constitution and take sovereignty from Kenya.
Former SCSL Prosecutor advises on Liberian war crimes tribunal: This week former SCSL and current US Ambassador of War Crimes, Stephen Rapp, spoke of the creation of a Liberian war crimes court during his visits to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Ambassador Rapp made clear that the decision to convene a war crimes court must be made by the Liberian people. Rapp advised that the court should prioritize victims and focus of the truth and peace in order to send the message that the crimes of using child soldiers and sexual and gender crimes will not be tolerated. Consulting with civil society in both nations, Rapp said that another step besides a Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be considered for Liberia.
ICTY orders Karadzic to contribute to defense fees: The ICTY has ordered accused Radovan Karadzic to pay 146,000 euro (188,000 USD) towards helping pay the defense fees in his trial. A document from ICTY Registrar John Hocking stated the decision. In May, the Prosecution closed its case against the Bosnian Serb leader who is charged with 10 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Defense is due to begin its case on 16 October 2012.