Archive for category Sri Lanka

20 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC holds status conference for Ongwen case: On Tuesday, 19 May 2015, the ICC held a status conference relating to the case against Dominic Ogwen, a top Ugandan rebel leader in the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Ogwen, who faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed at a camp for internally displaced people in 2004, was present at the conference and represented by counsel. Ongwen’s confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for 21 January 2016. (NTV).

Sri Lankan President announce June start to war crime probe: Today, 20 May 2015, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena announced that an investigation into war crimes committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war would begin by June. The President also encouraged guidance from the U.N. Human Rights Council on carrying out the investigation and vowed to prosecute those “found guilty by the investigation.”  Over 100,000 were killed during the conflict. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (MalayMail, The Economic Times).

ICTR holds 25th plenary session; re-elects President: The 25th and final plenary session of the ICTR was held in The Hague on 13 May 2015. At this session, Rule 18(B) of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence was amended and ITCR President Judge Vagn Joensen was re-elected through 31 December 2015, the expected date of closure of the Tribunal. The ICTR has already begun transitioning power to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals which was created to continue the residual functions of the ICTR and ICTY. (UN-ICTR).

Amnesty reports torture in Morocco:  Moroccan authorities are still using torture against those detained or expressing dissent; said Amnesty International in a report released Tuesday, 19 May 2015.  The findings of the report stemmed from interviews with over 150 men, women and children between 2010 and 2014.  Morocco has pledged for years to eliminate torture by authorities.  However, an Amnesty International director says “There is a gap between what’s on paper and what’s in practice.  Torture is not systematic but common.  The safeguards that exist currently are not being implemented.”  (NY Times).

Tunisian Truth Commission to address torture and other human rights abuses: On 19 May 2015, it was reported that Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission will be conducting public hearings beginning June 2015.  The hearings will address allegations of torture, mass killings and other human rights violations committed over a 60 year period, starting in 1955, while Tunisia was under authoritarian rule. Members of the Commission have visited towns to urge victims of the human rights abuses to file complaints.  The Commission does have the power to subpoena witnesses and government files. (NY Times).

Complaint filed with African Commission over death of protestors in Burundi: On 5 May 2015, a leading human rights lawyer from Nigeria, Femi Falana, filed a complaint against the government of Burundi in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  Falana claims the government fatally attacked civilians protesting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plan to seek a third term of office.  Falana said this plan violates the constitution of Burundi, which imposes a two term limit on the office of president, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which guarantees life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, association and assembly.  Falana urged the African Commission to “ensure effective remedies for [these] multiple violations of the rights of the people of Burundi.” (the News Nigeria).

ICC AC admissibility decision on Simone Gbagbo to be delivered 27 May: The appeals decision on the admissibility of the case against Ivorian politician Simone Gbagbo is expected to be delivered 27 May 2015, said the ICC Appeals Chamber today, 20 May 2015. The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision rejecting an admissibility challenge to the case and reminding the country of its obligation to surrender Mrs. Gbagbo to the ICC.  Gbagbo is accused of murder, rape and other inhumane acts and persecution committed in the Ivory Coast between December 2010 and April 2011. (ICC).

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11 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Sri Lanka to begin domestic war crimes investigation in September: A domestic accountability mechanism will be in place in Sri Lanka by September 2015 to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the last phase of the country’s 26-year civil war; said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. The Foreign Minister also said the mechanism will involve “foreign technical expertise” and address accountability and reconciliation.  The announcement of the mechanism comes days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Sri Lanka and urged the government to cooperate with the U.N. and conduct a credible “investigation that meets international standards.”  (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here) (News.LK, The Daily Star, The Hindu).

ICT Bangladesh charges 5 Kishoreganj war crimes suspects: Prosecutors at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh have brought charges against 5 Kishoreganj suspects for war crimes.  Specifically, the 5 are suspected of mass killing, torture, looting and confinement during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War. The Tribunal expects to decide by 13 May 2015 on whether to accept the charges. (The Daily Star).

Hadzic reportedly sent back to ICTY, The Hague: Unofficial sources are reporting that former President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Goran Hadzic, has been sent back to the ICTY detention center. Hadzic, who was granted provisional release by the ICTY last month, arrived in Serbia on 16 April 2015 to seek medical care for brain cancer. Hadzic faces charges at the ICTY for crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war committed during the war in Croatia in the early 1990s.  (Dalje.com).

ICC Prosecutor Bensouda expresses concern at Burundi pre-election violence: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is concerned that violence may escalate leading up to the 26 May and 26 June 2015, legislative and presidential elections in Burundi.  Bensouda warned that the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC will open investigations and hold accountable those committing crimes during the elections that fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. Bensouda noted this also applies to political leaders in Burundi who “are equally responsible for ensuring the peaceful conduct of elections and that their supporters refrain from violence—before, during and after the elections. (ICC).

Russia seeks extradition of Nazi war crimes suspect in Quebec: Russian officials have requested that Canada extradite Vladimir Katriuk, a 93-year-old Quebec man accused of Nazi war crimes. A Russian Investigative Committee found that Katriuk “volunteered to serve in the SS battalion 118 and was personally involved in a genocidal massacre of the (Belorussian) village of Khatyn, organized by this Nazi formation on March 23, 1943.”  Katriuk has been living in Canada since 1950.  (The Toronto Sun).

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23 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

OHCHR says ISIS attacks on Yazidi community may constitute genocide and war crimes: A new report commissioned by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claims crimes committed against the Yazidi community in Iraq by ISIS may constitute genocide and war crimes.  The report, consisting of over 100 interviews of survivors, found that ISIS targeted and killed hundreds of men and boys of the Yazidi population in Iraq and committed rape, abduction and forced separation of families. Thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee villages in northern Iraq because of ISIS last summer in which many were killed or captured. (BBC).

ICC judges propose holding Ntaganda trial opening in Bunia, DRC: On Thursday, 19 March 2015, ICC Trial Chamber VI judges recommended to the ICC Presidency that opening statements in the trial against former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda be made in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo. The judges found that conducting part of the trial in Bunia would “bring[] the judicial work of the Court closer to the most affected communities.”  ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence authorize the ICC judges to make the recommendation, which is then considered by the ICC Presidency in consultation with DRC authorities.  Ntaganda, a former Congolese military leader, is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the 2002-2003 Congolese conflict.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (All Africa, ICC).

ICC Ruto / Sang trial resumes for final Prosecution witness: The final Prosecution witness in the ICC trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang is expected to begin testimony today, 23 March 2015.  The witness, who has been unwilling to testify and who has placed conditions before testifying, is the last witness scheduled before the Prosecution makes its closing arguments.  Ruto’s and Sang’s defense teams are expected to thereafter file a “no-case-to-answer” motion.   (All Africa).

ICC Trust Fund for Victims affirms commitment to reparations for victims in Lubanga case: The Board of Directors of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) held its annual meeting in The Hague from 17-19 March 2015.  The TFV Board reaffirmed its commitment to reparations for victims in the case against Thomas Lubanga, the leader of the rebel group Congolese Patriotic Union, who was convicted in March 2012 of recruiting child soldiers.  Specifically, the TFV Board intends to advance its reparations reserve to provide for collective reparations awards and to consider the ICC Appeals Chamber’s suggestion to expand its assistance mandate to those not included in the reparations order.  The TFV Board also plans on meeting with victims, their communities and other stakeholders while it develops the draft implementation plan for reparations due 3 September 2015. (ICC).

Protestors in Sri Lanka reject domestic probe, demand international investigation: Tamils in Sri Lanka are protesting the new government’s plan for a domestic investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during the last phase of the country’s 26-year civil war. Tamils, demanding an international investigation into the crimes instead, claim to have no faith in a domestic probe by the Sri Lankan government.  A resolution adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2014 requiring an international investigation was delayed by 6 months.  (The Economic Times).

Polish soldiers cleared of violating Geneva Convention protections of civilians in Afghanistan: Four Polish soldiers have been cleared of war crimes in relation to the August 2007 attack on the village of Nangrarkhel in Afghanistan which killed 6 civilians.  The soldiers, being tried in a military court in Warsaw and accused of violating the Geneva Conventions protection of civilians in Afghanistan, claimed innocence and blamed the attack on faulty weaponry.  The four were convicted by the military court of lesser offenses.   (JURIST)

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4 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Palestine to file case at ICC against Israel on 1 April: An executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation reported that Palestine will file a complaint against Israel for alleged war crimes at the ICC.  The crimes were committed during last year’s war in Gaza in which some 2,200 Palestinians killed, most of them civilians.  Palestine’s motion to join the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, becomes effective 1 April 2015, thus giving the Court jurisdiction over crimes in Palestine. (Al Arabiya).

Bensouda assures witness protection for all witnesses in Ongwen trial: During a visit to the Barlonyo Memorial Site in northern Uganda, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Court will guarantee protection of all witnesses in the case against Dominic Ongwen.  Bensouda also urged victims to reach out to the Office of the Public Council for Victims at the ICC and consider testifying against Ongwen, the commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Ongwen’s trial was supposedly set to begin 24 August 2015 but Bensouda has asked for an extension in order to conduct additional investigations. (Star Africa).

ICC AC’s judgment on Lubanga reparations addresses scope and measures for victims: On 3 March 2015, the ICC Appeals Chamber amended the judgment on reparations for victims in the case against Thomas Lubanga. Specifically, the appeals judges found that reparation measures should include integrating former child soldiers back into the community and that the trial court erred in finding Lubanga should not be liable for reparations because he was indigent.  The appeals judges also found that “the trial chamber erred in holding that reparations award should be formulated and implemented to include victims of sexual and gender-based violence.”  The appeals judges found that “that sexual and gender and gender-based violence cannot be defined as harm resulting from the crimes for which Mr. Lubanga was convicted.”  Lubanga, the leader of the rebel group Congolese Patriotic Union, was sentenced in 2012 to 14 years in prison for war crimes.  (Voice of America).

Mladic defence witness disputes date of meeting over Srebreica: A defence witness in the ICC case against Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has disputed the date of a meeting of senior officials in Srebrenica.  Miodrag Dragutinovic, the assistant to the chief of staff of the Zvornik Brigade at the time, testified that the meeting occurred 11 July 1995, one day after the fall of Srebrenica, and in contradiction with the prosecutions argument that the meeting occurred 12 July 1995.  The meeting in question concerned “previous combat activities and future tasks” one of which was that “units were deployed in the Zepa sector to engage the Zepa brigade and neutralise its members.”  In the days following the fall of Srebrenica, Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys. (IWPR).

UN advises Sri Lanka to address mistrust on prospects of accountability: On Tuesday, 3 March 2015, the U.N. urged Sri Lanka’s new government to hold accountable those responsible for committing serious violations of international law during the country’s 26-year civil war. Additionally, the U.N. advised Sri Lanka to address mistrust among the Tamil population about whether the new government will achieve accountability and post-war reconciliation.  The new government of President Maithripala Sirisena, which took power earlier this year, has promised to investigate alleged abuses and establish an independent judicial mechanism for investigations. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Reuters, ABC).

African Commission issues decision against Sudan on arbitrary detention and torture: The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a decision finding Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service arbitrarily detained and tortured three human rights defenders in November 2008.  The African Commission also held that Sudan failed to investigate or redress the harms suffered by the three human rights defenders.  Osman Hummaida, Amir Suliman and Monim El Jak were detained and tortured for a period of time in Sudan for allegedly supporting the ICC’s investigation into crimes committed in Darfur. (All Africa).

N Korea FM dismisses UN report on crimes against humanity: At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, 3 March 2015, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong dismissed a recent U.N. report concluding the country committed crimes against humanity, including mass starvation. The Foreign Minister said the U.N. report was based on lies and called for its immediate revocation.  The Foreign Minister also criticized the United States pursuit of human rights issues in other countries and claimed it was a “stereotyped method . . . to smear the countries disobedient to it.” (ABC).

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23 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria ready to publish names of alleged perpetrators: Investigators on the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria are prepared to release four lists documenting the names of individuals and groups allegedly guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity since conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011.  The lists have been safeguarded at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva and allegedly include names of several senior commanders and armed group leaders.  Commission investigators said “Not to publish the names at this juncture of the investigation would be to reinforce the impunity that the commission was mandated to combat.” (The Telegraph).

Sri Lanka Parliament passes witness protection law ahead of war crimes investigations: The new Sri Lankan government has passed a witness protection law to assist with national investigations into war crimes allegedly committed during the end of the country’s 26-year civil war. The law requires the government to establish safe houses to allow people to give evidence and participate in the national investigations. The Sri Lankan government has received pressure from the international community to fully investigate and prosecute crimes. The U.N. Human Rights Council recently delayed the release of a report investigating war crimes in Sri Lanka. (First Post).

Body of ICC witness possibly found: It is being reported that a body found in Tsavo National Park in Kenya may be that of a missing defence witness in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.  ICC defence witness Meshack Yebei went missing on 28 December 2014 after leaving ICC protection.  Final identification of the body by family and DNA samples is ongoing.  (All Africa).

ICTY accused Hadzic asks for leave for medical treatment: Former president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Goran Hadzic, has requested provisional release from the ICTY in order to undergo chemotherapy for cancer. Hadzic’s defence argued the accused will be unable to attend the trial for months as it would negatively affect his health during chemotherapy. The former president is on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 conflict in Croatia. (InSerbia).

HR Advocacy groups lobby CAR Government to establish Special Court: Human rights advocacy groups are urging the Central African Republic’s government to adopt a law establishing a Special Criminal Court to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international and human rights law. The Special Criminal Court would be part of the country’s national judicial system and consist of 14 national and 13 international judges.  The human rights advocacy groups believe such a court will “strengthen” the country’s judicial system and “constitutes a balanced and innovative initiative to support the Central African judicial system, which is ravaged by the conflict triggered in 2012 by the armed groups in the northern part of the country.”  (Jurist).

Ongwen discloses meeting with Kony in December 2014:  A report by the Switzerland-based group Smalls Arms Survey states that Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen admitted meeting with LRA leader Joseph Kony near Darfur in December 2014. Ongwen first appeared before the ICC on 26 January 2015, after surrending to U.S. troops in the Central African Republic.  Ongwen faces seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges. (Sudan Tribune).

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20 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Government to address Sri Lankan Parliament about UN HR Council report: The Sri Lanka government will make a statement to parliament on 20 February 2015 regarding the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report and the government’s request to postpone its release. The UNHRC report concerns alleged war crimes committed in Sri Lanka. Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva requested that the government reveal its stance on the issue, the steps it would take, and to present parliament with the letter sent to the UN Human Rights Chief. Chief Government Whip Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka replied to the request stating that the government would present a response later on 20 February. (News.LK)

Ngudjolo Chui judgment on appeal of acquittal rescheduled to 27 Feb: The judgment on appeal of the acquittal for Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui has been rescheduled by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court to next Friday, 27 February 2015. Chui was acquitted back in 2012 for three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes. These allegations stemmed from an attack on the village of Bogoro in the DRC. The Office of the Prosecutor appealed the verdict on 20 December 2012 and Chui was released from custody the following day. (International Criminal Court)

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18 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Head of UN Inquiry says N Korea’s actions not genocide: Michael Kirby, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into North Korea’s human rights violations, said that crimes committed at alleged North Korean political prison camps did not amount to genocide.  The former Australian judge expressed disappointment and said the Commission in making its findings was constrained by a “narrow definition” of genocide.  The Commission, nevertheless, did find that North Korea committed crimes against humanity and urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation to the ICC.  The Commission further wrote a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “warning him that the officials of his government and possibly he himself might be accountable.”  (Japan Times).

Ban Ki-Moon to closely watch domestic mechanism for Sri Lankan accountability: On Tuesday, 17 February 2015, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the Secretary General will be carefully watching the development of a domestic accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka to investigate alleged human rights violations committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war.  The Secretary General finds it important that the new government in Sri Lanka demonstrate a firm and broad commitment to “accountability, reconciliation and human rights.”  The Secretary General’s comments follow the recent deferral of a U.N. Human Rights Commission report on Sri Lanka that was expected to be released next month.  (The Hindu).

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