Archive for category Sri Lanka
U.K. threatens Sri Lanka with international inquiry: The U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, warned Sri Lanka that if it did not investigate allegations of sexual violence committed by government forces during its 26-year civil war it would be subject to an international inquiry. Hague warned the country that it had until the Human Rights Council met in March to conduct an independent and credible investigation. Sri Lanka is one country that has not yet signed the U.K.’s declaration to end sexual violence during conflict. (Sunday Times).
Bosnian Serbs arrested for CAH: The Bosnian prosecution office has charged nine suspects with crimes against humanity related to the country’s 1992-1995 civil war. The nine Bosnian Serb policeman allegedly “expelled, deported, illegally imprisoned, tortured, or killed non-Serbian civilians . . . in a systematic campaign against the Muslim and Croatian populations.” Nearly 100,000 died and millions were replaced as a result of the civil war. (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty).
Bemba restrictions lifted at ICC: An ICC judge has ordered the immediate lifting of detention restrictions placed on Jean-Pierre Bemba and his recently imprisoned lead defense counsel, Aime Kilolo-Musamba. During detention, the two had been restricted to 30 minute phone calls, one hour monitored visits with family, and an initial 72 hour of no contact. Bemba argued the restrictions violated his right to counsel and Kilolo said it prevented him from presenting an adequate defense. Kilolo was arrested in November on allegations of witness interference and forged evidence. (Bemba Trial).
ICC investigations flawed, says Kenyan lawyers: Lawyers met in Nairobi on Tuesday, 3 December 2013, to protest ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s handling of investigations into Kenya. The lawyers claimed Bensouda and her predecessor forged evidence and relied on unreliable witnesses. One lawyer was quoted as saying: “It appears as though the court was determined to confirm the charges and the prosecution was convinced that there were substantial grounds to proceed with the case even though the investigations were questionable.” The ICC is currently trying Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and the case against the country’s sitting President will commence in February 2014. (All Africa).
Cooperation between ICTY and Serbia positive: It is expected the chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, will report positively to the U.N. Security Council on Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal on Thursday, 5 December 2013. Brammertz met with officials in Serbia last month “to discuss transfer of documents and access to government archives and witnesses.” It appears the transition of matters between the ICTY and Serbia has gone smoothly and efficiently. Brammertz presents his findings twice a year to the Security Council. (In Serbia).
Bosnian war criminals to be released: A local court that issued judgements in over 100 cases since its establishment in 2005 to aid the ICTY is expected to release hundreds of Bosnian war criminals. In July 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the local court erred in convicting and punishing accused under a 2003 criminal code. The ECHR concluded the court should have been applying a less stringent 1976 statute that was in force at the time the crimes were committed. The local court will now need to schedule retrials. (The Malay Mail).
Indonesia offers support to Cambodia and Thailand after ICJ verdict: Indonesia has pledged to aid Cambodia and Thailand as the two countries carry out the ICJ’s recent decision concerning the ownership of a Hindu temple. Indonesia stated it was “ready to assist in whatever means if both countries ask for its support in implementing the ICJ order.” In November 2013, the ICJ granted Cambodia ownership of the temple located near the Cambodian-Thai border. (Phnom Penh Post).
Sierra Leone Residual Court elects Kenya’s Wiki as President: Kenya’s Phillip Waki was elected President of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone on 3 December 2013. Waki previously served as an alternate appeals judge at the SCSL and sat on the Kenyan Court of Appeals and High Court. Justice Jon Kamanda of Sierra Leone was elected as Vice President. (The Star).
Unnamed witness called by judges testifies in Bemba trial: A witness under the pseudonym “Witness CHM-01” testified at the trial against Jean-Pierre Bemba on Monday, 18 November 2013 before the ICC. The judges, as allowed by Articles 64 and 69, had called the witness; none of the parties in the trial had called him to provide evidence, even though several witnesses from both sides had mentioned his name. The witness is testifying through a video link from an undisclosed location. It is not yet clear how the witness was involved in the MLC. Mr. Bemba is charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003. (Open Society Justice Initiative).
African Court to hold conference to raise awareness: The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is organizing a continental conference in order to raise awareness about the court’s activities and promote human rights in African states. The Court feels that it has been underutilized; in seven years, it has only handled 28 petitions concerning contentious matters and five requests for advisory opinions. Senior officials believe that this under-utilization is due to the fact that the individuals and entities who are allowed to bring petitions before the Court are largely unaware of its existence. The conference will be attended by the president and judges of the court, representatives from international organizations, and Professor Makame Mbarawa, the Tanzanian Minister of Communication, Science and Technology. (Tanzania Daily News).
Leaders urge Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes following summit: During the Commonwealth Summit, which was held in Sri Lanka over the course of three days, several human rights groups appealed to world leaders to pressure Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate war crimes that allegedly took place during and after the civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was in attendance, stated that it would be possible for Sri Lanka to set up a war crimes tribunal before March, to which President Rajapaksa responded that Sri Lanka had started investigations, but that this process will take longer than a few months. He had previously stated that his troops did not commit war crimes during the conflict, which lasted 26 years. Secretary Hague’s comments followed UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s condemnation of the alleged war crimes, and his warning of a UN-led investigation should Sri Lanka fail to launch an independent inquiry. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (Voice of America, BBC).
Nine AU states may be barred from voting on Rome Statute amendments: The ICC announced that nine out of its 122 members are in arrears and will therefore be unable to vote in this week’s Assembly of State Parties meeting in The Hague. Though the list of states has not been officially released, Tanzania, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Gabon, Djibouti, Comoros, Guinea, and Liberia are all indebted to the Court and may lose their voting rights. These votes may be necessary to amend the ICC rules of procedure laid out in the Rome Statute, an effort Kenya is leading in order to excuse President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto from attendance at their trials, to amend Article 27 to grant sitting heads of governments immunity, and to amend Article 70 so that court officials can be charged with offenses against administration of justice and the powers of the Independent Oversight Mechanism may be expanded. If all 122 members attend the meeting, Kenya needs 81 members to support its proposals. (The Star).
Botswanan judge appointed to Sierra Leone court: On 16 October 2013, the Botswanan Administration of Justice announced that Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, appointed the Hon. Justice Dr. O.B.K. Dingake as a judge on the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is continuing the mandate of the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Justice Dingake is a jurist and scholar, and will sit on the Court as required by the president of the Court. (Government of Botswana).
Security Council opts not to pass Kenyatta trial delay bid: On 15 November 2013, the resolution put to a vote before the UN Security Council on the deferral of the ICC trials of Kenya’s President and his deputy failed to pass. Nine votes were needed to approve the resolution but only eight were cast. (UN News).
Korean victims appeal to ICC: Family members of people abducted during the Korean War have decided to formally sue Kim Jong-un for unlawful detention and failure to address such abuses. The group filing the legal motion will also be providing supporting evidence, all of which will be submitted to the ICC on Wednesday of this week. (globalpost).
AU considers bid to alter Rome Statute: Kenya is counting on the support of numerous African countries to vote in favor of amendments to the Rome Statute which seek to excuse President Kenyatta and his deputy from continuous attendance of their cases as the have been cooperating with the court. Kenya would also like to see an amendment added to Article 27 that would grant immunity to sitting heads of state. Unfortunately, there are nine countries that are arrears and will lose their voting rights. (The Star).
Cameron uses Sri Lanka visit to encourage war crimes investigation: Prime Minister Cameron, while attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, made vocal his commitment to see that a human rights inquiry take place in Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes. Cameron stated that if the Sri Lankan government did not take action in the next four months than he would call for a full credible and independent international inquiry. (For additional information on this topic, please click here). (The Guardian, SKY).
UK investigation alleges war crimes in Egypt: A high-profile legal team from the UK appointed by the Muslim Brotherhood have accused the military in Egypt of a number of crimes and human rights abuses since becoming the interim government upon Mohamed Morsi’s ousting in July. It is likely that a case will be brought in front of the ICC of the ICJ. (Aljazeera).
African Commission adopts treaty protecting individuals with Albinism: The UN human rights office welcomes the adoption of the first-ever resolution protection people with albinism by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The UN, while encouraged by these initial steps, would like to see all African States take action by enacting similar resolutions. (UN News).
ICC unseals arrest warrant against Charles Blé Goudé: On Monday, 30 September 2013, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant against Ivorian Charles Blé Goudé, which had initially been issued on 21 December 2011. Blé Goudé is accused of working with former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo in inciting pro-Gbagbo forces to attack civilian populations between December 2010 and April 2011, following the national election. Specifically, he allegedly controlled and instructed youth militias who were part of the Ivorian Defense and Security Forces and loyal to Laurent Gbagbo. Following the warrants of arrest for Laurent Gbagbo and the former first lady Simone Gbagbo, this is the third warrant of arrest the ICC has issued for individuals involved in the post-election conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. (CPI-ICC).
Special Bangladeshi war crimes court to give verdict on senior BNP leader: 16 months after the International Crimes Tribunal indicted senior BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury on 23 charges of committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, the special war crimes court is set to deliver its verdict on Tuesday, 1 October 2013. The trial was conducted before a three-member tribunal, the chairman of which announced the delivery of the judgment. The prosecution noted that it could prove 17 of the 23 charges beyond doubt and was expecting Chowdhury to receive the death penalty, whereas Chowdhury’s defense counsel claimed that they were able to prove his innocence during the trial. Chowdhury is the second of two BNP leaders to be tried for war crimes, and he is specifically accused of killing 200 civilians, collaborating with the Pakistani Army to kill and torture people, persecution, and killing philanthropist and industrialist Nutun Chandra Singha. (IBN Live).
International criminal law experts push for special tribunal in Syria: A group of international war crimes experts calling for the creation of a conflict-specific war crimes tribunal in Syria will formally introduce the relevant draft statutes at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, 1 October 2013. The special tribunal would serve to try high-level officials, rebels, and soldiers who may have committed war crimes during the Syrian civil war and aim to prevent such atrocities in the future. The statutes have been in development for about two years, and a spokesman for the drafters said that the U.S. is sympathetic to the creation of a Syrian war crimes court. While Sharif Shehadeh, a Syrian legislator and political analyst, expressed that the Syrian judicial system is adequate and a special court therefore unnecessary, the Free Syrian Army welcomes the idea of a special tribunal. Even though Syria is not party to the ICC, Human Rights Watch commented that the ICC would ensure a more fair trial of top-level officials than a special tribunal would. (The Associated Press).
Hearings in Bemba trial to be postponed: For reasons that have not been made public, the testimony of the fourth to last defense witness in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba at the ICC has been moved form Tuesday, 1 October 2013 to Wednesday, 2 October 2013. Due to his professional commitments, the witness is allowed to testify remotely via video link from an undisclosed location. Bemba is the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, and is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity as commander of troops that allegedly committed atrocities against civilians during the 2002-2003 armed conflict in the Central African Republic. (The Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo).
UNHRC issues warning of international investigation to Sri Lanka: In an oral report to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, 25 September 2013, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay warned that Sri Lanka could face an international investigation, unless the Sri Lankan government comprehensively scrutinized the human rights violations that were committed against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the Sri Lankan civil war. If such an investigation is not carried out by March 2014, she warned, the international community has a duty to intervene and examine the alleged war crimes. The report followed her visit to Sri Lanka in August, where she assessed that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had not made progress in investigating the crimes committed against the LTTE, nor had Colombo initiated any new efforts to credibly examine the allegations. The Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHCR has rejected the report and international involvement. (World Socialist Website).
Kenyan MP supports suspension of ICC cases against Kenyatta and Ruto: Ken Kiloku, a member of parliament of Narok East, voiced his support to have the ICC trials against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto suspended, citing insecurity and political instability in Kenya as a justification. He explained that the leaders should be given time to address security issues in Kenya, especially in light of the recent Westgate Mall terrorist attack. He also accused Fatuo Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, of threatening the Deputy President of Kenya, asking her to respect the wishes of Kenyans. (The Star).
SCSL issues Taylor appeals judgment today: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s appeals judgment will be issued by the SCSL on Thursday, 26 September 2013. Taylor was sentenced last year to 50 years imprisonment for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Taylor filed the appeal in January 2013, and has consistently denied criminal involvement. (VOA).
Bashir’s controversial U.S. visit cancelled: On Wednesday, 25 September 2013, ICC indictee Omar al-Bashir cancelled a scheduled appearance at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The Sudanese President last week applied for a U.S. visa, triggering a debate over the U.S.’s obligation, as a non-party to the Rome Statute, to arrest Bashir upon entry into the country. A U.N. spokesman announced Ali Karti, Sudan’s Foreign Minister, will instead speak to world leaders on Friday. (Naharnet).
Sri Lanka threatened with U.N. inquiry over human rights violations: U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has threatened Sri Lanka with an international review over alleged human rights violations during its 26 year civil war. Pillay claimed the Sri Lankan government fell short from ”independently or credibly investigat[ing] the allegations” and failed to properly assess alleged “harassment of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.” The Commissioner warned Sri Lanka to make progress within the next six months or risk a U.N. inquiry. (New York Times).
ICC denies Kenyatta postponement: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s motion to delay his 12 November 2013, trial has been denied by the ICC. The Court found Kenyatta had already been afforded sufficient time to prepare a defense against charges of crimes against humanity. Currently pending in the ICC is a request by Kenyatta to be excused from all proceedings in The Hague except for the opening and closing arguments. (Google).
Status of Ruto’s excusal from ICC to handle Kenyan mall attack: Deputy President William Ruto will be expected back in The Hague at the expiration of his one-week leave or after the Appeals Chamber renders a decision on his request for a two-week adjournment, “whichever comes earlier.” On Monday, 23 September 2013, ICC Trial Chamber V excused Ruto from proceedings for the week to attend to his executive duties in Kenya after a terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi. Co-accused Joshua arap Sang has also called for continued postponement in light of the tragedy that caused 69 deaths. (News Afrique Informations).
UN Human Rights Commissioner travels to Sri Lanka to investigate crimes: On 26 August 2013 it was reported that close to 100 Sri Lankan protestors led by Buddhist monks have protested the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. The protestors have called on the UN to leave the country and to stop criticising Colombo’s human rights records. The UN says that it has “credible allegations” that atrocities were committed during wartime and that need to be thoroughly investigated.
Prosecutors challenge integrity of Bemba witness: On 23 August 2013 it was announced that the ICC prosecutors have questioned the integrity of a Bemba witness. Prosecutors believe that the witness may have received promises in exchange for giving evidence that implicates forces other than Bembas of various offenses. The witness has said he was being “cautious” when he told defense lawyers that he had knowledge of the conduct of Mr. Bemba’s MLC troops during an armed conflict in 2002-2003. A new defense witness will begin testifying on 26 August 2013.
UN Chemical Weapons inspectors reach suspected sites despite attacks: On 26 August 2013 it was reported that UN inspectors spent their first day in Syria in the suburbs of Damascus at the site of the alleged chemical weapons incident. The team is spending approximately 14 days probing the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Government at Khan al-Asal, as well as two other allegations reported by member states.
ICC Victim Representative seeks contents of Kenyatta confidential petition: On Tuesday, 13 August 2013, victim representative Fergal Gaynor requested defense counsel for President Uhuru Kenyatta reveal to the ICC the contents of a confidential petition filed last month in the Kenyan High Court. Gaynor fears the petition divulged the identities of protected witnesses and victims in violation of the Court’s rule against disclosure of confidential information. Gaynor is concerned the contents of the petition may lead to witness intimidation and discourage victims from participating in the ICC proceedings.
Investigation committee appointed by Sri Lankan President: A three member commission authorized to investigate alleged human rights violations and conduct legal proceedings against accused was appointed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday ,14 August 2013. The commission, headed by retired Judge Maxwell Parakrama, is in response to the U.N. resolution requiring Sri Lanka “to more thoroughly investigate alleged war crimes committed by both sides during its civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.” Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, is scheduled to update the Human Rights Council this month on Sri Lanka’s progress in carrying out the resolution.
Advocacy group pushes for ICC referral of Zimbabwe situation: International advocacy organization AIDS-Free World has urged the U.N. this week to refer the situation in Zimbabwe to the ICC. The organization’s co-director, Stephen Lewis, cited “the Gukurahundi genocide in the 1980s, the Murambatsvina ‘cleansing’ operation in 2005, and the rape campaign that followed” the 2008 Presidential election as sufficient evidence President Robert Mugabe and his party engaged in crimes against humanity. Mugabe was re-elected President two weeks ago and the opposition has claimed the process was rigged. Lewis fears the challenge to the election will trigger violence and has requested the U.N. to step in before even more human rights abuses are committed.
Shahidullah Kaiser’s widow to testify at ICT-2: The widow of a prominent Bangladeshi journalist killed during the 1971 Liberation War is expected to testify at the ICT-2, according to the prosecution on Wednesday, 14 August 2013. The Tribunal has charged two senior leaders of al-Badr, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, with crimes against humanity for the deaths of 18 intellectuals. Both accused failed to appear before the court last month and are now being tried in absentia.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, jurisdiction, News about the Courts, Rome Statute, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Torture, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on April 10, 2013
Bosnian-Serb president testifies for Karadzic: On 9 April 2013, Milorad Dodik, president of the Serb portion of Bosnia, Republika Srpska, testified for the defense in the Radovan Karadzic case. Karadzic, former president of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity by the ICTY. In his testimony, Dodik blamed the Muslims in Bosnia for starting the war and stated that Serbs were defending themselves. Dodik has consistently denied the Srebrenica genocide committed by Bosnian-Serbs and is critical of the ICTY and any other tribunal where Serbs have been sentenced for war crimes.
Ki-moon says war crimes investigation possible in South Sudan: On 9 April 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that an investigation could be launched in South Sudan to analyze if war crimes were committed in an attack where five UN peacekeepers and seven other persons were killed. Ki-moon and the UN Security Council called for South Sudan’s government to quickly bring the perpetrators to justice. Although South Sudan is not a party to the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over the killing of peacekeepers, which is a war crime. South Sudan blamed the attacks on a rebel group lead by David Yau Yau.
US calls for Sri Lanka to make public war crimes inquiry: On 9 April 2013, United States ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele J. Sison stated that Sri Lanka should make public an army inquiry into alleged war crimes committed at the end of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war. Sison said that Sri Lanka must confront the human rights abuses that were committed during the civil war in order to move forward. Recently, the UN Human Rights Council adapted a resolution, sponsored by the US, calling for an “independent and credible internal investigation” into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal continues with testimony of French priest: On 10 April 2013, Francois Ponchaud, a French Catholic priest and Khmer Rouge historian, testified before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Ponchaud’s testimony resumed the tribunal proceedings as the court has recently struggled with funding and was delayed due to the death of a co-defendant, Ieng Sary. Two Khmer Rogue leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, are currently being tried for crimes against humanity and genocide. Ponchaud told the court about atrocities that the Khmer Rouge infamously committed, but also heavily criticized Western states and the UN for standing by as atrocities occurred to the Cambodian people.
Sudanese military leader indicted by the ICC may be leading Darfur tribal violence: On 9 April 2013, it was reported that Ali Kushayb, who was indicted by the ICC in 2007 for war crimes, is leading tribal clashes in Darfur that began last week. The violence, which is spreading throughout Darfur, is between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes; the Misseriya have support of the Central Reserve Forces. The ICC wants Kushayb for murder, rape, and forcibly displacing thousands of people.
NY Judge approves extradition of war crimes suspect to Bosnia: On 9 April 2013, it was announced that there was enough evidence against Sulejman Mujagic for committing war crimes, a man living in Utica, NY, to extradite him to Bosnia to face trial. Mujagic is accused of killing an unarmed soldier and torturing another during the Bosnian War in 1995. Mujagic was fighting for a region that had seceded from the central government.
Guatemala war crime trial implicates current president: On 4 April 2013, a former Guatemalan soldier, Hugo Reyes, testifying in the Efrain Rios Montt trial accused President Otto Perez Molina of ordering pillaging and executions during the country’s 36-year civil war. Perez said the accusations are lies. Prosecutor Orlando Lopez stated that Reyes’ testimony is 100 percent credible, but reaffirmed that the focus is on Montt and that he would study the accusations against Molina after this case. Montt, the 86-year old ex-military strongman, is charged with genocide.
Slovakia calls for Hungary to extradite war crimes suspect: On 9 April 2013, Slovakian prosecutors pressed for the extradition of Hungarian 98-year old war crimes suspect Laszio Csatary. A Slovak court sentenced Csatary to death in 1948 for committing crimes against Jews during WWII, but that conviction was commuted to life in prison to align with Slovak law. Csatary, was arrested in Hungary last year and is under house arrest.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Crimes against Humanity, DRC, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, ICC, ICTY, immunity, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Torture, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 30, 2013
Slovak court commutes WWII criminal’s death sentence: On 28 March 2013, a Slovak court announced that the death sentence of 98 year old Laszlo Csataray, a World War II criminal, to life imprisonment. In 1948 Csataray was found guilty and sentenced to death in absentia for torturing Jews and organizing the deportation of nearly 16,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Csataray had lived as a fugitive until he was arrested by Hungarian authorities last year. The sentence was changed in order to comply with Slovak law, which abolished the death penalty in 1990.
Former Kenyan witness refuses to see ICC lawyers: On 24 March 2013, the lawyer for the Kenyan ICC witness who recently recanted his testimony stated that his client would not meet with ICC lawyers. The Office of the Prosecutor had written the witness asking for a meeting after the witness decided not to testify in the case against William Ruto. The former witness stated that ICC lawyers had tried to contact him directly and that he felt harassed. The Office of the Prosecutors denies the allegations put forward by the ex-witness.
Khmer Rouge tribunal confirms that defendant is fit for trial: On 29 March 2013, the UN-backed Cambodian war crime court confirmed that Nuon Chea, a former Khmer Rouge leader, was fit to stand trial even though he is “advancing [in] age and frailty.” Chea is charged, along with former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, with crimes against humanity and war crimes for overseeing the “Killing Fields” that killed nearly two-million Cambodians during the 1970s. There have been concerns about the case continuing after co-defendant, Ieng Sary, recently passed away. The tribunal has struggled with funding, procedural, and political difficulties since its founding in 2006.
M23 allege that Ntaganda was attempting to take charge of group: On 28 March 2013, Rene Abandi, a spokesperson for Congolese rebel group M23, said that Bosco Ntaganda, currently under arrest at the ICC, was trying to take over the group. Abandi reported that there were fights between different factions of M23 after Ntaganda challenged the group’s military chief, Sultani Makenga. After Ntaganda lost the fight, he fled to the United States embassy in Rwanda where he requested to be sent to the ICC. The ICC has charged Ntaganda with war crimes and crimes against humanity including recruiting child soldiers, murder, rape, and pillaging.
Estonia ratifies crime of aggression amendment to Rome Statute: On 27 March 2013, Estonia became the fifth country to sign the crime of aggression amendment to the Rome Statute. Estonia’s UN representative Margus Kolga stated that ratifying the amendment is a “clear indication of the staunch support that Estonia has demonstrated towards the International Criminal Court.” If 30 state parties to the Rome Statute ratify the amendment, the ICC will be able to investigate the crime of aggression starting in 2017.
HRW calls on Sri Lankan government to investigate Deputy Minister’s role in atrocities: On 28 March 2013, Human Rights Watch called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate the role of Deputy Minister Karuna in war crimes committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Recently Karuna, a former member of LTTE, has advocated for investigations of atrocities committed by the LTTE, but HRW states that Karuna is also responsible for committing war crimes, including mass murder, during the 26-year conflict in Sri Lanka. HRW alleges that Karuna has enjoyed immunity and he is only advocating for investigations into LTTE to silence his political opposition.
Former Bosnian Serb military leader sentenced to 45 years in prison: On 29 March 2013, a Bosnian war crime court sentenced former Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader Veselin Vlahovic to 45 years in prison, the maximum sentence. Vlahovic, commonly known as the Monster of Grbavica, was found guilty of murder, rape, and torture during the Bosnian War from 1992-1995. This is the highest sentence ever given in Bosnia. The war crimes department of the Bosnian court system was founded in 2005 to assist the overburdened ICTY.
Posted by kchin2014 in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Responsibility to Protect, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Syria, Torture, Truth Commissions, UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 26, 2013
UN to investigate growing North Korean prison camps: On 26 March 2013, South Korean legislator Ha Tae-kyoung announced that he learned from an official at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the UN is planning to launch an investigation into the growing number of North Korean prison camps. The investigation will employ satellite imaging technology provided by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research’s Satellite Applications Program (UNOSAT), along with witness testimony.
US official warns of US-led war crimes inquiry into Sri Lanka: On 25 March 2013, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake indicated that, if the Sri Lankan government continues to shirk its responsibility to lead an “independent and credible” inquiry into the allegations of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military against ethnic Tamil civilians, the United States may launch its own investigation.
Congolese warlord Ntaganda appears before ICC: On 26 March 2013, seven years after the court issued a warrant for his arrest, Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda appeared in before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to confirm his identity. Ntaganda, who faces allegations of recruiting child soldiers, murder, rape, ethnic persecution, and sexual slavery, surprised the world when he surrendered himself at the United States embassy in Rwanda last week. Many analysts suspect that Ntaganda’s surrender was precipitated by political changes that caused him to fear for his personal safety.
Experts declare former Khmer Rouge deputy fit for trial: On 25 March 2013, medical experts testified that, upon conducting physical and mental evaluations, 81-year-old Nuon Chea is fit to stand trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two,” was Pol Pot’s second-in-command during the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge and the most senior Khmer Rouge official to stand trial before the court.
Zimbabwean government found guilty of torture: On 25 March 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights notified the government of Zimbabwe that it has 90 days to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the 2003 torture of human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba. The decision, finding the Zimbabwean government criminally liable, was made in May 2012 and approved by the Executive Council of the African Union in January 2013. In its decision, the African Commission said that Shumba had submitted “more than adequate evidence” to support his allegation of torture and ill-treatment, including being subjected to prolonged electric shocks in the mouth, genitals, fingers, toes and other parts of the body. The Commission said Zimbabwe failed to open an official investigation, ordering it to do so within 90 days and bring those responsible to justice.
Mr. Paul Gicheru – lawyer for the witness who recanted his testimony against Kenya’s Deputy President-Elect William Ruto- rejected a request to meet with ICC officials in Nairobi last week. Gicheru said he declined the meeting because he did not have his client’s permission to hold the meeting. “I have told them my client stands by his sworn affidavits and that there is no need for a meeting over this,” he said. Meanwhile, the witness claims to have received numerous calls requesting meetings with ICC officials, stating that his interactions have bordered on “harassment, intimidation and intruding into my private life.”