Archive for category Sri Lanka

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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17 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN HR Council grants 6 mo delay to release of Sri Lanka war crimes report: The United Nations Human Rights Council granted the Sri Lankan government a six month delay in releasing its report on alleged war crimes. The report, led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, was due next month, but UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein stated that he recommended a deferral until September. A Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry official stated that the delay would help the “new government’s move to establish democratic process for accountability issues.” These war crimes stem from the previous government who stands accused of human rights violations during the final stages of the civil war in May of 2009. The United Nations Human Rights Council began their own investigation in March after stating that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had failed to properly conduct his own investigation. Once released, the United Nations report would be the basis of which the HR Council would recommend to hold those accountable for crimes, including a referral to the International Criminal Court. (Reuters, New York Times, Aljazeera) (for additional information please click here and here)

Extraordinary African Chambers finds enough evidence against Habre to proceed to trial: The Extraordinary African Chambers found enough evidence against Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture to go forward with trial. This evidence comes from witness and victim interviews, documents from Habre’s secret police, and a visit to mass graves during a 19-month pretrial investigation conducted mainly in Chad. These allegations stem from Habre’s eight-year rule in Chad, though he was overthrown over 20 years ago. Habre lived in exile in Senegal until he was detained in 2013. The trial is expected to begin in May or June and will have two Senegalese judges and a lead judge from another African Union member state. (Defence Web)

HRW calls Libyan beheadings a war crime: Human Rights Watch stated that the killing of 21 people by a Libyan extremist group constituted as a war crime. A video was published on 15 February 2015 that showed the 21 men beheaded on a beach thought to be in western Libya. HRW called for Libyan officials to hold those accountable for the acts and for the United Nations to establish a mechanism to investigate and prosecute the crimes. The Libyan extremist group has pledged its loyalty to ISIS, another extremist group. (Human Rights Watch)

Kurdish Gov investigating atrocities committed against ISIS: Images posted on Twitter of beheaded ISIS militants have been confirmed as legitimate by the Kurdish government. These tactics committed against ISIS fighters mirrors the extremist group’s own tactics. The beheadings occurred on 30 January 2015 during a battle to drive ISIS out of the city of Kirkuk. The Kurdish government is investigating the atrocities committed. Kurdish Regional government spokesperson Safeen Dizayi stated that there is no justification for treating dead corpses in this manner. (CTV News)

Official says N Korea not guilty of any crime while asking for HR conference to be cancelled: The United Nations General Assembly urged the UN Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity back in December. North Korea’s UN ambassador, Jang Il Hun, stated on Monday that the threat of referral was not worrisome since they are not guilty of the alleged crimes. Hun also stated that he asked the United States to cancel a conference to be held at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies concerning human rights in North Korea. Hun sent a formal request to his counterpart in the State Department, but the request was denied, as it was not a U.S. government event. (Euronews)

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12 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURT

Sri Lanka requests delay on UN war crimes report: Sri Lankan officials have asked the UN for a delay in the releasing of the report investigating the atrocities of the war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces. A delay in the report’s release until August should give enough time for internal mechanisms to be established. UN officials said the timetable for the report’s release has not been changed as of it. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (BBC, Reuters)

UN Libya Mission concerned over deteriorating political, human rights situation: The UN has released a report lamenting the conditions in Libya. The report highlights the vulnerable situation of migrants in Libya as well as those behind bars with no foreseeable way to challenge their incarceration. There is hope that once the State institutions are strong enough, Libya will stabilize and the fact finding and reconciliation commission will be able to operate more effectively. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (UN, Jurist)

HRW Report details mass Sudan rapes last October: According to HRW, Sudanese army forces raped more than 200 women and girls in an organized attack on the north Darfur town of Tabit in October 2014.   The UN and AU have been urged to take aggressive steps to stop any further abuses from occurring. HRW has also urged the ICC to further investigate Darfur and push for more involvement.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (HRW, Reuters)

ECOWAS Court highlights importance of regional human rights mechanism:  The President of West Africa’s Community Court has called on the community and the ECOWAS Commission for the development of an instrument that will ensure the human rights of the 300 million citizens of West Africa. The new ECOWAS Court President has also called for more enforcement in regards to the court’s authority in order to strengthen its presence. (All Africa)

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11 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka issues resolution asking for international investigation on genocide: On Tuesday, 10 February 2015, the Tamil-controlled Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka adopted a resolution asking the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate and report on claims of genocide during the country’s 26-year civil war.  The resolution noted that customary law required the U.N. to prevent and punish genocide and stated that the U.N. Security Council should refer the situation to the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. A U.N. report estimates that nearly 40,000 people were killed during the last few months of the country’s civil war. (Colombo Page, Bangkok Post) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

STL accused at large was target of January Israeli airstrikes in Syria:  It is being reported that the January 2015 Israeli airstrike on a convoy in Syria was targeting a Hezbollah member currently being tried in absentia by the Special Tribunal of Lebanon.  The Hezbollah member, Mustafa Badreddine, is accused of being involved in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  While no sources have been cited in the report, it is alleged six Hezbollah members and an Iranian general were killed in the attack.  Badreddine allegedly “dropped out of the gathering at the last minute” and was not in the convoy during the attack.  (Lebanon News).

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9 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Palestinian President forms committee to oversee lodging of ICC cases:   A Palestinian committee tasked with preparing and identifying documents to present to the ICC in war crimes and crimes against humanity cases has been formed by order of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.  The committee will be composed of Palestinian politicians, university figures and members of human rights organizations. Palestine, who became a member state to the ICC last month, will be able to submit complaints to the ICC against Israel  for crimes committed during last year’s conflict in Gaza.  (Al Arabiya News).

ICC PTC separates Ongwen case from Kony et al. case: On Friday, 6 February 2015, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II separated the proceedings against former Ugandan rebel leader Dominic Ongwen from the  case of Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and Okot Odhiambo.  The decision to sever the proceedings was to prevent any delay in the pre-trial proceedings against Ongwen.  The Chamber will not proceed at this time against the other three suspects, who remain at large, in absentia.  Ongwen is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in 2004. (ICC).

Sri Lanka invites High Commissioner for HR for visit and seeks UN and US aid on domestic tribunal: U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein has been invited to visit Sri Lanka by the country’s new government.  In addition, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera will be traveling to the United States next week and has sought political and moral support from the U.S. and the U.N. to halt a “possible international investigation” into alleged war crimes committee during the country’s 26-year civil war.  Sri Lanka is considering the establishment of a domestic court to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Business Standard, Sunday Times Sri Lanka).

Malta and Costa Rica ratify amendments on aggression and WCs in the Rome Statute: In the last two weeks, both the Republic of Malta and Costa Rica have signed amendments to the Statute on war crimes and the crime of aggression.  The signing of these amendments brings the number of state parties to 23 for the Statute on war crimes and 22 for the crime of aggression.  In order for the crime of aggression to become effective before the ICC, 30 state parties must ratify the amendment and 2/3 of the state parties must decide to activate the amendment after 1 January 2017.  (ICC).

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