Archive for category Sri Lanka
ICC urges DRC to detain visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been urged to arrest and surrender ICC indictee Omar al-Bashir as he visits the country for meetings with other African leaders. The Sudanese President, charged by the ICC in 2009, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, arrived in the DRC on Tuesday, 25 February 2014. A number of countries on the continent have already failed to arrest Bashir under similar situations claiming the ICC unfairly targets Africans. (Press TV).
Hariri trial adjourned to add fifth suspect: Proceedings at the Special Tribunal in Lebanon relating to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were suspended in ordered to add a fifth accused. The five men, allegedly responsible for killing 23 and wounding some 200 in the attack, will be tried in absentia when proceedings resume sometime in May. The Special Tribunal was established in 2007 and is the only ad hoc tribunal with the power to try at-large accused. (Yahoo News).
Sri Lanka strongly rejects UN war crimes inquiry: Sri Lanka considers a U.N. mandated international investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during the country’s 26-year civil war “an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.” Sri Lanka’s comments come in response to a report published this week by U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay. The report, which calls for an international and independent investigation, precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in March 2014, that is expected to address the issue in Sri Lanka. (Time World).
Defence challenges ICC witness testimony; notes translation inconsistencies: The testimony of a prosecution witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has been challenged at the ICC. Specifically, the defence argued the witness wrongly translated phrases in the Kalenjin language. The witness claimed while testifying that Ruto addressed crowds in Kalenjin. (All Africa).
UN human rights chief calls for inquiry into Sri Lanka war crimes: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed” in Sri Lanka. Pillay’s report precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council debate scheduled for next month that may take up and order action in Sri Lanka. As of now, the U.S. is planning to propose a resolution against Sri Lanka during the debate. Pillay’s report – which will likely add pressure to the Sri Lankan government – states that thousands of civilians were killed, injured, or remain missing after the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). “None of these cases has…resulted in the perpetrators being brought to justice,” said Pillay.
ICC has not yet received request to investigate Yanukovich: Earlier this week, Ukraine’s government voted for the country’s President, Viktor Yanukovich, to be sent to the ICC with two members of his government to be tried for “serious crimes” relating to the deaths of more than 100 people. An ICC spokesman has stated that the ICC has not yet received Ukraine’s request, and noted that it would be up to the ICC prosecutor whether to pursue the investigation after the request is received.
Khmer Rouge tribunal orders physical/psychiatric assessment of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea : In a 17 February filing released earlier this week, the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal has ordered that Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea undergo physicals and psychiatric assessments to determine if they are fit to proceed with the trial’s second (and quite possibly final) segment. Doctors have been appointed for the octogenarian defendants and have been tasked with reporting to the court on their physical and cognitive ability. The examinations are to take place in late March, shortly before a tentatively scheduled hearing on 28 March that will provide the parties to question the medical experts about their conclusions. Though neither defendant has claimed to be unfit to stand trial, both have requested briefer and less frequent courtroom hearings to accommodate their diminished ability to remain engaged in lengthy proceedings.
Sri Lanka explores South Africa’s post-apartheid truth commissions : Earlier this week, a five member delegation led by Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva headed to South Africa in an attempt to better understand the impact of the country’s post-apartheid truth commission. This exploratory mission coincides with mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan government to adequately address allegations of war crimes against ethnic Tamils. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has pushed for an international investigation into allegations that Sri Lankan troops murdered approximately 40,000 civilians during the government’s conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established two decades ago in the wake of apartheid. “The delegation will sepnd two days studying the TRC and also keep the South African President Jacob Zuma informed about the reconstruction work we have done in the northeast [where much of the fighting was concentrated],” said the Health Minister’s spokesman. (The Daily Star)
Bemba lawyer to Court: Bar prosecutors from contacting witnesses: . Lawyers for Jean-Pierre Bemba, who faces charges at the ICC as a result of his alleged involvement in the rapes, murders, and pillaging carried out by the Movement for the Liberation of Congo fighters, have filed a petition with the ICC requesting that prosecutors be barred from contacting witnesses who testified on behalf of Bemba. Charges of witness coaching and bribery were brought against Bemba last November, as well as against two of his associates and two members of his defense team. “The witnesses have…previously been informed that they had no obligation to meet with or talk to the prosecution, and that any contact would not occur without their consent,” said defense counsel Peter Haynes. Notably, pre-trial judge Cuno Tarfusser authorized the prosection to interview defense witnesses last May in order to investigate allegations of witness tampering. Protocol dictates that Bemba’s lawyers should have been notified of the communication, though the judge held that he was “granting an exception to the court’s established protocol.” Defense counsel Haynes argued that the “prosecution’s desire to build a case on witness tampering allegations could not automatically trump the safeguards put in place to ensure witness safety and dignity.” (All Africa)
China: UN North Korea report is “unfair criticism” : The UN report on alleged war crimes in North Korea released earlier this week noted that China – North Korea’s only ally – may be aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes by forcibly repatriating North Koreans. China disagrees with the characterization, deeming the repatriated North Koreans “illegal migrants.” “We totally don’t accept this accusation,” said Spokeswoman Ha Chunying. “On the North Korean defector issue, our position is very clear. We properly deal with that in accordance with international law and humanitarian principles.” (BCC)
ICJ redraws border, gives Peru claim to sea under Chilean sovereignty: The ICJ has granted Peru a “fish-rich” portion of the Pacific Ocean claimed by Chili since the late 1800s. Earlier in the month, both presidents expressed their countries intent to respect what the ICJ judges have now ruled an “equitable solution.” Peru brought the case before the international court back in 2008, disputing the maritime boundary line between its country and Chili.
After indefinite postponement, Kenyatta seeks excusal from presence in ICC trial: Defense lawyers for Uhuru Kenyatta have moved the ICC to excuse the Kenyan President from physical presence in The Hague. The lawyers claim Kenyatta’s “extraordinary” presidential duties are too demanding for even presence via video link. The lawyers made note of the President’s role in national security as the country is threatened by terrorists. The ICC judges only last week postponed Kenyatta’s 5 February 2014, trial date indefinitely.
Sri Lanka says war crimes inquiry would bring “chaos,” reconciliation needs more time: Secretary to Sri Lanka’s President, Lalith Weeratunga, fears an international investigation into war crimes committed during the country’s 26-year civil war would likely cause chaos. Weeratunga has asked for at least five years to start reconciliation. The secretary stated: “It’s a very delicate, delicate process. Reconciliation is not a task that can be achieved in a day or two.” Both the U.K and the U.S. have pushed the Sri Lankan government for an international investigation this year.
International Commission of Jurists find Brunei Sharia penal code violates international human rights law: The International Commission of Jurists warned the Brunei government that its re-introduction of Sharia law this past October violates international human rights. The Sharia penal code in Brunei would, among other things, criminalize and impose severe sentences for extra-marital affairs and homosexuality. The NGO expressed disappointment in the tiny island’s “backward step.”
ICTY Appeals Chamber affirms Đorđević judgment but reduces sentence: On Monday, 27 January 2014, the ICTY Appeals Chamber affirmed Vlastimir Đorđević’s guilt for crimes committed against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. However, the Appeals Chamber also reduced his prison sentence from 27 to 18 years, because it reversed Đorđević’s convictions for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as certain findings of the Trial Chamber concerning Đorđević’s participation in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE). Đorđević was originally convicted in 2011 for having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity through his participation in a JCE. (ICTY).
Mladic refuses to testify in ICTY Karadzic case: On Tuesday, 28 January 2014, Ratko Mladic refused to testify at Radovan Karadzic’s case before the ICTY. He refused to take an oath, and referred to the Court as “satanic.” After answering Karadzic’s first question concerning the posts and dates of his military career, Mladic subsequently refused to answer questions, citing to his health and the possibility of self-incrimination. Karadzic is facing 11 charges, including allegedly committing genocide at Srebrenica during the Kosovo conflict. (BBC).
ICC Prosecution witness questioned on USAID actions in Kenya: On Monday, 27 January 2014, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s defense counsel Karim Khan questioned witness 356 testifying before the ICC about whether the witness knew of American Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannerberger “trying to get people to give evidence against Mr Ruto”. The question was part of the defense’s argument that NGOs funded by USAID had influenced witnesses to testify against Ruto by paying them, and that Ranneberger had traveled to the North Rift region in order to discourage people from supporting Ruto. The witness said that he was not aware of the ambassador’s travel and USAID’s funding. When asked, the witness also said that he had not been influenced to testify by the $20,000 he received from the ICC’s Victims and Witnesses Unit. Khan asked further questions in a private session. (For additional information about this topic, please click here) (Kenya Monitor, Standard Media).
Lebanese firefighter testifies at STL about Hariri bombing scene: On Monday, 27 January 2014, Khaled Tubaily, a Lebanese firefighter who was one of the first to arrive at the site in Beirut where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed by a bomb, testified before the STL. He said that “volcanoes of fire” were erupting from the site, and that the damage reached as far as 4 kilometers away, which will help the prosecution in asserting that the bombing occurred above ground, whereas defense lawyers have stated that the explosion was likely underground. Five Hezbollah members have been indicted for the 14 February 2005 attack. (The Daily Star).
HRW Report criticizes Kenya’s protection of human rights and culture of impunity: Kenya has rejected a recent report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which criticizes Kenya for failing to properly address impunity, citing to the country’s failure to address the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Specifically, the report points to the government’s lack of support for the trials of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto before the ICC. The report also criticizes slow reforms in the Kenyan police force, which allegedly unlawfully tortured and killed 120 individuals between May and August 2013. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs labeled the report as “outrageous and incomprehensible” and asserted that Kenya is complying with international law and that the allegations of force used by the police were based on security actions taken years ago. (Sabahi).
Resolution passed by Sri Lanka council on international investigation into war crimes: On Monday, 27 January 2014, two months before UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay will deliver a report concerning the Sri Lankan government’s progress in addressing war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War before the UN Human Rights Council, passed a resolution for an international probe into these alleged war crimes. Specifically, the resolution calls for an inquiry into the “ethnic cleansing” that allegedly took place and rejects Sri Lanka’s national inquiry mechanism in favor of an international inquiry.
Former Peruvian Government cleared of CAH for forced sterilization: Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was cleared of the allegation that he and his cabinet forcibly sterilized about 300,000 indigenous women as part of a national program in order to reduce birth rates in poor, rural areas of Peru during his term in office. The prosecutor, who interviewed women affected by the procedures, determined that Fujimori had not committed crimes against humanity and that the women had not been coerced into undergoing sterilization procedures. Multiple human rights groups had urged the government to prosecute the cases of about 2,000 women affected by the procedures, and in 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights directed Peru to investigate the death of a woman who had undergone such a sterilization procedure. (Chicago Tribune).
British foreign secretary rejects allegations of British officials committing war crimes in Iraq: William Hague, the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, dismissed the bid to prosecute British military members and politicians for war crimes allegedly committed against prisoners in Iraq. He stated that it was unnecessary for the ICC to investigate these allegations, adding that British officials did not systematically torture troops in Iraq. Individual cases, he said, are either being investigated or have already been addressed by European courts, public inquiries, or the historic abuses system. Abuse had been found in several cases, and apologies or compensation was given. The complaint, lodged with the ICC by several human rights groups, alleges that hundreds of Iraqi prisoners were subjected to war crimes between 2003 and 2008 at the hands of British officials. (The Guardian).
U.S. encourages Sri Lanka to investigate war crime allegations: On Sunday, 12 January 2014, the U.S. urged Sri Lanka to “seek the truth” concerning allegations of war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War, and to launch independent investigations. These statements were made after Stephen J. Rapp, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the Department of State, visited Sri Lanka, where he met with government officials and civil society members. He also heard eyewitness accounts of the conflict and the commission of human rights abuses during the war. The U.S. reiterated its commitment to assisting Sri Lanka in promoting peace and prosperity within the country. (Sunday Times).
Morsi trial postponed in Cairo: Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s hearing was adjourned Wednesday, 8 January 2014, due to bad weather. The former President was unable to fly to the Cairo courthouse although it is being reported the skies were clear and no other flights were canceled. Morsi, along with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members, is accused of charges of inciting the murders of at least three protesters in 2012. The hearing is rescheduled for 1 February 2014. (N.Y. Times).
U.S. to table third resolution against Sri Lanka: During a visit to Sri Lanka this week, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen J. Rapp announced that the U.S. intends to bring a third resolution against Sri Lanka at the March 2014, U.N. Human Rights Council. The resolution calls for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during Sri Lanka’s 26 year civil war. The Sri Lankan government in response maintains that the country is currently implementing international recommendations. (Colombo Page).
Serbia requests unilateral withdrawal of ICJ genocide charges: Serbia “will not withdraw the genocide counter-suit against Croatia [at the ICJ] unilaterally,” Serbian policy adviser Marko Djuric informed the media on Tuesday, 7 January 2014. Djuric reasoned the countries should resolve the issues and withdraw both genocide lawsuits simultaneously. Serbia filed the counter-suit in 2010, claiming Croatia, among other things, was responsible for missing people during the 1991-1995 war. (Dalje.com).
US War Crimes Envoy Stephen Rapp travels to Sri Lanka: US Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, will spend five days in Sri Lanka discussing rights and reconciliation following the decades-long separatist war. Sri Lanka has resisted calls to investigate allegations that war crimes were committed with a estimated result of 100,000 lost between the years of 1972 and 2009. (AFP).
ICC claim alleges military war crimes in Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has gone international with its complaint against the current Egyptian government. A team of lawyers representing the Brotherhood has filed a complaint with the ICC alleging widespread crimes against humanity by the Egyptian military. (For additional information on this topic, click here) (Globe and Mail, Daily News).
Ongoing Egypt unrest prompts arrest of MB sympathizers: The Muslim Brotherhood has accused Egyptian police of plotting violent attacks to support an increase in arrests. The Brotherhood denies that it practices violence. However, the Egyptian authorities insist that the Brotherhood has sent members to the Gaza Strip to receive training from Hamas. (Aljazeera).
SCSL concludes operations: The Special Court of Sierra Leone closes its doors after 11 years of service. Among other accomplishments, the trials saw first-ever convictions for attacks against UN peacekeepers, forced marriage as a crime against humanity, and for the use of child soldiers. The success of the special court sets an important precedent for future courts and tribunals. (For additional information on this topic, click here) (UN News, RTT News).
UN Commissioner applauds Nepal High Court in amnesty decision: High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, welcomes the decision Nepal’s High Court to withhold amnesty for serious human rights violations committed during the country’s decade long civil war. Pillay believes that this decision by the High Court will ensure that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will not be abused or delay criminal investigations and prosecutions of conflict-related cases. (UN News).
U.K. demands Sri Lanka investigation: The U.K. is pushing for a resolution at the March 2014, U.N. Human Rights Council against Sri Lanka who it alleges has yet to conduct a legitimate investigation into sexual violence committed by the government during its 26 year civil war. Foreign & Commonwealth Minister Hugo Swire said the U.K. would “continue to press the Sri Lankan Government for credible, transparent and independent investigation into alleged war crimes.” The Sri Lankan government maintains the county is in the process of addressing the concerns of the U.K. but that it will take years to achieve a resolution. (Colombo Page).
1,000 die in CAR attacks: Amnesty International reported that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the Central African Republic. According to the human rights group, nearly 1,000 men have died this December since a de facto government retailed against Christians. Others have been forcibly displaced and a small number of women and children have been killed. Amnesty International has requested the U.N. deploy a “peacekeeping force, with a mandate to protect civilians, and enough resources to do so effectively.” (Daily Times).
International Crimes Division expected in Kenya: Kenya is in the advanced stages of establishing an International Crimes Division within the High Court, says Samuel Kobia, Commissioner of the Judicial Service Commission. The Division will have jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, piracy, human trafficking and arms smuggling. The Division is expected to aid Kenya’s lower courts and prevent perpetrators from going unpunished. (All Africa).
U.N. reports Syrian disappearances: On Thursday, 19 December 2013, U.N. investigators said the Syrian government was engaged in a “widespread campaign of terror against the civilian population.” Since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, the U.N. has documented at least one hundred disappearances of activists and civilians. The U.N. report states reasonable grounds exist to believe the acts committed during Syria’s civil war amount to crimes against humanity. (The Daily Star).
East Timor files suit in ICJ: East Timor filed suit in the ICJ against Australia on Tuesday, 17 December 2013. East Timor alleged an Australian spy organization unlawfully seized and detained documents related to an oil and gas treaty dispute between the two countries. East Timor requested a formal apology, as well as the destruction of all the documents illegally seized. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said the raids were necessary to protect national security. (Herald Sun News).
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).