Archive for category Sri Lanka

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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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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