Archive for category STL
Posted by cdelaubenfels in CAR, Crimes against Humanity, DRC, ECCC, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, STL, UN General Assembly, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on June 12, 2013
Botswana and Germany ratify Rome Statute amendments on crime of aggression and Article 8: On 3 and 4 June 2013, Germany and Botswana, respectively, ratified the Rome Statute amendments on crime of aggression and Article 8 on war crimes. Currently seven states have ratified the Kampala amendments on the crime of aggression. The ICC will have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression once the Assembly of States Parties approves jurisdiction after 1 January 2017 and one year after 30 states have ratified the amendment.
Congolese militia commander questioned over accuracy of Bemba’s book: On 10 June 2013, ICC prosecutors questioned a former Congolese militia commander over the discrepancy between his testimony and ICC accused Jean-Pierre Bemba’s book on the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) force’s deployment in CAR in 2001. In 2001, the CAR requested assistance from the MLC to help put down a coup. The book reported that Bemba made military orders in the CAR, but the witness stated he never heard Bemba make orders. The MLC troops are accused of committing mass atrocities including rape, murder, and pillaging in the CAR from 2002-2003. Bemba is accused of having effective authority and control over the troops who committed the atrocities.
ICC Prosecutor opposes Kenyatta’s postponement application: On 11 June 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda urged trial judges to reject Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s application to postpone his trial until January 2014. Bensouda stated that delaying the trial would impede on justice and the interests of victims. Kenyatta’s trial is set to begin on 9 July. Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity relating to the 2007-09 post-election violence in Kenya.
ICC begins inquiry into withdrawal of Kenyan victims: On 9 June 2013, the ICC’s Common Legal Representative of Victims said his team is investigating the Kenyan victims’ withdrawal from the cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy-President William Ruto. The ICC stated that when a victim signed a letter indicating their withdrawal, the reason for their withdrawal will need to be established. The ICC argued that the victims may have been subjected to undue influence.
ICTY Chief Prosecutor is satisfied with Serbia’s cooperation: On 9 June 2013, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stated that he will submit a report to the UN General Assembly that he is satisfied with the cooperation of Serbia with the tribunal. Serbia has adequately responded to applications for assistance sent by the ICTY and has committed itself to domestically prosecuting individuals who hide ICTY fugitives. Brammertz reported that he is also satisfied with the cooperation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Currently, the ICTY has 12 cases on trial and 13 cases on appeal underway.
STL to launch investigation into witness intimidation: On 29 April 2013, Judge David Baragwanath of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon announced that the STL would launch an investigation into three incidents of publication of witness identities. The incidents will remain confidential for the time being. Such publications could be deemed interference with administration of justice.
Witnesses continue testifying at Khmer Rouge Tribunal: On 7 June 2013, the UN-backed ECCC trial of former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan continued. New York Times Journalist Sydney Schanberg concluded his testimony detailing his experiences reporting in Cambodia during the 1970s atrocities. Samphan’s former bodyguard testified as a character witness for the accused. Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the atrocities that killed nearly two million Cambodians during the 1970.
ICTY convicts six Bosnian Croats: Six accused on trial for forcibly displacing and murdering Muslims and other non-Croats during the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s, were found guilty today for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICTY judges held the leaders engaged in a joint criminal enterprise in an effort to create a “Greater Croatia.” The tribunal handed down prison sentences ranging from 10 to 25 years, with former prime minister Jadranko Prlic receiving the longest. The five other convicted wartime leaders are former defence minister Bruno Stojic, former militia heads Slobodan Praljak and Milivoj Petkovic, former military policy commander Valentin Coric, and former head of prisoner facilities Berislav Pusic. All six are expected to appeal. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
Bensouda fires back at claims ICC targeting Africa because of race: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda responded sharply to accusations the court’s investigations were discriminately targeting African states at a 28 May UN meeting in New York. Bensouda argued that the AU’s charges that the ICC choose cases on the basis of race wrongly shifted the focus of the ICC indictments and the protection of the Court from victims to the perpetrators. Bensouda said the AU’s stance insulted the thousands of African victims subject to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. She vowed the ICC would remain politically independent and impartial. The Prosecutor’s statements came one day after the AU adopted a resolution urging the ICC to refer back to Kenya the cases of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here, and 2. click here).
Witness testifies Mladic “directly involved” in Srebrenica attacks: Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic’s trial continued at the ICTY with testimony from lieutenant colonel Mirko Trivic. Trivic claimed he met with Mladic in Srebrenica in July 1995, and that Mladic gave him orders to prepare for an offensive on the UN protected co-operative. A witness testified the previous week that he personally watched the murder of five Muslims and observed piles of bodies around Srebrenica that same month. Mladic is on trial for genocide, crimes against humanity, and taking international peacekeepers hostage.
UN Human Rights Council plans urgent debate on Syria: The Council’s three-week session opened on Monday with a recommendation that the Syrian government’s human rights violations be referred to the ICC for prosecution. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, voiced her concern for the safety of civilians, citing reports of aerial attacks in residential areas and the targeting of schools and hospitals. Present Syrian Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui called these charges unfounded and challenged the Council to provide proof of such violations. Ambassador Hamoui claimed the focus on his country was the result of bias and impartiality to rebel troops. U.S., Turkey, and Qatar diplomats nonetheless persuaded the Council to hold a second urgent debate to focus on the Syria civil war. The debate is scheduled for today, 29 May 2013.
Death penalty for ICT criminals to be carried out by August: The execution of three war criminals in Bangladesh is expected by July or August of this year, according to Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu. Two top leaders and a former Jamaat activist were found guilty by the ICT for crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War. The criminal appeals should conclude by June.
STL’s investigation of 2005 bombing to move quickly and carefully: On 14 May 14 2013, STL officials and the NGO Justice Without Frontiers met to discuss the on-going investigation into the 2005 bombing that killed 23 people, including former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The STL vowed to move the investigation along quickly to help the victims. The NGO stated this would be done in a “careful” manner to avoid leaks of confidential information.
Post by: Anna Mumford
Karadzic seeks subpoena for Mladic to testify in war crimes trial: On 18 April 2013, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic sought a subpoena to compel former Serbian Military Chief Ratko Mladic to serve as a defense witness at this upcoming ICTY. Karadzic argues that Mladic may be a key defense witness and can testify that Karadzic was not aware of the plans that lead to the Srebrenica massacre. Karadzic and Mladic, the alleged chief architects of the atrocities committed by Serbs during the Bosnian war, were originally indicted together, but not stand trial separately. Both men are charged with genocide and other war crimes.
HRW says Senussi has not seen a lawyer nor been told his charges: On 17 April 2013, HRW released a statement saying that Abdullah al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, had not seen a lawyer nor been informed of his charges since being in Libyan jail. HRW interviewed Senussi on Wednesday; it was the first visit by an international human rights organization to Senussi’s Libyan jail cell. Senussi is suspected to have played a large role in atrocities committed by the Gaddafi regime; he is also wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity committed during the Libyan uprising in 2011. Libya, which plans to adopt a democratic constitution this year, hopes to try Senussi at home; human rights activists, however, worry that Senussi will not be able to receive a trial that meets international standards.
Kosovo ex-rebel retried for war crimes: On 18 April 2013, the retrial of Fatmir Limaj, a top ethnic Albanian rebel during the 1998-99 Kosovo War and a current politician, and nine associates began. Limaj plead not guilty to charges of torture and killing of Serbs and Albanians at a detention center in Kosovo. The retrial was triggered when the Supreme Court of Kosovo annulled a verdict of a lower court acquitting Limaj and the others. The lower court was annulled because they had wrongfully thrown out the evidence of a guard who worked at the Kosovo detention camp and had left a diary, but was found dead a month before Limaj’s trial was to begin. British judge Malcolm Simmons is the chair of the panel trying Limaj.
Ruto asks ICC to lift attendance requirement: On 18 April 2013, Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto asked the ICC to lift its demand that requires Ruto to be present at The Hague whenever his trial was on. Ruto is charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity in relation to the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Ruto’s attorney proposed that Ruto be in attendance at the opening, closing, judgment, and any hearing which his attendance is expressly requested; the defense further contended that Ruto will always be able to follow the trial via video link. The defense argued that the Rome Statute only states that an accused shall be entitled “to be present at the trial,” but does not state that attendance is mandatory; Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba was authorized by the ICC to be absent from his trial on two occasions. Ruto contends that his proposal would allow him to balance his Kenyan constitutional duties with his personal commitment to cooperate with the ICC.
Footage of Mladic shows him telling Muslims to “survive or perish”: On 19 April 2013, the trial of Ratko Mladic continued. Video footage of Mladic was shown where he told Muslim captives that they could “survive or perish.” Contrarily, the defense showed footage of Dutch General Thom Karemans telling Mladic that the Srebrenica Muslims had smuggled lots of weapons into their enclave. Mladic is charged by the ICTY for genocide, crimes against humanity, and taking international peacekeepers hostage between 1992-1995.
STL president confirms that Lebanon will support STL’s response to witness leak: On 18 April 2013, STL president David Baragwanath, finishing a four day tour of Lebanon, stated that he had received assurances that Lebanon would support the STL’s response to recent witness leaks fully. Last week hackers infiltrated a Lebanese newspaper’s website and posted names of STL witnesses on its frontpage. The STL is investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri; four Hezbollah members have been indicted in the case, but have not been apprehended.
Rwanda and EALA ask for ICTR archive to be transferred to Rwanda: On 18 April 2013, the East African Legislative Assembly supported Rwanda in its effort for ICTR archives to be transferred to Rwanda. The EALA, which is meeting from 16-26 April, has focused on the legacy and implications of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. For one, the EALA passed a resolution asking the East African Countries summit to call on the UN to establish an International Trust Fund for Survivors of Genocide against the Tutsi.
US Supreme Court rules on Alient Tort Statute: On 17 April 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled on the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum case. The Court held that the victims of gross human rights in Nigeria were not entitled to relief under the ATS—further, a majority of the court held that the ATS does not apply to human rights violations committed in other countries. Human Rights First criticizes the decision as “undermining the United States’ status as a leader on human rights.” Before this decision, the ATS was an important tool in holding gross human rights violators accountable to their victims in U.S. courts. (To read to full Supreme Court Decision, click here).
New Policy allows UN officials to freely interact with persons summoned to ICC: On 15 April 2013, the UN announced a new policy that will allow UN officials to freely engage with persons before the ICC. The policy will be in effect for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy-President William Ruto. On a similar note, UN officials are supposed to avoid contact with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir because he is not cooperating with the ICC.
Rwanda keeps ICC out of Africa: On 15 April 2013, it was reported that Rwanda had won a behind-the-scenes battle at the UN Security Council, keeping the ICC out of human rights abuses in Africa. Rwanda reportedly said that the ICC “condemns crimes committed by some but not others.” Rwanda is supposedly angry at the ICC for indicting Bosco Ntaganda and Laurent Nkunda, M23 rebels who are reported to be backed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Last year a UN panel said that both Rwanda and Uganda commanded and supported M23 rebels—ICC investigations of the link could lead to charges against Kagame.
ICC visits Colombia to review state crimes: On 15 April 2013, the ICC visited Colombia to review the peace process with FARC and other human rights violations. The ICC stated they encourage the peace talks between Colombia and FARC, but such negotiations must meet the standards of the Rome Statute. The ICC also examined Colombia’s response to false killings, where 3,000 Colombian civilians were murdered and dressed as guerillas to raise the military’s body count —prosecution of these cases have been stagnant. The ICC has investigated Colombia for ten years, but has not prosecuted any cases.
HRW alleges that Al-Shabaab attacks are war crimes: On 16 April 2013, HRW stated that Al-Shabaab’s recent attacks on a Somalian courthouse amounted to war crimes due to its failure to regard civilian life. Al-Shabaab’s spokesperson took responsibility for the attack, but said it was a justified military target because the court was ruling contrary to Islamic law. It is reported that at least 30 people died in the attack. Humanitarian law, which is applicable in Somalia, protects civilians and civilian objects from deliberate. The UN is currently focusing on judicial reform in Somalia.
UK vows to prosecute war crimes in Syria: On 16 April 2013, the UK’s Secretary of State William Hague promised to bring those in Syria responsible for war crimes to justice. Hague accused Syrian regime of massive human rights abuses. The UK has trained more than 300 journalists and activists on how to document human rights violations. Hague further called for an urgent response to the human rights violations occurring.
Activists call for review of ICTY: On 10 April 2013, the UN General Assembly held a debate on the performance of the ICTY. Nearing the 20th anniversary of the ICTY, activists and legal scholars are calling for a comprehensive review of the tribunal. At the same time, Serbian representatives allege that the ICTY was an “inquisition” against Serbia. While Serbians are more concerned with the outcome of ICTY trials, legal experts hope to focus on the length of trials, treatment of evidence, and outreach efforts.
STL President’s visit to Lebanon not connected to leaks: On 15 April 2013, the STL confirmed that STL President David Baragwanath’s visit to Lebanon was not connected to recent leaks. Last week there was a reported leak within the STL of confidential witnesses, although the STL emphasized that the leaked witnesses were not accurate. The STL stated that Baragwanath’s trip was planned “long before the fiasco.” The Hague-based STL has indicted four members of Hezbollah for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese President Hariri.
Construction begins on new ICC building: On 16 April 2013, the ICC held a ceremony commemorating the ground breaking of the permanent ICC building. The Netherlands provided the land for the building free of charge; Rome Statute state parties are funding the project. ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song stated, “An institution of global significance deserves a world class premises.”
Kenyatta wins Kenyan presidential election: On 9 March 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta, accused by the ICC of crimes against humanity, was announced the winner of the presidential election in Kenya. Kenyatta has been declared the outright winner as garnered more than 50% of the overall vote (50.03%). Odinga has announced that he will challenge the results of the election in court, which will lead to delays in the final result being settled before the start of Kenyatta’s ICC trial in July 2013.
New ICC Deputy Prosecutor sworn in: On 8 March 2013, James Stewart of Canada was sworn in as Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda commented on the appointment: “In addition to his exceptionally rich legal background and expertise, James Stewart brings a profound determination to bolster our fight to obtain justice for victims.” Stewart was elected to a term of nine-years in November 2012, he reports directly to Bensouda.
ICC approves delay of Kenyatta trial: On 7 March 2013, the ICC agreed to delay the trial of Uhuru Kenyatta, the newly elected Kenyan president, and his codefendant Francis Muthaura until 9 July 2013. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda agreed to delay the case last month after the defense argued that it needed more time to respond to last minute evidence. Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity in relation to 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Trial of former Gaddafi officials begins in Libya: On 7 March 2013, a trial of 40 former officials who worked under Muammar Gaddafi began al-Zawiya city, 50 kilometers outside Tripoli. The defendants are charged with a range of crimes from inciting the killings of protestors and embezzlement. The court has postponed the hearings until 11 April to give the defense lawyers more time to prepare.
Dutch military chief will not face war crime charges in relation to Srebrenica massacre: On 7 March 2013, the Dutch public prosecutor announced that criminal charges would not be brought against Thom Karremans, the head of the Dutch Armed forces who were tasked with protecting the Srebrenica enclave from Bosnian Serbs during the Yugoslavian civil war. The Dutch forces failed to protect Srebrenica, which led to the deaths of over 8,000 men and boys. Relatives of three victims of the massacre called on Karremans to be held criminally liable, but the public prosecution office said that Karremans was not criminally involved. In 2011, the appeals court in The Hague said that the Dutch state could be held criminally liable for the three deaths; the relatives of the victims now plan to use a different legal route to force a prosecution.
New ICC Registrar elected: On 8 March 2013, Herman von Hebel was elected the new Registrar of the ICC by the judges of the ICC. Von Hebel will serve a term of five-years. Von Hebel, a Dutch national, is currently the Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. As dictated by the Rome Statute, the Registrar is the principal administrative officer of the ICC and works under the ICC President.
Kenyan presidential candidates attend ICC hearing via video; seek delay of trial: On 14 February 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, running mates in Kenya’s March elections, opted to attend their ICC pre-trial hearing via video-link. The two decided that traveling to The Hague for the conference would interrupt their campaigns. Kenyatta and Ruto both sought delays in their cases at the pre-trial hearing. Ruto seeks more time to prepare for trial due to late disclosure of prosecution evidence. Kenyatta wants his case to be sent back to pre-trial hearing to see if he should still go to trial due to an essential prosecution witness being dismissed for lies. At a presidential debate on Monday, Kenyatta said that the ICC prosecution would not interfere with his ability to run Kenya if elected; ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has applied to the court for the four accused Kenyans to make a declaration that they would not fail to attend their trials. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Kenyatta cleared to run for president by Kenyan Court: On 15 February 2013, the Kenyan High Court refused to rule in a case on the eligibility of Kenyan presidential candidates, including Uhuru Kenyatta. The High Court stated that only the Kenya Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to rule on issues relating to the election of presidents. The refusal to rule, absent appeal to the Supreme Court, clears Kenyatta for the 4 March election. Current Prime Minister, and front runner for the presidency, Raila Odinga welcomed the decision, stating that the Kenyan people should decide the presidency in a free and fair election.
Serbian president to open UNGA debate on the Hague Tribunal: On 12 February 2013, the UNGA president Vuk Jeremić sent invitations to UN member states to participate in a debate on the Hague Tribunal. Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić will be the first person to address the debate participants. Other participants include Rwanda, representatives of the ICTY, ICTR, and ICC, other members states, and potentially Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency Chairman Nebojša Radmanović. The debate is in response to the acquittal of Croat generals by the Hague Tribunal last November. This will be the first time since Nuremburg that the UNGA will openly debate the work of an international criminal judiciary.
Kenyan government sued for police brutality during post-election violence: On 14 February 2013, families of seven killed and eight wounded victims of the 2007-2008 post-election violence brought suit against the Kenyan government. The lawsuit claims that the Kenyan police were responsible for the shots that caused the deaths and injuries. Kenyan records show that police were responsible for the 405 of the over 1100 deaths in relation to the violence. Domestic and International human rights organizations have long expressed concerns with the police force for ineffectiveness, endemic corruption, human rights violations, and impunity. The lawsuit claims the government gave unlawful orders to the police and failed to train them properly.
ECCC places restrictions on lawyers’ ability to speak to the media: On 15 February 2013, the ECCC issued an edict requiring lawyer to seek approval from the court before speaking to the media about issues that could affect the court—especially the topics of corruption and political interference. Defense lawyers for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has asked the ECCC bar to further clarify the order. If disobeyed, the order could lead to fines or disbarment. The edict may be in response to a heavy amount of criticism levied at the ECCC. Domestic and International legal experts have denounced the edict as a violation of freedom of speech.
Former Lebanese prime minister states that those responsible for his father’s assassination will be brought to justice: On 14 February 2013, on the eight year anniversary of his father’s assassination, former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri said that those responsible would be brought to justice “sooner or later.” He reaffirmed his trust that Special Tribunal for Lebanon will punish the criminals responsible. The STL has indicted four Hezbollah members for the assassination, but the men remain at large and Hezbollah denies any involvement.
ICC judges order Libya to hand over former spy chief: On 7 February 2013, ICC judges ruled that Libya must hand over Abdullah al-Senussi, Gaddafi’s former spy chief. Senussi, who has been charged with crimes against humanity relating to the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, has had no access to defense attorneys since his capture. Recent reports allege that Libya paid the Mauritania government $200 million dollars to hand Senussi over to them instead of the ICC. Ben Emmerson, Senussi’s defense lawyer, questions Senussi’s ability to receive a fair trial in Libya. The ICC judges stated that the court would decide how to respond later if the Libyan government does not grant their surrender request.
Kenyan presidential candidate asks ICC to review accusations: On 6 February 2013, attorneys for Uhuru Kenyatta, current deputy prime minister and presidential candidate, released documents challenging the validity of current ICC charges. Kenyatta’s lawyers claim that the witness, who said he saw Kenyatta at a meeting planning the post-election violence in 2007-2008, did not attend the meeting. The ICC dropped this witness from the proceedings, but Kenyatta’s attorneys claim without that witness’s lie, there is no substantial case against Kenyatta. The ICC said they will continue with the court proceedings, which begin in April, and that Kenyatta’s attorneys should have made the complaint via court records, not through the media.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon prosecutor attempts to amend indictment: On 7 February 2013, the prosecutor for the STL submitted a confidential motion to the court seeking amendments to current indictments. The amendments relate to the indictments of four Hezbollah members accused of involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese president, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. Last month, defense attorneys asked the STL to delay the proceedings against their clients because the prosecution had failed to disclose all relevant documents; the prosecution supported the request and promised to disclose all documents by March 11. The four Hezbollah men will be tried in absentia as they are still at large.
Haitian court to decide if former dictator can be tried for crimes against humanity: On 7 February 2013, a Haitian court began legal proceedings to decide if former dictator, Jean Claude Duvalier, can be tried for crimes against humanity and embezzlement. In January 2012, a lower Haitian court ruled that Duvalier could not be tried because the statute of limitations had passed—that ruling is being appealed. A spokesperson for Amnesty International commented that crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations and that leaders cannot receive amnesty or pardons for such crimes. Duvalier, who was ousted by a popular uprising in 1986, spent 25 years exiled in France before returning to Haiti for unknown reasons in 2011.
Tribunal rules that Iranian regime is guilty of crimes against humanity: On 7 February 2013, the Iran Tribunal released its final judgment that the Iranian regime is guilty of crimes against humanity committed during the 1980s. The Tribunal concluded that there is widespread evidence that state officials were responsible for widespread, systematic crimes against civilians including torture, persecution of dissidents, and thousands of summary executions. The Iran Tribunal, conducted by six international human rights judges, is the first of its kind as it addresses crimes committed by a sitting government. The Iranian government refused to participate in the tribunal.
Kenyatta unlikely to travel to the ICC for status conference: On 6 February 2013, Kenyan presidential candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, met with his lawyers to determine if he would travel to The Hague on February 14 for his status conference. Kenyatta is accused of crimes against humanity in relation to Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence. Kenyatta, who is not required to attend the status conference in person, would appear via video. The status conference will discuss procedures and other issues relating to the trials that begin in April. A likely topic of the hearing will be the illegal pressuring and bribing of witnesses, which both defense and prosecution allege.
New African court in Senegal set to try former Chadian dictator: On 8 February 2013, a special court of African judges under an African Union mandate, which will try former Chadian dictator, Hissene Habre, opened in Senegal. Habre is accused of causing the deaths of over 40,000 people and torture during his eight-year rule in Chad that ended in 1990. In the past Senegal had refused numerous extradition requests for Habre, but laws passed under the new Senegalese president, Macky Sall, have made the trial possible. International human rights advocates and African jurists have applauded the court.
ICTR spokesperson says Tanzania is ready to host Kenya ICC trials: On 7 February 2013, a representative for the ICTR announced that the court in Arusha, Tanzania is prepared to host the ICC trial of four Kenyans. Defense attorneys for presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, his running mate William Ruto, former Civil Service head Francis Muthaura, and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang have requested the ICC trials to be transferred to Arusha out of convenience. Tanzania’s Attorney General said that they would be honored to host the trials; however, the government has received no formal request from the ICC.
Ex-Guatemalan Dictator to be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity: On 28 January 2013, a Guatemalan judge announced that Efron Rios Montt, dictator of Guatemala in 1983 and 1984, and his intelligence chief, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, would stand trial for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during their rule. The judicial decision is a surprise as the Guatemalan military still has significant political power. A United Nations truth commission determined that “acts of genocide” had been committed by the military, specifically in Mayan-Ixil villages, in which 200,000 people died. Rios Mantt, a former legislator, was protected from prosecution until last January—scholars and human rights advocates laud the decision as ending Rios Mantt’s impunity and showing that genocide is punishable by law.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon spokesperson criticizes recent witness leaks: On 27 January 2013, Marten Youssef, spokesperson for the STL, criticized recent leaks of witness names to the media, stating that such leaks puts witnesses in danger and jeopardizes international justice. Youssef commented that such leaks could be charged as witness intimidation and may postpone STL trials. The STL proceedings investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Al-Akhbar, one of the newspapers that has published witness names, argues that the SCL investigations are a public affair and that such leaks inform the public of court proceedings.
Israel boycotts a UN human rights forum due to crime review: On 29 January 2013, Israel boycotted a UN forum where their international crimes were to be reviewed. It was expected that Israel would face criticism for its war crimes against Palestinian territories. Every UN member state is supposed to undergo a periodic crime review process—Israel’s last was December 2008. The president of the Human Rights Council expressed concern over Israel’s boycott, calling it “an important issue and unprecedented situation.”
Syria says an ICC investigation would hurt the resolution of the Syrian conflict: On 25 January 2013, the UN Security Council released a letter by Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari stating that an ICC investigation would “complicat[e] the situation and hinde[r] the search for an end to the crisis.” The letter is in response to the call by 60 UN member states to the UN Security Council to refer the Syrian conflict to the ICC. Ja’fari wrote that Syria shares international concern over the humanitarian crisis and rights abuses committed by “armed terrorist groups,” but criticized some states for interfering with Syria’s duty to protect its people. Ja’afari’s letter also called for sanctions by the EU, United States, and other states to be lifted because they are punishing the Syrian people. It is unlikely that the Security Council, which has the power to refer cases to the ICC, will do so because of the permanent veto power of Russia, a Syrian ally.
Cambodian Tribunal’s future in jeopardy due to lack of funds: On 30 January 2013, the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal issued a letter to employees trying to explain why they did not receive pay for December. One-hundred of the three-hundred tribunal employees have said they will walk off if they are not paid by the end of the month. The tribunal, which was established in 2006, is currently trying three Khmer Rouge leaders—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Leng Sary—for atrocities committed under their regime. The tribunal has only $2.5 million of the $9.3 million that will be needed to sustain the court for the year.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for North Korean probe: On 14 January 2013, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an independent investigation of “serious crimes” against human rights in North Korea. Pillay made her statement following a special investigative report submitted to the Human Rights Council in September, and a series of meetings with survivors of the North Korean regime in December. Despite the recent change in North Korean leadership, over 200,000 people are believed to be held in prison camps where human rights abuses abound. The independent investigation would mark a drastic increase in UN involvement in North Korean affairs, and may lead to the filing of criminal charges against the regime. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
57 countries demand UN prosecution of Syrian regime: On 14 January 2013, a group of 57 countries submitted a letter calling for the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria’s leadership to the International Criminal Court. Organized by Switzerland, the letter is largely symbolic in nature: Russia and China, both permanent members of the Security Council, have thrice vetoed such resolutions, and neither has indicated a change in stance. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
Khmer Rouge second in command hospitalized during trial: On 13 January 2013, former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea was hospitalized for acute bronchitis. Known as “Brother No. 2,” Nuon Chea was Pol Pot’s second in command, and is one of three Khmer Rouge leaders to face war crimes charges before the ECCC.
Sarajevo doctor testifies against Ratko Mladic for hospital shelling: On 11 January 2013, the written testimony of a doctor who worked at a Sarajevo hospital was submitted in the trial of Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic. In his deposition, Dr. Milan Mandilovic recalls that his hospital was subjected to direct shelling, power interruptions, as well as “shortages of water, food, medicine, and oxygen.”
Replacement Deputy Registrar for UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon named: On 14 January 2013, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) appointed American Daryl Mundis to the position of Deputy Registrar. Mundis held the position of Chief of Prosecutions at the court since 2009, and replaces Kaoru Okuizumi, who left in October 2012. As Deputy Registrar, Mundis will work with Registrar Herman von Hebel to oversee the functioning of the tribunal.
HRW issues report on crimes of Ivory Coast military: On Monday 19 November 2012, Human Rights Watch published a report which attributes widespread abuses and human rights violations to the Ivory Coast military during the post-election conflict of 2011. Crimes committed by the military include torture and illegal detention. Stating that the impunity of these crimes and abuses impede the reconciliation of the country, HRW urged the Government of Alassane Outtara to address the abuses and try those responsible for the crimes.
Kosovo court orders retrial of former ICTY accused: The Supreme Court of Kosovo, comprising of a panel of EULEX judges and local judges, has ordered the retrial for war crimes of politician and former minister in Kosovo, Fatmir Limaj. The European Union’s law enforcing mission in Kosovo (EULEX) assisted in the decision to annul the acquittal of Limaj for the war crimes of torture and killing after the prosecution appealed the acquittal, and the Court decided to hear the previously inadmissible evidence of deceased “Witness X;” Agim Zogaj. Limaj will be retried for the crimes against Serb prisoners during the Kosovo war in 1998 and 1999. Limaj was also acquitted for war crimes before the ICTY in 2005. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
STL Prosecution estimates 557 witnesses in upcoming trial: The Prosecution of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has submitted that it plan to call 557 witnesses during the trial in abstenia of four Hezbollah members for the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri which is due to start in March 2013. Submissions made by STL Prosecutor Norman Farrell were made public on Monday 19 November 2012, and stated that the Prosecution planned its case to take approximately 457 hours in total. Though none of the four accused, including Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Anaissi, and Assad Sabra, have been arrested ahead of their trial date, an Interpol “red notice” has been issued for all four.
ICC approves participation for more victims in Bemba trial: The ICC Trial Chamber has approved the participation of 777 new victims to participate in the proceeding against Jean Pierre Bemba. The approval of further victims in the trial puts the count of victims in the Bemba case at 4898; the highest number for any case before the ICC.