Archive for category STL
UN address ICC issues, including Kenya deferral and Sudan’s outstanding warrants: On Thursday, 31 October 2013, ICC President Sang-Hyung Song updated the UNGA on the workings of the Court, including the Kenya, Libya, Sudan and Ivory Coast cases. He asked all ICC stakeholders to uphold the integrity of the Rome Statute, and particularly highlighted the support needed from the UN to address the outstanding warrants in Sudan against the four individuals charged with committing genocide in Darfur. In a separate meeting, the UNSC representatives from Kenya and the AU were addressing the ICC concerning the possibility of deferring the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto for one year. Under Article 16 of the Rome Statute, a prosecution can be deferred for up to 12 months by a resolution of the UNSC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (The Star, UPI).
Serbia to receive positive report from ICTY: Rasim Ljajic, the president of the National Council for the ICTY Cooperation, will mention Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY in a report he will deliver to the UN in December, specifically referring to Serbia promptly delivering documents and allowing access to witnesses and archives. Ljajic met with ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz on Monday, 4 November 2013, and he met with Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and the chief Serbian prosecutor Vladimir Vucicevic on Tuesday, 5 November 2013. Ljajic and Brammertz discussed placing individuals sentenced by the ICTY into Serbian prisons, a possibility the Tribunal had previously declined. (World Bulletin).
Witness testifies that Karadzic was a weak leader: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s trial resumed this week, with Karadzic’s former aide Jovan Zametica testifying that Karadzic had not had effective control over his army. Zametica joined the Republika Srpska (RS) in 1993 and became an advisor to Karazdic in 1994. He testified that Karadzic had been a weak leader of the RS; his army had apparently been disobedient, he had allowed local chieftains to make important decisions, and he had simply been a representative leader to the international community. He also asserted that Karadzic had been tolerant of non-Serbs, as shown by the fact that Zametica is a Muslim. Karadzic is charged with genocide before the ICTY. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).
ICTR will help Rwanda with transferred genocide cases: The ICTR has promised to help the Rwandan National Prosecution Authority with the genocide cases the ICTR has transferred to Rwanda. ICTR prosecutor general Hassan Bubacar Jallow explained that although the work of the ICTR is winding down, it will continue to support the Rwandan prosecution to ensure that the cases are handled successfully and that the genocide suspects, many of whom have fled to France, are caught and prosecuted. Jallow, ICTR President Judge Vagn Joensen, and several senior officials from the ICTR are currently in Rwanda and will meet with the supreme court judges and Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye to review ICTR procedures. (Rwanda Focus).
MICT is tracking “big fish” wanted for Darfur genocide: Jallow announced on Monday, 4 November 2013 that three of the most wanted suspects for the genocide in Darfur will likely be caught soon, because the Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was able to obtain information that could lead to their arrest. The three fugitives are Felicien Kabuga, who allegedly financed the genocide, Protais Mpiranya, the former Presidential Guards commandant, and Augustin Bizimana, the former defense minister. Referred to as “big fish”, their cases would be handled by the MICT, as opposed to being transferred to Rwanda. (The New Times).
STL fines defense in Hariri case: Earlier this week, the STL fined defense lawyers for making “frivolous” appeals in order to delay the start date of the trial concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The defense appealed the appointment of Judge Janet Nosworthy, who replaced the former president of the trial chamber upon his resignation in September, which was deemed a “frivolous” delay tactic by the Court. The defense also asserted that it needs more time to prepare for trial due to the high volume of evidence in the case, and that Lebanon was not cooperating in assisting the defense’s investigations. The Court did not reveal how much the defense was fined. (The Daily Star).
British MPs call executions in Iran crimes against humanity: British MPs have declared that the execution of 16 political prisoners on 4 October 2013 in Zahedan, Iran is a crime against humanity, and are calling on the UN to investigate these events. The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom stated that Mohammad Marzieh, the prosecutor general of Zahedan, had confirmed that the prisoners had been executed because they had killed revolutionary guards in Saravan. The committee also noted, however, that Hedayatollah Mir-Moradzehi, Saravan’s representative in the Iranian Parliament, stated that it was still unclear who had killed the revolutionary guards. The committee recommended that the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council review the events. (Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran).
ICC rejects Gbagbo’s appeal against pretrial detention: On Tuesday, 29 October 2013 the ICC announced that former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo must remain in custody until he is tried, rejecting his appeal against his continuous pretrial detention in The Hague. Gbagbo has been in custody for almost two years, and his indictment has not been confirmed; it is still unclear whether he will stand trial. Gbagbo is charged with committing crimes against civilians following the 2010 Ivory Coast elections. (The Associated Press).
U.S. plans to aid Uganda in its search for Kony: The U.S. is reportedly increasing efforts to catch Joseph Kony by possibly stationing Osprey aircraft in Uganda. Such aircraft fly like planes but are capable of landing like helicopters, which would significantly aid African and U.S. troops in searching for Kony. This would also double the number if U.S. troops stationed in Uganda, which is leading the search for Kony. Kony, the commander-in-chief of the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and three other LRA leaders have been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The LRA fought the Ugandan government for 20 years, and is allegedly responsible for killing and kidnapping civilians from villages, many of whom were children. (Voice of America).
Chowdhury appeals death sentence handed down by ICT: On Tuesday, 29 October 2013, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury’s defense lawyer filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the death penalty awarded by with the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which had sentenced Chowdhury to death by hanging on 1 October 2013 for the torture, murder, and genocide he committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Chowdhury was a Standing Committee member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. (Dhaka Tribune).
STL holds pre-trial conference in Hariri case: On Tuesday, 29 October 2013, the Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is holding a pre-trial conference concerning the case against four Lebanese individuals indicted for assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and killing 21 others in a 2005 terrorist attack in Beirut. The conference is meant to help shift the case from the pre-trial to the trial stage, and will be open to the public. This is the first time the Trial Chamber has held such a meeting. The case was transferred from the Pre-Trial Chamber to the Trial Chamber, and the trial is set to begin on 13 January 2014. (Kuwait News Agency).
ICC reverses ruling excusing Ruto from attending his trial: The appeals chamber of the ICC ruled on Friday, 25 October 2013 that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto can only be excused from attending his trial under “exceptional circumstances”, reversing the earlier ruling which had excused Ruto from attending much of his trial. The appeals chamber noted that Ruto may only be excused from attending when judges have considered all other alternatives and it is “strictly necessary”, since Ruto is “not merely a passive observer of the trial but an active participant”. Decisions on whether Ruto will be excused from certain parts of his trial will therefore be made on a case-by-case basis. (Sabahi).
AU decision to defer Kenyatta, Ruto, and Bashir trials draws mixed responses: In support of the AU urging the ICC to defer the trials of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Ethiopian representatives said that heads of state should not be prosecuted while they are still in office and that Ruto and Kenyatta’s cases should be referred to Kenyan domestic courts, whereas approximately 142 African human rights and activist groups urged AU leaders to support the ICC on Monday, 14 October 2013. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have also voiced their support for the ICC. Kenyan Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who had initiated Kenya’s withdrawal from the ICC, called on Kenya’s majority leader this week to introduce a measure to ratify the AU’s deferment decision. According to AU protocol sources, 14 heads of state from Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria were present at the summit. (Daily Trust, Voice of America, Business Day). For more information on this topic, please click here and here.
France speaks out against deaths of UN-AU forces in Darfur: On Monday, 14 October 2013, French authorities called on the Sudanese government to investigate an attack that killed three Senegalese soldiers serving in the UN-African Union peace force (UNAMIS) on 13 October 2013, and the murder of a Zambian UN-AU soldier in Western Sudan on 11 October 2013. The French government also urged the Sudanese government to bring those responsible for the deaths to justice, commented on the deteriorating state of security in Sudan, and asked the parties fighting in Darfur to adopt the agreement made in Doha several years ago. (Kuwait News Agency).
STL announces indictment against fifth Hezbollah suspect in Hariri assassination: On 10 October 2013, the STL lifted the confidentiality order on its indictment against Hezbollah member Hassan Habib Merhi, who has been indicted as the fifth suspect in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The STL stated that an arrest warrant and indictment for Merhi were delivered to the Lebanese government in August and that Merhi’s trial will be conducted separately from the trial of the four suspects previously indicted. None of the five witnesses, who are charged with involvement in the 2005 Beirut attack, have been arrested. (The Daily Star).
Taylor fears he could be killed in UK jail: In a letter to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, former Liberian President Charles Taylor justified his request to serve his 50-year sentence in a Rwandan jail by expressing concern that he could be seriously injured or killed by fellow inmates in a UK jail. He fears that inmates of West African and specifically Sierra Leonean descent would seek retribution against him in jail, referencing General Radislav Krstić, who was convicted by the ICTY and attacked by three inmates in a UK jail in 2010. He also cited the lower cost of Rwandan jails and the cost of travel a UK jail would impose upon his family. The request was denied; the court can only send prisoners to states with which it has an enforcement agreement. (The New Dawn).
Rwandan genocide suspect claims he does not understand Rwandan language: Since former MRND Secretary General Bernard Munyagishari’s transfer to Rwanda by the ICTR in July, he has been attempting to have his trial conducted in French rather than the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda, which he claims he does not understand. Relying on a 1982 judgment by the Appeals Court of Ruhengeri, in which Munyagishari was accused of rape and defended himself in Kinyarwanda, the ICTR denied his request. Léon Mugesera, a former Rwandan politician who had also been transferred to the ICTR, was denied the same request last year, because the court had wanted to analyze his 1992 speech concerning the genocide in its original language of Kinyarwanda. Munyagishari is accused of committing genocide in Gisenyi, and an appeal concerning his right to an interpreter is currently pending. (Hirondelle News Agency).
ICC Trial against Ruto and Sang begins: On Tuesday 10 September 2013 the ICC trial against William Ruto and Joshia arap Sang began in The Hague with a plead of ‘not guilty’ from the accused and opening statements from the Prosecution, Defence and Victims counsel. The Prosecution laid out its case that Ruto planned the post-election violence which took place in December 2007 and January 2008 for 18 months before the 2007 Presidential elections, and Sang assisted by broadcasting meeting locations and dispensing hate speech over his radio program on Kass FM. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s opening remarks also stated that the recent withdrawal of several prosecution witnesses is worrying and must be investigated. Counsel for Ruto, Karim Khan, criticised the quality of the Prosecution’s investigation saying the case is “crumbling before it started” and witness withdrawal is evidence of an incompetent investigation. Counsel for the victims Wilfred Nderitu supported the ICC process saying that a lasting solution to prevent future periodic violence must be undertaken and this process must include justice. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here, 2. click here, 3. click here, and 4. click here). (BBC, ABC, The Standard, allAfrica, Business Daily Africa).
Motion to withdraw from the Rome Statute passes the Kenyan Senate: On Tuesday evening, 10 September, a motion for Kenya to withdraw from the Rome Statute was passed in the Kenyan Senate. Last week, the parliamentary motion was passed by the National Assembly and sent to the Senate for debate and voting. In both Chambers members of the political party Cord boycotted the vote and walked out of the meeting after defending the Rome Statute and opposing withdrawal during debate. The motion will now be drafted into a petition by the Majority Leader Prof Kithure Kindiki and presented to the ICC President and UN Security Council. Rights groups such as Amnesty International criticised Kenya’s move to leave to the ICC saying that “it is a disturbing attempt to deny justice to the hundreds of thousands of people.” Uganda support Kenya’s move with Uganda’s Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem saying that the ICC is biased against African leaders and not ruling out that Uganda might also seek to withdraw from the Rome Statute. (For addition information on this topic, please 1. click here, and 2. click here). (Washington Post, Business Ghana, CISA News Africa).
STL Trial Chamber head judge resigns: On Tuesday 11 September 2013 the resignation of the head of the STL’s Trial Chamber, Judge Robert Roth, was announced. The Court stated that Roth’s resignation was “due to judicial discussions and differences in opinion and concepts.” Roth had been a Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon since September 2011. (Daily Star).
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.