Archive for category Sudan
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).
SCSL issues Taylor appeals judgment today: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s appeals judgment will be issued by the SCSL on Thursday, 26 September 2013. Taylor was sentenced last year to 50 years imprisonment for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Taylor filed the appeal in January 2013, and has consistently denied criminal involvement. (VOA).
Bashir’s controversial U.S. visit cancelled: On Wednesday, 25 September 2013, ICC indictee Omar al-Bashir cancelled a scheduled appearance at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The Sudanese President last week applied for a U.S. visa, triggering a debate over the U.S.’s obligation, as a non-party to the Rome Statute, to arrest Bashir upon entry into the country. A U.N. spokesman announced Ali Karti, Sudan’s Foreign Minister, will instead speak to world leaders on Friday. (Naharnet).
Sri Lanka threatened with U.N. inquiry over human rights violations: U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has threatened Sri Lanka with an international review over alleged human rights violations during its 26 year civil war. Pillay claimed the Sri Lankan government fell short from ”independently or credibly investigat[ing] the allegations” and failed to properly assess alleged “harassment of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.” The Commissioner warned Sri Lanka to make progress within the next six months or risk a U.N. inquiry. (New York Times).
ICC denies Kenyatta postponement: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s motion to delay his 12 November 2013, trial has been denied by the ICC. The Court found Kenyatta had already been afforded sufficient time to prepare a defense against charges of crimes against humanity. Currently pending in the ICC is a request by Kenyatta to be excused from all proceedings in The Hague except for the opening and closing arguments. (Google).
Status of Ruto’s excusal from ICC to handle Kenyan mall attack: Deputy President William Ruto will be expected back in The Hague at the expiration of his one-week leave or after the Appeals Chamber renders a decision on his request for a two-week adjournment, “whichever comes earlier.” On Monday, 23 September 2013, ICC Trial Chamber V excused Ruto from proceedings for the week to attend to his executive duties in Kenya after a terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi. Co-accused Joshua arap Sang has also called for continued postponement in light of the tragedy that caused 69 deaths. (News Afrique Informations).
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court
Decision Title: Decision Regarding Omar Al-Bashir’s Potential Travel to the United States
Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber II
Case Name: Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
Date: 18 September 2013
Decision Background: Om 31 March 2013, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC. On 15 March 2012, the court Presidency re-assigned the case to Pre-Trial Chamber II.
On 4 March 2009 and 12 July 2010, the Court issued two arrest warrants against Al-Bashir. The arrest warrants have not yet been executed. On 6 March 2009 and 21 July 2010, the Court submitted to members of the U.N. Security Council who are not state parties to the Rome Statute establishing the Court, requests for Al-Bashir’s arrest and surrender to the Court. This included a request to the United States of America, a member of the U.N. Security Council, but not a state party to the Rome Statute.
On 18 September 2013, the Court became aware that Al-Bashir was planning on attending the 68th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, to be held at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City, New York, in the United States, which began on 17 September 2013. The Court learned that Al-Bashir had applied for a visa from the United States.
Pursuant to this information, the Prosecution requested that the Court take steps to ensure the arrest of Al-Bashir, by seeking relevant information from United States authorities and by reminding United States authorities of the outstanding arrest warrants, the Security Council resolution regarding Darfur, and asking United States authorities to consider informing the Security Council about Al-Bashir’s presence. On 18 September 2013, the Registrar sent a note to United States Embassy in The Netherlands to the effect of the considerations listed above.
Decision Review: As the ICC is extant pursuant to an international treaty, the Rome Statute, only state parties to that treaty are really under the jurisdiction of the Court, and thus under affirmative legal obligations to the directives of the Court. Only when a non-state party has consented to Court jurisdiction in a matter, can the Court impose obligations on a non-state party. The only exception to this is that the Security Council can adopt a resolution requiring cooperation with the Court by non-state parties. In this instance, the duty and obligation to cooperate with the Court stems not from the authority of the Rome Statute, but directly from the authority of the U.N. Charter.
Because the United States is not a state party to the Rome Statute, it is under no affirmative, legal obligation to comply with directives or orders issued by the Court. The Court did note, however, that the case was referred to the Court by Security Council, which urged all nations – state party or not – to cooperate fully with the Court’s handling of the case. That being said, in this instance the Court has no mechanism to force the United States to comply with the arrest warrant.
Accordingly, the Court formally reminded the United States of the arrest warrant against Al-Bashir, and requested or invited that the United States arrest and surrender Al-Bashir to the Court’s custody, should he enter United States’ soil. The Registrar was ordered to immediately convey the decision to the relevant in the United States.
To access the full Decision, click here.
Posted by iclmediareview in Admissibility / Primacy, AU, Crimes against Humanity, Detention violations, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Gaddafi, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Ivory Coast, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, Ocampo, Other domestic courts, Rome Statute, Sudan, UN General Assembly, War Crimes on September 25, 2013
Ivory Coast will try former first lady in domestic courts: After declining to transfer Simone Gbagbo to the ICC—which had charged the former Ivorian first lady with murder, sexual violence, and other inhumane acts—the Ivory Coast government announced its intention to try Mrs. Gbagbo in a domestic court, as decided by a special cabinet meeting on Friday, 20 September 2013. The government stated it will file a request with the Registrar of the ICC concerning its intention to conduct a domestic trial. Simone Gbagbo, wife of the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, has been accused of genocide by her government. (Reuters).
Bashir reaffirms intention to attend UN General Assembly: On Sunday 22 September 2013, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir confirmed his intention to attend this week’s UN General Assembly in New York, explaining that he was not worried about U.S. authorities arresting him and handing him over to the ICC. President Bashir confirmed that he had organized a flight via Morocco and booked a hotel in New York. However, no decision has been made by the U.S. authorities on President Bashir’s visa application. Though ICC member states are required to detain Bashir, the U.S. is not a Rome Statute member state and therefore is not obligated to transfer him to the court. In response to Bashir’s travel plans and visa request, former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo urged U.S. President Obama to ensure Bashir’s arrest, and stated that the ICC does not grant immunity to heads of state such as Bashir. The ICC has issued two arrest warrants for President Bashir’s arrest for crimes including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. (Tehran Times, Blouin News). (For more information on this topic, please click here).
Amnesty International visits Seif Gaddafi and Abdallah al-Senussi: Libyan authorities granted AI a meeting with Seif Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi, after which AI demanded that both prisoners be handed over to the ICC. AI reported that they were not allowed a private meeting with Seif or access to view his detention facility during their 9 September visit and though they were allowed a private meeting with Senussi within Tripoli’s Al-Hadba prison on 12 September, Senussi informed AI that he had been denied access to a lawyer since his detention began in Libya in September 2012. AI’s visit preceded the referral of the case to the Indictment Chamber in Tripoli on 19 September 2013. Seif Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi, and Abdullah al-Senussi, intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi, are imprisoned in Libya and awaiting trial for war crimes in connection with the 2011 Libyan uprising. Though Libya states its intention to conduct the trials domestically, the ICC has issued arrest warrants for both men for crimes against humanity and therefore retains jurisdiction of the cases. Libya has challenged the admissibility of both cases before the ICC asking that jurisdiction of the cases is transferred back to Libya from the ICC. (The Tripoli Post).
African leaders to discuss Kenya ICC cases and Rome Statute membership: Following Kenya’s decision to withdraw from the ICC earlier this month, the African Union called a special meeting for October 13, where the other 33 members of the AU will discuss whether or not they will remain members of the ICC. At this extraordinary session, the AU may also pass a resolution that would advocate to keep Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta from attending his trial, which is set to take place in November. The Kenyan government has passed a motion to withdraw from the ICC in response to the court charging Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta with committing crimes against humanity on Kenyans after the 2007/2008 elections. (The Star).
Post by: Carolin Guentert
Libya holds indictment hearing today for Gaddafi officials: The indictment hearing for 38 of Muammar Gaddafi’s senior officials was scheduled in Libya today, 19 September 2013. The indictees, notably Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, his former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and his prime minister Baghdadi Mahmuti, are charged with murder, torture, rape, kidnapping and theft. For security purposes, the indictment hearing was relocated to a Tripoli prison that currently has custody over most of the defendants. If the charges are confirmed and Libya proceeds with trial, the country will be in breach of an ICC arrest warrant for Gaddafi and Senussi. (The Guardian).
Media threatened with contempt charges for disclosing ICC witness identity: An ICC judge in the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang has warned the media against disclosing the identity of protected witnesses. On 18 September 2013, it was reported that the name and photograph of the prosecution’s first witness was published on blogs and social media sites shortly after she finished testifying in The Hague. Human rights activists fear these types of disclosure will prevent other key witnesses from giving evidence. A number of Kenyans have already withdrawn from the trial because of intimidation. (BBC News Africa).
Kenya’s Bashir seeks US visa: Sudan is requesting the U.S. grant an entry visa to President Omar al-Bashir for attendance at the 68th U.N. General Assembly in New York. The ICC currently has an arrest warrant out for Bashir, and as a party to the Rome Statute, the U.S. would have a legal obligation to seize the President if he were in the country. Marie Harf, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, stated the country “condemn[ed] any potential effort by President Bashir to travel to New York, given that he stands accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” (For more information on this topic, please click here). (Google News, Reuters).
Agreement to protect African children signed by UN & AU: On 17 September 2013, the U.N. and African Union signed an agreement to “strengthen protection of conflict-affected children in Africa, where despite progress, grave child rights violations including under-age recruitment, continue.” The agreement requires the U.N. and African Union to establish guidelines and joint work programs that ensure the protection of children under both national and international standards. A number of African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, have previously signed plans against the recruitment of child soldiers and killing of children. (UN News Centre).
Pillay requests investigations into execution of Syrian government soldiers: Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement on 2 August 2013, calling for more investigations into human rights violations in Syria. Pillay’s statement came a week after several videos were uploaded online showing the execution of captured Syrian government soldiers in Khan Al-Assal by armed opposition groups. The Commissioner’s statement stressed the need for all sides of the conflict to conform to international law, which includes treating captured soldiers humanely. Pillay also warned that opposition groups are not “immune from prosecution” and the Commission established specifically to investigate and document human rights violations in Syria will continue to enforce its mandate.
Senegal court begins Habré investigations: On Monday, 19 August 2013, the special court in Senegal commenced a two-week investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture during Hissène Habré’s 1982–90 Chadian presidency. The court is expected to visit prisons and mass killing sites in Chad, as well as hear testimony from victims and witnesses. Senegal was ordered by the ICJ in 2012 to initiate proceedings against Habré. The former dictator had been living in the country for 22 years in exile.
Taylor appeals judgment expected this September: A Liberian newspaper reported on Tuesday, 20 August, that former President Charles Taylor’s appeals judgment is expected sometime in September 2013. Taylor was sentenced by the SCSL last year to 50 years imprisonment for aiding and abetting the commission of serious violations of international law in Sierra Leone. The SCSL concluded hearings in Taylor’s appeal January 2013.
Nigeria’s ICC filing suggests attempted issuance of Bashir arrest warrant at AU Summit: An ICC filing made public on 19 August 2013, claims the Nigerian government was in the process of issuing an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir before he abruptly exited the country last month while attending an AU Summit. Nigeria’s filing stated Bashir appeared briefly during the opening session but was noticeably absent from the main event in which he was expected to speak. Officials are not sure if Bashir was aware of the pending arrest warrant prompting his sudden departure from the country. As a state party to the Rome Statute, Nigeria has a legal obligation to hand over Bashir to the ICC. The country initially argued it failed to apprehended Bashir at the Summit because of the AU resolution instructing members to disregard the ICC warrants.
ICC’s Ruto prosecution confirms forty-two witnesses: The prosecution in the ICC trial of Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang intends to present forty-two witnesses starting next month. This number is smaller than originally anticipated after four witnesses withdrew and the court ordered the prosecution to reduce its excessive case in chief. Ruto is required by the Court to be present in the Hague during the prosecution’s opening remarks set to begin on 10 September 2013. Ruto and Sang have been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity after the disputed 2008 presidential election in Kenya.
UN expert visits Asean states seeking ECCC funding: U.N. special expert David Scheffer and Cambodian politician Keo Remy began a six-day tour of the southeast Asian nations this week to secure financial support for the ECCC. Currently, the Extraordinary Chambers faces a $2.9 million deficit and has been unable to pay national salaries. Scheffer “hope[s] that the national staff, who are clearly suffering as a consequence of non-payment . . . will bear with [the Chamber] as we find a means of payment. It is my highest priority.”
ICC Prosecutor says attacks on peacekeepers may constitute war crimes: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has condemned the killing of seven joint UN-African Union peacekeeprs in Darfur earlier this month, stating once again that such attacks may constitute war crimes. In a statement issued by the Office of the Prosecutor earlier this week, Bensouda stated that she “reminds all parties to the conflict that the [ICC] has jurisdiction in Darfur and that the intentional directing of attacks against peacekeeprs may constitute war crimes.” She then called on Sudan’s government to conduct a “prompt and full investigation and to hold all those responsible in account.” The attacks, which were some of the most serious against the mission since its 2008 deployment, were carried out by a large, unidentified group.
Senior UN official warns Syria about possible prosecutions in light of crimes against children : Leila Zerrougi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, warned Syrian officials and rebels alike about the risk of possible prosecution for atrocities committed against minors in the region. After visiting Syria and surrounding countries hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the civil war, Zerrougui said she was overwhelmed by the suffering of children who witnessed the death of their siblings and teens who were forced to fight with opposition groups. Approximately 7,000 children under the age of 15 have been killed in the two-year war, and half of the 1.7 million Syrian refugees are children. “One day Syria will come to peace,” she said, “and those committing the atrocities will have to face – I hope – justice.”
ICC Prosecutor concludes investigative mission in Cote d’Ivoire: Fatou Bensouda concluded a mission in Cote d’Ivoire earlier this week. The primary purpose of the fact-finding mission was to gather more information for the trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. He faces crimes against humanity charges for his alleged role in the country’s 2010-2011 post-election conflict in which more than 3,000 people died. Bensouda met with the ministers of Justice and Interior, as well as victims of the post-election violence and representatives of various human rights groups. She has yet to release a statement indicating her findings during the mission.
International concern over Mali post-conflict elections: On 12 July 2013, it was announced that Mali’s presidential hopefuls began their campaigning this week in anticipation for the elections expected later this month. The international community is concerned about the apparent rush that election officials have undergone in hopes of electing a president who will be able to negotiate with Tuareg rebels in the north and bring reform to a dysfunctional state.
SC authorizes additional year for Sudan Mission: On 11 July 2013, it was announced that the Security Council would be extending the United Nations Mission in South Sudan until 15 July 2014. The SC wants to continue to assist in consolidating peace and security and helping to establish conditions for development. In addition to this extension, the UN has also called on the Government of South Sudan to take a greater responsibility for the protection of its civilians and to encourage greater cooperation with UNMISS.
Chowdhury Defence granted delay for witness: On 11 July 2013, it was reported that the war crimes tribunal has set Sunday for recording the statement of the third defence witness in favour of BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury. The defence sought three weeks to produce the third witness but the tribunal rejected the plea.
Russian diplomat predicts UN delays in Syrian investigation: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadiy Gatilov considers a prompt UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria problematic. Gatilov finds it unlikely the UN will be permitted to send teams in to the country to collect samples. Furthermore, due to the upcoming second international conference on Syria, recent UN plans to conduct an investigation into alleged chemical attacks have been halted. Gatilov’s statements come days after France confirmed samples taken from Syria tested positive for sarin gas and the UN released a report finding “reasonable grounds” that chemical agents were used in the country.
Victim representative wants ICC Ruto case in Arusha: The Legal Representative for Victims in the ICC’s case against Deputy President William Ruto believes the trial should be heard in Arusha. William Nderitu stated today, 6 June 2013, that he was concerned proceedings in The Hague would hinder victim participation and draw out the length of the trial. Nderitu considers Arusha a more appropriate venue to bring peace and justice to the victims. While nearly all the victims represented by Nderitu have expressed preference for The Hague, Nderitu discredits their reasons as illegitimate.
Bensouda pushes for UN Security Council action in Darfur: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda urged the UN Security Council at a briefing yesterday, 5 June 2013, to take timely action on the dire situation in Darfur. Bensouda voiced disappointment that ICC indictee’s remained at large, traveling across borders, and engaging in relations with the UN. The Prosecutor cautioned that these individuals would “continue to represent a threat to international peace and security” if left unpunished. Bensouda foresees further deaths and deteriorating conditions until the Council steps up and adopts sufficient measures to ensure victims are protected and the accused are brought to justice.
ICC indictees attack town in Darfur: Former Commander of the Janjaweed militia, Ali Kushayb, participated in an attack in Darfur this April, said ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at a UN briefing yesterday. Witnesses allege the Sudanese government “staged the attack” in an effort to aid supporters in acquiring rival land. It was reported that thousands of civilians were forced into Chad to escape gun fire and burning buildings, and more than 100 individuals were killed. Kushayb, along with President Omar al-Bashir and other high level Sudanese officials, is wanted by the ICC for crimes committed in Sudan over the past 10 years.
Libya will appeal ICC’s admissibility decision regarding Saif: Libya announced this week that it would file an official appeal against the International Criminal Court’s decision of 31 May 2013 which rejected Libya’s admissibility challenge and reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the ICC. At a joint news conference on Sunday 2 June, Libya’s Prime Minister Al Zeidan and Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani stated that an official appeal would be lodged with the ICC and that ”a team of Libyan and international experts are discussing the preparation of the appeal.” The ICC, in its admissibility decision, said Libya had not shown sufficient capacity to investigate and prosecute the son of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here and 2. click here)
Ruto trial delayed at ICC: On Monday, 3 June, judges at the International Criminal Court scheduled the trial start date for Kenyan President-elect William Ruto for 10 September. The original start date of 28 May was postponed to allow prosecutors and defence attorneys the opportunity to prepare witnesses and conduct further evidence investigations. Judges presented their decision to delay trial for Ruto and co-accused Joshua Arap-Sang with recommendations that portions of the trial be conducted in Kenyan courts or neutral Tanzania. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
HRW report identifies ICC suspect Kushayb in April attack: Human Rights Watch released a report this week, detailing how Sudanese militia leader Ali Kushayb was involved in an attack on a central Darfur town earlier this year. Kushayb and other members of pro-Sudanese Government Janjaweed fighters reportedly travelled to Abu Jeradil and attacked a rival tribe in early April. Kushayb was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes he allegedly committed during 2007 Janjaweed attacks in the Darfur Region. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)