Archive for category Sudan
HRW issues report on South Sudan crimes: According to HRW, extraordinary acts of cruelty that amount to war crimes in South Sudan have been committed since fighting began in December of 2013. Government and opposition forces have been called upon by HRW to end the cycle of violence against civilians immediately. There are hopes that the UN Security Council will impose an arms embargo to limit the number of weapons coming into the war torn country. (HRW).
Argentina submits ICJ application against U.S.: The Argentinean government has asked the ICJ to take action against the US over an alleged breach of its sovereignty as it defaulted on its debt. However, no action will occur “unless and until” the US accepts the court’s jurisdiction. (The Guardian).
KRT tribunal convicts and sentences two to life appeals anticipated: Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan have been sentenced to life in prison for committing crimes against humanity related to their role in the country’s 1970 terror. The two men were high ranking officials in the Khmer Rouge government during the “killing Fields” era from 1975-1979. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (Aljazeera, UN News).
UN Leaders concerned over recent violence in Iraq: Irina Bokova, a senior UN official, has called for an immediate stop to what she has termed as an “emerging cultural cleansing.” Civilians are currently under attack by ISIL and many remain stranded with limited access to humanitarian aid. More than 200,000 people are believed to have made their way to Dahuk governorate in the Kurdistan region, looking for assistance.
Banda Case scheduled to begin 18 November: Trial Chamber IV of the ICC scheduled the opening of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain on 18 November 2014. Banda faces three charges of war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan. (ICC).
ICC judges reject appeal for interim release in Bemba Trial: On 11 July 2014, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC read a summary of the judgments explaining why, after a thorough examination, it was decided to dismiss the appeal related to the rejection of interim release of Bemba. The dismissal was decided by was of a five judge majority. The two dissenting judges concluded that the matter should be remanded to the Pre-Trial Chamber for a new decision on the each of the suspect5s’ requests for interim release.
Seselj requests court compensation for lengthy detention: Former deputy prime minister of Serbia, Vojislav Seselj, has been in custody since he voluntarily turned himself over to authorities in 2003. Seselj’s trial began in 2006 and he is still awaiting a verdict. He has recently demanded 12 million euros as compensation for what he is calling an unlawful deprivation of his liberty as a result of his nearly decade long detention. (Irish Times).
Security Council, Secretary General call for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire: The UN Security Council called for a cease fire between the Israelis and Palestinians on 12 July 2014. The Security Council would like to see an immediate de-escalation of the current violence and for both parties to respect international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians. (For additional information on this topic, please click here). (UN News).
UN Rapporteur condemns ongoing violence against women in Honduras: An independent UN human rights expert has called on the Government of Honduras to address the ongoing violence currently affecting a large population of Honduran women. Honduras is currently in a state of transition and violence against women is on the rise. Such a combination has lead to a lack of resources for victims and a incident underreporting. The report created by the UN expert will be presented to the Council in June 2015. (UN News).
ICC allows Kenyan Human Rights Commission Report on 2007-08 violence: The KNCHR is a controversial document which contains information related to the 2007-08 post-election violence. The report was introduced by Prosecutor Anton Steynberg and tabled at the Waki commission. Transcripts that were used in the preparation of the report were also admitted. (All Africa).
Ruto / Sang trial adjourns to July for final witness: On Tuesday, 24 June 2014, the ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang was adjourned due to the health of a prosecution witness. When the Court resumes in July, the prosecution may present additional witnesses depending on an Appeals Chamber decision. The prosecution sought the compelled testimony of eight witnesses who have refused to testify. (All Africa).
ICTY asks Netherlands and Serbia to comment on possible provisional release of Seselj: The Netherlands, as the host country of the ICTY, and the Serbian government have seven days to comment on guarantees for a possible provisional release of former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj. Specifically, Serbia must guarantee the former leader will be escorted by authorities at all times, including to his place of provisional release, upon his return to the Netherlands and for any movements for medical reasons. The Serbian government must also ensure Seselj is placed under house arrest and does not contact or influence victims or witnesses. Lastly, Serbia must guarantee that the government can immediately arrest Seselj in the event he violates any of the conditions of provisional release. (InSerbia).
HRW calls for investigation into misreporting of human rights in Sudan by AU / UN: Human Rights Watch has urged the U.N. Security Council to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into alleged cover-ups and inaccurate reporting by African Union / U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. The call by Human Rights Watch comes two months after a report was published alleging peacekeepers failed to accurately report on the bombing of populated areas and the attacking of villages by the Sudanese government. While noting the dangerous situation peacekeepers face and the pressure from the government, a representative from Human Rights Watch nonetheless finds the accusations “devastating.” (Human Rights Watch).
ICC Prosecutor urges Security Council action in Sudan: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the U.N. Security Council this week on Darfur. The Chief Prosecutor expressed concern over the failure to enforce arrest warrants and apprehend suspects. Bensouda urged the Security Council to take decisivie action and bring to justice those accused of crimes against humanity. Bensouda also called for an independent inquiry into recent allegations that the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfar was engaged in manipulations and cover ups. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (UN News Centre, Reuters).
UN Human Rights Council reports ongoing crimes in Syria, Iraq: Human Rights Watch reviewed evidence, including satellite images over the city of Aleppo, from October 31, 2013, and April 2, 2014, that strongly suggest the Syrian government used barrel bombs and other weapons in attacks against civilians. Other evidence showed that armed groups opposed to the government used child soldiers and turned schools into military bases and prisons. Human Rights Watch requested the Commission of Inquiry to take steps to punish those responsible and prevent the serious violations of international law. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (Human Rights Watch, Reuters).
Sri Lankan Parliament votes against UN Investigation: A motion rejecting a U.N. investigation into crimes committed in Sri Lanka during its 26-year civil war was approved by the Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday, 18 June 2014. 144 out of 225 members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament found the investigation would be “detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace and [would] erode the sovereignty, dignity and statute” of the country. The motion is not binding on a U.N. investigation. (Washington Post).
UN Human Rights Commissioner Pillay concerned about war crimes in Iraq: Navi Pillay, the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, released a statement on Monday, 16 June 2014, finding the executions committed by Islamist militants in Iraq to “almost certainly amount to war crimes.” In the past week, the militants seized the northern part of the country and threatened further violence. Pillay condemned the shocking crimes carried out and called for immediate action. (Reuters).
Charles Taylor appeals for prison relocation: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has filed a motion with the Special Court for Sierra Leone arguing violations of his human rights for being sentenced to jail in the U.K. Taylor claims his family is unable to visit him in the U.K. and that it would be more “humane” for him to serve his sentence in Africa. The former Liberian President was convicted by the Special Court in 2012 for aiding rebels in Sierra Leone. (BBC).
UN report accuses Syrian rebels of crimes against humanity, cites international community for inaction: A new report released by the U.N. Human Rights Council accuses Syrian rebel groups of crimes against humanity. Specifically, the report claims certain non-government groups in al-Ragga province engaged in systematic detentions and torture of ethnic Kurds. The report further condemned the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council for failing to uphold international obligations and take action during Syria’s civil war in which more than 100,000 have been killed. (Deutsche Welle).
ICC witness testifies about ODM plan for post-election violence in Kenya: On Tuesday, 4 March 2014, a prosecution witness in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang testified to events leading up to the 2007 presidential election. The protected witness claimed leaders of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) organized secret meetings to encourage voters to reject the rule of the Kikuyus. The witness also testified that Sang used the radio to accuse other tribes of rigging votes. (Standard Digital).
Rights groups call for al-Bashir’s arrest on fifth anniversary of his indictment: Several human rights groups, such as United to End Genocide and the International Justice Project, penned a letter yesterday urging the U.N. Security Council and the ICC to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Yesterday, 4 March 2014, marked the fifth anniversary of the ICC’s indictment against the sitting President for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The letter calls for all member parties of the ICC to “stand for justice and make this year the last year of Bashir’s impunity.” It is estimated some 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million displaced since violence broke out in Darfur in 2003. (kens5.com).
ICJ sets decision date in Japan/Australia whaling case: The ICJ judgment in the case between Japan and Australia over whaling in the Antarctic will be delivered 31 March 2014. Australia brought the issue before the ICJ back in 2010, claiming Japan was engaging in illegal commercial whaling under the disguise of scientific research. The Court conducted a three-week hearing last year. (The Australian).
Hariri trial commences in The Hague: On Thursday, 16 January 2014, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon began proceedings related to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra, allegedly responsible for wounding some 200 people and killing 22 in the attack, were noticeably absent from the proceedings. The special court ruled in February 2012, that the at large suspects could be tried in absentia for, among other things, conspiracy to commit terrorism and murder. (CNN).
Pillay comments on Syrian killings: Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement on Thursday, 16 January 2014, concerning reported executions and unlawful killings of civilians in violation of international law in Syria. Pillay considered the reports “alarming” and feared the human rights abuses “may amount to war crimes.” The U.N. Commissioner warned that “[e]veryone involved in serious crimes must be held accountable.” (Global Post).
Ruto excused from ICC trial: On Wednesday, 15 January 2014, the ICC ruled that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto may be excused from portions of his trial. The ruling comes after the ICC Assembly of States Party agreed to amend the court’s rules to allow senior officials to be excused from attendance. Ruto will be required to “be present for the entirety of the closing statement of all parties . . . when victims present their views and concerns in person . . . and the entirety of the delivery of the judgment.” The Deputy President is charged with crimes against humanity relating to violence after the 2007 Kenyan presidential election. (Chicago Tribune News).
War crimes committee to audit South Sudan and Central African Republic: Members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region met on Wednesday, 15 January 2014, to discuss the murders and sexual violence being committed in Southern Sudan and Central African Republic. The members agreed to organize a war crimes “audit” and increase support and resources to peacekeeping missions. To date, international organizations fear over 10,000 people have died and nearly 400,000 displaced since the fighting erupted in the two countries. (Bloomberg Businessweek).
Ivorian politician needs more time to respond to ICC transfer: On Monday, 13 January 2014, the Ivorian government moved the ICC for a three month extension to respond to its request over former Justice Minister Charles Blé Goudé’s transfer to The Hague. Blé Goudé argued his transfer would interfere with domestic proceedings in Côte d’Ivoire. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for the close alley of former President Laurent Gbagbo and accused him of war crimes relating to the post election civil war in 2010-2011. (All Africa).
Saif Al Islam domestic hearing adjourned: A Tripoli court held a hearing on Thursday, 12 December 2013, for Saif Al Islam, son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The hearing was adjourned to the end of February “due to the absence” of four other accused, all charged with threatening national security during the 2011 revolt. Saif Al Islam is also wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Gulf News).
Bensouda calls out U.N. Security Council for “prolonging” Darfur conflict: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has accused the U.N. Security Council of inaction. Specifically, Bensouda has voiced concern over the Security Council’s failure to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. Since the war in Darfur began in 2003, the U.N. and other international organizations have expended more than $10.5 billion. An estimated 300,000 individuals have died and over 2.7 million displaced. Bensouda said the “council’s silence even when notified of clear failure and/or violations by U.N. member states of their obligations to comply with this council’s resolutions only serves to add insult to the plight of Darfur’s victims.” (ABC News).
ECCC prosecutor wants second trial immediately: On Wednesday, 11 December 2013, officials from the ECCC met to discuss how to proceed with the second part of the trial of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea. The Chambers concluded with the first part of the trial on forced evacuations at the beginning of this year. ECCC international prosecutor Nicholas Kourmjian requested the second proceedings begin “as soon as possible.” Lawyers for the two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge has asked to delay the next part until the ECCC issues a decision on the first. (VOA Cambodia).
Gaddafi’s head of security deserves ICC trial; says daughter: The daughter of Muammar Gaddafi’s head of security says her father deserves a fair trial at the ICC. Abdullah al-Senussi, accused of crimes against humanity related to the conflict during Gaddafi’s rule, has been in a Libyan prison the past 16 months. The ICC ruled earlier this year that the Libyan government could fairly try Senussi. Senussi’s daughter, however, fears her father will face a “show trial” if not sent to The Hague. (Chicago Tribune).
Accused Kenyan journalist claims ICC cases unconstitutional: Walter Barasa, a journalist accused by the ICC of witness interference, has moved the Kenyan High Court to declare the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto unconstitutional. Barasa claims the ICC cannot legally apply laws retrospectively to the sitting Kenyan leaders. The High Court has yet to decide whether to extradite Barasa to The Hague for trial. (The Star).
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.