Archive for category Torture

17 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN HR Council grants 6 mo delay to release of Sri Lanka war crimes report: The United Nations Human Rights Council granted the Sri Lankan government a six month delay in releasing its report on alleged war crimes. The report, led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, was due next month, but UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein stated that he recommended a deferral until September. A Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry official stated that the delay would help the “new government’s move to establish democratic process for accountability issues.” These war crimes stem from the previous government who stands accused of human rights violations during the final stages of the civil war in May of 2009. The United Nations Human Rights Council began their own investigation in March after stating that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had failed to properly conduct his own investigation. Once released, the United Nations report would be the basis of which the HR Council would recommend to hold those accountable for crimes, including a referral to the International Criminal Court. (Reuters, New York Times, Aljazeera) (for additional information please click here and here)

Extraordinary African Chambers finds enough evidence against Habre to proceed to trial: The Extraordinary African Chambers found enough evidence against Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture to go forward with trial. This evidence comes from witness and victim interviews, documents from Habre’s secret police, and a visit to mass graves during a 19-month pretrial investigation conducted mainly in Chad. These allegations stem from Habre’s eight-year rule in Chad, though he was overthrown over 20 years ago. Habre lived in exile in Senegal until he was detained in 2013. The trial is expected to begin in May or June and will have two Senegalese judges and a lead judge from another African Union member state. (Defence Web)

HRW calls Libyan beheadings a war crime: Human Rights Watch stated that the killing of 21 people by a Libyan extremist group constituted as a war crime. A video was published on 15 February 2015 that showed the 21 men beheaded on a beach thought to be in western Libya. HRW called for Libyan officials to hold those accountable for the acts and for the United Nations to establish a mechanism to investigate and prosecute the crimes. The Libyan extremist group has pledged its loyalty to ISIS, another extremist group. (Human Rights Watch)

Kurdish Gov investigating atrocities committed against ISIS: Images posted on Twitter of beheaded ISIS militants have been confirmed as legitimate by the Kurdish government. These tactics committed against ISIS fighters mirrors the extremist group’s own tactics. The beheadings occurred on 30 January 2015 during a battle to drive ISIS out of the city of Kirkuk. The Kurdish government is investigating the atrocities committed. Kurdish Regional government spokesperson Safeen Dizayi stated that there is no justification for treating dead corpses in this manner. (CTV News)

Official says N Korea not guilty of any crime while asking for HR conference to be cancelled: The United Nations General Assembly urged the UN Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity back in December. North Korea’s UN ambassador, Jang Il Hun, stated on Monday that the threat of referral was not worrisome since they are not guilty of the alleged crimes. Hun also stated that he asked the United States to cancel a conference to be held at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies concerning human rights in North Korea. Hun sent a formal request to his counterpart in the State Department, but the request was denied, as it was not a U.S. government event. (Euronews)

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13 January 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

DNA test requested for murdered ICC witness: Deputy President William Ruto’s attorney, Karim Khan, requested a DNA test of Meshack Yebei. Yebei was a potential witness in the trial against President Ruto and was found dead in western Kenya in early January. President Ruto was charged with crimes against humanity during the post election violence in Kenya. Yebei’s family consented to the DNA test and stated that Yebei never mentioned he was an ICC witness. Prosecutors stated that they had not been planning to call Yebei as a witness during trial due to his implication of trying to corrupt witnesses. Khan stated in a letter to the head of Kenya’s Criminal Investigation Department that Yebei had been a key witness for trial. Yebei had even been referred to the ICC’s Victims and Witness Unit for protection. Prosecutors stated that any suggestion that they were involved in Yebei’s abduction and murder was “outrageous and utterly false.” (BBC News, AllAfrica) (for additional information please click here)

Government says it wants to try Ongwen in Uganda: The government of Uganda stated that it wanted to try Lord’s Resistance Army rebel commander Dominic Ongwen. Ongwen recently surrendered and is in U.S. custody in Central African Republic. Ongwen is also wanted by the ICC. Uganda State Minister for Regional Cooperation Asuman Kiyingi stated that they would rather try him in Uganda than in the ICC because they have the capacity. A decision regarding whether Uganda gets to try Ongwen will be reached after consultations with the African Union, Uganda, United States, and United Nations. (NY Times)

Libyan trial of Saif Gaddafi and Al-Senussi delayed again: The trial of Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and 36 other senior officials, including former security chief Abdullah Senussi, has been postponed once again. On 11 January 2015, trial opened and was subsequently adjourned until 25 January. This case opened in 2012 and has seen many setbacks. Those that stand accused could face the death penalty for “genocide, killing of unarmed civilians, abuses of power, human rights abuses, employing mercenaries and encouraging rape as a weapon of war.” The ICC indicted both Gaddafi and Senussi. After proceedings on Libya’s admissibility challenge, the ICC ordered the surrender of Gaddafi to the ICC. Libya has failed to comply with this order. (Libya Herald)

US Senators condemn Palestinian decision to join the ICC: Senators Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez, Chuck Schumer, and Mark Kirk threatened Palestine over their decision to join the ICC. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join the ICC following a rejection on Palestine’s proposal for statehood by the United Nations Security Council. On 1 January Palestine submitted an Article 12(3) declaration that gives the ICC jurisdiction since 13 June 2014. Palestine also submitted documents to accede to the Rome Statute on 7 January. Senators issued a warning to Palestine stating “that if the Palestinians initiate an ICC judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, all economic assistance to the PA” would end. (Press TV, International Criminal Court) (for additional information please click here)

UN report on crimes in CAR finds evidence of CAH and WC, but no genocidal intent: A UN report released last Thursday concluded that the events that conspired in the Central African Republic by the Seleka coalition and the anti-balaka did amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The commission of inquiry of the United Nations Security Council did not find any genocidal intent, but considered the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population as a crime against humanity. (Tamil Guardian)

UN report on S. Sudan killings finds evidence sufficient for further investigations and prosecution: The United Nations stated that offenders of the ethnic massacres in Bentiu and Bor last April could be prosecuted based on extensive investigations into the matter. Offenders included members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition. The investigation comprised of site visits by human researchers and 142 interviews. (Radio Tamazuj)

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17 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN Commission of Inquiry finds evidence of war crimes and CAH: The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria published a paper describing known ISIS tactics like slavery, rape, and enslavement and reported details of lessor known acts as well. More than 300 first-hand accounts were considered in this report including photos and videos of the violence and victims. The UN panel concluded that ISIS has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The paper called for groups like the International Criminal Court to hold ISIS accountable for its actions. (CNN, Al Arabiya News) (For additional information please click here)

Seselij appears at rally during provision release: The International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia provisionally released Serbian nationalist leader, Vojislav Seselj, for medical treatment for his colon cancer. His release was contingent upon his return should the court summon him for trial. However, on 15 November 2014, Seselj rallied thousands of supporters for his return. Seselj has vowed revenge upon those currently in power and stated that Serbia will hold elections next year, which cuts the current government’s term short. Seselj was charged with inciting followers to commit murder, ethnic cleansing, and other war crimes. He has stated that he will never return to the ICTY voluntarily should a verdict be reached upon those charges. (Reuters, Europe Online Magazine) (For additional information please click here)

Vote set for Tuesday on UN GA resolution on N. Korea abuses and investigation: The UN General Assembly is set to vote on a resolution concerning human rights abuses in North Korea and calls for a war crimes probe. This resolution was drafted by the European Union and Japan and sets the vote for Tuesday. Michael Kirby, an Australian judge who led the UN inquiry, calls this vote a “moment of truth” for the UN. The resolution highlights many details from a UN report sent out in February with testimonies of North Korean exiles on prison camps, accounts of torture, and other crimes. (SBS)

ECCC defence application to disqualify judges dismissed: A majority of a five-member judicial panel of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s trial chamber dismissed applications made by defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to disqualify four of five of the court’s judges. Chea believed that the judges would not give him a fair trial based on their previous guilty verdict in August. Samphan wanted additional time to prepare for his appeal. The four members of the panel dismissed the application, with Judge Rowan Downing dissenting. The full reasoning behind their decision will be provided as soon as possible. Victor Koppe, Chea’s lawyer, stated that counsel would most likely start attending the trial hearings. This should end the on-going boycott of the case. (The Phnom Penh Post)

Former Habre security personnel appear before Special Court in Chad: Hissene Habre ruled Chad for eight years before being overthrown in 1990 by the current President Idriss Deby. Over twenty former Habre security personnel were charged with murder and torture on Friday in a special court. Saleh Younous, former director of a secret police group, was one of the defendants present. Twenty-one of the defendants pled not guilty, four others charged have since died, and four others were either ill or on the run. (World Bulletin)

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11 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC confirms charges against five in Bemba Trial

Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court on Tuesday confirmed several charges against five individuals in connection with the Case of Bemba, Kilolo, et. al. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former defense counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba, and three others allegedly enticed witnesses into providing false testimony, and the Court on Tuesday found there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial. Chambers declined the Defence motion to stay proceedings while opting not to confirm charges for false or forged documents. Mr. Bemba is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed while serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo in DRC. (ICC)

ICC Prosecutor demands action in Libya, citing stability concerns

Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on Tuesday described growing concern that the deteriorating security situation in Libya is threatening long-term justice efforts. Specifically, Ms. Bensouda highlighted attacks on civilians and armed conflicts, as well as the targeting of human rights workers, media, and legal workers as a threat to ICC investigations in the region. In response, international rights groups called on the United Nations Security Council to act and end impunity. (UN News Centre, HRW) For additional information, please click here

Former officials of Habre Regime to face trial in Chad

On Monday, 10 November, Human Rights Watch welcomed the decision by an African court to try 26 former members of Hissen Habre’s Regime. The accused allegedly committed murder, torture, and kidnapping, among other crimes, during Habre’s Dictatorship. Habre is currently awaiting trial in Dakar, Senegal at the Extraordinary African Chambers. (HRW)

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3 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Kenyan NGO seeks signatures on ICC criticism of government: The Kenyan Citizens Coalition, a non-governmental organization, stated that the Kenyan government is not to blame for the lagging case against President Uhuru Kenyatta. The NGO stated that the ICC has not properly investigated the case and should not allocate the blame onto the Kenyan government. The Kenyan Citizens Coalition announced plans to start collecting signatures from citizens, Kenyan Organizations, and International Partners to compel the ICC to stop apportioning the blame. The organization’s convener, Ngunjiri Wambugu, stated that these signatures will be compiled into a memorandum that will be sent to the United Nations Security Council, the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC, the European Union, and the African Union. ICC judges will soon rule whether the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will be granted more time for investigations against Kenyatta and suspend the trial date or to throw the case out altogether. (Capital News)

ICTR celebrates 20 year anniversary: The UN-ICTR for Rwanda will celebrate its 20th year operating in Arusha. Prosecutor for the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, will join for celebrations and as panelist with other prosecutors to debate on the lessons of empowerment of national jurisdictions to prosecute international crimes. The ICTR was established in 1994 following the Rwandan genocide between the Hutus and the Tutsis. The ICTR to date has indicted 93 individuals total, 61 of which were sentenced. (Daily News)

141 human rights organizations support trial of Habré: 141 African human rights organizations from 32 different countries issued a letter on 2 November 2014 praising the efforts of Senegal and the African Union to prosecute crimes. Former Chadian president, Hisséne Habré, stands accused of thousands of political killings and torture from 1982 to 1990. Habré was indicted in July 2013 by the Extraordinary African Chambers and is now in pretrial detention. Habré’s trial would begin in early 2015 if judges rule that a trial is justified. The letter states that a fair and transparent trial for Habré, if the case went forward, would help hold those accountable for their crimes. The letter also calls for fair and transparent trials for officials from Habré’s administration whose trials are scheduled to begin November 13th. (Human Rights Watch)

Libyan court postpones trial of former Gaddafi officials: Libyan court has postponed the trial of ex-officials that served under former leader Muammar Gaddafi until 16 November 2014. This postponement is connected to the proceedings against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi before the ICC. The ICC has ordered Libya to hand over Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to be tried before the ICC. With respect to Senussi, the ICC Appeals Chamber found in July 2014 that Senussi could be tried before local Libya courts. The trial of 23 defendants occurred in Tripoli’s al-Hadba prison while Saif Al-Gaddafi is being tried in Zintan. The defendants are charged with numerous crimes including charges of genocide and incitement to rape. (Bernama, African News) (for additional information please click here)

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31 October 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC President calls for universal ratification of Rome Statute at GA: Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the ICC, stated the importance for all States to join the ICC to the UN General Assembly on 30 October 2014. President Song emphasized that the strength of the ICC is dependent upon support of the states. He asked all states to consider joining the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, in order to obtain international justice for crimes committed and deter future crimes. President Song stated that significant State contributions have been made to the court, but emphasized the disappointment that arrest and surrender of 13 persons are still outstanding. (International Criminal Court)

ICT of Bangladesh to deliver Mir Quasem Ali verdict on 2 Nov: The International Crimes Tribunal-2 announced on Thursday that the verdict of Mir Quasem Ali, the third man in command in Al-Badr during Bangladesh’s Liberation War, would be on Sunday. Mir Quasem was indicted on 5 September 2013 on 14 charges of war crimes that include murder, abduction, and torture. The announcement of his verdict date comes a day after the chief of Al-Badr, Motiur Rahman Nizami, was sentenced to death by ICT-1. 24 people testified against Mir Quasem from 11 December 2013 to 27 April 2014, while the defense produced three witnesses. Prosecutor Tureen Afroz stated that they have proved the charges against Mir Quasem and are seeking the maximum penalty. Defense attorney Tanvir Ahmed Al Amin stated that the prosecution has proved nothing and demanded Mir Quasem’s discharge. (bdnews24)

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8 September 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN Releases Report on Libya: The UN has issued a report indicating that there are serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian occurring in Tripoli and Benghazi. Civilians are being abducted and are subjected to unlawful killings. There is also a deepening political polarization taking place in Libya, leading to many to a decision to leave the country.   (UN News).

Sri Lanka NGOs respond to UN War Crimes Report: Several NGOs have criticized the UN for failing to understand the seriousness and nature of he problem in connection with civilian death during the end of the civil conflict in India. There are also allegations that the UN failed in its mandate to protect civilian populations by relocating. The UN has declined to comment on the report’s findings at this time. (Reuters).

Nuon Chea to appeal ECCC verdict: Cambodia defense attorneys for former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea have decided to appeal on behalf of their client on the basis that he did not commit at least one of the crimes for which he was found guilty. The majority of evidence for the appeal is from documentary filmmaker Thet Sambath’s research into the killings. Apparently, there is evidence that Chea was not involved. At this point, sources say it is unlikely the case will be reheard. (VOA).

UN to send team to investigate rights violations in Iraq: The UNHCR said Monday that it will send an investigative team to Iraq to look deeper into the alleged crimes committed by the rebel group ISIS. The investigation is estimated to cost $1.2 million. The allegations of mass killings and other atrocities continue to mount against ISIS. The UN has said that this missions main purpose is to protect the people of Iraq. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (IBT, Reuters).

Ble Goude confirmation hearing delayed: Charles Blé Goudé, national of Côte d’Ivoire, 42 years of age, allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the territory of Côte d’Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. The ICC has decided to postpone the commencement of charges at the Defence’s request to give them time to finish their preparation. (ICC).

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