Archive for category Torture

20 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC holds status conference for Ongwen case: On Tuesday, 19 May 2015, the ICC held a status conference relating to the case against Dominic Ogwen, a top Ugandan rebel leader in the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Ogwen, who faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed at a camp for internally displaced people in 2004, was present at the conference and represented by counsel. Ongwen’s confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for 21 January 2016. (NTV).

Sri Lankan President announce June start to war crime probe: Today, 20 May 2015, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena announced that an investigation into war crimes committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war would begin by June. The President also encouraged guidance from the U.N. Human Rights Council on carrying out the investigation and vowed to prosecute those “found guilty by the investigation.”  Over 100,000 were killed during the conflict. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (MalayMail, The Economic Times).

ICTR holds 25th plenary session; re-elects President: The 25th and final plenary session of the ICTR was held in The Hague on 13 May 2015. At this session, Rule 18(B) of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence was amended and ITCR President Judge Vagn Joensen was re-elected through 31 December 2015, the expected date of closure of the Tribunal. The ICTR has already begun transitioning power to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals which was created to continue the residual functions of the ICTR and ICTY. (UN-ICTR).

Amnesty reports torture in Morocco:  Moroccan authorities are still using torture against those detained or expressing dissent; said Amnesty International in a report released Tuesday, 19 May 2015.  The findings of the report stemmed from interviews with over 150 men, women and children between 2010 and 2014.  Morocco has pledged for years to eliminate torture by authorities.  However, an Amnesty International director says “There is a gap between what’s on paper and what’s in practice.  Torture is not systematic but common.  The safeguards that exist currently are not being implemented.”  (NY Times).

Tunisian Truth Commission to address torture and other human rights abuses: On 19 May 2015, it was reported that Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission will be conducting public hearings beginning June 2015.  The hearings will address allegations of torture, mass killings and other human rights violations committed over a 60 year period, starting in 1955, while Tunisia was under authoritarian rule. Members of the Commission have visited towns to urge victims of the human rights abuses to file complaints.  The Commission does have the power to subpoena witnesses and government files. (NY Times).

Complaint filed with African Commission over death of protestors in Burundi: On 5 May 2015, a leading human rights lawyer from Nigeria, Femi Falana, filed a complaint against the government of Burundi in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  Falana claims the government fatally attacked civilians protesting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plan to seek a third term of office.  Falana said this plan violates the constitution of Burundi, which imposes a two term limit on the office of president, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which guarantees life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, association and assembly.  Falana urged the African Commission to “ensure effective remedies for [these] multiple violations of the rights of the people of Burundi.” (the News Nigeria).

ICC AC admissibility decision on Simone Gbagbo to be delivered 27 May: The appeals decision on the admissibility of the case against Ivorian politician Simone Gbagbo is expected to be delivered 27 May 2015, said the ICC Appeals Chamber today, 20 May 2015. The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision rejecting an admissibility challenge to the case and reminding the country of its obligation to surrender Mrs. Gbagbo to the ICC.  Gbagbo is accused of murder, rape and other inhumane acts and persecution committed in the Ivory Coast between December 2010 and April 2011. (ICC).

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14 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

10 former Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested in Bosnia over crimes from 1990s conflict: The 10 former Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested in December have been charged with war crimes that occurred during the 1990s Balkans conflict. The December arrests stemmed from a joint effort of Bosnia and Serbia to look into these matters. Five former Bosnian Serb soldiers were arrested in December by Serbia and the ten now charged with war crimes were arrested by Bosnia. (UT San DiegoABC News) (for additional information click here)

Appeals proceedings in ICTR Butare case to start: On Tuesday 21 April 2015, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will start appeals proceedings for its last case. The case includes six members of Butare including former Family Affairs Minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. Nyiramasuhuko was sentenced to life in prison by the trial court for crimes against humanity in 2011. According to ICTR, judgement from the appeal will not be rendered earlier than August. This will mark the 14th year of this case and the 16th year that Nyiramasuhuko has been in preventive detention. (Hirondelle News)

Hadzic granted provisional release by ICTY for health issues:  The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) has granted a provisional release to former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic until May. Hadzic stands accused of 14 alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1991-95 war in Croatia. Hadzic was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in November and will receive radio and chemotherapy treatment. His request for a temporary release was initially denied by trial judge, but overturned on appeal for humanitarian reasons. (Expatica, InSerbia News) (for additional information click here)

AG calls Bensouda’s claim of Kenya’s possible non-cooperation defamatory: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stands accused for defamation of Kenya by Attorney General Githu Muigai. Muigai states that Bensouda’s allegations that the Kenyan government refuses to cooperate with the court is defamatory. The prosecutor is attempting to get Kenya referred to the Assembly of State Parties and sanctioned. (All Africa News)

Bangladeshi Chairman of the Law Commission withdraws from ICC judge election: Bangladeshi Chairman of the Law Commission, ABM Khairul Haque, has withdrawn from the ICC judge election. Haque stated that he withdrew due to family concerns as his mother is elderly and ill. Haque also stated that this situation would not allow him to contribute six years to the ICC. (BDNews 24)

NGO group calls on Equitorial Guinea human rights violations to be investigated: Nongovernmental organizations sent a letter to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries on 31 March to assess the human rights situations in Equatorial Guinea and recommend reform. Human Rights Watch stated that an investigation should be launched into the human rights violation in Equatorial Guinea. According to Human Rights Watch freedom of speech, association, and assembly are limited in the country. (Human Rights Watch)

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3 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Prosecutor Brammertz asks Trial Chamber to issue a verdict for Seselj soon: ICTY prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, asked the Trial Chamber to make a final verdict in Vojislav Seselj’s case for alleged war crimes.  Brammertz’ asked for a final verdict due to Seselj’s behavior whilst on a provisional release for health purposes. The ICTY found at the end of March that Seselj violated the conditions for his provisional release and ordered him to return to the Hague to await the verdict.  Tensions heightened between Serbia and Croatia during Seselj’s release to Serbia. Seselj was seen publicly burning a Croatian flag as a sign of defiance for being ordered back to the Hague. (Dalje, Yahoo! News) (for additional information click here)

Human Rights organizations write letter to UNSC to reopen ICC investigation in Sudan: A letter sent to the United Nations Security Council by a group of Sudanese and international humanitarian and human rights organizations asked the UNSC to reopen ICC investigations in Darfur. The organizations asked the UNSC to persevere in the arrest of indicted war criminals related to the situation in Darfur. They also urged the UNSC to advise ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to reopen investigations into the matter. (All Africa)

ICC Prosecution last witness in Ruto case says fearful of testifying:  Witness 7271 is the final ICC prosecution witness in Deputy President William Ruto’s case for crimes against humanity. Witness 727’s lawyer, Goran Sluiter, stated that his client is hiding in the Netherlands and fears for his life. Witness 727 has refused to testify at trial three times before, causing the Trial Chamber to adjourn. (All Africa)

Victims of Malvinas War torture will bring case to IACHR: The victims of torture during the 1982 Malvinas War are bringing their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. During the Malvinas War, Argentine soldiers were tortured by senior officers whilst serving on the Malvinas Islands. The leader of Centro de Ex-Combatientes Islas Malvinas (CECIM), Ernesto Alonso, stated that the complaint will be filed within two weeks. (Buenos Aires Herald)

Cyprus makes Armenian genocide denial a crime:  The denial of the Armenian genocide is now a crime when the Parliament of Cyprus voted in the resolution. The resolution was passed unanimously on Thursday. Armenpress states that the penalty for the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes is now a prison sentence of 5 years and a fine of 10,000 Euros.   (Asbarez)

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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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