Archive for category UN Human Rights Council
U.K. threatens Sri Lanka with international inquiry: The U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, warned Sri Lanka that if it did not investigate allegations of sexual violence committed by government forces during its 26-year civil war it would be subject to an international inquiry. Hague warned the country that it had until the Human Rights Council met in March to conduct an independent and credible investigation. Sri Lanka is one country that has not yet signed the U.K.’s declaration to end sexual violence during conflict. (Sunday Times).
Bosnian Serbs arrested for CAH: The Bosnian prosecution office has charged nine suspects with crimes against humanity related to the country’s 1992-1995 civil war. The nine Bosnian Serb policeman allegedly “expelled, deported, illegally imprisoned, tortured, or killed non-Serbian civilians . . . in a systematic campaign against the Muslim and Croatian populations.” Nearly 100,000 died and millions were replaced as a result of the civil war. (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty).
Bemba restrictions lifted at ICC: An ICC judge has ordered the immediate lifting of detention restrictions placed on Jean-Pierre Bemba and his recently imprisoned lead defense counsel, Aime Kilolo-Musamba. During detention, the two had been restricted to 30 minute phone calls, one hour monitored visits with family, and an initial 72 hour of no contact. Bemba argued the restrictions violated his right to counsel and Kilolo said it prevented him from presenting an adequate defense. Kilolo was arrested in November on allegations of witness interference and forged evidence. (Bemba Trial).
ICC investigations flawed, says Kenyan lawyers: Lawyers met in Nairobi on Tuesday, 3 December 2013, to protest ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s handling of investigations into Kenya. The lawyers claimed Bensouda and her predecessor forged evidence and relied on unreliable witnesses. One lawyer was quoted as saying: “It appears as though the court was determined to confirm the charges and the prosecution was convinced that there were substantial grounds to proceed with the case even though the investigations were questionable.” The ICC is currently trying Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and the case against the country’s sitting President will commence in February 2014. (All Africa).
Cooperation between ICTY and Serbia positive: It is expected the chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, will report positively to the U.N. Security Council on Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal on Thursday, 5 December 2013. Brammertz met with officials in Serbia last month “to discuss transfer of documents and access to government archives and witnesses.” It appears the transition of matters between the ICTY and Serbia has gone smoothly and efficiently. Brammertz presents his findings twice a year to the Security Council. (In Serbia).
Bosnian war criminals to be released: A local court that issued judgements in over 100 cases since its establishment in 2005 to aid the ICTY is expected to release hundreds of Bosnian war criminals. In July 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the local court erred in convicting and punishing accused under a 2003 criminal code. The ECHR concluded the court should have been applying a less stringent 1976 statute that was in force at the time the crimes were committed. The local court will now need to schedule retrials. (The Malay Mail).
Indonesia offers support to Cambodia and Thailand after ICJ verdict: Indonesia has pledged to aid Cambodia and Thailand as the two countries carry out the ICJ’s recent decision concerning the ownership of a Hindu temple. Indonesia stated it was “ready to assist in whatever means if both countries ask for its support in implementing the ICJ order.” In November 2013, the ICJ granted Cambodia ownership of the temple located near the Cambodian-Thai border. (Phnom Penh Post).
Sierra Leone Residual Court elects Kenya’s Wiki as President: Kenya’s Phillip Waki was elected President of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone on 3 December 2013. Waki previously served as an alternate appeals judge at the SCSL and sat on the Kenyan Court of Appeals and High Court. Justice Jon Kamanda of Sierra Leone was elected as Vice President. (The Star).
China supports delay of Kenyatta case at ICC: China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, urged the ICC on Tuesday, 5 November 2013, to postpone the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for at least a year. China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi argued the dignity of Kenyatta must “be fully protected and respected” and that the Kenyan leader needed time to “concentrate on discharging [his] constitutional duties.” Kenyatta is on trial for crimes against humanity. The ICC case against him was previously suspended from November to 5 February 2014. (Eurasia Review).
30 killed in Nigerian attack; Islamist militants blamed: Members of an Islamist militant group responsible for a deadly attack on a wedding party in Nigeria this past Saturday, 2 November 2013, could face charges of crimes against humanity, said U.N. Human Rights Office Spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly. Pouilly reported the Nigerian government established a panel to investigate and report on alleged human rights abuses being committed in the country. Since 2009, thousands of Nigerians have been killed or displaced in the militant group’s fight to overthrow the government and replace it with a Islamist regime. (Voice of America).
International reports focus on U.S. drone strikes: Recent reports by U.N. special rapporteurs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have examined whether the U.S.’s use of drone strikes complies with international humanitarian law. Amnesty International noted that lethal force outside armed conflict is legal only when proportionately used to protect life. The NGO stressed attacks must be targeted against militants and not harm civilians. Amnesty International’s report considered the drone strikes by the U.S. in Pakistan likely “constitute[d] extrajudicial executions” and were in violation of international law. Similarly, Human Rights Watch concluded certain U.S. drone strikes in Yemen “may have violated the laws of war because the individual attacked was not a lawful military target.” (The Guardian).
Thailand and Cambodia prepare for ICJ verdict: The ICJ’s expected 11 November 2013, ruling on the ownership of the Hindu temple located near the border of Thailand and Cambodia has many security officials worried. It is feared internal political disputes between either country’s government and opposition forces may “create a situation for misunderstanding” and “ignite a [border] conflict.” The Thai and Cambodian Foreign Ministers met last week to discuss military restraint and stability along the border. (The Nation).
UN address ICC issues, including Kenya deferral and Sudan’s outstanding warrants: On Thursday, 31 October 2013, ICC President Sang-Hyung Song updated the UNGA on the workings of the Court, including the Kenya, Libya, Sudan and Ivory Coast cases. He asked all ICC stakeholders to uphold the integrity of the Rome Statute, and particularly highlighted the support needed from the UN to address the outstanding warrants in Sudan against the four individuals charged with committing genocide in Darfur. In a separate meeting, the UNSC representatives from Kenya and the AU were addressing the ICC concerning the possibility of deferring the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto for one year. Under Article 16 of the Rome Statute, a prosecution can be deferred for up to 12 months by a resolution of the UNSC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (The Star, UPI).
Serbia to receive positive report from ICTY: Rasim Ljajic, the president of the National Council for the ICTY Cooperation, will mention Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY in a report he will deliver to the UN in December, specifically referring to Serbia promptly delivering documents and allowing access to witnesses and archives. Ljajic met with ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz on Monday, 4 November 2013, and he met with Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and the chief Serbian prosecutor Vladimir Vucicevic on Tuesday, 5 November 2013. Ljajic and Brammertz discussed placing individuals sentenced by the ICTY into Serbian prisons, a possibility the Tribunal had previously declined. (World Bulletin).
Witness testifies that Karadzic was a weak leader: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s trial resumed this week, with Karadzic’s former aide Jovan Zametica testifying that Karadzic had not had effective control over his army. Zametica joined the Republika Srpska (RS) in 1993 and became an advisor to Karazdic in 1994. He testified that Karadzic had been a weak leader of the RS; his army had apparently been disobedient, he had allowed local chieftains to make important decisions, and he had simply been a representative leader to the international community. He also asserted that Karadzic had been tolerant of non-Serbs, as shown by the fact that Zametica is a Muslim. Karadzic is charged with genocide before the ICTY. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).
ICTR will help Rwanda with transferred genocide cases: The ICTR has promised to help the Rwandan National Prosecution Authority with the genocide cases the ICTR has transferred to Rwanda. ICTR prosecutor general Hassan Bubacar Jallow explained that although the work of the ICTR is winding down, it will continue to support the Rwandan prosecution to ensure that the cases are handled successfully and that the genocide suspects, many of whom have fled to France, are caught and prosecuted. Jallow, ICTR President Judge Vagn Joensen, and several senior officials from the ICTR are currently in Rwanda and will meet with the supreme court judges and Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye to review ICTR procedures. (Rwanda Focus).
MICT is tracking “big fish” wanted for Darfur genocide: Jallow announced on Monday, 4 November 2013 that three of the most wanted suspects for the genocide in Darfur will likely be caught soon, because the Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was able to obtain information that could lead to their arrest. The three fugitives are Felicien Kabuga, who allegedly financed the genocide, Protais Mpiranya, the former Presidential Guards commandant, and Augustin Bizimana, the former defense minister. Referred to as “big fish”, their cases would be handled by the MICT, as opposed to being transferred to Rwanda. (The New Times).
STL fines defense in Hariri case: Earlier this week, the STL fined defense lawyers for making “frivolous” appeals in order to delay the start date of the trial concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The defense appealed the appointment of Judge Janet Nosworthy, who replaced the former president of the trial chamber upon his resignation in September, which was deemed a “frivolous” delay tactic by the Court. The defense also asserted that it needs more time to prepare for trial due to the high volume of evidence in the case, and that Lebanon was not cooperating in assisting the defense’s investigations. The Court did not reveal how much the defense was fined. (The Daily Star).
British MPs call executions in Iran crimes against humanity: British MPs have declared that the execution of 16 political prisoners on 4 October 2013 in Zahedan, Iran is a crime against humanity, and are calling on the UN to investigate these events. The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom stated that Mohammad Marzieh, the prosecutor general of Zahedan, had confirmed that the prisoners had been executed because they had killed revolutionary guards in Saravan. The committee also noted, however, that Hedayatollah Mir-Moradzehi, Saravan’s representative in the Iranian Parliament, stated that it was still unclear who had killed the revolutionary guards. The committee recommended that the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council review the events. (Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran).
ICC unseals arrest warrant against Charles Blé Goudé: On Monday, 30 September 2013, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant against Ivorian Charles Blé Goudé, which had initially been issued on 21 December 2011. Blé Goudé is accused of working with former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo in inciting pro-Gbagbo forces to attack civilian populations between December 2010 and April 2011, following the national election. Specifically, he allegedly controlled and instructed youth militias who were part of the Ivorian Defense and Security Forces and loyal to Laurent Gbagbo. Following the warrants of arrest for Laurent Gbagbo and the former first lady Simone Gbagbo, this is the third warrant of arrest the ICC has issued for individuals involved in the post-election conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. (CPI-ICC).
Special Bangladeshi war crimes court to give verdict on senior BNP leader: 16 months after the International Crimes Tribunal indicted senior BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury on 23 charges of committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, the special war crimes court is set to deliver its verdict on Tuesday, 1 October 2013. The trial was conducted before a three-member tribunal, the chairman of which announced the delivery of the judgment. The prosecution noted that it could prove 17 of the 23 charges beyond doubt and was expecting Chowdhury to receive the death penalty, whereas Chowdhury’s defense counsel claimed that they were able to prove his innocence during the trial. Chowdhury is the second of two BNP leaders to be tried for war crimes, and he is specifically accused of killing 200 civilians, collaborating with the Pakistani Army to kill and torture people, persecution, and killing philanthropist and industrialist Nutun Chandra Singha. (IBN Live).
International criminal law experts push for special tribunal in Syria: A group of international war crimes experts calling for the creation of a conflict-specific war crimes tribunal in Syria will formally introduce the relevant draft statutes at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, 1 October 2013. The special tribunal would serve to try high-level officials, rebels, and soldiers who may have committed war crimes during the Syrian civil war and aim to prevent such atrocities in the future. The statutes have been in development for about two years, and a spokesman for the drafters said that the U.S. is sympathetic to the creation of a Syrian war crimes court. While Sharif Shehadeh, a Syrian legislator and political analyst, expressed that the Syrian judicial system is adequate and a special court therefore unnecessary, the Free Syrian Army welcomes the idea of a special tribunal. Even though Syria is not party to the ICC, Human Rights Watch commented that the ICC would ensure a more fair trial of top-level officials than a special tribunal would. (The Associated Press).
Hearings in Bemba trial to be postponed: For reasons that have not been made public, the testimony of the fourth to last defense witness in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba at the ICC has been moved form Tuesday, 1 October 2013 to Wednesday, 2 October 2013. Due to his professional commitments, the witness is allowed to testify remotely via video link from an undisclosed location. Bemba is the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, and is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity as commander of troops that allegedly committed atrocities against civilians during the 2002-2003 armed conflict in the Central African Republic. (The Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo).
UNHRC issues warning of international investigation to Sri Lanka: In an oral report to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, 25 September 2013, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay warned that Sri Lanka could face an international investigation, unless the Sri Lankan government comprehensively scrutinized the human rights violations that were committed against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the Sri Lankan civil war. If such an investigation is not carried out by March 2014, she warned, the international community has a duty to intervene and examine the alleged war crimes. The report followed her visit to Sri Lanka in August, where she assessed that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had not made progress in investigating the crimes committed against the LTTE, nor had Colombo initiated any new efforts to credibly examine the allegations. The Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHCR has rejected the report and international involvement. (World Socialist Website).
Kenyan MP supports suspension of ICC cases against Kenyatta and Ruto: Ken Kiloku, a member of parliament of Narok East, voiced his support to have the ICC trials against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto suspended, citing insecurity and political instability in Kenya as a justification. He explained that the leaders should be given time to address security issues in Kenya, especially in light of the recent Westgate Mall terrorist attack. He also accused Fatuo Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, of threatening the Deputy President of Kenya, asking her to respect the wishes of Kenyans. (The Star).
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Crimes against Humanity, Decision Review, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICT of Bangladesh, ICTY, Investigations, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, North Korea, Other domestic courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, UN Human Rights Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on August 21, 2013
ICC judges suspend decision to excuse Ruto from appearing at trial: On 20 August, the ICC Appeals Chamber suspended a ruling by the Pre-Trial Chamber that allowed Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto to be present at only essential ICC hearings. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision, arguing that Ruto should be present at trials with co-accused Joshua Arap Sang. This is not a final decision by the Appeals Chamber, instead if the Chamber is unable to reach a final decision by the beginning of Ruto’s trial on 10 September, Ruto will need to attend all hearings until a final decision is made. Ruto is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity in relation to the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya.
U.N. panel hears testimony on North Korean prison camp: On 20 August, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into North Korean human rights abuses heard testimony from former prison camp inmates. The witnesses stated that public executions and torture are daily occurrences in the North Korean prison camps. There are approximately 150,000-200,000 inmates in the prison camps. This is the first time North Korea’s human rights record will be examined by an expert panel, but few believe the tribunal will have any immediate impact. The U.N. commission has stated that it is inappropriate to discuss ICC jurisdiction because North Korea is not a member to the Rome Statute.
ICTY clears Krstic of contempt of court: On 18 July, ICTY judges cleared Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic of contempt of court for refusing to participate in the trial of Radovan Karadzic. Krstic is currently serving 35 years in prison for aiding and abetting genocide. Judges stated that post-traumatic was a reasonable excuse for refusing to testify. Karadzic remains on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.
ICT of Bangladesh begins war crimes probe: On 20 August, the International Criminal Tribunal of Bangladesh began a probe of the actions of the Jamaat-e-Islami party during Bangladesh’s 1971 war for independence. Jamaat had led anti-liberation forces during the war. Jamaat leaders have already been convicted of crimes against humanity. Earlier verdicts against Jamaat deemed the group a criminal organization and stated that there should be no role for the group within the government.
Argentina holds crimes against humanity trials: On 19 August, Argentina officials announced that eleven trials for crimes against humanity, in relation to the 1976-83 military dictatorship, are being held throughout Argentina. One trial alone will feature 68 defendants accused of kidnapping, torture, and murder. Another trial is reviewing crimes committed relating to the CIA led Operation Condor, which targeted political opponents of Latin American military dictators.
KLWCT to hear charges against Israel: On 19 August, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal announced that it will hear war crimes and genocide charges against former Israeli army general, Amos Yaron, and the State of Israel from 21 to 24 August. This is the first time that charges will be heard against the State of Israel in compliance with due process. If found guilty of the charges, the parties will have their names included in the KLWCT’s Register of War Criminals. The KLWCT was established in response to the ICC, which some opined favored the interests of Western nations.
Indicted Nazi war criminal dies: On 14 August, Laszlo Csatary, a former Hungarian Nazi policeman, died in Budapest at the age of 98. Csatary had been indicted for war crimes during the Holocaust for cruelty to Jews and aiding their deportation to death camps. Csatary was set to stand trial soon.
ICC Victim Representative seeks contents of Kenyatta confidential petition: On Tuesday, 13 August 2013, victim representative Fergal Gaynor requested defense counsel for President Uhuru Kenyatta reveal to the ICC the contents of a confidential petition filed last month in the Kenyan High Court. Gaynor fears the petition divulged the identities of protected witnesses and victims in violation of the Court’s rule against disclosure of confidential information. Gaynor is concerned the contents of the petition may lead to witness intimidation and discourage victims from participating in the ICC proceedings.
Investigation committee appointed by Sri Lankan President: A three member commission authorized to investigate alleged human rights violations and conduct legal proceedings against accused was appointed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday ,14 August 2013. The commission, headed by retired Judge Maxwell Parakrama, is in response to the U.N. resolution requiring Sri Lanka “to more thoroughly investigate alleged war crimes committed by both sides during its civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.” Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, is scheduled to update the Human Rights Council this month on Sri Lanka’s progress in carrying out the resolution.
Advocacy group pushes for ICC referral of Zimbabwe situation: International advocacy organization AIDS-Free World has urged the U.N. this week to refer the situation in Zimbabwe to the ICC. The organization’s co-director, Stephen Lewis, cited “the Gukurahundi genocide in the 1980s, the Murambatsvina ‘cleansing’ operation in 2005, and the rape campaign that followed” the 2008 Presidential election as sufficient evidence President Robert Mugabe and his party engaged in crimes against humanity. Mugabe was re-elected President two weeks ago and the opposition has claimed the process was rigged. Lewis fears the challenge to the election will trigger violence and has requested the U.N. to step in before even more human rights abuses are committed.
Shahidullah Kaiser’s widow to testify at ICT-2: The widow of a prominent Bangladeshi journalist killed during the 1971 Liberation War is expected to testify at the ICT-2, according to the prosecution on Wednesday, 14 August 2013. The Tribunal has charged two senior leaders of al-Badr, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, with crimes against humanity for the deaths of 18 intellectuals. Both accused failed to appear before the court last month and are now being tried in absentia.
5 August 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS
Special Tribunal for Lebanon: On 5 August 2013, it was announced that the UN-backed tribunal set up to try the killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on Friday set a provisional 13 January 2014 start date for the trial. Four members of militant Shiite group Hezbollah are facing trial abstentia for devastating 2005 Beirut seafront bombing that killed billionaire Hariri and 22 others.
Commissioner Pillay calls for enquiry into alleged execution of Syrian soldiers: On 3 August 2013, it was reported that the UN highest-ranking official on human rights made an urgent call for an inquiry into the alleged executions of Syrian government soldiers by opposition groups. Commissioner Pillay has called for an independent investigation to establish whether war crimes have been committed. According to the OHCHR, more than 100,000 have been killed since the civil war erupted in Syria.
Karadzic granted more time to prepare defence: On 5 August 2013, it was reported that the ICTY granted Karadzic his request for additional time to prepare his defence. Trial is scheduled to resume on 28 October 2013.
Apparent unrest among Libyan government and former rebel forces: On 31 July 2013, it was reported by Aljazeera that a criminal court in the Libyan city of Misrata sentenced a former education minister to death for inciting violence during the 2011 civil war. According to reports in the Saudi Gazette, the Libyan government and the ICC are equally concerned over the possibility of inadequate court proceedings taking place, especially in the cases of Saif Gaddafi and Senussi. Amnesty International is concerned that the continued unrest in Libya will lead to the impossibility of a fair trial for rebel held prisoners. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, and here)
Colombian president rejects impunity for FARC: On 5 August 2013, it was announced that FARC members will not be receiving impunity for allegedly engaging in the commission of crimes against humanity if a peace agreement is reached. However, President Juan Manuel Santos went on to say that if a peace agreement is reached there will be a process to rehabilitate guerrilla members who have not committed crimes against humanity.
UN releases 2,200 war-crimes documents: On 3 August 2013, it was reported that the unrestricted records of the UN War Crimes Commission were put online early July by the ICC after an agreement with the UN had been reached. UN spokesman, Martin Nesirky, hopes that putting the unrestricted part of the archive online will enhance the availability of materials to those engaged in research into the development of international law.
Kaiser receives conditional bail: On 5 August 2013, it was announced that the former Jatiya Party leader, Syed Md Kaiser, will be granted conditional bail. If any of the conditions are violated, Kaiser will risk the denial of bail.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gaddafi, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTR, ICTR Residual Mechanism, Investigations, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, Syria, Torture, UN Human Rights Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on July 31, 2013
ICC Prosecutor considering “no-case-to-answer” motion in Kenyatta trial: On 27 July 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that the prosecution is considering entering a “no-case-to-answer” motion in Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial, where he is facing five counts of crimes against humanity. The motion, which would make each charge against Kenyatta be tried individually and give each party a chance to respond to the charge, has the potential to lead to an early dismissal of the case. The victims’ lawyers oppose the motion, stating that it will only delay justice and that the motion is not considered by the Rome Statute. On a similar note, Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto has claimed that local and international NGOs have tampered with evidence including witness coaching. (For further information on this topic, please click here.)
Parties in Kenyatta case to submit preferences for trial venue: On 30 July 2013, ICC judges instructed the various parties to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case to submit their venue preferences for the opening of the trial, between Kenya or Tanzania. Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto submitted a similar request for venue change, but ICC judges rejected the motion and his trial will be in The Hague. In Ruto’s case, the judges cited costs, victims and witnesses interests, and local impact on Kenya as deciding factors. The victims’ lawyer stated that most victims prefer the trial take place in The Hague. Parties have until 13 August to submit their views.
Head of U.N. Syrian probe urges member-states to act: On 30 July 2013, the head of a U.N. human rights probe into Syria, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, implored member-states to act decisively to bring the war in Syria to an end. Pinheiro stated that a lack of action has led to a cultural of impunity. The probe has released ten reports on the human rights violations occurring in Syria including indiscriminate shelling, sexual violence, torture, and massacres. Over 100,000 Syrians have already died in the conflict.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi potentially faces execution in Libya trial: On 29 July 2013, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, may face execution if convicted in Libya, where he is charged with harming state security and insulting the national flag. The ICC has issued an extradition request, but Libya states that the ICC does not have jurisdiction because Libya is not unable or unwilling to prosecute. Gaddafi’s lawyer has stated that his client will not be able to receive a fair trial in Libya.
UK reports that nearly 100 war crimes suspects were identified last year: On 30 July 2013, the Home Office, the UK’s immigration agency, reported that nearly 100 war crimes suspects had been identified in the UK in the last year. Suspects originated from numerous states including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Rwanda, Serbia and Sri Lanka. Most suspects have been living in the UK for years. The Home Office stated that any suspects should be put on trial in their home country to face justice.
ICTR accused sent to Rwanda for trial: On 24 July 2013, ICTR accused, Bernard Munyagishari was transferred from the ICTR to Rwanda. Munyagishari, the former Secretary General for the ruling Rwanda party during the genocide, was charged by the ICTR with genocide and other crimes. Munyagishari is the second accused to be transferred to Rwanda for domestic trial. Until 2011, accused persons were not transferred to Rwanda because the UN backed court said Rwanda did not fulfill the conditions for a fair trial. However, transferring accused from the ICTR to national courts is now one of the strategies in closing the ICTR.
5 July 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS
UN HR team scheduled to visit North Korea: On 5July 2013, it was announced that a team of UN human rights investigators will be holding a set of meetings with North Korean exiles to discuss alleged human rights abuses. The DPRK is concerned about the impartiality of the meetings and will likely ignore any UN recommendations. The major concerns surrounding the DPRK involve kidnappings of foreign nationals, torture and a alleged gulag system said to be holding over 200,000 prisoners.
US looks to expedite 9/11 war crimes trials: The US military judge presiding over the September 11 war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo Bay is being urged to move the case along. Prosecutors have asked Army Col. James Pohl to set a Sept. 22, 2014, trial date, establish deadlines for pretrial motions and hold month long hearings to resolve preliminary matters that must be addressed before the death penalty case against five Guantanamo prisoners can be heard by a jury of military officers at the U.S. base in Cuba.
Charges hearing for Yusuf set for mid-July: On 4 July 2013, the ICT set a hearing for 14 July 2013, for the hearing for the charge of framing against war crimes suspects and alleged founder of the Razakar force AKM Yusuf. The prosecution submitted formal charges against Yusuf, a senior nayeb-e-ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, on May 8. The prosecution brought 15 charges against the 84-year-old including genocide, murder, looting and arson.
Commissioner Pillay seeks HR assurances for Egyptians: On 5 July 2013, it was reported that Commissioner Pillay urged all parties in Egypt to ensure calm and the protection of human rights during this “delicate” period, stressing the need for dialogue to peacefully re-establish the rule of law and civilian authority. She also reaffirmed OHCHR’s readiness to assist the Egyptian people in the transitional process and in particular in efforts by future administrations to promote a society based on principles of democracy and social justice, guided by internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.
Habre taken into custody by Senegalese authorities: On 30 June 2013, it was reported that the Senegalese authorities detained the former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre. The former dictator stands accused of war crimes and torture during his eight years in power in Chad. Under Senegalese law, Habre can be held in custody for 48 hours, renewable once.
Nuon Chea’s role highlighted at ECCC: On 27 June 2013, the ECCC presented evidence on Nuon Chea’s purported involvement in the Standing Committee of Democratic Kampuchea and the CPK. The evidence purports to show Chae as a decision maker and at one time holding the role of Acting Prime Minister. The final piece of evidence presented by the prosecution that day was a video clip where Chae claims that “had people not been killed under the Khmer Rouge there would be no Cambodia today.” (For more information on this topic, please click here.)
Commissioner Pillay concerned over Afghan HR appointments: On 28 June 2013, Commissioner Pillay warned that the recent appointments to Afghanistan’s human rights body may compromise its standing with the international community. Commissioners are required to have a good reputation, demonstrate independence, and have a commitment to human rights. Commissioner Pillay is concerned that the latest appointments do not conform to this standard.
Former French leader under investigation for link to Rwanda genocide: On 28 June 2013, it was announced that the former French captain, Paul Barril, is being investigated for suspected complicity to acts of genocide and committing crimes against humanity. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, it is alleged that Barril struck a controversial arms deal with the interim government during the height of the killings.