Archive for category UN Security Council
U.N. panel finds widespread human rights abuses in North Korea: A 400-page investigatory report documenting alleged human rights abused being carried out in North Korea was released by a special U.N. commission. The report, which has already gained support from countries such as the U.S. and South Korea, reveals widespread and systematic acts of torture, starvation and executions. International scholars, who argue the acts could warrant an ICC prosecution, fear China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a close ally of North Korea, would veto a referral to the permanent international court. North Korea has yet to respond to the report that is expected to be presented next month in Geneva to the U.N. Human Rights Council. (Wall Street Journal).
Kenyan AG Githu Muigai addresses ICC: Domestic law prevents the disclosure of the Kenyan President’s financial records, said Attorney General Githu Muigai while speaking to ICC judges in The Hague on 13 February 2014. The attorney general informed the judges that proper procedure required the request for records to be submitted first to the local prosecutor for authorization. Muigai also denied that Kenya’s failure to comply with the ICC prosecution’s request for financial records violated its responsibilities to the Court. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).
Frankfurt: Genocide trial of Rwandan mayor begins: A German higher court commenced proceedings on 18 Tuesday 2014, against former Rwandan mayor Onesphore Rwabukombe. Rwabukombe, an ethnic Hutu, is charged with the mass killing of nearly 4,000 ethnic Tutsi during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Some 50 witnesses are expected to testify in the first Rwandan genocide case tried in Germany. Rwabukombe faces life imprisonment if convicted. (The Local).
Socio-Political Scientist Herve Maupeu testifies at Ruto/Sang ICC trial: The trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang resumed in The Hague on 17 Monday 2014 after the Christmas recess. An expert witness on Kenya’s social and political history, Herve Maupeu, testified that the country’s sitting head of state Uhuru Kenyatta had been a member of the Orange Democratic Movement’s leadership circle. Deputy President Ruto is a supporter of the Orange Democratic Movement which is alleged to have planned attacks against the rival political party. (Standard Media).
ICTY Prosecutor comments on reconsideration motion in Perišić case: On Monday, 3 February 2014, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz announced that his Office requested that the ICTY Appeals Chamber reconsider its acquittal of Momčilo Perišić, the former Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, who had been convicted to 27 years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica between 1993 and 1995. In its motion for reconsideration, the Office of the Prosecutor argued that the “specific direction” requirements on which the Appeals Chamber based the acquittal is incorrect and should be overturned. (ICTY).
Witness from explosive unit testified at STL: On Monday, 3 February 2014, Abdel-Badih al-Soussi, who was the manager of the explosives unit of the Internal Security Forces at the time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated, testified before the STL. Although he had not gone to the crime scene immediately following the explosion, he had attended a meeting at the military court that afternoon, to which a member of the explosives bureau had brought car parts from the site. The judge ordered that the parts be examined and the site cordoned off to the public. Soussi testified that he did not ask that the car parts be returned to the crime scene, nor did the judge discuss during the meeting whether parts of the motorcade should be removed. (The Daily Star).
Judge replaced on Kenyatta Trial Chamber: Following a decision by the Presidency of the ICC, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson replaced Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before Trial Chamber V(b). Judge Henderson is from Trinidad and Tobago, and was elected at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in November 2013. He will serve as a judge at the ICC until 10 March 2021. Judge Eboe-Osuji had excused himself from the trial. (ICC-CPI).
U.S. urged to suspend aid due to human rights violations in Egypt: On Monday, 3 February 2014, the Working Group on Egypt, as part of the NGO Human Rights First, released a statement that it had sent a letter to U.S. President Obama, urging his administration to cease sending aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government progresses in transitioning to a democracy and improves human rights conditions within the country. According to the NGO, depriving Egypt of aid until progress has been made sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not tolerate the human rights abuses that have occurred in Egypt, which are documented in a report the group recently released. (Human Rights First).
Former Bangladeshi Minister indicted for war crimes: On Sunday, 2 February 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 indicted Syed Mohammad Qaisar, a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya Party, on 16 charges of war crimes, including the commission of genocide. He and his group, the “Quaisar Bahini”, allegedly committed crimes against humanity in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria during the 1971 Liberation War. According to the prosecution, Quaisar had also served as a commander of the Rajakars, which was an auxiliary group of the former Pakistani army. The opening statement of the prosecution will be made on 4 March 2014. (Z News).
AU issues statement urging united front concerning ICC and Kenya, Sudan cases: In a statement issued Saturday, 1 February 2014, the AU expressed that it was not pleased with the UN Security Council’s refusal to defer the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The AU encouraged all of its members to comply with AU decisions and stand together on this issue in order to defer the proceedings. Botswana is currently the only AU member state that has officially opposed the AU’s decision to challenge the ICC cases. (Sudan Tribune).
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Decision Title: Decision on Bernard Munyagishari’s Third and Fourth Motions for Admission of Additional Evidence and on the Appeals Against the Decision on Referral Under Rule 11 bis
Chamber: Appeals Chamber
Case Name: Bernard Munyagishari v. The Prosecutor
Date: 3 May 2013
- Both Defendant Munyagihari and the Prosecution appealed the Referral Chamber’s decision transferring, with conditions, his case from the ICTR to the national Rwandan courts. The defendant first asked the Appeals Chamber to consider additional evidence, which it rejected. The defense the presented ten grounds upon which it argued that the Referral Court erred when reaching the decision to transfer the case. The Appeals Chamber dismissed all but one, according to which the Appeals Chamber required that the Prosecution amend the Indictment to reflect that the national proceedings will not pursue joint criminal enterprise as a mode of liability. The Prosecution argued against two of the four conditions that the Referral Chamber had ordered to the national proceedings; the Appeals Chamber struck the conditions.
Principles found in decision:
- Even if proposed additional evidence meets the requirements under Rule 115 for admission after-the-fact, if the additional evidence would not have been dispositive in the original decision, the Appeals Court will not consider the evidence
- An Indictment against a defendant must completely and accurately reflect the charges against the defendant, so as to effectuate his right to be so informed. If the mode of liability is changed in a transfer case, this change must be reflected in an amended indictment
- The U.N. Security Council Resolutions regarding the ICTR do not require retention of high-level cases at the Tribunal
- In arguing that national proceedings will not adequately maintain international standards for the defendant’s detention, the defendant must show case-specific evidence of inadequate conditions for his transfer case. He cannot rely upon general evidence about the national prison system as a whole
- Ensuring a defendant’s rights to counsel does not require that an attorney appointed to represent an indigent defendant in a case transferred to a national court have previous international experience in order to ensure
- If a referring court requires third-party monitoring of cases transferred to national courts to ensure a fair trial, the monitoring system need not be established before the case is transferred to the national system
Decision Background: Mr. Munyagihari is indicted before the Tribunal for events stemming out of the Rwandan Genocide of 1992-1994. He is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, or alternatively complicity in genocide, murder and rape as crimes against humanity. On 6 June 2012, the Tribunal’s Referral Chamber issued the Impugned Decision, in which it ordered the case referred for trial before the High Court of Rwanda. The referral of the case to a domestic court was subject to the domestic court’s ability to meet four conditions set out by the Referral Chamber.
In June 2010, both the defense and the prosecution filed notices of appeal against the decision to refer the case to a domestic Rwandan court. In November and December of 2012, the defense filed two motions for the consideration of additional evidence on the decision to refer the case to Rwanda, both of which the Appeals Chamber dismissed. The defense filed a third motion for the consideration of additional evidence on 11 February 2013, and filed a fourth motion to consider additional evidence on 4 April 2013. In his third motion, the defendant requested that, pursuant to Rule 115 of the Rules, an article published in the New York Times on 6 February 2013, and a communiqué published on 7 February 2013, regarding an alleged absence of a system to monitor any tribunal undertaken in Rwanda. In his fourth motion, the defendant requests that the Tribunal consider a report published on 25 March 2013 by Amnesty International, allegedly revealing serious deficiencies with the Rwandan judicial system and his ability to receive a fair trial in a national proceeding.
The defendant challenged the decision to refer his case to domestic Rwandan proceedings. He advanced ten grounds upon which he contested the decision.
The Prosecution also appealed the Impugned Decision, challenging in one ground of appeal the Referral Chamber’s subjection of the national proceedings to two conditions.
Third and Fourth Motions for Consideration of Additional Evidence—
The Appeals Chamber first considered the defense’s third and fourth motions to hear additional evidence on the referral of the case to domestic Rwandan courts. The Appeals Chamber noted that under Rule 115, a motion to hear additional evidence shall not be filed more than 30 days from the filing of the reply brief unless there is a showing of good cause for delay, and that this limit applies to appeals from referral decisions; the Chamber noted that the defendant filed his motions outside of the allotted time frame. However, because the articles of additional evidence were not published in their original source until after the 30-day window, and were thus not available during the allotted time frame, the Appeals Chamber found good cause for delay, and stated it would consider the evidence.
Rule 115 allows for the admission of additional evidence on appeal when a party has possession of material that was not presented at trial, and that represents evidence on a question of fact that was at issue during trial. In order to be considered on appeal, the evidence must not have been available at trial in any form, and must not have been discoverable in any form through the exercise of due diligence. The additional evidence must be relevant and credible. If the evidence is relevant and credible, but was available during referral proceedings, the Appeals Chamber may allow it if the moving party can establish that its exclusion would constitute a miscarriage of justice.
The Appeals Chamber found that the additional evidence presented in the Third Motion met all of the admission requirements under Rule 115. The Chamber, however, found that the additional evidence would not have been a decisive factor in the Impugned Decision. The Appeals Chamber found that the hearings on referral adduced satisfactory evidence of Rwanda’s willingness to hold the trial, and found concerns allegedly raised by the evidence in the Third Motion are speculative. As such, the Appeals Chamber found that the evidence in the Third Motion could have had any impact on the Referral Chamber’s decision to refer the case to Rwanda.
The Appeals Chamber found that the Amnesty International report requested in the Fourth Motion met all of the Rule 115 requirements for admission. However, the Appeals Chamber found that the evidence would not have been a decisive factor in the decision to refer the case to Rwanda. The Amnesty report concerned issues and problems that occurred in another defendant’s trial, and that the present defendant’s trial would be protected under Rwandan law by additional assurances and protections afforded to cases referred by the Tribunal; the former case did not have these protections. Thus, the Chamber found that the differences between the two cases were significant such that the Amnesty report could not have had an impact on the referral decision.
Pursuant to the above, the Appeals Chamber dismissed the defendant’s third and fourth motions to consider additional evidence.
Defense Challenge to the Impugned Decision—
The defendant challenged the decision to refer the case to the domestic Rwandan court system. He advanced ten grounds upon which he contested the Referral Chamber’s decision. Under Rule 11, the Tribunal may refer a case to national proceedings, upon findings that the defendant will receive a fair trial, and that the defendant will not be subjected to the death penalty.
The Referral Chamber holds the discretion to refer a case to national proceedings, and the Appeals Chamber will only interfere if the Referral Chamber’s decision was based on discernible error.
GROUND 1: The Prosecution declared that if the case were referred to Rwanda, it would no longer pursue joint criminal enterprise against the defendant as a mode of liability. The Referral Chamber found that it was not necessary to amend the Indictment against the defendant based upon this concession, finding that the defendant’s rights would not be prejudiced. The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in failing to order the Prosecution to amend the Indictment to reflect the change in mode of liability.
- The Appeals Chamber found that failing to amend the indictment would subject the defendant to an indictment that did not clearly and accurately inform him of the charges he faces. The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber erred in not requiring amendment of the Indictment to give effect to the concession that joint criminal enterprise liability would not be pursued at the national level. The Appeals Chamber ordered the Prosecution to amend the Indictment to reflect its concession as to joint criminal enterprise liability.
GROUND 2: Noting that U.N. Security Council Resolutions referring the situation in Rwanda to the International Tribunals contemplated transferring the cases of intermediate and lower-ranked Rwandan officials to national courts, rather than the transfer of cases involving senior official, the defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that his case could be transferred to Rwandan courts.
- The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber was bound by Rule 11 bis of the Rules when making its decision whether to refer the case, which did not require the consideration of the defendant’s level of responsibility
- The Appeals Chamber further found that the U.N. Resolutions left the implementation strategy for the Rwandan Tribunals to the discretion of the Tribunal. The U.N. Resolutions did not require the referral of only lower-level defendants to national courts. The Referral Chamber did not err in finding that it could refer the case to Rwanda
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed the defendant’s second ground of appeal
GROUND 3: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that transferring the case to Rwanda would not lead to undue delay of the trial. The defendant noted four specific conditions which it contended that the Chamber did not adequately assess.
- The Appeals Chamber noted that the Referral Chamber addressed and rejected the defendant’s arguments regarding the four factor’s impact on undue delay, and that he could not use an appeal to relitigate the issues
- Regarding any error of the Referral Chamber to fail to consider the cumulative effects of the factors, the Appeals Chamber found that the consideration of the four factors cumulatively would not have changed the decision
- The Appeals Chamber rejected the third ground of appeal
GROUND 4: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in failing to establish that a presumption of innocence against the defendant would in fact be maintained during the national proceedings.
- The Appeals Chamber found that, when read in its entire context, the Impugned Decision indicates that the Referral Chamber adequately considered whether the defendant’s right to presumed innocence would be respected in practice in national proceedings
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed the fourth ground of appeal
GROUND 5: The defendant argued that he had previously been convicted in absentia through proceedings in Rwanda, and that therefore the referral of his case to Rwanda would violate Nin bis in idem. The Referral Chamber had found that the previous Rwanda judgment against the defendant was vacated by the Court of Appeals, and thus proceedings in Rwanda would not violate double jeopardy. The defendant noted that subsequent confusion around the disposition of that case (whether he had been convicted or acquitted) meant that the Chamber could not definitively find that a conviction had been nullified, and thus whether national proceedings would violate double jeopardy.
- The Appeals Chamber noted that evidence as to the previous Rwandan judgment does not establish whether the defendant was acquitted or convicted in that case. Thus, the Referral Chamber erred in basing its decision on the double jeopardy question on a finding that the defendant’s conviction had been vacated.
- The Appeals Chamber found, however, that the national Court of Appeals had vacated the judgment in that case, regardless of which finding on guilt was reached. Therefore, the Referral Chamber did not err in finding that national proceedings would not violate double jeopardy
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground five
GROUND SIX: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that conditions of detention in Rwanda would meet international standards of detention, in light of evidence that allegedly showed that prison conditions in Rwanda do not meet international standards.
- The Appeals Chamber found that the Impugned Decision properly considered the legal framework in Rwanda, and its implications for meeting international standards of detention
- The Appeals Chamber found that the evidence presented, purporting to show the poor running of the Rwandan prison system, was irrelevant in that it concerned the total national prison system, and not the separate facilities for cases referred from the Tribunal
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground six
GROUND 7: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that he would, in practice, have access to defense witnesses under the same conditions as those testifying for the prosecution.
- The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber sufficiently considered the defendant’s access to witnesses. Its considerations went beyond the legal framework in Rwanda, and examined in length factors implicating the defendant’s ability to access witnesses
- The Appeals Chamber found that the defendant failed to show that the Referral Chamber erred in its findings underlying its decision
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground seven
GROUND 8: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that his right to an effective defense would be maintained in Rwanda. He argued that the Referral Chamber failed to ensure that Rwanda would be able to provide sufficient funds to defense counsel to carry out necessary work.
- The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber did not err in considering all of the relevant Rwandan law regarding the right of an indigent defendant to have effective assistance of counsel
- The Appeals Chamber noted that should adequate funding not be provided, the case is subject to revocation from Rwandan proceedings
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground eight
GROUND 9: The Referral Chamber held that it would be in the best interests of justice if the Rwandan proceedings were subject to some form of outside monitoring. The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in allowing transfer of his case before an independent monitoring system in Rwanda has been established.
- The Appeals Chamber found that the defendant had not established how the fact that he has yet to be informed of which organization will monitor the national proceedings substantive affects his rights
- The Appeals Chamber found that the defendant failed to establish how his transfer to Rwanda before the actual appointment of monitors would substantively affect his rights or deprive him of the monitoring protections implemented by the Referral Chamber. The Appeals Chamber also noted that national proceedings are subject to revocation if monitors are not appointed
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground nine
GROUND 10: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber directly interfered with proceedings of the national trial when it imposed conditions on any national proceedings. The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber does not have the power to directly interfere with national proceedings, and thus exceeded its jurisdiction. Further, the defendant argued that the fact that the Referral Chamber found it necessary to impose additional conditions on the national proceeding, meant that the national proceedings would not sufficiently guarantee his rights to a fair trial. As such, the defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in allowing the transfer.
- The Appeals Chamber found that while a referral chamber may add additional considerations on to a transfer case in order to ensure that a defendant will receive a fair national trial, it must be satisfied that the basic national proceedings will afford the defendant rights comparable to Article 20 of the Statute. Thus, in allowing the transfer, the Referral Chamber found that at base, the national proceedings would afford the defendant adequate rights
- The Appeals Chamber also noted that the conditions imposed upon the national proceedings are not mandatory: the Rwandan legal system may decline to accept the referred case if it does not wish to comply with the imposed conditions. Thus, the Referral Decision does not mandate any course of action from the national system, nor interfere with the independent and discretionary decisions of the national system. The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber has not exceeded its jurisdiction.
- The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground ten
The Prosecution appealed two of the four conditions upon which the Referral Chamber rested the transfer of the case to national courts. The first condition challenged was that Rwanda provide the defendant with a lawyer with previous international experience. The second condition was that the Rwandan authorities provide the Tribunal with a written assurance that Articles 54 and 55 of the Code of Criminal Procedure would not be used during the trial. The Prosecution argued that while a referral chamber may impose conditions on the transfer of cases to national courts, its discretion to do so was not unlimited, and the conditions must be limited to that which is necessary to ensure a fair national trial. The Prosecution argued that these conditions were not necessary to afford the defendant a fair trial, and as such constituted abuse of discretion. Further, the Prosecution argued that the referral chamber may not interfere too far on the sovereign conduct of the national court system, and argued that the two imposed conditions reached beyond the referral chamber’s authority to impose conditions on sovereign systems.
The Appeals Chamber found that there is no requirement at the Tribunal, or in any relevant international legal instrument, that an appointed attorney have prior relevant international experience. The Appeals Chamber found that if Rwanda appoints a national attorney who has all of the relevant national qualifications and licenses, the attorney provides the defendant adequate representation of counsel. Thus, it found that the Referral Chamber erred in requiring the first condition. The Appeals Chamber set aside the first condition.
The Appeals Chamber found that in regards to the second challenged condition, the Referral Chamber was concerned that the functioning of domestic Rwandan criminal procedure could potentially open defense witnesses to prosecution for acts testified to during the trial of a referred case. This could thus impact the defense’s ability to access witnesses for his case. The condition was meant to allay witness fears of prosecution, in order to increase defense access. The Appeals Chamber found, however, that following amendments to transfer laws in 2009, and improvements in witness protection, adequate safeguards are in place to address witness concerns and increase the likelihood of their appearance. As such, the Appeals Chamber found that the condition was not necessary to ensure a fair trial, that the concerns it addressed were speculative, and thus the Referral Chamber erred in requiring it. The Appeals Chamber set aside the second condition.
To access the full Decision, click here.
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).
HRW warns of sentence against ICT defendant Mollah: HRW objects to the death sentence given to Abdul Qader Mollah by the Bangladeshi government. Mollah was originally convicted and sentenced by the ICT on February 5, 2013. However, in response to public outcry, the government passed amendments to the ICT law, allowing the prosecution to appeal the sentence and to seek the death penalty. HRW warns against the hanging of Mollah on the basis of retroactive legislation. (HRW).
UN publishes report on violence against women in Afghanistan: The report examines the implementation results of the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women from October 2012 to September 2013 by Afghan judicial and law enforcement authorities. The report suggests an overall positive trend but the Afghan authorities have a long way to go before any long lasting achievements can be made in regard to the protection of women. (UN Missions).
Prosecution witness says Mladic exercised control over Bosnian troops: Military analyst, Reynaud Theunens, testified at the trial of Mladic and told the Hague tribunal that the defendant had “effective control” over military operations. Reynaud is the last witness to appear in the prosecution case against Mladic and the defense is expected to present its case in May 2014. (IWPR).
CAR in midst of ongoing humanitarian crisis, UN warns: The UN says that the humanitarian situation in the CAR is deteriating at an alarming rate. A rise in violence and a lack of basic health facilities is largely responsible for the rise in the death toll. The UN has called for an end to the violence and intensified its operations to provide food, water, and shelter for the time being. (UN News).
Security Council hears testimony of security concerns in Libya: The top UN official in Libya states that the continued instability in Libya highlights the need for dialogue between the Government and the armed militias. Progress has been made toward a democratic transition within the country by way of voter registration but a number of obstacles still remain. (UN News).
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).
Kenya making progress in amending ICC rules: Reports indicate that through a formal presentation, Guatemala and Greece asked to amend Article 134 of the ICC Rules of Procedures to allow accused persons who are “mandated to fulfill important and extraordinary public duties” in their states to waive the requirement to be present at their trial. Instead, the amendment would let counsel represent the accused, who would not have to attend the trial at The Hague or follow it through video proceedings. Kenya, Japan, and South Africa all support the proposed amendment. Kenya’s second goal, to give sitting presidents immunity until their term has expired, will likely not be addressed until February at the Assembly of State Parties, even though Kenya is pushing for a special summit. Both changes would benefit Kenya, which has publicly objected to the requirement that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto be present at their trials, whether in person or through video links. (Standard Digital).
Security Council condemns LRA war crimes, calls for support: On Monday, 25 November 2013, the UN Security Council condemned the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in a presidential statement, urging the group to cease its activities, disarm, and release abductees. The Council also asked the UN Office for Central Africa, UN peacekeeping missions, and the international community to support the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy, which is meant to address the activities of the LRA. The Council also applauded the efforts of the African Union Regional Cooperation Initiative and emphasized the importance of regional efforts to combat the LRA. The Security Council has repeatedly denounced the crimes against humanity and war crimes the LRA has committed in several African nations over the course of 15 years, especially the group’s use of child soldiers. (UN News Centre).
Serbian Prosecutor’s Office wants 15-year sentence for Juric: The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office demanded that Ilija Jurisic, who served as a commander during the Bosnian War, be sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly ordering a large-scale attack on former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) soldiers during their retreat from Tuzla, Bosnia, even though the withdrawal had allegedly been agreed upon previously. 51 soldiers died and 50 were wounded during this attack, a war crime for which Juric has been indicted in a domestic proceeding. Juric was already convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, which was overruled by the Appellate Court in 2010, and the current rehearing seeks to establish why the JNA had withdrawn from Tuzla and whether Juric ordered the attack on the JNA.
Mbeki says ICC should not interfere in Africa: Former South African President Thabo Mbeki criticized the ICC’s prosecution of African leaders on Talk To Al Jazeera. In his opinion, the international community should focus on building peace in Africa, instead of imposing justice from the “outside.” He mentioned the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir; intervening in the conflict is more important than prosecuting these leaders, especially when their leadership and influence could be useful in brokering peace. Justice, he explained, does not trump peace. Using his own country as an example, Mbeki stated that South Africa’s move from apartheid to democracy would have been far less smooth had former South African President F.W. de Klerk, who was an integral part of ending apartheid, been brought before the ICC during the conflict. (Al Jazeera Media Network).
Africa hot topic at ICC summit: The ICC’s annual summit, the Assembly of States Parties, opened this Wednesday, 20 November 2013. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began the event by stressing the need for all U.N. members to ratify the Rome Statute and support the ICC in its efforts to end impunity. The fact that all the ICC’s prosecutions are currently focusing on Africa, particularly the cases against Kenya’s sitting heads of state, was at the forefront of the discussions. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed questioned the Court’s “veracity and effectiveness” and accused the Court of “ignoring” and “treating with contempt and suspicion” the country’s attempts to delay the trials for security reasons. A special session was scheduled for Thursday to discuss amendments to the ICC’s rules that would permit sitting heads of states to waive the right to be present at trial. President of the Assembly of States Parties Tina Intelmann said the session would give the Assembly the opportunity to review the rules but it was unlikely a decision would be reached. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (Washington Post, The Star).
Security Council votes against Kenyatta deferral: On 20 November 2013, the U.N. Security Council voted to dismiss an AU backed motion requesting a one year deferral of the ICC case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The motion was two votes short of passing. Seven members of the Security Council, including China and Russia, voted in favor while eight were against. Kenyatta’s trial for crimes against humanity will begin in February 2013. (The Maravi Post).
Ruto to participate in ICC summit: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto refrain from discussing the ICC case against him at the ICC annual summit which opened on Wednesday, 20 November 2013. Bensouda “note[d] the apparent conflict of interest between Ruto’s public position as leader of the Kenyan delegation and his personal position as an accused in proceedings before the court.” The ICC previously advised Ruto to not discuss the crimes against humanity trial in the media. Bensouda asked the ICC to clarify if this pertained to the annual summit as well. (AFP).
Trial of Congolese officers for human rights offenses begins: A military trial against 39 officers began in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, 20 November 2013. The officers have been charged for failing to control their soldiers from committing rape and other human rights violations against civilians. The offenses were committed by fleeing soldiers after a rebel group captured a city in the eastern part of the country for 10 days in November 2012. The rebel group was defeated only a couple weeks ago.
Security Council opts not to pass Kenyatta trial delay bid: On 15 November 2013, the resolution put to a vote before the UN Security Council on the deferral of the ICC trials of Kenya’s President and his deputy failed to pass. Nine votes were needed to approve the resolution but only eight were cast. (UN News).
Korean victims appeal to ICC: Family members of people abducted during the Korean War have decided to formally sue Kim Jong-un for unlawful detention and failure to address such abuses. The group filing the legal motion will also be providing supporting evidence, all of which will be submitted to the ICC on Wednesday of this week. (globalpost).
AU considers bid to alter Rome Statute: Kenya is counting on the support of numerous African countries to vote in favor of amendments to the Rome Statute which seek to excuse President Kenyatta and his deputy from continuous attendance of their cases as the have been cooperating with the court. Kenya would also like to see an amendment added to Article 27 that would grant immunity to sitting heads of state. Unfortunately, there are nine countries that are arrears and will lose their voting rights. (The Star).
Cameron uses Sri Lanka visit to encourage war crimes investigation: Prime Minister Cameron, while attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, made vocal his commitment to see that a human rights inquiry take place in Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes. Cameron stated that if the Sri Lankan government did not take action in the next four months than he would call for a full credible and independent international inquiry. (For additional information on this topic, please click here). (The Guardian, SKY).
UK investigation alleges war crimes in Egypt: A high-profile legal team from the UK appointed by the Muslim Brotherhood have accused the military in Egypt of a number of crimes and human rights abuses since becoming the interim government upon Mohamed Morsi’s ousting in July. It is likely that a case will be brought in front of the ICC of the ICJ. (Aljazeera).
African Commission adopts treaty protecting individuals with Albinism: The UN human rights office welcomes the adoption of the first-ever resolution protection people with albinism by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The UN, while encouraged by these initial steps, would like to see all African States take action by enacting similar resolutions. (UN News).
Security Council to vote on deferral of Kenyatta trial: The fifteen member states of the U.N. Security Council will vote on a resolution this Friday, 15 November 2013, calling for a one year suspension of the ICC trials against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. The AU backed resolution will need the support of at least nine member states in order to pass. Experts have predicted, however, that the resolution will fail since seven members are currently signatories of the ICC. (Global Post).
French court decides to extradite Rwandans: A French appeals court ruled this week that two genocide suspects could be extradited to Rwanda. The country has previously denied extraditions because of concerns suspects will be denied fair trial rights. However, French Judge Jean Bertholin assured Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana that if the extradition was approved by a higher court, the two would “be guaranteed a fair trial” in Rwanda. Muhayimana and Musabyimana are accused of participating in mass killings of ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide that claimed around 800,000 lives. (Global Post).
Kenyatta seeks public testimony of prosecution witnesses: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the ICC to deny granting protective measures of prosecution witnesses. Kenyatta argued suppressing identities and granting immunity from self-incrimination “constitutes an incentive for witnesses to lie and put forward false claims.” Kenyatta stated any measures violated his right to a fair and public trial. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier requested protective measures for ten of the fifteen witnesses expected to testify against the President. (The Star).
Habre proceedings to be aired in Senegal and Chad: The trial of the former dictator of Chad, President Hissene Habre, will be broadcasted on television and radio in Senegal and Chad. Senegalese Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba announced the two countries were in the process of “work[ing] out which media outlets . . . will be given responsibility for the transmission.” Habre is being tried by a special court in Senegal for crimes against humanity and war crimes related to his 1982-1990 rule. (Global Post).