Archive for category Uncategorized
Kenyan Parliament Votes to Withdraw from ICC : The Kenyan parliament has just approved a motion for the country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, where Kenya’s sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto face charges of committing crimes against humanity. This does not change Kenya’s obligations under the Rome Statute for cases already underway (such as Ruto’s and Kenyatta’s), but does send a strong message of Kenya’s displeasure with the Court.
ICC Prosecutor says attacks on peacekeepers may constitute war crimes: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has condemned the killing of seven joint UN-African Union peacekeeprs in Darfur earlier this month, stating once again that such attacks may constitute war crimes. In a statement issued by the Office of the Prosecutor earlier this week, Bensouda stated that she “reminds all parties to the conflict that the [ICC] has jurisdiction in Darfur and that the intentional directing of attacks against peacekeeprs may constitute war crimes.” She then called on Sudan’s government to conduct a “prompt and full investigation and to hold all those responsible in account.” The attacks, which were some of the most serious against the mission since its 2008 deployment, were carried out by a large, unidentified group.
Senior UN official warns Syria about possible prosecutions in light of crimes against children : Leila Zerrougi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, warned Syrian officials and rebels alike about the risk of possible prosecution for atrocities committed against minors in the region. After visiting Syria and surrounding countries hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the civil war, Zerrougui said she was overwhelmed by the suffering of children who witnessed the death of their siblings and teens who were forced to fight with opposition groups. Approximately 7,000 children under the age of 15 have been killed in the two-year war, and half of the 1.7 million Syrian refugees are children. “One day Syria will come to peace,” she said, “and those committing the atrocities will have to face – I hope – justice.”
ICC Prosecutor concludes investigative mission in Cote d’Ivoire: Fatou Bensouda concluded a mission in Cote d’Ivoire earlier this week. The primary purpose of the fact-finding mission was to gather more information for the trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. He faces crimes against humanity charges for his alleged role in the country’s 2010-2011 post-election conflict in which more than 3,000 people died. Bensouda met with the ministers of Justice and Interior, as well as victims of the post-election violence and representatives of various human rights groups. She has yet to release a statement indicating her findings during the mission.
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Decision Title: Judgment
Chamber: Appeals Chamber
Case Name: The Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadzic
Date: 11 July 2013
Decision Background: The Tribunal accused Radovan Karadzic of having participated in a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) during the Bosnian War with high-ranking Bosnian Serb officials, the object of which was to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from certain municipalities in Bosnia. The charges accused Karadzic of having committed genocidal acts against Bosnian Muslims and Croats, incident to the JCE.
During the Trial phase, on 11 June 2012, the defendant moved for acquittal on all charges, arguing a lack of evidence to support a conviction on any of the counts. The Trial Chamber found in favor of the defendant, finding that no evidence presented by the Prosecution, taken at its highest value, could support a genocide conviction.
The Prosecution filed an appeal of the Judgment under Article 25, asking the Appeals Chamber to overturn, pursuant to Rule 98 bis, the Trial Chamber’s determination. The defendant responded, arguing that the Trial Chamber’s acquittal should be upheld.
The standard that the Court will use to determine a Rule 98 bis claim, is whether there is evidence presented against a defendant that, if accepted as credible and probative, could lead a reasonable trier of fact to determine the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. The Chamber emphasizes this later in the decision, but a finding under this standard is not a finding as to the defendant’s actual culpability. The standard assumes, for sake of determining whether or not there is any basis for the trial continuing, that the evidence presented against a defendant is valid and could show a defendant’s guilt. The Prosecution, at the trial stage, still must actually prove the validity of that evidence, and the defense is always able to challenge the credibility of the evidence presented against him at trial.
The Appeals Chamber also noted that it applies a reasonableness standard when presented with claims of error of fact at the trial level, and will not lightly overturn factual findings made by the Trial Chamber.
Decision Review: The Prosecution appealed the Trial Chamber’s findings on four grounds. In the first ground, the Prosecution submitted that the Trial Chamber erred in law or fact regarding the act of genocide charged against the defendant. Namely, the Prosecution argued that the Trial Chamber erred in its findings regarding the killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, and the creation of deliberate conditions of life calculated to destroy, which underlie the genocide charge. Specifically, the Prosecution argued that the lower court erred when, in reaching its evidentiary conclusion, it instituted an “impact requirement” for finding acts of genocide – the acts must have been so substantial as to impact the existence of the Bosnian Muslim and Croat populations.
The Appeals Chamber affirmed in part and reversed in part the Trial Chamber’s findings under ground one. The Appeals Court first noted that the acts of genocide and the intent of genocide compose the crime of genocide, and are distinct elements that must be analyzed separately. The Appeals Chamber then determined that the lower court correctly maintained this distinction when reaching its decision regarding the acts of genocide, despite arguments to the contrary by the Prosecution. It found that the Trial Chamber, in fact, had found sufficient evidence to support a finding that acts killing as an act of genocide had occurred against Bosnian Muslim and Croat populations. But, the Appeals Chamber found that the lower court had erred in fact in finding that no evidence showed the act of inflicting serious bodily and harm, when the record documented many instances of sexual violence and beatings against Bosnian Croat and Muslim populations.
Finally, the Appeals Chamber addressed the Prosecution’s contention regarding the lower court’s findings on “conditions of life” deliberately inflicted on target populations, life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, which constitutes an underlying genocidal act. Essentially, the Prosecution argued that, in light of the evidence present on the record, the lower court did not provide a reasoned opinion as to why that evidence was insufficient to support continued charges against the defendant. The Appeals Court disagreed, finding that the lower court had both laid out the legal standard in its opinion, and referenced that legal standard when discussing the evidence in question. It found the Prosecution’s objections that an explicit discussion of the legal standard and reference to all available evidence, to be without merit. Yet it ultimately agreed with the Prosecution that the Trial Chamber erred in finding insufficient evidence, when there was enough evidence in the record, if assumed to be completely valid and credible, to support a finding of culpability.
The Appeals Chamber next addressed the Prosecution’s second and third grounds for appeal, regarding its contention that the Trial Chamber erred in fact in its findings on genocidal intent. The Trial Court had found that the evidence as-is, could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that those engaging in the JCE had the intent to destroy the Bosnian Muslim and Croat populations in undertaking the aforementioned acts. A major issue regarding this count was how the Trial Court construed intent; specifically, whether the Trial Court erred in looking at the intent behind EACH culpable action, or if they should have looked at intent more broadly – the intent underlying the program of a series of culpable actions. The Appeals Court expressed the opinion that, generally, the Court should look at the evidence taken together to infer mental state, rather than the mental state behind each individual act.
The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Court used the proper method to assess intent. While the Trial Court initially looked at intent behind each action, its decision shows that it also looked at the evidence as a whole, to determine whether the evidence taken together could prove genocidal intent. The Appeals Court, looking at the language used to reason the Trial Court’s decision, did not find anything improper. Nor did the Trial Court misapply the legal standard for intent to require that a substantial part of the groups were targeted, an error that the Prosecution claimed in its appeal.
The Appeals Court then addressed the Prosecution’s contention that the Trial Court erred in requiring that the actual perpetrators of the violence –and not the defendant himself, as an instigator—carry a genocidal intent, and disregarded evidence of the defendant’s own genocidal intent. The Appeals Court re-iterated the legal standard for a JCE, which states that members of a JCE can be liable even if they were not the actual perpetrators of the crimes, if the crimes can be imputed to the members of the JCE, and those members, in instigating the crimes, possessed genocidal intent. That a non-JCE member who carries out the acts at the behest of the JCE, does not possess genocidal intent, is not dispositive of whether genocidal intent existed and whether it was possessed by members of the JCE and thus whether the crime of genocide existed. The Appeals Chamber also noted that, given the nature of intent, it is not an element susceptible to direct proof, and must rather be inferred from largely circumstantial evidence.
The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Court, in its decision, made findings regarding evidence of both the genocidal intent (or lack thereof) on the part of the actual perpetrators of the acts, and that of the participants of the JCE, including the defendant. Thus it did not agree with the Prosecution that the Trial Court erred in its analysis of intent. In fact, the Appeals Chamber hinted that the Trial Court used the intent of the perpetrators as part of the circumstantial evidence offered against the defendant. In this, the Appeals Chamber found nothing improper, although it did express a desire that the Trial Court’s reasoning on this point, and on the intent evidence in general, have been clearer and more detailed. The Court likewise rejected the Prosecution’s contention that the Trial Court failed to properly weigh the evidence, given that court’s decision against certain statements made by the defendant that suggest genocidal intent. Rather, the Appeals Court found the lower decision to have properly considered all of the evidence on the record, taking the statements in question along with the other evidence on the record.
The Appeals Court, however, did find issue with the Trial Court’s interpretation of the evidence. Namely, the Appeals Court noted that the statements themselves do or could suggest genocidal intent, a fact that defense counsel had actually concede at trial. Likewise, evidence showed that other JCE members did possess genocidal intent; other indirect evidence, it found, could also support such a conclusion. Reminding that at this stage of trial, for a Rule 98 bis claim, the evidence is assumed to possess its highest level of credibility, the Court found that the evidence on the record could reasonably support a finding of genocidal intent. As such, the Trial Court’s finding to the contrary was in error.
Finally, the Prosecution argued in its fourth ground of appeal that the Trial Court erred in finding that the evidence presented, even if it could not establish JCE liability, could be sufficient to prove other forms of criminal liability. Because the Trial Court’s decisions on the acts and intent under JCE and genocide liability/claims were upheld, however, the Appeals Chamber found that it did not need to address the potential for alternative forms of liability, which assumed that the JCE/genocide findings would be upheld.
To access the full Decision, click here.
ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto postponed: Trial Chamber V has agreed to postpone the May 28 trial date of Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang. The parties had a closed-door status conference today regarding the schedule change and other procedural matters and will announce the new trial date after a status conference set for next Tuesday.
UN names members to North Korean human rights probe: Experts from Serbia, Australia, and Indonesia have been named by the U.N. Human Rights Council to carry out an inquiry into possible crimes against humanity in North Korea. Retired Australian judge Michael Donald Kirby, Serbian founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Sonja Biserko and Indonesian lawyer Marzuki will pursue the year-long probe into what U.N. officials describe as “widespread and systematic human rights violations in North Korea.”
93 year old U.S. deportee charged with war crimes in Germany: 93 year old Hans Lipschis was taken into German custody over 70 years after the U.S. deported him for lying about his Nazi past. Authorities arrested Lipschis after concluding that there “was compelling evidence” of his participation in war crimes in Auschwitz between 1941 to 1945. The U.S. deported Lipschis when he immigrated to Chicago in the 1950’s. Previously, there was no evidence connecting him to war crimes, however, Germany has recently begun pursuing convictions because a person served in a death camp because the camp’s only function was to kill.
Posted by kchin2014 in Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Responsibility to Protect, Rome Statute, Sri Lanka, Syria, Torture, Truth Commissions, UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, Uncategorized, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 14, 2013
Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary dies at 87: On 14 March 2013, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) confirmed that Ieng Sary, who was charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes, has died. Sary was the brother-in-law of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and had served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. During its brief reign from 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge killed over 2,000,000 people. Lars Olsen, spokesperson for the court, stated that ”[w]e understand that many people are disappointed that we cannot complete the proceedings against Ieng Sary and determine his guilt ori nnocence on the charges against him, but Case Two is not over, and the charges against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan will be pursued.”
Amnesty International calls for ICC action in Syria: On 14 March 2013, Amnesty International Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Ann Harrison called upon the UN Security Council to refer war crimes cases, against both government and rebel forces, to the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to the group’s latest study, there is evidence of the use of “internationally banned weapons,” child soldiers, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the targeting of civilians. The ICC cannot act without a referral by the Security Council.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requests charges against Francis Muthaura dropped: On 11 March 2013, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested that the charges against Francis Muthaura for inciting the post-election violence of 2007 in Kenya, be dropped. Bensouda stated that the charges could not be sustained because the Kenyan government has failed to produce necessary documents, because most of the witnesses had died, and because the remaining key witnesses had been bribed. Although the court has yet to approve the request, it is expected to do so in the coming days.
US Congressman Eliot Engel calls for independent investigation in Sri Lanka: On 14 March 2013, US Congressman Eliot Engel of New York submitted a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, stating that the United States should “join the call for an independent international investigation” into the Sri Lankan government’s post-war actions. Engel’s letter, which cites numerous flaws with the current investigative mechanism, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), echoes growing international sentiment that the Sri Lankan government has not made a good faith effort to investigate documented human rights abuses.
Gbagbo lawyer slams “political trial” as ICC confirmation hearing continues: In yesterday’s continuation of Laurent Gbagbo’s confirmation hearing, his lawyer spoke strongly against what he deemed a “political trial” at the ICC. “The Ivorian people deserve better than a political trial, they deserve a trial of those who are really responsible for the country’s decade-long destruction and the court deserves to have been able to look at what really happened in Ivory Coast,” lawyer Emmanuel Altit told the court. Gbagbo is charged with four counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role as the mastermind of a campaign of violence during the 2010-2011 presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire. Meanwhile, Gbagbo asserts that he was evicted from his rightful post as the Ivorian president through a plot by the French. The hearing is expected to last into next week, with Gbagbo speaking on February 28.
ICTR explains delay in French delay of genocide trials: The ICTR registrar Christopher Bongani Majola cited “structural concerns” as the explanation for why the trials of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucybaruta have been delayed. Their cases were referred to Paris under the ICTR’s 2007 completion strategy. “The issue of the two cases transferred to France remain of grave concern to the entire tribunal,” said Majola. “The cases have been delayed for quite a long time but the ICTR has not just sat down and done nothing. We have sent delegations to France to express our concerns that the investigations are moving slowly and that they are not reaching the trial stage.” His remarks come on the heels of concerns expressed by Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga over the delays.
EU calls on Cambodia to contribute more money to war crimes tribunal: The European Union called on Cambodia to contribute more funding for the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, where staff resignations and funding challenges have slowed proceedings. Under the agreement establishing the tribunal, the United Nations is responsible for funding international staff and operations. Cambodia is responsible for paying the “national side,” though the Cambodian government has since been criticized for failing to adequately support the tribunal. The EU is encouraging the Cambodian government to increase its own contribution to the tribunal in the hopes of improving the tribunal’s sustainability and sense of ownership by the Cambodian people and government.
Posted by syhoekstra in Crimes against Humanity, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICT of Bangladesh, Investigations, jurisdiction, Kenya, Liberia, News about the Courts, Ocampo, Other domestic courts, Rwanda, SCSL, Torture, Uncategorized, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on October 8, 2012
SCSL sentencing hearing for contempt convicts: On 5 October 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone held a hearing regarding the sentencing of four former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council members. All were convicted of contempt of court for coercing prosecution witnesses into recanting their testimony. Two of the four participated via video link because they are currently serving sentences in Rwanda for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Investigator in Taylor prosecution arrested for witness tampering: On 6 October 2012, a Sierra Leonean investigator connected with the defence team of Charles Taylor was arrested for contempt of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The indictment contains nine counts of interfering with four witnesses who testified at the Taylor trial and one potential witness who never testified. The information for the investigation that led to this indictment came at the sentencing hearing of Eric Koi Senessie, who the SCSL convicted of contempt in June.
Kenyans’ claims against British colonial government going to trial: A judge in the High Court of London ruled last week that three Kenyans suing the British government for various human rights violations have a claim that should be tried. The alleged abuses took place during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya during the 1950’s and 60’s. Thus, there have been several concerns regarding evidence gathering and the timeframe within which a plaintiff can legally bring a claim. The British government has offered several defences in the past three years in an attempt to prevent a trial, and it will try to settle the matter out of court.
Jurisdiction not the original question in Kiobel: The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument on 1 October 2012 for the case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. The original question brought before the Supreme Court in February was whether corporations could be liable under the Alien Tort Statute, a law American lawyers have used to bring international human rights suits in U.S. courts for roughly three decades. But three private lawyers, all former high-ranking U.S. government attorneys, representing clients with possible future ATS liability filed amicus briefs arguing that allegations of conduct on foreign soil had no place in American courts. The Supreme Court was so receptive to this issue that the case was reargued last week. The decision may have wide-ranging effects on U.S. courts as a forum for international human rights suits (for an audio recording of the oral argument last week, click here).
ICC trial will not reschedule for Kenyan run-off: This weekend, prosecutors for the ICC said they would not postpone the starting court date for trials regarding Kenya’s post-election violence that took place following the country’s 2007 contest. Last week, the ICC announced the trial would begin on April 10, 2013, one day before the scheduled Kenyan run-off election, in which two of the accused will likely take part. It is not clear whether the Kenyan government will formally appeal this decision to the ICC, but the country’s Attorney General has made it clear that he is displeased with the decision. Some have expressed concerns that the trial date might affect the outcome of the election or even pose a national security threat (for more information on this topic, click here).
ICT Bangladesh will try Azad in absentia: On 7 October 2010, the ICT Bangladesh announced it will try Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in absentia. The prosecutors formally charge the former Jamaat-y-Islami leader over a month ago, but he is currently in hiding. On 25 September, Two national newspapers printed notices that Azad had to appear before the tribunal within ten days. He did not appear, so the court has appointed his defence lawyer, and ordered the prosecution to furnish the lawyer with relevant documents to begin the proceedings.
Ocampo to run World Bank corruption panel: On 5 October 2010, the World Bank announced that former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo will lead an investigation into allegations of government corruption in Bangladesh. Because of these allegations, the bank cancelled its funding for a bridge over the Padma River that would connect the poorer southern region of Bangladesh to the country’s capital and main port. It will resume funding if the Bangladeshi government will comply with certain terms, including submitting to the inquiry of Mr. Ocampo’s panel. Along with Mr. Ocampo on the panel will be former anti-corruption government officials from Hong Kong and Great Britain.
Posted by syhoekstra in CAR, Crimes against Humanity, DRC, ECCC, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Investigations, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, Rome Statute, Sri Lanka, Syria, Torture, UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, Uncategorized, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on September 24, 2012
Anonymous CAR intelligence officer questioned in private: Last week, a former CAR intelligence officer was cross-examined by the prosecution in the trial of former DRC President Jean-Pierre Bemba. Most of the questioning was held behind closed doors. The section held in open court included identity protecting measures for the witness, such as image and voice distortion. The witness testified that Bemba’s troops received their orders as well as supplies and money from the CAR president when they allegedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during their time helping the former CAR president fight an attempted coup. The defense will continue to argue that Bemba was not responsible for the actions of those troops. This anonymous witness is the fifth of approximately 60 Bemba’s defense plans to call (for more on this topic, 1. click here and 2. Click here).
ICC may have jurisdiction over Tana clashes: In Kenya, experts are debating over whether the recent violence along the Tana River between two tribes fighting for land and natural resources amounts to international crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute. The questions revolve around how systematic and organized the violence has been and whether or not the struggle was a political one. Even if the killings do fall under ICC jurisdiction, Kenya may seek to handle the legal proceedings domestically with the ICC assisting in a capacity-building role (for more on this topic, click here).
11 convicted of war crimes by Serbian court: On 19 September 2012, 11 of 17 defendants in a Serbian war crimes court were convicted of torturing over 230 people in 1999, including over 80 who were tortured to death, during the conflict in Kosovo. All received 5 to 15-year-long sentences. Two of the convicts were sentenced in absentia because they are currently on the run. The six other defendants were acquitted.
Sri Lankans protest UN human rights investigators: On 20 September 2012, about 300 protesters led by monks of the Buddhist National Party demonstrated against the presence of UN Human Rights Counsel investigators in the country. The protesters alleged that Sri Lanka was being unfairly criticized for the violence toward the end of the country’s recent war, which ended in 2009. They see this visit as the first step in subjecting the nation to an investigation regarding international war crimes. The UN has already adopted a resolution urging the country to investigate these allegations itself.
More health problems delay Khmer Rouge trials: Last week, doctors for the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge government, Ieng Sary, announced Ieng will need to be in the hospital for at least another month due to new medical problems. Ieng, one of three defendants remaining from the 1970’s Cambodian regime, has suffered from a plethora of medical issues, and is now experiencing numbness and dizziness due to his neck bone stemming his blood flow. His wife, Ieng Thirith, was last week deemed unfit for trial because of a degenerative mental illness presumed to be Alzheimer’s. This is the first time significant medical difficulties are interfering with the trials of the elderly former Khmer Rouge officials, which began in November.
UN proposes renewing Syria investigation: On 21 September 2012, Six Arab nations presented a draft resolution to the UN in Geneva that would extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The commission, which has been investigating possible human rights violations in the current Syrian conflict, has accused both the Syrian government and the rebel forces of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The resolution asks for more funding and staffing for the commission in light of the deteriorating situation in Syria. The member countries of the UN will vote on the resolution this week. It is a controversial proposal, but without it, the commission’s mandate will end this Friday.
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Decision Title: Decision on Accused’s Motion for New Trial for Disclosure Violations
Chamber: The Trial Chamber
Case Name: Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadzic
Date: 3 September 2012
Decision Background: On 13 August 2012, the defense team for Radovan Karadzic filed a motion requesting that the Trial Chamber grant a new trial, on the grounds that the Prosecution failed to disclose material evidence to the defense, pursuant to Rule 66(A)(ii) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The defense claimed in its motion that the Prosecution failed to disclose 406 witness statements or transcripts of testimony, which the Prosecution had had in its possession prior to the May 2009 deadline for disclosure. The defense also cited the Trial Chamber’s previous finding that the Prosecution, on 58 occasions during the trial, failed to fulfill its evidentiary disclosure obligations. The defense claimed that the cumulative impact of these violations, plus the violation now alleged, deprived him of his right to a fair trial, and that the only remedy would be the ordering of a new trial.
On 27 August, 2012, the Prosecution filed a response to the defense’s motion. The Prosecution argued that the defense failed to show that a new trial was the appropriate remedy or sanction for the type of violations alleged by the defense. In particular, the Prosecution argued that the defense failed to show a valid legal basis or standard for this remedy, noting that on 58 occasions, the Trial Chamber already found that defense suffered no prejudice due to the Prosecution’s disclosure violations. The Prosecution also referred to Chamber decisions wherein disclosure violations were not seen as a bar to an accused’s ability to mount an effective defense.
Decision Review: The Chamber reviewed the Rule of Evidence 66(A)(ii), which requires the Prosecution to disclose to the defense all statements of witnesses it intends to call, plus written statements and transcripts taken pursuant to Rules 92
While the Chamber admonished the Prosecution for the number of disclosure violations during trial, the Chamber found that the defense had not been prejudiced by the Prosecution’s failures. The Chamber noted that it had been mindful throughout the trial of the adverse effects that these violations could have on the defense, and as such had been taking steps throughout the process to mitigate any potential impact these violations could have on the defendant’s right to a fair trial. These steps included: suspension of the trial so that the defense could review evidence not given to it in a timely manner; requiring that the Prosecution not present any witnesses involved in untimely disclosure before a certain date set by the Chamber that took into account the defense’s need for sufficient time to prepare; requiring that the Prosecution provide the Chamber with detailed reports of its disclosure practices; as well as the Chamber’s general oversight of the Prosecution throughout the trial.
The Chamber held that its continued measures throughout the trial to mitigate any prejudice that the Prosecution’s disclosure practices may have caused the defendant were sufficient to preserve the defendant’s rights at trial. In its final decision, the Chamber also noted that the defense had had similar if not identical information in its possession, that the information withheld was of limited length and value, and that the defense had had an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses about the subject matter of the material in question. The Chamber thus held that the defense could not show that it ultimately suffered prejudice and was therefore entitled to a new trial, particularly considering the burden of time and resources a new trial would place on all involved.
To access the full Decision, click here.
Amnesty International accuses Syrian troops of crimes against humanity: In a 70-page report released Thursday based on information provided by undercover Amnesty workers, the rights group stated that Assad’s forces are using organized attacks to kill civilians to an extent that constitutes crimes against humanity. Amnesty has again called on the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on Syria as a result of these brutalities. These findings add to a growing body of accounts of Syrian officials massacring civilians during the uprising against President Assad, which has lasted for over 15 months and was recently declared a civil war.
Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls for ICC delegation’s release: Rasmussen urged Libyan officials to release the four ICC staff currently detained in Libya after meeting with Saif al-Islam, Muammar Gaddafi’s son. The group was visiting Libya to help Saif, who the ICC wants to try for crimes against humanity, choose a defense lawyer. Libyan officials are alleging that one of the staff was carrying a pen camera and attempted to give Saif a letter written in code from one of his chief aids, who is currently on the run. Rasmussen noted that Libyan authorities have “co-operated in a positive manner” with the ICC thus far for the staffers’ release.
Ocampo calls for 30-year sentence for Congo’s Thomas Lubanga Dyilo : On Wednesday, chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo called for a 30-year sentence for Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – the maximum sentence possible. Lubanga, in the ICC’s first ever ruling, was found guilty of abducting children under the age of 15 and forcing them to fight in a five-year war that killed over 60,000 people in the east of the country. Ocampo said he would recommend a reduced sentence of 20 years if Lubanga showed genuine remorse by helping to prevent future crimes. It is not known when the court will issue a sentence.
Bensouda set to take over as chief ICC prosecutor with a strong message to Africa: In a roundtable with journalists earlier this week, Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda was frank in her determination not to cave in to pressure regarding the prosecution of African suspects. Bensouda, who will assume responsibilities as the chief ICC prosecutor on Friday, said that she will not hesitate to open investigations in any geographic location if the criteria of the Rome Statute are met. The ICC has come under criticism during current chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s term for disproportionately pursuing cases against African heads of state. During his term, the ICC either opened investigations against or prosecuted 25 suspects, all of whom were from Africa. “One thing must be clear,” Bensouda said. “The prosecutor’s office has never been driven by geographical considerations.”