Archive for category War Crimes

21 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor considers charges against ISIS fighters: Fatou Bensouda, ICC prosecutor, is considering pressing charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity against Islamic State jihad fighters. Bensouda stated in an interview that many of these fighters are from countries that are party to the Rome Statute, meaning the ICC would be able to press these charges. Both European and Arab nations have aided the ICC with files and documents on potential ISIS recruits. Bensouda has also acknowledged the difficulty and safety concerns that would come with investigating crimes in countries occupied by the Islamic State. (Jurist)

San Marino ratifies ICC crime of aggression amendments: On 14 November 2014, San Marino ratified the 2010 amendments to the Rome Statute concerning the crime of aggression. San Marino is the nineteenth state to ratify the amendment. The ICC will officially be able to issue charges over the crime of aggression once thirty states ratify the amendments. Once thirty states ratify, the amendments will be an active portion of the Rome Statute and give the ICC jurisdiction over the crime. (International Criminal Court)

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19 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Resolution passed at UN urging SC to refer N. Korea to ICC: On Tuesday, 18 November 2014, the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee approved a resolution urging the Security Council to hold North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un accountable for crimes against humanity.  The non-binding resolution cites the U.N. commission of inquiry report issued earlier this year that found evidence of human rights abuses in North Korea committed under policies “established at the highest level of the state for decades.”  China and Russia, permanent members of the Security Council, were against the resolution which will now go to the General Assembly for vote in December.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (The Guardian).

STL hears testimony from Lebanese MP: Former Lebanese Minister Marwan Hamade testified at the Special Tribunal of Lebanon this week on the strained relationship between Syrian President Bashar Assad and former Lebanon Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  Hamade described, among other things, how Assad allegedly humiliated Hariri in public outings and expected “complete obedience” from the former prime minister prior to the February 2005, assassination of Hariri.  The Special Tribunal is currently trying five men in absentia for the assassination. (The Daily Star).

Sri Lankan Commission of Inquiry to begin collecting evidence: Secretary to the Sri Lankan Presidential Commission H.W. Gunadasa said that the Commission will be accepting written statements concerning abuses committed during the country’s civil war that ended in 2009.  Gunadasa said the statements will be received until 31 December 2014, at which point the Commission will begin inquiries and investigations of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses.  The Commission is tasked with investigating and reporting on the events leading up to Sri Lanka’s civil war and whether any person or group should be held responsible.  (Global Post).

ECCC gives boycotting defense team ultimatum: On Monday, 17 November 2014, ECCC accused Khieu Samphan was told to end the boycott of his trial by defense counsel or else face expedited proceedings, such as the appointment of a new defense team or “any other action the court may deem appropriate.”  Samphan’s counsel were not present in the courtroom on Monday when the ECCC judges considered how to address the ongoing boycott.  Since 17 October 2014, proceedings in Case 002/02 have been adjourned as Samphan and co-accused Nuon Chea ordered their defense counsel to boycott until certain procedural complaints were resolved.  (The Cambodia Daily).

DRC military tribunal sentences army officer and rebel commander to death:  Congolese military lieutenant, Nzanzu Birotsho, and rebel leader of the Ugandan Islamist Allied Democratic Forces, Jamil Makulu, were sentenced to death on Monday, 17 November 2014, by the Democratic Republic of Congo military tribunal.  The senior army officer and the rebel commander were both convicted of terrorism and belonging to an insurrection movement and will likely face only prison time as the country observes a moratorium on carrying out death sentences.  (Reuters).

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18 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Twelve Bosnian Serbs arrested for alleged crimes against humanity: Bosnian officials arrested 12 individuals Monday suspected of committing crimes against humanity during the country’s 1992-95 war. The arrests come after authorities recently unearthed a Tomascia mass grave near Prijedor where the remains of 1,000 victims have been found since the end of the war. (Reuters).

ICTY Prosecution will not appeal Seselj release: The Serbian Radical Party leader has been in the custody of the ICTY for nearly 12 years. His recent release comes as little surprise given the seriousness of his cancer and the failure of the ICTY prosection to move his trial along. The ICTY prosecutor chief has stated that the delays in the trial are not justified and it was never the intention of the tribunal that the trial would last as long as it has at this point. (b92). 

Gbagbo Trial date set for next July: The former President of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, faces charges of murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution. It is estimated that 3,000 people were killed in a civil conflict after he refused to accept an election result. Gbagbo’s trial for crimes against humanity is set for 7 July of next year. (For additional information on the topic, please click here.) (ICC, BBC).

Lubanga Appeal Decision expected in December: Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was convicted of committing, as co-perpetrator, war crimes consisting of conscripting children under the age of 15 years to participate in an armed conflict. A decision in connection with his recent appeal of the verdict will be issued 1 December 2014. (ICC).

HRW alarmed at increasing influence for Egypt Military Courts: President al-Sisi of Egypt has extended the reach of the country’s military courts amongst protestors and other government opponents. Those close to the situation in Egypt view the decree as a step backward toward a more free society.

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17 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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

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

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

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

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

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12 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC confirms charges against all suspects in Bemba contempt case: ICC judges have confirmed charges of offenses against the administration of justice against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aime Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidele Babla Wandu and Narcisse Airdo. The charges are in connection to witness testimony, such as influencing witnesses, bribery and providing false testimony, in the case against Bemba from 2011 to 2013. The five suspects are committed to trial. (ICC).

Bensouda warns UNSC of security situation in Libya, and HRW writes to OTP: The ICC Chief Prosecutor warned the U.N. Security Council this week that the deteriorating security and political situation in Libya has “significantly hampered [the Prosecution's] ability to effectively investigate in the country.” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also called on the government of Libya to surrender to the ICC the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, and to closely monitor the developments in the case against Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi. It was found that Al-Senussi could receive a fair trial and Libya was able and willing to conduct the trial. (For additional information, please click here) (UN News Centre, Human Rights Watch).

Closing arguments begin in Bemba case: On Wednesday, 12 November 2014, ICC Prosecutors urged the Court in closing arguments to convict Jean Pierre Bemba for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and pillaging. Specifically, Bemba’s troops are accused of “barbarity” in the Central African Republic. Lawyers for Bemba, who has pleaded not guilty to the ICC charges, claim his troops were under the authority of Central African Republic authority when the crimes were committed. (Capital News).

HRW says Mali peace agreement must include provisions on justice and accountability: Human Rights Watch has weighed in on the military and political crisis in northern Mali. Senior West Africa researcher Corinne Dufka said the final agreement between the Malian government and armed groups involved in the conflict “should include provisions to support the prosecution of war crimes, strengthen the truth-telling commission, and ensure the vetting of security force personnel.” Human Rights Watch had previously researched and documented the alleged war crimes committed during the 2012-2013 armed conflict between Malian soldiers and armed opposition groups. (Human Rights Watch).

Fair trial in Chad called for of Habre’s former security officers: On Monday, 10 November 2014, Human Rights Watch called for the “fair and transparent” trial of over 25 security agents in Chad accused of murder, torture, kidnapping, arbitrary detention and assault and battery. The special court in Chad is charged with prosecuting those most responsible for serious violations of international law committed during Habre’s rule from 1982 to 1990. (Jurist).

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11 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC confirms charges against five in Bemba Trial

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

ICC Prosecutor demands action in Libya, citing stability concerns

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

Former officials of Habre Regime to face trial in Chad

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

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10 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN official says Sri Lanka not cooperating with UN probe: A United Nations human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, stated that the Sri Lankan government is not cooperating with a human rights inquiry into alleged war crimes during the civil war between Sri Lanka and Tamil rebels. This civil war lasted for decades and finally ended in 2009. Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka Information Minister, stated that the UN did not consider threats from the Tamil opposition during the civil war. (International Business Times)

Israel responds to ICC Prosecutor’s finding of war crimes: On 6 November 2014, Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, found that Israel committed war crimes on the vessel Marvi Marmara, during the war in the Gaza Strip. Bensouda stated that the ICC had a reasonable basis for believing that war crimes had been committed, but did not have the “sufficient gravity” to justify further investigation under the Rome Statute. Israel responded by stating that there was not any basis for the preliminary examination to begin with. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Criminal Court) For additional information please click here

HRW calls for stay of death sentence and right to appeal for ICT of Bangladesh accused: Muhammed Kamaruzzman, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was previously convicted of war crimes during the Bangladeshi 1971 war of independence. Kamaruzzman was sentenced to death, but has not received the full text of the final verdict. The final verdict is necessary for him to lodge a petition for review. Kamaruzzman was transferred to Dhaka Central Jail after the verdict, which could mean that his execution is approaching. The Human Rights Watch believes that Kamaruzzman should be granted a right to appeal. Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, stated that the organization wanted justice and accountability for the crimes that occurred in 1971, but opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. (Human Rights Watch)

Harvard law clinic reports war crimes in Myanmar: The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School reported that three Myanmar Army commanders committed war crimes and crimes against humanity from 2005 to 2006. The report includes “witness accounts of the events, human rights documents, photographs, and expert declarations.” The International Human Rights Clinic believes that these findings are enough to bring a case before the ICC under the Rome Statute. (JURIST)

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