Archive for category War Crimes
UN report accuses Syrian rebels of crimes against humanity, cites international community for inaction: A new report released by the U.N. Human Rights Council accuses Syrian rebel groups of crimes against humanity. Specifically, the report claims certain non-government groups in al-Ragga province engaged in systematic detentions and torture of ethnic Kurds. The report further condemned the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council for failing to uphold international obligations and take action during Syria’s civil war in which more than 100,000 have been killed. (Deutsche Welle).
ICC witness testifies about ODM plan for post-election violence in Kenya: On Tuesday, 4 March 2014, a prosecution witness in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang testified to events leading up to the 2007 presidential election. The protected witness claimed leaders of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) organized secret meetings to encourage voters to reject the rule of the Kikuyus. The witness also testified that Sang used the radio to accuse other tribes of rigging votes. (Standard Digital).
Rights groups call for al-Bashir’s arrest on fifth anniversary of his indictment: Several human rights groups, such as United to End Genocide and the International Justice Project, penned a letter yesterday urging the U.N. Security Council and the ICC to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Yesterday, 4 March 2014, marked the fifth anniversary of the ICC’s indictment against the sitting President for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The letter calls for all member parties of the ICC to “stand for justice and make this year the last year of Bashir’s impunity.” It is estimated some 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million displaced since violence broke out in Darfur in 2003. (kens5.com).
ICJ sets decision date in Japan/Australia whaling case: The ICJ judgment in the case between Japan and Australia over whaling in the Antarctic will be delivered 31 March 2014. Australia brought the issue before the ICJ back in 2010, claiming Japan was engaging in illegal commercial whaling under the disguise of scientific research. The Court conducted a three-week hearing last year. (The Australian).
Mladic Prosecution Team concludes: On Monday 24 February, the Prosecution in the Mladic case has filed notice announcing that it will rest. On March 17, 98-bis will begin, in which the accused can seek an acquittal on all counts on the grounds that there is no evidence to support a conviction. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (ICTY, IWPR).
HRW reports war crimes in South Sudan: HRW has announced that pro and antigovernment forces are responsible for serious abuses in South Sudan that may amount to war crimes. There have been episodes of widespread killing and the targeting of civilians for military strategic gain. (HRW).
UN, International leaders meet regarding Ukraine: UN officials are concerned amid the growing tensions in the Crimea region of Ukraine. The Secretary-General has that all parties involved calm down in hopes of preventing a future escalation in violence. (UN News).
Ukrainian Parliament calls for ICC involvement: Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to refer the case of the of former President Viktor Yanukovych to the ICC. The ICC says it has not received a formal request as of yet, but a government can make a declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction for past events. (DW).
UN concerned over extended violence in Libya: The UN has called for an end to the violence in Libya. UNSMIL has been supporting the efforts of the Libyan Government and the people to ensure the success of the democratic process in the country but episodes of violence threaten the regions stability. (UN News).
ICC urges DRC to detain visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been urged to arrest and surrender ICC indictee Omar al-Bashir as he visits the country for meetings with other African leaders. The Sudanese President, charged by the ICC in 2009, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, arrived in the DRC on Tuesday, 25 February 2014. A number of countries on the continent have already failed to arrest Bashir under similar situations claiming the ICC unfairly targets Africans. (Press TV).
Hariri trial adjourned to add fifth suspect: Proceedings at the Special Tribunal in Lebanon relating to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were suspended in ordered to add a fifth accused. The five men, allegedly responsible for killing 23 and wounding some 200 in the attack, will be tried in absentia when proceedings resume sometime in May. The Special Tribunal was established in 2007 and is the only ad hoc tribunal with the power to try at-large accused. (Yahoo News).
Sri Lanka strongly rejects UN war crimes inquiry: Sri Lanka considers a U.N. mandated international investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during the country’s 26-year civil war “an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.” Sri Lanka’s comments come in response to a report published this week by U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay. The report, which calls for an international and independent investigation, precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in March 2014, that is expected to address the issue in Sri Lanka. (Time World).
Defence challenges ICC witness testimony; notes translation inconsistencies: The testimony of a prosecution witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has been challenged at the ICC. Specifically, the defence argued the witness wrongly translated phrases in the Kalenjin language. The witness claimed while testifying that Ruto addressed crowds in Kalenjin. (All Africa).
UN human rights chief calls for inquiry into Sri Lanka war crimes: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed” in Sri Lanka. Pillay’s report precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council debate scheduled for next month that may take up and order action in Sri Lanka. As of now, the U.S. is planning to propose a resolution against Sri Lanka during the debate. Pillay’s report – which will likely add pressure to the Sri Lankan government – states that thousands of civilians were killed, injured, or remain missing after the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). “None of these cases has…resulted in the perpetrators being brought to justice,” said Pillay.
ICC has not yet received request to investigate Yanukovich: Earlier this week, Ukraine’s government voted for the country’s President, Viktor Yanukovich, to be sent to the ICC with two members of his government to be tried for “serious crimes” relating to the deaths of more than 100 people. An ICC spokesman has stated that the ICC has not yet received Ukraine’s request, and noted that it would be up to the ICC prosecutor whether to pursue the investigation after the request is received.
Khmer Rouge tribunal orders physical/psychiatric assessment of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea : In a 17 February filing released earlier this week, the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal has ordered that Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea undergo physicals and psychiatric assessments to determine if they are fit to proceed with the trial’s second (and quite possibly final) segment. Doctors have been appointed for the octogenarian defendants and have been tasked with reporting to the court on their physical and cognitive ability. The examinations are to take place in late March, shortly before a tentatively scheduled hearing on 28 March that will provide the parties to question the medical experts about their conclusions. Though neither defendant has claimed to be unfit to stand trial, both have requested briefer and less frequent courtroom hearings to accommodate their diminished ability to remain engaged in lengthy proceedings.
Ukrainian Parliament votes to send ousted President Yanukovich and two others to the ICC: On Tuesday 25 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to refer ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka to the International Criminal Court to be tried for ‘serious crimes’ regarding the death of over a hundred Ukrainian citizens and injury of over 2,000 during recent protests. The Parliament said that Yanukovich and other high level people should be held criminally responsible for “issuing and carrying out openly criminal orders.” The ICC stated on Tuesday that no request had been received yet from the Ukrainian Government. The Ukraine is not a member of the Rome Statute but Ukraine could make a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute referring jurisdiction to the Court for the incidents. Yanukovich is currently at large after fleeing last Friday, 21 February. (The Star)
ICC preliminary examination analysizes Nigeria’s efforts to deal with Boko Haram: On Monday 24 February 2014, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addressed Nigerian State House correspondents in Abuja in order to explain that as part of the ICC’s preliminary examination into crimes committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram, the Prosecution will be evaluating what efforts the Nigerian Government has taken to address the Boko Haram insurgency. This includes what judicial steps have been taken to bring justice to crimes committed by Boko Haram. The Prosecutor explained that a preliminary examination is not a formal investigation before the Court, which requires the approval of the Chambers, and must examine issues of complementarity. (Channels)
ICC Prosecution seeks to appeal Ruto’s excusal from presence in trial: The ICC Prosecution has sought leave to appeal a recent decision by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to again conditionally excuse ICC accused, William Ruto, from continuous presence during the trial proceedings against him in The Hague. The Prosecution has sought to appeal the decision in order to challenge whether interpreting Rule 134 as providing a basis to approve Ruto’s excusal is in contradiction with the Rome Statute; particularly Articles 63(1), 21(3) and 27(1) of the Statute. (Capital FM News)
Victims lawyer blames Kenyan AG for inaction on requests for evidence: ICC Victims’ lawyer in the case against President Kenyatta, Fergal Gaynor, has stated that terminating the case against President Kenyatta would be “unconscionable” in light of the Government’s inaction with requests to access evidence. Gaynor made submissions to the ICC Trial Chamber complaining of Attorney General of Kenya Githu Muigai’s inaction with requests for evidence – noting in particular the fact that Muigai took no action against an order which barred the interviewing of security officials who could provide evidence, and did not seek to appeal the order. Gaynor said the actions of the Government and AG are not in line with the International Crimes Act and the Rome Statute. (All Africa)
Haiti Appeals Chamber reopens investigations into former leader Duvalier for CAH and HR violations: On 20 February 2014, the Haitian Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by an investigative judge who formerly found that Haiti’s former leader Jean-Claude Duvalier could not be charged with crimes against humanity including forced disappearance and torture. The Court of Appeals found that there is substantial evidence to believe that Duvalier was indirectly involved in the crimes and criminally responsible, and has therefore appointed a sitting judge to further investigate the allegations. The Court of Appeals further found that there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity. Amnesty International welcomed the decision and stated that it was a victory for victims of the crimes. (National News Agency of Malaysia)
Sri Lanka explores South Africa’s post-apartheid truth commissions : Earlier this week, a five member delegation led by Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva headed to South Africa in an attempt to better understand the impact of the country’s post-apartheid truth commission. This exploratory mission coincides with mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan government to adequately address allegations of war crimes against ethnic Tamils. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has pushed for an international investigation into allegations that Sri Lankan troops murdered approximately 40,000 civilians during the government’s conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established two decades ago in the wake of apartheid. “The delegation will sepnd two days studying the TRC and also keep the South African President Jacob Zuma informed about the reconstruction work we have done in the northeast [where much of the fighting was concentrated],” said the Health Minister’s spokesman. (The Daily Star)
Bemba lawyer to Court: Bar prosecutors from contacting witnesses: . Lawyers for Jean-Pierre Bemba, who faces charges at the ICC as a result of his alleged involvement in the rapes, murders, and pillaging carried out by the Movement for the Liberation of Congo fighters, have filed a petition with the ICC requesting that prosecutors be barred from contacting witnesses who testified on behalf of Bemba. Charges of witness coaching and bribery were brought against Bemba last November, as well as against two of his associates and two members of his defense team. “The witnesses have…previously been informed that they had no obligation to meet with or talk to the prosecution, and that any contact would not occur without their consent,” said defense counsel Peter Haynes. Notably, pre-trial judge Cuno Tarfusser authorized the prosection to interview defense witnesses last May in order to investigate allegations of witness tampering. Protocol dictates that Bemba’s lawyers should have been notified of the communication, though the judge held that he was “granting an exception to the court’s established protocol.” Defense counsel Haynes argued that the “prosecution’s desire to build a case on witness tampering allegations could not automatically trump the safeguards put in place to ensure witness safety and dignity.” (All Africa)
China: UN North Korea report is “unfair criticism” : The UN report on alleged war crimes in North Korea released earlier this week noted that China – North Korea’s only ally – may be aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes by forcibly repatriating North Koreans. China disagrees with the characterization, deeming the repatriated North Koreans “illegal migrants.” “We totally don’t accept this accusation,” said Spokeswoman Ha Chunying. “On the North Korean defector issue, our position is very clear. We properly deal with that in accordance with international law and humanitarian principles.” (BCC)
ICC to decide on witnesses refusing to testify in Ruto case: The trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang before the ICC continued on Monday, 17 February 2014, but several witnesses have refused to testify, an issue the judges are expected to rule on this week. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Court to summon seven witnesses, whom she alleges have refused to testify due to bribery, whereas Attorney General Githu Muigai argued that the Court cannot compel testimony. So far, 10 witnesses have testified. (The Star).
Genocide survivors outraged by ICTR acquittals: A Rwandan genocide survivors’ association declared the ICTR Appeals Chamber’s 11 February 2014 acquittal of two former army officers of charges related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be an “outrageous” decision and a “denial of justice.” Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was acquitted because his alleged role in the assassination of the Prime Minister and killing of 10 Belgian UN Blue Helmets had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana was acquitted because the Court ruled that he had not had effective authority over subordinates who had been abused. In both cases, the Appeals Chamber found errors in the assessments of the Trial Chamber. The sentence of a third officer, Innocent Sagahutu, was reduced from 20 to 15 years because the Court found that he had not ordered the killing of two Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers. The Court also said that it would deliver a decision concerning the sentence of former army chief Augustin Bizimungu at a later date. (For more information on this topic, please click here and here). (AFP, ICTR, AllAfrica).
ICTY Accused, Milan Lukić, transferred to Estonia to serve sentence: Milan Lukić, who was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTY in 2009 for having committed crimes against humanity and violation of laws and customs of warfare, a conviction that was confirmed by the Appeals Chamber in 2012, has been transferred to Estonia, where he will serve out his sentence. (in Serbia).
Parties prepare final submissions after confirmation hearing concludes in Ntaganda case: Following the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Bosco Ntaganda before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC, both sides are preparing final written submissions. The Prosecutor and the Legal representatives of the victims have to turn in their submissions by 7 March 2014, and the Defense may reply to these submissions until 4 April 2014. The judges will decide whether to confirm the charges, decline to confirm the charges, or request further evidence within 60 days of receipt of the Defense’s written submission. Ntaganda is suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ituri, DRC between September 2002 and September 2003, and the Pre-Trial Chamber II concluded the five-day hearing concerning these charges on 14 February, 2014. (ICC-CPI).
STL trial bring sense of justice as fifth accused is joined to case: On 14 February 2014, exactly nine years after the assassination of Rafic Hariri, mourners and friends of the former Lebanese Prime Minister were hopeful that the STL will bring those accused of the bombing to justice. Several days prior to the anniversary of Hariri’s death, on 11 February 2014, the STL had joined the case of a fifth alleged Hezbollah member to the trial of the four alleged members currently accused. (For more information, please click here) (The Daily Star).
UNHCR recommends international investigation into Sri Lanka war crimes: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international probe into the war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the Liberation War. According to Pillay, the Sri Lankan government has consistently failed to address the human rights violations that occurred between 1972 and 2009. (The Daily Star).
Former M23 Leader Ntaganda in confirmation of charges hearings this week: Ntaganda faces charges ranging from war crimes to crimes against humanity. These crimes allegedly occurred in the DRC between September 2002 and September 2003. Ntaganda said he wanted to be handed over to the ICC and now the ICC will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to formally charge him with the crimes alleged. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here). (ICC, Aljazeera, DW).
ICC Prosecutor initiates preliminary examination in CAR: The reported violence in CAR continues to rage amongst the Christian and Muslim population. The latest report of violence has sparked the interest of the ICC and it has agreed to open an informal preliminary examination into the crimes to determine whether a formal investigation will be considered pursuing by the Prosecutor. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here). (ICC, Reuters, UN).
Human Rights Council experts say war crimes committed by government and rebel forces in Syria: Six rapporteurs, independent experts appointed by the UNHRC, have reported that government and opposition forces are committing war crimes by impeding humanitarian relief and denying the civilian population from accessing basic health services. According to the experts there appears to be a disregard for human rights and humanitarian law on both sides of the war.
ICC: Katanga verdict postponed: The judgment of Congolese militia leader Germain Kantanga has been postponed by the ICC until 7 March 2014. It has been reported the health of an ICC judge is the cause for the delay. Katanga is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for, among other things, murder, rape and enlisting of child soldiers after violence erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003. (AFP).
ICC needs resolution from UN Security Council before investigating war crimes allegations in South Sudan: Spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah announced the ICC does not have jurisdiction to investigate alleged human rights violations in South Sudan because the country is not a signatory. El-Abdallah stated the permanent international court may only investigate crimes “if the U.N. Security Council passe[d] a resolution.” It is feared more than 1,000 individuals have been killed and thousands more displaced since conflict broke out in South Sudan. (VOA News).
Chea defense team will likely move to dismiss judges: Defense lawyers for Nuon Chea requested the trial chamber judges be removed from hearing Case 002. The lawyers argued the judges, who heard the previous case against Brother No. 2, were bias and privy to crucial facts. The lawyers worried this would negatively affect the rights of the accused. (Phnom Penh Post).
Serbia issues international arrest warrants for two war crimes suspects: The Serbian Interpol office has issued two international arrest warrants for war crimes suspects Naser Oric and Hakija Meholjic. Oric and Meholjic are accused of war crimes relating to the 1992 Bosnia-Herzegovina war. Oric was acquitted by the ICTY in 2008 for the deaths of at least five Bosnian Serb detainees. (UPI.com).
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).