Archive for category War Crimes


AC confirms admissibility of Simone Gbagbo case before ICC: The ICC Appeals Chamber today, 27 May 2015, upheld the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision that the case against Ivorian politician Simone Gbagbo is admissible before the court. The Appeals Chamber, limited in review to whether the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision was correct, found that the Pre-Trial Chamber committed no errors in its assessment of the crimes being investigated domestically or in determining that no relevant domestic investigations were currently being conducted in Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision in December 2014. (ICC).

ICC contempt case to begin on 29 September: The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo et al. for offences against the administration of justice is scheduled to begin 29 September 2015; the ICC announced in a press release on 22 May 2015. The Trial Chamber conducting the trial further directed the Prosecution to provide a list of evidence and witnesses by 30 June 2015. The five accused allegedly bribed witnesses with money in return for false testimony and presented false evidence in court. (ICC).

Serbian Justice Ministry receives order from ICTY AC for return of Seselj: On Tuesday, 26 May 2015, Serbia’s Minister of Justice, Nikola Selakovic, confirmed that he had received the order from the Appeals Chamber to return Vojislav Seselj to the ICTY. Selakovic said that the Serbian government would review the order and proceed according to domestic and international law. Seselj was granted provisional release in November 2014 to seek medical care in Serbia.  In March 2015, the ICTY appeals judges found that Seselj had breached the terms of the release and ordered his immediate return to The Hague. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (InSerbia, Yahoo).

EULEX sentences 11 for war crimes: Judges from the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo sentenced 11 Kosovo Albanian ex-guerrillas to imprisonment on 27 May 2015. The ex-guerrillas were found to have committed war crimes during Kosovo’s 1998-99 conflict, including atrocities against Kosovar civilians. The ex-guerillas received prison sentences ranging from three to twelve years. (Yahoo).

ICT Bangladesh orders medical treatment and report for war crimes suspect: On Monday, 25 May 2015, the International Criminal Tribunal for Bangladesh ordered a 100-year-old war crimes suspect to jail. The ICT also directed the jail to provide the suspect, Moulavi Samsuddoha, with medical treatment, if necessary, and report on his health by 2 June 2015. Samsuddoha is accused of crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War. (The Daily Star).

Amnesty reports war crimes by Hamas against Palestinians in 2014: In a report published today, 27 May 2015, Amnesty International accused Hamas forces of abducting, torturing and unlawfully killing Palestinians thought to be “collaborating” with Israel during the Gaza conflict last year. Amnesty International said some of these “spine-chilling actions” by Hamas forces could amount to war crimes.  It is reported that more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the conflict. (Reuters).

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ICTY Prosecutor to visit Belgrade: Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, is set to visit Belgrade in preparation of his biannual report to the United Nations Security Council. The Chief prosecutor of the ICTY must submit a report on his completion strategy every six months. (InSerbia)

Serbia says no order released from ICTY on Seselj’s return: Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic stated that Serbia has not yet received an official order from the ICTY for Vojislav Seselj’s return to detention after his provisional release. Vucic stated that the Serbian government would act in accordance with Serbian and international law once the order was received. (InSerbia)

Jamaican Justice Minister announces legislation to join ICC: Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding, stated that legislation is currently being drafted in the Senate that will allow Jamaica to join the ICC. According to Golding, the legislation should be enacted by the end of the year. (The Gleaner)

Taylor’s appeals against decisions on detention denied: Former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, has had appeals denied. His first appeal was against his fifty-year sentence in jail and the second appeal appealed the motion denying him a transfer out of the UK to Rwanda. The President of the Residual Court for Sierra Leone Justice Philip N. Waki denied both of these appeals. (The New Dawn Liberia)

MINUSMA investigating human rights violations in Mali: The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, stated that it would investigate human rights violations in Mali. Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq stated that MINUSMA has sent an investigation team into northern Mali. MINUSMA is concerned with the continuous armed conflict found in the region. (Global Times)

Shamsuddoha arrested after ICT Bangladesh issues warrant: ICT Bangladesh recently issued a warrant for Shamsuddoha, a war crimes suspect. Shamsuddoha was arrested along with four others of the the sixteen total suspects. (Business Standard)

CAR taking lessons on special court from Habre trial: Central African Republic, CAR, wants to learn from the Senegalese Extraordinary African Chambers conducting the Hissène Habre trial. Habre is being tried for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes during his reign as Chadian President. CAR voted to set up its own Special Court to bring to justice those who committed crimes against humanity or war crimes in the CAR region since 2003. (All Africa)

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Concern expressed over possible war crimes by ISIS in Palmyra: On 21 May 2015, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini stated he was concerned over possible war crimes being committed in the ancient city of Palmyra after its seizure by Islamic State militants. Specifically, Mogherini said reports of IS militants conducting mass killings and deliberately destroying “archaeological and cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq” amounted to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the ICC. IS militants seized the ancient city during its campaign of “cultural cleansing” in which it destroys historical sites throughout ancient Mesopotamia. (Jurist).

ICTY grants Hadzic’s second provisional release: On Friday, 22 May 2015, it was reported that the ICTY granted former President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina Goran Hadzic a second provisional release to seek medical care for cancer.  The terms of this release are the same as the first, which includes constant police surveillance and no interaction with the public. Hadzic was granted his first provisional release last month but returned to the ICTY in early May for a medical check-up. (InSerbia).

US congressional caucus focuses on Sri Lanka accountability: The U.S. Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka was briefed by human rights groups, such as International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, on Wednesday, 20 May 2015. Representatives from the Caucus urged the international community to stay involved in the situation in Sri Lanka and to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes. The representatives stressed the need for change and progress in Sri Lanka. (Tamil Guardian).

High Commissioner for HR says escalating violence in S. Sudan leading to gross violations: The escalating violence in South Sudan has resulted in “alarming gross violations” of international human rights law, said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a press release issued 22 May 2015. The High Commissioner’s statements follow several recent weeks of intense conflict in South Sudan, with reports of widespread killings, rapes, abductions and destruction of towns.  The High Commissioner said “Such persistent impunity has left many with unresolved grievances that are easily mobilized for renewed violence and revenge attacks.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (UN News Centre, Office of the High Commissioner).

Amnesty report says war crimes on both sides in Ukraine: On Friday, 22 May 2015, Amnesty International released a report finding war crimes have and are being committed by both the Ukrainian government and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Amnesty’s report consists of interviews by former captives of both warring sides and includes instances of beatings, torture and stabbings. A peace agreement between the Ukrainian government and separatist forces called for all war prisoners to be released by early March, although it is being reported little progress has been made. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (NY Times, Toronto Star).

ICC Prosecution application asks for testimony of recanted witnesses to be admitted: On Thursday, 21 May 2015, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested the Court to admit prior statements of witnesses who later recanted in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto. Bensouda argued the witnesses statements were highly relevant and were given prior to the witnesses being corrupted.  Bensourda said “The probative value of this evidence stems from its internal consistency, intrinsic reliability and – in general – its corroboration by evidence already on the record.” (Capital News).

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German appeals court find evidence for addition charge in Rwandan Genocide case:  On 21 May 2015 the Bundesgerichtshof, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany, found on appeal that Onesphore Rwabukombe was actively involved in the murder of 450 men, women and children at the Kiziguro church in east Rwanda and referred the case back to a lower court in Frankfurt to consider evidence from  the proceedings in the German lower courts; including over 100 witness statements about the attack.  In 2014, Rwabukombe was found guilty of overseeing and assisting in the murders, but failed to convict him of direct involvement.  Rwabukombe received a sentence of 14 years in prison on the conviction for overseeing and assisting the murders.  The addition charge of active participation could result in Rwabukombe’s sentence being increased to as much as life in prison. (euronews)

Former Gaddafi officials to be sentenced on 28 June:  On 21 May 2015, Libyan Chief of Investigations office of the Attorney General, Al-Seddig Al-Sur, announced that Libya’s Court of Appeal would deliver the final sentences in the trial against former Gaddafi officials; including ICC accused’s Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi.  Al-Sur stated that the charges against the accused included genocide, besieging towns which protested against Gaddafi, killing demonstrators, forming armed battalions and embezzling public money.  Both Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi have been indicted before the International Criminal Court.  In 2013, the ICC found that Libya was not able to try Saif and ordered his surrender to The Hague.  Libya has failed to cooperate with this order, leading the ICC to refer Libya to UNSC.  (IWPR)

ICC Suspects travel to Saudi Arabia despite outstanding warrant:  On Thursday 21 May 2015 it was reported that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and Sudanese official Ahmed Haroun made a public appearance in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz.  Although President Al-Bashir has made several international visit since his indictment before the ICC, Haroun, who acts as the Government of North Kordofan, has not travelled outside of Sudan since his indictment before the ICC in April 2007.  Saudi Arabia is not a member of the Rome Statute. (Sudan Tribune)

Secretary General appoints panel to meet humanitarian funding needs:  On 21 May 2015, a statement was released on behalf of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announcing the appointment of a high-level UN panel established to examine resources and funding for humanitarian efforts.  The statement reported that in the last decade the need for humanitarian funding has risen “dramatically” creating a situation where the current resources available for humanitarian needs are insufficient.  The panel is tasked with examining financial challenges to humanitarian resources and identifying ways address the lack of insufficient resources in a so that timely and predictable funding is available.  Ban Ki-moon appointed to the panel as co-chairs, Vice President of the European Commission, Kristalina Georgieva from Bulgaria, and Sultan Nazrin Shah from Malaysia.  (UN News Centre)

Defense witness testifies to Mladic’s role in Branjevo killings:  On 19 May 2015 it was reported that Dragan Todorovic, a former Bosnian Serb soldier, testified as a defence witness in the trial against Ratko Mladic.  Todorovic testified as to his position on the Vlasenica platoon of the 10th Sabotage Detachment.which took part in the mass execution of Bosnian Muslims on the Branjevo farm in July 1995.  Todorovic’s testimony addressed orders about the killings and about the relationship between Milorad Pelemis, who was Todorovic’s commander in the unit and a previous defence witness for Mladic, and Ratko Mladic.  On cross examination the Prosecution highlighted the close links between Pelemis and Mladic; submitting Todorovic’s previous testimony to this issue in the ICTY trial against Radovan Karadzic. (Global Voices)

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ICC holds status conference for Ongwen case: On Tuesday, 19 May 2015, the ICC held a status conference relating to the case against Dominic Ogwen, a top Ugandan rebel leader in the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Ogwen, who faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed at a camp for internally displaced people in 2004, was present at the conference and represented by counsel. Ongwen’s confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for 21 January 2016. (NTV).

Sri Lankan President announce June start to war crime probe: Today, 20 May 2015, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena announced that an investigation into war crimes committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war would begin by June. The President also encouraged guidance from the U.N. Human Rights Council on carrying out the investigation and vowed to prosecute those “found guilty by the investigation.”  Over 100,000 were killed during the conflict. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (MalayMail, The Economic Times).

ICTR holds 25th plenary session; re-elects President: The 25th and final plenary session of the ICTR was held in The Hague on 13 May 2015. At this session, Rule 18(B) of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence was amended and ITCR President Judge Vagn Joensen was re-elected through 31 December 2015, the expected date of closure of the Tribunal. The ICTR has already begun transitioning power to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals which was created to continue the residual functions of the ICTR and ICTY. (UN-ICTR).

Amnesty reports torture in Morocco:  Moroccan authorities are still using torture against those detained or expressing dissent; said Amnesty International in a report released Tuesday, 19 May 2015.  The findings of the report stemmed from interviews with over 150 men, women and children between 2010 and 2014.  Morocco has pledged for years to eliminate torture by authorities.  However, an Amnesty International director says “There is a gap between what’s on paper and what’s in practice.  Torture is not systematic but common.  The safeguards that exist currently are not being implemented.”  (NY Times).

Tunisian Truth Commission to address torture and other human rights abuses: On 19 May 2015, it was reported that Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission will be conducting public hearings beginning June 2015.  The hearings will address allegations of torture, mass killings and other human rights violations committed over a 60 year period, starting in 1955, while Tunisia was under authoritarian rule. Members of the Commission have visited towns to urge victims of the human rights abuses to file complaints.  The Commission does have the power to subpoena witnesses and government files. (NY Times).

Complaint filed with African Commission over death of protestors in Burundi: On 5 May 2015, a leading human rights lawyer from Nigeria, Femi Falana, filed a complaint against the government of Burundi in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  Falana claims the government fatally attacked civilians protesting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plan to seek a third term of office.  Falana said this plan violates the constitution of Burundi, which imposes a two term limit on the office of president, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which guarantees life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, association and assembly.  Falana urged the African Commission to “ensure effective remedies for [these] multiple violations of the rights of the people of Burundi.” (the News Nigeria).

ICC AC admissibility decision on Simone Gbagbo to be delivered 27 May: The appeals decision on the admissibility of the case against Ivorian politician Simone Gbagbo is expected to be delivered 27 May 2015, said the ICC Appeals Chamber today, 20 May 2015. The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision rejecting an admissibility challenge to the case and reminding the country of its obligation to surrender Mrs. Gbagbo to the ICC.  Gbagbo is accused of murder, rape and other inhumane acts and persecution committed in the Ivory Coast between December 2010 and April 2011. (ICC).

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UNSMIL reports war crimes of abductions, torture and murder: On 15 May 2015, the U.N. Support Mission in Libya released a statement finding that armed groups are responsible for war crimes in Libya.  Specifically, the UNSMIL said that armed groups abducted, tortured and murdered “civilians, including minors, on account of their actual or perceived origin, opinion, family and political affiliation.” The UNSMIL also warned that those responsible for the crimes, including committing, ordering or failing to prevent the crimes, may be criminally liable before the ICC.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here) (UN News Centre, Al Arabiya News, Libya Herald).

ECCC Prosecution calls journalist to testify in Case 002: On 7 May 2015, the ECCC Prosecutor’s Office requested journalist Thet Sambath testify in the second phase of the Extraordinary Chamber’s case against Nuon Chea.  The Prosecutor’s Office claims Sambath, who interviewed Nuon Chea over a 10-year period, documented admissions by the former Khmer Rouge leader that prove his guilt in the trial.  Although requested, Sambath failed to appear in the first phase of the case but has since stated he would testify “if the court openly gives me freedom.”  (Cambodia Daily).

Croatia assures of fair war crimes trial for Dragan Vasiljkovic in extradition case: On 15 May 2015, Australia’s High Court denied a request by former Serbian paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic to appeal an approval of extradition to Croatia to be questioned for war crimes. Justice Minister Michael Keenan now has the final say on whether Vasiljkovic will be extradited. Croatia’s war veteran minister Predrag Matic said that the former paramilitary commander will receive a fair trial if extradited. Vasiljkovic is accused of torturing and ordering the killing of prisoners of war and directing an assault on a village in Croatia during the early 1990s.  (The Australian).

Charles Bandora sentenced to 30 years in Rwandan court for role in 1994 Genocide: On 15 May 2015, Charles Bandora was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by a special chamber created to prosecute international crimes at the High Court of Rwanda.  Bandora was found guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity committing and complicity to murder as a crime against humanity and formation of an armed gang during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.  Bandora was a senior member of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development party at the time. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (All Africa, Yahoo News).

African Court to hear two applications at 37th Session: The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights is holding its 37th Ordinary Session from 18 May to 5 June, 2015, which will include consideration of two applications of violations of the African Charter.  The first application concerns the alleged unlawful abduction and detention of 10 Kenyans in Tanzania for murder and robbery.  The second application involves a challenge by a Tanzanian to a 30 year jail sentence for armed robbery.  (IPP Media).

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Bensouda says ICC Prosecution considering investigation into ISIS crimes in Libya: On Tuesday, 12 May 2015, Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council that the ICC Prosecutor’s Office was considering opening investigations into crimes committed by Islamic State militants against civilians in Libya, noting the alleged crimes fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC. The Chief Prosecutor stated, however, that the primary responsibility to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the alleged crimes rests with the individual states. Bensouda also addressed the ICC cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi. Bensouda said Libya remained in non-compliance with the ICC’s order to surrender Gaddafi to the Court and that the Prosecutor’s Office would continue to, and the Security Council is encourage to, put pressure on the country to comply with the request.  Regarding Al-Senussi, Bensouda stated that the Prosecutor’s Office reviewed evidence of the proceedings and concluded “it is not in possession of new facts that would fully satisfy it that the basis on which the case against Mr Al-Senussi had previously been found inadmissible before the ICC has been negated.” (For the transcript of Bensouda’s statement, please click here) (Reuters, Kasmir Watch).

US human rights record criticized at UNHRC review: Racial discrimination and police brutality in the U.S. were the main concerns voiced during the country’s second universal periodic review at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Monday, 11 May 2015.  Additionally, member states criticized the U.S. for its failure to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the use of the death penalty, child labor, human trafficking and inadequate protection of migrant workers and indigenous peoples.  The member states also provided the U.S. with recommendations for improving its human rights record. (Aljazeera).

IACHR issues preliminary measures on violence against ethnic groups in Costa Rica: In accordance with a resolution by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Costa Rican government has until 15 May 2015 to adopt measures protecting the lives and personal integrity of the Bribri and Teribe ethnic groups.  The resolution also granted precautionary measures in favor of the Bribri community whose land has been illegally occupied by non-indigenous landowners and aims to safeguard the Teribe communit from ethnic violence. A University of Costa Rica law professor says the resolution and precautionary measures are an important first step in order to get the case before the IACHR.  (IPS News).

ICTY says incompetent to consider Seselj motion on disqualification and discipline of Brammertz: The ICTY Trial Chamber has found itself incompetent to consider Vojislav Seselj’s motion to disqualify and discipline ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz. The three member Trial Chamber also warned Seselj that any further remarks against the prosecutor that have already been investigated were an abuse of the proceedings. In April 2015, the former Serbian leader filed a complaint with the Trial Chamber accusing the chief prosecutor of obstruction of justice.  (InSerbia).

International Commission reports enough evidence to prosecute Assad and senior Syrian officials: The Commission for International Justice and Accountability reported that it has gathered enough evidence to prosecute Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and 24 senior officials in his regime for war crimes.  The Commission, who worked with 50 Syrian investigators that smuggled official documents out of the country during a three-year operation, says the evidence includes communications between senior officials ordering mass arrests and detentions. Prosecution cases have been prepared using the evidence collected in anticipation of the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in the future. (The Guardian).

ICTY Prosecutor begins mission to Sarajevo: ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz is in Sarajevo this week, 12 to 14 May 2015, in preparation for his six month report to the U.N. Security Council on the implementation of the ICTY’s Completion Strategy.  The Prosecutor is expected to meet with authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the High Judicial, the Prosecutorial Council and representatives of the international community.  Brammertz’s report to the U.N. Security Council is scheduled for early June 2015. (ICTY).

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