Archive for category Witnesses

17 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

STL begins contempt trial against Lebanese journalist and her TV station: Lebanese journalist, Karma Khayat, and her al-Jadeed TV station stand accused of obstruction of justice for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Khayat and the TV station both deny identifying witnesses or compromising the case against Hariri’s alleged killers. Khayat stated that that this is an attempt to silence the media when journalists in Lebanon have the same rights as those in the West. Khayat also stated that the list she published was redacted without identifying statements and a full list was published later by someone else. Prosecutor Kenneth Scott stated “If witnesses are too frightened to come to this tribunal, then this tribunal is finished.” (BBC, The Guardian, Daily Star) (for additional information click here and here)

Acquitted Ngudjolo Chui seeks asylum in Switzerland: Ngudjolo Chui, who was acquitted by the ICC, is now applying for asylum in Switzerland.  Chui is applying for asylum for fear of being deported from the Netherlands back to Kinshasa. After being acquitted by the ICC Trial Chamber and having the acquittal affirmed by the ICC Appeals Chamber, Chui was arrested by Dutch authorities immediately after the trial as he was leaving the courtroom. The Dutch authorities brought him straight to the airport to be deported back to the DRC and was forced onto a Kenya Airways passenger plane to Kinshasa. Chui had to assert certain things during his defense that now put his life at risk if he goes back to the DRC. Chui had asserted that in asylum applications to the Dutch authorities after his Trial Chamber acquittal.  As the plane was about to takeoff, an emergency order from a Dutch immigration judge to hear asylum arguments forced the plane to return to the terminal. Since then, Chui has been at the detention unit at the Schiphol Airport trying to sort out immigration issues and apply for a humanitarian visa. (Letemps)

UNSC hears accounts of chemical weapons use in Syria: The United Nations Security Council heard first-hand accounts of chemical weapons used in Syria on Thursday. Syrian doctor, Saher Sahloul, reported the use of chlorine gas in Idlib that left six dead. Qusai Zakarya, a victim of an attack in Ghouta in August of 2013 was also present. The UNSC considered whether action was needed to stop the attacks. Organizations like Human Rights Watch called for investigations into these attacks and alleged that they were war crimes. (News24)

Hadzic arrives in Serbia after ICTY grants provisional release: The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) granted a provisional release to former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic for cancer treatment on 13 April 2015. Hadzic stands accused of 14 alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1991-95 war in Croatia. Hadzic arrived in the Serbian capital on 16 April 2015 and was escorted by police to Novi Sad, where he will receive his cancer treatment. (Turkish Weekly)

US Senator indicates move to introduce CAH provision in US law: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin announced during his speech at Northwestern University School of Law that he intends to reintroduce Crimes Against Humanity legislation in Congress. Durbin stated a US law needs to be in place against crimes against humanity. (International Criminal Justice Today)

 

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3 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Prosecutor Brammertz asks Trial Chamber to issue a verdict for Seselj soon: ICTY prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, asked the Trial Chamber to make a final verdict in Vojislav Seselj’s case for alleged war crimes.  Brammertz’ asked for a final verdict due to Seselj’s behavior whilst on a provisional release for health purposes. The ICTY found at the end of March that Seselj violated the conditions for his provisional release and ordered him to return to the Hague to await the verdict.  Tensions heightened between Serbia and Croatia during Seselj’s release to Serbia. Seselj was seen publicly burning a Croatian flag as a sign of defiance for being ordered back to the Hague. (Dalje, Yahoo! News) (for additional information click here)

Human Rights organizations write letter to UNSC to reopen ICC investigation in Sudan: A letter sent to the United Nations Security Council by a group of Sudanese and international humanitarian and human rights organizations asked the UNSC to reopen ICC investigations in Darfur. The organizations asked the UNSC to persevere in the arrest of indicted war criminals related to the situation in Darfur. They also urged the UNSC to advise ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to reopen investigations into the matter. (All Africa)

ICC Prosecution last witness in Ruto case says fearful of testifying:  Witness 7271 is the final ICC prosecution witness in Deputy President William Ruto’s case for crimes against humanity. Witness 727’s lawyer, Goran Sluiter, stated that his client is hiding in the Netherlands and fears for his life. Witness 727 has refused to testify at trial three times before, causing the Trial Chamber to adjourn. (All Africa)

Victims of Malvinas War torture will bring case to IACHR: The victims of torture during the 1982 Malvinas War are bringing their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. During the Malvinas War, Argentine soldiers were tortured by senior officers whilst serving on the Malvinas Islands. The leader of Centro de Ex-Combatientes Islas Malvinas (CECIM), Ernesto Alonso, stated that the complaint will be filed within two weeks. (Buenos Aires Herald)

Cyprus makes Armenian genocide denial a crime:  The denial of the Armenian genocide is now a crime when the Parliament of Cyprus voted in the resolution. The resolution was passed unanimously on Thursday. Armenpress states that the penalty for the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes is now a prison sentence of 5 years and a fine of 10,000 Euros.   (Asbarez)

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27 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Final ICC Prosecution witness in Ruto / Sang case found and begins testifying:  The final prosecution witness for both President William Ruto’s and journalist Joshua Sang’s hearings has been located and began testifying from a video link from a secret location at the Hague.  The witness was absent and failed to testify earlier. International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, asked for more time in pursuing the witness. Prosecution wanted several weeks to locate the witness as they claimed the person was a key witness with crucial evidence to the case. Defence claimed that prosecution should only be given a few days. (All Africa) (for additional information click here)

OHRHC plans to open field office in Seoul to monitor N. Korea HR: The officer of human rights of the  Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights plans to open a field office in Seoul to monitor human rights in North Korea. This comes from last year’s report by the UN Commission of Inquiry that recommended the establishment of a field office after alleging that North Korea’s leaders committed crimes against humanity.  (Voice of America News)

Former PM questioned at STL over arrested generals: Former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, provided testimony at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Siniora denied any direct involvement in the 2005 arrest and release of four Lebanese generals charged in relation to Rafik Hariri’s assassination. Siniora was the current prime minister of Lebanon during the assassination. (Daily Star)

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10 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Simone Gbagbo sentenced to twenty years for Cote d’Ivoire violence: A court in the Ivory Coast has sentenced Simone Gbagbo, former first lady of the Ivory Coast, to twenty years in prison for her involvement in inciting post-election violence in 2010. Gbagbo’s lawyer, Rodrigue Dadje, stated that they would appeal the verdict by the end of the week. Gbagbo is still wanted by the International Criminal Court. Her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, is still awaiting trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity during the post-election violence. (Reuters)

Identity of deceased man confirmed as potential ICC Witness: The body thought to be of Meshack Yebei, a potential ICC witness, was found in early January. The Kenyan government has confirmed through DNA tests that the body is in fact that of Mr. Yebei. Yebei was a potential witness in the trial against President Ruto who was charged with crimes against humanity during the post election violence in Kenya. Mr. Ruto’s lawyers stated that Yebei was to be a witness for the defence. (BBC)

Human rights groups file Bamako complaint for Mali crime victims: The International Federation of Human Rights announced on 9 March 2015 that human rights groups have filed a war crimes complaint for victims in Mali. The complaint focuses on the events that occurred during 2012 and 2013 when armed groups occupied Timbuktu and the surrounding area. Human rights groups have identified fifteen people as responsible parties for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC opened an investigation in January of 2013 against Mali for occurrences since 2012, but no cases have been brought so far against particular individuals. (Hirondelle News)

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24 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Mrs. Gbagbo appears before national trial and denies wrongdoing: Simone Gbagbo presented evidence for the first time in her trial in Abidjan. Mrs. Gbagbo denies all wrongdoing in her alleged role in inciting post election violence in 2010. In December 2014, the ICC denied the Ivory Coast’s admissibility application to try Mrs. Gbagbo nationally and ordered the Ivory Coast to surrender her to the Hague. By starting Mrs. Gbagbo’s trial, the Ivory Coast is proceeding in violation of the ICC’s decision. Mrs. Gbagbo’s husband, former President Laurent Gbagbo, is currently being tried at the ICC. (BBC, France24, ICC-CPI) (for additional information please click here and here)

ICC Prosecution to call final witness in Ruto / Sang case on 23 March: The 30th and last witness in the case against former Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang will testify on 23 March 2015. The ICC Public Affairs Unit stated that witness P0727 has been unwilling to testify and has put conditions upon testifying. The witness did not appear to testify on 2 February 2015, but will now testify by video from a secret location on 23 March. (CaptialFM)

At-large former lawmaker sentenced to life imprisonment by ICT Bangladesh: The International Criminal Tribunal of Bangladesh sentenced former lawmaker, Abdul Jabbar, to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. The crimes against humanity were committed during the 1971independence war against Pakistan and include counts of genocide and religious persecution of the country’s Hindi minority. The court stated that Jabbar would get some leniency in mere imprisonment due to old age. Jabbar is still at-large and is thought to be in the United States. (The Economic Times, The Sun Daily) (for additional information please click here)

UNAMI and OHCHR report says HR violations in Iraq increasingly sectarian: A report produced by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlights the increase of human rights violations in Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have intentionally targeted members of Iraq’s different ethnic communities. The report covers a three month period from11 September to 10 December 2014. The report claims that many of the acts committed could constitute as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide. (United Nations)

US federal court orders 218 million USD award against Palestinian Authority: A United States jury found in favor of ten American families for six attacks credited to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas over a decade ago. The Manhattan based court ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority to pay 218 million USD. The United States Anti-Terrorist Act allows citizens harmed by terrorist acts to sue for damages in federal courts. Both groups stated that they would appeal the ruling. The Palestinian Authority signed the Rome Statute and submitted an Article 12(3) declaration in January 2015 in order to accept the ICC jurisdiction. (France24)

Amnesty highlights evidence of war crimes for Egyptian airstrikes in Libya: Amnesty International stated that violence in Libya is escalating and that civilians are feeling the impact of the attack. Amnesty claims that the Egyptian Air Force did not take the necessary precautions in their air strike over Libya to prevent civilian deaths. Amnesty has many eyewitness accounts that highlight the damage done over civilian populated areas in Libya. (Amnesty International)

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17 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN HR Council grants 6 mo delay to release of Sri Lanka war crimes report: The United Nations Human Rights Council granted the Sri Lankan government a six month delay in releasing its report on alleged war crimes. The report, led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, was due next month, but UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein stated that he recommended a deferral until September. A Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry official stated that the delay would help the “new government’s move to establish democratic process for accountability issues.” These war crimes stem from the previous government who stands accused of human rights violations during the final stages of the civil war in May of 2009. The United Nations Human Rights Council began their own investigation in March after stating that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had failed to properly conduct his own investigation. Once released, the United Nations report would be the basis of which the HR Council would recommend to hold those accountable for crimes, including a referral to the International Criminal Court. (Reuters, New York Times, Aljazeera) (for additional information please click here and here)

Extraordinary African Chambers finds enough evidence against Habre to proceed to trial: The Extraordinary African Chambers found enough evidence against Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture to go forward with trial. This evidence comes from witness and victim interviews, documents from Habre’s secret police, and a visit to mass graves during a 19-month pretrial investigation conducted mainly in Chad. These allegations stem from Habre’s eight-year rule in Chad, though he was overthrown over 20 years ago. Habre lived in exile in Senegal until he was detained in 2013. The trial is expected to begin in May or June and will have two Senegalese judges and a lead judge from another African Union member state. (Defence Web)

HRW calls Libyan beheadings a war crime: Human Rights Watch stated that the killing of 21 people by a Libyan extremist group constituted as a war crime. A video was published on 15 February 2015 that showed the 21 men beheaded on a beach thought to be in western Libya. HRW called for Libyan officials to hold those accountable for the acts and for the United Nations to establish a mechanism to investigate and prosecute the crimes. The Libyan extremist group has pledged its loyalty to ISIS, another extremist group. (Human Rights Watch)

Kurdish Gov investigating atrocities committed against ISIS: Images posted on Twitter of beheaded ISIS militants have been confirmed as legitimate by the Kurdish government. These tactics committed against ISIS fighters mirrors the extremist group’s own tactics. The beheadings occurred on 30 January 2015 during a battle to drive ISIS out of the city of Kirkuk. The Kurdish government is investigating the atrocities committed. Kurdish Regional government spokesperson Safeen Dizayi stated that there is no justification for treating dead corpses in this manner. (CTV News)

Official says N Korea not guilty of any crime while asking for HR conference to be cancelled: The United Nations General Assembly urged the UN Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity back in December. North Korea’s UN ambassador, Jang Il Hun, stated on Monday that the threat of referral was not worrisome since they are not guilty of the alleged crimes. Hun also stated that he asked the United States to cancel a conference to be held at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies concerning human rights in North Korea. Hun sent a formal request to his counterpart in the State Department, but the request was denied, as it was not a U.S. government event. (Euronews)

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3 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICJ dismisses genocide claims for both Serbia and Croatia: On 3 February 2015, the International Court of Justice provided its verdict on the genocide claims during the Balkan Wars in 1991-1995. The ICJ stated that neither Serbia, nor Croatia, committed genocide on one another’s populations. Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, stated that the intent to commit genocide against one another’s country had simply not been met. (Reuters, BBC) (for further information please click here)

Schabas resigns as head of Israel/Gaza Inquiry over allegations of bias: William Schabas, head of the United Nations inquiry over the conflict between Israel and Gaza, stated he would step down from his position. Israel claimed that Schabas was biased against them and had a long history as a critic of the country and its current leadership. Schabas stated he would step down so as not to overshadow the importance of the upcoming report. (Aljazeera)

HRW report on Egypt HR abuses says President Al-Sisi has overseen reversal of rights: Human Rights Watch published its 2015 World Report last Thursday that claimed that Egypt’s current human right’s situation is the “most serious in the country’s history.” The HRW report states that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has overseen a reversal of human rights through mass killings by his security forces and imprisonment of protestors. The HRW report also outlines a decline in human rights through violence against women, discrimination, and a decline in freedom of religion, association, expression, and assembly. Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East and North Africa director, stated, “the situation…is getting worse [every] day.” (Daily News Egypt)

ICC Prosecution accused at AU Summit of working with Kenyan terrorists: The Kenya Citizens Coalition accused the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor of working with Mungiki members, some of which also belong to the Al Shabab terrorist group. This occurred at the 24th session of the Africa union summit in Addis Ababa. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she had eight Mungiki witnesses with information on “how the president funded and coordinated Mungiki members to carry out attacks” during the post election violence of 2008. According to Kenya Citizens Coalition, some of these witnesses belong to the Al Shabab terrorist group. (Capital News)

President Kenyatta tells AU Summit that ICC case against deputy will collapse: At the 24th session of the Africa Union Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the ICC’s case against Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto will fail much like the case against him did. Kenyatta and Ruto were both charged with inciting post election violence after the election in 2008, but Kenyatta’s case was dropped in December. Kenyatta stated that the ICC’s case against Ruto was exhibiting the same weaknesses as the case against him did. (Yahoo News)

Palestinian authorities state that it will bring cases of illegal Israeli settlements to ICC: Israel announced that it would erect 450 new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry response to Israel’s illegal settlements is that it will refer the case to the ICC. The ministry stated that these new settlements also come shortly after Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute, which the ministry claims as a sign of Israel’s defiance to international law. (World Bulletin)

AU Peace and Security Council criticized for deferring release of S. Sudan investigation report: Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, led the AU commission of inquiry into an investigation last year concerning South Sudan. The investigation focused on those killed in the civil war between South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s supporters and supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar. Obasanjo turned in the report last Thursday to the AU Peace and Security Council, but the results of the report have not been disclosed. A petition from 21 South Sudanese civil society organizations requested that the report be made public claiming it could “play a critical role in deterring further violations.” Human Rights Watch stated that not publicizing the report hinders holding those accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Daily Mail)

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