Archive for category Witnesses

9 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC confirms charges against Bosco Ntaganda:  The ICC has confirmed 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Bosco Ntaganda.  The Prosecutor brought evidence of attempted murder, rape and sexual slavery that occurred in Congo’s Ituri district in 2002 and 2003 to the attention of the ICC.  HRW expresses the hopes of many other human rights organizations which is that this decision to charge one ranking official of the ICC will lead to many more.  (HRW).

CAR inquiry finds CAH and war crimes, but hesitates to affirm that genocide committed:  The latest inquiry into the violence in CAR appears to contradict earlier reports of ethnic cleansing.  The report states that anti-Muslim propaganda coming from non-Muslim quarters does no mean that genocide is being planned or that there is a conspiracy to commit genocide.  Amnesty International objects to the findings in the latest report and argues that the displacement and violence against Muslims sectarian in nature and evidence that a genocide or massive displacement is occurring.  (MWC News).

ICC decided to fund Saif Gaddafi legal team:  The ICC has made the decision to fund the defence of Saif Gaddafi as a way to increase his chances of obtaining a fair trial before the court.   It is likely that Gaddafi would be sentenced to death if found guilty by a court a Libya.  UK politicians and military figures have protested this action by the ICC.  (Telegraph).

Former Norwegian Minister willing to testify to crimes in Sri Lanka:  Erik Solheim, former international development minister for Norway, is prepared to give evidence before any recognized international tribunal detailing the atrocities he witnesses during the final months of the decades-long Sri Lankan conflict.  Solheim was involved in the brokered peace agreement that fell through in 2006.  (Mint).

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19 May 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Mladic Trial hears first defence witness The ICTY heard its first witness in the Ratko Mladic case.  Mladic has been charged with 11 offenses, ranging from hostage taking to genocide.  Mladic maintains his innocence.  (Aljazeera).

Gaddafi ICC Admissibility Decision expected from Appeals Chamber 21 May:  The Appeals Chamber of the ICC has scheduled a hearing on 21 May 2014 to deliver the judgment on the admissibility of the case against Gaddafi.  (ICC).

Rwanda Court begins first genocide case transferred from ICTR:  The genocide trial of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi is a first for the ICTR.  Uwinkindi is charged with genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.  He is accused of killing Tutsis himself as well as ordering the execution of many others.  (Hirondelle).

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5 May 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

African Commission asked to intervene in second round of mass death sentences in Egypt:  The application for the African Commission to intervene is the second application on behalf of the individuals sentenced to death on 22 March.  The Freedom and Justice Party first asked the Commission to intervene concerning the first group (529 individuals) sentenced to death on 25 April, whereby the AC ordered Provisional Measures ordering Egypt to suspend the death sentences and up hold the individuals’ rights.  Thereafter, Egypt has sentenced an additional 687 to death and the FJP is now asking for similar provisional measures in relation to this second group.  (MEM).

ICC witness goes on hunger strike:  Floribert Ndjabu has begun a hunger as a way to force the ICC to make a decision regarding his state of detention and application for asylum in the Netherlands.  Ndjabu was one of three witnesses who sought asylum in the Netherlands after providing testimony for the prosecution in its case against the Congolese militia bosses Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga.  (Yahoo News).

Government of Kenya granted extra time to leave to appeal witness summons decision:  The ICC has granted a ten day extension to file leave to appeal the summons of eight witnesses to be forced to testify in the case against Deputy President Ruto.  The ICC has made it clear that the time extension has been granted to the Kenyan government to make any application they find appropriate without prejudice to the Chamber’s decision.  Standard Digital).

Clooney’s fiancée represents Senussi’s rights at the ICC:  Amal Alamuddin currently represents Muammar Gaddafi’sformer spy chief, Abdullah al Senussi, against charges of crimes against humanity.  Alamuddin has garnered international attention for her choice of controversial clients, including her work as legal adviser to Bahrain’s king.  (The Guardian).

North Korea publish list of US human rights abusers:  In response to a recent UN report detailing a number of alleged human rights abuses committed by the United States, the North Korean government has released its own report accusing the United States of its own human rights abuses.  NK makes allegations of racism and that the US is the most violent nation in the world.  (All Voices).

 

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28 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Secretary General alarmed at potential human rights violations in Egypt:  The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is concerned at the news that another preliminary mass death sentence has been handed down in an Egyptian court.  This recent decision comes on the heels of a 24 March decision where 529 defendants were convicted of numerous crimes.  There is fear that the mass sentencing and stricter laws regulating protests may lead to more instability in the region.  (UN).

ICC Prosecutor initiates preliminary investigation into Ukraine:  ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has decided to open a preliminary examination in Ukraine to investigate the alleged crimes committed on its territory from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014.  During the preliminary stages of her investigation, Ms. Bensouda will confirm that the jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice standards are satisfied before a the ICC proceeds any further.  (ICC).

Seif Gaddafi attends trial via video; trial adjourned until May 11:  Seif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared for his second appearance in court in Tripoli via videoconference sourced from the city of Zintan.  Gaddafi replied in with a no when he was asked if he had a lawyer.  It is unclear why he has not been transferred to Tripoli to appear in person.  The session has been adjourned to May 11.  (AP).

ICT of Bangladesh delays trial of Jamaat-e-Islami leader:  A severe heat wave has caused the ICT to defer the hearing of Jamaat-e-Islami to May 6.  The temperature in Dhaka hit 40.2 degrees Celsius on Thursday, which led to the absence of a prosecution witness.  (bdnews).

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22 April 2014 – DECISION REVIEW

Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court

Decision Title: Decision on the “demande de mise en libertè provisoire de Maitre Aimé Kilolo Musamba [Request for provisional release of Aime Kilolo Musamba]”

Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber II

Case Name: Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido

Date: 14 March 2014

_________

Executive Summary:

  • The Single Judge presiding over the defendant’s request for provisional pre-trial release denied the request, citing the existence of continuing risks necessitating the defendant’s continued detention.

Principles found in decision:

  • Pre-trial detention is an exceptional remedy that must be deemed both necessary and proportional; however, where a trial court makes these determinations, the presumption of innocence that attaches to a defendant will not prevent pre-trial detention
  • In determining whether detention is still necessary, the court will look to whether the conditions that necessitated the defendant’s detention at the time of arrest continue to exist. The court will look at whether there are any “changed circumstances” at the time of an application for release that would militate against the defendant’s continued detention
  • In determining whether detention is necessary, the court, under article 58(b)(1), will look to whether the defendant poses a flight risk, whether there is a risk of obstruction of the trial proceedings, or whether there is a risk of future crimes. The court makes this determination in the alternative, meaning that only one condition must be present for the necessity of detention to be established
  • A consideration of the defendant’s personal or professional character or qualities does not factor into the court’s determination on the necessity of continued detention
  • A consideration of any prejudice to the defendant’s professional or personal life created by continued detention does not factor into the court’s determination on the necessity of continued detention

 

Decision Background: This decision stems out of the charges against Musamba, alleging that he engaged in various forms of witnesses tampering in the main case against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. The court issued a warrant for the arrest of the above-named defendants on 20 November 2013. On 16 December 2013, defense counsel for Musamba submitted a request to the court to hold a hearing on the question of provisional pre-trial release for the defendant. Per a decision granting extended time, the court granted the Prosecutor, the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Netherlands until 13 January 2014 to submit any observations on the defense request for provisional release. The Prosecutor objected to any provisional release of the defendant.

Decision Review: The issues of provisional release was decided by a Single Judge in the Chamber. Upon application by a defendant for provisional release, the Single Judge whether the personal “shall continue to be detained,” or “shall be released, with or without conditions,” (quotations omitted). Pre-trial detention is an exceptional measure, and must be proven to be both necessary and proportional. The presumption of innocence that attaches to the defendant, however, does not preclude pre-trial detention if deemed necessary by the court. Detention will apply when the statutory requirements for pre-trial detention continue to be met at the time of application for release.

In order to make such determination, the Single Judge makes a new inquiry into whether facts exist at the time of application sufficient to warrant the defendant’s continued detention. The Single Judge may rely on upon the same information that first justified retaining the defendant, and may undertake the inquiry based upon the factors that underlay the initial decision to retain the defendant. These factors are: whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person committed the crimes alleged by the Prosecutor, and whether the arrest and detention of the defendant appears necessary for one or more of the reasons articulated in article 58(1)(b) of the Statute.

On the first prong of the assessment, the Single Judge determined that numerous documents of evidence obtained by the Prosecutor – including reports and transcripts of conversations between the defendant and the witnesses with whom he is alleged to have tampered – established reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant had committed the charged offenses. The burden of proof at the pre-trial to establish a “reasonable belief” that the defendant committed the charged crimes is lower than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard that adheres in finding a defendant guilty.

As to the second prong, the defense had argued that changed facts and circumstances made his continued pre-trial detention no longer necessary. Under the Statute, the court may find that changed circumstances (circumstances different from those found at the time of arrest to necessitate the defendant’s continued detention) requires the defendant’s pre-trial release. A “changed circumstance” sufficient to allow the defendant’s pre-trial release is either a change in some or all of the facts underlying a previous decision on detention, or a new fact satisfying a Chamber that a modification of its prior ruling is necessary. To determine whether there is a changed circumstances, the Single Judge will look at whether the factors laid on in article 58(1)(b) still exist at the time of the application for provisional release. Those factors are: appearance at trial/flight risk, defendant’s obstructing or endangering the investigation of the Court proceedings, and risks related to future crimes. These factors operate in the alternative, meaning that the fulfillment of one requirement is sufficient to warrant continued detention. Further, the question is the possibility of the occurrence of the risk, not that the risk posed by defendant’s release will actually occur. The possibility of future risk is proven by specific and concrete elements.

The defendant cited frozen assets, the surrender of his passport to Detention Center officials (the defendant is a Belgian national), and his willingness to check in with Belgian officials on a weekly basis throughout his release, as counting against finding him a flight risk such that continued detention would be necessary. Second, the defendant argued that the fact that he is no longer serving as counsel on the main Gombo case militates against finding him to be a continued risk to the administration of the main case.

The defendant had provisioned to the Court written statements from friends and family regarding his character; the Single Judge, however, determined that this information is not relevant to the decision, as personal or professional quality does not factor in to the determination of the necessity of continued pre-trial detention. Further, the Single Judge found that the fact that the defendant has not in the past been found guilty of any other crime does not affect the risks associated with the current conduct for which the defendant was arrested. Likewise, the Single Judge found that the potential for prejudice to the defendant’s personal or professional life, posed by his continued detention, is not a factor that is considered in making the detention determination.

The Single Judge found that despite the efforts taken by the defendant to prove his lack of flight risk, the extensive network he maintains with the associates of Gombo – and the resources available to them – still presented a substantial flight risk were they to release the defendant. Further, the Single Judge noted that releasing the defendant to Belgium, as requested, would pose a flight risk due to the relative ease of travel without need for travel or identifying documents between borders in the area. The Single Judge also found that the fact that the defendant is no longer serving as an attorney on the Gombo case, does not establish that the defendant does not maintain sufficient contacts with the network that could provide a manner of flight. Particularly concerning the Single Judge was the possibility of indirect or direct financial support coming from the network that could facilitate flight.

Additionally, the Single Judge noted the nature of the crime – attempts to tamper with witnesses in the main case, by a barred attorney on the case – as a significant factor in his findings. The Single Judge noted that these crimes pose a great risk to the main case, where the outcome of the case is still pending. The Single Judge noted the possibility of the impact of the defendant’s actions, which had yet to be determined, and the serious problems they pose to the fair and effective administration of justice. He also noted the defendant’s actions’ potential to undermine general public trust in the administration of justice as a major consideration.

Further, the Single Judge noted that evidence from the main case revealed several instances where the defendant directly tried to influence the proceedings through contact with witnesses. The Single Judge found that these instances were seriousness enough to warrant the defendant’s detention in order to prevent further witness tampering. The Single Judge found, based on the defendant’s prior conduct, that a risk remained that the defendant would continue to try to interfere with either the main case, or the proceedings in his own case. Therefore, the Single Judge found that, pursuant to the requirement in article 58(1)(b), a risk of interference by the defendant remains so long as trial proceedings continue.

Finally, and related to the Single Judge’s finding regarding the risk of obstruction, the Single Judge found that the defendant’s past conduct created a substantial risk for the commission of future crimes – namely, continued obstruction and interference with trial proceedings.

The Single Judge found that alternative release – supervised release under the conditions which the defendant offered to be bound – would not mitigate against these risks. The Single Judge found that the majority of the defendant’s alleged conduct occurred through communications with witnesses in the outside world, such that keeping the defendant in a controlled, detention environment is the only way to ensure that these risks are effectively managed.

Based on the foregoing, the Single Judge denied the defendant’s request for provisional pre-trial release.

To access the full Decision, click here

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21 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ukraine requests ICC investigation, accepting ICC Jurisdiction:  Ukraine has formally asked the ICC to investigate the deaths of civilians on its territory that occurred from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014.  Ukraine hopes that the court will duly study the case but it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to proceed with an investigation.  (For more information on this topic, please click here) (ICC, NYT).

Ruto Witnesses compelled to testify:  The ICC has summoned eight reluctant witnesses by way of subpoenas issued by the Kenyan government to testify in the Ruto trial.  The prosecution continues to see witnesses withdraw from appearing and such actions have negatively affected several other ICC cases related to the Kenya poll violence.  The court has made arrangements for the witnesses to appear by video-link and has asked the Kenyan government to make appropriate arrangements for security.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (ICC, BBC).

Kosovo PM calls for vote on war crimes court; expresses concerns:  Kosovo’s premier has summoned parliament to vote on whether to establish a special court to try ethnic Albanian guerrillas accused of harvesting organs of murdered Serbs during the Balkan war.  U.S. and European officials have warned that if the court is not established then the case will be referred to the U.N. Security Council.  (Reuters).

ICC abandons Banda Trial start date; cites “logistical” issues:  Trial Chamber IV of the ICC decided to vacate the 5 May 2014 date for the Banda Trial due to logistical issues.  The chamber will decide in due course on further steps to take no later than 6 May 2014.  (ICC).

Security Council condemns S. Sudan attacks; suggests “war crimes” committed:  The Security Council has voiced its outrage on the violence in South Sudan.  The UN Mission in South Sudan has encountered armed mobs and sustained numerous injuries in trying to keep its IDPs safe.  The Council has called on the Government of South Sudan to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of all civilians and UNMISS contingents.  (UN).

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15 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY rejects Mladic’s Rule 98bis application and find case to answer: On Tuesday, 15 April 2014, Trial Chamber I of the ICTY rejected Ratko Mladic’s 98 bis application for acquittal, a rule under the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence that allows the Tribunal to acquit a defendant after an oral hearing if there exists no evidence to support a conviction. Upon dismissing the application, the Chamber held that even if Mladic has a defense to all of the counts against him, there is evidence to support all of the charges against him. (ICTY).

Libyan trial of Ex-Gaddafi Officials postponed amid concerns of a fair trial: On Monday, 14 April 2014, the Libyan government opened and subsequently adjourned the trial against Muammar Gaddafi’s sons and his former officials, due to incomplete investigations; particularly the investigation of evidence against Saadi Gaddafi remains incomplete. The case will proceed on 27 April 2014, in order to allow the investigators more preparation time and to set up video links for the sons and officials who were not brought to the court for security reasons. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International continue to express that the defendants’ right to a fair trial have been violated. The groups are concerned that not all of the defendants have had access to lawyers; that the defense teams have been restricted in their ability to assess evidence and case files; that interrogation strategies and detention conditions have been unfair; that Libya recently amended its Code of Criminal procedure to allow trials through video links, meaning the defendants, all of whom are being held in prisons and one of whom is being held in a secret location by a militia, will not physically appear at their trials; and that the Libyan justice system is generally unstable, in part because previous attacks against lawyers and judges in Libya have resulted in the suspension of courts throughout parts of Libya. The defense lawyers raised concerns about insufficient access to the case files in court. The ICC is still deliberating on the admissibility of the cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, and a decision from the Appeals Chamber on whether the Libyan government is able to try them is still outstanding. (Reuters) (For more information on this topic, please click here, here, and here).

Ruto trial hears from satellite imagery expert and breaks for Easter: Lars Bromley, a UN specialist in satellite imagery, testified before the ICC in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Kenyan journalist Joshua Arap Sang, explaining that at least 506 buildings were deliberately burned down in the Rift Valley following the election, and that 190 more buildings were “possibly burnt.” He based his analysis on satellite images, the deliberate nature of the burnings being evident from burn patters. The defense disputed the expert’s testimony. The trial is currently on break for the Easter holiday, after which the prosecution will likely call a witness who was instrumental in the confirmation of charges against Ruto.  (Institute for War & Peace Reporting) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

Habre defense team says trial is politically motivated: The defense team of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre claims that the reasons behind his prosecution in Senegal were political and instigated by a Chadian spy agency. Habre, who is charged with having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture while he was in charge of Chad between 1982 and 1990, will stand trial in Senegal in 2015, where he was in exile for twelve years before being arrested last July. (Legalbrief Today).

ICTR Prosecutor asks for increased efforts to prosecute all suspects of 1994 crimes in Rwanda: In a commemoration address, Hassan Jallow, the chief prosecutor of the ICTR, asked for an increased effort to find and prosecute perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsis in 1994 who have not been tried, and that countries in which suspects of these crimes are located to transfer these alleged perpetrators to Rwanda in order to stand trial. He specifically mentioned Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, and Augustin Bizimana, all of whom are fugitives and suspected of having played significant roles in the genocide. (AllAfrica).

UN High Commissioner for HR expresses concerns for amnesties in Nepal: Following the Nepalese government’s drafting of a law that would create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on Disappeared Persons, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that this legislation would allow these two panels to recommend amnesties for human rights abuses that occurred in Nepal. The government denies the existence of amnesty possibilities in the legislation, saying that amnesty would only occur with the victims’ consent. (Reuters).

Amnesty claims CAH and war crimes escalating in Nigeria: Amnesty International issued a report stating that violence has increased in northeastern Nigeria due to a higher number of attacks by Boko Haram and responses by Nigerian security forces, which has resulted in the death of at least 1,500 people since the beginning of the year. According the group, these events may be war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the group urged other countries, the African Union, and the UN to launch investigations into these acts. Amnesty International has documented attacks carried out by both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces that occurred in January, February, and March 2014. (Amnesty International).

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14 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC brings al-Bashir complaint to UNSC:  The ICC has informed the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties about DRC’s noncooperation in the arrest and surrender of Omar Al Bashir.  The Chamber has referred the matter to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute with hopes that a decision on what measures should be taken will surface in the near future.  (ICC).

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to stand trial in Tripoli Monday:  Concerns remain over the guarantee of fair trials for Gaddafi-era officials in Libya.  HRW has reported that the inmates in Libyan prisons are not receiving their basic due process rights.  The ICC has the authority to command Libyan authorities to cooperate with the court but such pressure to turn Saif al-Islam Gaddafi over to the ICC has been ignored thus far.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)  (HRW/The Guardian).

ICTY anticipated 98bis decision in Mladic Case:  17 March 2014, the Defence team for Rato Mladic orally presented its motion pursuant to Rule 98bis.  The Prosecution responded on 18 March 2014.  The pronouncement of the Trial Chamber’s decision on the Rule 98bis motion for acquittal is scheduled for 15 April 2014.  (ICTY).

Hadzic Witness unclear on past testimony:  The final prosecution witness to testify against Goran Hadzic told judges last week that he could not confirm the accuracy of his earlier testimony.  The witness told the Hadzic defence team that he could remember the meetings in Serbia which he had previously testified about, in which he and Hadzic allegedly received detailed instructions from the authorities in Belgrade, as well as equipment and arms.  Hadzic’s defence case is scheduled to begin on June 24.  (IWPR).

HRW advocates war crimes court in Kosovo:  Kosovo’s parliament is expected approve the establishment of a special court located abroad to try alleged war crimes committed during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War.  It is also expected that the Parliament will agree to extend the mandate of EULEX with hopes of brining individual accountability to past crimes.   However, even if the special court is allowed to process, there are concerns that the weak state of Kosovo’s current justice system may inhibit its effectiveness.  (HRW).

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8 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Sri Lanka will not cooperate with UN Inquiry into war crimes: On 7 April 2014, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, the Sri Lankan foreign minister, announced that Sri Lanka will not be cooperating with the UN probe into war crimes, decided through a resolution last month. Citing concerns about the legality and fairness of the probe, as well as conflicts of interest of the Sri Lankan government, the foreign minister explained that the government will not support the investigation into the alleged crimes, which the government has officially denied. (Al Jazeera).

African Commission asked to intervene in death sentence of 529 Egyptians: The Freedom of Justice Party (FJP), together with lawyers for the 529 Egyptians who received death sentences on 24 March 2014 for opposing the 2013 military coup in Egypt, has asked the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to intervene in the sentences. Specifically, the FJP has urged the Commission to suspend the sentences, because the defendants’ death penalties violate the right to life and the right to a fair trial under the African Charter. (Middle East Monitor).

ECCC sets out foundation for second segment of Case 002: The ECCC determined the scope of the second segment of Case 002, against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who are facing—among others—charges of genocide, forced marriage, rape, and religious persecution. Though the 4 April 2014 severance order has not been made public, it adheres closely to requests made by the prosecutors; namely, that the charges to be addressed in this segment will serve as a representation, so that further segments will not need to be heard. The Chamber has decided not to include several crime sites the prosecution proposed, so as to maintain efficiency and manageability in the case. A trial date has not yet been announced. (The Phnom Penh Post).

Srebrenica survivors sue Dutch Government over peacekeepers failure to protect: The Mothers of Srebrenica, a group representing relatives of victims who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, have filed a civil suit against the Dutch government, for failing to protect civilians during the attack by Bosnian Serb forces. Dutch peacekeepers in the area had been unable to stop the forces, and withdrew. The group tried to bring a suit in 2007 against the UN, but Dutch courts refused to hear it on the basis that the UN has immunity, a decision with which the ECtHR agreed in 2013. The current was put on hold until the case against the UN had been decided, and hearings began on Monday, 7 April 2014. (Sky News).

ICC hears testimony of 15th Prosecution witness in Ruto case: On Saturday, 5 April 2014, the 15th witness for the prosecution in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto testified before the ICC that a chief of the Kimumu area had made many trips to Eldoret town in a pick-up truck before the houses of the Kikuyu were burned. The truck carried black drums, ordinarily used for transporting water and oil, and was used by the chief for several such trips before the raid. The witness, who said that demonstrations had been peaceful before these events, was brought to Eldoret town when the houses were razed. (The Star).

South Korea will not host UN field office to investigate CAH in North Korea: On Monday, 7 April 2014, a diplomatic source of Seoul announced that the city will not be hosting a field office in order to support the UN probe into crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the North Korean government against its citizens. Though the source emphasized the importance of this investigation, South Korea fears worsening its relationship with North Korea, which could impact humanitarian efforts such as family reunifications. (The Chosunilbo).

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11 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Dissenting opinion in Katanga Judgment alleges violations to accused’s rights: Following the ICC’s 7 March 2014 conviction of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga as an accessory on one count of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes, Judge Christine van den Wyngaert wrote a dissent, arguing that Katanga’s fair trial rights had been violated and that he should be acquitted. Katanga was initially charged as a principal perpetrator under Article 25(3)(a), but the Chamber re-characterized the mode of liability after both parties had rested their case to view him as an accessory under Article 25(3)(d), the timing of which is the basis for Judge van den Wyngaert’s dissent that the defense was given insufficient time to respond to and build a case against the re-characterized mode of liability. Specifically, she argued that the Chamber’s communication of the factual and legal basis for the re-characterization was insufficient for the defense to properly prepare for this change, and that the communication was not specific enough to effectively inform Katanga of the charges pending against him. She also doubted that the “facts and circumstances” of the changes were within the charges the Pre-Trial chamber had confirmed. The dissent also referred to bias on the part of the majority. (International Justice Monitor, Los Angeles Times) (For more information, please click here). 

UN investigation launched to probe HR abuses in CAR: On Monday, 10 March 2014, the UN launched an investigation of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, focusing specifically on reports of genocide in the area. The panel conducting the investigation consists of Bernard Acho Muna, a Cameroonian lawyer and former deputy chief prosecutor for the ICTR; Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister; and Fatimata M’Baye, a Mauritanian human rights lawyer. Muna expressed concern that Christian and Muslim hate propaganda will increase violence, but is hopeful that the investigations will serve to lessen conflict. The Security Council ordered the investigation in December 2013, instructing the panel to collect information and identify perpetrators for prosecution. (ABC News).

Ruto responds to Prosecution application on compulsory testimony of eight witnesses: In response to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s application for the Court to compel the appearance of eight witnesses in the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Ruto’s lawyers argued that the witnesses’ testimony is irrelevant. They maintained that hostile witnesses would be unable to contribute to the Prosecution’s case and questioned the credibility of the witnesses, referring to one witness’s emotional and behavioral difficulties and the incongruity between that witness’s account and the testimony of another witness. They also asserted that the Court cannot compel a witness to appear, but simply to speak once the witness has appeared voluntarily. Bensouda argues that the Court has the power to compel a witness to both appear and speak, and maintains that the witnesses have been bribed or influenced improperly. (Standard).

Serbia begins defense arguments before ICJ: On Monday, 10 March 2014, Serbia presented its rebuttal in the genocide case Croatia brought against Serbia before the ICJ. Serbia, which filed a counterclaim against Croatia for genocide committed by Croatians against Serbs, alleged that Serbs are victims of genocide and that they also suffered during the Balkan Wars. The Defense expressed regret for the crimes committed in Croatia, but emphasized that the violence was not one-sided. The arguments for the countersuit will be presented in the coming days. (in Serbia).

AU establishes commission to investigation HR abuses and crimes committed in South Sudan: Following the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the African Union established a commission last week to investigate human rights violations and crimes committed during this period. The inquiry body was created through the Peace and Security Council (PSC) decision, and its purpose is to investigate the conflict and make recommendations to ensure accountability and reconciliation. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will head the five-member panel. The conflict has lasted about 10 weeks, and it is estimated that 10,000 people have been killed and nearly one million displaced. (AllAfrica).

Thousands of Tamils in Geneva protest Sri Lankan rejection of international investigation: In response to the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to initiate an international probe into alleged war crimes, 4,000 Tamils gathered in Geneva on Monday, 10 March 2014 to protest the rejection. The protest took place around the UN headquarters, and was made during an annual session of the Human Rights Council, which will be asked later this month to evaluate an international draft resolution calling for a probe into the crimes committed against Tamils during the Sri Lankan Civil War. (Agence France-Presse).

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