Archive for category Witnesses

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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20 January 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURT

ICC Prosecution opens a preliminary examination in Palestine: On 16 January 2015, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination to examine the situation currently in Palestine. The preliminary examination has been opened based on the Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, which gives the ICC jurisdiction since 13 June 2014. The preliminary examination will allow the ICC to examine the information to see if there is a reasonable basis for a full investigation into Palestine. (International Criminal Court)

Fingerprints reveals that body found is not of ICC witness: Fingerprints revealed that the body found in a Kenyan river was not the body of missing ICC witness Meshack Yebei. The fingerprints taken off the body were those of Yusuf Hussein, but DNA tests will soon tell whom the body belongs to. Karim Khan, Deputy President William Ruto’s attorney, stated that Yebei was a witness in Ruto’s trial. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that Yebei was not included on the ICC’s witness list for due to a scheme to corrupt witnesses. (ABC News)

Stephen Rapp is stepping down as US Ambassador of War Crimes: Stephen J. Rapp has been the US Ambassador of war crimes for almost five and a half years during the Obama administration. Rapp is stepping down from his position, though it has not been formally announced. Rapp joined the administration in 2009 with a reputation for holding people responsible for war crimes. Rapp started out his career as a victim of a kidnapping and led on to be a federal prosecutor in Iowa, a United Nations prosecutor for Rwanda and Sierra Leone. University of Michigan professor, Steven Ratner, stated that Rapp improved US relations with the ICC, but has had little success in getting American intelligence agencies to share information about human rights abuses abroad. It is unclear how soon Rapp will be stepping down from his position and who will replace him. (Foreign Policy)

Amnesty says Boko Haram attack of Baga should be investigated for CAH and WCs: Amnesty International released satellite images of attacks by Boko Haram militants on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga. The released images contain before and after pictures that show the amount of damage done to the towns. Over 3,700 structures were damaged or demolished in the attacks. These images also corroborate testimonies gathered by Amnesty International on the attacks. Amnesty International stated that killing of civilians and destruction of property are war crimes and crimes against humanity that should be investigated. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, also labeled the attack as a crime against humanity. (Amnesty International, NDTV) (for additional information please click here)

ECCC accused concerned by stand-by counsel: Judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal ordered stand-by counsel for Khieu Samphan for trial due to the boycott of proceedings by current counsel. During a hearing on 8 January, Samphan’s defense team claimed that the court was putting pressure on their client. Shortly afterwards, Samphan was rushed to the hospital with dizziness and high blood pressure. An attorney for Khieu Samphan stated in an email that the presence of stand=by counsel made Samphan anxious and could have contributed to going to the hospital. (Cambodia Daily)

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13 January 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

DNA test requested for murdered ICC witness: Deputy President William Ruto’s attorney, Karim Khan, requested a DNA test of Meshack Yebei. Yebei was a potential witness in the trial against President Ruto and was found dead in western Kenya in early January. President Ruto was charged with crimes against humanity during the post election violence in Kenya. Yebei’s family consented to the DNA test and stated that Yebei never mentioned he was an ICC witness. Prosecutors stated that they had not been planning to call Yebei as a witness during trial due to his implication of trying to corrupt witnesses. Khan stated in a letter to the head of Kenya’s Criminal Investigation Department that Yebei had been a key witness for trial. Yebei had even been referred to the ICC’s Victims and Witness Unit for protection. Prosecutors stated that any suggestion that they were involved in Yebei’s abduction and murder was “outrageous and utterly false.” (BBC News, AllAfrica) (for additional information please click here)

Government says it wants to try Ongwen in Uganda: The government of Uganda stated that it wanted to try Lord’s Resistance Army rebel commander Dominic Ongwen. Ongwen recently surrendered and is in U.S. custody in Central African Republic. Ongwen is also wanted by the ICC. Uganda State Minister for Regional Cooperation Asuman Kiyingi stated that they would rather try him in Uganda than in the ICC because they have the capacity. A decision regarding whether Uganda gets to try Ongwen will be reached after consultations with the African Union, Uganda, United States, and United Nations. (NY Times)

Libyan trial of Saif Gaddafi and Al-Senussi delayed again: The trial of Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and 36 other senior officials, including former security chief Abdullah Senussi, has been postponed once again. On 11 January 2015, trial opened and was subsequently adjourned until 25 January. This case opened in 2012 and has seen many setbacks. Those that stand accused could face the death penalty for “genocide, killing of unarmed civilians, abuses of power, human rights abuses, employing mercenaries and encouraging rape as a weapon of war.” The ICC indicted both Gaddafi and Senussi. After proceedings on Libya’s admissibility challenge, the ICC ordered the surrender of Gaddafi to the ICC. Libya has failed to comply with this order. (Libya Herald)

US Senators condemn Palestinian decision to join the ICC: Senators Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez, Chuck Schumer, and Mark Kirk threatened Palestine over their decision to join the ICC. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join the ICC following a rejection on Palestine’s proposal for statehood by the United Nations Security Council. On 1 January Palestine submitted an Article 12(3) declaration that gives the ICC jurisdiction since 13 June 2014. Palestine also submitted documents to accede to the Rome Statute on 7 January. Senators issued a warning to Palestine stating “that if the Palestinians initiate an ICC judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, all economic assistance to the PA” would end. (Press TV, International Criminal Court) (for additional information please click here)

UN report on crimes in CAR finds evidence of CAH and WC, but no genocidal intent: A UN report released last Thursday concluded that the events that conspired in the Central African Republic by the Seleka coalition and the anti-balaka did amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The commission of inquiry of the United Nations Security Council did not find any genocidal intent, but considered the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population as a crime against humanity. (Tamil Guardian)

UN report on S. Sudan killings finds evidence sufficient for further investigations and prosecution: The United Nations stated that offenders of the ethnic massacres in Bentiu and Bor last April could be prosecuted based on extensive investigations into the matter. Offenders included members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition. The investigation comprised of site visits by human researchers and 142 interviews. (Radio Tamazuj)

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5 December 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor withdraws charges against Kenyan President Kenyatta: Prosecutors at the ICC dropped the charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for crimes against humanity. Kenyatta was indicted for inciting post-election violence in 2007. The charges were dropped after the ICC gave prosecutors a one-week deadline to submit evidence against Kenyatta or to drop the charges. Prosecutors had asked for more time to build its case on more than one occasion, claiming witnesses had been bribed or intimidated. The ICC gave this one-week ultimatum stating that any further delays would be “contrary to the interest of justice.” (BBC) (for additional information please click here)

Former UNAMID spokesperson asks Bensouda to push UNSC for Sudan inquiry: Aicha Elbasri, former United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur spokesperson, asked prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, to look into an alleged cover-up by UN peacekeepers in Sudan. Elbasri pushed Bensouda to ask the United Nations Security Council to look further into these matters. Elbasri’s letter stated that the UN peacekeepers assigned to investigate the claims of manipulating the truth about Darfur were part of “an internal, partial, biased and secretive process.” Elbasri stepped down as spokesperson in April 2013 with claims that she had been prevented from informing the public about the events occurring in Darfur. (Sudan Tribune)

ECCC Prosecution appeals judges’ decision not to consider foreseeable crimes: The Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal refused ECCC prosecutor’s claims against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan in crimes that the two did not directly order or oversee. The prosecutors are now appealing that decision stating that the defendants should be held accountable for crimes that were reasonably foreseeable. Chea and Samphan both are already facing life sentences for crimes against humanity and are appealing those decisions. William Smith, international deputy co-prosecutor, stated that the Trial Chamber should be able to consider crimes such as rape that were foreseeable from actions of the accused. (Cambodia Daily)

Seselj rejects return to ICTY detention after provisional release: Earlier this week, the prosecution filed a motion to send nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj back to ICTY detention. Seselj was accused with Serbian war crimes, but was provisionally released to seek treatment for cancer. Seselj vowed that he would not return to the Tribunal. Chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, stated that despite Seselj’s health condition, Seselj has still made many comments that insult victim communities. Brammertz also stated that these comments called into question the trial chamber’s assessment of Seselj’s condition for provisional release. (Journal of Turkish Weekly)

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24 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ECCC boycott results in trial adjournment until January 2015: The genocide trial for Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, two ex-Khmer Rouge leaders, has been adjourned until 8 January 2015. Khieu Samphan’s defence attorneys continued to boycott the proceedings for the defendant. Both defendants wanted more time to file appeal documents on their life sentences for crimes against humanity in a previous trial in August. Judge Nil Nonn stated that the court did not have any other alternative, but would pursue misconduct proceedings against the attorneys. (eNews Channel Africa)

 Activist calls for UNSC attention to alleged rapes in Darfur: Ahmed Hussein Adam, researcher at Cornell University, calls to the UN Security Council to probe into the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur and protect civilians. Hussein Adam urged the Security Council to inquire into the mass rape of women in Tabit. He expressed disappointment by victims and their families in the Security Council’s decision for the Sudanese government to conduct investigations. Hussein Adam does not think that Sudan should investigate itself and called for the ICC to investigate, as well as add more charges. (Radio Dabanga)

ICC Prosecution Witness testifies about treatment in witness protection: An ICC prosecution witness, referred to as Witness 800, states how he considered recanting his statement for the prosecution in a trial due to the treatment by protection officers. An individual, referred to as person 19, told him about an offer from another individual, referred to as person 7. Witness 800 considered taking the offer because the amount of money his family received was not enough to support them. This is not the first instance of witness interference in the trial against Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang who both face three counts of crimes against humanity. (AllAfrica)

HRW says Israeli’s demolition of Palestinian homes could be war crime: On 22 November 2014, Human Rights Watch called upon Israel to stop its practice of demolishing Palestine terrorists’ homes. The NGO states that this practice unlawfully punishes those who did not commit terrorist acts and could constitute as a war crime. Three current houses have been slated for demolition, but the families have appealed. Mohammed Mahmud, the families’ lawyer, stated that their petition would be heard by an Israeli military court on Sunday. (Israel National News)

Nizami appeal filed and Mobarak verdict expected at ICT Bangladesh: Mobarak Hossain, alleged Razakar commander, has his verdict coming out on Monday for his trial. Mobarak stands accused of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War. The prosecution sought the death penalty at the end of trial in May. Motiur Rahman Nizami, Jamaat chief, has appealed his verdict from the ICT to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Nizami was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. Nizami is seeking acquittal from all war crimes charges. (Dhaka Tribune) (for additional information click here)

ICC conduct official visit to Bulgaria: Prosecutor General of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr Sotir Tsatsarov, invited ICC officials for an official visit to Bulgaria to meet with high-level Bulgarian representatives. ICC officials included President of the ICC, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, and ICC Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova. Bulgarian officials repeated Bulgaria’s commitment to the ICC and international criminal justice. (International Criminal Court)

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