Category Archives: Guantanamo

10 August 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Kosovo passes laws to establish war crimes tribunal: Kosovo lawmakers have approved a law to set up a special war crimes court to assist with filing indictments against top wartime leaders and current politicians. The overnight vote, with 73-1 in favor of the law, was the last step necessary before creating the legal body. The tribunal will have international judges and prosecutors try ethnic Albanian guerrillas for the alleged killing of civilian detainees, mostly Serbs, immediately after the war ended in 1999. Once the court is created, indictments can be filed and court proceedings held in a European country, most likely the Netherlands, to avoid witness intimidation and ensure a credible judicial process. On 28 June 2015, the Kosovo parliament voted against establishing the special court; on 31 July, the Kosovo government asked the parliament to reconsider its rejection of an ad hoc court; and on 4 August 2015, Kosovo’s Parliament, with a 120-seat legislature voted in favor of a constitutional amendment setting up the special court. The assembly then passed the law to establish the court. (12 News)


Inter-American Court of HR releases report on Guantanamo Bay:  

Guantanamo Bay. Photo: Aslan Media via Flickr (CC).

Guantanamo Bay. Photo: Aslan Media via Flickr (CC).

In a new report on the U.S.’s Guantanamo Bay policy, the Organization of American States human-rights commission accused the Obama administration of dragging its feet in closing the detainee facility. The 137-page report was published this week by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and included recommendations regarding the operation and eventual closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The report was published days after the administration missed its own target to present Congress with a new plan to shutter the prison. White House officials now say they do not expect to finish the plan before lawmakers return in September from an August recess. Commission member Felipe González, a Chilean law professor, said that individuals cannot be detained charge or trial indefinitely under the pretext of public security reasons. State Department spokesman Ian Moss said the administration is “taking all possible steps to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo and to close the detention facility in a responsible manner that protects our national security.” The Inter-American Commission was the first international entity to review Guantanamo’s status after attorneys representing detainees filed a complaint with the panel shortly after the U.S. opened the prison in January 2002. Of 116 current inmates at Guantanamo Bay, 5 have been cleared for transfer; but their repatriation or resettlement has been delayed, in most cases for years, because of political or diplomatic issues.


ICC Appeals Chamber to decide on non-cooperation of Kenya in Kenyatta case: On 19 August 2015, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will decide whether t he Assembly of State Parties should take action against Kenya for alleged non-cooperation in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The judgment will be made in public at 10:00am, The Hague time. Presiding Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi stated, on Friday in an announcement, that “The Trial Chamber was not persuaded that a referral would facilitate a fair trial, was in the interest of justice, or was otherwise appropriate in the particular circumstance. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had requested the court’s Appeals Chamber to overturn Trial Chamber’s decision not to take Kenya before the Assembly of State Parties. The Trial Chamber’s decision was made on 3 December 2014, although the judges expressed strong concerns in regards to the government’s approach in assisting the prosecution. (All Africa)


Sri Lankan Tamil leader write High Commissioner for HR asking for international probe: Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), M K Shivajilingam, is contesting against ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa in the upcoming parliamentary polls has asked the UNHCR for an international probe into alleged war crimes during the conflict with the LTTE. In his letter, addressed to UNHCR chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Shivajilingam said that the UN’s failure to protect Tamils in 2009 was dubbed a “systematic failure” in its own report in November 2012, which was released by the head of the UN Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel on UN Action in Sri Lanka by the head of the Panel Charles Petrie. Shivajilingam is a relative of slain LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran and was a parliamentarian between 2001 and 2004 from the north who is now running a team of independents from the north western district of Kurunegala. Hussein is scheduled to release a report investigating the war crimes at the UNHRC in Geneva next month. The UNHCR adopted a resolution in 2014 advocating an international investigation into the possible warcrimes by Sri Lankan forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels in the final stages of the 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. The previous Rajapaksa government did not collaborate with the international investigation, calling it an attack on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. (Colombo Gazette, Economic Times) (For additional information please click here)


ICC Victims representative asks for ICC Prosecution to keep investigation against Kenyatta open: In the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, counsel for victims has asked judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) not to allow the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to abandon her “active” investigation, despite the fact that the charges against Mr. Kenyatta have been withdrawn. In a filing on 6 August 2015, Fergal Gaynor, counsel for some 20,000 victims of the violence, urged the pre-trial judges not to confirm the prosecutor’s decision until they were satisfied the decision was made in compliance with her legal obligation to carry out a “prompt, thorough, and effective” investigation and prosecution. Victims claim the prosecution “failed to ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of the crimes committed against them”. In terms of more specific failings, the filing alleges that the prosecution failed to make effective use of Article 87 (7) of the Rome Statute, under which the ICC was set up, to counter state non-co-operation. The Kenyan government has always rejected this charge. Mr. Kenyatta was facing five counts of crimes against humanity from post-election violence at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008, and US President Barack Obama made a three-day trip to Kenya in July 2015, six months after the case collapsed due to lack of evidence. The prosecutor alleged that the investigation had run into the sand because the Kenyan government refused to co-operate. (Irish Times)



ECCC witness testifies that Samphan present at airport worksite: 

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Photo: ECCC via Flickr (CC).

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Photo: ECCC via Flickr (CC).

The final witness concerning the Kampong Chhnang airport website, Khin Vat, gave her testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, yesterday 29 July 2015. Vat, sitting before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, confirmed that Case 002/02 defendant Khieu Samphan was known as a member of the regime’s upper echelon to her unit chiefs, surveyed the airbase along with general Ta Mok. Vat, age 65, worked as a part of Division 502’s women’s unit when she was told that senior leaders of the Communist Party of Kampuchea were inspecting the airfield — then known as one of the largest forced labour sites during the Democratic Kampuchea era. On 15 September 2010, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan (along with leng Sary and leng Thirith) were indicted on charges against humanity, genocide and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 in what is referred as case 002 before the ECCC. As leng Thirith was found unfit to stand trial and leng Sary died on 14 March 2013, the two remaining defendants in Case 002 are Samphan and Chea. In September 2011, the Trial Chamber decided to sever the charges in the Case 002 Closing Order into a series of small trials with the first being Case 002/01 and the second being Case 002/02. Nuon and Samphan were found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment on 7 August 2014 in Case 002/01. (Phnom Penh Post)

Amnesty releases report says ‘strong evidence’ of war crimes during “Black Friday” offensive:  Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International said in a statement that, “there is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives.” In a report released on Wednesday 29 July 2015, Amnesty International said that at least 135 civilians, including 75 children, were killed by the Israeli military in the southern Gaza border town of Rafah in the first week of August last year. Amnesty International analyzed hundreds of videos, photos and satellite images and interviewed many eyewitnesses of the “Black Friday” in Rafah. The war in the Gaza Strip began on 8 July 2015 and lasted for 50 days; killing over 2,200 Palestinians, including 1,400 civilians and on the Israeli side 67 soldiers and 7 civilians died in rocket fire form the enclave. The conflict ended in a truce. (IB Times, BBC) (For additional information please click here)

Ukraine says MH17 Tribunal best method of accountability after Russian veto: On Wednesday, 29 July 2015, Russia struck down a draft resolution intended to establish an international tribunal to try those responsible for the crash of the MH17 last year. On 30 July 2015, Ukrainian envoy said that an ad hoc criminal international tribunal to try those responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 would be the most simple and effective solution to bring the perpetrators to justice. Ukraine ambassador to Malaysia, Ihor V. Humennyi, said establishing the tribunal is important to move forward after the Dutch-led team completed its investigation in October 2014. Humennyi said that as an independent body, such a tribunal could avoid political pressure from any country, thus ensuring a fair result for all affected by the tragedy. Hummennyi also asserted that Ukraine would continue to support Malaysia to pursue accountability for the perpetrators and to ensure justice for all innocent victims on board MH17 last year. (The Malaysian Insider)

Kosovo to call another vote on War Crimes court: The Kosovo government announced on Thursday 30 July 2015 that it will call another vote on setting up a special war crimes court to try former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas. The initiative failed to gain approval in parliament last month because of opposition from many MPs. The government will meet tomorrow 31 July 2015 and reinitiate the process, which requires parliament to approve constitutional amendments to allow the court to be established. The move signified there is a greater majority now to pass the amendments. Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci failed to persuade a number of MPs from his Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) to vote for the court. MPs from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, who opposed the KLA and its actions in the 90s, have voted strongly in favor of the court. US diplomats have warned that a failure to vote for the court could lead it to being set up by the UN Security Council – as has been proposed by Russia. The so called ‘specialised chambers’ will be created at each level of the Kosovo judiciary to deal with allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army fighters were involved in the killings, abductions, illegal detentions and persecutions of Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians believed to be collaborators with the Serbian regime. (Balkan Transitional Justice)

Guantanamo war crimes trial further delayed:  Accused war criminal Abd al Hadi al Iraqi’s July commission hearings in the Guantanamo Navy Base, Cuba, halted abruptly this week after the defendant decided he did not trust his assigned Pentagon Lawyers.  Hadi’s change of heart stemmed from a revelation in court that his original lawyer, Marine Lt. Col. Sean Gleason, was never properly released from representing Hadi. Gleason also represents Sept. 11 defendant, Mustafa al Hawsawi, meaning that on paper he is representing two men in the military commissions. In addition to representing both men, Col. Thomas Jasper said in court that a part of the evidence being used against Hadi was a conversation between Gleason’s two defendants while they were in the Guantanamo detention camps. Hadi said he never approved of Gleason being taken off of his case, stating “I was insisting that he stay with me.” The hearings were planned for 20-31 July 2015, but were delayed two days. According to the defense, the prosecution turned over new discovery only two hours before the first scheduled session, forcing the delay. Hadi faces charges of a host of war crimes and is allegedly responsible for the deaths of at least eight military services members, punishable by life in prison. (UPI)


International judge at ECCC resigns: Mark Harmon, an ECCC international judge, resigned from the Extraordinary Chambers for personal reasons yesterday, Tuesday, 7 July 2015.  Harmon, from the United States, recently issued an arrest warrant for Meas Muth, a former navy chief who allegedly ordered detainees to be sent to torture centers, which Cambodian police have failed to comply with.  He is the fourth judge to resign from the ECCC. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (iol news, Business Insider).

ICTY rejects Prosecution motion to resume case against Hadzic: On Monday, 6 July 2015, the ICTY Trial Chamber denied the prosecution’s motion to promptly resume the case against former Republic of Serb Krajina president Goran Hadzic.  Hadzic’s trial has been delayed since October 2014 due to the former’s president deteriorating health.  The prosecutor requested the trial be completed with defense witnesses testifying through depositions.  The ICTY Trial Chamber held this would be a violation of Hadzic’s rights.  (InSerbia).


Rios Montt trial in Guatemala City, Guatemala. May 9, 2013. Photo: coolloud via Flickr (CC).

Rios Montt trial in Guatemala City, Guatemala. May 9, 2013. Photo: coolloud via Flickr (CC).

Guatemala’s former President Rios Montt unfit to stand retrial for CAH: On 1 July 2015, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences found Jose Efrain Rios Montt is mentally incapable of standing trial for crimes against humanity. Specifically, Rios Montt has been found incapable of understanding the charges against him and of participating in his defense.  Rios Montt, the former Guatemalan president who ruled briefly during the 1980s, was previously found guilty of ordering mass killings but his conviction was overturned by Guatemala’s constitutional court.  A three-judge panel must now decide whether his new trial, expected to begin 23 July 2015, will proceed. (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here) (BBC, Global News, BBC).


Ivory Coast charges 20 with post-election war crimes: On 8 July 2015, it was reported that Ivory Coast charged 20 ex-rebels with war crimes.  The ex-rebels, including two senior commanders, allegedly were involved in the 2010-2011 violence after ex-leader Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in the presidential elections.  Gbagbo currently faces charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC for his role in the post-election violence. The 20 ex-rebels backed Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara, who is considered a clear favorite in the upcoming October 2015 presidential elections. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (BBC, EuroNews).


Bosnian living in US extradited to Bosnia on war crimes charges: On Tuesday, 7 July 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Almaz Nezirovic was extradited last week to Bosnia on war crimes charges.  Nezirovic, a former Bosnian prison camp guard, is accused of torturing unarmed civilian prisoners during the 1992 Bosnian civil war. An arrest warrant was issued for Nezirovic in 2003 by a judge in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Earlier this year, a federal appeals court rejected Nezirovic’s argument that his extradition was barred due to the political nature of his actions. The appeals court held “the torture of civilians is not a political exercise.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here) (Fox News, Washington Times, ABC News).

Post by: Anna Mumford


22 October 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Appeals Chamber to announce judgment on Ruto’s presence at trial: On Tuesday, 22 October 2013, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC announced that on Friday, 25 October 2013, it will deliver its judgment on Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s appeal against the Trial Chamber, which had granted Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto conditional excusal from being physically present at his trial. The Appeals Chamber will decide whether he must attend the entirety of his hearing, instead of limited sessions. On Friday, 18 October 2013 the Trial Chamber granted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s request to be excused from being present at his trial, but he must attend the opening and closing statements of all parties, hearings of victims, the delivery of judgment in his case, and if he is found guilty, sentencing hearings, the delivery of sentencing, the entirety of victim impact hearings, and reparation hearings. He was excused from being present at the other sessions to accommodate his presidential duties. Bensouda is currently trying to decide whether in addition to Ruto’s case, she should appeal the Trial Chamber’s decision regarding Kenyatta. (ICC-CPI, The Star). (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here).

Fourth witness in Ruto trial disowns testimony: The fourth witness in the trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto disowned part of the testimony presented by the prosecution, which linked Ruto to the term “madoadoa”; a blot in the voting pattern. The witness denied having been at 64 Stadium in Eldoret during the 2007 election campaigns, even though the prosecution maintained that the witness had previously told them that he had attended the rally. The witness also denied having heard Ruto refer to Kikuyus as “madoadoa” in the context of three-piece voting for the Orange Democratic Movement. Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said that any evidence given by the prosecution that conflicts with the witness’s statements would not be accepted by the court. (Capital FM).

Amnesty International says U.S. drone strikes could be war crimes: After investigating nine missile attacks that recently took place in Pakistan, Amnesty International issued a report that the secret drone campaign the CIA undertook against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may constitute war crimes, and that the US officials who conducted the attack should be tried for these attacks. The report was issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch concerning six missile attacks in Yemen, which the group believes may violate international human rights law, the laws of armed conflict, and Barack Obama’s guidelines concerning the use of drones. Both groups have focused their investigations on civilian deaths. (The Guardian).

ICC announces new investigation strategy: The ICC’s 122 member states received guidelines last week concerning a new investigation strategy soon to be adopted by the ICC. Experts say that the new strategy will improve evidence gathering, and although details about the guidelines have not been released, they will aid the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in bringing cases. For example, prosecutors will be able to ensure that cases are ready at an earlier stage in ICC proceedings and that court investigators can corroborate evidence collected by third parties, both of which have been challenges prosecutors have faced in the past. Judges at the ICC have previously criticized the OTP and the ways in which evidence was collected and investigations conducted, which this new strategy is meant to rectify. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).

Guantánamo prosecutor agrees al-Qaida suspect should be tried in federal court: The chief war crimes prosecutor of the Guantánamo Bay Navy Base said on Monday, 21 October 2013 that he agrees with the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute Abu Anas al Libi in a federal court as opposed to a military commission. Libi is an alleged al-Qaida conspirator accused of participating in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed 224 people. Libi was detained by U.S. forces on 5 October 2013 in Tripoli, Libya, interrogated on a war ship, and brought to a New York court; he was not brought to Guantánamo. (Miami Herald).

Russian MFA to terminate Mladic’s ICTY trial: The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that it is working towards the early termination of General Ratko Mladic’s trial before the ICTY. Opposition to the trial led to the formation of the Public Committee for the Protection of Mladic six months ago, which views the work of the Tribunal as violating international law, because the judge presiding over the case is Dutch, and a Dutch battalion was present in Srebrenica, which the group believes would create impartiality. Mladic is accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in the blockade of Sarajevo, where 10,000 people died, and an incident in Srebrenica, where between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosnians were killed. (InSerbia).



UN HR team scheduled to visit North Korea: On 5July 2013, it was announced that a team of UN human rights investigators will be holding a set of meetings with North Korean exiles to discuss alleged human rights abuses.  The DPRK is concerned about the impartiality of the meetings and will likely ignore any UN recommendations.  The major concerns surrounding the DPRK involve kidnappings of foreign nationals, torture and a alleged gulag system said to be holding over 200,000 prisoners.

US looks to expedite 9/11 war crimes trials:  The US military judge presiding over the September 11 war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo Bay is being urged to move the case along.  Prosecutors have asked Army Col. James Pohl to set a Sept. 22, 2014, trial date, establish deadlines for pretrial motions and hold month long hearings to resolve preliminary matters that must be addressed before the death penalty case against five Guantanamo prisoners can be heard by a jury of military officers at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Charges hearing for Yusuf set for mid-July: On 4 July 2013, the ICT set a hearing for 14 July 2013, for the hearing for the charge of framing against war crimes suspects and alleged founder of the Razakar force AKM Yusuf.  The prosecution submitted formal charges against Yusuf, a senior nayeb-e-ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, on May 8. The prosecution brought 15 charges against the 84-year-old including genocide, murder, looting and arson.

Commissioner Pillay seeks HR assurances for Egyptians:  On 5 July 2013, it was reported that Commissioner Pillay urged all parties in Egypt to ensure calm and the protection of human rights during this “delicate” period, stressing the need for dialogue to peacefully re-establish the rule of law and civilian authority.  She also reaffirmed OHCHR’s readiness to assist the Egyptian people in the transitional process and in particular in efforts by future administrations to promote a society based on principles of democracy and social justice, guided by internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.

13 February 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Libya appeals ICC’s request for al-Senussi to be handed over: On 12 February 2013, the Libyan government appealed the ICC’s order that Abdulla al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s spy chief, was to be handed over to the international court. The ICC has said that Libya must extradite Senussi to The Hague where he would face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to 2011 Libyan uprising. Libya’s liaison to the ICC, Ahmed el-Jhani, stated that this is appeal is a sign that Libya wants to be a part of the international community—in the past they would have simply ignored the ICC. Libya hopes to try Senussi and other powerful actors in Gaddafi’s loyalists at home to show the Libyan people that justice is being served. Libya has become a test case for the ICC, which relies on the cooperation of member states to arrest suspects and enforce court orders.

ICTY trial of two Bosnian Serb leaders to continue next week: On 10 February 2013, the ICTY announced that the trials of Radovan Karadzic, former Republika Srpska president, and Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb army commander, will continue next week.  Karadzic’s genocide case will resume with the examination of eight defense witnesses. One of Kardzic’s witnesses is General Radislav Krstic, who was sentenced by the ICTY to 35-years for aiding and abetting genocide, however Krstic has refused to answer questions thus far, citing to poor health.  Mladic’s trial, dealing with war crimes, will resume with the prosecution calling four witnesses—ranging from an explosives specialist to a hospital director.

Cambodian Court overturns severance of case:  On 8 February 2013, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) ruled that the Trial Chamber’s severance of Case 002 had been improper. The Co-Prosecutors had made a motion, which the Trial Chamber rejected, to expand the scope of trial in Case 002. The Co-Prosecutors successfully appealed the Trial Chamber’s decision. The Supreme Court’s decision is limited to the severance of Case 002, all other hearings and proceedings of the case are not affected.

ICC confirmation of charges hearing schedule for former Cote d’Ivoire president: On 12 February 2012, the ICC scheduled the confirmation of charges hearing for former president of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbago. Gbago’s hearing schedule for 19 February will determine if there is sufficient evidence to charge Gbago with crimes against humanity in relation to 2010 post-election violence. Gbago’s defense lawyers argue that the ICC does not have jurisdiction because Cote d’Ivoire is not a party to the Rome Statute; yet the ICC ruled that there is no “temporal limitation” to when Cote d’Ivoire accepted ICC jurisdiction in 2003. The hearing will be the first time a former head of state has stood before the ICC.

Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunal changes defenses’ sound system: On 12 February 2012, the Guantanamo Bay tribunal official in charge of the sound system announced that the courts microphones have been changed to address concerns of defense lawyers that private conversations are being monitored. The defense attorneys believe that the government has been overhearing private conversations with their clients, who are charged with aiding and abetting the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The defense microphones will no longer be live unless they are manually activated.

Bangladesh passes law allowing for swift execution of convicted war criminals: On 11 February 2013, the Bangladesh cabinet approved a new law which would make the execution of persons convicted of war crimes in relation to the 1971 independence war would be swiftly conducted.  The law is in response to recent protests over the International Criminal Tribunal of Bangladesh handing down a life sentence to a leader of the 1971 atrocities, Abdul Quader Molla—the protesters thought Molla deserved death. The law will give defense lawyers only 45 days to appeal war crime convictions—or 60 days if 45 days is impossible. The law will likely be passed by the parliament in the next few days.

Concerns over witnesses disappearing and being tampered with in Kenya: On 8 February 2013, claims of potential witnesses in the upcoming Kenya ICC trials disappearing have been aired.  Dozens of women have claimed that their husbands, who were involved in Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007-2008, are missing. None of the alleged disappearances have been proven in court, but a lawyer for some of the wives claims that the signs point to extra judicial killings. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is concerned with “attempts to interfere with the witnesses.” The lawyer for Uhuru Kenyatta, a presidential candidate accused of crimes against humanity, has called for his client’s trial to be postponed due to a key witness against Kenyatta recanting his story. Kenyatta’s trial is set to begin in April, a month after Kenya’s elections.

United Kingdom donates £500,000 to ICC Trust Fund for Victims: On 12 February 2013, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the UK would contribute £500,000 to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. The purpose of the Trust Fund is to support the victims of sexual and gender based violence during armed conflicts. Reparations can be made to victims by court order or general assistance. The Trust Fund was established under Article 79 of the Rome Statute, which formed the ICC.

22 October 2012 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Security Council holds Debate over ICC’s role:  On 17 October 2012, the UN Security Council held a debate on the role of the ICC in international peacekeeping.  This debate marked the first time that a discussion about the ICC involved all of the UN’s member countries.  One contentious topic was the referral power of the Security Council; that body’s power to refer a situation in any country to the ICC’s chief prosecutor if it is determined that the situation amounts to a threat to international peace and security.  Some accuse the Security council of exercising this power selectively in light of the infrequency of referrals.  Another issue discussed was the difficulty in getting some countries to cooperate with the ICC’s orders (for more information on this topic, click here).

Security Council to sanction M23: On 19 October 2012, the UN Security Council announced it will impose sanctions on the M23 rebel movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo for violating the country’s arms embargo.  The council’s official statement condemned the group for several alleged offences, such as large-scale use of child soldiers, summary executions, and attempts to establish a parallel DRC government.  The announcement came at the end of a week in which violence between the M23 and the Congolese army resumed after several weeks of peace.  Additionally, on Tuesday, a UN expert report claiming Uganda and Rwanda are supplying arms to the rebels was leaked, just after Rwanda won a 2-year position on the Security Council.

Tanzania calls for moving Arusha detainees: Last week, the Tanzanian ambassador to the UN asked that all member states consider requests to receive into their countries defendants who have served their sentences or been acquitted in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  5 defendants whose acquittals were confirmed on appeal are still housed in Arusha, as are 2 convicts whose sentences have run their course.  These people, stated the ambassador, have a right to rejoin their families and move on with their lives, but some have remained in Arusha for as long as 6 years.  The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in June making a similar request to the ambassador’s.

Tribunal to investigate Iran prison killings: This month, An independent tribunal in the Hague is set to continue its investigation into roughly 20,000 killings that allegedly took place in Iranian prisons in the 1980’s.  The first round of hearings for the tribunal happened this summer in London, where 75 witnesses testified to the atrocities of the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini.  The killings, says Amnesty International, were often of teenagers and people with left-leaning political views.  The ICC has never looked into these alleged abuses.  This independent tribunal is modeled after one created by Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre in the 1960’s that investigated America’s Vietnam war record.

Bemba defense resumes: After 3 weeks of delays, the trial of former DRC Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba restarted.  Two defense witnesses, close colleagues of  former Central African Republic President Ange-Félix Patassé, took the stand.  Both reiterated Bemba’s main defense claim, that his troops were not under his control when they allegedly committed war crimes during the CAR’s 2003 armed conflict.  The witnesses pointed to three of Patassé’s high-ranking army officials as the true commanders of the DRC troops at the time.  Both witnesses testified with their images and voices distorted, and mostly in sessions not open to the public.

9/11 defense lawyers call for televised trial: On 19 September 2012, the legal defense team of 5 prisoners held at America’s Guantanamo Bay prison asked that their clients’ trials for orchestrating and aiding the attacks that took place in the U.S. on 9 September 2001  be televised.  The judge in the military tribunal was uneasy about the idea and noted that the U.S. Secretary of Defense was the only person with the authority to grant the request.  The defense noted several concerns about the fairness of the proceedings in support of their request.  Currently, the trials may be viewed by the public from a theater at an American military base in Maryland, and several other locations are available for families of the terrorist attack’s victims.

Bensouda investigating Kenyan violence: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began her visit to Kenya today, 22  October 2012.  She is in the country to interview victims in several of the areas where post-election violence took place in 2008.  The visit is part of the court’s preparation for the crimes against humanity trials of four Kenyans scheduled for next April.  The Kenyan government has stated it will welcome and assist Ms. Bensouda during her visit.

18 October 2012 — NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC requests more support from UN Security Council, General Assembly: On Wednesday, International Criminal Court President Judge Sang-Hyun Song signaled the ICC’s need for stronger support from the UN Security Council and General Assembly. Citing problems the Court has had with obtaining nations’ compliance with investigations in Darfur and Libya, Judge Song re-iterated that the ICC’s ability to handle international situations is dependent on cooperation from the international community. In particular, Judge Song stressed the need for cooperation from all countries—whether or not they are parties to the Court— so that the Court can effectively investigate situations, collect evidence, arrest and trace aspects of suspects. The Court also specifically requested that in any of its referrals of criminal matters to the Court, the Security Council stress to the relevant countries the obligation and need for total cooperation (the ICC can only pursue cases in nonmember states by referral from the UN Security Council). For more information, please click here.

Karadzic denies wrongdoing during Bosnian War: On 16 October 2012, as the Karadzic defense team began its case, former Serbian military commander Radovan Karadzic forcefully denied the allegations levied against him. Karadzic faces 10 counts at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity stemming from his alleged role in the Srebrenica massacre in which 7,000 Bosnian Muslim males were killed, as well as from his alleged role in orchestrating a 44-month shelling of Sarajevo in which 12,000 civilians were killed. Contrary to the picture painted by the Prosecution, Karadzic characterized his role in the conflict as one of a peacekeeper, who tried to reduce the causalities caused by the war. In particular, Karadzic cited alleged incidents where he proclaimed unilateral ceasefires, and accepted four of five peace agreements. Karadzic also defended the shelling of Sarajevo, stating that it was necessary and that 2,000 legitimate military targets existed within the city. Karadzic blamed foreign governments for the atrocities committed during the war, and the media for inventing the current charges against him. For more information, please 1. click here and 2. click here.

Final Yugoslav war crimes trial begins: On Tuesday, 16 October 2012, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia opened the trial of Goran Hadzic, the final trial set for the Court. Hadzic, the one-time leader of rebel Serbs during the Bosnian War, stands accused of crimes against humanity, persecution, deportation, and ethnic cleansing of non-Serb populations. In his opening statement, the Prosecutor characterized Hadzic as former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic’s “right hand man” in the latter’s plan to create an “ethnically pure” Serbian state carved out of Bosnian and Croatian territory in the former Yugoslavia. The Prosecution contends that Hadzic approved of the atrocities against non-Serb population committed by his rebel troops, and did nothing to stop them. Hadzic is the last of 161 individuals named as suspects in the crimes committed during the Bosnian War. Hadzic was arrested in 2011 after seven years at-large, and was subsequently extradited to the Hague for trial. For more information, please click here.

Libyan rebels accused of war crimes: On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch released its report on the toppling of Moammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya in October 2011, in which the humanitarian group suggested that rebels “summarily executed” scores of troops loyal to the regime. The report also suggested that these rebels may have also “summarily executed” Gaddafi himself. To date, the report on the final battle in Sirte where Gaddafi was captured is the most complete in details regarding what the group has characterized as war crimes committed by rebel troops. According to the report, the attack on Gaddafi and his troops—and their ultimate deaths—were in retaliation for a brutal weeks-long siege on the town of Misrata, where hundreds of residents were killed. Many of the surviving citizens became ardent supporters of the revolution, and the report suggests that Gaddafi’s ultimate execution was a “revenge” killing carried out by Misrata rebels. The group suggests that at least 66 people were killed in the fashion during the attack, and cite video footage taken shortly after the attack in which Gaddafi, his son, and members of the military are seen alive, their bodies only to wind up in a makeshift morgue a few hours later. Human Rights Watch’s findings call into question Libyan authorities’ assertions that Gaddafi and his soldiers died in crossfire. Former members of Libyan rebel groups, however, deny that the ex-dictator and his entourage were executed.

Sept. 11 defendants cooperative as case resumes: Five individuals accused of planning and assisting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon largely cooperated with the Court as their military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay resumed, although the much-delayed case is still in pre-trial. The behavior of the defendants was in marked contrast to earlier proceedings, in which some of the defendants refused to cooperate with court-appointed translators and refused to answer the presiding judge’s questions. During the Monday hearing, which dealt with pre-trial motions and is expected to continue throughout the week, the defendants worked directly with Court translators, and replied to any questions directed to them by the judge. During the proceeding, in response to defense motions, the judge also ruled that three of the defendants did not have attend every day of their hearing this week, although they will have to attend the formal trial and possibly future pre-trial proceedings. The judge also ruled that the defendants may wear camouflage gear, which had previously been banned by the prison commander. For more information, please click here

ICC victims lawyer quits over ruling: Morris Anyah, the lawyer representing victims in deputy Prime Minister of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta’s ICC trial, announced Monday that he will not continue to provide legal assistance to victims during the trial. Anyah’s resignation comes in response to a ruling made earlier in October by the Court, in which the presiding judges ruled that the ICC’s Office of Public Council for Victims—rather than the victims’ lawyers—would take over representation of the victims in the courtroom. Under the decision, the victims’ lawyers are regarded as their “point of contact” to formulate their views and concerns, but the actual trial representation would be handled by the OPCV. Victims’ lawyers are also required to be based primarily in Kenya. The judges had also ordered a re-organization of the way in which victims’ claims are to be handled in the case; namely, unlike in other tribunals, only victims who plan on actually appearing individually in the courtroom physically or by video need make an application to the Court; other victims are to be handled through a more informal registration system. In light of these rulings, Anyah released a statement saying that he did not believe that he would be able to afford to the victims representation and advocacy necessary to advance their interests, and would instead be resigning. He stated however that he would ensure that the legal and other interests of his clients would continue to be met during the transition to representation by new counsel.



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