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)
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)