Category Archives: ICJ

8 January 2016 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS – Transfer of Ntaganza to Rwanda delayed, Guatemala arrests 14 for CAH, Sri Lankan WC investigation to be planned and Ukraine to sue Russia at ICJ

Transfer of Ntaganzwa to Rwanda delayed by DRC authorities: The Congolese government has not decided whether it will extradite Genocide suspect Ladislas Ntaganzwa to Rwanda, yet. Ntaganzwa was arrested on 7 December 2015 in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Prosecutor-General Richard Muhumuza said that the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) is following up to see to it that authorities in Kinshasa transfer Ntaganzwa to Rwanda. The MICT succeeded the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and Muhumza said Ntaganzwa’s arrest in the DRC was based on an ICTR international arrest warrant. Muhumza also stated that, “Jurisdiction in seeking transfer for a person indicted by the ICTR belongs with MICT. And it is not extradition but transfer as per the transfer order issued by an ICTR Trial Chamber. However, we will ultimately be the jurisdiction to try him upon transfer.” During a briefing last month, Prosecutor of the Mechanism, Judge Hassan B. Jallow informed the United Nations Security Council of Ntaganzwa’s arrest and urged the Kinshasa authorities to transfer him to Rwanda without delay. While the ICTR was in the process of shutting down, Ntaganzwa was an indicted suspect at large before the ICTR upon his arrest in December. The ICTR then decided to transfer his case for trial to the Rwandan judiciary system. Ntaganzwa is alleged to have committed genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsis. (allAfrica)

Photo: Surizar via Flickr (CC).

Photo: Surizar via Flickr (CC).

Guatemala arrests 14 former officials for crimes against humanity: On Wednesday 6 January, Guatemalan prosecutors announced that 14 former military and government official had been arrested for crimes committed during Guatemala’s civil war.  The 14 suspects are facing charges of crimes against humanity for killings and disappearances of individuals by security forces under the command of the accused officials.  The suspects include Benedicto Lucas Garcia, a former army commander and brother of former President Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia, who was alleged to have started a paramilitary group during the civil war which lasted from 1960 to 1996.  Also accused is Francisco Luis Gordillo, a former general, who is known for assisting former President Jose Efrain Rios Montt, who is due to begin a retrial in separate proceedings genocide and crimes against humanity, to power in the 1980s.  In a statement attorney general Thelma Aldana stated that “The cases that we have documented were (attacks) against the non-combatant civilian population including children,” and are among “the largest forced disappearances in Latin America.” The 14 detained are expected to appear in court on Friday 8 January. (The Guardian, VOA, Thomas Reuters Foundation)

Sri Lankan FM says development of war crimes investigation mechanism beginning soon: Sri Lanka has begun the process of setting up domestic mechanisms to probe alleged war crimes against ethnic Tamils, with the consultation for the domestic mechanism beginning next week. The mechanisms will be used to begin investigations into alleged war crimes. Minister Mangala Samaraweera specifically said that, “The domestic mechanisms through which we are trying to address this past, are in the process of being developed and the consultation process to design these mechanisms will begin next week.” During the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Borge Brende’s visit to Sri Lanka, Samaraweera told him that, “You are coming to Sri Lanka at a time when Sri Lanka is trying to come to terms with its past and to forge ahead.” In 2014, Sri Lanka was the subject of a UN Human Rights Council resolution which called for an international investigation into alleged war cries and rights abuses blamed both on the government troops and the LTTE. A joint resolution was later adopted that allowed for a domestic mechanism and offered Sri Lanka technical support to set it up. (DNA India)

International Court of Justice. Photo: serapheus via Flickr (CC)

International Court of Justice. Photo: serapheus via Flickr (CC)

Ukraine plans to bring Russia before ICJ on allegations of financing terrorism: On Tuesday, 5 January 2016, a Ukrainian official said that the nation is planning on suing Russia in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on claims of financing terrorism. The claims are in regards to the Russian annexation of Donbas and Crimea, a conflict that has been a prevalent topic ever since the Crimean Annexation in March 2014. The Justice Minister for the Ukraine, Pavlo Petrenko told press that the pretrial procedure has already began and that he anticipates many other suits to come against Russia from the Ukraine this year. The conflict has been labeled as the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War with U.S. President Barack Obama condemning Russia’s military intervention in the Ukraine as a violation of international law. (Jurist)



Photo: Iker Merodio via Flickr (CC).

Photo: Iker Merodio via Flickr (CC).

Spanish judge opens CAH investigation against Basque separatist group, ETA: A Spanish judge opened a crimes against humanity investigation against Basque separatist group ETA after a complaint was filed by a number of victims’ associations. The inquiry will look at killings and kidnappings since 2004 that the ETA was allegedly involved in. ETA is accused of killing 829 people over 40 years in an attempt to gain independence for the Basques who live in the region of Spain that straddles the French border. For more information on this issue please click here. (Yahoo News, sky News)


Prosecutor Bensouda releases 2016-2018 draft strategic plan for OTP: On Thursday 8 July 2015 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a draft strategic plan for 2016-2018. The draft plan is being shared with interested external partners in accordance with the policy of the Office of the Prosecutor. Prosecutor Bensouda stated “Even as we see the positive impact of our 2012-2015 Strategic Plan, we continue our efforts to consolidate the high performance of the Office and to address challenges.” Comments and questions can be submitted until 28 August 2015, and the final version will be circulated in the first half of September of 2015.


ICC launches 3 yr program to support Ugandan victims: The ICC launched a three year project to support the rehabilitation of victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in northern Uganda. The project will run from 2015 to 2018 and will be implemented by six local organizations. The project is financed by the Trust Fund for Victims, an ICC fund that supports programmes that address the harm resulting from genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The project launched in Lira Town last week and the Lira District vice chairperson, Mr. Andrew Ogwang Oyang welcomed the project, and said it is much needed given the suffering still experienced by war victims. (allAfrica)


Somalia to submit maritime dispute against Kenya at ICJ: Somalia’s Federal Government said it will submit a maritime dispute with Kenya to the International Court of Justice the week of 12 June 2015. Somalia’s government reached the decision after a meeting between the cabinet, experts, and international lawyers occurred on Tuesday 8 July 2015. The decision came after Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed told the Kenyan national assembly that Somalia agreed to solve the case in an out of court settlement. In 2012 Somalia accused Kenya of awarding offshore oil and gas exploration blocks illegally to multinational companies. For more information on this issue please click here. (allAfrica, Somali Current)

Post by: Kayla Spencer

2 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Judges asked to review decision of Prosecutor not to investigate crimes on Gaza Freedom Flotilla: Lawyers for the Comoros filed an application asking the ICC judges to review the decision of ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda not to initiate an investigation into crimes committed by Israeli Defense Forces on the ships of the Flotilla. Prosecutor Bensouda, while finding a “reasonable basis” to believe war crimes were committed on the ships of Flotilla in 2010, ultimately decided not to initiate investigations in November 2014. The Comoros’ lawyers claimed Prosecutor Bensouda failed to “take relevant matters” into consideration. (Yahoo).

ICTY Appeals Chamber upholds conviction of Popovic et al: On 30 January 2015, the ICTY Appeals Chamber upheld the 2010 convictions of five Bosnian Serbian military leaders for crimes committed in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war. The sentences of life for Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara for crimes including genocide were confirmed, as well as the 35 years of imprisonment for Drago Nikolic and 13 years imprisonment for Vinko Pandurevic. Radivoge Miletic’s sentence for crimes against humanity was reduced from 19 years to 18 years of imprisonment.  (BBC).

Sri Lanka’s new Government to initiate new probe into civil war abuses: On Wednesday, 28 January 2015, Sri Lanka’s new Government announced plans to investigate alleged human rights abuses committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war. A 2010 United Nations report found credible allegations that tens of thousands of Sri Lankans and ethnic Tamils were killed by Sri Lankan forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam between September 2008 and May 2009. The United Nations began investigations into the allegations in 2014 but accused former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa of interference and refusal to cooperate. (Jurist).

ICJ to issue decision on Croatia / Serbia genocide case on Tuesday 3 Feb: On Tuesday, 3 February 2015, the ICJ is expected to issue its decision in the 15-year-old Croatia and Serbia genocide case. Croatia brought Serbia before the ICJ back in 1999 on allegations of ethnic cleansing during Croatia’s 1991-1995 war of independence. It is estimated some 20,000 people died and large numbers of Croats were displaced, tortured and looted during the conflict. Serbia countersued in 2010 claiming Croatia launched a military attack during this time forcing over 200,000 ethnic Serbs to flee the area.

ECCC hears testimony of forced marriages: Cheang Srei Mom testified in front of the ECCC on Thursday, 29 January 2015, relating to her experience of forced marriages during the Khmer Rouge regime. Srei Mom testified that when she was 24 years old she was removed from the women’s unit to marry a member of the regime’s upper echelons. Srei Mom stated “I didn’t marry voluntarily, but I had to agree to the request. If I refused, I would also disappear, so I submitted myself.” The two ECCC accused, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, are alleged to have been involved in creating a policy of forced marriages during the regime. (Dunya News Network).

Kenya pledges 1 million USD to African criminal court: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the county would be committing one million U.S. dollars to the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. President Kenyatta, speaking at the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, urged the other African countries to join Kenya “in ensuring that the necessary ratifications are in place and that the resulting court is fully owned, financed and driven by Africa.” The proposed African court is intended to “deliver[] African solutions to African Problems” as opposed to the “ICC which pre-occupies itself with trying to solve African challenges using western standards, perceptions and perspectives.” (Turkish Press).

9 December 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor outlines new policy against gender-based violence: Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, recently launched the Court’s new policy related to Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes.  Bensouda assured those present at her speech at the UN that the new policy would aim to strengthen the Office’s capacity to investigate and prosecute the high numbers of gender-based crimes committed around the world which fall in the Court’s jurisdiction.  (ICC).

Palestine secures observer status before ICC: Palestine will receive a seat at the ICC.  Palestine will now be able to request that the ICC investigate alleged war crimes that have taken place in the occupied territories in the capacity of an observer state.  Consequently, Palestine is now recognized as a state by the signatories to the Rome Statute.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)  (Aljazeera, JPost).

Brazil President declines human rights investigations against former military: President Dilam Rouseff has received a great deal of criticism after making the decision not to support the prosecution of military officers responsible for abuses during the 1964-85 years of dictatorial rule.  (Reuters).

Georgia ratifies aggression provisions of ICC Statute: Georgia is the latest country to ratify the amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression.  Once thirty States Parties have ratified the amendments, the Court may proceed exercising jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  (RTTnews).

Ukraine seeks ICJ Case against Russia:  Ukraine has announced that the country seeks to initiate proceedings in the ICJ against Russia for the alleged violation of a UN convention on terrorism.  Claims have also been failed with the ECHR by Ukraine.  The UN human rights office has asked that an immediate investigation be carried out to assess the number and severity of alleged war crimes.  (Rapsinews).

2014 August 11 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

HRW issues report on South Sudan crimes: According to HRW, extraordinary acts of cruelty that amount to war crimes in South Sudan have been committed since fighting began in December of 2013.  Government and opposition forces have been called upon by HRW to end the cycle of violence against civilians immediately.  There are hopes that the UN Security Council will impose an arms embargo to limit the number of weapons coming into the war torn country.  (HRW).

Argentina submits ICJ application against U.S.:  The Argentinean government has asked the ICJ to take action against the US over an alleged breach of its sovereignty as it defaulted on its debt.  However, no action will occur “unless and until” the US accepts the court’s jurisdiction.  (The Guardian).

KRT tribunal convicts and sentences two to life appeals anticipated: Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan have been sentenced to life in prison for committing crimes against humanity related to their role in the country’s 1970 terror.  The two men were high ranking officials in the Khmer Rouge government during the “killing Fields” era from 1975-1979.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (Aljazeera, UN News).

UN Leaders concerned over recent violence in Iraq:  Irina Bokova, a senior UN official, has called for an immediate stop to what she has termed as an “emerging cultural cleansing.”  Civilians are currently under attack by ISIL and many remain stranded with limited access to humanitarian aid.  More than 200,000 people are believed to have made their way to Dahuk governorate in the Kurdistan region, looking for assistance.


Santiago steps down as ICC judge, cites health issues: Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago is stepping down from the ICC due to health concerns; she announced in a letter addressed to President Sang-Hyun Song this week. Santiago was elected in December 2011, and was the first Asian from a developing country and first Filipino to sit on the Court. Santiago requested her letter to ICC President Song be distributed to all parties of the Rome Statute “with thanks.” (Business World Online).

African Attorney Generals seek more African judges at the ICC: At a meeting in Ethiopia last month, African Attorney Generals said they will push for more African judges at the ICC. Additionally, the AGs agreed to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the issue of presidential immunity. The AGs previously recommended an amendment to the Protocol of the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to allow for presidential immunities. (the Star).

Special Court for Sierra Leone grants application for Senessie’s conditional early release: Yesterday, 4 June 2014, the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone granted Eric Koi Senessie an application for conditional early release. Senessie was convicted of contempt by the SCSL in June 2012, for bribery and interfering with a witness. Senessie received two years imprisonment after admitting his guilt in a formal statement to the SCSL. (the Hague Justice Portal).

Three Bosnian Serb former soldiers arrested for war crimes following mass grave discovery: Mitar Vlasenko, Rade Vlasenko and Drago Koncar were arrested today, 5 June 2014, in the northwestern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The three former Bosnian Serb soldiers are suspected of war crimes committed against Muslim Bosniaks during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict. The arrests stem from last year’s discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of some 1,000 victims. (Chicago Tribune).


French delegates suggest intent to refer Syria to ICC:  France is currently seeking to propose a Security Council resolution that would refer Syria to the ICC for the prosecution of war crimes.  Russia stands as the largest opposing force to any such resolution.  The process is still in its infancy and many officials have refused to comment on specifics.  (NYT).

Arguments conclude in Croatia-Serbia ICJ Case:  The Croatia-Serbia ICJ case began in 1999.  Since that time, Serbia has filed a countersuit against Croatia and would like to see the ICJ declare the Croatian armed forces’ 1995 action genocide against the Serbian people.  The Croatian team still claims that the Serbian forces were excessive in their use of force.  The final verdict may be announced by the end of this or early next year and may not be appealed.  (B92).

UN concerned over continued violence in CAR:  The UN human rights office has finished its preliminary investigation of the deadly events that took place on March 29 in Bangui, CAR.  It has been determined that Chadian soldiers killed some 30 civilians and wounded more than 300 in an indiscriminate attack on a market.  (UN News).

UN Secretary General commemorates 20-year anniversary of Rwanda Genocide:  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminds the international community that the atrocities that took place in Rwanda should not be forgotten and should not have occurred in the first place.  Monday’s commemoration is part of a series of events that aim to remember the people murdered in Rwanda and to unite the people of Rwanda.  (UN News).


Prime Minister Shinzo: Japan will abide by ICJ ban on Antarctic whale hunt: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed disappointment in the ICJ’s 31 March 2014, decision banning the country’s whaling program in the Antarctic for not being solely for scientific purposes. The Prime Minister, nevertheless, said Japan would comply with the Court’s decision and immediately halt the program. (Australia Network News).

New lawyer, John Jones, appointed to represent suspect before Khmer Rouge Tribunal: The ECCC appointed John Jones to represent one of the suspects in Case 004. Jones is a British lawyer with experience defending accused at the various international criminal courts. No suspects have been officially charged in the “government-opposed Case 004”, however, the confidential identities of the defendants “were long ago revealed to be Ta An, Ta Tith and Im Chem.” (Phnom Penh Post).

Recently released confidential health assessment shows Chea and Samphan’s improved health: The confidential physical and psychiatric assessment of ECCC co-defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan was reportedly obtained this week by the Phnom Penh Post. The assessment, conducted last month by a team of health professionals at the ECCC detention center, concluded that both Chea and Samphan had improved health and were fit to stand trial. The ECCC requested the assessment in order to determine the ability of the co-defendants to follow proceedings in the second phase of Case 002. (Phnom Penh Post).

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