Archive for April, 2012
April 30th, 2012 by Julien Maton
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi (Photo: Reuters)
On 25 April 2012, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed as inadmissible the Appeal of the Government of Libya against the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to reject the second postponement request of the Libyan authorities concerning the surrender of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the ICC.
In his Appeal, the Government of Libya submitted that the Pre-Trial Chamber Decision is, by its very nature, a decision pertaining directly to admissibility because the Second Postponement Request of the Libyan Government asked that the order for surrender be suspended pending the resolution of the admissibility challenge.
The Appeals Chamber judged that the impugned Decision made no determination conceming the admissibility of the case but exclusively dealt with the question of whether admissibility proceedings had begun and thus could not be characterised as a decision that consisted of, or was based on, a ruling that the case against Saif Gaddafi was admissible or inadmissible before the ICC.
Moreover, as already stated by the Pre-Trial Chamber, the Appeals Chamber found that Libya’s announcement that such a challenge was forthcoming could not be considered as a challenge to the admissibility of the case.
The Appeals Chamber added that there was no reason to grant suspensive effect on the order to surrender Mr Gaddafi as the appeal has been found to be inadmissible.
April 30th, 2012 by Anna Bonini
The UN Security Council, the Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights all voiced their satisfaction concerning the conviction of former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Photo taken on July 21, 1990 shows rebel leader Charles Taylor (C) speaking with troops near the Liberian capital Monrovia (Source: www.france24.com)
Security Council’s President Susan Rice issued a Press Statement welcoming the judgment. Ms Rice emphasised that the serious crimes of which the former President of Liberia has been found guilty (including murder, rape and enlisting children into armed forces) are of particular concern to the Security Council. She described the verdict as an ‘important step in bringing to justice those individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, regardless of their official status’ and reaffirmed the Security Council’s commitment to end impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the verdict as an ‘historic and momentous day for the people of Sierra Leone, for the region and beyond’ and expressed solidarity to the victims of the heinous crimes of which Mr Taylor was found guilty. He noted the importance of the judgment as the first-ever conviction of a former Head of State by an international criminal tribunal for planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity and conveyed his gratitude to the Special Court of Sierra Leone, which he described as an ‘excellent model of a cooperative partnership with the UN to bring those responsible for serious international crimes to justice’.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed her satisfaction in a similar vein. ‘A former President, who once wielded immense influence in a neighbouring country where tens of thousands of people were killed, mutilated, raped, robbed and repeatedly displaced for years on end, has been arrested, tried in a fair and thorough international procedure, and has now been convicted of very serious crimes. That is immensely significant, and a stark warning to other Heads of State who are committing similar crimes, or contemplating doing so’. Ms Pillay also emphasised that the effects of the terrible conflict that wracked Sierra Leone are still ongoing, and that efforts to help the victims and their family should continue for many years to come.
April 30th, 2012 by Raphaelle Rafin
While a draft law on regulation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is under examination at the Egyptian People’s Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed her concerns about multiple recent cases of NGO rights being threatened around the world. The High Commissioner cited new laws in a number of countries which place new restrictions on NGOs and other civil society actors to operate independently and effectively. Along with Egypt, the High Commissioner reported on State attempts to control human rights organizations in Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Algeria, Ethiopia, Belarus, Israel and Venezuela. Mrs. Pillay emphasised that restrictions to the right of freedom of association and to the sources of funding of NGOs, and in particular foreign funding, are a violation of international human rights.
UNHCHR Navanethem Pillay
The High Commissioner paid particular tribute to women activists and insisted that their important role in challenging repressive rulers in the North African and Middle East countries should not be forgotten. She called for women to be involved along men in the transitional process and for verbal and physical assaults not to be tolerated. Pillay concluded that States must refrain from interfering in NGOs activities, should include NGOs in policy decisions and accept criticisms on state policies and processes.
“It is normal for there to be occasional tensions in the relationship between civil society organizations and the authorities, but it is unnecessary for these to descend into suspicion, antagonism or – on the part of the authorities – outright repression,” the High Commissioner said. “In the long term, there is nothing gained and a great deal that is lost when states attempt to stifle civil society.”
For the OHCHR press release, click here.
April 30th, 2012 by Dina Mahmoud
- (Source: http://www.justice.org.uk)
Date: 14 May 2012, from 6:15PM
Venue: Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Cinema 1, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
Judgment at Nuremberg examines questions of individual complicity in crimes committed by the state, in the context of the Holocaust and the consequent Nuremberg Trials. Written by Abby Mann, directed by Stanley Kramer, it stars, amongst others, Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster and Marlene Dietrich. The film won two Oscars and was nominated for nine others.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Philippe Sands, Joshua Rozenberg and Helena Kennedy. The initiative will raise funds for JUSTICE, an all-party law reform and human rights organisation promoting improvements to the British legal system through research, education, lobbying and interventions in the courts.
For further details and bookings click here.
April 30th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
- Joakim Dungel (Photo: UN)
Date: 25 May 2012, 12:00-15:30pm
Venue: Gothenburg University - Faculty of Law, Vasagatan 1, Göteborg (Sweden)
Details: A series of lectures on international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights are being held at the Faculty of Law at Gothenburg University in Sweden, in the memory of the University’s alumnus and United Nations lawyer Joakim Dungel.
The programme will be comprised of a half-day of lectures:
• Grant Dawson, Legal Officer United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, will pay tribute to Joakim Dungel’s Unfinished Work ‘Whether the Incident at Wounded Knee Creek on 29 December 1890 Was a Crime Under the Applicable Law of the Time’ and will explore whether the actions of the 7th Cavalry against the Lakotas amounted to crimes.
• Dr. Philipp Ambach, Special Assistant to the President of the International Criminal Court, will examine whether the international justice system lives up to its promises and, more importantly, whether and how the ICC is playing its role.
• The Honourable Shireen Avis Fisher, Appeals Judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, will discuss the issue of ‘International Criminal Courts: Great Expectations, Successes, Limitations, and Room for Improvement’.
The lectures will be followed by a panel discussion introduced by Professor Per Cramér, University of Gothenburg.
It is intended that these lectures, organized for the first time this year, will continue every year and, at some point, offer scholarships to law students from Freetown and Hebron, both places where Joakim worked over the course of his career, to enable the students to travel to Sweden in order to attend the lectures and write papers on the discussions.
Background: Joakim Dungel, an alumnus of Gothenburg University (Jur kand. ’04) and New York University (LL.M. ’07), was killed on 1 April 2011 in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, where he was working as a human rights legal officer for the United Nations. Prior to this he worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and the International CriminalTribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Joakim was also a prolific author and published scholarly works on a wide range of issues, including command responsibility, the protection of national security interests, the right to humanitarian assistance during internal armed conflicts, and crimes against humanity.
The full details of the programme, click here.
To register for the lectures, click here.
April 28th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
Map of Syria (© 2011 Human Rights Watch)
On 9 April Human Rights Watch released the report “In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Forces and Pro-Government Militias,” documenting more than a dozen incidents involving at least 101 victims of this category of crimes since late 2011, a large number of which took place in March 2012. Human Rights Watch documented the involvement of Syrian forces and pro-government shabeeha militias in summary and extrajudicial executions in the governorates of Idlib and Homs, using interviews with more than thirty witnesses to the executions. In doing so, the NGO discovered that government and pro-government forces executed oppositional fighters they captured, including those who had ceased fighting, in addition to civilians who were not a threat to the security forces.
The Report notes that the exact number of victims of extrajudicial executions in Syria is difficult to quantify due to problems with gaining access to information from within Syria. The NGO thus decided to report only on those incidents where researchers had personally interviewed witnesses to the events. Of the victims recorded, at least eighty five were Syrian residents who did not take part in the fighting, which included both women and children. Witnesses said that Syrian security forces, operating either alone or together with pro-government Shabeeha militias, captured and executed civilians who were in the process of escaping their towns as the army took over, allegedly shooting or stabbing people in their homes. Continue reading ‘Human Rights Watch Report: “In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Forces and Pro-Government Militias”’
April 27th, 2012 by Dina Mahmoud
تم نشرالعدد الأول من الرسالة الإخبارية ل «محامون من أجل العدالة في ليبيا» في ٢٥ أبريل تحت إشراف مديرة التحرير إلهام السعودي.
هذه الرسالة الإخبارية تبرزمقالة بقلم المحامية أمل علم الدين المتخصصة في القانون الجنائي الدولي، تدرس فيها السؤال المثير للجدل وهو: هل يلزم محاكمة سيف الإسلام القذافي في المحكمة الجنائية الدولية أم في المحاكم الليبية؟
هذه الرسالة الإخبارية مميزةعن مثيلاتها في مجال العدالة الدولية وحقوق الإنسان لأنها تقدم وجهة نظر مجموعة متنوعة من أفراد الشعب الليبي عن ثورة فيبراير منهم: الناشط في حقوق الإنسان، أرملة الشهيد، المحامي، المحلل السياسي، القاضي والطبيب.
يمكن قراءة الرسالة الإخبارية بالكامل هنا. كما توجد نسخة باللغة الإنجليزية من هذه الرسالة الإخبارية هنا.
The first issue of the newsletter for “Lawyers for Justice in Libya” was published on 25 April under the supervision of the editor Elham Saudi.
This newsletter features an article by iLawyer Amal Alamuddin, exploring the controversial question of whether Saif Al-Islam Al-Gaddafi should be tried by the ICC or by a Libyan court.
The Mizaan newsletter is unique because, unlike other publications in the field of international justice and human rights, it presents the points of view of a mix of Libyan people on the February revolution: the human rights activist, the widow of a revolutionist, the lawyer, the political specialist, the judge, and the doctor.
You can read the full newsletter here. An english version of the newsletter can be found here.
April 27th, 2012 by Admas Habteslasie
The International Criminal Court is following the situation in Mali with a view to ascertaining whether crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction have been committed by parties in the wake of the recent coup d’état. Following the ouster of Mali’s democratically-elected government by a group of soldiers on March 22, rebel groups have seized much of northern Mali and declared independence from the central government. The declaration has yet to be recognised by any state.
The statement recently issued by the Office of the Prosecutor noted that sources including senior UN officials have indicated serious crimes such as killings, abduction, rapes and conscription of children may have occurred in Mali. Mali is a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute.
April 27th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
Charles Taylor (Photo: Reuters/Jerry Lampen)
At the conclusion of the delivery of the oral Charles Taylor Judgment yesterday 26 April, Alternate Judge Malick Sow of Senegal attempted to voice his dissenting opinion. As an Alternate Judge he does not have a vote, nor a right to dissent, but sought to publicly state his concerns that the evidence against Mr. Taylor did not reach the threshold necessary for conviction. As Justice Lussick, Justice Doherty and Justice Sebutinde rose and prepared to leave the court at the conclusion of the verdict, Justice Sow said:
“The only moment where a Judge can express his opinion is during deliberations or in the courtroom, and pursuant to the Rules, when there is no deliberations, the only place left for me in the courtroom. I won’t get — because I think we have been sitting for too long but for me I have my dissenting opinion and I disagree with the findings and conclusions of the other Judges, because for me under any mode of liability, under any accepted standard of proof the guilt of the accused from the evidence provided in this trial is not proved beyond reasonable doubt by the Prosecution. And my only worry is that the whole system is not consistent with all the principles we know and love, and the system is not consistent with all the values of international criminal justice, and I’m afraid the whole system is under grave danger of just losing all credibility, and I’m afraid this whole thing is headed for failure. Thank you for your attention.”
As Justice Sow made this statement, the other three Judges walked out of the room, while the court technicians cut off an in-house video feed to reporters, turned off the Judge’s microphone and closed the public gallery.
Mr. Taylor’s Lead Defence Counsel Courtenay Griffiths Q.C. expressed his concern as to the SCSL’s treatment of Judge Sow, later quoting from the Judge’s speech at a press conference.
April 26th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
Date: Friday 27 April 2012, 6:30pm
Venue: Lange Houtstraat 5-7, The Hague
Details: The Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies will host Prosecutor Hollis for early reflections on the Taylor trial judgment.
Background: Brenda Hollis was appointed Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in February 2010. At the time of her appointment, Ms. Hollis was a Senior Trial Attorney at the SCSL, leading the Prosecution in the trial of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia. Ms. Hollis was appointed by the United Nations in consultation with the Government of Sierra Leone according to the hybrid nature of the SCSL. Ms. Hollis previously worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). She holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver, United States, and an undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, United States.
April 26th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
The Trial Chamber of the United Nations backed hybrid Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today delivered its oral judgment in the case of the The Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor at 11am in The Hague. Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia was convicted on all 11 Counts of his 11 Count indictment with the sentencing judgment scheduled for 30 May 2012. The history of the SCSL and of the Charles Taylor case has previously been discussed in this blog. The Taylor judgment is significant for international criminal law as Mr. Taylor is the first Head of State to be indicted, tried and convicted by an international court or tribunal for violations of international law since the post World War II Nuremberg Trials.
Charles Taylor (Photo: Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool)
Trial Chamber II of the SCSL comprised of Justice Richard Lussick (Presiding), Justice Teresa Doherty, Justice Julia Sebutinde and Alternate Judge Justice El Hadji Malick Sow, unanimously found Mr. Taylor guilty beyond reasonable doubt of aiding and abetting, pursuant to article 6.1 of the SCSL Statute, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) rebels in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia’s neighbouring Sierra Leone during the indictment period of the SCSL and for planning the commission of the crimes in attacks on Kono and Makeni in December 1998, and in the invasion of and retreat from Freetown between December 1998 and February 1999.
Continue reading ‘Charles Taylor Convicted on all 11 Counts of Indictment at the Special Court for Sierra Leone’
April 26th, 2012 by Julien Maton
This Thursday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone will hand down its verdict in the case of Charles Taylor. The former President of Liberia is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War.
An article published this Wednesday in the Washington Post points out that the decision of the Special Court will mark an important milestone in the attempt to create an international justice system, as Taylor will be the first former Head of State to receive judgment by an international criminal jurisdiction for violations of international law.
However, International Justice still faces problems, among others the fact it has only pursued politically acceptable war leaders, such as despised African warlords or the losing side in the former Yugoslavia.
Moreover, powerful countries, including the United States, refuse to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court, fearing that their nationals be dragged into uncontrollable proceedings by victims of their foreign wars.
Interviewed by the Washington Post, iLawyer Dr. Guénaël Mettraux said that “the greatest challenge facing international justice at this point is whether it is capable of taking on cases which powerful states consider undesirable”.
For Dr. Mettraux, states have not quite decided to trust international justice unequivocally and endow it with the resources and capability necessary to make it most effective.
The full version of the article is available here.
April 25th, 2012 by Raphaelle Rafin
On 17 April, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) received a request for referral to the Grand Chamber from Omar Othman, better known as Abu Qatada. In its 17 January judgment, the Court had rejected the claim that Abu Qatada was risking torture if deported to Jordan but held that he could not be deported to Jordan while there remained a real risk that evidence obtained by torture would be used against him. Abu Qatada was convicted in absentia in Jordan in 1999 and 2000 in two cases of conspiracy to cause explosions. The Jordanian authorities request the applicant’s extradition from the United Kingdom.
Abu Qatada speaking on the BBC
Following the filing of his appeal, Abu Qatada is to stay in the United Kingdom until the five-judge panel of the ECtHR decides whether the request was made in time or not. The time-frame of the proceedings appears to be a key element in this case: parties have three months from the date of the judgment of the Chamber to request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber (Art. 43 of the Convention). The UK Prime Minister David Cameron reacted that the deadline for the appeal had been “repeatedly checked” and that, after checking with the court and considering the precedents, the Home Office had been “very clear” that the deadline was midnight on the evening of Monday 16 April.
The Panel will decide on whether the referral request complies with the conditions laid down in Article 43 for the admissibility of a referral request and, if so, whether the case should be referred to the Grand Chamber.
For the ECtHR press release, click here.
For information on the general practice followed by the panel of the Grand Chamber, click here.
April 25th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
The Charles Taylor Trial Judgment at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) will be streamed online Thursday 26 April 2012 at 11:00am Hague time and 9:00am GMT. It is possible to watch the Judgment being delivered here or here or else access the links through the front page of the SCSL website. As previously mentioned on this blog, there has been controversy over the delay in handing down the Taylor judgment, as well as the decision to render the judgment on the eve of Sierra Leone’s independence anniversary.
Charles Taylor (Photo: Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images)
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was established in order to prosecute those most responsible for crimes committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War, with the Court’s mandate commencing on 30 November 1996. During this conflict, over 50,000 people died in the country, millions were displaced and innumerable maimed. Since its inception, the SCSL has convicted eight individuals for their role in the conflict: Sesay, Kallon and Gbao as part of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF case), Kondewa and Fofana as part of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) case and Brima, Kamara and Kanu as part of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) case. All eight convicted individuals are now imprisoned in Rwanda.
The trial of Charles Taylor, the ex President of Liberia is the final case before the SCSL. Mr. Taylor was indicted in 2003 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. He has denied all 11 counts in his indictment. The Taylor Trial Judgment will be delivered in a courtroom belonging to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague, where the Taylor trial has been taking place. While the seat of the SCSL is in Freetown, the Taylor trial was moved to The Hague in 2006 due to concerns over regional instability in West Africa, firstly to the premises of the International Criminal Court and then to a courtroom of the Tribunal for Lebanon. The Prosecution commenced its case in January 2008 and called 94 witness to the stand, while the Defence opened its case in July 2009 and called 21 witnesses, including Mr. Taylor himself, closing its case in November 2010.
Continue reading ‘SCSL Charles Taylor Trial Judgment to be Streamed Online 26 April 2012′
April 24th, 2012 by Anna Bonini
By Wayne Jordash
Joint criminal enterprise (JCE) is a mechanism employed regularly in international criminal law processes for assigning individual liability to those charged with ‘committing’ crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeals’ Chamber first recognized JCE as a mode of liability under customary international law in Prosecutor v. Tadić. The Appeals Judgment in Tadić articulated three different forms of JCE: basic (JCE I), systematic (JCE II), and extended (JCE III). The Tadić JCE framework and particularly the basic form of JCE has invariably been used to prosecute criminal cases at the ICTY. It is not an exaggeration to describe it as the mainstay of many of the prosecutions to-date. To prove liability under the basic form JCE, the Prosecution must establish the following three objective elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
• The existence of a common plan, design or purpose which amounts to or involves the commission of a crime provided for in the Statute;
• A plurality of persons acting in concert in pursuit of a common purpose; and
• Participation by the Accused, in the form of a ‘significant contribution’ to the common plan, design or purpose.
In addition to establishing these objective elements, a Prosecutor must also prove that the Accused possessed the requisite mens rea for the crimes charged. The fundamental difference between JCE I and JCE III is that the former attaches to crimes that fall within the common criminal purpose of the JCE, while the latter attaches to crimes that fall outside the common criminal purpose.
In 2007, faced with a barrage of authoritative criticisms concerning the tendency of JCE to overreach its intended purpose, the ICTY Appeals Chamber in the case of Brdanin appeared to herald a move towards a new institutional determination to insist upon a more stringent application of the liability. In setting out this apparent intention, the Appeals Chamber observed the importance of establishing that the contours of the common criminal purpose are properly defined in the indictment and established beyond reasonable doubt. This was one of the essential stringent “safeguards” developed to prevent JCE overreaching or lapsing into guilt by association. As a statement of intent, the Appeals Chamber’s pronouncement could not be faulted. However, upon closer examination, it is plain that in practice the pleading safeguards, said to prevent this lapse, are inadequate, if not practically non-existent.
Continue reading ‘Joint Criminal Enterprise: Results Orientated Pleading Requirements?’
April 24th, 2012 by Julien Maton
by Miša Zgonec-Rozej
There seems to be a general consensus amongst scholars that the recent ICJ decision on the Reparation case was the “right” or “correct” decision. This assessment, of course, depends on the commentator’s point of view. In my opinion, the judgement is disappointing as it adopts a conservative and restrictive interpretation of the rules of customary international law on state immunity in disregard of the well-established right of victims to remedies for serious violations of international humanitarian law and other crimes under international law.
On the positive side, the judgement is generally helpful to States as it provides clarification of the law on State immunity, thereby introducing a degree of certainty into this field of law. On this point see the blog on EJIL: Talk by Prof. Andreas Bianchi: On Certainty. On the negative side, the judgement leaves victims of war crimes without remedies even in situations where the victims are unable to bring a claim for reparation within the court of the responsible State, a regional court or any other compensation mechanism.
The Ardeatine caves massacre was a mass execution carried out on 24 March 1944 by German troops as a reprisal for an attack of the Italian resistance movement conducted on the previous day in Rome.
Continue reading ‘No Reparation for the Victims of Nazi War Crimes – The Judgement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Germany v. Italy, Greece Intervening’
April 23rd, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
On 14 April in New York, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2042, agreeing to deploy a team of up to thirty UN monitors to Syria in order to oversee the fragile ceasefire between the Syrian government and oppositional forces. A team of six UN monitors arrived in Damascus the following day. The first UN Security Council Resolution on the unfolding conflict in Syria passed unanimously after changes were made to the original draft proposed by the United States, in order to accommodate objections by Russia, one of Syria’s strongest allies who has previously been hesitant to support intervention. Security Council Resolution 2042 supports the six point peace peace plan negotiated by Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, which called for an advance monitoring team to be deployed immediately to Syria. At the time, the United Nations said that it intended to increase the deployment to 250 monitors, but that the exact number would be dependent upon certain conditions and would also require further approval from the Security Council.
United Nations Security Council (Photo: UN Photo/R. Bajornas)
Resolution 2042 was welcomed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. It expresses an intention to establish a full mission in Syria once there is a sustained cessation of violence in order to monitor the peace plan, also noting that the Syrian government must meet its ceasefire commitments. In doing so, the Resolution “calls upon all parties in Syria, including the opposition, immediately to cease all armed violence in all its forms.” The Syrian representative at the United Nations said that while Syria supported the peace plan, it believed the Security Council Resolution to be unbalanced, because it does not put enough pressure on armed oppositional groups to contribute to the ceasefire, further arguing that the UN monitors must respect Syria’s sovereignty.
Continue reading ‘UN Security Council Authorises Observer Mission in Syria’
April 23rd, 2012 by Anna Bonini
by the VU University Amsterdam
Date: 14-15 June 2012
Venue: Trippenhuis (KNAW), Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
The main objective of the conference is to explore the background and the consequences of the fragmentation of International Criminal Law (ICL) at the international and national level. Thus, the speakers and participants will have to deal with questions on both international and national criminal law and procedure such as:
- To what extent is harmonizing ICL desirable, or even realistic? How does a pluralistic approach contribute to the development of ICL?
- How to deal with the tension between collective action and individual responsibility when prosecuting international crimes?
- To what extent does the principle of complementarity as laid down in Article 17 of the Rome Statute require adherence to international standards; does this also affect procedural law, in particular domestic laws of evidence?
- Given fact-finding impediments and evidentiary challenges when dealing with core international crimes, can national courts be of guidance to international criminal tribunals; or vice versa?
On Friday 15 June 2012, iLawyer Wayne Jordash will be speaking about the following subject: “Evidentiary challenges for the defence: domestic and international prosecutions of international crimes compared”.
The Conference Programme (subject to change) is available here.
To register for this conference, click here.
April 22nd, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
Following the resignation of International Co-Investigating Judge Siegfried Blunk in October 2011 and the Reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet in March of this year at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations has emphasised that the Secretary General believes it to be essential that the judicial process in relation to cases 003 and 004 move forward. In line with this, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon intends to initiate a process to select both a new International Co-Investigating Judge and a new Reserve International Co-Investigating Judge in accordance with the United Nations/Cambodia Agreement. In doing so he called on the Cambodian government to fully cooperate with the new judges by assisting them in carrying out their designated functions. He further noted that the Judges should be promptly appointed by the Cambodian Supreme Court of the Magistry.
Ban Ki-moon (Photo: Reuters)
These two issues have proven to be a controversial point of contention between the United Nations and Cambodia in recent months, which has had an impact on both the legitimacy and the funding of the Court. The Secretary General said that “it is essential that the Royal Government of Cambodia extend full cooperation to the new judges once it has been informed by the Secretary-General of their selection.” Judges Blunk and Kasper-Ansermet both resigned over alleged interference of the Cambodian government in the investigative processes of cases 003 and 004 at the ECCC. The Cambodia Supreme Council of the Magistry refused to appoint Judge Kasper-Ansermet as the International Co-Investigating Judge, which resulted in a prolonged stalemate between Cambodia and the United Nations over whether the Judge was legally able to continue with his UN appointed role, without Cambodian approval.
The United Nations Secretary General also noted that the ECCC faces a “serious funding challenge” and called on partners to provide additional finances in order to allow the court to continue its operations through to completion, operations which are projected to run until at least 2018 with an approximate budget of $40 million per year. More than 300 Cambodian staff at the Court allegedly went without pay during January of this year, due to a funding shortage on the national side, with some national staff not having been paid since October 2011. This has been the longest period of non-payment in the Court’s history. Similar problems did not affect the international side, as the United Nations supports the salaries of international staff, while voluntary contributions from donor nations fund the salaries of national staff.
Continue reading ‘Ban Ki-moon Proposes New Judicial Appointments at the ECCC and Seeks Funding’
April 21st, 2012 by Raphaelle Rafin
The Brighton Declaration concerning reform of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been formally adopted yesterday by all 47 members’ states of the Council of Europe. The 2-day conference was organized as part of the United Kingdom’s 6-month chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers. Following on from similar events held in Interlaken in 2012 and Izmir in 2011, the conference aimed to reach agreement on a package of measures which are intended to ensure that the court continues to effectively serve Europe’s 800 million citizens.
As the number of applications made each year to the Court has doubled since 2004, the necessity to improve the efficiency of the ECtHR and to reduce its workload has been an important challenge for the last decade. Protocol No. 14, which was adopted in 2004 and entered into force in June 2010, already brought significant changes to the proceedings before the Court: it introduced the competence of single judges to reject plainly inadmissible applications and the ability of three judge committees to decide on the admissibility and on the merits in clearly well-founded cases.
Brighton Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights ©Patrick Tsui for the Council of Europe
The main reforms agreed on in the Declaration concern not only the procedure before the Court, but also the substantive law applicable by the European judges. The Declaration announced amendments to the European Convention which would introduce a direct reference to the principle of subsidiarity and to the doctrine of the margin of appreciation in the Preamble, tighten the admissibility criteria, reduce the time limit for claims from six months to four, and improve the selection process for judges. The Declaration also considered the possibility of introducing a further power of the Court, through an optional protocol, to deliver advisory opinions upon request on the interpretation of the Convention in the context of a specific case at domestic level.
The Declaration is expected to be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers for endorsement on 23 May 2012 when the chairmanship will pass from the United Kingdom to Albania.
For the full text of the declaration, click here.
April 21st, 2012 by Anna Bonini
by the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict
- (Photograph: Robin Utrecht/EPA)
Date: 21 May 2012, 12:30pm
Venue: Seminar Room A, Manor Road Building, Law Faculty of the University of Oxford
Panel Discussion chaired by Dan Sarooshi (Professor of Public International Law, Oxford) looking back at the first 10 years of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and towards its future.
Speakers: Professor Jennifer Welsh, Dr David Rodin, and Dapo Akande
This event is open to all, no registration necessary. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
For further information, click here.
April 20th, 2012 by Anna Bonini
The Silos detention camp in Hadzici (Source: www.BalkanInsight.com)
On 19 April 2012, the main trial in the case against Mustafa Đelilović et al. began before Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The case concerns eight Muslim officials accused of torture and abuse of Serb prisoners during the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. The alleged crimes would have taken place in three detention camps in the Sarajevo suburb of Hadzici, where four prisoners would have died as a result of the ill-treatment. Charges were brought against the former head of the nearby Hadzici local assembly (Mustafa Đelilović) and the former police chief of the area (Fadil Čović) on the basis that they were aware of the conditions and ill-treatment and the camps. The other six accused (Mirsad Šabić, Nezir Kazić, Bećir Hujić, Halid Čović, Šerif Mešanović and Nermin Kalember) were guards at the camps.
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina opened its doors in 2005 to try, among other things, cases of war crimes, organized crime, economic crime and corruption. It is a domestic court of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but includes international judges and prosecutors. The trial against Đelilović et al. is one of the few cases that have been opened against Muslim officials to date, and could be instrumental in countering Serb accusations that the Bosnian authorities are applying selective justice.
For further information on the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, see the post ‘Never Forget… Institutional Amnesia’ by Her Excellency, Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, who has previously served as a Judge on the Appeals Chamber of this Court.
April 20th, 2012 by Anna Bonini
by the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, in association with the University of Oxford Programme on the Changing Character of War (CCW)
Date: Tuesdays, 1.00-2.30pm
Venue: Seminar Room G, Manor Road Building
24 April 2012: Intervention in Libya: A Humanitarian Success? Professor Alan Kuperman (University of Texas)
1 May 2012: Detention in 21st Century Armed Conflict William Lietzau (US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law & Detainee Policy)
8 May 2012: Topic to be Confirmed Professor Jean Bethke Elshtain (University of Chicago)
15 May 2012: The Kosovo Liberation Army – a Living Inheritance? Professor James Pettifer (University of Oxford)
22 May 2012: Taking Soldiers Seriously Professor Cheyney Ryan (University of Oregon / ELAC Visiting Fellow)
29 May 2012: One war at a Time’: Britain, the War of 1812 and the Defeat of Napoleon Professor Andrew Lambert (King’s College London)
5 June 2012: Imagining NATO: Past and Present Futures for the Western Alliance Dr Kristian Søby Kristensen (University of Copenhagen / CCW Visiting Fellow)
12 June 2012: Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean and A New Era: The Iranian Navy, Strategy Expansion and Soft Power Cdr Keith Winstanley (RN Hudson Fellow), Cdr Tracy Vincent (US Navy Hudson Fellow)
All Seminars are free and open to all and no registration is required. A light sandwich lunch will be served
For further information on these events, click here.
Audio podcasts of the seminars will also be available here.
April 20th, 2012 by Admas Habteslasie
The ongoing dispute between the ICC and the Libyan authorities over who will try Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the former Libyan leader, continued this week during a visit by the ICC prosecutor to Libya. The Prosecutor reiterated that the Libyan government has to make a case to the international court that it can conduct fair trials for the detainees. In response, a spokesperson for the Libyan government was keen to emphasise that the Libyans had the primary right to try Saif Al-Islam and cited the Rome Statute in support of the Libyan Government’s position. He also stated that the Libyan government had filed a request for extension of the April deadline to appeal the ICC’s decision to try Gaddafi in The Hague, while the Libyan Justice Ministry suggested that a deal is being negotiated with the ICC whereby a Libyan court could try Gaddafi under ICC supervision.
The Office of Public Council for the Defence recently filed an application calling for the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber to “deprecate” recent statements by the Prosecutor. The Office complained that such statements gave the misleading impression that certain findings had already been made about Mr Gaddafi’s actions and that a deal had been struck between the ICC and the Libyan government. Last week, following the inadvertent release and subsequent withdrawal of an internal report by the ICC which seemed to suggest that Gaddafi might have been subject to torture while detained, the Principal Counsel of the ICC Office of Public Counsel for Defence called for the ICC to make a formal complaint to the UN Security Council over Libya’s failure to hand over Gaddafi, who is currently held by former militias in the western town of Zintan.
April 20th, 2012 by Shannon Torrens
In a significant development for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the judicial system of Rwanda, the tribunal has for the first time in its history sent an accused to Rwanda in order to be tried. This had not occurred previously because of concerns that the Rwandan judicial system was not equipped to handle such a high ranking case, nor to try the accused with the requisite fair trial standards. Prior to June 2011, the ICTR had rejected all transfer requests to Rwanda arguing that the conditions were not appropriate for a fair trial in the country. The transfer of genocide suspect Jean Bosco Uwinkindi therefore signifies an important step in the impending closure of the ICTR and a milestone in the Rwandan judiciary’s efforts to develop their ability to try important genocide cases through recent reforms.
Rwanda (Photo: Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)
Indicted and charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity in 2001 and arrested in 2011, Mr. Uwinkindi was a pastor of the Pentecostal Church in Kanzene, Kigali-Rural préfecture during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Mr. Uwinkindi is accused of being one of the primary perpetrators of the Genocide, ordering militia to kill Tutsi refugees who had sought refuge in his church. The prosecution allege that 2,000 corpses were subsequently discovered near his church in Kanzenze, just outside Kigali. He has denied all charges.
An ICTR spokesperson has confirmed the transfer. Mr. Uwinkindi was met at Kigali airport in the early evening of 19 April by a delegation of Rwandan officials who were to facilitate his transfer, with Rwanda’s prosecutor calling Mr. Uwinkindi’s arrival a “landmark day for Rwandan justice.” While the most prominent accused of the Rwandan genocide are being prosecuted by the ICTR, lower ranking perpetrators are being tried in the Rwandan court system or the local justice mechanism known as the Gacaca.
Continue reading ‘Uwinkindi Transferred from ICTR to Rwanda’