Parliamentarians for Global Action: Internship Summer 2014

PGAParliamentarians for Global Action (PGA)’s office in the Hague is currently accepting applications for a Summer 2014 internship assisting the PGA Campaign for the Universality and Effectiveness of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The intern will be involved in administrative, logistic, and research activities, including providing support in the organization of meetings and events to be held in The Hague and worldwide.

The intern will support the team in collecting and organizing information on stakeholders and political developments in different regions of the world, and establishing and maintaining communication with PGA members on behalf of the PGA Secretariat. In addition, the intern will support the administration of the Campaign’s database of contacts and the coordination of PGA’s social media, website and outreach tools.

The internship will begin in June 2014 and will last three to four months. The deadline for applications is 20 May 2014.

For more information on the internship, click here.

Parliamentarians for Global Action is a network of more than 1,100 legislators from 139 elected parliaments around the world who use their legislative and political prerogatives for the solution of global problems and to undertake specific actions and international initiatives with the support of PGA’s secretariat. PGA works on an expanded list of global issues such as fostering democracy, conflict prevention and management, international law and human rights, population and sustainable development.

Dutch Police Arrest Bosnian Suspected War Criminals

Mostar Bosnia Dec 1995

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, on Dec. 18, 1995 (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, the Dutch Public Prosecutor announced that the Dutch police have arrested two men who allegedly committed war crimes during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.

One of the unnamed men, a 43-year-old Bosnian, is accused of being a brutal prison camp commander at a school in Bosnia where Serbs were held.

The man, allegedly a member of the 103rd Brigade of the Bosnian Croat Army (HVO), was arrested in the southern Dutch city of Spijkenisse and is accused of murder, torture and psychological and physical violence against civilians.

“He allegedly shot dead a civilian who tried to escape and other prisoners were forced to watch,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.

“Another prisoner was then beaten and another man had a gun put in his mouth and then the camp commander fired several shots,” it said.

The other suspect, a 52-year-old man with Bosnian and Dutch nationality, was arrested in the eastern town of Heumen.

He is accused of being a member of an armed group who committed war crimes in 1992.

The group allegedly shot up a home in the village of Beslagici, killing a man.

Both men were arrested at the request of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dutch authorities will now decide on whether they should be extradited.

ICC: Germain Katanga to be Sentenced on 23 May

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

This Tuesday, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it will deliver the sentencing judgement in the case of Germain Katanga on 23 May 2014 at 09h30 (Hague time) in open court. Interested parties will be able to view the live webstream here.

Under Article 77 of the Rome Statute, the judges may impose a sentence of imprisonment as well as a fine or forfeiture of proceeds, property, and assets derived from the crimes. Sentences of imprisonment cannot exceed 30 years except when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime and the individual circumstances of the convicted person, in which case a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed.

Germain Katanga was convicted by a majority of Trial Chamber II on 7 March 2014 of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the DRC. He was convicted as an accessory of contributing to the commission of crimes by members of the Forces de Resistance Patriotiques en Ituri through supplying arms and ammunition. Continue reading

Hackers Groups And Enforcement Of The Law Of Armed Conflict

by Nicolò Bussolati

cyberwarOver the past few years, the laws of war have evolved in all sorts of ways. Before international criminal tribunals, for instance, the law of war crimes has been re-shaped and specified. Another significant trend in recent years has been the growing relevance of that body of law to digital technologies. In the cyber warfare context, of particular interest is the increasing role of non-state actors. Whilst the issue of the conditions under which the laws of war could come to apply to hacker groups is left for another day, the present paper considers some of the practical issues that would arise should one seek to enforce the laws of war onto them.

In March of this year, for instance, the hacker group Anonymous launched operations (OpRussia and OpUkraine) striking Russian cyberspace with digital attacks – including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – in reaction to the Russian maneuvers in Crimea. On the opposite side, a pro-Russian hacker group named Cyber Berkut repeatedly attacked NATO and Ukrainian websites.

This was, of course, not the first time that hacker groups got implicated in armed frictions involving states. During the 2008 South Ossetia military campaign, Georgian digital systems suffered intensive cyber attacks: analysis of these incidents suggested the likely involvement of patriotic hacker collectives, very possibly under the direction of the Russian government. In 2012, as a response to the Israeli military operation in GazaPillar of Defence, Anonymous launched a DDoS attack against several Israeli websites and posted online names, ID numbers and personal emails of 5,000 Israeli Defence Force officials.

The substantial involvement of non-state actors in the past cyber events underlines their growing ability and willingness to engage in cyber warfare alongside actual military efforts. To the extent that such groups actually participate in a war or military effort, should they be expected and regarded as being subject to the laws of armed conflict? A brief analysis of the structural features of hacker groups might suggest that they cannot be or not effectively so. Continue reading

ICC Dismisses Communication Purporting to Accept Jurisdiction over Egypt

Last Thurdsay, the International Criminal Court announced that it was dismissing the communication purporting to accept the Court’s jurisdiction over Egypt as not being presented by the concerned State.

Protesters in Egypt in 2013 (c) AP photo/Amr Nabil

The communication had been submitted on 13 December 2013 by lawyers acting for, amongst others, the Freedom and Justice Party. It purported to accept the jurisdiction of the Court over the State of Egypt with respect to crimes committed on its territory since 1 June 2013.

In dismissing the communication, the Registry in consultation with the Office of the Prosecutor, found that the communication could not validly accept the jurisdiction of the Court under  Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute as the petitioners

“lacked the requisite authority under international law to act on behalf of the State of Egypt for the purpose of the Rome Statute.”

The Freedom and Justice Party consider themselves to be the democratically elected representatives in Egypt. In a press release, they express their disappointment with the decision and assert that it will not hinder accountability before the ICC. They maintain that the communication

“contained a clear and reasonable legal basis for opening a preliminary examination into the situation in Egypt and was supported by independent opinions from leading international law experts.”

Members of the Party’s legal team include former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former UN Special Rapporteur Professor John Dugard, and ICC specialist Rodney Dixon QC.

The Court remains unable to exercise its jurisdiction over Egypt until it either becomes a State Party, the UN Security Council refers the situation to the Court, or a valid Article 12(3) declaration is made. 

Continued Detention in the Bemba Obstruction Case: Justified?

by Alex Whiting

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

The decision of an ICC

Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to continue the detention of two of the five suspects in the Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Bemba) Article 70 case has generated some overheated and unwarranted criticism. Bemba’s lead defense attorney, Aimé Kilolo Musamba (Kilolo), and case manager, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo (Mangenda), were arrested along with Bemba and two others and charged with paying and coaching witnesses to lie in the ongoing case at the ICC against Bemba, referred to as the “Main Case.” In the words of the PTC, the evidence shows a reasonable basis to believe that the suspects engaged in “a criminal scheme … [to] afford[] benefits and advantages to certain Defense witnesses in exchange for false testimony and the presentation of false or forged evidence in the [Main] Case [against Bemba at the ICC], in violation of article 70(1)(b) and (c) of the Statute.” The PTC denied Kilolo and Mangenda’s separate motions for release, finding that the evidence demonstrates that both pose a risk of flight and of obstructing or endangering ongoing investigations.

In a post at Opinio Juris entitled, “PTC II to Defence Attorneys: You are All Criminals,” Kevin Jon Heller accuses PTC II of showing “contempt” for the role of the defense in its decision, in particular in its consideration of Kilolo’s connections to Bemba and his network of associates and Mangenda’s knowledge of protected witnesses in the Main Case. While people may of course disagree on the ultimate question of detention in this case (though I think the detention decision is wholly justified), the PTC’s consideration of these factors was entirely proper. Despite Heller’s provocative title, in fact the PTC did not say anything at all to “Defence Attorneys” as a group, let alone accuse them of being “All Criminals.” Continue reading

Update of ICRC International Humanitarian Law Database

ICRC Humanitarian ActionToday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has made available on its online, free of charge Customary IHL database an update of State practice of 7 countries and 3 tribunals relating to armed conflicts and humanitarian issues such as the distinction between combatants and civilians, the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, the protection of internally displaced persons, the protection of children and in particular child soldiers, the prohibition of sexual violence and slavery, the integration of international humanitarian law (IHL) into the training and operations of armed forces, and the prosecution of war crimes.

Practice up till the end of 2010 of the following countries has been included for this most recent update of the Database: Armenia, Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Georgia, Nepal and New Zealand. Case-law of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice dealing with questions of IHL has also been updated. New practice is marked in green throughout the database.

The purpose of the Customary IHL database is to make not only the rules of customary IHL but also the underlying State and international practice easily accessible by everyone interested in the interpretation and application of IHL. The information in the database is easily accessible by means of three search parameters: subject matter, type of practice and country, which can be used separately or can be combined in a powerful search engine.

The database will continue to be updated with practice from about 100 countries and a number of relevant international bodies. The next updates of both national and international practice are scheduled for June and July 2014.

Last Newsletter of the Human Rights Review Panel

HRRPThe Human Rights Review Panel (HRRP) has issued its eighth newsletter. The newsletter comprises a detailed analysis of the Panel’s decisions over the last two months.

The newsletter also highlights the Panel’s visit to the Law Faculty of the AAB University of Pristina where the Panel was given the opportunity to brief students on its mandate, work and case-load.

An outreach campaign was also recently organized by meeting with the Mayor of Pristina as well as with the Director of the Kosovo Police and the Director of the European Centre for Minority Issues in Kosovo.

The HRRP’s mandate is to review alleged human rights violations by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) in the conduct of its executive mandate. The Panel will look into whether a violation of human rights occurred or not and formulate recommendations for remedial action.

iLawyer Dr. Guénaël Mettraux is a member of the Panel.

ICC Congo Witness on Hunger Strike

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

Last week, a Congolese witness detained in the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s detention unit for over three years has decided to go on hunger strike.

Floribert Ndjabu is one of three witnesses who sought asylum in the Netherlands after giving testimony in 2011 in the cases of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga.

Ndjabu, Pierre Celestin Mbodina and Manda Charif were sent from a prison in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were being held pending trial for alleged war crimes.

During their testimonies, they implicated Joseph Kabila as having a hand in the massacres for which Ngudjolo and Katanga were accused.

Fearing prosecution after their testimonies if they were sent back to the DRC, they sought asylum in the Netherlands.

However, three years later, their case is still pending before the Dutch Supreme Court, which is to begin hearings on June 6.

“Floribert is desperate because he’s been held at the detention unit for three years as an asylum seeker and the Netherlands refuses to take him […] He’s afraid that the process will go on much longer and that he’ll be in detention for many more years” said Ndjabu’s lawyer.

He added that one of the other witnesses was also thinking of going on hunger strike.

In January, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber ordered the three men to be sent home, pressing the Dutch authorities for a decision on their asylum bid.