On 27 March 2015, the International Co-Investigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) charged former Khmer Rouge official Ao An, also known as Ta An, with crimes against humanity and premeditated homicide.
Ao An, aka Ta An, photographed in 2011. Photo Courtesy DC-CAM
Ta An appeared in person at the court to hear the charges related to purges and executions at the crime sites of Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security centre and Wat Au Trakuon security centre.
Ta An, the former deputy secretary of the Central Zone during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, is the second suspect charged in Case 004. Earlier this month, the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal charged former district commander Im Chaem in the same case. Continue reading
The Trial Chamber of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone has denied former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s request to serve the remainder of his 50-year sentence in a prison in Rwanda.
On the 25th of March, the Public Information Section of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone issued a press release with the decision. Although the Trial Chamber had already arrived at its decision on 30 January 2015, it had waited with the public release of its decision as a related motion had still been pending.
Since his conviction was confirmed by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) in September 2013, Mr Taylor has been incarcerated at Frankland Prison in Durham in the United Kingdom. However, all other persons convicted by the SCSL are serving their sentences at Mpanga Prison in Rwanda, and Mr Taylor is the only prisoner convicted by an international court forced to serve his sentence on another continent. Continue reading
A special criminal court in Chad has convicted accomplices of Chads former President Hissene Habre for crimes of torture and murder committed between 1982 and 1990.
The criminal court in Ndjamena sentenced seven ex-policemen to life imprisonment. Three others were sentenced to 20 years of hard labour. The other convictions ranged from 7 to 20 years in prison. Four of the in total 28 accused have been acquitted.
The defendants were accused of murder, torture, kidnapping, arbitrary detention, and assault and battery. Many of them were top security agents under Habres rule and kept key positions in the Chadian administration until they were arrested in 2013 and 2014.
Among the seven men sentenced to life imprisonment were Saleh Younous, former head of the Directorate of Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), Habres political police, and Mahamat Djibrine, described by a 1992 Chadian Truth Commission as one of the most feared torturers in Chad. Continue reading
Amsterdam Law School
Columbia University School of Law and the Amsterdam Law School offer a joint LLM programme in International Criminal Law. The Master’s programme in International Criminal Law is the first programme to focus on international criminal law as a distinct field of legal study. The central aim of the programme is to train a new style of international criminal lawyers by offering a broad and deep understanding of relevant issues and supporting the development of academic skills through the analysing of such issues.
The programme is unique because of the dual perspective it offers on international criminal law: the common law and criminal law-oriented focus from Columbia University and the civil law and criminal law perspective offered by the Amsterdam Law School.
The deadline for application is 1 April.
THE HAGUE On 5, 6 and 7 March 2015, 22 experts gathered for a conference at The Hague Institute for Global Justice to look at the legacy of the Armenian Genocide from the perspective of law, humanities, media, arts and letters, politics and education. Speakers focused on the influence that this event and its denial have had on research and practice in their disciplines. This event was organized by Alexis Demirdjian (Centennial Project Foundation), the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) and the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies (USC IAS).
On the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, organisations and State agencies around the world will acknowledge, reflect and consider its impact and relevance today. Discussions will ignite in academic institutions, classrooms, around dinner tables, in community centres and church halls, in centres of government and in the press. Much of these discussions in the past have focused on the Genocide itself, leaving little space to consider its relevance today. Addressing this issue, therefore, was the contribution of this conference and of the upcoming book to be published by the end of 2015, said Alexis Demirdjian, an attorney who has many years experience working in the various criminal justice institutions located in the city of The Hague. Continue reading
by Samuel Linehan
The International Criminal Court
The challenges for the International Criminal Court posed by state non-cooperation and potential new situations were considered at a panel discussion hosted by Chatham House and Doughty Street Chambers on 11 March 2015.
The panellists were Shehzad Charania, Legal Adviser and Head, International Law Team, British Embassy, The Hague; Liz Evenson, Senior Counsel, Human Rights Watch; and Dr Rod Rastan, Legal Adviser, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court. The chair was Elizabeth Wilmshurst. The Chatham House Rule was not applied.
Liz Evenson noted that there are different modes and levels of cooperation with the ICC. Some obstacles can be overcome; for example remote investigation may be possible where there is no access to a territory. However, as reflected in the new OTP investigative policy, in situ investigations are preferable. Other obstacles cannot be overcome, such as refusal to execute an arrest warrant. The Kenya situation demonstrated the effect of non-cooperation on the outcome of proceedings.
Rod Rastan emphasised that cooperation is fundamental to a court which lacks the investigative and enforcement apparatus of a developed jurisdiction. The issue was not resolved by the Rome Statute, as the only remedy for non-cooperation is a reference to the UN Security Council or the Assembly of States Parties. This requires a collective response from the international community. Cooperation worked at the ICTY, as initial hesitation was overcome with the assistance of NATO and the EU.
Shehzad Charania considered what the international community can do in the face of non-cooperation. In the Darfur Situation, the matter was referred to the Security Council by the Pre-Trial Chamber. The signs there are not good, despite the UKs support for the ICC. The same is true of the Libya Situation. An indication of the current climate is the fact that at present the Security Council cannot even agree to acknowledge a letter from the President of the ICC. The low point was the failure to refer the situation in Syria. However there are some signs of progress. The ICC has a central position in various policy debates, for example on the protection of women and journalists in conflict. The Security Council has never entered into discussion of concrete measures in response to non-cooperation; the obvious response would be sanctions. The Assembly of States Parties has agreed to avoid all non-essential contact with indictees. Continue reading
As the war in Syria entered its fifth year, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on Tuesday called for the establishment of an ad-hoc tribunal to prosecute both sides to ensure accountability for the perpetrators of mass crimes committed in Syria.
Members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria ©Martial Trezzini / EPA
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva warning that the Syrian civil war had intensified in its destructive scale as combatants used aerial and ground weapons indiscriminately and disproportionately and committed an alarming number of human rights violations.
The Commission of Inquiry reiterated the Commissions dedication to find a path to justice through a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, it held that ensuring accountability was a process rather than a single action and that impunity had lasted for too long. Continue reading
Justice Rapid Response has just released its 2014 Annual Report, capturing its growth and achievements for the past year and plans for 2015.
Justice Rapid Response is a mechanism that manages the rapid deployment of criminal justice and related professionals from a stand-by roster. Created by States from North and South to ensure that the capacity and the mechanisms are in place to conduct credible investigations wherever needed, its objective is to give the international community an effective and efficient tool to deliver on its commitment to ending impunity. To meet this goal, Justice Rapid Response established a diverse, global, expert roster of criminal justice and related professionals. These deployments can be requested by the international community: States and international or regional organizations with appropriate jurisdiction, such as various parts of the United Nations system or the International Criminal Court, to investigate, analyze and report on situations where serious human rights and international criminal violations have been reported.
Mrs. Mary McGowan Davis, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry
Today, the President of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Ambassador Joachim Ruecker, met with the Commissioners of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. At this meeting, the Commissioners submitted a letter requesting a deferral to June 2015 in order to have additional time to present their report that was originally awaited by the HRC on 23 March.
The request was justified on the grounds that additional information had been recently received and had to be weighed, but also on the necessary adjustments that followed the resignation of the Commission former chair.
Among international mobilization for 2015 International Women’s Day, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has decided to seize the opportunity to “reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”
The ICTY released today a short video in which ICTY President Theodor Meron and representatives of the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry highlight the Tribunal’s ground-breaking work on the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence.
“For many centuries, rape and other forms of sexual violence committed in the context of armed conflict were often seen as an inevitable and even legitimate by-product of war,” said President Meron. “Now, however, and thanks in great part to the work of the Tribunal, such brutal and appalling acts are seen for what they are: alleged crimes, for which accountability can and must be sought. This represents a remarkable achievement not just for the ICTY but for women and men of conscience everywhere.”
In the press release accompanying the video, it is reminded that almost half of the cases at the Tribunal have dealt with instances of sexual and gender-based violence — mainly, but not exclusively, against women. In the context of these cases, the Tribunal’s Judges have issued a number of landmark rulings, including rulings recognising the crime of rape may constitute a form of torture (Prosecutor v. Mucić et al.) and sexual enslavement may constitute a crime against humanity (Prosecutor v. Kunarac et al.).
The ICTY has also set key practical and procedural precedents related to the treatment of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The ICTY’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, for example, do not require corroboration of the testimony of a victim of sexual violence. Consent is not recognised if the circumstances in which it was given are deemed coercive by the Judges. In addition, protective measures – such as protection of name, face and voice, or closed session testimony – are used to protect victims’ identity.