A Dutch appeals court ruled on Wednesday that three former Dutchbat commanders will not be prosecuted for their role in the massacre of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.
Family members of three victims had asked the Dutch court to order the prosecution of Dutch commanding officer Thom Karremans, his deputy Rob Franken and personnel officer Berend Oosterveen, accusing them of knowingly allowing or forcing three Muslim men to leave the UN peacekeepers compound, which led to their deaths.
The three former UN Dutchbat commanders led the Dutch soldiers during the fall of the Muslim enclave. About 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves in mid-July 1995 at Srebrenica by Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic, himself now on trial for genocide and war crimes before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
According to the court in Arnhem, prosecutors had made the right judgment in deciding last year not to prosecute the three soldiers for forcing two of the men to quit the compound after reaching terms with the Serbs. It held that there was no basis to assume that the three former commanders knew about the massacres that had taken place elsewhere (paragraph 9.3 of the ruling). Moreover, the former Dutchbat commanders had no knowledge at the time of the genocidal intent of the Bosnian Serbs (paragraph 11.1 of the ruling). Continue reading
William Ruto and Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Last week, the Dutch embassy in Nairobi confirmed that a Kenyan government official was arrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, carrying false papers. He did not enter the Netherlands but was imprisoned and then sent back to Kenya.
The Kenyan official in question would have tried to meet ICC witness 727 in the Netherlands, who is the last Kenyan prosecution witness set to testify in the Kenyan trials against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
Witness 727 is currently hiding in the Netherlands, refusing to testify following serious intimidation, says his lawyer Goran Sluiter.
According to him, “it’s clear that the ICC has fully underestimated these cases. If the Kenyan trials had been calm and quiet, it might have been the right treatment. But now the ICC is ruled by fear of Kenya and the African Union. They should step up action against suspects.”
Many (possible) witnesses are said to have been intimidated in the Ruto and Sang trials. The case against President Uhuru Kenyatta was dropped by the Prosecution because of a lack of evidence.
Dates: 6 July – 11 July 2015
Venue: ICTY, Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW The Hague
The Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before The International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia (ADC-ICTY) is organising another Mock Trial this year with the support of the International Criminal Law Bureau. The Mock Trial is a one-week event hosted by the ADC-ICTY in The Hague. The week includes hands-on evening sessions for young professionals in the field of international criminal law and a one-day Mock Trial exercise in the ICTY courtroom in front of ICTY Judges and Counsel.
The evening sessions focus on practical skills and expertise and are given by experienced Defence Counsel to prepare participants for a career in international criminal law. Topics include “legal drafting”, “oral trial advocacy”, “opening and closing statements” and “ethics in international criminal law”. Participants will be requested to make written filings in teams as well as perform in the courtroom on the day of the Mock Trial.
Participants will be allocated to one Prosecution team and three Defence teams, or play one of the two witnesses or one of the three accused.
The deadline for applications is 15 May 2015. For application or any other queries, please contact the ADC-ICTY Head Office. For more information, see the Mock Trial Flyer and Programme 2015.
Today started what should be one the final trials for Nazi war crimes in Lueneburg, Germany. Oskar Groening, former guard at Auschwhitz, is facing charges of accessory to the murder of about 300,000 Jews from May to June 1944.
Mr. Groening leaves the court building after the first day of the trial against him ©Markus Schreiber/AP
Now 93 years old, Mr. Groening was 21 when he arrived in Auschwitz and describes his role as purely executive. Mr. Groening was repsonsible for collecting the belongings of the deportees and counting money confiscated at their arrival. The “bookkeeper” nonetheless admitted his moral guilt, which for him differs from his legal guilt. “If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty, but not voluntarily. Legally speaking, I am innocent,” he told Der Spiegel in 2005.
In a documentary to the BBC in 2005, Mr. Groening has decided to come forward and testify about what he witnessed in Auschwitz. His objective, he said, was to fight Holocaust deniers: “I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria.”
Charges were first brought against Mr. Groening in the 1980s, but they had to be dropped because of a lack of evidence. Following more recent jurisprudence, prosecutors now believe Mr. Groening could be convicted just for having worked at the camp. If found guilty, he could face three to 15 years in prison.
Date: 15-19 June 2015
Location: Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, University Rd, Galway, Ireland.
The annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premiere summer school specializing on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Summer School comprises a series of intensive and interactive lectures over five days given by leading academics and legal professionals working at the ICC. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures, operations, and applicable law. Specific topics covered include international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity & aggression), jurisdiction, modes of liability, the role of victims and prosecutorial discretion.
This year’s Summer School will include a special session on Palestine and the International Criminal Court, which will involve the participation of the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek.
The summer school is attended by legal professionals, academics, postgraduate students, journalists and staff of civil society or intergovernmental organisations. A limited number of scholarships are available. To register and for more information regarding the 2015 ICC Summer School, please visit the conference website or send an email. Registrations will close on 30 May 2015.
The ADC-ICTY (Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before The International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia) is organising a number of advocacy training sessions in 2015, focusing on a variety of essential topics in the practice of international criminal law. These are one-day events taking place at the ICTY in The Hague, presented by renowned Defence Counsel and ADC-ICTY members. Certificates are awarded and the sessions count towards CLE credits.
- 25 April 2015: Colleen Rohan – Drafting Trial Motions, Final Briefs and Appeals
- 16 May 2015: Christopher Gosnell – Preparing Oral Arguments
- 6 June 2015: Marie O’Leary – Witness Proofing
- 22 August 2015: Dragan Ivetić – Expert Witnesses
For further information, click here.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) published a report today, highlighting numerous failings in the drafting process and the provisions of the Statute of the Arab Court of Human Rights that fall short of international standards.
The 48-page report entitled “The Arab Court of Human Rights: A Flawed Statute for an Ineffective Court” calls on member States of the League of Arab States (LAS) to refrain from ratifying the Statute of the Arab Court of Human Rights unless and until it is comprehensively amended.
According to the ICJ, the Statute, approved by the Ministerial Council of the LAS on 7 September 2014, does not permit individuals or groups, including victims of human rights violations, to file a complaint directly with the Court. Only States parties, and NGOs that are both accredited in a State party and are specifically permitted to do so by that State, can bring cases before the Court. Continue reading