ICC Al-Bashir case: South Africa Failed to Comply but is not Referred to ASP/UNSC

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the 25th AU Summit in South Africa ©KIM LUDBROOK / EPA

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the 25th AU Summit in South Africa ©KIM LUDBROOK / EPA

On Thursday 6 July 2017, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found that South Africa failed to comply with its obligations under the Rome Statute in the Omar Al-Bashir case. The former President of Sudan had visited South Africa on 13 June 2015 to attend the 25th Assembly of the African Union.  The South African government then took no steps to arrest Omar Al Bashir, claiming he benefited from immunity as a head of State. In March 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa had ruled the government had shown unlawful conduct “in failing to take steps to arrest and detain, for surrender to the International Criminal Court, the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir.”

The ICC found that South Africa failed to comply with its obligations by not arresting and surrendering Omar Al-Bashir to the Court while he was on South African territory between 13 and 15 June 2015. The Court considered that immunities did not apply as Sudan was in an analogous situation to those of States Parties to the Statute as a result of the UNSC’s resolution, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, triggering the Court’s jurisdiction in the situation in Darfur and imposing on Sudan the obligation to cooperate fully with the Court.

However, the Chamber considered that it is not warranted to refer South Africa’s non-compliance to the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) or the Security Council of the United Nations (UNSC). This decision was motivated on the facts that South Africa was the first State Party to seek from the Court a final legal determination on the extent of its obligations to execute a request for arrest and surrender of Omar Al-Bashir and that South Africa’s domestic courts have already found South Africa to be in breach of its obligations under its domestic legal framework.

For the full decision, click here.

Habré’s Life Sentence Upheld on Appeal

Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, during his trial by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar, Senegal, in 2015 ©Seyllou/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, during his trial by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar, Senegal, in 2015 ©Seyllou/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Today, the Appeals Court of the Extraordinary African Chambers upheld the life sentence for Chad’s former President Hissène Habré. Chad’s former President had been convicted of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes, and sentenced to life in prison on May 30, 2016.

Habré was found guilty of rape, sexual slavery, torture and summary execution during his rule from 1982 to 1990. According to a 1992 Chadian Truth Commission, Habré’s government was responsible for conducting 40,000 political murders and systematically torturing more than 20,000.

Habré is the first African former head of state to be convicted in Africa, and the first former head of any state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by the courts of another country. It is also the first time that a former head of state has been convicted of personally raping someone. It is furthermore the first prosecution in Africa under universal jurisdiction.

The Extraordinary African Chambers, based in Dakar, Senegal, were created by the African Union and Senegal following a complaint filed by Hissène Habré to the Court of the Economic Community of West African States on the principle of non-retroactivity of the Senegalese new criminal provisions adopted in 2007-2008. The Chambers, especially dedicated to the trial of Hissène Habré, are composed of African judges and apply international criminal law, following Senegalese criminal procedure.

2017 International Criminal Court Summer School

Date: 19 – 23 June 2017

Location: Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, University Rd, Galway, Ireland.

Default_conf_TopstripThe annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premier summer school specialising on the International Criminal Court. The summer school allows participants the opportunity to attend a series of intensive lectures over five days. The lectures are given by leading academics on the subject as well as by legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court. The interactive and stimulating course is particularly suited to postgraduate students, legal professionals, scholars, and NGO workers. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures and operations, and the applicable law. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, jurisdiction, fair trial rights, and the rules of procedure and evidence.

This year’s ICC Summer School will include a topical special session on Corporate Crimes and the International Criminal Court.

To register and for more information regarding the 2017 ICC Summer School, please visit the website, download the 2017 Poster or send an email.

Event: Northumbria University Summer Academy

The Northumbria University organizes an inaugural summer academy on “Contemporary Challenges to International Criminal Justice”.

Date: 12th – 16th June 2017

Venue: Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK

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This novel summer academy provides an opportunity for participants to acquire in-depth knowledge on the most pressing issues facing the international criminal justice system from the leading scholars and practitioners in the field. Speakers will share their expertise and experience on a varied range of topics to encourage and inspire postgraduate research in law and criminology.  Continue reading

ICC: Bemba Sentenced to One Additional Year for Corruption of Witnesses

Jean-Pierre Bemba ©Michael Kooren/AFP/Getty Images

Jean-Pierre Bemba ©Michael Kooren/AFP/Getty Images

Today, Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba to one additional year in prison for his October 2016 conviction of guilty of offences against the administration of justice. The Court had found Mr. Bemba and four other accused guilty of corruption and supporting false testimonies. Mr. Bemba was also fined 300,000 euros. The four other accused were sentenced to imprisonment from 6 months to 2 and a half years, but had their time deduced from the time they have already spent in prison.

On 21 March 2016, Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty by the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003. On 22 June, Mr. Bemba was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment. In September, the Defence for Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba filed an appeal against his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity in front of the Appeals Chamber of the ICC.

The decision on sentence can be found here.

JICJ Call for papers: ICC policies and strategies

To mark 15 years since the coming into force of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 1 July 2002, the Journal of International Criminal Justice has announced a forthcoming symposium on ‘The International Criminal Court’s Policies and Strategies’ to be published in July 2017.

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The Court and its various organs have continually issued a number of documents explaining the Court’s policies on numerous distinct issues as well as its strategies for the future. The Journal’s Editorial Committee believes that the time has come to take a closer and systematic look at these documents, looking at the choices made thus far, the level of transparency and consistency, as well as suggesting avenues to strengthen the overall effectiveness and credibility of ICC investigative and prosecutorial strategies.

The Journal calls for submission of abstracts not exceeding 500 words on the questions described above, or related areas of interest, no later than 15 November 2016. After the abstracts are reviewed, in early December, the Editorial Committee will invite a number of contributors to submit full papers of no more than 8000 words (including an abstract and footnotes) by 28 February 2016. For more information about the call, please visit its webpage or contact the Executive Editor.

ICC: Bemba et al. Guilty of Offences Against the Administration of Justice

Jean-Pierre Bemba ©Michael Kooren/AFP/Getty Images

Jean-Pierre Bemba ©Michael Kooren/AFP/Getty Images

Today, Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on the accusations of offences against the administration of justice against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido. The five accused were found guilty of various offences relating to the false testimonies of defence witnesses in another case before the ICC: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Main Case).

The Chamber found that Mr. Bemba, Mr. Kilolo and Mr. Mangenda were guilty, as co-perpetrators, for having jointly committed the offences of intentionally corruptly influencing 14 defence witnesses, and presenting their false evidence to the court. The three accused were also foud guilty of either soliciting, inducing or aiding and abetting false testimonies by the defence witnesses. In addition, the Chamber found Mr. Babala guilty of aiding the corrupt influencing of two defence witnesses, and Mr. Arido was found guilty of corruptly influencing four defence witnesses.

The judgment was delivered today, 19 October 2016, during a public hearing in the presence of all five accused. The Prosecutor and the Defence may appeal the judgment within 30 days. For these types of offences, according to the Rome Statute, the judges may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years and/or a fine. The Chamber shall pronounce the penalties at a subsequent stage.

On 21 March 2016, Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty by the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003. On 22 June, Mr. Bemba was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment. In September, the Defence for Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba filed an appeal against his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity in front of the Appeals Chamber of the ICC.

The summary of the judgment can be found here and the delivery of the judgment can be watched here.

UK Against an International Inquiry in Yemen

Air strike on Sanaa ©Reuters

Air strike on Sanaa ©Reuters

The United Kingdom (UK) is accused by several human rights organizations to have blocked a joint European Union (EU) proposal to establish an independent international inquiry into the war in Yemen. Instead, the EU submission that was submitted on Friday 23 September to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) asks the UN body to dispatch a mission “with assistance from relevant experts, to monitor and report on the situation … in Yemen”.

The proposal, which was submitted by Slovakia on behalf of the EU, was initiated by the Netherlands in an effort to bring together a European coalition requiring an inquiry to be set up and to examine civilian deaths in Yemen. According to the OHCHR, 3,980 civilians have been killed and 6,909 injured between 26 March 2015 and 22 September 2016. In a press release published on the same day, the OHCHR has expressed its will to see an international inquiry being set up: “In the light of the high civilian casualty numbers and the terrible suffering of the civilian population, we urge all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including their obligation to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. We reiterate our call for the setting up of an international and independent investigative body.”

The international investigation inquiry would have to review Saudi’s interventions in Yemen, as the armed coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, is accused of committing war crimes against civilians. UK Foreign Secretary General Boris Johnson has publicly rejected the need for such an inquiry or statements on any breach of international law. Responding to questions relating to a recent airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition which killed at least 19 civilians, including children, he replied that the UK was “using a very, very wide variety of information sources about what is happening to acquaint ourselves with the details”

But assertions from human rights organizations accuse the UK to protect its ally. Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “For 18 months now, UK arms have been central to the destruction of Yemen. The aid that is being given amounts to a small fraction of the damage that has been caused and pales in comparison to the £3.3bn worth of arms that have been licensed. Theresa May and Boris Johnson must end the arms sales and put a stop to the uncritical support that the UK provides for the Saudi regime.”

According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports, more than 70 “unlawful” coalition airstrikes – on homes, hospitals, markets, civilian factories and schools – some of which, they say, may amount to war crimes, and which have killed at least 913 civilians are documented. Human Rights Watch also claims that the Houthi armed group and forces allied to it, including those loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, have committed numerous violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Lecture: The International Criminal Court at the Mercy of Powerful States

asser-logoDate: 29 June 2016, at 7 pm

Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22, The Hague, Netherlands

T.M.C. Asser Instituut, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden University organize a lecture on “The International Criminal Court at the Mercy of Powerful States: How the Rome Statute Promotes Legal Neo-Colonialism” with speaker Dr Res Schuerch, from the University of Amsterdam and University of Zürich.

Supranational Criminal Law Lectures are public and free of charge. Registration is not necessary, seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Former Auschwitz Guard Convicted

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Mr. Reinhold Hanning at his trial ©AFP/Getty Images

Today, the Detmold Court in Germany sentenced Mr. Reinhold Hanning to five years in jail for his former role as a guard at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944. The 94-year-old was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people. Mr. Hannig had acnkowledged that he knew what was happening in the camp but that he did nothing to stop it.

During the trial, about a dozen Auschwitz survivors testified. Mr. Hanning told the court “I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it and I apologise for my actions. I am very, very sorry.”

Until 2011, German prosecutors were required to provide evidence that defendants were directly involved in the killings. That changed with the conviction of John Demjanjuk, when a judge concluded that his activities as a camp worker in Nazi-occupied Poland amounted to complicity in mass murder.