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 Chad’s 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 Habre’s 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), Habre’s 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.
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 Commission’s 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.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
On 3 March, the International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon of the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) charged two former Khmer Rouge members with several crimes committed during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
The suspects in both cases, known as Cases 003 and 004, have been charged in absentia. Both suspects are thought to be among those most responsible for Khmer Rouge atrocities committed between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.
Meas Muth, suspect in Case 003, is said to have had authority over sending people to S-21, the notorious security prison, where they were tortured and ultimately killed. A high ranking navy commander in the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea, Muth is accused of torture and killing of Vietnamese, Thai and other foreigners captured at sea and on the islands over which Democratic Kampuchea claimed sovereignty. He is also charged with having committed Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
Im Chaem, a former district commander was charged with homicide, the crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts at the Phnom Tryoung security centre in Banteay Meanchey province. She was further charged with the crimes against humanity of murder, enslavement, imprisonment and other inhumane acts for her role at the Spean Sreng work site. Continue reading
Lately there has been a resurgent in the calls from the international community for reform of the United Nations (UN) system in order to better protect populations from mass atrocities. This year commemorates the 70th anniversary of the United Nation’s founding in 1945, which was created to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” but it has sparked debate about the functioning of the different bodies of the UN.
©UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Yesterday, Amnesty International released its 2014/2015 annual report urging the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the UK, China, France, Russia and the US) to renounce their power of veto in situations of genocide and other mass atrocities.
Salil Shetty, the organisation’s Secretary General, said in a statement that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had “miserably failed” to protect civilians and that the UNSC permanent members had used their veto to “promote their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians.”
A week earlier, Madeleine Albright, chair of the Advisory Council of The Hague Institute for Global Justice and former US Secretary of State, voiced her concern about the world’s attempt to uphold an international order which came into place 70 years ago while an “awful lot of things have changed in the meantime.” Continue reading
The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh
Last week, an independent report into the proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh was published. The comprehensive evidence-based report by Geoffrey Robertson QC is the first of its kind and concludes that the Tribunal’s proceedings fall seriously short of international standards.
Since its inception, the International Crimes Tribunal, which has passed a number of death sentences on opposition political leaders for crimes allegedly committed in the 1971 civil war in East Pakistan, has been the subject of significant criticism from both those who have appeared before it and numerous legal experts. All of whom have concluded that the ICT does not adhere to internationally recognised standards.
According to the 126-page report, the major concerns about the ICT are that the Tribunal lacks impartiality, it allows for the death penalty to be imposed without providing a higher standard of procedural safeguards, it permits trials in absentia and there are concerns about witness tampering and intimidation.
Further, the Tribunal appears to have no rules about admissibility of evidence: many of the convictions have been based on hearsay, and in effect, on guilt by association. The Tribunal does not provide the basic guarantees required by international human rights treaties; the rules about providing adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence have been consistently breached, and most notably, defendants are excluded from enjoying the constitutional protections available to all other Bangladeshi citizens. Continue reading