ECCC: Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch to Testify in Case 002/02

by Tibor Bajnovič

Kaing Guek Eav alias DuchKaing Guek Eav alias Duch, a former chairman of the S-21 Security Centre, is scheduled to testify in Case 002/02 from 26 May 2016. He is called to testify on the topic of Security Centres and Internal Purges, in particular S-21 Security Centre. Duch first appeared as a witness in Case 002/01 in March and April 2012.

Duch was the first Khmer Rouge official to stand on trial before the ECCC in Case 001. On 26 July 2010, the Trial Chamber convicted Duch of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions for his role at the S-21 Security Centre. In that role he oversaw the torture and execution of at least 12,272 individuals. Duch was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, with a reduction of five years as a remedy for his eight-year unlawful detention by Cambodian Military Court. The sentence caused a widespread public dissatisfaction in Cambodia.

On 3 February 2012, the Supreme Court Chamber — the ECCC’s final court of appeal — overturned the sentence imposed on Duch at trial, increasing it to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court Chamber also refused to provide a remedy for Duch’s eight-year illegal detention on the ground that the ECCC was not responsible for the violation. From a human rights and fair trial perspective, the Supreme Court Chamber’s treatment of Duch’s eight-year illegal detention raised significant concerns.

The Case 002 has been severed into two separate trials, each addressing a different section of the indictment. The trial judgement in Case 002/01 was pronounced on 7 August 2014. Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were both found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment. Following the appeals filed by both Accused, the appeal hearings in Case 002/01 commenced on 2 July 2015 and were closed by the President of the Supreme Court Chamber on 18 February 2016.

The trial hearings in Case 002/02 commenced on 17 October 2014 and are ongoing. It is expected that evidentiary hearings in Case 002/02 will conclude later this year, with a judgement to follow in 2017.

Amnesty: Report on the Legal and Institutional Implications of the Merged and Expanded African Court

Amnesty InternationalIn June 2014, the African Union (AU) adopted the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human rights (Malabo Protocol), which extends the jurisdiction of the yet-to-be established African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) to crimes under international law and transnational crimes.

While the ACJHR can play a vastly positive role in a continent persistently afflicted by the scourge of conflict and impunity for crimes under international law, there are a number of concerns and implications arising from the proposal to expand its jurisdiction.

This report, written by Rachel Murray in collaboration with Amnesty International, looks at how the expanded jurisdiction will affect relevant stakeholders, including victims of gross violations of human rights, the AU, and Civil Society Organisations. It is hoped that this publication will generate frank and open discussion amongst the relevant stakeholders on the implications of the Malabo Protocol.

Bangladesh Executes Islamist Leader Nizami for War Crimes  

Motiur Rahman NIzami

Motiur Rahman NIzami

Just after midnight local time on Wednesday, Motiur Rahman NIzami, the 73-year old leader of the Jamaat-e-Islamy party, was hanged to death after having been convicted for war crimes during Bangladesh’s violent independence struggle from Pakistan in 1971, media report. His final plea against the death sentenced was rejected by the Supreme Court on 5 May.

Nizami was convicted by the controversial International Crimes Tribunal for genocide, rape and orchestrating the massacre of top intellectuals during the war.

Nizami is the fifth person to be sentenced to death by the war crimes tribunal since 2013, and the fourth executed Jamaat leader. Ali Ahsan, Mohammad Mojaheed, Abdul Quader Molla, and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman were all executed on similar charges. All those sentenced to death were opposition politicians.

According to Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asia division at the Human Rights Watch, the trial was neither free nor fair as the court was cutting corners on fair trial standards, Al Jazeera reports.

“For example, Nizami was allowed to have only four defence witnesses as a man fighting for his life. And the court did allow defence to challenge the inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses,” he told Al Jazeera from Bangkok.

At the beginning of last year, an independent report into the proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal by Geoffrey Robertson QC concluded that the Tribunal’s proceedings fell seriously short of international standards. According to Robertson, although the Court was set up entirely properly for a legitimate objective, the Act establishing the Tribunal being drafted with the assistance of the International Commission of Jurists, the Tribunal is in practice ordering the execution of the governments’ main opponents.

Media report that the controversial execution raises fears of fresh political violence. In 2013, the convictions of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders by the tribunal triggered some of Bangladesh’s most deadly political violence in decades, with hundreds of people killed, mostly in clashes between Islamists and police. Jamaat-e-Islami reportedly called for a nationwide strike on Thursday in protest of the execution.

Switzerland: Arrests and Possible Extraditions of Two Kosovan War Crimes Suspects

Kosovo WarLast week, the Swiss authorities have arrested two Kosovans wanted by Serbia for suspected war crimes.

The men, whose identity was kept confidential, are suspected of committing war crimes as members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the 1998–99 war.

The first man is suspected of participating in armed attacks in 1998 against two villages situated in Kosovo.

Serbia accuses him of a range of crimes, including murder, rape and conducting illegal arrests.

The second man was arrested during a routine check in Geneva and is suspected of having killed a civilian in 1999.

The Serbian authorities have requested their extradition but both men have refused it.

Moreover, Kosovo insists that it should handle cases of suspected war crimes committed by Kosovan citizens, and not Serbia.

In that vein, the Kosovo Justice Minister sent a letter to his Swiss counterpart to object to any plans to extradite the men to Serbia.

The Swiss Justice Ministry confirmed that the Swiss Justice Minister had received a letter, and had responded, addressing his concerns.

100th Newsletter of the ICTY Association of Defence Counsel

ADC-ICTY-300x300The Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) has published the 100th issue of its newsletter.

This edition covers the recent developments in the Mladić case as well as in the Karadžić case, where the Defence filed two motions before the Appeals Chamber of the MICT (Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals) requesting on one hand the Prosecution to disclose statements to the Defence and on the other hand access to Ex Parte Filings in Completed Cases.

The newsletter also addresses the recent developments which took place at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as well as in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a war crimes trial is held against a former Bosnian Presidency Member, Borislav Paravac, accused of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise, targeting the Bosniak and Croat civilian population in Doboj (Northern Bosnia) between May 1992 and the end of 1993.

The newsletter also contains an op-ed analysis on the recent conviction of Radovan Karadžić and whether his conviction impedes Ratko Mladić’s right to a fair trial.

U.S.: Croatian Woman Can Be Extradited on War Crimes Charges

Azra Basic

Azra Basic

U.S. Federal appeals judges have recently upheld a decision allowing the extradition of Azra Basic to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Muslim Croatian woman accused of murder and torture during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

Basic had challenged a ruling by U.S. District Judge that said Basic could be deported to face trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Basic came to the United States as a refugee in 1994. She settled in Kentucky and became a naturalized citizen in 2007.

Basic’s attorney argued that a treaty does not allow extradition of U.S. citizens to Bosnia and that Bosnian authorities did not issue a proper arrest warrant for her.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the treaty in place between the United States and Bosnia does not bar Basic from being extradited.

The Court of Appeals also said that while there was no warrant of arrest against Basic as such, other documents in the file constituted a valid warrant. Continue reading

Death of John R.W.D. Jones QC

John JonesIt is with extreme sadness that we announce the death of our dear friend and colleague John R.W.D. Jones QC.

John was a pioneer in the field of international criminal law, an adventurer, a great friend and a loving and devoted father.

We will miss John terribly.

Our loving thoughts are with Misa, their wonderful boys and John’s family.

(http://www.doughtystreet.co.uk/news/article/doughty-street-mourns-john-jones-qc)

(http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/articles/statement-defence-support-section-passing-john-rwd-jones-qc)

Rwandan Politician Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Genocide

Léon Mugesera

Léon Mugesera

Last Friday, Léon Mugesera has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Rwanda for inciting his countrymen to commit genocide.

Mugesera was accused of having delivered a fiery speech in Rwanda in 1992 in which he suggested that members of the Tutsi ethnic group should be exterminated. His speech is considered to have been a trigger for the massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

Some excerpts from the speech were played repeatedly on Rwandan radio stations, including Radio Mille Collines.

Mugesera was a political adviser to the party of then president Juvenal Habyarimana. He fled Rwanda in 1992 settling with his family in Canada as a refugee and working as a lecturer in linguistics at Laval University.

In 1995, the Canadian government initiated extradition proceedings to send him back to Rwanda, where he was wanted for genocide. Mugesera was extradited in January 2012. His trial began in November 2013 in Kigali.

According to his lawyer, the Canadian government made “a big mistake” in not being more wary of the Rwandan government led by Paul Kagame, claiming that Mugesera did not get a fair trial and was doomed from the start.

“His speech was a very harsh one but it was not an incitement to murder or genocide or hatred,” his lawyer said. He added that Mugesera is a “great democrat” who could have become president of Rwanda.

Amnesty International: Israel Must Cease Intimidation of Palestinian Human Rights Defenders

Palestine IsraelAmnesty International issued a report this week calling on the Israeli authorities to end their long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders (HRDs) and halt the climate of intimidation of HRDs in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

According to the report, Israel is routinely violating Palestinians’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association in the OPT and are targeting HRDs, including by arbitrary arrest and detention, imprisonment, injury and torture. Israel authorities also are failing to protect HRDs from attacks by Israeli settlers and other extreme right wing activists, and in some cases they have been complicit in such attacks.

The report of Amnesty International lists a number of specific situations where human rights defenders have been intimidated, threatened by death, arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.

In February and March 2016, a staff member and the director of Al-Haq, a prominent Palestinian human rights NGO, were subjected to a number of death threats. According to the report, these threats are directly connected to the organisation’s work with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Israeli ministers allegedly made calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, against Omar Barghouti, a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist, at an anti-Boycott Divestment and Sanction conference in Jerusalem on 28 March 2016. Continue reading

French Court of Appeal Rules to Extradite Suspected War Criminal

Radomir SusnjarToday, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled to extradite Radomir Susjnar, a suspected Bosnian Serb paramilitary, to Bosnia-Herzegovina to face charges of crimes against humanity.

Bosnia-Herzegovina wants Susnjar to face accusations he was part of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group that massacred 59 Bosnian Muslims in the city of Visegrad in June 1992.

Witnesses say Susnjar personally locked the people – most of them women, children or elderly – inside a house and set it on fire. All but eight of them perished.

He was arrested in the Paris region in April 2014.

The court’s ruling in favour of extradition on international principles was a relief to victims, who had called on the court not to set precedent they feared would allow war criminals to find a safe haven in France. Continue reading