Malala and Kailash Satyarthi: 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 to Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi.

Ill. N. Elmehed ©Nobel Media 2014

Ill. N. Elmehed ©Nobel Media 2014

With this decision, the Committee chose to recognize their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Moreover, the Committee insisted on the importance to have a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in this common struggle.

Maintaining Ghandi’s tradition, Mr Satyarthi is an Indian child rights campaigner who has headed various forms of peaceful protests and demonstrations against the grave exploitation of children for financial gain and who contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Malala Yousafzai, laureate of the European Union Sakharov human rights prize in 2013, becomes the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner. Malala has become a leading spokesperson defending the right of girls to education, and gave a powerful speech to the United Nations General Assembly last year.

ICC: The Challenges of the Defence

Court HammerIn a recent article in the French legal review “La Gazette du Palais”, the French Lawyer François Roux discusses the challenges faced by the Defence in front of the international jurisdictions, and more specifically at the International Criminal Court (ICC). After explaining that the creation of the Office of Public Counsel for Defence (OPCD) at the ICC constitutes an important step in order to reinforce the equality of arms and to enable a fair trial, Roux criticizes the fact that the OPCD falls within the remit and the authority of the Registry for administrative purposes and does not constitute per se an organ of the ICC, which is the case of the Office of the Prosecutor for instance.

On the contrary, he says, the Registry wants to replace the OPCD by an Association of Defence Counsel which would be external to the Court. For Roux, current Head of the Defence Office at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, it is essential that the Defence be permanently represented by an independent organ, equal to the Office of the Prosecutor, with the competence to conclude international agreements with States or to intervene at the Assembly of State Parties.

If you wish to read the article in French, click here.

Opening of the Srebrenica Documentation Center

Srebrenica Documentation Center

ICTY’s Vice-President Carmel Agius during the opening ceremony

Last month, the SENSE News agency has inaugurated the Srebrenica Documentation Center. The purpose of the Center is to show how the events in July 1995 in Srebrenica were investigated, reconstructed and prosecuted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Members of the many victims’ associations such as the Mothers of Srebrenica, political representatives from BH, the diplomatic corps and non-governmental organizations from Sarajevo, Zagreb, Belgrade, Podgorica and entire region were present at the opening ceremony. The opening attracted a lot of media interest.

Various representatives addressed the audience. Amongst them, the speech of the ICTY’s vice-president Carmel Agius caused a great deal of interest. The Maltese judge sees the opening of the Center as an important aspect of the Tribunal’s legacy and the best way to present the Tribunal’s work and to put the archives from The Hague to use. Continue reading

Mass Atrocity Crimes Database

The Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC) offers an online database referencing a selection of open-source materials, primarily from the United Nations, governments, and international, regional & civil society organizations, related to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes.

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GAAMAC is a state-led initiative dedicated to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and ethnic cleansing) at the national and regional level. GAAMAC provides support to states engaged in preventing mass atrocity crimes and assists states that are considering developing preventive strategies. GAAMAC also serves as a platform for exchange and dissemination of learning and good practices.

The first international GAAMAC meeting was held in San José in March 2014 and gathered state representatives around the need of a “Community of Commitment, Community of Practice”.

ICTY Association of Defence Counsel Newsletter no. 74

ADC-ICTY-300x300The Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) has published its newsletter no. 75.

This edition covers the recent cases in Prlić et al., the Defence cases in Mladić and Hadžić and the final briefs in Karadžić. In Karadžić, after the Trial Chamber denied the

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Defence motion to strike the Prosecution’s final brief, the case is now reaching its final stages. The Defence closing arguments will be held from 29 September to 2 October and will be followed by the rebuttal and rejoinder arguments on 7 October, with an expected verdict in October 2015.

The newsletter looks back at various decisions or judgments rendered years ago by the ICC, the ICTR and the ICTY but keeps us up to date as well with the current proceedings in front of the Bosnian Constitutional Court, Croatian courts and the ICC in the Gbagbo case. The newsletter also provides an analysis on the Role and Future of Extremists Groups in the Region in relation to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Human Rights Defender Executed in Iraq

Samira Saleh Al-Naimi

Samira Saleh Al-Naimi

Last week, the so called Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has executed lawyer and human rights defender Samira Saleh Al-Naimi.

Reports confirmed that on the evening of 22 September 2014, a group of masked armed men who belong to

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ISIS opened fire and killed her in a public square in the very heart of Mosul, Iraq. She was kidnapped by ISIS from her home last week after she described as “barbaric” the widespread damage that ISIS inflicted on ancient features of her city.

In reaction to this tragic news, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights has condemned in the strongest terms the execution of Samira Saleh Al-Naimi and urged the UN and relevant international institutions to:

1. Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the execution of Samira Saleh Al-Naimi and other crimes committed by ISIS with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with local laws and international standards;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in Iraq are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Samira Saleh Al-Naimi was a prominent lawyer and human rights defender and famous for her activities that include defending detainees and supporting the disadvantaged families in the city.

ICTR Appeals Chamber Delivers Judgements in Three Cases

ICTR

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today delivered its judgement in three cases: Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse; Ildéphonse Nizeyimana; and Callixte Nzabonimana.

Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse

On 21 December 2011, Trial Chamber III convicted Karemera and Ngirumpatse of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, genocide, extermination and rape as crimes against humanity, and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II. The Trial Chamber sentenced Karemera and Ngirumpatse to life imprisonment.

The Appeals Chamber affirmed Karemera’s and Ngirumpatse’s convictions.The Appeals Chamber reversed certain findings of the Trial Chamber, which, however, did not result in the overturning of any of Karemera’s or Ngirumpatse’s convictions. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Karemera’s and Ngirumpatse’s sentences of life imprisonment. Continue reading

Kenya President Requests Excusal from ICC Trial

President Kenyatta (c) AP

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (c) AP

Yesterday, the defence team for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta filed a request before a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to excuse the Kenyan President from attending in person a Status Conference scheduled for 8 October 2014. In the “urgent request”, lawyers for Kenyatta explain that his position as President of the East African Community requires him to chair a regional summit in Kampala, Uganda on the day in question. The meeting is to address economic development and regional security issues.

The request was filed pursuant to Rule 134 quater of the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which states that an accused subject to a summons to appear (as President Kenyatta is) may request excusal from attendance at trial when mandated “to fulfil extraordinary public duties.” The Trial Chamber shall grant the request when it considers excusal to be in the interests of justice and provided that the rights of the accused are fully ensured.

The rule is a recent amendment to the Rules of Procedure, which was adopted by the Assembly of States Parties in November 2013 following a request by the African Union.

President Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity perpetrated during the post-electoral violence in 2007. The start date of his trial has been postponed on numerous occasions amidst Prosecution complaints that the Kenyan Government has failed to disclose requested documents.

Crimes Against Humanity Trial in Romania

Alexandru Visinescu

Alexandru Visinescu

Today, a former Communist-era prison commander, Alexandru Visinescu, has appeared in a Romanian court accused of crimes against humanity, in the country’s first trial of its kind.

The accused, 88, ran the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 to 1963, where inmates were allegedly tortured and starved.

Mr Visinescu is the first of 35 men whom the Romanian state plans to try for similar offences.

He has denied the charges, saying that he wasn’t responsible for the rules in the prison and followed his superiors’ orders.

The trial has now been adjourned and will resume next month.

Nicknamed “the prison of silence” because detainees were held in solitary confinement, the facility housed intellectuals, dissidents, priests and others deemed enemies of the Communist Party.

Since 2006 the Romania’s state-run Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes has been gathering evidence against those responsible by exhuming graves and looking for surviving victims from a number of prisons.

About 500,000 Romanians became political prisoners in the 1950s as the country’s Communist government sought to crush dissent.

Central African Republic: MINUSCA and Complementary Justice Mechanisms

As the United Nations recently took over the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), calls for imminent justice were made earlier this week by Human Rights Groups.

UN Secretary-General meets with internally displaced people camped near the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, 5 April 2014 ©UN Photo/Evan Schneider

UN Secretary-General meets with internally displaced people camped near the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, 5 April 2014
©UN Photo/Evan Schneider

MINUSCA officially started its mission on 15 September 2014. Adopted by the Security Council in April 2014, Resolution 2149 gives mandate to MINUSCA to ensure the security of the civilian population, contribute significantly to the establishment of the rule of law with the redeployment of the public services and help to fight against impunity. This force deployment, in majority composed of the African forces of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) placed under UN command, must continue until April 2015, date on which the mission should reach the total number of 10 000 soldiers and 2 000 policemen. Continue reading