The Kosovo Peacekeeping Mission, a “Total Failure”?

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On Wednesday, 13 July, the Human Rights Advisory Panel submitted a report about the United Nation Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). In this report, the Panel, whose role is to issue recommendations to the UNMIK, described the Kosovo peacekeeping mission as a “total failure”.

The report strongly criticizes the UNMIK’s handling of civilian grievances in Kosovo, including its failures to investigate disappearances and killings as well as negligence in the mass poisoning of hundreds of displaced Roma which were left in squalid United Nations camps built on land contaminated with lead.

According to the panel, “now that the Panel has concluded its mandate, putting an end to an eight-year process of issuing admissibility decisions, opinions, and recommendations, the Panel is forced to proclaim this process a total failure”.

This conclusion is a source of embarrassment for the United Nations, which regularly assails governments for a lack of accountability and defends victims whose human rights have been violated in conflict zones around the world.

The Panel ends its report  apologizing « profusely to the complainants for its role in this sham ».

The United Nations Peacekeeping Department, which oversees UNMIK, said that UNMIK « values the work of its advisory panel » but emphasizes the fact that the Panel is not a Tribunal.

UNMIK officials had no immediate comment on the report.

German Jihadist Convicted of War Crime

2. Ilawyer photo - German Jihadist Guilty of War Crime

© Torsten Silz/AFP

The Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main, a Frankfurt Regional Court, has convicted Aria Ladjedvardi, a 21-year-old German Jihadist with Iranian roots, of two years in prison for committing a war crime for appearing in a set of photos with severed heads of Syrian army servicemen in Syria.

Indeed, between March 8 and April 16, 2014, a group of fighters attacked a checkpoint in the Idlib Province. According to the statement read by the court this Tuesday, they captured, beheaded and impaled the heads of two soldiers on spikes before putting them on public display.

The defendant posed with the heads of those soldiers in three photos found in his mother’s mobile phone, one of which was shared on the social network Facebook.

The Regional Court emphasized Mr Ladjevardi’s inacceptable behavior and held a violation of international humanitarian law for treating the two Syrian army soldiers “in a degrading and humiliating manner”.

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ICTY: Goran Hadžić, Croatian-Serb War Crimes Defendant, Dies at 57

Goran HadžićGoran Hadžić, the former Croatian-Serb rebel leader, has died at the age of 57.

Hadžić was on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) over his role in the 1991-1995 Yugoslavia war.

Last April, the Trial Chamber ordered an indefinite halt to his trial, as he battled the advanced stages of terminal brain cancer.

His health significantly deteriorated in the last two months and he spent most of that time in the hospital where he died.

Hadžić was the last fugitive arrested by the ICTY.

He was accused of having participated in a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE). It is alleged that the purpose of the JCE was the permanent forcible removal of a majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from a large part of the Republic of Croatia in order to make it part of a new Serb-dominated state.

The accusations included the murder of civilians taken from Vukovar hospital in 1991 in one of the conflict’s darkest episodes.

He was also charged with responsibility for the massacre of Croat civilians who were forced to walk into a minefield in the Croatian town of Lovas in October 1991.

His trial opened in October 2012 following his arrest in Serbia in 2011 after seven years on the run.

Investigators had tracked Hadžić down as he was trying to sell an early 20th-century painting by the Italian master Amedeo Modigliani valued at several million dollars.

STL Terminates Trial Against Mustafa Badreddine

Mustafa Amine BadreddineYesterday, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issued a decision in which it reversed the Trial Chamber’s decision to continue the trial against Mr Mustafa Amine Badreddine in the Ayyash et al. case and ordered the Trial Chamber to terminate the proceedings against Mr Badreddine.

By majority, the Appeals Chamber found that there was sufficient evidence presented before the Trial Chamber to prove the death of Mr Badreddine.

At the beginning of last month, the Trial Chamber decided that the trial against Badreddine could continue pending the receipt of further information from the government of Lebanon regarding the death of the Accused Mustafa Amine Badreddine. The Trial Judges did not believe that sufficient evidence had been presented to convince them that the death of Mr Badreddine has been proved to the requisite standard.

The trial in the Prosecutor v Ayyash et al. case will proceed against the remaining four accused.

A Step Closer to Having the Crime of Agression under the ICC Jurisdiction

1. ilawyer photo - Palestine 30th ratification of the Kampala Amendment… A Step closer to having crime of aggression jurisdiction activated before the ICC

On 26 June 2016, Palestine ratified the amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression.

By this ratification, Palestine deposited the thirtieth instrument of ratification which opened the possibility of giving jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) to try the crime of aggression.

Indeed, the provisions of articles 15 bis and ter of the Rome Statute provide that the ICC will not be able to exercise its jurisdiction over this crime until at least thirty States Parties have ratified or accepted the amendments; and a decision is taken by two–thirds of States Parties to activate the jurisdiction at any time after 1 January 2017.  Continue reading

Gaddafi Son Saif al-Islam ‘Released’ from Libya Jail

Saif Al-Islam GaddafiMuammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been released from custody after his death sentence was quashed, his British lawyer said.

Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son was sentenced to death in 2015 for crimes committed during the revolution that overthrew his father. The sentence had been quashed by Libya’s new UN-backed government this year, and Saif is now at an undisclosed location after being released from house arrest in the mountain town of Zintan where he had been held for five years.

“He’s been released from Zintan detention. The release, I’m told, was on 12 April – there was an order from the central government,” said his lawyer. “He’s in Libya, he’s in good health, he’s safe and he’s well.”

The claim could not be independently verified, and neither the UN-backed government in Tripoli or Zintan authorities have yet commented on the report.

In practical terms, an amnesty for Saif would not be a decision the government can enforce as Zintan is home to one of the most powerful Libyan militias, and any release would depend on agreement by Zintan leaders.

His captors in Zintan refused to transfer him to Tripoli, where he was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in July 2015. The verdict had drawn condemnation abroad, with Human Rights Watch saying the trial was riddled with legal flaws and carried out amid widespread lawlessness undermining the credibility of the judiciary.

Saif al-Islam is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which issued an arrest warrant in 2011 on preliminary charges of crimes against humanity, murder and persecution for being part of the inner circle of his father’s regime.

Gaddafi’s lawyer said the ICC must now drop its case because of rules prohibiting a suspect from being tried twice for the same crimes.

“There was a trial, there was a conviction, he was sentenced to death. After that there was an amnesty,” he said. “I’m going to be filing an application that the case is inadmissible at the ICC under article 20 of the statute concerning double jeopardy.”

French Court Jails Two Rwandan Mayors over 1994 Genocide

Ngenzi BarahiraYesterday, a Paris court convicted to life imprisonment two former Rwandan mayors for crimes against humanity and genocide over killing of 2,000 people.

Octavien Ngenzi, 58, and his predecessor Tito Barahira, 64, were accused of ‘’massive and systematic executions’’ of Tutsis during the country’s 1994 genocide, in their village of Kabarondo, where some 2,000 people seeking refuge in a church were bludgeoned and hacked to death.

Ngenzi and Barahira have consistently denied the charges.

The eight-week trial has heard testimony depicting the two men as “supervisors” and “executioners” in the massacre.

“Ngenzi was the leader,” said prosecutor Philippe Courroye, who requested life sentences for the two men. Barahira was the “dreaded machete officer,” he added.

Among those seeking shelter at the church was Marie Mukamunana, who told the court how her seven children and husband were killed by grenades and machetes. Continue reading

ICTY: Appeals Chamber Affirms Stanišić’s and Župljanin’s Sentences

Stanisic Zupljanin

Mićo Stanišić (left) and Stojan Župljanin

Today, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) confirmed the convictions of Mićo Stanišić, former Minister of the Interior of Republika Srpska, and Stojan Župljanin, former Chief of the Regional Security Services Centre of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The Appeals Chamber affirmed that Stanišić and Župljanin are criminally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in BiH in 1992, in 20 and eight municipalities respectively. The Judges affirmed both of the accused’s sentences of 22 years’ imprisonment.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed all of Stanišić’s and Župljanin’s grounds of appeal. It confirmed their convictions for committing, through participation in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE), persecutions as a crime against humanity and murder and torture as violations of the laws or customs of war. Župljanin’s convictions for committing extermination, through participation in a JCE, and ordering persecutions through plunder as crimes against humanity were also affirmed. Continue reading

ICC: Bemba sentenced to 18 years in prison

160621-bemba-sentence-10-1Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo to 18 years’ imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

In March the Chamber had found the former vice-president of the DRC guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crimes of murder, rape and pillaging committed by militiamen under Bemba’s command.

For the crimes of rape the Chamber imposed 18 years of imprisonment while 16 years of imprisonment were imposed for the crimes of murder and pillaging. However, the Chamber decided that the sentences imposed shall run concurrently. Continue reading

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.