Former ICTY Judge TV Interview

Judge Kwon O-gonFormer ICTY Judge Kwon O-gon gave a TV interview this month during which he shared his story of bringing justice for the victims of one of the most atrocious and devastating wars since World War II.

After sitting in the Korean court of law for more than two decades, Kwon O-gon became the first Korean judge to preside over the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where he served for the past 15 years.

Judge Kwon was one of the judges in the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of Serbia.

Judge Kwon was also the Presiding Judge for the case of former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadžić, handing him a 40-year sentence last March.

Judge Kwon resigned from the ICTY and returned home earlier this year. Now, he is opening a new chapter in his life and career, as the president of a research institute that specializes in international law.

If you wish to watch the interview, click here.

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.

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

Event: Legal Diversity and the Universal Vocation of International Law

Court HammerDate: 2 June, 2016 – 9:30 to 17:00

Venue: Schouwburgstraat 2, 2511 VA Den Haag, Netherlands

McGill University’s Faculty of Law and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, Leiden University, invite you to a one-day Symposium on the theme of legal diversity and the theory and practice of contemporary international law.

The speakers will be:

  • The Ambassador of Canada to the Netherlands, H.E. Sabine Nölke
  • Professor Daniel Jutras, Dean, Faculty of Law, McGill University
  • Judge Hisashi Owada, International Court of Justice
  • Hans van Loon, former Secretary General, Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Alex Mills, Reader in Public and Private International Law, Faculty of Laws, UCL
  • Norman Farrell, Prosecutor, Special Tribunal for Lebanon
  • Justice David Baragwanath, Special Tribunal for Lebanon
  • James Stewart, Deputy Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
  • Justice Bertram Schmitt, International Criminal Court
  • Payam Akhavan, Associate Professor, McGill University Faculty of Law (and Counsel at PCA, ICJ, ECtHR, ITLS, ICC, ICTY)
  • Silke Studzinsky, Trust Fund for Victims, International Criminal Court (previously Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC))
  • Sergey Vasiliev, Assistant Professor in Public International Law, Grotius Centre, Leiden University

The speakers will be asked to address one or more of the following themes:

  • Legal pluralism, legal diversity and international law: retrospective and prospective views; experiences from the practice of various Hague legal institutions; traditions of multiculturalism and legal pluralism (including the McGill Law Faculty educational method);
  • Human rights, peremptory norms, international legal standards and legal /cultural diversity;
  • “Cosmopolitan attitudes, methods & officials” in the practice of international law;
  • “Harmonious coexistence rather than obligatory universality” & universality through diversity;
  • The enrichment of international law through principles and approaches of diverse traditions / legal systems ;
  • Envisioning future pathways for international law / institutions in the light of global legal diversity.

Conference proceedings will be inspired in part by the works of the late Professors Patrick Glenn and Roderick Macdonald of McGill University, Faculty of Law, including their study of legal traditions of the world and legal pluralism, interlinked with Canadian traditions of multiculturalism.

For registration or additional information please email: events.grotius@cdh.leidenuniv.nl

The Ambassador of Canada, H.E. Sabine Nölke, will host a post-conference reception that evening, at the Canadian Official Residence (Groot Haesebroekseweg 44, Wassenaar), from 18:30 to 20:30.

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.

MICT: Launch of First Online Exhibition of Archives

UN MICTThis week, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) launched its first online exhibition entitled “A Glimpse into the Archives”.

The purpose of this exhibition is to allow the general public to contextualize, access, and understand the value of the archives of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR) and for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which are now in the custody of the Mechanism.

The exhibition features a selection of interesting items to illustrate the diversity of the records in the archives. The items include photographs of artefacts used as evidence in court, drawings made by witnesses, and an extract from a historic trial judgement.

The exhibition aims to create an interactive experience. Each image has descriptive details and links to databases where other records can be found.

This exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on the many facets these records have: they document the judicial process while also depicting specific events that are part of larger contexts. The archives also help make tangible the complexity of the events that took place in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.

ICTY: Prosecution Will Appeal the Acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj

Seselj

Vojislav Šešelj

Today, the ICTY Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz stated that his Office will appeal the acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj.

The Office of the Prosecutor considers that there has been “a fundamental failure” by the Trial Chamber Majority to perform its judicial function and to properly adjudicate core aspects of the Prosecution’s case by, among other things, failing to consider large parts of the evidentiary record, making unreasonable and conflicting factual findings, or failing to properly apply the elements of modes of liability such as joint criminal enterprise and aiding and abetting in accordance with established case-law.

Moreover, the Prosecution explains that the Trial Chamber Majority unreasonably allowed for the possibility that criminal conduct was simply a lawful contribution to the war effort, despite the overwhelming body of evidence pointing against it. According to the Prosecution, this led the Trial Chamber Majority to unreasonably credit the possibility that: expelling civilians was a humanitarian gesture; that incendiary hate speech was simply morale boosting for the Serb forces; and that the deployment of ethnic cleansing forces was a measure to protect the Serb population.

Vojislav Šešelj, 61, had been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes over ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between August 1991 and September 1993.

The charges involved the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of civilians; torture, sexual assaults, beatings and other physical abuse of detained non-Serbs; the destruction of homes, religious sites, cultural institutions; and hate speech. Continue reading

ICTY: Vojislav Šešelj Acquitted of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

Vojislav SeseljThe International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today acquitted Vojislav Šešelj of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s.

Šešelj, 61, had been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes over ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between August 1991 and September 1993.

The charges involved the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of civilians; torture, sexual assaults, beatings and other physical abuse of detained non-Serbs; the destruction of homes, religious sites, cultural institutions; and hate speech.

However, the ICTY said that in the absence of any “crucial legal elements” to establish any form of criminal responsibility it was not possible to convict Šešelj for crimes against humanity.

The Prosecution had moreover not provided sufficient evidence to establish that the alleged war crimes were committed.

The three-judge Chamber found that it could not rule out the reasonable possibility that Šešelj incendiary speeches, calling for killing and revenge against his enemies, were “meant to boost the morale” of his followers, and were not crimes.

Moreover, the Court held that it could not dismiss the defence’s argument that Mr Šešelj’s men might have been present in contested regions, not to force Bosniak Muslims and Croats out of areas claimed for a Greater Serbia, but on “humanitarian grounds”.

Judge Latanzi disagreed with almost all of the Majority’s findings. She noted that the Majority failed to take into consideration the climate of intimidation to which Šešelj subjected the witnesses in the case and that the Majority had not provided sufficient reasoning, or no reasoning at all, in support of its findings. Continue reading

ICTY Releases Florence Hartmann

Florence HartmannThe International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) released French journalist Florence Hartmann from its prison in The Hague on Tuesday.

The journalist had spent five days in the prison, which is normally reserved for war crimes suspects and convicts.

Last Thursday, Ms. Hartmann was unexpectedly arrested by security officials of the Tribunal outside the court gates while she was talking with victims from the Bosnian war. Ms. Hartmann had come to The Hague to hear the verdict against Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader.

Ms. Hartmann was told that she had to serve a seven-day sentence because she had not paid a fine in a court judgment against her. Former press officer of the Tribunal, she was convicted of contempt of court in 2009 for having revealed in a book how tribunal judges had issued confidential decisions ruling that parts of the records provided by Serbia could be used in closed sessions of the court but had to be kept out of the public eye.

Ms. Hartmann had argued that victims had a right to know about the confidential agreement made between tribunal judges and Serbia.

After her release on Tuesday, Ms. Hartmann said what had angered the judges most was that she wrote that they had acted “unlawfully” and had therefore made their decisions confidential.

On Tuesday afternoon, the court freed Ms. Hartmann after her lawyer, Guénaël Mettraux, filed a motion for her release because she had served two-thirds of her sentence. Continue reading

The Yugoslavia Tribunal also Engages in Debt Collection

by William A. Schabas*

ICTYAlongside yesterday’s very important judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was a rather more pathetic manifestation of the fight against impunity. While the judgment was being issued, Security officials of the Tribunal, with the apparent assistance of the Dutch police, arrested French journalist Florence Hartmann. She is now in detention at the Tribunal’s prison. For a photo of her arrest, look here.

Florence Hartmann served as press officer at the Tribunal about a decade ago, When she left, she published a memoir entitled Paix et châtiment. The book referred to decisions of the Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber that were supposed to have remained confidential. After being tried and convicted of contempt of court, she was sentenced to pay a €7,000 fine. When she failed to pay the fine, the Tribunal converted the sentence into one of seven days’ imprisonment. She now has six more days to go, that is, unless the Tribunal applies its policy of early release after service of two-thirds of the sentence.

All of the international tribunals have wasted a lot of resources on prosecuting so-called ‘offences against the administration of justice’. The time and money these matters have consumed could have been usefully devoted to more serious cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In the early 1990s, the International Law Commission conceived of an international court that would not concern itself with issues like contempt of court, perjury and tampering with witnesses, leaving thus to the national courts. If Florence Hartmann, or the others, really committed an offence against the administration of justice, it would make a lot more sense for them to be dealt with by domestic justice systems. Continue reading