Le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban, cet énergumène judiciaire: Observations d’un expert avisé

Compte-rendu d’entrevue avec Me Philippe Larochelle

par Pascale Langlais*photo_tsl

En 2009, la justice pénale internationale a mis au monde un petit nouveau, une entité judiciaire bien spéciale et unique en son genre : le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban (ci-après « TSL »). Né de la résolution 1757 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies à la suite des attentats terroristes ayant coûté la vie à l’ancien premier ministre du Liban, Rafiq Hariri, en 2005, le TSL se distingue des autres juridictions internationales à plusieurs égards et semble parfois évoluer en orbite des autres tribunaux phares de la justice internationale. À ce sujet, on doit notamment souligner le fait qu’il s’agit du premier tribunal international pénal à juger de crimes uniquement définis en droit national, à savoir le terrorisme selon le Code pénal libanais (pour plus d’information). Il s’agit également du premier tribunal international pénal à prévoir dans son Statut la possibilité de tenir des procès in absentia, donc en l’absence de l’accusé. Autre innovation, le TSL est aussi le premier tribunal en son genre à se reconnaître une compétence en matière de responsabilité de personnes morales[1].

Malgré toutes ces caractéristiques que certains considèrent comme une avancée du droit international pénal, il n’en demeure pas moins que le TSL essuie son lot de critiques non seulement en ce qui a trait à sa légitimité et à son fonctionnement, mais également en rapport avec la place qu’il occupe dans la sphère de la justice internationale pénale. Ses détracteurs sont nombreux, tant dans la société libanaise que dans la communauté internationale. Parmi ceux-ci, on peut notamment citer Philippe Larochelle, avocat de la défense fort d’une grande expérience devant les tribunaux internationaux. Me Larochelle se montre très dubitatif quant à l’existence de ce tribunal et porte un regard très critique sur la justice internationale pénale de manière générale. Il a d’ailleurs su exposer ses opinons très tranchées sur la question lors d’une conférence présentée à l’Université Laval le 28 mai 2015 dans le cadre de la première édition de l’École d’Été sur la Justice internationale. Il a plus amplement précisé sa pensée lors d’une entrevue accordée à la suite de cette conférence. Continue reading

Book Launch: Arabic Translation of Antonio Cassese’s International Criminal Law

Antonio Cassese International Criminal LawOn 20 May 2015, the Arabic translation of Antonio Cassese’s International Criminal Law will be officially launched in Beirut.

The book International Criminal Law is one of the most popular textbooks available in the field and provides a concise introduction to both international criminal law and international criminal procedure.

During the launch event, organised by the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon and Sader Legal Publishing, in cooperation with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, distinguished speakers, including  H.E. Ashraf Rifi, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lebanon and H.E. Francois Barras, Ambassador of Switzerland to Lebanon, will make remarks on the relevance of International Criminal Law for Lebanon and the MENA region.

This will be followed by a panel discussion, during which Christopher Gosnell, lawyer and co-reviser of International Criminal Law, will speak about the content and the relevance for academia and other professionals of the book.

Olga Kavran, head of Outreach and Legacy at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, will elaborate on the impact of the STL on the development of international criminal law and on Lebanon.

Judge Mohammad Amin El Mahdi, former Minister and current Head of the Supreme Administrative Court and Conseil d’Etat in Egypt, will tell the audience about the importance of international criminal law and its relevance in the MENA region.

And Dr. Camille Habib, dean of the Faculty of Law at the Lebanese University, will emphasise the importance of educating Lebanese students in international criminal law.

Antonio Cassese is among the most distinguished figures in international law and international criminal justice. He was the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Special Court for Lebanon, offered constructive suggestions on the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court and actively contributed to the development of international criminal law, amongst others by his book International Criminal Law (2008).

The event will take place at the Maison de l’Avocat in Beirut, from 4-6pm and will be followed by a reception.

Amsterdam Law School: Master’s International Criminal Law (LLM)

Amsterdam Law School

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.

Calls for Ad-hoc Tribunal for War Crimes and Mass Atrocities in Syria

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

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’s 2014 Annual Report

Justice Rapid Response has just released its 2014 Annual Report, capturing its growth and achievements for the past year and plans for 2015.

JRRJustice 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.

Event: Uganda’s ICD, the first domestic international crimes court in Africa

The Asser Institute is organizing a lecture on “The International Crimes Division of Uganda, the first domestic international crimes court in Africa”.

TMC logoDate: Wednesday 21 January 2015, 7pm

Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, The Hague, NL

Speaker: Mrs. Harriet Ssali Lule, Deputy Registrar of the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court of Uganda

The ICD is the first domestic international crimes court to be set up in Africa, mainly to try perpetrators of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war led by Joseph Kony.

Since the ICD was set up in 2008, the court has embarked on a case against one of the LRA’s top commanders, Thomas Kwoyelo. The case, which is pending on a constitutional petition before the Supreme Court, will have great impact on the jurisprudence in Uganda if returned to the ICD for prosecution. The judgment is expected in early 2015.

As the Thomas Kwoyelo case and Joseph Kony arrest are still pending, the ICD has been very busy setting up the various infrastructures necessary for an international crimes court to run efficiently. Namely, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) which were recently completed and the launch of the Rules is to take place in early 2015.

This lecture will delve into these and other issues related to Uganda’s ICD.

SCL Lectures are public and free of charge. Registration is not necessary, seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

UN Arms Trade Treaty Becomes International Law

walking away from gunsTomorrow, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will come into force, thereby becoming binding international law for all countries that ratified it. The ATT is the first legally binding international treaty that controls the global trade of conventional arms by prohibiting the transfer of weapons that may be used to commit atrocities and other serious human rights violations.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein hailed the imminent entry into force of the UN Arms Trade Treaty as a “landmark step in curbing the human rights violations that stem from the poorly regulated international trade in conventional weapons.“ “The unregulated arms trade is one of the main drivers of armed conflict and violence, contributing and facilitating the commission of human rights and humanitarian law violations.”

The ATT contains robust provisions preventing the transfer of conventional arms, ammunitions and parts and components to other countries when it is known that these arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or serious violations of international human rights law.

In addition, states are obliged to assess if there is an overriding risk that a proposed arms export to another country will be used for or contribute to serious violations of international law, in which case they are prohibited from selling these arms. Continue reading

Expert Initiative on Promoting Effectiveness at the International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

Yesterday, the Report of the “Expert Initiative on Promoting Effectiveness at the International Criminal Court” was officially launched at an event at The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

The Report was prepared by a group of experts in the field of international criminal law (practitioners and law professors) over a period of eighteen months.

It was supported by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland and made possible by the assistance of the Embassy of Switzerland in The Hague (The Netherlands) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The Report contains an in-depth expert evaluation of the work and performance of the Court in a number of areas of activity relevant to the fulfillment of its mandate. Based on this evaluation and where pressing issues were identified, the Report recommends practical solutions that could be incorporated into the current practices of the Court to better its performance both in the short and long run. The Report provides recommendation not only to the organs of the Court but also to the States Parties and the ASP. Continue reading

United Nations Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes

analyticaltoolThe UN Office for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect recently released a new Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes. The document provides indicators to identify and assess a range of both common and specific factors that increase the risk or susceptibility of atrocity crimes, which encompass genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. The guide is meant to improve the capacities of international, regional and local actors in understanding the root causes and precursors of these crimes in order to identify measures that can be taken by States and the international community to prevent these crimes. The Office also provides training programmes for UN staff, government officials and civil society in order to assist in developing capacity to analyze and manage information on genocide. war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

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.


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”.