Hissene Habre’s Trial Suspended Until September

BEL<HISSEIN HABRE EN CONFERENCE DE PRESS  E A LA CEEToday, the trial of Chad’s former ruler Hissene Habre was suspended until September after the court named new lawyers because his defense team shunned the session.

The session was suspended after a few minutes when his lawyers did not show and the presiding judge appointed three lawyers to represent him. The new lawyers were given 45 days to prepare and the trial is due to resume on September 7.

The first day of the trial had been suspended after Habre started shouting slogans against the court and had to be forcibly removed.

Habre, who has refused to recognize the Extraordinary African Chambers trying him in Senegal, had to be forced to appear at the second day of the trial.

William Bourdon, a lawyer for the victims, said Habre’s refusal to cooperate with the court meant he had effectively taken the proceeding hostages. “He is spitting on the Extraordinary African Chambers,” Bourdon said.

Habre, who faces charges of war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity, could face a maximum of life in prison.

The Extraordinary African Chambers, an internationally backed court, was set up by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute “the person or persons most responsible” for international crimes committed in Chad during Habré’s eight-year rule.

After a 19-month investigation, a four-judge panel revealed that there was sufficient evidence that serious breaches of international law were committed during Habré’s presidency, which lasted from 1982 to 1990.

According to a 1992 Chadian Truth Commission, Habré’s government was responsible for conducting 40,000 political murders and systematically torturing more than 20,000. The government periodically targeted various ethnic groups such as the Hadjerai and the Zaghawa, killing and arresting group members en masse when it was perceived that their leaders posed a threat to Habré’s rule.

MH17 Crash: Russia Against a UN Tribunal

MH17 CrashRussian President Vladimir Putin has rejected calls for the establishment of a UN tribunal to prosecute suspects in the MH17 air disaster over Ukraine.

Mr Putin made the remarks ahead of the first anniversary of the crash yesterday. The crash killed 298 people.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Mr Putin had “explained Russia’s position regarding the premature and counter-productive initiatives of several countries, including the Netherlands, on the establishment of an international tribunal”. Russia also criticised what it said was politicised media coverage of the disaster.

For Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, the establishment of a tribunal would help secure justice and would also constitute “the best guarantee of co-operation from all countries” in trying to secure justice.

The airliner was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed on 17 July 2014.

Western nations believe there is growing evidence that the plane was hit by a Russian-supplied missile fired by pro-Russian rebels in the area. However, Russia blames Ukrainian government forces.

The Netherlands is leading the criminal investigation into the disaster. It is being assisted by Belgium, Australia and Ukraine.

The Dutch Safety Board will release a final report on the cause of the crash in October.

Leiden Summer School on International Children’s Rights

by Leiden University and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies

Venue: Leiden and The Hague

Date: 6-10 July 2015

Summer School 2015 International Children Rights

The Leiden Summer School on International Children’s Rights offers a great opportunity to engage with eminent professors, children’s rights experts and colleagues from all over the world and acquire state of the art knowledge of the most important global children’s rights themes.

The one week programme offers insight in highly relevant and topical issues including migration and children’s rights, children and digital technologies, children in armed conflict and conflict situations, child justice and child protection. In addition, you will be challenged to engage with experts in strategic litigation, monitoring of children’s rights and the role of civil society in implementing children’s rights.

The summer school is held in the beautiful cities of Leiden and The Hague and includes excursions to the Leiden Children’s Rights House, a youth institution and the International Criminal Court, as well as social activities. Previous editions have attracted professionals and advanced students from all over the world

The course will be coordinated by Professor Ton Liefaard, UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University, and by Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen, Professor of Children’s Rights in the Developing World at Leiden Law School

Guest speakers  will include Human Rights experts and academics.

Tuition fees for professionals are: €1100, and for students: €900.

A limited amount of applicants will be admitted to this summer school. The course is mainly aimed at professionals, but advanced students are invited to apply as well.

If you wish to apply, click here.

The deadline for applications is 1 June 2015.

Can International Law Change the World?

By Shehzad Charania

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice

This week, at the Residence of the British Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador Sir Geoffrey Adams opened the British Embassy Annual Lecture Series on International Law.  The guest speaker for the Inaugural Lecture was Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood of the International Court of Justice.

Ambassador Adams explained that the lecture marked the occasion of the Global Law Summit, which took place this week in London, as well the year in which we commemorate 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta of 1215.

Judge Greenwood’s lecture was entitled “Can International Law Change the World?”.  He began by referring back to the Magna Carta itself.  He explained that Magna Carta had changed “a world”: the law of England, albeit slowly and tentatively.  It established equality before the law; in particular, that even the King was subject to the law; and that justice was not to be sold or denied to anyone.  These principles form the foundation of the rule of law.

So could international law change the world in a similar way, Judge Greenwood asked.  He used as his point of reference the First and Second Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907.  The inspiration for those conferences had been a belief that international law could indeed change the world.  Specifically, the hope was that these conferences would legislate on the way war was conducted, including the reductions of certain armaments and prohibition of others, and set up an international court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which would enable States to settle their differences by law rather than war. Continue reading

Event: Alliance Française – International Conferences

alliance-françaiseThe Alliance Française in The Hague is hosting a series of conferences in French on “International Law and European Questions”.

The first one will take place on 20 February at the Alliance Française and will be given by Mr. Gregory Mounier from Europol. The focus will be on the combat against organised crime and terrorism in Europe – the role of Europol.

The second will take place on 29 May and will feature Ms. Heleyn Unac, deputy head of the defence office at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The lecture will focus on the defence of accused persons before the international criminal courts.

For further information, click here.

Event: “Customs Investigations at the crossroads between National and Community law”

Godin Associés law firm will be organizing a seminar on “Customs Investigations Law” on 18 December 2014 at La Maison du Barreau in Paris.

OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office

OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office

Date: 18 December 2014, 9am to 1pm

Venue: Maison du Barreau, Hôtel de Harlay, 2 rue de Harlay – Paris

Speakers: Thierry Fossier, Judge at the Cour de Cassation, will be moderating the debate.

Jean-Luc Albert, Professor of Public Law at the University of Auvergne, and author of Customs Service and Customs Law [PUF, coll. Questions judiciaires 2013], will be discussing whether Customs Law has shifted towards becoming more safety-oriented. Continue reading

International Criminal Courts: Progress Made, Progress Needed

By Samuel Linehan

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

On 29 October 2014, Chatham House and Doughty Street Chambers hosted the Sir Richard May Memorial Lecture. The speakers were Lord Justice Adrian Fulford and Judge Howard Morrison. The chair was Elizabeth Wilmshurst. The speakers discussed the major steps made in the trial of international crimes and addressed the challenges that still remain.

Sir Richard May was the first British judge at the ICTY, and as such the first British judge on an international criminal tribunal since the IMTs. He presided in Milošević and made a significant contribution to international criminal procedure as a member of the Rules Committee. His Memorial Trust aims to raise awareness of international humanitarian law by supporting interns from developing countries. So far it has sent more than 40 interns to the international criminal tribunals.

Lord Justice Fulford

Speaking on the theme of the evening, Judge Fulford was wary of the ‘miasma of legacy’ that surrounds such discussions. He spoke frankly on the fate of his ‘brainchildren,’ the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (‘OPCV’) and the Office of Public Counsel for Defence (‘OPCD’). In this connection he noted that castles built in the air tend to go up in smoke. His intention had been that these offices would provide professional and independent specialist in-house counsel and that self-employed counsel would be the backup option. The representation of victims and the accused is central to the ICC, which is at a crossroads. The outcome of the ReVision project to restructure the Registry (which includes these offices) is critical. Continue reading

A Wrong Turn for Human Rights

by David Tolbert*

A Palestinian woman reacts upon seeing her destroyed house in Beit Hanoun town

Gaza, August 2014

The world has plunged into a period of brutality, with impunity for the perpetrators of violence. Syria is suffering untold civilian casualties as a divided United Nations Security Council sits on the sidelines. Gaza was pummeled to dust yet again with the world watching on. Iraq is in flames, with no end in sight. Atrocities are mounting in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, which are also being swept by an epidemic of sexual violence. Even Europe is not immune: a civilian aircraft was shot down over a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, and officials were prevented from investigating.

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and more than a decade after the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), shockingly little is being done to stop these abuses, and the prospects of the victims ever getting justice, let alone bringing the perpetrators to account, seem ever more remote.

For many years, the world seemed to be progressing toward greater recognition of human rights and demands for justice. As democracies emerged in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, these issues assumed increasing importance. Although wars, conflicts, and atrocities continued, the global powers tried, and occasionally managed – albeit chaotically and usually late – to stop the killing. Continue reading

STL Does Not Have Jurisdiction for Contempt Cases Against Legal Persons

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Last week, the Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri issued a Decision on a Motion Challenging the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s jurisdiction. The motion was submitted by the Defence for NEW TV S.A.L and Karma Hohamed Tahsin Al Khayat and questioned whether the Tribunal could hear cases of contempt and obstructions against the proper administration of justice by legal persons (i.e. corporate entities).

The Contempt Judge ruled that although the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) does not have jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with obstructions of justice against legal persons, it does retain jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with offences against the administration of justice against natural persons. This was held to be consistent not only with international case law, but also with Rule 60bis of the STL’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

Last year, information relating to confidential witnesses has been broadcasted in certain medias.

Following these events, the Registrar of the Tribunal appointed an amicus curiae. Based on reports by the amicus, the Contempt Judge concluded that there was prima facie evidence that justified proceedings for contempt.

Two journalists and two media organisations have been subsequently charged with contempt before the Tribunal.

Shireen Avis Fisher To Receive Global Jurist of the Year Award

Justice FisherNorthwestern University School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) will award its second annual Global Jurist of the Year Award to Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, president of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The awards ceremony and an address by Justice Fisher will take place on Monday, Oct. 20. She will deliver an address to the student body at noon in the Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave., on the Law School’s Chicago campus. The event will be open to the media.

Justice Fisher was sworn in as a Justice of the Special Court for Sierra Leone on May 4, 2009. She played a key role in the Appeals Chamber judgment delivered in 2013 regarding the conviction and 50-year sentence of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity committed by rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Continue reading