ICC: Germain Katanga Discontinues Appeal

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

This Wednesday, Germain Katanga discontinued his appeal against his conviction before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a letter signed by Katanga and his defence counsel, David Hooper, Katanga stated that he “accept[ed] the conclusions rendered against [him] in the judgement and [he] express[ed] [his] sincere regrets to all who were affected by [his] conduct, including the victims of Bogoro.”

Katanga had been convicted by a majority of Trial Chamber II on 7 March 2014 of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging)

committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was sentenced, again by majority, to 12 years’ imprisonment with credit for the time he has served whilst in detention in The Hague - 7 years to date.

The Prosecutor subsequently informed the Appeals Chamber that she also discontinued her appeal against the judgment and that she does not intend to appeal the sentence imposed on Germain Katanga.

The issue of reparations for victims will be considered next.

UK NCP Accepts LPHR’s Complaint Against G4S’ Activities in Israel and the OPT: “Oh to be a fly on the wall of that mediation!”

by Maria della Porta Rodiani (of Globalrightscompliance LLP)

Credit-Stop-G4SOn 22 May 2014, the United Kingdom (‘UK’) National Contact Point (‘NCP’) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (‘the Guidelines’) rendered its initial assessment (‘IA’) on  the issues raised in a complaint submitted by the Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (‘LPHR’) against G4S, a UK company providing security equipment and services to the Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (‘OPT’).

The Complaint

In November 2013, LPHR had submitted a complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises to the UK NCP, concerning G4S’ provision of equipment and services in the Israeli Separation Barrier (‘the Wall area’) - predominantly within the West Bank including East Jerusalem, to the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and to Israeli Prison Services (IPS) facilities in several locations.

LPHR argued that as a consequence of the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion concluding that the Wall was built in breach of international humanitarian and human rights law, G4S’ facilities and operations in these areas are considered to be in breach of international human rights, and part of an unlawful regime. Thus, LPHR alleged that G4S’ activities may (1) be generally involved with human rights abuses, (2) cause or contribute to them, or (3) be linked to them by a business relationship. In addition, LPHR argued that G4S had not carried out appropriate human rights due diligence. Continue reading

HRW Report on Children in Syrian Armed Groups

syriacrd0614_reportcoverYesterday, Priyanka Motaparthy, a researcher in the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), published a report documenting on the recruitment and use of children by armed groups in Syria. The 31-page report entitled “Maybe We Live and Maybe We Die” recounts the experiences of 25 children and former child soldiers in Syria’s armed conflict. Priyanka Motaparthy interviewed children who fought with the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front coalition, and the extremist groups ISIS and Jabaht al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, as well as the military and police forces in Kurdish-controlled areas.

The investigation reveals that non-state armed groups in Syria have used children as young as 15 to fight in battles, sometimes recruiting them under the guise of offering education, and as young as 14 in support roles. Extremist Islamist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) have specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that include weapons training, and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions.

“Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities” is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Syria in 2003,  bans government forces and non-state armed groups from recruiting and using children, defined as anyone under 18, as fighters and in other support roles. Continue reading

Egypt: Journalists Jailed for Supporting Muslim Brotherhood

Journalists Greste (AUS), Fahmy and Mohamed (UK) ©Reuters

Journalists Greste (AUS), Fahmy and Mohamed (UK) ©Reuters

Three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced today to seven-year and ten-year imprisonment on the counts aiding terrorists, doctoring footage and endangering Egypt’s national security by spreading false news and supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Former President Morsi’s movement was banned in September 2013 by a ruling covering “all the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, the groups emerging from it, its associations, and any institution that branches from it or follows the group or receives financial support from it.”

Australian Peter Greste and British Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were judged alongside other journalists who were tried in absentia, including Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, and students with alleged links to Islamist protests. Monitors cast doubt on the trial as the Prosecution evidence appeared too weak to convict any of the defendants. “Technically, I don’t see how a court can convict any of the defendants based on the evidence we have seen,” said Mohamed Lotfy, executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), who has monitored the trial on behalf of Amnesty. “If they are convicted, it means that you are not allowed to hold any views that the government does not want you to believe – and that would be a complete attack on the freedom of expression.” Continue reading

Charles Taylor Requests Transfer to Rwanda

Charles TaylorIn a recent post on Opinio Iuris, Kevin John Heller commented upon the motion by Counsel for Charles Taylor requesting that the former Liberia President be transferred from his UK prison to Rwanda.

The motion depicts Taylor’s mistreatment by the British government, illustrated by his isolation in jail where his family was given no opportunity to visit him. Moreover, this situation is exacerbated by menaces to Taylor’s life according to an anonymous letter possibly originating from within the prison itself threatening Mr Taylor with bodily harm and death.

Taylor’s Counsel draw attention to the situation of ICTY convict Radislav Krstic who suffered a near-fatal attack by his UK prison teammates in 2010. Krstic was then transferred back to The Hague.

iLawyer John Jones QC is Counsel for Charles Taylor.

UK: Secret Terror Trial Will be Held Partially in Public


The Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice (c) Graham Turner/The Guardian

Following the decision of the Court of Appeal delivered today, the secret terror trial of defendants AB and CD will be held in public.

The order was initially made by Mr Justice Nicol to grant the defendants anonymity and to exclude the public from the entirety of the trial. The Crown Prosecution Service had requested the unprecedented closed proceedings on the grounds that the case involved national security considerations.

In today’s ruling, the Court of Appeal lifted the anonymity order and identified the defendants as Erol Incedal (AB) and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar (CD). Both defendants are charged with possession of bomb making instructions; Incedal is further charged with preparing acts of terrorism, Rarmoul-Bouhadjar is further charged with an offence under the Identity Documents Act.

The Court also ordered that parts of the trial could be heard in public, including the swearing in of the jury, reading of the charges to the jury, and parts of the judge’s introductory remarks and of the Prosecution opening speech. In addition, a few accredited journalists will be entitled to hear the entirety of the proceedings, with the exception of a few very sensitive parts.

Lord Justice Gross expressed “concern” at the effect that holding the trial entirely in camera and granting the defendants anonymity would have on the fundamental principle of open justice. He did, however, state that the case was an “exceptional” one:

” We are persuaded on the evidence before us that there is a significant risk - at the very least a serious possibility - that the administration of justice would be frustrated were the trial to be conducted in open court … In our judgment, as a matter of necessity, the core of the trial must be heard in camera.”

The trial is set to commence on 16 June at the Old Bailey.

Challenging the Conventional: Can Truth Commissions Effectively Contribute to Peace?

Geneva AcademyDate: 19 June 2014, 12:30

Venue: The Graduate Institute, Auditorium Ivan Pictet, Maison de la Paix, Geneva, Switzerland.

Truth commissions created after armed conflicts have tended towards uniformity in their mandates

even though awareness of the complex challenges facing such commissions has become increasingly evident. Despite increased awareness of these issues, several truth-seeking processes have gone through near-paralyzing crises.

In the light of experience and practice, this conference re-examines assumptions about how truth commissions are established and what makes them operate effectively.


> Päivi Kairamo, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, Geneva


> Ruth McCoy, Executive Director, Kofi Annan Foundation

> David Tolbert, President, International Center for Transitional Justice


> Frank Halderman, Professor of Law, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

If you wish to register, click here.

Terrorism Trial to be Held Entirely in Private in the UK


The Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice (c) Graham Turner/The Guardian

A terrorism trial against two defendants, known only as AB and CD, is set to commence in London on 16 June. The trial looks to be the first in modern legal history to be held entirely in private with the identity of the defendants withheld and both the media and the public excluded from the entirety of the proceedings.

This extraordinary turn of events follows an application by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Mari Reid, unit head of the counter-terrorism team in the special crime and counter-terrorism division of the CPS, gave evidence that there was a “serious possibility that the trial may not be able to go ahead” if it had to be held in public.

The order for the proceedings to be held in private was granted by Mr Justice Nicol on 19 May 2014. It is presently being appealed by the media to the Court of Appeal who heard submissions on the issue this Wednesday. Richard Whittam QC, senior Treasury counsel, argued that the exceptional nature of the case against the defendants merited the exclusion of the public from the proceedings.

The Court of Appeal was told that AB and CD are charged with serious terrorism offences, including possession of a document entitled “Bombmaking”. The evidence that the Crown are relying on could not be heard in public.

Lord Justice Gross stated that he will give the court’s decision on the appeal in a few days with a full judgement to follow

shortly thereafter.

Senator Defensor-Santiago Steps Down as ICC Judge

Miriam Defensor Santiago

Miriam Defensor Santiago (c) Rappler

In a resignation letter dated 3 June 2014, Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago stepped down as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Writing to ICC President, Judge Song, she stated that she has:


“neither secured alleviation nor treatment from the medical profession for [her] illness, known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”

She had been elected to the post in December 2011 following intensive lobbying by the Philippine Government of the international community. She was the first Filipino and first Asian to be elected from a developing country. She was due to take her oath and assume her post in 2012 but postponed due to illness.

Senator Santiago is an international law expert who as chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has addressed such issues as the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Philippine-US military agreement.

Lecture: “The ICC in the Chinese Context: Perceptions and Prospects“

Asser InstituteDate: 18 June 2014, 7 p.m.

Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22, The Hague, The Netherlands

Speaker: Michael Y. Liu, Secretary-General of the Chinese Initiative on International Criminal Justice

Michael Liu is a Civil Party Lawyer in the ECCC and teaches international law at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Cambodia. After working with the ICRC, ICC and ECCC, he created the Chinese Initiative on International Criminal Justice, an independent NGO mandated to promote a better understanding of international law, in particular international criminal law and its judicial process, in the Greater China Region. In this lecture, Mr. Liu will share perceptions of the ICC and international law in China and examine future prospects.

This lecture is public and free of charge. Registration is not necessary, but as space is limited, seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.