International Criminal Court (ICC)
AFRICAN UNION: African Union accuses ICC of "hunting" Africans.
The African Union (AU) has accused the ICC of "hunting" Africans because of their race. The UA was opposed to the ICC trying Kenya's President, Uhuru Kenyatta, on charges of crimes against humanity, said Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. The AU would raise its concerns with the UN, he added. Kenyatta, who was elected in March, is due to be tried in July but he denies the charges. On the other hand, ministries of foreign affairs of all Africa have asked the UN Security Council that Kenyan leaders indicted of inciting violence following the 2007 elections stand trial in their home country rather than before the ICC. This follows Tuesday's report by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission connecting the Kenyan leaders to the violence. (Jurist, 12, 24/05/13; BBC, 03, 27/05/13)
ISRAEL – TURKEY: ICC opens preliminary examination of 2010 Israel flotilla raid.
Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the ICC, has said that her office will conduct a preliminary examination into the 2010 Israeli raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza strip in which nine civilians on a Turkish ship were killed. The examination is in response to a request made by the Union of Comoros. Bensouda will determine whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met. (BBC, 14/05/13; Jurist, 15/05/13; Hirondelle News, 17/05/13)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BALKANS: 20th anniversary of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The UN Security Council commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). On May 25, 1993, the UN passed Resolution 827, which established the ICTY as an "ad hoc measure" for the prosecution of "persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law" in the wake of "continuing reports of widespread and flagrant violations" occurring within the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) war crimes court acquitted former Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic of war crimes charges. Klickovic and another Bosnian Serb official, Mladen Drljaca, were on trial for a second time accused of ordering attack in which civilians were killed and unlawfully imprisoning other civilians during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. Judge Dragomir Vukoje found that the prosecution had failed to prove a sufficient connection between the defendants and the events in question. The defendants were originally acquitted in November 2010, but the appeals chamber ordered a new trial in May 2012. This last verdict cannot be appealed. (Jurist, 08, 26/05/13)
BANGLADESH – UNITED KINGDOM: Bangladesh war crimes court indicts UK Muslim leader.
The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) has indicted Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a Bangladesh-born UK Muslim leader, for crimes against humanity and genocide including his alleged role in the murder of top intellectuals during the country's 1971 liberation war. Mueen-Uddin is alleged to have been a member of the Islamic militant group Al-Badr, which identified and killed pro-independence activists. Another alleged Al-Badr member, US citizen Ashrafuzzaman Khan, was also accused and is facing the same charges. The men could face the death penalty for their alleged crimes, but, under British law, a person cannot be extradited if facing capital punishment. On the other hand, a prominent leader of Bangladesh's opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party has been sentenced to death by the country's war crimes tribunal. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was found guilty of torture and mass murder crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence. Kamaruzzaman, who denied the charges, is set to appeal. Jamaat says the government is using the trials to curb opposition activities ahead of elections due next year. International rights groups, meanwhile, say the tribunal falls short of international. (BBC, 09/05/13; Jurist, 03, 12/05/13)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
ARGENTINA: Argentine ex-dictator Jorge Rafael Videla dies at 87.
Argentine former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla has died of natural causes at 87 years of age. The former dictator's death occurred in Marcos Paz prison where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. Videla had come to power after a coup in 1976 and led Argentina's the bloodiest dictatorship until 1981. Pablo Ouviña, who represents the Public Prosecution Ministry, has said that the interviews given by Videla could be used in the trial over crimes committed within the so called "Plan Cóndor", coordinated by the military regimes of the Southern Cone. On the other hand, Col. Alberto Julio Candiotti, a former Argentine military officer who was wanted for crimes committed during the country's 1976-1983 "Dirty War" has been arrested in Montevideo, Uruguay by Uruguay's National Police. Authorities are currently uncertain whether Candiotti sneaked into the country or falsified documents to gain admittance. (Jurist, 26/05/13; Europa Press, 15, 17/05/13; BBC, 17, 18/05/13)
COLOMBIA: 30 years in prison for former Congressman slaughter in Antioquia.
The Supreme Court has sentenced César Pérez García, former Congressman of the department of Antioquia, to 30 years imprisonment, for the slaughter, in Segovia on November 11, 1988, in which 43 people were killed and over 40 others were wounded. The attack was perpetrated by the group Death to Revolutionaries in the Northeast, a paramilitary group led by Fidel Castaño which aimed to eliminate members of the Patriotic Union that had won the March 1988 elections. (Europa Press, 05/15/13)
EGYPT: Mubarak appears for retrial on complicity charges.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak appeared in court for a retrial on charges of complicity in the murder of over 800 protesters in 2012. An Egyptian appeals judge overturned Mubarak's conviction and life sentence in January on those same charges, ordering a retrial. The next hearing is set for June 8, at which time the prosecution promises to offer new evidence, including some taken from the report of a fact-finding committee set up by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Mubarak has been ordered to remain in prison while an investigation into corruption charges continues, and was returned to prison in spite of having already served the statutory maximum of two years in temporary detention. (Jurist, BBC, 11/05/13)
GERMANY: Alleged former guard at the Auschwitz extermination camp has been arrested in southern Germany.
Hans Lipschis was taken into custody in Aalen after prosecutors concluded there was "compelling evidence" that he had been complicit in murder. Lipschis acknowledges he served with the Waffen SS at the camp in occupied Poland, but claims he did not hold a responsible post. Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Center named him as number four on its list of most-wanted Nazis. The organisation accused him of participating in the mass murder and persecution of innocent civilians, primarily Jews, between 1941 and 1945. (BBC, Europa Press and El País 06/05/13)
GUATEMALA: Guatemala’s top court has thrown out the conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity of former military leader Efraín Ríos Montt.
The constitutional court has ruled that the trial should restart from the point where it stood on 19 April. However, the three judges of the Court of High Risk have refused to reopen the case, despite the order issued in this regard by the First Board of Appeal. On 10 May, Efraín Rios Montt, Guatemala's former dictator, was accused of committing genocide, torture and rape against 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his time in office in 1982-83 and sentenced to 80 years in prison. It is the first time a national court tries a former head of State for genocide. (Europa Press, 09/05/13; BBC, 09, 10, 11, 20, 21/05/13, Jurist, 15/05/13; El País, 21/05/13)
KOSOVO: Retrial begins against Kosovo politician accused of war crimes.
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) began the retrial of Fatmir Limaj, a prominent political figure in the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Nine other defendants are also facing charges in the case. Limaj pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges, the torture and killings of Serbian detainees in 1999, amongst others. He was arrested by EULEX in November. The previous trial of Limaj and his codefendants was derailed when a judge refused to allow key witness testimony. A retrial was ordered in November by the Kosovo Supreme Court. (Jurist, 19/05/13).
LIBYA: Gaddafi's son makes second appearance in Libya court.
The son of Libya's deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi made a second court appearance in Zintan, Libya, but the court postponed further proceedings until mid-September in order to allow for adequate trial preparation. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is accused of crimes against the state for transferring information related to Libya's national security to an ICC delegation, insulting Libya's new flag and attempting to escape from prison. In addition, the ICC indicted Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity alongside former Gaddafi intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. The ICC previously determined that the Libyan court fulfilled requirements necessary for the proceedings after the militiamen who captured him insisted that he be tried in Zintan, where he has been held since 2011. Saif al-Islam reportedly accepted Mohammed Abu-Bakr and Mabroukah Jomaah Ghenewah as his defense counsel. (Jurist and BBC, 02/05/13)
NORWAY – RWANDA: Genocide suspect is extradited from Norway.
A Rwandan court granted a prosecutor's request to keep in custody a genocide suspect extradited from Norway. Charles Bandora, the first genocide suspect extradited to Rwanda by a European country, was handed over to the Rwandan authorities in Kigali on March 10 this year. The judge reasoned that there was a risk the accused would flee and said the former businessman was accused of serious crimes, and had not given himself up voluntarily to judicial authorities. The prosecutor describes Bandora as an influential member of the former ruling party MRND of the late president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death led to the genocide in April 1994. Bandora is accused of participating in training Interahamwe militia in the Bugesera region and supervising massacres of Tutsis there in 1994. Rwanda requested his extradition in 2008. However, the request for Sadi Bugingo, another Rwandan living in Norway, was turned down on grounds that Bugingo had obtained Norwegian nationality. Bugingo was tried in Norway and sentenced in February to 21 years in jail. (Hirondelle News, 16/05/13)
RWANDA: The trial start of Pastor Uwinkindi, the first detainee accused by the ICTR and transferred to Rwanda, drags.
Rwandan linguist Léon Mugesera, extradited from Canada a year ago, asked in vain for the judges of the Kigali High Court to reject certain witnesses that the Prosecutor wants to bring against him. Mugesera said some of them are liars and should be found guilty of perjury. The Chamber, which has not yet started hearing witnesses, rejected the request on grounds it was premature. On the other hand, Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, the first International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR) detainee to be transferred to Rwanda, appeared before in court and asked once again that his defence team be strengthened with independent investigators and be paid by the Rwandan government. Uwinkindi is refusing to go to trial until this question is settled. The judges will hand down their decision on May 16. (Hirondelle News, 03/05/13)
SENEGAL – CHAD: Former torturer of Hissene Habre political police is detained.
Senegal Justice Minister, Aminate Toure, and Chadian Justice Minister, Jean-Bernard Badare, signed an agreement allowing Senegalese judges to carry out investigations in Chad in preparation for the prosecution of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre. The agreement allows for Senegalese judges to travel to Chad, speak with witnesses, visit former prisons and do whatever else is necessary to investigate charges against Habre. Senegal and the African Union (AU) signed an agreement in December to set up the Extraordinary African Chambers, which has a budget of USD $9.7 million to try Habre for allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture during his time in power between 1982 and 1990, where rights groups report that some 40,000 people were killed. On the other hand, Chadian authorities have announced the arrest of Mahamat Yibrine, alias "El Yonto", former Hissene Habre's political police torturer, accused of war crimes. Yibrine, who has been arrested by the security forces, is accused of torturing and killing hundreds of political opponents between 1982 and 1990. "The Yonto" could be extradited to Senegal where those responsible for the crimes committed during Habre's rule are being tried. (BBC, Europa Press, 16/05/13; Jurist, 06, 17/05/13)
SPAIN - ARGENTINA: The Spanish Government prevents Franco’s victims from testifying before Argentine judge.
Maria Servini of Cubría, the Argentinean judge who filed the complaint against Franco's crimes when Baltasar Garzón was prosecuted, was ready for the three first testimonies in Buenos Aires. Merçona Puig Antich, sister of Salvador Puig Antich, executed on March 2, 1974 by garrotte; Fausto Canales, whose father and uncle were executed, buried in a mass grave and transferred to Valle de los Caídos in 1959 without the family's authorization, and Pablo Mayoral, former FRAP member who survived Franco's last executions, had come to the Argentine consulate in Madrid to tell their stories. But an hour and a half later, they were told that the videoconference with the judge had been called off because the Spanish government had expressed discomfort with the procedure and prevented the statements to be given. (El País, 09/05/13)
    Peace talks
COLOMBIA: Government and FARC announces agreement on land reform.
The government of Colombia and left-wing FARC rebels have agreed on land reform, after more than six months of peace talks. "This agreement will be the start of a radical transformation of rural Colombia", read a joint statement. The deal calls for the economic and social development of rural areas and providing land to poor farmers. Land reform is one of the most contentious issues in the talks on ending five decades of conflict. On the other hand, the eighth round of talks between the government of Colombia and the FARC has ended in Havana with Humberto de la Calle, head of the government delegation complaining about the slow pace of the negotiations. La Calle has said it is necessary and possible to speed up (the dialogue). However, this evaluation is not shared by the guerrilla chief delegate, Iván Márquez. (El País, 26/05/13; BBC, 03, 27/05/13)

The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said that "the enemies of peace are recoiling" in view of the increasing popular support given to the peace talks the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are having in Havana (Cuba). Santos has denied that the government may be considering granting "autonomy" to the FARC to administer rural reservation areas, one of FARC's requirements which those critics with the process have denounced. Attorney Alejandro Ordóñez and prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre disagree once again over the Marco Jurídico para la Paz, the transitional justice method the government would apply with the FARC if peace prevails. Ordóñez insisted in the risk of impunity and of granting amnesty for international crimes whilst Montealegre has said that peace cannot be sacrificed. (Europa Press, 05/05/13; El Colombiano, 10/05/13; El Tiempo, 14/05/13)

Deputy Justice Minister, Miguel Samper, has said that it is time to take a step forward in the debate on the implementation of transitional justice in the context of the peace process between the government and the FARC. Samper thinks that these discussions cannot be reduced to whether specific or reduced sentences or other legal benefits will be introduced as this would mean undermining the transitional justice system. On the other hand, and beyond the contradictory statements made by members of the negotiating teams at the end of the eighth round of negotiations, there is an issue that is gaining special importance for both peace talks detractors and promoters which is to ensure that there is no impunity. (El Espectador, 06, 12/05/13)

At The Regional Working Groups for Contributing to the End of the Conflict, victims ask for peace to be reached without impunity, and for the government to also repair those persecuted by criminal gangs. Congressman Iván Cepeda, who chairs the tables, assures that all of these proposals will be taken to Havana. Likewise, legislator Angela Robledo has said that meetings with victims lay the foundation for reconciliation. (Especial El Colombiano, 11/05/13)
    Truth commissions
KENYA: Kenya truth commission “will recommend prosecutions”.
The Kenyan Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission launches a report that looks into past injustices going back to independence in 1963. The Commission was set up following deadly post-election clashes five years ago. The report finds that between 1895 and 1963, the British colonial administration was responsible for horrific gross violations of human rights; between 1963 and 1978, President Jomo Kenyatta presided over a government that committed numerous crimes, such as torture, assassinations, arbitrary detentions and illegal acquisition land. The Commission also finds that between 1978 and 2002, President Daniel Arap Moi perpetrated massacres, systematic torture, economic crimes and grand corruption and between 2002 and 2008, President Mwai Kibaki's government that was responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other serious crimes. The report also points out that state security agents, particularly the Kenya Police and the Army, were the main perpetrators of flagrant violations of human rights. The report also mentions the historical grievances over land which have constituted the single most important driver of conflicts and ethnic tensions in Kenya; the fact that women and girls have suffered systematic discrimination in all spheres of life; the unspeakable atrocities committed against children despite the special status accorded to them in Kenyan society and the discrimination suffered by minority groups and indigenous people, who have been collectively punished for years. (BBC, 03/05/13; Jurist, 12/05/13). For full report, please see link
UNITED KINGDOM - KENYA: London negotiates compensation for victims of repression in Kenya.
The British government is negotiating a possible compensation for victims of repression during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s which could benefit thousands of people, as reported by the British newspaper The Guardian. If it succeeds, it will be the first time the UK offers compensation for the repression during the colonial period, which could pave the way for demands from other British colonies. Between 1952-1960, thousands of Kenyans were persecuted and punished for their support of the so-called Mau Mau uprising, a movement that emerged between Kikuyu, Embu and Meru ethnic groups which was contrary to the British presence in the country. (Europa Press, 06/05/13)
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