International Criminal Court (ICC)
GENERAL INFORMATION: ICC president calls on international community to bring war criminals to justice
Judge Sang Hyun Song, the president of the ICC, has urged the international community to commit to bringing perpetrators of war crimes and genocide to justice. Song's statement marked International Criminal Justice Day, July 17, which was the date that the Rome Statute [text, PDF] was signed in 1998, officially creating the ICC. Song declared that although the court has brought many criminals to justice in its 15-year existence, the international community needs to do more to ensure that the ICC functions properly: While we have come a long way, we cannot afford complacency. Make no mistake—the ICC faces threats today as real as ever before. There are those who seek to undermine the international justice movement, who politicize its action, who question its value, and who purport to speak for the victims it serves. There are those who refuse to cooperate, leaving more than ten ICC suspects still at large. Song also emphasized that international criminal justice is a fundamental human value rather than the product of any particular culture. (Jurist, 18/07/13 and Hirondelle News, 17/07/13)
CÔTE D'IVOIRE: Charges Related to Post-Electoral Violence Confirmed Against Simone Gbagbo and 80 Others
Charges against Simone Gbagbo, the former Ivoirian first lady, have been confirmed by a court in Abidjan for her role in violence that followed the 2010 presidential election. The newspaper Fraternite Matin has said the decision paves the way for the trial of Simone Gbagbo and 80 other supporters of the ex-leader, Laurent Gbagbo, including his son Michel Gbagbo and the Front Populaire Ivoirien spokemen Pascal Affi N'guessan and Ake Ngbo. They are accused among other counts of breaching state security, rebellion and defiance of state authority the paper added. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had recently reminded the Ivorian government of its obligation to transfer Simone Gbagbo to the Court. (Hirondelle News, 19/07/2013 and All Africa, 11/07/13)
KENYA: ICC rejects request to hold Kenya trials in Africa
The ICC rejects a request by Kenyan officials to change the forum of the trials of Joshua Sang and William Ruto - accused of inciting violence after the 2007 presidential election, in which 1,100 people died - to Kenya or Tanzania. Lawyers for both defendants have filed a joint application on the grounds that transferring the cases would make it more practical for them to maintain the duties of their active offices. Although there are already established ICC courts in both Kenya and Tanzania, the ICC extensively debated the request before denying it. In a press release, the ICC has stated that it just is not possible to provide the same resources in those facilities and said that the Judges have taken into account numerous factors, such as security, the cost of holding proceedings outside The Hague, and the potential impact on victims and witnesses. The trial is now set to open in The Hague. On the other hand, two witnesses due to testify in Kenyatta's trial have withdrawn over security concerns, the ICC has said. Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating deadly violence after the 2007 election, an allegation he denies. (All Africa, BBC, 18/07/13; Hirondelle News, 19, 16/07/13; Jurist, 16/07/13 and Europa Press, 15/07/13)
LIBYA: ICC orders Libya to turn over Gaddafi's son
The ICC rejects Libya's request to suspend the order to hand over Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Muammar Gaddafi. It also rules that its forum is more appropriate than the Libyan forum because of the accused's stated preference and genuine fear of bias. (Jurist, 19/07/13)
SUDAN – NIGERIA: Sudan President Bashir's Nigeria visit causes anger
Human rights groups have condemned Nigeria for hosting Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, and have demanded his arrest on genocide charges. Mr Bashir is attending a health summit convened by the African Union (AU) in the capital, Abuja. His visit was an "affront to victims" of the conflict in Darfur, rights groups said. The AU decided in 2009, soon after the arrest warrant was issued, that member states should not enforce it. It accuses the ICC of complicating peace efforts in the region, and unfairly targeting Africans. The ICC has urged Nigerian authorities to arrest and surrender Omar al-Bashir. Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and therefore must adhere to court orders or its failure to comply may be referred to the UN. (Jurist, 17, 21/07/13 and BBC, 15/07/13)
SUDAN: ICC prosecutor has said Darfur attacks may constitute war crimes
Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said that attacks on UN peacekeepers in the Darfur region of Sudan may constitute war crimes. A recent attack left seven UN peacekeepers from Tanzania dead and another 17 military and police personnel of the African Union/UN Hybrid Operations in Darfur (UNAMID) wounded. In her statement, Bensouda further warned that ICC "will not hesitate to prosecute those alleged to have committed such war crimes." (Jurist, 21/07/13)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BALKANS: ICTY grants early release to former head of the Bosnian Serb parliament
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) grants early release to Momcilo Krajisnik, the former head of the Bosnian Serb parliament who was convicted in 2006 of the persecution, deportation and forcible transfer of civilians from their homes during Bosnia's 1992-95 war. The decision was based upon evidence of Krajisnik's rehabilitation during his time in prison who has been termed as a "model prisoner. On the other hand, border police have arrested former Bosnian Croat fighter Josip Tolic, who is suspected of abusing Serb civilians detained in Odzak and Bosanski Brod during wartime. According to the evidence collected, victims were raped, abused and tortured in exceptionally humiliating ways, in which the suspect participated personally. From the consequences of the torture and abuse, a number of prisoners passed away. Bosnia's state court has also sentenced one former Bosnian Croat fighter, Albina Terzic, to five years in prison for war crimes against Serbs in the town of Odzak in 1992. Terzic was one of a handful women charged with war crimes in Bosnia. (War Crimes Prosecution Watch, 04/07/13 and Jurist, 03/07/13)
BANGLADESH: Bangladesh opposition leader sentenced to 90 years for war crimes
Prosecutors for the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) sentenced 90-year-old former leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party (JI) to death for crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Ghulam Azam has been found guilty of five charges of planning, conspiracy, incitement, complicity and murder during the war. He functioned as chief of JI in Bangladesh until 2000, but he maintains that the charges against him are politically motivated. Defense attorneys have stated that they plan to appeal the verdict. On the other hand, Bangladeshi prosecutors announced that they are charging Azharul Islam, JI's assistant secretary-general with six war crimes in the 1971 war of liberation. (Europa Press, BBC, Jurist, 17, 19, 15/07/13; El País, 15/07/13 and War Crimes Prosecution Watch, 03/07/13)
RWANDA: Second ICTR accused transferred to Rwanda for trial
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) hands over, Bernard Munyagishari to the Rwandan authorities, in line with a transfer decision by the Court. Bernard Munyagishari was Secretary General of the former ruling party Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Dévelopement (MRND) in the northern prefecture of Gisenyi, in Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. He was also President of the party's youth wing, the Interahamwe, in the same region. The ICTR has charged him with crimes against humanity. (Hirondelle News, 24/07/13)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
CANADA – RWANDA: Canada court clears Rwandan genocide suspect
The Ontario Superior Court acquitts Jacques Mungwarere of genocide and of crimes against humanity. Judge Michel Charbonneau finds that Mungwarere is likely guilty but rules that the evidence is not clear enough to overcome reasonable doubt. Mungwarere is the second person in Canada to be tried under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. The prosecution has 30 days to appeal the ruling. Other countries have also decided to prosecute individuals suspected suspect of involvement in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. In April a court in France ordered Pascal Simbikangwa, a former Rwandan Army Captain, to stand trial for crimes against humanity. In March a Dutch court convicted Yvonne Basebya, a Dutch citizen born in Rwanda, of inciting genocide in Rwanda. In February a Norwegian Court sentenced a Rwandan man to 21 years for being an accomplice in the Rwandan genocide. (Jurist, 06/07/13)
CHAD – SENEGAL: Former Chad dictator charged with war crimes
Hissène Habré, former president of Chad, accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes will appear before the Extraordinary African Chambers a special court created in Senegal to investigate the claims against Habré, who could be sentenced to life imprisonment. The former Chadian dictator must answer claims that members of his Secret Service tortured and killed up to 40,000 people during his reign from 1982-90. If brought to trial, Habré would be the first African leader to face charges of crimes against humanity in a fellow African country. Habré has told the judges he does not recognize the Chambers or their legality or legitimacy "because of ongoing violations of the rules of procedures". On the other hand, more than 1,000 victims have asked the Chambers to officially recognize them as parties with an interest in the matter. Nearly 300 applicants claim to be direct victims of Habré, while hundreds more are applying for status based on the rights of deceased family members. The court has not yet indicated how it will respond to the large number of applications. (War Crimes Prosecution Watch, BBC, Jurist 19, 03, 01/07/13; All Africa, 17, 02/07/13; Hirondelle News, 12/07/13; Jeune Afrique, 04/07/13; Deutsche Welle 02/07/2013 and BBC, Europa Press, 02/07/13)
RWANDA – USA: New Hampshire woman sentenced to 10 years for role in Rwandan genocide
A judge for the US District Court of New Hampshire sentenced Beatrice Munyenyezi to 10 years in prison for her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Munyenyezi was convicted in February of having gained her US citizenship by hiding her identity and her affiliation with the Hutu, despite the fact that her husband was a known leader in the Hutu militia. Munyenyezi served as a guard at a checkpoint where she detained Tutsis who would be killed by the Hutu militia. The judge found that the role she played amounted to that of an active participant in the genocide. Munyenyezi's husband and mother-in-law were also convicted, and are serving life sentences for their role in the genocide. (Hirondelle News Agency, 19/07/2013 and Jurist, 17/07/13)
    Truth commissions
EGYPT: The Salafi Al-Nour Party proposes the creation of a national reconciliation commission
The Salafi Al-Nour Party issued a statement Monday asking for the creation of a national reconciliation commission to be composed of experts universally trusted by the Egyptian people. The national reconciliation commission would act as a mediator between former president Mohamed Morsi and former opposition, and would introduce a roadmap to be approved by all political groups and by the armed forces. (War Crimes Prosecution Watch, 09/07/13)
    Peace talks
COLOMBIA: The Government applies a new rehabilitation policy for illegal group members
A new rehabilitation policy for illegal group members is applied in Colombia this week, with a view to promote demobilization processes and to further accelerate the legal and social benefits for those who give up the arms. Although the new policy does not introduce any new benefits, Resolution 0754 of 2013 consolidates some of the existing aid already in place. One of the most innovative issues is that guerrilla and paramilitary members who are imprisoned for a crime committed before demobilization, will be granted such benefits, economic ones included, when they finish serving their sentences. They have so far been recognized as demobilized, but have not been able to enjoy the privileges of reintegration programs. However, and despite the fact that processes open to them for belonging to an illegal group will still continue, the judge in charge of the case may grant them an alternative sanction. (El Tiempo, 28/07/13)
COLOMBIA: Framework for Peace (Marco Jurídico para la Paz)
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos intervenes in the public hearing of the Constitutional Court to defend the Framework for Peace, a proposed constitutional amendment that brought about peace talks with the FARC and the ELN guerrilas. The president defends the amendment as the best chance for peace. Rights groups, including the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), challenge the amendment because they believe it could lead to loopholes that may allow violent criminals to escape justice. Santos has said that their commitment to the expectations and rights of the victims is serious and that the question is not about sacrificing justice to reach peace but how to achieve peace with the most justice. (Jurist, 26/07/13)
COLOMBIA: Attorney General says there can be no peace with impunity
Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado has submitted his comments to an international commission with regard to the peace process negotiations between the Colombia Government and the FARC. Ordóñez has said that Colombia has undergone an armed conflict in which all its citizens have been directly or indirectly affected by the actions of violent actors but has stressed that, although all Colombians want peace, this cannot be reached with impunity. To Ordóñez impunity does not guarantee peace, but ensures new scenarios of violence instead, which is why all actors involved should shield the peace process and guarantee it fully. (El Espectador, 27, 26/07/13; Jurist, 26/07/13 y Europa Press, 25/07/13)
COLOMBIA: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ends her visit to Colombia
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, ends her four-day visit to Colombia, with acknowledgment messages to the country and of support to the peace process, but also with suggestions to be born in mind. Pillay has acknowledged progress has been made in terms of human rights, but has called for respect for international standards. She has also recalled that during her visit five years ago, she came to Colombia amid the scandal of false positives. The High Commissioner has said that and although no new cases of false positives have been reported, she is confident that such violations will not go unpunished. Pillay also spoke of the peace process with the guerrillas and was emphatic that the rights of the victims must be at the center of peace negotiations. (El Tiempo, 19/07/13)
BALKANS: The European Union pays tribute to the victims of Srebrenica
The High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, Catherine Ashton, pays tribute to the victims of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina and urges Bosnians, while recognizing the pain of the victims' families, to advance reconciliation inspired by the European project that emerged after the Second World War. Ashton said that although 18 years have passed since the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995, the pain of those who have lost their children, parents, relatives and friends is still present and conveys her respect to the victims on behalf of the European Union. (Europa Press, 7/11/13)
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