International Criminal Court (ICC)
KENYA: Kenya decides leaving the ICC while President is being judged
Kenya's Parliamento has decided on September 5 to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC), becoming the first country to withdraw from such institution. The decision comes while President Uhuru Kenyatta, Vice President William Ruto and other Kenian politicians face ICC charges of crimes against humanity related to violence that broke out after elections in 2007. One week later, the ICC started the joint trial of Vice President Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang, accused of hate speech. As the trial opened, they both pleaded not guilty. Bensouda also denounced attempts to bribe and intimidate witnesses. Defence lawyers for Ruto and Sang pleaded their clients’ innocence. They argued that the withdrawal of certain prosecution witnesses is proof the Prosecutor’s case is not solid. The ICC had announced that the decision of withdrawing the ICC would not affect the trials, as those proceedings have already begun, and because withdrawal requires formally submitting a request to the UN and would take at least one year. (BBC, 05/09/13; Jurist, 03/09/13, The Guardian, 05/09/13, Hirondelle News 13/09/13)
SUDAN – USA – NIGERIA: The ICC asks the USA and Nigeria to arrest President Al-Bashir
The ICC has asked the US Government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. al-Bashir was planning to attend the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. The ICC issued arrest warrants for al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Although the US is not a member of the ICC and is not obliged to hand him over, a State Department official said that al-Bashir would "not receive a warm welcome" if he would travel to the USA. Despite he had requested his visa, and despite he was listed as a speaker in the UNGA, Al-Bashir did not travel to the US. On September 5 the ICC also issued a document remembering Nigeria its obligation, as a member of the ICC, to arrest and surrender al-Bashir to the court. Al-Bashir had gone to Nigeria in July to participate in an African heads of state summit. (ICC, 05/09/13, Hirondelle News, 07/09/13, 22/09/13, Al-Jazeera 23/09/13, Radio Netherlands, 27/09/13)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BALKANS: Former head of Bosnian Serb Parliament released from prison
Momcilo Krajisnik, former speaker for the Bosnian Serb Parliament, returned to Bosnia after being released from prison. Krajisnik, arrested in 2000, was convicted in 2006 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for the persecution, deportation and forcible transfer of civilians from their homes during the Bosnian Civil War. The ICTY granted early release to Krajisnik in July, arguing Krajisnik's rehabilitation during his time in prison. (Jurist, 01/09/13)
BANGLADESH: Jamaat-e-Islami leader indicted for crimes against humanity by the ICTB
The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) indicted on September 5 the leader Mir Quasem Ali on charges of crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 liberation war. Ali, a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) central executive committee, was indicted on 14 charges including murder, abduction and torture. The three-member panel of judges set a trial date of September 30. Bangladesh police arrested Ali in June of last year. In July prosecutors charged the assistant secretary-general of JI with six war crimes in 1971. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, the party's secretary-general, was sentenced to death earlier in July for war crimes committed during the 1971 uprising. Also that month, Ghulam Azam, chief of JI in Bangladesh until 2000, was found guilty by the ICTB of five charges of planning, conspiracy, incitement, complicity and murder during the war. On September 27, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked for the international community support to the trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 War in front of the United Nations General Assembly. (Jurist, 05/09/13, The Hindu, 30/09/13)
CAMBODIA: Cambodia tribunal staff goes on strike
Approximately 100 staff members at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), went on strike in early September in protest of unpaid wages. More than 250 local staff members, including judges, prosecutors and interpreters, have not been paid since June of this year because of budgetary problems. Tribunal staff also went on strike in March for unpaid wages. The ECCC are backed by the UN and receive its funding solely from voluntary contributions. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged international donors to provide financial support to keep the tribunal running. On September 17th, Lars Olsen, spokesperson for UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials has underlined the obligation of the Royal Government of Cambodia to pay the local staff. At the same time, Olsen said the UN continues to search for additional funding from international donors. The court is currently preparing to prosecute high-level Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, both of whom are charged with war crimes. (Jurist, 01/09/13, UN News, 18/09/13)
LEBANON: Judge of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon resigns
Judge Robert Roth, Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, has resigned Tuesday from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) committed to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri along with 23 other people in a car bombing in Beirut in 2005. Roth’s justifies his resignation “due to judicial discussions and differences in opinion and concepts”, but assures his decision will not slow down the trial in absentia of the four Hezbollah members. (Ya Libnan, Al-Manar, and The Daily Star, 11/09/13)
SIERRA LEONE: Former president Charles Taylor sentenced to 50 year jail
The Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) upheld on September 26 the conviction and 50-year jail sentence of former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Taylor is expected to serve his sentence in the UK. Presiding judge George Galaga King of Sierra Leone ordered that he remain in the custody of the SCSL “pending final arrangements” for his transfer. The Appeals Chamber thus threw out the bulk of appeals arguments brought by both the prosecution and defence. Taylor’s lawyers had argued that the lower court judges made systematic errors in the evaluation of evidence and that the 50-year prison sentence was “manifestly unreasonable”. Contrary, prosecutors argued for Taylor to be convicted of planning and instigating as well as aiding and abetting crimes committed by rebels in Sierra Leone. According to the judges of the lower court, Taylor knew that rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) were committing crimes against the civilian population of Sierra Leone, but he nevertheless armed, supported and financed the rebels. His aim, according to the judges, was to obtain control of Sierra Leone, in order to exploit its diamond wealth. The judges found, however, that Taylor was not the head of the RUF. Taylor, President of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, is the first ex-head of state to be convicted by an international court since Karl Dönitz, who succeeded Adolf Hitler at the end of the Second World War. (Hirondelle News, The Guardian, 26/09/13)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
ARGENTINA – SPAIN: Argentina dictates international arrest warrant against four Spanish torturers
Argentinian judge María Servini de Cubría, has decreed an international warrant arrest for extradition against four members of the security forces, accused of torture during the dictatorship. Those people are the former bodyguard of Francisco Franco and of the Spanish Royal family Celso Galvan Abascal, the former superintendent Jose Ignacio González Giralte, the former inspector José Antonio González Pacheco nicknamed "Billy the Kid", and the former member of the military body Guardia Civil Jesús Muñecas Aguilar. The judge has decided "instruct the preventive arrest for extradition appointed, in order to greet preliminary statement, the International Criminal Police Organization," according to the statement of the Federal Criminal Court 11 on the 18th of September. Their extradition depends solely on the Spanish Government. (El Diario, 18/09/13)
AUSTRALIA – CROATIA: Australia will extradite accused war criminal
The Australian Government has rejected Dragan Vasiljkovic allegations and will extradite him to Croatia, where he is accused of war crimes. Former commander in the self-proclaimed Serbian republic of Krajina in 1991 and 1992, Vasiljkovic had appealed his extradition, claiming that he is a prisoner of war and should receive special protection. His extradition was demanded by Croatia in 2005, approved by Australia in November 2012, then appealed by Vasiljkovic’s lawyers, and finally approved on September 2013. A Croatian Court prosecutes him for torturing prisoners of war, ordering the killing of prisoners of war and commanding an assault on the village of Glina that resulted in civilian deaths and injuries. (The Australian, 23/09/13, 25/09/13)
BANGLADESH: Death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami leader
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, fourth-highest leader of the opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami to the death penalty on September 17. Abdul Quader Mollah has been accused of murder, rape and torture during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. The leader was sentenced to life in February 2013 by the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB). Street protests by supporters and detractors of Abdul Quader Mollah made the Parliament amended a Law to allow appealing ICTB sentences. Street protests over ICTB trials have caused more than a hundred deaths. (Jurist, Hindustan Times, and The Guardian, 17/09/13)
COLOMBIA: Ten FARC members convicted for attacks on civilians
The Supreme Court has sentenced to spend 31 years in jail and to pay 2115 minimum wages to ten FARC members for homicide of protected persons, aggravated homicide and terrorism in bomb attack in 2005 which killed 6 people. Two of the combatants are Ivan Marquez and Pablo Catatumbo, negotiators in the peace talks in La Havana. (Semana, 17/09/2012)
FRANCE – RWANDA: France rejects the extradition of former senior Rwandan Army officer
A French court pronounced on September 12 against the extradition of former senior Rwandan Army officer Laurent Serubuga, wanted by the judicial authorities of his country for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide. The French court deemed that the charges against him have lapsed, since the arrest warrant was issued on May 17, 2013, more than ten years after the genocide, and without any other indictment having been issued. (Hirondelle News, 13/09/13, 27/09/13)
GERMANY: Former Nazi commanders judged for killing
Siert Bruins, former officer of the military arm of the Nazi’s Party, the Waffen SS, is judged in the German city of Hagen, accused of killing a Dutch resistance fighter in 1944. The former officer, aged 92, was already convicted in absentia to death by a Dutch court in 1949, but flew to Germany where he was convicted seven years to jail. Since the Nuremberg trials in 1945-49, about 13.000 Nazis have been found guilty of war crimes. On the other hand, the Baden-Wuerttemberg state justice ministry, heading the investigation, said 49 guards had been investigated, of whom 30 should be prosecuted. The 30 are spread across Germany, and another seven are living abroad. They are said to be aged up to 97. Auschwitz was the biggest Nazi death camp. More than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered there. The case of Ukrainian-born John Demjanjuk two years ago changed the legal situation concerning people who worked at the death camps. Demjanjuk died last year while appealing against his five-year jail sentence for complicity in the murder of more than 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. (Associated Press, Deutche Welle, BBC, 02/09/13, Jurist, BBC, 03/09/13)
KOSOVO: Kosovo politician again acquitted of war crimes charges
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) recently acquitted Fatmir Limaj, a close ally of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, of war crimes charges. Limaj was accused of killing and torturing Serbian prisoners at the Kosovo Liberation Army-run detention camp in Klečka. In 2005 Limaj was acquitted of similar charges by the UN tribunal in The Hague because of insufficient evidence. An EU judge in September 2011 placed Limaj under house arrest after EULEX charged 10 former members of the KLA, including Limaj, with war crimes for their actions during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. Limaj was again tried in 2011 and was acquitted in May 2012, after a key witness, Agim Zogaj, who had written a 200 pages diary with accusations against Limaj, was found hanged in Germany. He was then excluded from a cabinet position following international pressure not to include corrupt officials but was elected into the Kosovo Parliament. (Reuters, 17/09/13; Jurist, 18/09/13)
LYBIA: Saif al-Gaddafi appears in tribal court in Zintan
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, son of the former head of State Colonel Muammar el-Gaddafi, has appeared in a tribal court in Zintan on September 19. Saif al-Gaddafi, who was captured nearly two years ago by the militia fighters, is wanted in Tripoli and The Hague, under charges of crimes against humanity, and in Zintan only for security charges. Asked by the judge Gaddafi, said he preferred to remain in Zintan. His trial has been adjourned until December 12. In summer 2013, International Criminal Court judges asked Libyan Government to extradite Saif al-Gaddafi arguing he could not have a fair trial in Libya. (Al-Jazeera, NY Times, 19/09/13)
ROMANIA: Former prison chief under Ceausescu accused of genocide
Commander Alexander Visinescu, has been accused by the Romanian General Prosecutors’ Office of genocide between 1956 and 1963 while he was chief of the Ramnicu Sarat prison under the rule of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Prosecutors argue that Visinescu should be convicted of genocide because the harsh prison conditions he implemented (beatings, hunger, cold and lack of medical treatment) led directly to the deaths of several prisoners. The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes (IICCMER) listed Visinescu as one of 35 former Communist officials who committed human rights abuses. IICCMER applauded the decision by the Romanian General Prosecutor's Office to charge Visinescu with genocide, declaring that the charges were a historic victory for the Romanian people. In July the IICCMER asked the prosecutor's office to charge Visinescu with first-degree murder for his treatment of prisoners. About 500,000 Romanians were jailed as political prisoners during the 1950s under Ceausescu’s communist rule, and nearly 100,000 of them died in prison. (BBC, 03/09/13; Jurist, 04/09/13)
SERBIA - BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Agreement to cooperate on war crimes prossecution
The Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) Prosecutor’s Office and Serbia’s Special War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office, headed by chief prosecutors Goran Salihovic and Vladimir Vukcevic signed on September 19 an agreement in Brussels to cooperate in a number of war crimes committed during the nineties. During the last year, the two prosecutions have exchanged information on potential cases of war crimes relating to 65 persons and 39 cases. (inSerbia, 20/09/13, 23/09/13)
USA – BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Extradition of a former Bosnian prison camp guard
A US magistrate judge on September 16 certified the extradition of former Bosnian prison guard Almaz Nezirovic to his native country to face war-crimes charges. Judge Robert Ballou, presiding over the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia, found sufficient evidence in support of the allegations again Nezirovic, only needing final approval from US Secretary of State John Kerry in order to complete the extradition process. Nezirovic is accused of beating, humiliating and traumatizing unarmed civilian prisoners while serving as a prison guard in his hometown of Derventa during the early stages of the Bosnian War. According to the police report, Nezirovic took part in mass unlawful arrests and detention of persons of Serb ethnicity during a four to six month period in 1992. (Jurist, 18/09/13)
    Truth commissions
PERU: After ten years, recommendations have not been addressed
Former President of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Peru, Salomon Lerner, has reported that after ten years, most of the recommendations of the Commission’s nine volume report have been ignored. According to him, the Government still needs to undertake State reforms and to compensate victims and their families. The internal conflict from 1980 to 2000, caused some 70,000 deaths and thousands of other human right abuses. To elaborate the report, the Truth Commission collected 15,220 testimonies. (Peruvian Times, 27-28/08/13)
SPAIN: UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visits Spain
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has visited Spain from 23 to 30 September 2013 to examine the measures taken by the Spanish Government to prevent and eradicate enforced or involuntary disappearances. The experts have analysed issues related to truth, justice, reparation and memory for victims of enforced disappearances. Coinciding with the visit, the Platform for a Truth Commission on the Franquist crimes, which gathers more than one hundred organisations has prepared a report on the situation of neglect suffered by the victims of the Franco regime and their families. According to this report, there are still 130,000 people missing, 30.000 stolen children, and thousands of victims of repression remain buried in 2.500 mass graves not opened yet. (UNWGEID Press release, 19/09/13, Público, Periodismo Humano 20/09/13, El País, 24/09/13)
CONGO, DR: No amnesty for M23 commanders
The Government spokesman, Lambert Mende, has announced that around 100 M23 commanders will not be eligible for amnesty, nor to integrate the national Army. According to him, amnesty will be ruled out for the combatants that had taken part in multiple rebellions, were on international sanctions lists or had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. This announcement takes place in the mist of peace talks in Uganda that could lead the M23 combatants to reintegrate the Army. The M23 spokesman, Amani Kabashi, said the dialogues will continue. (Reuters, 19/09/13)
NIGERIA (NIGER DELTA): Presidential Amnesty Programme will end by 2015
A representative of the Federal Government of the Niger Delta has announced that the Presidential Amnesty Program will finish by 2015. The program was launched in 2010 by the former President Umaru Yar’Adua to rehabilitate ex-combatants who renounced fighting and entered a Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration program. By then, it is expected that more than 16.000 former combatants will have benefitted from the amnesty and vocational training program. (Nigerian Eye, 16/09/13)
    Peace talks
COLOMBIA: President Santos seeks international support for the Legal Framework for Peace
President Juan Manuel Santos has pleaded for his model of transitional justice at the UN General Assembly on September 24, almost a month after the Constitutional Court declared valid the Legal Framework for Peace, which states that only those responsible for the more severe crimes should be tried. Santos has argued that the proposals negotiated in La Havana peace talks do respect international standards, in an attempt to seek the complicity of the International Criminal Court, and thus prevent the international debate to interfere in the peace negotiations. According to President Santos, the ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, says her institution would not intervene in Colombia as long as national and international standards are met. On the other hand, the Victims Law (Law 1448) has been questioned by agencies such as the Attorney for victims or Human Rights Watch (HRW). A report of the Attorney reports that the 5.5 million victims (of which 83% are internally displaced) have no guarantee of non-repetition of the facts, a fundamental condition for the reparation of the victims under this law. In the same direction, HRW documented in a report the murders, death threats and new forced displacements committed against displaced persons seeking to recover their land. On September 17, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have proposed an independent commission to complete the report of the Group on Historical Memory. The work of this commission would nourish the fifth subject of the negotiation agenda that concerns victims. (Semana, 31/08/13, El Tiempo, 07/09/13, 09/18/13 and 24/09/13 El espectador, El colombiano 18/09/13)
CHILE: Chile's judges apologise for their actions after coup
The body representing judges in Chile has made an unprecedented apology for the actions of its members under military rule in the 1970s and 1980s. It a statement, it said that the judiciary at the time had abandoned its role as protector of basic rights. "The time has come to ask for the forgiveness of victims... and of Chilean society," said the judges. The statement by the National Association of Magistrates of the Judiciary comes a week before the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought General Pinochet to power. It said its members, and in particular the Supreme Court, had failed in its duty to protect victims of state abuse. Four opposition MP, and also Amnesty International asked for the abrogation of the Amnesty Law, which covers up Human Rights violations committed between 1973 and 1978. Similarly, the Chilean National Institute for Human Rights (INDH) has asked the Government more truth, access to justice and reparation for the victims of the dictatorship. According to this organization, memory about the human rights violations should be included in the school system, as well as in the Armed and Security Forces. Between 1973 and 1990, under the military regime of General Augusto Pinochet, about 3,200 people were killed (1,200 are still disappeared), and 38,000 were jailed and tortured for political reasons. (Europa Press, 05/09/13, BBC, 04/09/13, INDH, 11/09/13, Diario UChile, 12/09/13)
FRANCE – GERMANY: German visit to French harmed village in WWII
German President Joachim Gauck has visited Oradour-sur-Glane to remember its victims. It is the first time a German official visits this French village, where 642 civilians were killed in June 1944. Most men were shot with machine guns, and women and children burned alive in the church. In February 1953, a French Military court had sentenced 21 soldiers, few of them private, to long terms. Some days later, though, the French Parliament approved an amnesty law. Similarly, General Lammerding, considered responsible of the killing, was sentenced to death in France, but was never extradited from Germany. President Gauck expressed his bitterness due to the fact that most of the responsible were not brought to justice. Since his appointment in March 2012, the German President has also visited Lidice, in Czech Republic attacked by German soldiers in 1942, and Sant'Anna di Stazzema, in Italy were 560 civilians were killed in 1944. (El País, 03/09/13; BBC, 04/09/13; Deutsche Welle 05/09/13)
TURKISH KURDISTAN – ARMENIA: Monument to apologise for 1915 violence
A monument of Common Conscience has been inaugurated in the municipality of Diyarbakir, in Turkish Kurdistan, with an official act where the mayor of the city, Abdullah Demirbaş, has apologized for the 1915 “massacre and deportations” of Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, Yezidis, Alevis, as well as all the Sunni who “stood against the system”, and has invited Turkish authorities to do the same. The Monument at the Anzele Park includes the words, in six languages, “We share the pain so that it is not repeated”. While the act can be seen as a brave step distinct from Turkish’ policy of denial, some deplore the fact that the word “genocide” has been avoided. (The Armenian Weekly, 12/09/13; ICTJ, 18/09/13; Asbarez, 20/09/13)
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