International Criminal Court (ICC)
AFRICAN UNION: African debate about the role of the ICC
Short after Kenyan decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), a ministerial meeting of the African Union (AU) held in Ethiopia by the end of the month has accused the ICC of being politically biased and double standard, as all the people charged by the ICC are African. On the other hand, other African actors took a stand for the ICC. In a letter, 130 African civil society organizations and international human rights groups called the African Union leaders to support the court. Equally, the government of Botswana, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from Ghana, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu through the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict called for continued support to the ICC. (Voice of America, Human Rights Watch, 07/10/13; Los Angeles Times, Jurist, 08/10/13; Reuters, Hirondelle News 11/10/13)
CÔTE D'IVOIRE: Arrest warrant against former president Gbagbo’s minister of Youth
The ICC unsealed an arrest warrant against Charles Blé Goudé, former minister of Youth under Ivorian ex-president Laurent Gbagbo. Charles Blé Goudé, currently detained in Côte d'Ivoire, is accused as indirect co-perpetrator for murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in Côte d'Ivoire post-electoral violence between December 2010 and April 2011, when according to UN 3.000 people were killed. While former president Laurent Gbagbo is currently detained in The Hague, his wife Simone Gbagbo, also under an ICC arrest warrant is still in Côte d'Ivoire. At the end of September 2013, Ivorian authorities said they would not transfer Simone Gbagbo to the ICC, to judge her in Côte d'Ivoire. Blé Goudé's lawyer has announced he will also ask his client to be judged in Côte d'Ivoire. (ICC, 21/12/11; Le Monde, 02/10/13; Hirondelle News, 04/10/13)
KENYA: Allegations against president Kenyatta and deputy president Ruto judgement
Lawyers of the president Uhuru Kenyatta asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to drop his trial for crimes against humanity against him, alleging that the prosecution's witnesses and intermediaries are corrupt. The African Union summit in Ethiopia issued an ultimatum to the ICC to stop the indictment of President Kenyata. Lawyers of deputy president William Ruto have asked not to be present in the trials due to his obligations in his country. The ICC appeals chamber has ruled that Ruto must be present for most of his trial at The Hague. Meanwhile, Kenya's UN Ambassador, Macharia Kamau, requested in an open letter to the UN Security Council, that the ICC defer the trials, arguing that the continued trial could prevent Kenya from fully addressing the security nation's problems. Kenyatta and Ruto are charged with crimes against humanity linked to 2007-2008 post-electoral violence, when at least 1,100 people died and more than 600,000 were displaced. (Hirondelle News, 11/10/13; Jurist, 11, 23, 25/10/13)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BANGLADESH: The ICTB sentences two leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and indicts one for war crimes in 1971
The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) has sentenced Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a member of parliament for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to death for war crimes, and Abdul Alim, leader of the opposition BNP, to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. Both plan to appeal the decision of the Court. The ICTB also indicted BNP leader Zahid Hossain Khokon in absentia on war crimes charges, including genocide, torture, abduction and confinement, coming to a total of 11 charges. Established in 2009, the ICTB is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh independence war in which about 3 million people were killed. (Jurist, 01/10/13, 09/10/13, 10/10/13)
CAMBODIA: Closing statements about Khmer Rouge leaders prosecution
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have heard closing statements on the judgements of Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea, 87, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 82. Defense lawyers have denied charges alleging that experts and other witnesses were not "confident" in their testimonies. Prosecutors, on the other hand, have asked the death penalty for creating a slave state and for being responsible for atrocity crimes that led to the deaths of more than 1.7 million people. The sentence is issued on October 31. (Público, 21/10/13; Voice of America, 22/10/13)
LEBANON: Fifth accused of Rafik Hariri assassination
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has indicted Hassan Merhi, the fifth person accused for the 2005 truck bombing that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Hassan Merhi faces 21 charges of terrorism and intentional homicide and others. The other suspects Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra were charged in 2011 with involvement in the bombing. Hezbollah has denied its involvement in Hariri's killing and has refused to extradite the first four suspects. The four will be judged from January 2014 in absentia if they are not detained. On the other hand, STL spokesperson Marten Youssef reminded the Lebanese authorities its obligation to contribute to the budget of the STL, as done already twice in the past. (Jurist, 10/10/13, The Daily Star, 14/10/13)
SENEGAL – USA: New financial support for the Extraordinary African Chambers
US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp, has announced at the beginning of October that his country will contribute with one million dollars to the Extraordinary African Chambers, created in February 2013. Former Chadian president Hissène Habré was charged in July 2013 by this Chambers with war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during his presidency. Extraordinary African Chambers have been created within the Senegalese justice system to try the most serious crimes committed in Chad during Habré's presidency from 1982 until 1990. (Human Rights Watch, 01/10/13; Hirondelle News, 04/10/13)
SIERRA LEONE: Charles Taylor has been imprisoned in the UK
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has transferred former Liberian president Charles Taylor to the United Kingdom to serve the remainder of his 50-year prison sentence. Taylor, who was tried in the Netherlands, was convicted in September 2013 on 11 charges including terrorism, rape, murder, the use of child soldiers by rebel groups, and for supplying weapons to rebels in exchange for diamonds during the 1991-2002 civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Taylor had written to the Court saying he wanted to serve his sentence in Rwanda, where a number of other SCSL convicts are imprisoned, but the demand was rejected. Taylor is the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II. (BBC, 15/10/13; Hirondelle News, 18/11/13)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: New trials for Bosnian war crimes
Bosnia's war crimes court has ordered retrials for three convicted men for crimes committed in Bosnia's 1992-95 war. Two of them had alleged in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that they had been tried under a 2003 criminal code that is more stringent than the one that was in force when the crimes were committed. In July 2013, the ECHR ruled that Bosnian legal procedures had violated their rights. The trials will affect Abduladhim Maktouf, with afive-year sentence for atrocities against Croat civilians in central Bosnia in 1993, Goran Damjanovic, sentenced to 11 years in 2007 for war crimes against Bosnian Muslim civilians in Sarajevo in 1992, and another Bosnian Serb who did not appeal to the ECHR. On the other hand, the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has announced that police has arrested eight men suspected of taking part in looting, expulsions and killing of civilians in September 1992 in Rogatica Municipality. (Reuters, 09/10/13; Jurist, 17/10/13)
HUNGARY: Former communist official charged with war crimes for 1956 uprising
Hungarian prosecutors have charged Bela Biszku, a former Communist Party official, with war crimes. He has been accused for ordering shootings of civilians during protests in Budapest and in Salgotarjan in the 1956 uprising against the Soviet rule. The prosecution is possible since a 2011 law stipulates that war crimes and crimes against humanity do not lapse. If convicted, Bela Biszku, 92, could be sentenced to life in prison. (Reuters, 16/10/13; NY Times, 17/10/13)
LYBIA: ICC says Intelligence chief should be judged in Lybia
Judges at the ICC decided on October 11 that Abdullah al-Senoussi, former head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi's Intelligence chief, should be judged in Lybia, arguing that authorities are willing and able to prosecute him. Al-Senoussi is accused both by the ICC and by Lybian prosecutors of crimes against humanity for the murder and persecution of protesters in the uprising in 2011. Eventually, al-Senoussi's lawyers appealed the ICC's decision, arguing he could face death penalty. The decision poses a problem as the ICC had previously ruled that al-Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, could not be judged in Lybia because the judicial system in the country was not ready. (Washington Post, Hirondelle News, 11/10/13, 18/10/13)
USA – PAKISTAN: USA should judge drone war crimes in Pakistan
At least 926 civilians have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan with impunity, according to an Amnesty International report. The organization asks the American authorities to collect information and to prosecute responsible of those acts, some of which could be considered war crimes, and to compensate victims' families. Similarly, both the UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, and UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns, published reports analyzing the impact of drones on civilian populations as a violation of the right to life and of international norms. The US drone program has carried out 376 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, but its secrecy protects the USA impunity and prevents victims from receiving justice. (Telegraph, 21/10/13; Reuters, Amnesty International, 22/10/13, Jurist, 25/10/13)
    Truth commissions
ECUADOR: The Truth Commission prosecutes ten officers
An Ecuadorian court has started the trial of nine army officers and a police general charging them of torture, sexual violence and forced disappearance of three opponents of the government in 1985. The prosecution is led by the Truth Commission. Set up in 2007, the Commission investigates human rights abuses perpetrated between 1984 and 1988, during the presidency of Leon Febres Cordero. In 2010 it released a report finding 165 instances of torture, 68 executions, 17 disappearances and 269 arbitrary detention during this period. (Jurist, 02/10/13)
GUATEMALA: Rios Montt demands amnesty
Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt convicted in May 2013 and sentenced to 80 years in prison for the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983 as part of a counter-insurgency campaign has claimed for amnesty to the Guatemala's Constitutional Court. The Court will consider the demand despite the Guatemalan Supreme Court already stated in June that the 1986 amnesty does not extend to genocide and crimes against humanity. The retrial of Rios Montt is scheduled for April 2014. (La Prensa Libre, 23/10/13)
    Peace talks
CONGO, DR: Disagreement over M23 rebels’ amnesty and disarmament in high-level peace talks
High-level peace talks about Kivu province have halted due to disagreements over the extent of amnesty, and integration in the Congolese Army of the M23 rebels. The Congolese and M23 negotiators reached agreement on eight of 12 articles in a draft peace agreement, but still need to overcome differences over how to disband the M23. Martin Kobler, the U.N. special representative for Congo, expressed his regret that this objective couldn't be reached because "considerable progress" was made on amnesty. (Washington Post, Mail&Guardian, 21/10/13; Voice of America, 22/10/13)
MYANMAR: Amnesty for 56 combatants at peace talks resumption
At the beginning of October, peace talks resumption between the government and the armed Kachin rebels made Myanmar's President, Thein Sein, announce a new amnesty to 56 political prisoners, most of whom members the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and the Army of the State of Shan, groups that are involved in the peace talks. UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, has hailed the release of these 56 political prisoners, but laments the continued detention of non violent or armed actors. Since 2011, 1,020 opponents have been released, while around 1,000 remain imprisoned. (Europa Press, 08/10/13, Europa Press, Jurist, 10/10/13, IRIN News, 24/10/13)
GREECE – GERMANY: Greece demands compensations for WWII
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has sent a report to Greece's Legal Council to build a legal case or to negotiate about German reparations for its human rights violations and infrastructure damage during WWII, and a never-repaid loan that Greece was forced to make from 1941 to 1945 under Nazi occupation. The report does not estimate an amount of Nazi damage, which could range from 220 to 677 billion dollars, for economical damages, 24 billion dollar for the loan, and an unestimated quantity for the requisitions and reprisals. It is not clear if the Greek government will address the issue with Germany, although it will soon discuss with its creditors ways to ease its debt burden. Greek hostility towards Germany is increasing, as some opposition parties and newspapers reclaim the German debt. (NY Times, 05/10/13)
SIERRA LEONE: Recognition to victims and witnesses of Sierra Leone war crimes
Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, has traveled all around Sierra Leone to thank victims, and specially those who served as witnesses against Liberian president Charles Taylor, sentenced to a 50 year jail term. The tour is aimed at explaining to communities that were affected by Sierra Leone's 11 year conflict the Court's Appeals Chamber judgment, and to recognize their involvement which made possible the prosecution of Charles Taylor. The various outreach events around the country have been welcomed with loud applause among hundreds of attendants. (All Africa, 18/10/13)
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