International Criminal Court (ICC)
EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood asks the ICC to investigate crimes against humanity
The Muslim Brotherhood party has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the Egyptian military after its July coup removing former president Mohamed Morsi from power. The complaint filed before the ICC accuses the military regime of committing murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearances, and other inhumane acts. As Egypt has signed but not ratified the Statute of Rome it is not clear whether the ICC has jurisdiction in Egypt or not. After the coup in July, 139 Morsi supporters were sentenced to two-year prison sentences, and the party was declared a terrorist organisation. (Jurist, Daily News Egypt, 07/01/14)
KENYA: The ICC postpones the trial against president Kenyatta
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided to postpone the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, who is accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the violence in the country after the general elections in 2007. In December 2013, ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested an adjournment arguing that she needed more time to gather evidence after a key witness decided not to testify, and another declared he had given false evidence. In February 2014 the Court will discuss how to proceed with the request for deferment. Moreover, the Presidency of the ICC has decided to replace one of the three judges on the Kenyatta case. Judge Eboe-Osuji Chile will be replaced by Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson, recently elected by the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute. (EFE, 1/23/14; CPI, 23, 01/30/14)
UK: Officials accused at the ICC for war crimes in Iraq
After an investigation that has lasted several years, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a complaint with the ICC accusing UK government and military officials of engaging in "systematic" war crimes during the 2003 armed conflict in Iraq. UK service personnel, including very high level figures such as the head of the Army Gen Sir Peter Wall and ex-Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, would allegedly have abused and, in some instances, wilfully killed Iraqi detainees. Several UK government officials have denied the accusations and stated that the allegations were already under investigation, or had been dealt with in a variety of ways, rejecting the need to open a new process. (BBC, 12/01/14; Time, Jurist, 13/01/14)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BALKANS: Appeals chamber confirms four convictions, reduces three of them
The appeals chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has upheld the criminal convictions of four Serbian senior officials during the Bosnian Civil War, although it reduced the sentences for three of them. Former Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff Nebojsa Pavkovic's 22-year sentence was confirmed, while sentences for former Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, General Vladimir Lazarevic and General Sreten Lukic were reduced from 22 to 18 years, from 15 to 14 years, and from 22 to 20 years imprisonment respectively. The charges relate to acts of sexual assault, killings and forcible displacement by the Serbian army in Kosovo between March and May 1999. (Jurist, 24/01/14)
BANGLADESH: New Jamaat-e-Islami leader charged of war crimes
Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICTB) has charged Abdus Subhan, leader of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), with war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Subhan was arrested last September and formally charged after an investigation. An estimated 10 million civilians fled to India during the Bangladesh war of independence and an estimated 3 million people died. Human rights groups say that the tribunal, which so far has charged over a dozen people, does not meet international standards. Most of those charged have been leaders of JI opposed to Bangladesh's Independence, which has led to increased unrest and clashes between protestors and security forces in several cities around the country. (The Hindu, 31/12/13; Jurist, 03/01/14)
LEBANON: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon starts its trial
Seven years after its establishment in 2007, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has begun the trial of four members of Hezbollah for their alleged role as co-conspirators in a February 2005 car bomb attack in Beirut that injured 226 people and killed 22, including former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The trial is being held in absentia as the accused, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, are currently at large and could not be arrested. There is a fifth suspect, Hassan Habib Merhi, whose case may be joined to this trial at a later date. The trial will hear testimonies from 500 witnesses and could last years. It is the first time that a terrorism charge has come before an international court and the first international hearings in absentia since the Nuremberg trials after World War II. (BBC, Jurist, STL press release 16/01/14)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
CHILI-FRANCE: Rejection of the extradition of 10 Chilean military to France
The Chilean Supreme Court of Justice has rejected a request by the French courts to extradite 10 retired members of the military for alleged crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship. The Supreme Court has argued that the accused are also being tried by national courts in Chile for the same crimes, and they cannot therefore be extradited. In 1973, the Chilean military, under the leadership of General Augusto Pinochet, staged a military coup against the government of Salvador Allende and established a military regime that has been accused of multiple human rights violations, including the death of four French citizens: Georges Klein, Étienne Pesle, Alphonse Chanfreau and Jean-Yves Claudet-Fernandez. (Biochile, Libération, 09/01/2014)
CROATIA-GERMANY: Croatia extradites former spy chief to Germany
The Supreme Court of Croatia has authorised the extradition to Germany of former Yugoslav secret service official Josip Perkovic, allegedly implicated in the 1983 murder of the Croatian nationalist Stjepan Djurekovic in German territory. Perkovic has repeatedly denied his involvement in the murder. Germany issued an international arrest warrant for Perkovic in 2005, but Croatia refused to extradite him. Before joining the EU in July 2003, the government of Croatia changed its laws to prevent the extradition of suspects in crimes committed before 2002 as a way of protecting veterans from the Croatian War for Independence. However, after European Commission warnings to comply with EU extradition standards the Croatian government removed the time restriction in August 2013. Croatia has been criticised for dragging its feet in its investigations of war crimes committed during the Croatian War of Independence. (BBC, 24/01/14; Jurist, 25/01/14)
GERMANY: More Nazi accused prosecuted
A judge for Germany's Hagen State Court has dropped the case against 92-year-old Siert Bruins, a former member of the Nazi Waffen SS, accused of executing captured Dutch resistance fighter Aldert Klaas Dijkema in September 1944 in The Netherlands. The Judge concluded that there were too many gaps in the evidence to properly convict Bruins as no witnesses could be called in the 70-year-old case. On the same day, “Werner C.”, an 88 year-old German man was charged for killing 25 people in the massacre in Oradour-sur-Glane in central France, where 642 people were murdered by Nazi SS troops in 1944. Despite the ages of the accused, authorities have continued to arrest individuals charged with war crimes during the Nazi era. (Jurist, 08/01/14)
KOSOVO: Kosovo Serb politician arrested over war crimes
At the request of an international prosecutor from the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office, Oliver Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb politician, has voluntarily surrendered at the Mitrovica North Police Station. He is allegedly involved in war crimes and aggravated murder in 1999 and 2000. Ivanovic, who will initially be under arrest for one month, is suspected of having tortured and murdered ethnic Albanians and to have been one of the organisers of a now disbanded Kosovo Serb vigilante group known as the "Bridgewatchers”, which is suspected of violence against ethnic Albanians. Ivanovic is the first Kosovo Serb official to be arrested by the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) on suspicion of war crimes against ethnic Albanians. EULEX has the power to take on sensitive cases that the local judiciary and police are unable or unwilling to handle. (EULEX, BBC, 28/01/14)
HOLY SEE: The Committee on the Rights of the Child calls for less impunity for sexual abuse of minors
The Vatican has appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland, to explain its efforts to address sexual child abuse committed by members of the Catholic clergy for decades in different countries. The Committee has criticized the slow response by the Holy See, and has pushed for greater transparency and sanctions on the priests who have abused children. In 1990 the Vatican signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but in its 1995 and 2011 five-year monitoring reports it did not mention the numerous allegations of sexual offenses. Victims have call for these offences to be considered crimes of state, while the current Pope has created a special commission to combat paedophilia in the Catholic Church. (El País, 13/01/14; Jurist, 17/01/14)
    Peace talks
PHILIPINES: Peace talks reach agreement on troop reform
During the peace negotiations taking place in Malaysia, the Philippine government and the armed opposition group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have reached an agreement on the normalisation of troops. The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, signed in October 2012, had four annexes pending discussion: transitional mechanisms, wealth-sharing, power-sharing (signed in February, in July, and in December 2013 respectively), and normalisation of troops. The annex on troop reform paves the way for the deactivation of the 11,000 MILF fighters and the laying down of their weapons. According to Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista, transitional justice will be used to deal with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members with pending arrest warrants, although this aspect is still being negotiated. (ABS-CBN news, 18/01/2014; Inquirer, 01/01/14; 26/01/14; GMA News, 30/01/14)
NEPAL: Supreme Court rules out amnesties for serious crimes
Nepal’s Supreme Court has ruled that amnesties should not be granted for the serious human rights violations committed during the 1996-2006 internal conflict, when at least 13,000 people were killed and 1,300 people went missing. According to the Court, the government must amend Sections 25 and 29 of the amnesty provisions to make the Truth and Reconciliation Commission legislation compatible with international standards. The Court has also ordered that a separate commission be established for the cases of missing people. In March 2013, the Government created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the power to grant amnesty for serious human rights violations. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has welcomed the Supreme Court decision as a way to ensure that the Commission will not be used to avoid criminal investigations and prosecutions, and stressed that Nepal needs to correct the criminal justice system and other aspects of Nepalese law that lead to continued violations of human rights. (UN, 04/01/2014; Jurist, 04, 06/01/14)
    Truth commissions
CANADA: At least 4,000 aboriginal children died in residential schools
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that is probing the death of aboriginal children in residential schools from 1870 to 1996, has determined that more than 4,000 children died in those schools. According to the Commission, Canada failed to keep those children safe from fires, protected from abusers, and healthy from deadly diseases. The commission’s executive director, Kimberly Murray, said that the death rate was much higher for this group than for non-indigenous children. From the 1870s to 1996 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families and sent by the federal government to church-run schools, where many faced physical and sexual abuse. The commission was created in 2008 to hold public hearings, collect records and establish a national research centre. It expects to release its final report in June 2015. (, 03/01/14)
CÔTE D’IVOIRE: Côte d'Ivoire Truth Commission ends first two-year mandate
Côte d'Ivoire's Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR) has concluded its initial two-year mandate. Established in September 2011, it was meant to investigate past human rights violations, but had no clearly defined scope. Its main accomplishments have been to consult 60,000 people, to publish a report that concluded that 83% of those Ivoirians surveyed believe that reconciliation is possible, and to help initiate dialogue between political parties. The president of the CDVR believes that if the Commission’s mandate is renewed it should focus on the conflict since 1990 and not only the most recent post-election violence. Several research centres have also criticised the fact that no hearing for victims was held and deplore that the Commission was created without consulting civil society organisations. (RFI, 31/12/13; All Africa, Irin News 13/01/14)
INDONESIA-ACEH: Truth and Reconciliation Bylaw in Aceh
Amnesty International (AI) has praised the Aceh parliament for passing a bylaw on Truth and Reconciliation, but has emphasized that more needs to be done for it to become a solid process. The bylaw was approved by the Aceh House of Representatives on December 27, 2013, but still needs to be approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to AI, the definition of human-rights abuses should be extended beyond those defined in the 1999 Indonesian Law on Human Rights to include all violations set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other treaties that Indonesia has ratified. The establishment of the commission was agreed to in the 2005 Helsinki peace deal brokered to end the conflict between the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military (1976-2005), where between 10,000 and 30,000 people died. (Jakarta Globe, 09/01/2014)
MYANMAR: The Women’s League of Burma demands the creation of an international truth commission to investigate rape war crimes
The Women’s League of Burma (WLB) published a report on the Burmese Army’s use of rape as a weapon of war. The report documents that rape has been systematically used in at least 35 different townships, and with the involvement of over 38 different battalions, but considers the true number to be far higher. Although the Army has denied the accusations, in March 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma mentioned he was concerned by continuing allegations of sexual and gender-based violence, among other human rights violations. The WLB report has asked security forces to stop using rape as a weapon of oppression, and has called for an independent international investigation, truth commissions and impartial independent national courts to hold human rights abusers to account. (Asian Correspondent, 17/01/2014)
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Serbian authorities have dropped the word genocide in a monument honouring Bosniak victims
The municipal authorities of the city of Visegrad located in the Serbska Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina removed the word "genocide" from the Straziste cemetery monument honouring Bosniak victims (Muslim Bosnians) during the 1992 – 1995 Bosnian war. It is estimated that about 3,000 Bosniaks died in Visegrad during the conflict. Associations of victims rejected the decision and announced that they would add the word genocide to the grave of every victim in the cemetery. City officials, on the other hand, stated that the word cannot be used if there is no court decision confirming that genocide did take place in the city. (Dalje, 1/23/14; PressTV, 1/25/14)
HUNGARY: Monument about German occupation minimises Hungarian collaborationism
The Hungarian government has approved the erection of a monument commemorating the German occupation of March 1944, in which an angel representing Hungary is being attacked by an eagle representing the Third Reich. This interpretation has prompted critics to accuse the government of attempting to deflect attention away from Hungary's role as an ally of Nazi Germany, and its responsibility in the Holocaust. The council leader, Antal Rogan, said that the monument was not only about the occupation, but in memory of all its victims. A group of 26 leading Hungarian historians has published an open letter in which they criticised that the memorial falsifies an important period of their history, and relativises the Holocaust in Hungary. (BBC, 23/01/14)
JAPAN-CHINA-SOUTH KOREA: Chinese remembrance of a Korean veteran that killed a Japanese governor
The city of Harbin in China has inaugurated a Memorial Hall in the city’s train station to commemorate a Korean veteran of the anti-Japanese struggle. In 1909 Ahn Jung-geun shot Hirobumi Ito who was travelling through Harbin on his way to be the first resident governor of Japanese-run Korea. While Ahn is celebrated as a hero in South Korea, he is considered a terrorist in Japan, and has been defined as a famous anti-Japanese high-minded person by Chinese authorities. The opening of this memorial, strongly denounced by a Japanese spokesperson, comes after the December 2013 visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including some convicted war criminals. The visit was strongly criticised by South Korea and China amid ongoing territorial disputes between the three countries. (BBC, 20/01/14, Time, 30/01/14)
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