International Criminal Court (ICC)
CONGO, DR: Katanga found guilty of a crime against humanity and four war crimes
The International Criminal Court has found Germain Katanga, commander of the Patriotic Force of Resistance in Ituri, guilty of one crime against humanity (murder) and four war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging). The judges have concluded that Katanga contributed significantly to the crimes committed by the Ngiti militia on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in Ituri, where about 200 civilians were killed. According to the Chamber, Katanga assisted members of the Patriotic Force of Resistance in Ituri in planning the attack against the predominantly Hema population of Bogoro, and contributed by equipping the militia with weapons. The Chamber acquitted Katanga of charges of rape and sexual slavery and of using child soldiers due to insufficient evidence of his responsibility for these crimes. Katanga’s trial has lasted nearly six years. (ICC, Jurist, 07/03/14)
CÔTE D’IVOIRE: Jeunes Patriotes leader Charles Blé Goudé surrendered to the ICC
Charles Blé Goudé, leader of the Jeunes Patriotes youth movement and former Minister under President Laurent Gbagbo, has been transferred to the ICC by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, responding to an ICC warrant of arrest issued in December 2011 and unsealed in September 2013. In August 2014 the confirmation of charges hearing will open to determine whether there is sufficient evidence that he committed the crimes he is charged with. Blé Goudé is accused of four counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the territory of Côte d’Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. The arrest warrant against Charles Blé Goudé is one of the three warrants issued to date by the ICC in the context of the Court’s investigation in Côte d’Ivoire. (ICC, 23, 27/03/14)
KENYA: Kenyan High court approves Barasa’s extradition to the ICC
The High Court of Kenya has ruled that journalist Walter Barasa can be extradited to the ICC. Barasa, who denies the charges against him, is accused of bribing with up to 16,000 dollars the prosecution witnesses for the trial of Deputy President William Ruto, who is accused of crimes against humanity in the 2007 post-electoral violence. The Kenyan High Court’s decision is especially relevant as Kenya's National Assembly approved a motion in September 2013 to withdraw from the ICC in response to the prosecution of Kenyan leaders Ruto and Kenyatta. The ICC decided to continue with the court hearings after rejecting a request by Kenyan officials to move the trials to Kenya or Tanzania. (Jurist, 20/03/14)
SYRIA: Unlikely indictment by the ICC despite war crimes
The international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has presented a report to the Human Rights Council documenting widespread attacks and sieges on Syrian civilians leading to mass casualties, torture, rape, malnutrition and starvation. The report, which covers investigations from July 2013 to January 2014, concludes that both pro-Government and non-State armed groups have committed massacres. In addition, hospitals, medical and humanitarian personnel and cultural property were deliberately targeted, and sarin gas has been used on multiple occasions. Despite the fact that UN investigators have a list of suspected war criminals with evidence that is solid enough to prosecute them, it is unlikely they will be referred to the ICC because Syria has not signed the Rome statute. Only the UN Security Council can thus refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, but this would most likely be prevented by a Russian veto. (OHCHR, Voice of America, 05/03/14; Jurist, 10/03/14; Global Post, 18/03/14)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
CAMBODIA: Prime Minister Sen accused of interfering with the Extraordinary Chambers
US lawyer Morton Sklar has accused the Cambodian authorities of a systematic pattern of crimes to silence dissenting opinions and to shield former Khmer Rouge leaders from prosecution for genocide. Representing a coalition of Cambodian human rights and democracy advocates, Sklar has claimed that Prime Minister Hun Sen has interfered directly with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The lawyer has thus asked the ICC to consider judging the Cambodian Prime Minister on charges of complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. Although the ICC cannot prosecute crimes committed before its establishment in 2002, Sklar argues that the attempts to protect former Khmer Rouge members at trial happened after that date and amount to complicity in genocide. The Khmer Rouge, Cambodia’s ruling party from 1975 to 1979, is considered responsible for the deaths of more than 1.7 million people who died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution. The ECCC, launched in 2006, have so far convicted only one defendant, Khmer Rouge prison director Kaing Guek Eav, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. (Jurist, Radio Free Asia, Washington Post, 20/03/14)
    Other International Judicial Institutions
ISRAEL – PALESTINE: Special Rapporteur calls on ICJ to assess prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestine
The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Richard Falk, has presented a report calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to assess the legal status of Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestine, alleging that it has the characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, which are legally unacceptable. Falk also has called on the UN Human Rights Council to examine the legal implications of the occupation of Palestine. The special rapporteur has expressed its concerns over settlement expansion, noting that the number of colonies in occupied territories built in the West Bank doubled in 2013. Concern was also expressed over the Wall, declared illegal by the ICJ in 2004, but whose construction continues, and regarding the fragmentation of the territory, especially in Jerusalem where more than 11,000 Palestinians have lost their right to live there since 1996. The report also analyzes the potential liability of companies who profit from settlements. (OHCHR, Jurist, 24/03/14)
CROATIA - SERBIA: Croatia declares in the ICJ accusing Serbia of genocide
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has opened hearings on disputes between Croatia and Serbia. In 1999 the Croatian government filed a suit against the then-Yugoslavia for genocide during the 1991-1995 war where more than 10,000 Croatians were killed. Croatia has argued before the Court that the acts of violence committed by the forces from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the city of Vukovar constituted genocide. Croatia has asked Serbia to put all Serbian war criminals on trial, to return all of the cultural assets seized during the war, to pay Croatia reparations, and demands an explanation for what happened to the more than 1,400 Croatians who are missing after the war. Serbian representative Sasa Obradovic admitted that the crimes did take place, but stated that they did not constitute genocide. In 2010 Serbia also filed a genocide suit for the murder of more than 6,000 Croatian Serbs and the expulsion of 230,000 Croatian Serbs by Croatia during the civil war. Legal experts consider there little chance of success for either of the two sides, as a nearly identical suit from Bosnia-Herzegovina against Serbia was dismissed by the ICJ in 2007. (DW, 01/03/14; BBC, 03/03/14)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
FRANCE - RWANDA: French court convicts Pascal Simbikangwa for genocide
A French court has sentenced former Rwandan intelligence chief Pascal Simbikangwa to 25 years in jail for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity for his participation in the 1994 Rwandan genocide when 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed during three months of violence. Simbikangwa, a former member of ex-president Juvénal Habyarimana’s presidential guard, was accused of arming and mobilizing Interahamwe militia at roadblocks where they killed Tutsis in 1994. Three days after the sentence Simbikangwa’s lawyers appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial was solely based on witnesses. While this is France’s first ever trial of the Rwandan genocide, 27 other cases are being investigated, most of them following complaints by the association Collectif des parties civiles pour le Rwanda. (Hirondelle News, Jurist, 15/03/14; Le Monde, 18/03/14)
LIBYA – NIGER: Niger extradites Muammar Gaddafi’s son to Libya
The Niger government has extradited Saadi Gaddafi, one of former President Muammar al-Gaddafi's seven sons, who is currently in custody in Tripoli. Accused of shooting protesters and other crimes during his father's rule, Saadi Gaddafi fled after his father Muammar Gaddafi was killed in the 2011 uprising against the Gaddafi regime. Gaddafi’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, criticised the move saying that no legal process was followed in Niger before turning his client over to Libya. Although Interpol had issued a notice obliging member countries to arrest him in 2012, Niger had previously refused Libyan requests to extradite him, arguing al-Gaddafi was certain to face the death penalty. Notwithstanding, in February 2014 Niger extradited to Libya former top intelligence official Abdallah Mansur. (BBC, 06/03/14, 29/03/14)
    Truth commissions
MALI: Parliament creates of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
Mali's National Assembly has approved by a large majority the creation of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The approved bill, Order 2014 of 15 January 2014, creates a 15-member Commission with a three-year mandate to clarify the crimes that took place in the 2012-2013 crisis that deepened rifts in the community, but is also authorized to look into conflicts going as far back as the Independence of the country in 1960. During the debate some MPs demanded that all armed groups participate in the information gathering work of the Commission, and requested that all recommendations would be put into practice. The minister of National Reconciliation and Development of the Northern Regions, Sheik Oumar Diarrah, said that all recommendations would be taken into account by the government. Human rights groups fear the commission will not have the necessary independence as its ties to the Ministry of Reconciliation and Development for the North leaves the Commission open to political interference. (Voice of America, 12/03/14; Maliweb, 28/03/14)
GREECE – GERMANY: Germany refuses reparation for WWII
During the official visit to Greece by German President Joachim Gauck Greek President Carolos Papoulias has demanded negotiations over reparations for Greek war victims, and for the forced occupation loan imposed on Greece by the Nazis. Gauck has recognized Germany's moral debt for the killings of Greek civilians by Nazi soldiers during WWII, but has refused to discuss reparation payments. Since 2013, several groups representing Greek war victims have demanded an estimated 162 billion euros in reparations. The German government said it settled the reparation in 1960 when it paid 115 million Deutschmarks (60 million euros) to compensate Greece. The Greek government claims it has always considered those funds to be an initial payment that would be discussed further once the German reunification had taken place. (DW, 06/03/14, Greekreporter, 11/03/14)
US – FRANCE: French train company starts negotiating compensations to avoid being banned from public contracts
The French state-owned Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) has contacted the lawyer of 600 families, whose relatives were victims of the Nazi Holocaust, to start negotiating compensations. During the regime of Vichy when the French government collaborated with the Nazi regime, the train company allegedly deported some 76,000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps between 1942 and 1944. In November 2010 the SNCF apologized, but refused any reparation claiming it acted under coercion from the Nazi regime. However, in February 2014 a bill was presented before the State of Maryland that would ban SNCF and its subsidiary, Keolis America, from bidding on a 6 billion dollar project to build and run a rail line in Maryland until compensation is paid. The lawyer of the victims, Kirill Reznik, has argued that SNCF is directly responsible because the company was paid a per kilometre rate for each prisoner. In February, the French and American government launched negotiations for US deportation victims. According to the Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice around 250 Americans would be affected by those negotiations. (Le Monde, 05/02/14; AFP, 11/03/14)
JAPAN - KOREA REP: Memory over sex slaves used again for strategic purposes
In February 2014 Officials from the Japanese government announced that a panel would be set up to review the evidence on the Japanese army's use of war-time sex slaves. During the 1930s and 40s up to 200,000 women, many of them Koreans, were used as sex slaves by soldiers in the Japanese imperial army. Some Japanese conservatives have claimed that the women, known euphemistically as "comfort women", were actually prostitutes. Shortly after the anniversary of the 1919 uprising in Korea against Japanese colonial rule, South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on Japan to embrace truth and reconciliation. Park has warned the Japanese government that revising the 1993 Kono Statement, which apologised for the army's use of sex slaves, would only bring isolation. In March 2014 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that his country will not withdraw the 1993 Kono Statement. Parks and Abe’s statements curb the growing tension between Korea, China and Japan over territorial disputes. (BBC, 01/03/10; 14/03/14; Global News, 30/03/14)
CANADA: Truth and Reconciliation Commission wraps up 4 years of hearings
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission aimed at collecting testimonies about the forced internment of native children in residential schools has concluded four years of public hearings and has brought them to a close with a final event in Edmonton attended by thousands. Over the last century and until 1996, about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were taken away from their families and forced to attend church-run schools. Over a four–year period the Commission, under Justice Murray Sinclair, has visited more than 300 communities and collected 6,500 statements showing evidence of constant hunger, beatings and whippings, sexual abuse, diseases or unexplained deaths. In 2007 the federal government apologized for the residential schools and set up the $60-million commission to create a historical record that is as complete as possible. During the process, however, there have been complaints from the Commissioners or other judges denouncing government interference in the collection of records or for cutting victims access to healing programs. (Daily Mail, 09/03/14)
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