International Criminal Court (ICC)
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: ICC will open a new investigation in CAR
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that the court has decided to open a second investigation in the Central African Republic (CAR) to investigate the crimes perpetrated since 2012 during the country’s armed conflict. In February 2014 Bensouda had opened preliminary investigations and in May 2014 the CAR Transitional government requested that the ICC investigate the crimes committed since 1 August 2012 that fall under its jurisdiction. According to Bensouda, there are reasonable grounds to believe that both the Séléka and the anti-balaka groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillaging, attacks against humanitarian missions and the use of children under fifteen in combat. The International Federation for Human Rights and others have campaigned for the creation of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). The role of the Mission, which starts its mandate on 15 September, is to contribute to the rule of law and the establishment of a Special Criminal Court in the country to complement the task of the ICC. In August 2014 the UN and the CAR Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the Special Criminal Court composed of local and international judges. The armed conflict in CAR between the Séléka armed opposition group and the pro-governmental anti-balaka militia, which began in September 2012, has caused the displacement of one million inhabitants, out of a total population of four million. The ICC’s previous investigation and trial refer to acts of violence in the country in 2002 and 2003. (FIDH, 16/09/14; Hirondelle News, 19/09/14; ICC, 24/09/14)
KENYA: ICC summons President Uhuru Kenyatta
The ICC has summoned Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta to appear in the court on 8 October to be questioned about claims that his government has withheld documents requested by prosecutors who are preparing his trial for crimes against humanity. In early September, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the trial would be indefinitely postponed due to lack of evidence. Consequently the defence requested that the case against Kenyatta be dismissed, while the legal representatives of the victims requested the trial continue, arguing that the Government had been interfering with the gathering of evidence. The adjournment of the trial does not impede discussions regarding the issue of cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Kenyan Government. Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity for election-related violence that occurred in 2007 when about 1,200 people were killed. His case has sparked opposition from many African leaders who denounced the ICC’s bias against African countries, and has also faced other delays due to lack of evidence, key witnesses pulling out, and the alleged obstruction by the Kenyan government. (BBC, 05/09/14, 19/09/14; Jurist, 05/09/14, 20/09/14; ICC, 19/09/14)
SUDAN: The ICC issues an arrest warrant against rebel leader Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain
The ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain for war crimes (violence to life in the form of murder, whether committed or attempted; intentionally directing attacks against the personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and pillaging), allegedly committed in an attack carried out in September 2007 against the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan. The court considers that the Government of Sudan has not cooperated with a request to facilitate the presence of the accused at the trial which was to begin on 18 November 2014 in The Hague, and has concluded that an arrest warrant is necessary to ensure his presence. Abdallah Banda had voluntarily appeared before the Court in June 2010. (ICC, KUNA, 11/09/14)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BALKANS: ICTY signs MoU with the Prosecutor’s office of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Prosecutor for the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Hassan B. Jallow, has paid official visits to the Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia to sign Memoranda of Understanding with the Prosecutor’s offices of the three countries. It is the first official visit of the Prosecutor of the MICT, the successor to the ad-hoc Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague and is finalizing its last few cases. Prosecutor Jallow held meetings in all three states at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Ministries of justice, and signed Memoranda of Understanding with the relevant prosecutorial bodies that will formalize working relationships between the MICT and national prosecutors. The MoUs are meant to create the conditions for better cooperation between the country’s prosecutor's office and the MICT, especially regarding the exchange of information. Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević has highlighted that these agreements guarantee the continuation of ICTY work by the judiciary in the region. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prosecutor Jallow has visited the Srebrenica, Bradina and Grabovica memorial sites. (B52, 09/09/14; ICTY Weekly Press Briefing, 10/09/14; Dalje, 12/09/14)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
ARGENTINA: Trial of doctors and midwife for “baby theft” during military rule
Doctors Norberto Bianco and Raul Martin and the midwife Luisa Arroche are being tried for providing essential assistance to hide the identity of “stolen babies”’ and hand them over to sympathisers of the Argentine military government (1976-1983). During the trial the accused confirmed that pregnant women were put in special pavilions and no records of their detentions were kept. It is the first case in Argentine history of medical staff being tried for the alleged theft and falsification of the babies' birth certificates. During the military rule an estimated 500 children were stolen at birth from their captive mothers and given in adoption under a fake identity. The real parents were then killed or disappeared. Just over 100 of the 500 have been identified through DNA testing. (BBC, 18/09/14; Página 12, 25/09/14)
ARGENTINA – ISRAEL: Lawsuit against Israeli leaders Netanyahu, Lieberman, Yaalon, Gantz and Feiglin for war crimes in Gaza
In two different initiatives Israeli leaders have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The first is a lawsuit, filed in late August in the Federal Court of Córdoba by 12 members of civil society organisations, that targets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, Army General Benny Gantz and Vice-president of the Parliament Moshe Feiglin. The second initiative, announced in mid September by the American Association of Jurists (AAJ), aims at gathering evidence and filing a suit, with Palestinian victims and Israeli associations as plaintiffs, against the same five Israeli leaders. The first lawsuit argues that the actions that killed 2140 Palestinians including 570 children 80% of them civilians, wounded 11,000, destroyed 17.200 houses and damaged 38.000 buildings including some UN facilities, constitute war crimes. The state of Argentina recognises its universal jurisdiction in article 118 of its Constitution in cases of crimes against humanity, and can therefore judge such crimes. AAJ lawyer, Carlos Slepoy, has argued that prosecuting such crimes is particularly relevant considering that the ICC is not likely to investigate the case, as neither Israel or Palestine are parties of the Statute of Rome. The lawsuit requires the accusation of the Israeli leaders, their international arrest by the Interpol, and a sanction against the state of Israel which would pay reparations to affected families and the 4.5 billion euros that the UN estimates are needed to rebuild Gaza. (La Arena, 30/08/14; Público, 06/09/2014; Página 12, 16/09/14)
COLOMBIA: Eight former paramilitary members condemned in the first sentence by the Chamber of Transitional Justice
The Chamber of Transitional Justice of the Supreme Court of Medellín has found eight demobilised combatants from the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) guilty of more than 130 crimes committed between 1996 and 2004 in different regions of Colombia. AUC members Elkin Jorge Castañeda Naranjo, Pablo José Montalvo Cuitiva, Dairon Mendoza Caraballo, Efraín Homero Hernández, Juan Pablo López Quintero, and Darío Enrique Vélez Trujillo will face eight years in prison, and Carlos Arturo Furnieles and Bernardo Díaz Alegre, six years and seven months. This is the first sentence by the Chamber of Transitional Justice, which has jurisdiction in six departments of the country. (El Colombiano, 03/09/14)
ISRAEL: Israel orders criminal investigations into incidents during July 2014 Gaza war
Israel's military prosecutor Dani Efroni has ordered a military police probe of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to investigate alleged misconduct in the death of four Palestinian children on a beach and the shelling of the UN school in Beit Hanoun in July 2014 during the Gaza war. Efroni has closed seven cases and is investigating another 99 incidents so far. Some of the probes have already been completed and have concluded that the Army’s behaviour did not breach international law. The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, stated that there was not much hope that the probes will lead to serious impartial investigations. The group criticised the inquiries because they do not investigate senior IDF officers for issuing commands to attack certain categories of targets, but focus only on individual incidents concerning low-ranking soldiers. According to Palestinian officials and the UN, the war left over 2,100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians. Israel claims that about 1,000 of the dead were militants, and blames Hamas fighters for setting up bases and launching rockets from residential areas and storing weapons in at least three UN schools. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and seven civilians were killed. (Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, 10/09/14; BBC, 11/09/14)
CHILE: President Bachelet pushes to revoke the 1978 Amnesty Law
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced a bill to revoke the Amnesty Law approved in 1978 by former dictator Augusto Pinochet. The amnesty law made it impossible to rule against the perpetrators of abuses during the first five years of the Pinochet regime. The bill will be retroactive and will enable the courts to reopen shelved cases and try those that benefited from the amnesty. Bachelet, whose party holds a majority in the Parliament, is hoping the measure will be approved. President Bachelet also called on civilians and military personnel to hand over any information on disappeared victims. Officials of the Ministry of Justice have explained that the bill of law would only make official a doctrine that Chilean tribunals were already applying, as in practice crimes against humanity were judged despite the Amnesty Law. However, it would allow cases to be reopened that had occurred between 1973 and 1978 and that had been closed due to that Law. One day after the announcement, Chilean MP and former army captain Rosauro Martinez was charged with the killing of three militants of the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) in 1981. According to the government, some 3,200 people were killed and 38,000 others were tortured during Pinochet's rule. (El País, 11/09/14; BBC, 12/09/14)
SOMALIA: Somali Government offers amnesty to al-Shabaab members
At the beginning of the month Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Shiek Ahmed offered an amnesty to those members of the al-Shabaab armed group that surrendered in 45 days. Some analysts believe that the Somali government’s offer is linked to a recent air strike that killed al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Representatives of the government reported that by the end of the month at least 11 members from the armed group had surrendered. According to the Barbaar Initiative, an international agency which supports the reintegration of former fighters, 545 al-Shabaab combatants had accepted the amnesty. The Somali ministry of youth and sports has called for support from the international community to promote the reintegration process and the training of rebels who put down their weapons. In 1988 a coalition of opposing groups rebelled against the dictatorial power of Siad Barré and managed to overthrow him in 1991. Since then, infighting in the coalition to fill the power vacuum has led to the destruction of the country and the death of more than 300,000 people. (BBC, 03/09/14; RaxanReeb, 22/09/14)
    Truth commissions
NEPAL: Truth and Reconciliation and Enforced Disappearances Commissions initiate the process to select their members amid discrepancies
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances have initiated the procedures to appoint their members. A Recommendation Committee has endorsed the working procedure that consists of calling for applications for the two Commissions, publishing the list of candidates one week later, with another week to file complaints against the candidates, and finally consultations with victims, lawyers and media figures to endorse the candidates. Applicants to the Commissions must hold a bachelor’s degree, be free from any conviction related to human rights violations, and they cannot be members of any political party or armed group. At least one of the five members on each Commission should be a woman. The Recommendation Committee can also appoint commission members. Some Human rights and Victims’ associations have expressed their reservations over the selection procedures. Victims’ representatives regret that the Committee has not consulted with victims during the creation of the working procedure. They have also denounced that the procedures began despite the fact that no representative from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been appointed yet, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) law stipulates that a NHRC representative should be a member. The victims of the conflict have also demanded a review of the amnesty and reconciliation provision included in the TRC law. While the Nepali Congress has stated that the four posts, apart from the NHRC representative, could be members of the CPN-UML, UCPN (M) and Madhes-based parties, victims have suggested that the commission should include members from warring parties and individuals that have gone through the same ordeal as the victims. (E-Kantipour, 12, 15, 25, 28/09/14)
NEPAL: A more comprehensive approach is needed to repair victims, according to the ICTJ
A report by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) has concluded that victims of human rights violations committed during Nepal’s armed conflict (1996-2006) continue to experience hardship. The Interim Relief Program (IRP) launched by the government in 2008 has reached tens of thousands of people who have benefitted from cash payments, scholarships, reimbursement of medical costs, compensation for loss of or damage to property, and skills training. However, according to the report, the state has not yet addressed the full harm suffered by the victims of the conflict or significantly contributed to repairing the damage. In many cases victims were already disadvantaged before the conflict, and had to spend the little money they had on medical bills, legal costs, and the search for their missing loved ones. Victims demanded more financial support, employment, free education, free medical care, and subsistence needs (food, shelter, and clothing), as well as a more holistic understanding of Justice, including the punishment of perpetrators, truth seeking, searching for the missing, and long-term security and protection. The report calls on the government to implement more comprehensive reparations, particularly urging the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (ICTJ, 17/09/14)
GERMANY Inauguration of a memorial for disabled victims of the Nazis
A monument has been inaugurated in Berlin in memory of the 300,000 victims of the Nazi regime with mental and physical disabilities or chronic illnesses. The 24 meter long blue glass monument, located in a now-demolished villa that was used to perpetrate the Nazi "euthanasia" programme, provides details on the Nazis' campaign to exterminate the sick, the physically and mentally handicapped and other people considered social "misfits". More than 60 Nazi bureaucrats and doctors worked in the program that began in 1940 and was officially cancelled in 1941 due to public protests, but continued secretly until 1945. An estimated 300,000 people were murdered using different methods including gas, forced starvation and poison. The monument is an attempt to respond to the lack of official recognition for survivors or the families of victims that were never compensated by any of the German governments. In the past 10 years, memorials have been erected in Berlin to Jewish, Roma and Sinti, and gay victims. (BBC, Deutsche Welle, 02/09/14; The Economist 05/09/14)
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Genocide Trial Archive Opens at Srebrenica Memorial
The Sense news agency, which covers war crimes trials, has made available a new archive with case documents, witness testimonies and forensic evidence at the Srebrenica genocide memorial centre in Potocari. The aim of the centre is not to describe the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, where more than 8,000 Bosniaks were killed, but to illustrate how these crimes are being investigated and reconstructed at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The vice-president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carmel Agius, thanked Sense for helping to preserve the legacy of the UN-backed court by making available to the wider public thousands of pieces of evidence from the tribunal. (Balkan insight, 22/09/14)
    Peace talks
COLOMBIA: FARC proposes to create a fund for the comprehensive redress of victims
During the peace talks in Havana that are currently addressing the issue of victims, the spokesperson of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), Alejandra Nariño, has proposed to create a fund for the comprehensive reparation of victims of the armed conflict. Nariño said the purpose should be to re-establish the conditions in which collective and individual victims lived when they were victimised. While the FARC suggested the fund should be 3% of GDP, actors on the side of the government believe that the guerrilla should contribute to the fund as well. Nariño said that redress for victims should also include political, social, cultural, symbolic and psychosocial measures. (El Tiempo, 08/09/14)
PHILIPPINES: Government and MILF create the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission
In a meeting taking place in Kuala Lumpur, the government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have announced the formation of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). Philippine government representative Cecilia Jimenez Damary and the MILF’s Ishak Mastura have been appointed to the commission, with Jonathan Sisson, special envoy from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, as special adviser. The TJRC has one year to submit its report and recommend to the Panels the appropriate mechanisms to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people. This includes correcting historical injustices, addressing human rights violations and marginalization through land dispossession, and proposing reconciliation measures. The TJRC is one of the mechanisms included in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), a peace accord signed between the government and the MILF on March 2014. The agreement also includes the decommissioning of the MILF’s armed wing and the disarmament of private armies in the Bangsamoro area. (GMA News, The Philippine Star, 01/10/14)
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