International Criminal Court (ICC)
KENYA: ICC confirms witnesses must appear before the court in Ruto and Sang case, while Kenyatta appears in status conference in The Hague
In the Ruto and Sang case the ICC’s Appeals Chamber has dismissed the appeals filed by the defence. With the dismissal witnesses are required to appear before the Court, either in situ or by video-link and the Kenyan government must facilitate, or oblige if necessary, the witnesses to appear. The defence had argued there are no grounds on which the Kenyan Government can be forced to make the witnesses testify. In the Kenyatta case President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared before the ICC in a status conference – a pre-trial hearing. The defence began by arguing that there is not enough evidence to prove the case. While the prosecution has admitted it currently lacks evidence to prosecute Kenyatta it insisted that this is because the government is obstructing the investigation by refusing to turn over certain records and other potential evidence. The judges must now decide whether to abandon the trial or give the prosecution more time. Kenyatta, who appeared before the Court with about a hundred Kenyan politicians, is the first President to appear before the ICC in The Hague. William Ruto, current Deputy President of Kenya, Joshua Sang, Head of operations at Kass FM radio station, and Uhuru Kenyatta, current President of Kenya, are accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Kenya in the context of the 2007-2008 post-electoral violence. (Jurist, 08/10/14; BBC, ICC, 09/10/14)
    Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals
BALKANS: The ICTY hears Karadzic’s final statement in one of the cases pending in the Court before its closure in 2017
After four years of proceedings, the Court heard the closing statements in Radovan Karadzic’s trial at the end of September and the beginning of October. The Prosecutors called the former leader a liar for his claims that he was unaware of the massacre and was innocent of any wrongdoing, while the Defence insisted upon his innocence, arguing that there was no evidence to link him to the crimes. The judges’ verdict is expected in October 2015. Karadzic is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws of war committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995), including the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre where about 8,000 Bosniaks were killed by Serb forces. Karadzic’s trial has been criticised by his supporters for being politically biased. Some victims regret that the ICTY had no police force to find and arrest Karadzic, which allowed him to be free for 12 years, although in hiding, that for economic reasons charges of genocide in several Bosnian Municipalities had to be dropped, and that the trial allowed Karadzic to give political revisionist and denial speeches. Presenting his annual report to the Security Council in New York, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Theodor Meron, announced that the court will completely shut down in 2017 after it hands down sentences for the nine remaining cases. After that, a “residual mechanism” will take over any appeals in the ICTFY cases and the Prosecutor Offices in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia will continue the task in their respective countries for new cases. Since its establishment in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 people, 20 of whom are still on trial. In the 141 cases completed, 74 people were convicted and 18 were acquitted, while in 36 others the indictments were either withdrawn or the defendants died. Cases against 13 others were referred to prosecutors in their home countries. Higher profile current cases are former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic, and the leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj. (A/69/225-S/2014/556, Jurist, 01/10/14, 07/10/14; ICTJ, 08/10/14; Balkan insight, 14/10/14)
CAMBODIA: Former Khmer Rouge leaders’ trial over genocide starts
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) have started Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan for genocide against the Vietnamese and the Cham minority group, forced marriages and rape, religious persecution of Buddhists, and internal purges and other abuses that took place at four security centres, three worksites and a cooperative. An estimated 90,000 to 500,000 people from the Cham Muslim minority were killed during the regime and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese were forced to flee. The trial was divided into smaller segments (Case 002/01 on crimes against humanity and Case 002/02 on genocide) to ensure that at least some judgements could be reached before the octogenarian defendants die. In August 2014, the leaders were found guilty of crimes against humanity committed between 17 April 1975 and December 1977 in Case 002/01. During the second trial that started in mid-October, the prosecutor, Chea Leang, declared he would show that Cambodians were enslaved in inhumane conditions at the giant co-operatives and work sites established by the Khmer Rouge that led to starvation, overwork and disease. In turn, the defence lawyers argued that after the September appeal of the conviction for Case 002/01, which alleges that the judges are biased, they need to devote two months to that appeal before being able to spend time on Case 002/02. The Defence lawyers said they would boycott the proceedings until a decision was made over the postponement, and they failed to appear in the following session. By the end of the month the EEEC had issued Samphan and Chea’s national and international defence team an official warning for misconduct which according to the courts amounted to obstruction of the proceedings. (EEEC, 15/10/14, 24/10/14; Thomson Citizen, 16/10/14; Jurist, 17/10/14, 18/10/14)
RWANDA: ICTR Appeals Chamber confirms sentences for MRND leaders Karemera, Ngirumpatse and Nzabonimana, and reduces sentence for captain Nizeyimana
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has delivered its judgement in three cases: Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse; Ildéphonse Nizeyimana and Callixte Nzabonimana. The Appeals chamber has confirmed the sentence against Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse, leaders of the MRND Party, who were found guilty in December 2011 of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and rape during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In the case of Ildéphonse Nizeyimana, captain at a military training school in Butare who was sentenced to life prison in June 2012 for genocide, extermination and murder, the Appeals Chamber has reduced his sentence to 35 years of imprisonment. The May 2012 sentence of life imprisonment for the Rwandan Minister of Youth and Associative Movements and chair of the MRND party, Callixte Nzabonimana, for genocide and extermination has also been confirmed. This is one of the last cases to be heard by the ICTR, which has brought to trial the main people responsible for the Rwandan genocide where more than 500.000 people were killed. The Appeals Chamber has one pending case which concerns six people. (ICTR, 29/09/14; Jeune Afrique, 29/09/14)
    Ordinary Justice and Traditional Justice Systems
USA: Four Blackwater guards found guilty of murdering 14 Iraqi civilians
A federal court in the District of Columbia, USA, has found four security guards formerly employed by Blackwater (now called Academi) guilty of killing 14 Iraqis and wounding 17 in 2007 in Baghdad. Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of murder, while Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty of at least three charges of voluntary manslaughter and also face gun charges. All four were serving as private contractors, hired to protect members of the US Department of State, when they fired into a group of people in a crowded intersection in Baghdad's Nisour Square. The prosecution argued that the shooting was not provoked, and the men showed a grave indifference to the consequence of their actions. The defence claimed self-defence and argued that the guards were fired on by insurgents and Iraqi police before opening fire themselves. The accused announced they plan to appeal the verdict. The trial has raised a number of legal issues, including the lack of accountability of private security companies or federal jurisdiction over contractors working for the US Department of State. (BBC, 22/10/14; Jurist, 23/10/14)
    Truth commissions
IVORY COAST: Contested public hearings in the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Three years after its creation, the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR) held public hearings from September 8 to 30. Victims and some perpetrators from different ethnic, political and geographical backgrounds have provided their testimonies of the political violence in the country between 2000 and 2012. Of the 63,000 testimonies gathered by local commissions, 80 people have declared in the public hearings in Abidjan, telling their stories about killings, rape or cases of forced cannibalism. While the Commission was put in place to promote reconciliation in the country, many voices have raised questions over several issues: its poor organisation (no collaboration with judicial institutions, human rights or victims’ organisations; the beginning of the Commission’s public hearings before the local hearings were finalized), its politisation (the President of the Commission Charles Konan Banny, former Prime Minister under Laurent Gbagbo’s rule, has links to a party involved in the violence, or the fact that no testimonies incriminating the current President Alassane Ouattara have been heard), the lack of will to make the process public (no television broadcasts of the Commission, journalists are not allowed to bring pens to the hearings), or the fact that no redress measures are planned. The Commission’s mandate is to deal with the violence that broke out after the Presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire when governmental and opposition armed forces clashed after the then President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat in 2010. About 3,000 people died in the fighting over the next five months. The reconciliation panel has been appointed to cover the period beginning when Gbagbo came to power. Gbagbo also faces trial before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, in the case of the Togueï mass graves, the FIDH together with local human rights organisations denounced that the government was unwilling to investigate human rights violations. Two years after the exhumation of the six bodies there is no information about the autopsy and no other investigation has been conducted. The organisations ask the government to fight against impunity and to allocate more resources for the Justice system in order to make a real reconciliation process possible. (Le Griot, 09/09/14; Libération, 28/09/14; La Croix, 15/09/14; News 24,, 01/10/14; FIDH, 13/10/14)
PHILIPPINES: Official launch of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission
In early October, in a ceremony in Cotabato City, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels officially launched the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) as part of the ongoing peace process. The Commission was included in the Normalization Annex under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) peace deal signed in March 2014, and its implementation was agreed to in September 2014 in a GPH-MILF meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The TJRC is composed by the government representative Cecilia Jiménez, MILF representative Ishak Mastura, the Swiss chairperson Mô Bleeker and senior adviser Jonathan Sisson, and was created to probe the adverse effects of the armed conflict on people and communities, and submit recommendations. The Commission will hold public consultations until June 2015 in order to come up with a comprehensive plan that will ensure reconciliation. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) put an end to a conflict that began in the 1970s and cost the lives of more than 150,000 people. (Manila Standard Today, 09/10/14; Philippine Information Agency, 14/10/14)
    Truth seeking investigations
IRELAND (NORTHERN IRELAND): Victims demand that investigations of the Troubles continue after drastic cuts
Victims of the Troubles (1968-1998) have staged a protest at Stormont, Northern Ireland to demand that British and Irish politicians deal with the past. The action has coincided with a new round of inter-party talks aimed atadressing controversial legacy issues, such as flags, parades and the past. In previous weeks several truth seeking bodies have been affected by serious budget cuts: the Police Service of Northern Ireland has axed the Historical Enquiries Unit set up to investigate unsolved Troubles killings; the Police Ombudsman has reduced resources to examine historic allegations of police misconduct in that period; the Victims and Survivors' Service has collapsed. The Coroners Service also has insufficient funds to deal with long delayed inquests from the Troubles. More than 3,500 people died during the Troubles, and in almost 3,300 cases no one was prosecuted. According to the Victims and Survivors Order (2006), victims are considered those directly affected by bereavement, physical injury, or trauma, as a result of the Troubles. The Victims Commission estimates that as many as 500,000 people could qualify under that definition. (Belfast Telegraph, 20/10/14; BBC, 27/10/14)
ZIMBABWE: A platform of civil society organisations create the National Transitional Justice Working Group to monitor the official process
A Platform of 46 stakeholders has presented the creation of the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) to monitor the official transitional justice mechanisms, such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission, which are foreseen in section 252 of the New Constitution of the country signed in March 2013. The NTJWG is structured into five sections: Promotion of Truth; Justice and Accountability; Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence; Memorialisation; and Gender. In its press release, the Platform noted that the current transitional justice discourse is top-down, while there is need to motivate people to create a bottom-up approach. Zimbabwe has been facing political tensions in the last years between President Mugabe, in power since 1980, and persecuted opposition groups. (NTJWG Press Release, 29/09/14; the Zimbabwe Standard, 19/10/14)
SOUTH AFRICA: Khulumani victims’ group denounces misuse of Apartheid victims’ fund
In 2003, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended individual and community reparations, identifying 128 communities and more than 16.000 individual victims (anyone not on the TRC list of victims could not demand reparations). In 2003, the government paid a large majority of the identified individual victims a compensation of 30,000 South African Rand (ZAR) (2,700 USD), far below the six 21,000 ZAR payments recommended by the TRC. In 2005 a 1.19 billion ZAR (108 billion USD) government fund was set up for community compensation. A decade later no funds have yet been disbursed and the department of Justice has announced its plan for community infrastructure projects. According to the plan 18 communities will receive 30 million ZAR (2.7 million USD) each, amounting to 540 million ZAR, which is half of the total compensation fund. Steering committees within the communities themselves should identify the needed projects, such as infrastructure development, school construction and improvement, health and social services, skills development support; or any other activity aimed at promoting the healing and recovery of a community that has been affected by human rights violations. The Khulumani Support Group, with 85,000 Apartheid victims in its ranks, argues that the proposal excludes the vast majority of affected communities, that victims have not been consulted properly during the drafting of the new regulations and will not benefit directly from them, and that the envisaged infrastructure projects should be funded by other government grants rather than redress. The group said it was willing to go to court to stop the government from using the funds set aside under the terms of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) if the redress plans are not modified. (The Daily Maverick, 14/10/14; The New Age, 20/10/14)
LEBANON: Measures to address human rights violations since 1975 in all dimensions of Transitional Justice are needed, according to ICTJ
A report recently published by the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) recommends a set of political and social reforms to address the violations committed against civilians during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) and successive armed episodes. The recommendations have been developed by a consortium of 22 Lebanese civil society organizations and 10 leading Lebanese experts from the academic community. The measures recommended for truth and memory include: clarifying the fate of the missing and forcibly disappeared; creating an independent truth-seeking commission; promoting a balanced reflection on Lebanon’s recent past in education; creating a national memorial; or renaming public spaces and building local memorials. Reparation measures, the report says, should address the needs of relatives and of victims of arbitrary detention and torture, including those in Syria and Israel. They should also address the needs of the displaced and of the disabled. The report recommends reinforcing the legal framework for criminal justice and accountability (by ratifying international provisions such as the Rome Statute or incorporating other relevant treaties into the domestic legal framework, and by prohibiting amnesties for the most serious crimes); and ensuring the right to justice of the victims. Finally, the report suggests a set of technical measures for institutional reform in the Justice system and the security sector. Such comprehensive proposals should establish provide the State’s measures for accountability and uphold victims’ rights. (ICTJ, 20/10/14)
PERU: Families receive bodies of 80 victims of the armed conflict
The bodies of 80 victims have been returned to their families in an official ceremony hosted by the National prosecutor Carlos Ramos Heredia in Huamanga, Peru. 51 of the 80 victims found in mass graves and cemeteries in different cities in the regions of Ayacucho and Huancavelica were killed by the opposition guerrilla group Shining Path and 29 were killed by the state between 1983 and 1992. The bodies were exhumed from 2011 to 2013 and are part of 28 investigations of serious human rights violations. During the armed conflict between the Peruvian state and the Shining Path almost 70,000 people were killed or disappeared on one side or the other. The search and arrest of members of the Shining Path is still ongoing. (La República, 27/10/14)
    Institutional reform
COLOMBIA: Concerns over expanded scope of military jurisdiction
A team of 12 independent human rights experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have sent a letter asking the Colombian government and congress to reconsider the possible adoption of Bill No. 85 (2013) approved in May 2014 by the Senate. The bill aims to restructure and expand the scope of the jurisdiction of military and police courts. The OHCHR expressed concern that the current legislative proposal would unjustifiably extend the jurisdiction of military and police courts to offences that should clearly fall under the jurisdiction of ordinary courts, and offered its assistance to ensure that any reform of the military and police justice builds upon fundamental human rights guarantees. Bill No. 85 stipulates that military and police courts would have an extensive jurisdiction covering, inter alia, homicide, breaches of international humanitarian law, breaches of information and data protection, crimes against public security and crimes against the civilian population (article 8). The Bill also includes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the military and police courts crimes against honour, certain economic crimes, and personal injuries (article 9). The OHCHR raised similar concerns in October 2012 with regard to Legislative Act No. 2 (2012), which was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Colombia in 2013. (OHCHR, 29/10/04; Jurist, 02/10/14)
    Peace talks
SOUTH SUDAN: A coalition of organisations suggests creating truth and healing Commissions, as well as a hybrid court for transitional justice
A coalition of South Sudanese law and civil society groups has presented guidelines for a “Transitional Justice strategy in South Sudan”, as a result of a conference held in Nairobi in August 2014, with over 60 national and internationals participants. The proposal includes the creation of a Reconciliation and Healing Commission to promote reconciliation between communities; a Truth Commission to document human rights abuses committed by both state and non-state actors dating to 1972; and a Hybrid court separate from South Sudan's judiciary that would be composed of South Sudanese and foreign judges responsible for investigating and prosecuting people accused of committing human rights violations, genocide, and crimes against humanity since the beginning of the civil war in December 2013. The report also recommends ratifying the Rome Statute of the ICC so that the international court can intervene in case South Sudanese leaders block the hybrid court from doing its job. The publication of the guidelines coincide with a trip by South Sudanese traditional leaders to Rwanda to learn from the Gacaca courts system, which allows local communities to elect judges to hear the trials of genocide suspects accused of almost all crimes except the actual planning of the Rwandan genocide. South Sudan’s conflict began in December 2013 between backers of President Salva Kiir, and supporters of his former vice president, Riek Machar amid a growing distance between the various ethnic communities competing for political, economic and territorial resources. Over 6.000 people have died and 400.000 have been internally displaced by the violence. (VoA, 14/10/14; Radio Tamazuj, 16/10/14)
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