(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
23 January 2018: The British police is investigating a group of United Arab Emirates officials for torture and cruel treatment inflicted on three Qatari nationals between 2013 and 2015. According to the alleged victims’ lawyer, if they were to enter the UK, the officials may be questioned and arrested under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
22 January 2018: Cases of maritime piracy in Indian Ocean off Somalia coast increased in 2017, as nine attacks were recorded in 2017, up from two in 2016. Somali pirates retain the capacity and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline, raising fears that sustained attacks could raise insurance and freight costs for importers.
19 January 2018: The families of Japanese abducted by North Korea will present a petition to the International Criminal Court requesting an investigation into the disappearances as a case of crimes against humanity. The aim is to raise international attention about the issue.
18 January 2018: Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on 16 January 2018 to complete the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees within two years. Amnesty International declared that the “returns cannot be safe or dignified until there is a fundamental change in Myanmar, including accountability for crimes against humanity”.
17 January 2018: According to FIDH, UN HRC members should urge Mali to prosecute those responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Northern and Central Mali conflict. Even though some trials have taken place, FIDH reports that other cases remain in suspense because of the fragile security situation or their politically sensitive character.
16 January 2018: According to Human Rights Watch, the armed group Al-Shabab has threatened and abducted civilians to force communities to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training in recent months. Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen into armed forces is a war crime.
15 Januray 2018: The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court has granted a postponement in the Augustinus Kouwenhoven case to wait for extradition documents from the Department of Justice. Mr Kouwenhoven was convicted for crimes against humanity by a Dutch Court and sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment.
14 Januray 2018: Mr Justice Kerr, passing judgment at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, ruled that a group of 34 veterans of Eoka, the Greek Cypriot nationalist guerrilla organisation, had the right to claim damages to Britain. The veterans allege that they were tortured and subjected to human rights abuses at the hands of British colonial forces during the struggle for independence in the 1950s.
13 Januray 2018: Emilie König is a French citizen who joined ISIL in Syria in 2012 and is allegedly a prominent propagandist and recruiter for the terrorist organisation. Currently detained in the Kurdish Region of Syria, Ms. König pleads to be repatriated and tried in France. The French government stated last week that it favoured having its citizens tried where they are caught.
12 Januray 2018: The centre for constitutional rights and co-counsel filed a motion for order granting writ of habeas corpus on 11 January 2018 against Trump’s Guantanamo policies on behalf of 11 “forever prisoners”. The CCR argues that the petitioners’ perpetual detention and torture violate the Constitution and the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
11 January 2018: According to the latest report of the International Maritime Bureau, there were 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ship in 2017, which is the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995. The report also takes note of the indictment of six Somali pirates in Seychelles who are charged with “committing an act of piracy” and face up to 30 years’ imprisonment.
10 January 2018: German prosecutors declared that a Bosnian man, Milorad Obradovic, was arrested for the purpose of extradition at Munich airport after the Bosnian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. Mr. Obradovic is suspected of illegally detaining and killing around 120 Bosnian Muslim civilians, which could constitute war crimes, in the village of Miska Glava in July 1992.
09 January 2018: According to a survey by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed by Myanmar’s security forces in the month following the government-led crackdown in the Rhakhine state late August. The government has denied allegations of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, but it has refused the entry of UN investigators and journalists in the country.
08 January 2018: BBC reported that at least 10 hospitals in rebel-held areas of Syria have suffered, over the past 10 days, direct air or artillery attacks. The attacks on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta have killed at least 25 civilians last week, even though the Syrian government and the Russian military have consistently denied targeting civilian areas.
07 January 2018: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) presented its preliminary finding on the suicide attack of 4 January in Kabul, which killed 13 civilians and injured 19. UNAMA found that the “use of indiscriminate explosive devices in civilian populated areas, in circumstances almost certain to cause immense suffering to civilians, may amount to war crimes”.
06 January 2018: Following an attempt in December by lawmakers to extend the jurisdiction of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers to non-nationals, the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy have called on the Kosovo politicians and lawmakers to “abandon any thought of repealing or re-negotiating any aspect of the law”. The five nations perceive the attempt as calling into question Kosovo’s commitment to the rule of law.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
NEW CASE: The analysis of the plea agreement in the case of United States of America v. Mufid A. Elfgeeh is now available online. Mr. Elfgeeh pleaded guilty in December 2015 to providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As part of the guilty plea, Mr. Elfgeeh acknowledged he had encouraged support for ISIL via social media, he had been involved in trying to recruit foreign fighters, and he had provided financial assistance.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of United States of America v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi is now available online. Both Mr. Elhuzayel and Mr. Badawi were convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS). The defendants had used social media accounts to support IS, and Mr. Badawi had filmed Mr. Elhuzayel pledging allegiance to IS and promising to travel to Syria to fight. Mr. Elhuzayel was arrested prior to boarding a flight to Israel via Turkey. They were also found guilty of financial fraud charges, the proceeds of which had been used to fund the travel.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of United States of America v. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh is now available online. Tairod Pugh is an US citizen and a US Air Force veteran who was convicted for providing material support to a terrorist organisation by attempting to travel to Syria in order to join ISIL, and obstruction of justice. Pugh attempted to reach Syria through Turkey and on 10 January 2015, the defendant took a plane from Cairo and landed in Istanbul airport where he was denied entry. On 15 January, he was deported from Egypt to the US and was arrested the following day in New Jersey.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of Prosecutor v. Abdelkarim El. B. is now available online. On 8 November 2016, German foreign fighter Abdelkarim El B. was convicted of membership in a terrorist organisation abroad, illegally possessing a Kalashnikov, and committing a war crime by treating a protected person in a gravely humiliating or degrading manner. He had travelled to Syria in September 2013 in order to fight for ISIL. On 7 November 2013, El. B. and his fellow ISIL fighters found the corpse of a Syrian army soldier. While the defendant was filming and verbally encouraging them, the other fighters cut the nose and ears of the dead body, stepped on it and then shot it in the face.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of Prosecutor v. Mouhannad Droubi is now available online. On 26 February 2015, Droubi, a Syrian citizen, was sentenced by the Södertörn District Court in Sweden to five years in prison for crimes against international law (war crime) and gross assault. Droubi, who fought for the Free Syrian Army against the pro-government forces, had taken refuge in Sweden and was granted residency in 2013. In July 2014, the Swedish police discovered a video of him, along with at least five other FSA fighters, violently assaulting a man who appeared to be a pro-regime fighter with a truncheon and a whip.
NEW VIDEO: New video available online. On 7 June 2017, Dr. Kinga Tibori-Szabó and Megan Hirst provided a lecture at the Asser Institute in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lectures Series.
The speakers shared their views on the issue of victims’ entitlement to procedural fairness guarantees in the context of international criminal proceedings before the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The video recording can be viewed here and a report on the event can be found here.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of R. c. Habib is now available online. On 19 June 2017, Canadian citizen Ismaël Habib was the first adult found guilty of attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group. Even though the accused conceded that he had the primary intent of leaving Canada, there was a dispute on his reasons for doing so. While Mr. Habib argued that he wished to join his first wife and children in Syria, the prosecution contended that the defendant’s intent was to join ISIS and participate in its terrorist activities.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of R v Blackman is now available online. On 15 September 2011 a badly wounded insurgent was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, by Alexander Blackman, then an Acting Colour Sergeant of the Royal Marines. On the basis of apparent premeditation, Blackman was convicted of murder by the court martial. In this appeal, however, the court considered fresh evidence suggesting that Blackman was incapable of making rational judgements or exercising self-control as a result of adjustment disorder and several “exceptional stressors”.
CALL FOR PAPERS: In view of the ICTY closing its door at the end of this year and in an effort not to lose the valuable insights from its former employees, the ICD invites submissions of short articles for publication in the online paper series of the ICD, the ICD Briefs. The call for papers is reserved exclusively for current and former staff of the ICTY. The Briefs are ultimately between 5,000 and 7,500 words (excluding footnotes), relating to any area of international criminal law or jurisprudence. Please send your draft paper to email@example.com by 1 March 2018. Please also include a CV with your and indicate when you worked at the ICTY, in what role and in which section. Find out more about the selection process and guidelines for ICD Briefs here.
NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. These include the only surviving Nurmeberg war crimes prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz's lecture provided in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series co-organised by the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform on his life dedicated to the pursuit of international criminal justice, and lectures from Guido Acquaviva and Dov Jacobs in the context of the Lebanon lecture series. The video recording of the lecture provided by Benjamin Ferencz can be viewed here and a report on the event can be found here. The video excerpts of Guido Acquaviva's lecture on war crimes can be found here. The video excerpt of Dov Jacobs's lecture on genocide can be found here.
NEW ICD BRIEF: Nadia Grant, who is a former intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute and is currently working with Médecins Sans Frontières, has written a new ICD Brief entitled 'Duress as a Defence for Former Child Soldiers? Dominic Ongwen and the International Criminal Court'. You can read the Brief here.
NEW CASE: The analysis of the Dutch Supreme Court's judgment in the case of Omar H is now available online. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal against the Court of Appeal's judgment in the case of Omar H, a foreign fighter convicted of training for terrorism. In upholding the Court of Appeal's judgment, the Supreme Court decided that training for terrorism in this context would be interpreted broadly and could include self-study.
NEW CASE: The analysis of the Sentencing Remarks of Mr. Justice Holroyde in the case of R v Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman is now available online. Mr. Choudary and Mr. Rahman were found guilty by a jury verdict of inviting support for the proscribed terrorist organisation, the Islamic State, by signing an oath of allegiance and publishing a series of lectures online. They were both sentenced to 5.5 years' imprisonment and will be subject to notification requirements for 15 years after their release.