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News updates

(For news updates older than two weeks, please visit our news archive.)

28 June 2017:  On Monday, the United Nations criticised a decision by a Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) military tribunal not to prosecute seven soldiers for crimes against humanity. The seven soldiers were already on trial for war crimes and other offences -including murder, mutilation and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment- allegedly committed in the Kasai region. They are being prosecuted over a video that emerged in February showing a group of uniformed men opening fire on civilians, and then walking among at least 20 bodies. On Saturday, prosecutors in the trial, which commenced on 5 June 2017, had dropped the war crimes charges but kept the others until Monday, when however they decided not to pursue crimes against humanity charges either.

27 June 2017:  Yemen's government has opened an investigation into alleged torture and enforced disappearances by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its allied Yemeni forces in the south of the country. A six-member committee was ordered to focus on areas recaptured from Houthi fighters and their allies. The panel has 15 days to conclude its investigations. Reports of abuses were revealed last week in two separate investigations conducted by Human Rights Watch and Associated Press. It was said that the UAE financed, armed and trained Yemeni forces that have arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured and abused dozens of people during security operations in the southern governorates. The revelations prompted concerns about alleged United States involvement. The war in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than three million and ruined much of the country's infrastructure. In March, the United Nations Food Programme said that nearly half of Yemen's 22 provinces were on the verge of famine, while more than 1'300 people have died of cholera since late April, in the second outbreak of the infection in less than a year.

26 June 2017:  A recount of the situation across the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, where war crimes such as arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions have been documented. Stanislav Aseev and Igor Kozlovsky among the victims of such practices.

26 June 2017:  On Saturday, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said authorities will need to harness a spirit of reconciliation to pursue the legacy of the Tribunal in bringing justice to victims once it closes down at the end of the year. It was said the Tribunal met its responsibility to bring to justice those most responsible for the atrocities committed during the wars of the 1990s, and that now regional authorities need to carry on its work.

25 June 2017:  The British van driver suspected of attacking Muslim worshippers near a London mosque appeared in court on Friday charged with terrorism-related murder and attempted murder. The Crown Prosecution Service said it would argue that the accused "motivated by extreme political views and a personal hatred of Muslims, acted to kill, maim, injure and terrify as many people as possible" during the attack.

24 June 2017:  Khieu Samphan and Noun Chea, the most senior living members of the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia, were given an opportunity to address the Phnom Penh chamber on Friday as the trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) concludes. In the occasion, Samphan, the former head of state of what was Kampuchea, used the opportunity to reject claims that the government was involved in the genocide in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 that killed more than 2 million people. Chea declined to address the court, while his lawyer spoke on his behalf affirming Chea believed he was part of a show trial. Samphan and Chea already received life sentences in 2014 for crimes against humanity.

23 June 2017:  Amnesty International calls for the commencement of an urgent investigation into allegations of torture and arbitrary detention of prisoners held in secret detention facilities in Southern Yemen by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its allied Yemeni forces and possibly the United States. The organisation calls for the launch of a United Nations-led investigation into the UAE's and the other States' role into setting up such a network of torture where thousands of Yemeni have disappeared. Moreover, by continuing to supply weapons to the UAE and its coalition partners which could be used to facilitate enforced disappearances, torture and serious violations on international humanitarian law in Yemen, the United States and western European countries risk to violate core human rights principles and become complicit in the commission of war crimes.

23 June 2017:  CIA torture techniques: a lawsuit filed by two former prisoners and the family of a third man who died in custody while detained in CIA's secret detention facilities against two contractors who may be accountable for the horrific techniques reveals new details about the interrogation program.

22 June 2017:  United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into the human rights situation in Kasai, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He condemned the establishment of armed militia supported by the authorities and allegedly accompanied by state security forces and police. He furthermore stated that serious abuses have been committed, and that mass graves have been discovered across the province. The UN believes these mass graves were being investigated by two UN experts who were found murdered in March.

21 June 2017:  A special anti-terrorism court in India recently found six men guilty for the 1993 terrorist bombings in Mumbai where almost 300 people were killed and hundreds injured. The special court was formed under the order of the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), a controversial law that has allegedly led to human rights violations.

20 June 2017:  The government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and armed groups signed a peace accord on 19 June 2017 which includes a ceasefire and political reform measures and could put an end to the conflict. The question of whether victims of atrocities and their families will see justice however remains unanswered, Human Rights Watch notes, contending that two courts, the International Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court could provide for the opportunity to bring victims justice and lasting peace.

19 June 2017:  On Monday 19 June 2017, proceedings resumed in the case of a former Rwandan minister convicted of involvement in the genocide. The United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals announced that it will review the conviction of Augustin Ngirabatware, sentenced on appeal to 30 years in 2014 for inciting, instigating, aiding and abetting genocide as over 800'000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists. Ngirabatware last year filed a request for review of his convictions, saying new evidence that came to light after his conviction could exonerate him. The case was stalled after United Nations judge Aydin Sefa Akay was detained last year in Turkey, his native country, in the aftermath of the failed coup. He was convicted last week of membership to a terrorist organization and sentenced to seven and a half years' imprisonment, but released pending appeal. He denies the allegations.

18 June 2017:  On 13 June 2017, two former Serbian policemen went on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the second time over their alleged involvement in the ethnic cleansing that took place during the Balkan conflicts in to 1990s. The initial trial of Jovica Stanisic, former head of Serbia's State Security Service and Franko Simatovic, his alleged right-hand man, resulted in their acquittal in 2013, but an appeals judge ordered their retrial.

17 June 2017:  On 15 June 2017, Facebook offered additional insight on its efforts to remove terrorism content, a response to political pressure in Europe to militant groups using the platform for propaganda and recruiting. It revealed it ramped up use of artificial intelligence such as image matching and language understanding to identify and remove content quickly. Facebook and other social media have been pressured by governments to do more to remove militant content and hate speech, and their broad legal protections against liability for their users' content may become subject to stricter limitations.

16 June 2017:  On 14 June 2017, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor called for the immediate arrest and surrender of suspects Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled. Latest media reporting alleged that Mr Gaddafi was released from custody of the Abu-Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade of Zintan, Libya. The Prosecutor announced of being currently verifying the reports and taking the necessary steps to determine the suspect's whereabouts.

15 June 2017:  Nigerian military rejected a call for senior army officers to be investigated for possible war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram Islamists. Amnesty International named six serving or retired army officers whom it said should be probed to establish whether they were responsible for murder, torture and disappearances. It alleged that more than 1,200 people have been extra-judicially killed and thousands more arbitrarily arrested during the conflict. The army chief of civilian-military affairs dismissed the accusations saying a report showed there was no evidence against any of the commanders. Similar and separate claims were made in the past and by other human rights groups, and they have all typically been dismissed. Amnesty International called for a presidential commission of inquiry into the allegations and for the report dismissing the accusations to be made public.

14 June 2017:  The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week renewed her calls to the United Nations (UN) Security Council and the international community to support her office's efforts in tackling and pursuing justice for human rights violations in Darfur, Sudan. She particularly urged all UN Member States, especially those that are party to the Rome Statute, to arrest and surrender suspects of international crimes committed in Sudan, including President Omar Al Bashir. She stressed that accountability is a pre-requisite for sustainable peace in Darfur.

New cases, briefs and videos

(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)

NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. These include 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. 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 VIDEO: On 15 May 2017, Benjamin Ferencz, the only surviving Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, provided a lecture in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series co-organised by the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform on his life dedicate to the pursuit of international criminal justice. The video recording of the lecture can be viewed here. A report on the event can be found here

NEW ICD BRIEFNadia 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 CASEThe 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 CASEThe 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. 

NEW CASEThe 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 CASEThe 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 ICD BRIEFLaetitia Ruiz, who is currently a PhD candidate at the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT) at Tilburg University, has written a new ICD Brief entitled 'Gender Jurisprudence for Gender Crimes?'. 

: The case analysis of Prosecutor v. Imane B. et al. is now available online. In the 'Context' case, a large terrorism case in the Netherlands, nine individuals were found guilty of various terrorism offences, ranging from online incitement to the recruitment of individuals to travel to Syria. This case arose out of investigations into the flow of foreign fighters from the Netherlands - namely people heading to Syria in order to join various terrorist groups, including ISIS and al-Nusra. The prosecution successfully argued that an organisation existed in the Netherlands that aimed at recruiting other people to support terrorist groups in Syria and to travel to join the fighting. The case also looked into the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, and its role in recruiting individuals. 

The nine accused, including several individuals who had travelled to Syria, faced charges concerning incitement to join terrorist groups, the dissemination of inciting materials, the recruitment of people to travel to Syria, the participation in training to commit terrorist crimes, the participation in a criminal and terrorist organisation, and other charges relating to inciting hate and defamation. The defendants were all convicted of differing offences and their sentences ranged from seven days' to six years' imprisonment. 

NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Radmilo Vuković aka Rade is now available online. Radmilo Vuković was charged with war crimes against civilians in 2006. In his capacity as member of the military forces of the so-called Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as “Republika Srpska”, Vuković allegedly raped a woman from the Foča municipality. On 13 August 2008, the Appeals Panel of the War Crimes section of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not find Vuković guilty, because the main piece of evidence provided by the victim and presented before the Appellate Panel contained inconsistencies. Therefore, it could not be established beyond reasonable doubt that Vuković raped the woman.

CALL FOR INTERNS: The T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague is looking for two full-time interns, for a period of six months, for recently graduated or advanced law students specialising in public international law, and more specifically in counter-terrorism, international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Students who wish to apply should send their letter of motivation and CV (in Europass format), in English and MS-Word only, to before 9 March 18:00 The Hague time. Interviews will take place in the third week of March (14-15 March). The envisaged starting date is 21 March 2016. For more information see here.

NEW CASE: The case of United States v. William L. Calley Jr. is now available online. William Laws Calley Jr. was born on 8 June 1943 in Miami, Florida. Calley was a former army officer in the United States and found guilty of war crimes involving the killing hundreds of unarmed, innocent South Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre on 16 March 1968, during the Vietnam War. After several reductions, Calley’s original sentence of life in prison was turned into an order of house arrest, but after three years, President Nixon reduced his sentence with a presidential pardon.

NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Slavko Šakić is now available online. Slavko Šakić was born on 18 November 1972 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In July 1993, he allegedly detained a number of Bosnian Muslims in a motel in Bugojno, taking their money and jewellery. Šakić was also suspected of having inflicted physical injuries on some of the detained civilians. On 5 September 2008, Šakić concluded an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina according to which he admitted guilt for the alleged crimes. On 29 October 2008, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina found Šakić guilty of war crimes against civilians and sentenced him to eight years and six months in prison.

NEW CASE: The case of Doe et al. v. Constant is now available online. Emmanuel Constant was the founder of the Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), a death squad that terrorised supporters of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown in September 1991. Members of the FRAPH killed, put in prison, and abused supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during the military regime that ruled Haiti between September 1991 and October 1994. Constant, as the leader of FRAPH, was found guilty of torture, crimes against humanity, and the systematic use of violence against women committed during the military regime and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was ordered to pay $19 million in damages to three women who survived the crimes committed under Constant’s control.