The Hague, 28 September 2015 - Today we were informed of the sad news of the passing away of Roel van Rossum on 27 September 2015.
Roel was one of the founding fathers of the DomCLIC project, the basis for the International Crimes Database (ICD), and Chairman of the ICD’s Steering Committee.
Roel studied law at Leiden University and has worked at the District Court of The Hague from 1977. Since 1986, he acted as Vice-President and later as Coordinating Vice-President of this Court. He was also President of the international chamber (since 1988) and President of the chamber judging several war crimes cases (since 2004). In addition, from 1970 till December 2011, Roel was a reserve officer of the Royal Army of the Netherlands, latest as colonel. He was also a member of the International Society for Military law and the Law of War and a member of the International Institute of Humanitarian law in Sanremo.
The T.M.C. Asser Instituut is extremely grateful for all the work that Roel van Rossum has done for the ICD. Thanks to his energy and persistence, the ICD has become the user-friendly and rich database that he wanted it to become. We will continue his work, and in doing so, be guided by Roel’s vision.
The entire ICD team would like to extend its condolences to Roel’s family and friends, in particular to Antje, Annemarie, Liesbeth and Paul. We wish them strength in these sad days.
(For news updates older than two weeks, please visit our news archive.)
30 November 2015: Perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence could be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) because they constitute crimes which offend the conscience of humanity as a whole, the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has warned. “I will spare no effort to bring accountability for such heinous crimes. Where others may want to draw a veil over these crimes, I, as prosecutor, must draw a line under them,” she said in a statement marking the International Day for the elimination of violence against women.
30 November 2015: The United Nations Security Council condemned a rocket attack that killed two UN peacekeepers and a contractor Saturday in northeast Mali, warning it could be a war crime. In a unanimous declaration, the council’s 15 member countries urged the Malian government to “swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice and stressed that those responsible for the attack should be held accountable.” A statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated this, stating: "The Secretary-General stresses the urgent need to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice and reiterates that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law".
30 November 2015: A Dutch court on Friday withheld the decision to have two Rwandan genocide suspects extradited to Rwanda to face genocide charges. The Hague district court ruled that the two defendants will be tried in the Netherlands, citing lack of a fair and impartial judicial system in Rwanda. The decision overturns the earlier ruling endorsing the transfer of both suspects to Rwanda to face charges. Jean-Baptiste Mugimba 56, and Jean Claude Iyamuremye 38 were arrested separately in 2013 and 2014 in the Netherlands. They are accused of various counts of crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994.
30 November 2015: The 14th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) concluded in The Hague on Thursday with governments agreeing to include in the Assembly’s final report an interpretation of an ICC rule on the use of pre-recorded witness testimony currently under appeal in the crimes against humanity trial of Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto. The inclusion of the requested Kenyan language in the final report holds no obligations for states or the ICC and it remains for ICC appeals judges to decide on the application of Rule 68.
27 November 2015: The Presidents of France and Russia agreed Thursday to tighten cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, although they remain at odds over their approach towards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. French president Francois Hollande has been on a diplomatic drive since the Paris attacks to increase cooperation in tackling IS. Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on increasing intelligence sharing, intensifying their airstrikes against IS in Syria and cooperating on selected targets - two days after Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border. "We agreed on a very important issue: To strike the terrorists only, Daesh and the jihadi groups only, and not to strike the forces and the groups that are fighting against the terrorists, Hollande said after the meeting. IS has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks against both of the countries' citizens in recent week: Nov. 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people, and the Oct. 31 bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that claimed 224 lives.
27 November 2015: Bangladesh has refuted the claim of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that the war crimes trials at the International Crimes Tribunal were not fair. Saying that the statement is "highly disturbing", the government has sent a reply to the UN human rights body and protested such claim. On Tuesday, the OHCHR renewed its call to the government of Bangladesh to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty and abolish it. The statement came two days after Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, a senior politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) party, and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were executed for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation war.
26 November 2015: A Pakistani man was sentenced by a federal judge in New York to 40 years in prison on Tuesday for plotting to bomb a shopping center in England, as part of an al Qaeda plan to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, including an attack on the New York subway system and a newspaper office in Copenhagen. After being extradited from the UK to the US, a jury found him guilty on charges including of providing material support to al-Qaeda and conspiracy to use a destructive device. Two other men, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, have pleaded guilty to US charges stemming from the New York subway plot. A third, Adis Medunjanin, was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison.
26 November 2015: A United States military inquiry into the US aircraft attack on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) clinic in the Afghan city of Kunduz has found it was the result of "human error". The investigation states the crew of the aircraft mistook the clinic for a nearby government building that had been seized by Taliban fighters. At least 30 civilians were killed in the 3 October attack, amid a campaign to retake Kunduz from Taliban forces. In a press release on Wednesday, MSF said the US assessment reveals gross negligence and war crimes were committed and calls again for an independent and impartial investigation into the incident.
26 November 2015: A group of Russian lawmakers have submitted a Bill to parliament on holding to account anyone who denies that the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces was genocide. The leader of Russia's opposition A Just Russia party, Sergei Mironov, said on Wednesday that the Bill proposes a fine of up to 500,000 rubles (more than €7,000) for any denial of what is considered by Armenia and some other countries as genocide. Russia is among the 25 countries that has recognised the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.
25 November 2015: The Namibian government has approved a recommendation by the Swapo Party for the country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Namibian information Minister Tjekero Tweya said on Monday that the Cabinet approved the "position regarding possible withdrawal from the ICC, given the discussions of the Swapo Party central committee on the issue". The Swapo Party has over the years repeatedly criticized the ICC for being biased against African and other developing countries and targeting African leaders for indictment. Namibia, which joined the ICC in 2002, is the first African country announcing such a stance, two months after South Africa's ruling African National Congress also recommended that the country withdraws from the court. Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the Rome Statute but is on record denouncing the court, calling for the formation of an African Court of Justice.
25 November 2015: The International Criminal Court (ICC) is citing the Nigerian army for two alleged war crimes in the war against Boko Haram. The Islamic extremist group has reportedly been cited for six war crimes. In its Preliminary Examination Report on Nigeria, the ICC accused the military of indiscriminate arrest, detention, torture and extrajudicial killings of people suspected to be Boko Haram fighters. The army is also accused of attacking the civilian population as well as the recruitment of child soldiers by pro-government militia. Nigeria's defence headquarters have described the ICC report as "biased, subjective and unacceptable".
25 November 2015: Bahrain has criticized as "misleading" a Human Rights Watch report accusing the kingdom's authorities of torturing detainees and granting security officials impunity. Information Minister Isa al-Hammadi said the report published Monday is "misleading, unbalanced and controversial". Hammadi emphasized that Bahrain has establishes national watchdogs to probe any alleged illegal practices involving detainees and that such action is taken seriously by the kingdom.
24 November 2015: Belgian authorities have charged a fourth suspect with terrorism offences after they arrested 16 people on Sunday. The federal prosecutor said in a statement that the suspect, who was not identified, was charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group and a terrorist attack", referring to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. Authorities had charged three other suspects with the similar offences last week. The other 15 people detained on Sunday evening were released.
24 November 2015: Somali pirates have hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel with 15 crew members, a Somali official said on Monday amid warnings that piracy might be making a comeback in the Indian Ocean. Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, director of the anti-piracy and seaport ministry in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, said the Iranian ship was taken on Sunday evening in waters off northern Somali city of Eyl. Two other Iranian fishing ships were captured by suspected pirates in March. Although there are still occasional cases of sea attacks, piracy near Somalia's coast has largely subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security details and the presence of international warships.
23 November 2015: Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation as regulatory bodies set up after the 2011 uprising "lack of independence" and officials are not held accountable, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. Scores of opponents have been detained, with many facing trials, while others convicted of involvement in violence have been handed heavy sentences, including loss of citizenship and life in prison. In its report, HRW said that physical assaults include "being subjected to electric shocks; suspension in painful position [...]; forced standing; extreme cold; and sexual abuse". The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, set up by King Hamad to probe allegations of government wrongdoing, had already said in a November 2011 report that police had used "excessive force" and tortured detainees in that year's crackdown on opponents.
23 November 2015: After a dramatic security sweep in the historic city center of Brussels on Sunday, the Belgian authorities announced today that 16 people had been arrested in a joint police and military operation. This operation aimed at heading off what the Belgian Prime Minister described as a "serious and imminent" threat of a Paris-style terrorist assault. Eric Van der Sijpt, a magistrate and spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office said however that the main target of the clampdown, Salah Abdeslam, suspected to be one of the gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, was not among those arrested.
23 November 2015: Bangladesh has executed two opposition party leaders convicted of war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, a senior politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) party, and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), were hanged in Dhaka Central Jail early Sunday, Bangladesh's national police chief AKM Shahidul Hoque confirmed. Bangladesh's International Crime Tribunal (ICT) sentenced them to death in 2013. Both had filed appeals, which were rejected by the court on 18 November 2015. Set up in 2010, the ICT has prosecuted more than a dozen opposition leaders for war crimes. In all, four people have now been hanged.
20 November 2015: The United Nations General Assembly's human rights committee has adopted a resolution condemning North Korea's bleak human rights situation and encouraging the Security Council to refer the country to the International Criminal Court. The European Union and Japan have been pursuing such resolution every year. This year, 112 States voted in favor of the resolution, while 19 voted against and 50 abstained.
20 November 2015: The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday rapped Sudan for failing to arrest a Darfur rebel leader and said it would refer to the United Nations (UN) Security Council. In September 2014, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Abdallah Banda, who faces three war crimes charges for his alleged role in an attack on African Union peacekeepers in September 2007 in northern Darfur, in which 12 peacekeepers died. His trial was supposed to start on 18 November 2014. "By disregarding the request to arrest and surrender Mr Banda [...] Sudan failed to comply with requests to cooperate with the court", the panel on three judges found. An earlier UN resolution has ordered the country, which is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, to cooperate with the ICC.
20 November 2015: South Africa has questioned why the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not try to arrest leaders involved in conflicts in Palestine and Afghanistan in the "current era of disorder" with the same vigor it pursues Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. In a speech delivered at a meeting of the Assembly of State Parties on Wednesday, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashaban said South Africa's commitment to human rights and the fight against impunity was beyond question, however it would not be quiet if it thought there were serious flaws in how the ICC interpreted the Rome Statute. She questioned whether it had become the universally accepted institution for justice as hoped for, or whether some permanent member of the United Nations Security Council could protect themselves and their allies from the court.
19 November 2015: The 14th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is taking place from 18 to 26 November in the Hague, where civil society from around the world join ICC member states to address issues central to the Court's operations. On the first day of the Assembly on Wednesday, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke on behalf of the African Union in criticising the Court for its unrelenting focus on the continent, as it called for a case against Kenya's deputy president to be dropped. The Assembly of States Parties approved Kenya's agenda for discussion, which will take place today. Kenya wants to convince the Assembly that it was wrong for the Court to use Rule 68, which permits Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to use the evidence of witnesses who have disowned their testimony, in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua Sang, who are accused of committing crimes against humanity.
19 November 2015: Russia has submitted to the United Nations a revised version of a resolution on fighting the Islamic State. France is planning to submit its own resolution, as world powers scramble to make plans towards defeating the terrorist group. Russia put its new draft forwards on Wednesday, about two months after the Russian draft text was first presented to the Security Council in late September, but was rejected by the United States, Britain and France over a provision that calls for battling the IS extremists with the consent of the Syrian regime. The new version contains a similar provision, though Russian UN representative Vitaly Churkin said this time he hoped world powers could reach a consensus and the resolution calls for greater coordination among different powers in fighting the extremists.
19 November 2015: Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected final appeals from two opposition leaders against death sentences for war crimes committed in the 1971 Liberation War. The Supreme Court's decision means Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury could be hanged as early as next week if the president does not grant them clemency. Earlier this month, Amnesty International criticised Bangladesh's handling of the two men's cases, claiming the trials were "clearly flawed" and condemning the death sentence.
18 November 2015: A new study released on Tuesday has shown that deaths from global terrorism increased by 80% in 2014, with 32,658 people being killed. The Global Terrorism Index report highlights that despite 78% of terrorist acts being concentrated in five countries - Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq - terrorism is spreading, with more countries recording attacks and deaths than previously. The report states there has been a "dramatic rise" in terrorism over the last 15 years. Nine times more people are killed in terrorist attacks today than there were in 2000, with Islamist groups Boko Haram and ISIS together responsible for 51% of claimed global killings in 2014.
18 November 2015: Last week's attacks in Paris may constitute crimes against humanity according to the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune. She said on Tuesday "these attacks may constitute a crime against humanity and certainly one which viciously and deliberately targeted sites of arts and leisure where people come together to enjoy their cultural rights", while urging the international community to aide French authorities in ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international law. On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the "despicable terrorist attacks," and gave his full faith to the French authorities' ability to prosecute those responsible.
18 November 2015: Bosnian authorities have arrested a police commissioner, a lawyer and a third Muslim Bosnian suspected of having committed war crimes against Bosnian Serb civilians during the 1992-95 war. Sarajevo lawyer Ibro Merkez and Gorazde police commissioner Esef Huric were arrested Tuesday morning suspected of having illegally imprisoned more than 100 Serbs at a local police station at the start of the war. A statement from the State prosecutor said the civilians were held for several months in inhuman conditions, so bad that two of them died. In a separate case, police arrested Ahmet Sejdic, a former army commander, under suspicion of illegal imprisonment, expulsion, torture and inhumane treatment of dozens of Serb civilians and prisoners of war.
17 November 2015: The Panel of the Section II for Organised Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down its verdict against Husein Bosnić on 5 November. Bosnić was found guilty of the criminal offence of Encouraging Terrorist Activities in Public, of Recruitment for Terrorist Activities and of Organising a Terrorist Group. He has been sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2013 and 2014, Bosnić was a religious authority in the so-called Salafi community organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina and he took actions for the purpose of propagating and increasing Islamic radicalism in the country and a wider region. He publicly held speeches, published through social networks, inciting the Salafi community members to become members of the ISIL organised terrorist group in the so-called Islamic State and to take part in the activities organised by the terrorist organization.
17 November 2015: The United Nations has said that all sides in Libya’s conflict are committing breaches of international law that may amount to war crimes, including abductions, torture and the killing of civilians. A joint report by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), published on Monday, documented serious abuses and violations of international law between 1 January and 31 October of this year. The report calls on all those with effective control on the ground to immediately take action to stop acts in breach of international human rights and humanitarian law, stating that those involved in such infractions were criminally liable, including before the International Criminal Court, under which the situation in Libya continued to be investigated.
17 November 2015: Finland has arrested a 29-year-old Iraqi man on suspicion of committing war crimes in his home country last year. The Pirkanmaa Regional Court in southern Finland says the suspect, Jebbar-Salman Ammar, was being held in custody on suspicion of war crimes committed in Iraq in June 2014. The suspect can be held for four months during a preliminary investigation before being charged. This is the first war crimes investigation in Finland since 2006.
17 November 2015: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has released her annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities , including a probe into alleged war crimes committed by Israelis and Palestinians since June 2014. After the preliminary investigation was launched in January 2015, the ICC received and analysed 66 communiques from Israel, Palestine and various organisations around the world detailing incidents of alleged crimes said to have occurred since 13 June 2014. The Office of the Prosecutor said it was “in the process of conducting a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available, in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been or are being committed.”
17 November 2015: A resolution on the Armenian Genocide has been adopted by a large majority at the 23rd European Green Party Council in Lyon, France. The resolution acknowledges that the Ottoman Empire perpetrated genocide against the Armenian people and calls on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide and work towards reconciliation with Armenia and its people. The European Green Party called upon all countries that have not yet done so to publicly recognise the Armenian Genocide, underlining that doing so will positively impact the relations between Turkey and Armenia and help prevent further crimes against humanity.
16 November 2015: A judge in Spain has issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seven other former and current Israeli officials over a 2010 fatal raid by the Tel Aviv regime forces on a Gaza-bound aid ship in which war crimes were allegedly committed. The investigation into this case was launched after Spanish activists on board the main vessel in the flotilla, the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara, filed a criminal complaint against Israeli officials involved in the raid. In response to the judge's order, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said: "We consider it to be a provocation. We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it cancelled. We hope it will be over soon."
16 November 2015: Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday granted early release to convicted war criminal Germain Katanga, making the Congolese warlord, sentenced to 12 years prison in 2014 for one count of crimes against humanity and four of war crimes, the first ICC convict to be released early. A three-judge panel of the Appeals Chamber of the ICC conducted a review of Katanga's sentence under the guidelines provided in Rome Statute Article 110 that allow for judicial review of a sentencing term after the person has served two-thirds of their sentence. The judges decided that Katanga's sentence would be completed on 18 January 2016, reducing the sentence by 3 years and 8 months, after taking into consideration the time Katanga spent in detention before he was sentenced in May 2014 and a number of contributing factors outlined in the Rome Statute and the ICC rules of procedure and evidence.
16 November 2015: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has listed possible war crimes committed by the Nigerian army and the Boko Haram in the last six years of insurgency in the country. The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor released a Preliminary Examination Report on Nigeria, in which it identified eight possible cases of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military. According to the report, six of the cases were perpetrated by Boko Haram, while two were by the Nigerian military. The report states that the "Office will continue to analyse allegations of crimes committed in Nigeria and to assess the admissibility of the potential cases identified above in order to reach a decision on whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met".
16 November 2015: Prosecutors have submitted formal charges to International Crimes Tribunal-1 in Bangladesh against two war crimes suspects for their alleged involvement in crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. They were charged for the incidents of killing, mass killing, rape, torture and confinement during the nine-month-long war. The Tribunal fixed November 25 to decide whether it will take the charges into cognisance.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
NEW CASE: The case of The Prosecutor v. Yvonne Basebya is now available online. It is the first case of genocide charges before a Dutch court and took place against the Rwandan Yvonne Basebya. Rwandan authorities alerted the Netherlands about her husband being listed as wanted in Rwanda in 2007, leading to Basebya being arrested in 2010 on suspicion of involvement in the Rwandan genocide. The District Court of The Hague ruled on 1 March 2013 that Basebya’s guilt on several of the genocide and war crimes charges could not be established. However, her repeated singing in public of a notorious anti-Tutsi song before the youth, unemployed and lower or uneducated and using her local notable upper-class position, combined with her repeatedly expressed hatred against the Tutsis, did qualify as incitement to genocide. She was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison pursuant to the Dutch War Crimes Act: the maximum sentence at the time.
NEW REPORT: On 15 October 2015 the T.M.C. Asser Instituut (The Hague) and the Antonio Cassese Initiative for Justice, Peace and Humanity (Geneva) co-organised a Symposium on the "International Legal Aspects of Countering Piracy", in the context of the 50 year anniversary of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and this year's establishment of the Antonio Cassese Initiative Foundation in the Netherlands. The detailed report of the Symposium is now available online.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Branimir Glavaš is now available online. The case of Branimir Glavaš marks the first time that a high-ranking Croatian politician was sentenced for war crimes committed during the Croatian war of independence (1991-1995). Glavaš has always denied any wrongdoing and he protested his detention and trial in Croatia by going on a 40-day hunger strike in 2006. After several appeals, on 2 June 2010, the Croatian Supreme Court sentenced Glavaš to eight years’ imprisonment for the war crimes of murder and torture of civilians. Glavaš attempted to evade sitting out his sentence by fleeing to Bosnia, but to no avail: there, he was arrested as well and the Bosnian courts upheld the verdict issued by their Croatian colleagues.
NEW CASE: The case of The Public Prosecutor v. Heshamuddin Hesam is now available online. The Afghani Heshamuddin Hesam applied for political asylum in the Netherlands in 1996, but this was refused due to suspicion of his involvement in torture and war crimes during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. The Hague District Court convicted him for war crimes and torture committed by him as head of the military intelligence agency KhaD-e-Nezami (KhAD) and as superior for failing to prevent these crimes from being committed by his subordinates. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal affirmed this decision. Consequently, Hesam appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the previous courts had erred in law on several points. The Supreme Court disagreed and, accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.
NEW CASE: The case of The Public Prosecutor v. Habibullah Jalalzoy is now available online. The Hague District Court convicted Habibullah Jalalzoy for war crimes and torture committed as a member of the military intelligence agency KhaD-e-Nezami (KhAD). The Court of Appeal affirmed this decision. Consequently, Jalalzoy appealed at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court disagreed with Jalazoy's argument that both the District Court and Court of Appeal had erred in law on several points, and held that Dutch courts had jurisdiction over the crime, that prosecution was admissible, that the crimes were not time-barred, and that the convictions had been in conformity with the law. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.
NEW ICD BRIEF: Arron N. Honniball, a Ph.D. Candidate at Utrecht University, has written a new ICD Brief focusing on "The 'Private Ends' of International Piracy: The Necessity of Legal Clarity in Relation to Violent Political Activists". The Brief can be found here.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Paško Ljubičić is now available online. Ljubičić was initially indicted for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other grave violations of the laws of war, allegedly committed by himself and by Croatian military police forces under his command in 1993, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, following a plea agreement, the charges were reduced to include only war crimes against civilians. Ljubičić signed the plea agreement, which the Court accepted. He was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.
NEW ICD BRIEF: Alina Balta, a former T.M.C. Asser Instituut intern and graduate of Tilburg University, has written a new ICD Brief focusing on "Protection of Schools During Armed Conflict". The Brief can be found here.
NEW SPEAKING NOTES: On Wednesday 9 September 2015, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court James Stewart gave a lecture in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series, entitled: "International criminal law - a personal note on its practice and current challenges". Unfortunately, the recording failed but Mr. Stewart has been so kind to allow us to upload his speaking notes.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Željko Mejakić, Momčilo Gruban and Duško Knežević is now available online. All men were initially indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia for charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture and other inhumane acts. However, in 2006, they were transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina to be tried there. The Trial Panel found them guilty. They appealed against their conviction; the Appellate Panel partly granted their appeal, but mostly for insignificant parts, leading to Mejakić’s and Kneževic’s conviction and sentence to be upheld.
CALL FOR INTERNS: The T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague is looking for a recently graduated or an advanced law student specialising in counterterrorism and International Criminal/Humanitarian/Human Rights Law to work for a contract project related to foreign terrorist fighters. This is a full-time internship for a period of six months, starting 19 October 2015. Students who are interested in applying can send their letter of motivation and CV (in Europass format), in English and MS-Word only, to HRM@asser.nl at latest by 25 September 2015 at 17:00 CET. For more information, please see here.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Momčilo Mandić is now available online. Momčilo Mandić, who was Assistant Minister of the Interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in April 1996, was indicted before the Court of BiH in 2006 on allegations of involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the armed conflicts that broke out in the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Mandić was acquitted by the Court in first instance, as it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had been involved in these acts, and neither could it be established that he was, indeed, a superior with the possibility to either order such acts to be committed or to take measures against subordinates. The prosecution appealed, but to no avail; on 1 September 2009, the Appellate Panel upheld the acquittal.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Mladen Milanović is now available online. Mladen Milanović, who was a prison camp guard during the war in the former Yugoslavia, was accused of war crimes against civilians. After more than six years of proceedings before several courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ultimately found Milanović guilty of the charged crimes and sentenced him to one year and four months in prison (with credit for time already spent in custody) on 14 January 2014.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Zoran Marić is now available online. Zoran Marić, a former soldier in the Army of Republika Srpska, was indicted by theCourt of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on suspicion of involvement in war crimes committed in 1992. Marić was charged with co-perpetration – together with fellow soldiers – of torture, inhumane treatment and murder of Bosniak civilians. Although he initially pleaded not guilty, he came to a plea agreement with the prosecutor, pleading guilty to the crimes he was indicted for. The Court of BiH, after evaluating the evidence, found the agreement acceptable and sentenced Marić to fifteen years’ imprisonment.
NEW CASE: The case of Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Jadranko Palija is now available online. Jadranko Palija, a former member of the Serbian army, was accused of having committed war crimes against civilians and crimes against humanity during the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia. On 28 November 2007, Palija was found guilty on all charges by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He appealed against his conviction, but this did not help him: on 24 April 2008, the Appellate Panel of the Court ruled that the Trial Panel had been correct in both its analysis of the facts and the application of the law. Therefore, the conviction and prison sentence were both confirmed.
NEW CASE: The case of Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Appellant, v. Léon Mugesera, Gemma Uwamariya, Irenée Rutema, Yves Rusi, Carmen Nono, Mireille Urumuri and Marie-Grâce Hoho, Respondents is now available online. Léon Mugesera, a former politician in Rwanda, fled Rwanda in 1993. Mugesera, together with his wife and their five children, sought asylum in Canada, which was granted. However, in 1995, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) became aware of the arrest warrant and issued an order to deport Mugesera to Rwanda for trial. The Federal Court of Appeal held that the deportation order should not have been issued as there was not sufficient evidence that Mugesera had indeed been involved in the Rwandan genocide as alleged. However, the Canadian Supreme Court quashed this decision on 28 June 2005, ruling that the Court of Appeal had applied an incorrect standard of review and that, in fact, the IRB had been right all along.
NEW CASE: The case of Ali Zaki Mousa and others, claimants, v. Secretary of State for Defence, defendant, and Legal Services Commission, interested party is now available online. The claimant in Mousa v. UK, Ali Zaki Mousa, represents about 100 Iraqis – with the possible addition of 100 more after intervention – who were allegedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated during their detention at British military bases in Iraq, often without being charged. The Court found that the current investigating bodies were too much intertwined with the army itself and did not constitute independent bodies of judicial review, as required by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Therefore, the Secretary of State was ordered to initiate proper investigations.
NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Abduladhim Maktouf is now available online. Abduladhim Maktouf was arrested on 12 June 2004 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), initially on suspicion of economic crimes committed in the context of the electronics business he was working in. However, following in-depth investigations, he was indicted and found guilty of war crimes against civilians, and he received a five-year prison sentence.
NEW CASE: The case of the Public Prosecutor v. M.P. et al. is now available online. The Zadar County Court of Croatia, in its verdict of 24 April 1997, convicted in absentia 19 officers of the so-called Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) for the siege of the city of Zadar, which caused the death of at least 30 civilians and the destruction of significant parts of the city. The officers were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to prison sentences that ranged from ten to 20 years. However, as they had left Croatia before the initial indictment, the convicted persons have not yet been caught.
NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Željko Lelek is now available online. On 19 February 2009, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)’s Appellate Panel issued a second instance verdict in the case against Željko Lelek, upholding his conviction for crimes against humanity. However, in the second instance his sentence was increased from 13 to 16 years’ imprisonment as the Appellate Panel attached greater weight to the aggravating circumstance in the case.
NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Zijad Kurtović is now available online. Zijad Kurtović, a commander of a military police platoon of the Bosnian army, was accused of involvement in war crimes committed during the war between Croatia and Bosnia (1992-1995). In first instance, Kurtović was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. Kurtović appealed on several grounds, arguing that the first instance Panel had erred in law (using the wrong law) and in fact (wrongly established certain facts). The prosecution also appealed against the sentence, which was, in its view, too lenient. The Appellate Panel partly agreed with Kurtović where it concerned the classification of the crimes. However, the findings on the facts remained further unchanged. Therefore, the Appellate Panel amended the conviction to only include war crimes against civilians and the wanton destruction of religious monuments. The prosecutor’s appeal was dismissed; the 11-year prison sentence was upheld.
NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Radmilo Vuković aka Rade is now available online. Radmilo Vuković was born on 28 July 1952 in the village of Rataje located in the municipality of Foča, southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. 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 had sexual intercourse with a woman from the Foča municipality without her consent. 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.
NEW CASE: The case of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Mirko Todorović and Miloš Radić is now available online. Todorović and Radić were found guilty of participating in an attack conducted in Bratunac on 20 May 1992, which was directed against Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) civilians. On that day, Todorović and four other members of the Serbian army arrested 14 Bosniak civilians and brought them to a house where one of the civilians was killed. Todorović, together with Radić, did not allow the other civilians to leave the house. The civilians were beaten, cursed, and their money and valuable items were taken away. Subsequently, the civilians were brought to a slope on a nearby creek, lined up and killed.
NEW CASE: The case of Polyukhovich v. The Commonwealth of Australia and Another is available online. Ivan Timofeyevich Polyukhovich was born in the village of Serniki in the Pinsk region, Ukraine. Polyukhovich became an Australian citizen in 1958. In January 1990, a case was brought against Polyukhovich in Australia for his alleged involvement in the mass killing of approximately 850 people from the Jewish ghetto in Serniki village and for killing 24 other people between August and September 1942. Their bodies had been exhumed in June and July 1990. On 18 May 1993, Polyukhovich was acquitted because there was not sufficient evidence to continue with the case.
NEW CASE: The case of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor v. Miroljub Vujović et al. is now available online. The accused in the case were all members of the Vukovar Territorial Defence force (TO) or of the volunteer unit called “Leva Supoderica”. On 18 November 1991, members of the Croatian armed forces surrendered themselves to the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). As a result, they had to enjoy certain rights and protection under international law because they were prisoners of war. For instance, they had to be treated humanely, should not be beaten or killed. Nevertheless, they were taken to the Ovčara farm in the Vukovar municipality on 20 and 21 November 1991, where they were brutally beaten, injured, and killed by members of the TO force (including the accused). Approximately 200 Croatians were killed at the Ovčara farm.
NEW CASE: The case of the Ad Hoc Prosecutors v. Timbul Silaen is now available online. Timbul Silaen worked as police chief in East Timor in 1999. As such, he was responsible for the security during the independence referendum held in the country on 30 August 1999. Before and after the referendum, deadly incidents took place between people in favour of East Timor’s secession from the Republic of Indonesia and the pro-Indonesian supporters. Approximately 1000 people died, 80% of the territory was destroyed, and 250,000 people were forcibly evacuated to Indonesia. Silaen was prosecuted because as a commander he allegedly failed to stop his subordinates from committing crimes and also failed to bring them to court in order to be prosecuted. In 2002, the Indonesian Ad Hoc Tribunal for East Timor did not found Silaen guilty as a commander because it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that his subordinates had committed the crimes.
NEW ICD BRIEF: Laura Paredi, PhD Candidate at the University of Milan, has written a new ICD Brief focusing on "The War Crime of Terror: An analysis of international jurisprudence". Check it out here.
CALL FOR INTERNS: The T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague is looking for two university and university of applied science students in the final stages of their bachelor’s degree or during/after their master’s degree, with a solid background in international criminal law, to work on the International Crimes Database (ICD). Students who wish to apply should send their letter of motivation, a CV and a recent (within the last year) academic writing sample to HRM@asser.nl by Wednesday 24 June C.O.B. Interviews will take place in the week of 6 July 2015. The envisaged start date is 15 July 2015. For more information see here and here.
NEW CASE: The case of The Queen (on the application of Maya Evans) v. Secretary of State for Defence is now available online. The case came as a result of information that Afghan terror detainees transferred by the British Armed Forces to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) were beaten and physically mistreated. Maya Evans, a U.K. peace activist, sought to stop that practice and brought a case before the British High Court of Justice. On 25 June 2010, the Court decided that there was a chance that detainees were indeed mistreated at the NDS detention facility in Kabul. Therefore, the Court banned detainee transfers to this NDS facility. Transfers to the NDS facilities in Kandahar and Lashkar Gah remained allowed, although the Court imposed a series of ‘safeguards’ and monitoring arrangements on all future transfers of detainees.
NEW CASE: The case of The Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes v. Col. Herman Sedyono et al. is now available online. The defendants in this case took part in a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians that were in favour of an independent East Timor. One of the accused, Herman Sedyono, was the Bupati (District Administrator) of the Covalima District, one of the 13 districts in East Timor. As such, he was bearing the primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the region. Most of the other accused were Commander or just member of the Indonesian security authorities (TNI) or the Indonesian police force (POLRI), which were both promoting autonomy within the Republic of Indonesia. In 1999, the Mahidi and the Laksaur pro-Indonesian militia groups, with the help of the TNI and POLRI, and with support from the Covalima District administration, repeatedly committed attacks against the Covalima population (mainly against those that were in favour of independence). The 16 accused were charged with encouraging, assisting and failing to stop, arrest or prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes.
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: The ICD invites submissions of short articles for publication in the online paper series of the ICD, the ICD Briefs. Please send an abstract of your submission (500 words, incl. brief biographies or author affiliations) to email@example.com by 1 July. Please also include a CV with your submission. Authors of selected abstracts will be informed by 15 July. Selected authors should be prepared to submit a full paper for review by 1 October. Find out more about the selection process and guidelines for ICD Briefs here.
NEW CASE: The case of The Ad Hoc Prosecutor v. Lt. Col. Inf. Soedjarwo is now available online. Lieutenant Colonel Soedjarwo was a military commander of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) in the district of Dili between 9 August 1999 and 20 December 1999. Soedjarwo was found guilty of crimes against humanity because he failed to prevent his troops from attacking the Diocese office of Dili and the residence of Archbishop Belo in Dili on 4 and 6 September 1999. At least 13 civilians who were seeking refuge at these two places were killed during the attack.
NEW CASE: The case of Teófila Ochoa Lizarbe et al v. Telmo Ricardo Hurtado Hurtado is now available online. On 14 August 1985, 60 women, children and elderly men were killed in the highlands village of Accomarca in Peru’s southern Andean region of Ayacucho. This massacre is known as the Accomarca Massacre. The plaintiffs brought a complaint against Telmo Ricardo Hurtado Hurtado (Second Lieutenant (Subteniente) in the Peruvian Army) who was responsible for the command of the soldiers that committed the killings. The plaintiffs sought justice on behalf of all the members of the Asociación de Familiares Afectados por la Violencia Política del Distrito de Accomarca (Association of Relatives of the Victims of Political Violence in Accomarca) who lost relatives in the massacre. Hurtado was found guilty for the crimes committed in connection with the Accomarca Massacre. On 4 March 2008, the District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Hurtado to pay $37 million in damages to the plaintiffs.
NEW CASE: The case of the Public Prosecutor v. Oie Hee Koi and connected appeals is now available online. During the fighting between Indonesia and Malaysia, twelve Malaysian Chinese members of the Indonesian Air Force who were heavily armed, infiltrated into Malaysia (ten by parachute and two by boat). They were arrested, convicted pursuant to Malaysian law and sentenced to death. The Federal Court of Malaysia held that two members were protected pursuant to international law, in particular the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention of 1949. On appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided that they were not protected under the 1949 Geneva Convention because they were nationals of Malaysia (the state that detained them). Therefore, they could be prosecuted under national law for offences against that law.