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News updates

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

17 February 2017:  Germany's Federal Constitutional Court rejected an appeal aiming to annul the bill adopted by the Bundestag in 2016 recognising the Armenian genocide. The Court held that there was not enough evidence that the recognition of the genocide violated the law. The plaintive already stated he would bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

17 February 2017:  Yesterday the Stockholm District Court sentenced a former Syrian opposition fighter to life imprisonment for war crimes committed in Syria. The accused was found guilty of participation in the mass execution of seven men in 2012. The Swedish court analysed whether non-governmental actors could establish their own courts to maintain law and order in an armed conflict and concluded it could be possible, but that in this case the soldiers could not have received a fair trial in a matter of days.

16 February 2017:  The Svea court of appeal in Stockholm upheld the life sentence of a man accused of having committed genocide during the Rwandan conflict in 1994. The court held that Claver Berinkindi, who became a Swedish citizen a few years ago, was guilty of murder, attempted murder and kidnapping of more than thousand people.  

16 February 2017:  The German Attorney-General has issued an international arrest warrant against an ISIS Commander for genocide and war crimes committed against Yezidis in 2014. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, the Commander is responsible for the abduction of thousands of Yezidi women. The Federal Criminal Police Office identified him thanks to the testimonies of Yezidi victims.

15 February 2017:  The Muslim leader of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, announced last week that he would request a revision of the 2007 judgment by the International Court of Justice which cleared neighbouring Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide during the 1992-1995 war. Bosnia's Serb Chairman Mladen Ivanic warned against the widening of ethnic rifts in the country as a consequence of that decision.

14 February 2017:  In Belgium, Hakim Elouassaki, a returning jihadi fighter, has been sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment. Former member of Sharia4Belgium, Elouassaki has been convicted for the murder of a captive in 2013 because his family could not pay the ransom. The whole story came to light after he made a phone call to his girlfriend in which he bragged about the murder. This is Belgium's first conviction for a terrorist murder committed in Syria.

14 February 2017:  Amnesty International published a report referring to 23 instances of torture and ill-treatment committed by Tunisian security officials. The rights group fears that democratic reforms in the country are being undermined by the risk of "brutal tactics" used by the country's security forces.
13 February 2017:  This Morning, the Global Legal Action Network and the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic submitted a legal petition to the International Criminal Court criticising Australia's offshore immigration detention regime. The petition suggests the office of the prosecutor of the Court should investigate possible "crimes against humanity committed by individuals and corporate actors".

12 February 2017:  Last week, Nepal has decided to extend the mandates of two commissions dealing with the investigation of war crimes committed during the country's decade-long civil war. The one-year extension was made right before the expiration of the initial two-year mandate during which no case was investigated.

11 February 2017:  Gambia's new president Adama Barrow has confirmed that the country will remain part of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Last October, the then president Yahya Jammeh stated the country's intention to no longer be a part of the ICC because of the Court's disproportionate prosecution of African leaders.

10 February 2017:  According to a report released by Amnesty International, in the past years as many as 13 000 people, mostly civilians, have been hanged in a Syrian military prison in such a way that the NGO accuses the government of 'running a human slaughterhouse'. Amnesty declared that the hangings amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

9 February 2017:  The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said the country needed more time to fulfill its promise to the United Nations to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during the country's 26-year civil war. In a 2015 joint resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka promised it would work toward ethnic reconciliation, including by investigating possible abuses.

9 February 2017:  The Swiss police arrested former Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko in Bern after Trial International files a complaint accusing him of, inter alia, serious assault and false imprisonment. The Swiss Office of the Attorney General said it would investigate the complaint and that it was not excluded he would be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.  

8 February 2017:  Yesterday marked the beginning of the judicial review aiming to prevent the further sale of United Kingdom arms to Saudi Arabia. Campaigners claim that Saudi Arabia is using these arms to commit indiscriminate airstrikes in Yemen, possibly amounting to war crimes. According to the UK and the EU arms sales rules, arms export must be halted if there is a "clear risk" that the weapons are being used to breach international humanitarian law.

8 February 2017:  The European Union has appointed 19 international judges to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. The Court's duty will be to investigate and try cases of alleged war crimes committed by ethnic Albanian rebels during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo guerilla war.  

7 February 2017:  According to a new Amnesty International (AI) report up to 13.000 people believed to be opponents of Bashar al-Assad have been hanged in one of Syria's most infamous prisons. The report cites that thousands of other people held in Saydnaya prison died because of the torture they endured there. AI is of the opinion that the government's practices amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

7 February 2017:  Yesterday the trial of eight former Bosnian Serb police officers suspected of war crimes started in Belgrade. More than two decades after the Bosnian war ended this trial is considered to be an important step in Balkan reconciliation efforts.

6 February 2017:  Colombia's prosecution is planning on bringing charges against almost 200 companies for crimes against humanity. The companies are accused of financing paramilitary death squads active in the banana-growing region of the country. Among the companies facing charges are Chiquita's subsidiary, Dole and Del Monte.

5 February 2017:  Lawyers representing the sister of a Syrian man allegedly tortured to death in a detention centre in Damascus in 2013 have launched a criminal complaint against nine Syrian security and intelligence officials in a Spanish court. The plaintive claims she is a victim of state terrorism because her brother was arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured and executed.

4 February 2017:  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi promised to investigate the allegations of crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya Muslims. A United Nations investigation published on Friday found that security forces and police have committed massive killings, gang rapes and burned villages in northern Rakhine State.

3 February 2017:  The Mexican human rights organization SMX Collective called for Rabobank executives to be prosecuted for being accessories to criminal cartels in Mexico. The human rights group claims the bank has been complicit to "murder and other crimes against humanity" as some of the bank's personnel allegedly failed to disclose suspicious transactions and withheld documents. If the Dutch prosecutor's office accepts to press charges, it will be the first time a bank would stand trial not only for money laundering, but also for the consequences of these actions on the population.

New cases, briefs and videos

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

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.