(For news updates older than two weeks, please visit our news archive.)
26 September 2017: Three NGOs have filed a lawsuit in Paris against the French bank BNP Paribas, alleging that it knowingly approved a transfer of $1.3 million from the Rwandan central bank to an arms dealer during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, despite the UN arms embargo. The public prosecutor has opened an investigation into allegations of complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
26 September 2017: Following a criminal complaint by TRIAL International, Switzerland opened a war crimes investigation into Rifaat al-Assad, an uncle of Bashar al-Assad in 2013. Four years later, the NGO and the complainants’ lawyers are challenging the Office of the Attorney General and denouncing a denial of justice for their clients.
25 September 2017: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called torture not only “deeply wrong” but also counterproductive from an interrogator’s perspective. The OCHCR is planning to co-create a Manual on Investigative interviewing, with the UN’s Police Division.
24 September 2017: The Sessions Court of Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia sentenced eleven Indonesian pirates to 16 years of jail for attempting to hijack an oil tanker of the coast of Malaysia. A report by the International Maritime Bureau found that there were three attacks by pirates in Malaysian waters in the first half of 2017.
23 September 2017: Amnesty International criticised the current systematic approach to victims’ participation at the International Criminal Court, echoing a Human Rights Watch report. It called for a new approach to policy for victims’ legal representation to prevent a further drift away from ensuring victims’ views and concerns are given the priority they deserve when it comes to decisions about their legal representation.
22 September 2017: The UN Security Council authorised the establishment of an investigation team to support Iraq’s domestic efforts to hold ISIL accountable for acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in the country. According to the unanimously adopted resolution, the team will consist of both international and domestic experts who will work on “equal footing”, with an initial mandate of two years.
21 September 2017: Four Palestinian human rights groups have submitted a 700-page communication to the International Criminal Court, alleging that high-level Israeli officials have been complicit of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a statement, the groups urged the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open a full investigation into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.
20 September 2017: A U.N. Commission of Inquiry urged the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes against humanity committed in Burundi during the country’s two-year crisis. The abuses include torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and rape.
19 September 2017: Former Chief prosecutor of the ICTY and ICTR Carla Del Ponte resigned from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry because of a lack of political backing. Del Ponte reported that enough evidence existed to convict President Bashar al-Assad of war crimes but that the deadlock in the U.N. Security Council led to “seven years of crime in Syria and total impunity”.
18 September 2017: Kosovo’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict convicting ten ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army of crimes of torture against civilians during the 1998-99 conflict. The convicted men were all members of the ‘Drenica Group’, including former security chief and ambassador Syleman Selimi.
17 September 2017: France’s highest court ruled that the researcher Francois Graner could be denied access to sensitive archives from the Mitterrand presidency concerning the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Court said that a law protects presidential archives for 25 years following the death of a head of state. Even though Francois Hollande had announced in 2015 the declassification of the archives on Rwanda for the period of 1990-95, the Mitterrand archives will not become available before 2021.
16 September 2017: Amnesty International released new evidence of an “orchestrated campaign of systematic burnings” by Myanmar security forces targeting dozens of Rohingya villages over the last three weeks. Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's crisis response director, has declared that the clear and systematic pattern of abuse operated by the security forces amounts to crimes against humanity.
15 September 2017: A Syrian asylum-seeker and former fighter with Damascus' government forces has been charged with war crimes in Sweden on suspicion that he posed in front of dead or wounded combatants from the Islamic State group in January 2014. His trial is scheduled to start in Stockholm on September 18.
14 September 2017: In a new report, Amnesty International says that today more than 20,000 survivors of wartime sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina are being denied justice. The report reveals the horrifying consequences of these crimes and the inexcusable obstacles preventing victims to have access to the support they need and the legal redress they are entitled to.
13 September 2017: Metropolitan police's war crimes unit, SO15, has begun a preliminary assessment of the evidence following a request to investigate allegations that United Arab Emirates (UAE) security officials and politicians authorised the torture of three Qatari citizens in the UAE. The three complainants were detained on arrival in the UAE in 2013 and 2014 and eventually released in early 2015.
13 September 2017: Human Rights Watch reported that the Saudi-led coalition carried out five apparently unlawful airstrikes in Yemen since June 2017, killing 16 children among 39 civilians. Such attacks amount to war crimes, whether carried out deliberately or recklessly, and show that the promises to improve compliance with international humanitarian law made by the coalition have not brought better protection, in particular for children. The United Nations should immediately take action and respond to continuous violations and crimes committed by all parties to the conflict by creating an independent, international investigation into abuses at its September session.
12 September 2017: Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Monday that Venezuelan security forces may have committed crimes against humanity against protesters. He called for an international investigation into the events and said the government was using criminal proceedings against opposition leaders, arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force, ill-treatment of detainees, torture.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
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.
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 ICD BRIEF: Laetitia 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?'.
NEW CASE: 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 HRM@asser.nl 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.