(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
21 February 2018: UN Special Rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Niels Melzer are urging the US government to halt the execution of Doyle Hamm, a seriously ill man, stressing that given medical condition, using lethal injection could amount to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, and possibly torture.
20 February 2018: Court B of the National Criminal Court of Peru decided yesterday not to apply Alberto Fujimori’s presidential grace. Mr. Fujimori could be tried for his alleged responsibility for the murders of six people in Pativilca, which could amount to crimes against humanity.
19 February 2018: According to Human Rights Watch, Iskander Erimbetov, a businessman from Kazakhstan, has been tortured by the Kazakh authorities while in detention. On 22 January the Almaty City Prosecution Office opened a criminal investigation into the torture allegations.
18 February 2018: Between 20 November 2017 and 31 January 2018, the International Criminal Court has received 1.17 million statements from Afghanistan citizens. The statements include accounts of alleged war crimes committed by both the Taliban, ISIS, the Afghan Security Forces and the US-led coalition.
17 February 2018: US and Britain are divided over what to do with British foreign fighters El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey. While the US diplomats and military officers argue that the two should be returned and tried in the UK, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson declared they should never set foot in the country again.
16 February 2018: The Sarajevo state court acquitted Goran Saric of involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide as the court could not determine that the defendant knew about the genocidal intention of the main perpetrators. Goran Saric was a former commander of the Bosnian Serb Interior Ministry’s special police brigade.
15 February 2018: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced on 8 February that her office would open a preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines. The examination will analyse the crimes allegedly committed in the context of Duterte’s “war on drugs”, which has been re-activated by the government in recent months.
14 February 2018: Interesting blogpost by Joanne Neenan on the role of the International Criminal Court in protecting the rights of children born of rape in war. By analysing the Ongwen case and the crime of forced pregnancy, Neenan considers the ICC’s capacity to recognise their rights and repair the harms against them.
13 February 2018: Four survivors of the 1990 massacre, which killed about 600 civilians in the St Peter’s Lutheran Church of the Liberian city of Monrovia, are bringing a civil lawsuit before the US district court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania against Moses Thomas. The lawsuit argues that Thomas bears responsibility for the murders in his capacity as head of the military unit.
12 February 2018: Reuters has issued a new report on the massacre of 10 Rohingya men by Myanmar soldiers and villagers in Inn Din. The report states that an order to clear the village had been passed down the military chain of command. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein had declared in December that genocide could not be ruled out in Myanmar.
11 February 2018: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for urgent international action in Syria, including a referral to the International Criminal Court, following reports of the escalation of violence in the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta and Idlib regions. According to the UN OHCHR, 230 civilians died last week as a result of airstrikes by the Syrian government and its allies.
10 February 2018: Two British foreign fighters, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, have been captured by Syrian Kurdish fighters. According to the US government they likely committed torture and group executions. The victims' families and experts believe they should stand trial in Britain.
09 February 2018: The ICC prosecutor formally announced the preliminary examination into the situations in the Philippines and in Venezuela. The preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines will analyse crimes allegedly committed since at least 1 July 2016, in the context of the "war on drugs" campaign. The preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela will analyse crimes allegedly committed since at least April 2017, in the context of demonstrations and related political unrest.
08 February 2018: The ICC is reportedly moving on a complaint accusing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte of crimes against humanity in relation to the war on drugs. According to President Duterte’s spokesperson, the Philippines has been informed of a preliminary examination to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish that the case falls under the ICC’s jurisdiction.
08 February 2018: Polish President Andrzej Duda signed Poland’s new Holocaust bill that would make it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in crimes committed by Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust. Under the law, use of terms such as “Polish death camps” in relation to Auschwitz and other camps in Nazi-occupied Poland would lead to a fine or a jail sentence of up to three years. The new bill has raised international controversy due to its implications on free speech and historical facts.
07 February 2018: UN war crimes experts are investigating multiple reports that bombs allegedly containing banned chlorine have been used against civilians in the Syrian towns of Saraqeb, Idlib and Douma, Ghouta, at least the sixth time the Syrian regime has allegedly used such weapons. Paulo Pinheiro, chief of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that sieges in eastern Idlib and Ghouta “involve the international crimes of indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate starvation of the civilian population.”
06 February 2018: Former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic’s defence asked judges at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to annul the verdict sentencing him to life imprisonment for genocide and other crimes, citing medical test results of “both mild cognitive decline and mild dementia”.
05 February 2018: Poland is looking to prosecute 1,600 former Nazi officials accused of war crimes and has submitted 400 requests for assistance to Interpol. Most cases are linked to mass executions and the pacification of Polish villages during the German occupation from 1939 to 1945, as well as crimes against the civilian population during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
02 February 2018: A Human Rights Watch report found that armed groups in Benghazi, Libya, are preventing internally displaced families from returning to their home, accusing them of terrorism or supporting terrorism. Some families were tortured, and their property was seized. According to the NGO, such attacks on civilians could amount to war crimes.
01 February 2018: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order on Tuesday to continue the operations in Guantánamo Bay detention centre, despite widespread allegations of torture and human rights violations. The executive order not only allows for the centre to remain open, but also allows for the US to transport new persons to the facility.
01 February 2018: Interesting blogpost by Toby Cadman on Bangladesh’s failure to investigate the allegations of crimes against humanity involving its State Security Services. Cadman considers the possibility for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary examination into the situation.
31 January 2018: Tomislav Kovac, the former Ministry of Interior of the Republika Srpska, has been indicted by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for genocide. He has been charged with participating in a joint criminal enterprise which aimed to exterminate Bosnian Muslims of Srebrenica from 6 July to 1 November 1995.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
NEW CASE: The analysis of the plea agreement in the case of United States of America v. Mufid A. Elfgeeh is now available online. Mr. Elfgeeh pleaded guilty in December 2015 to providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As part of the guilty plea, Mr. Elfgeeh acknowledged he had encouraged support for ISIL via social media, he had been involved in trying to recruit foreign fighters, and he had provided financial assistance.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of United States of America v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi is now available online. Both Mr. Elhuzayel and Mr. Badawi were convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS). The defendants had used social media accounts to support IS, and Mr. Badawi had filmed Mr. Elhuzayel pledging allegiance to IS and promising to travel to Syria to fight. Mr. Elhuzayel was arrested prior to boarding a flight to Israel via Turkey. They were also found guilty of financial fraud charges, the proceeds of which had been used to fund the travel.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of United States of America v. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh is now available online. Tairod Pugh is an US citizen and a US Air Force veteran who was convicted for providing material support to a terrorist organisation by attempting to travel to Syria in order to join ISIL, and obstruction of justice. Pugh attempted to reach Syria through Turkey and on 10 January 2015, the defendant took a plane from Cairo and landed in Istanbul airport where he was denied entry. On 15 January, he was deported from Egypt to the US and was arrested the following day in New Jersey.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of Prosecutor v. Abdelkarim El. B. is now available online. On 8 November 2016, German foreign fighter Abdelkarim El B. was convicted of membership in a terrorist organisation abroad, illegally possessing a Kalashnikov, and committing a war crime by treating a protected person in a gravely humiliating or degrading manner. He had travelled to Syria in September 2013 in order to fight for ISIL. On 7 November 2013, El. B. and his fellow ISIL fighters found the corpse of a Syrian army soldier. While the defendant was filming and verbally encouraging them, the other fighters cut the nose and ears of the dead body, stepped on it and then shot it in the face.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of Prosecutor v. Mouhannad Droubi is now available online. On 26 February 2015, Droubi, a Syrian citizen, was sentenced by the Södertörn District Court in Sweden to five years in prison for crimes against international law (war crime) and gross assault. Droubi, who fought for the Free Syrian Army against the pro-government forces, had taken refuge in Sweden and was granted residency in 2013. In July 2014, the Swedish police discovered a video of him, along with at least five other FSA fighters, violently assaulting a man who appeared to be a pro-regime fighter with a truncheon and a whip.
NEW VIDEO: New video available online. On 7 June 2017, Dr. Kinga Tibori-Szabó and Megan Hirst provided a lecture at the Asser Institute in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lectures Series.
The speakers shared their views on the issue of victims’ entitlement to procedural fairness guarantees in the context of international criminal proceedings before the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The video recording can be viewed here and a report on the event can be found here.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of R. c. Habib is now available online. On 19 June 2017, Canadian citizen Ismaël Habib was the first adult found guilty of attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group. Even though the accused conceded that he had the primary intent of leaving Canada, there was a dispute on his reasons for doing so. While Mr. Habib argued that he wished to join his first wife and children in Syria, the prosecution contended that the defendant’s intent was to join ISIS and participate in its terrorist activities.
NEW CASE: The case analysis of R v Blackman is now available online. On 15 September 2011 a badly wounded insurgent was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, by Alexander Blackman, then an Acting Colour Sergeant of the Royal Marines. On the basis of apparent premeditation, Blackman was convicted of murder by the court martial. In this appeal, however, the court considered fresh evidence suggesting that Blackman was incapable of making rational judgements or exercising self-control as a result of adjustment disorder and several “exceptional stressors”.
CALL FOR PAPERS: In view of the ICTY closing its door at the end of this year and in an effort not to lose the valuable insights from its former employees, the ICD invites submissions of short articles for publication in the online paper series of the ICD, the ICD Briefs. The call for papers is reserved exclusively for current and former staff of the ICTY. The Briefs are ultimately between 5,000 and 7,500 words (excluding footnotes), relating to any area of international criminal law or jurisprudence. Please send your draft paper to email@example.com by 1 March 2018. Please also include a CV with your and indicate when you worked at the ICTY, in what role and in which section. Find out more about the selection process and guidelines for ICD Briefs here.
NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. These include the only surviving Nurmeberg war crimes prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz's lecture provided in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series co-organised by the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform on his life dedicated to the pursuit of international criminal justice, and lectures from Guido Acquaviva and Dov Jacobs in the context of the Lebanon lecture series. The video recording of the lecture provided by Benjamin Ferencz can be viewed here and a report on the event can be found here. The video excerpts of Guido Acquaviva's lecture on war crimes can be found here. The video excerpt of Dov Jacobs's lecture on genocide can be found here.
NEW ICD BRIEF: Nadia Grant, who is a former intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute and is currently working with Médecins Sans Frontières, has written a new ICD Brief entitled 'Duress as a Defence for Former Child Soldiers? Dominic Ongwen and the International Criminal Court'. You can read the Brief here.
NEW CASE: The analysis of the Dutch Supreme Court's judgment in the case of Omar H is now available online. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal against the Court of Appeal's judgment in the case of Omar H, a foreign fighter convicted of training for terrorism. In upholding the Court of Appeal's judgment, the Supreme Court decided that training for terrorism in this context would be interpreted broadly and could include self-study.
NEW CASE: The analysis of the Sentencing Remarks of Mr. Justice Holroyde in the case of R v Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman is now available online. Mr. Choudary and Mr. Rahman were found guilty by a jury verdict of inviting support for the proscribed terrorist organisation, the Islamic State, by signing an oath of allegiance and publishing a series of lectures online. They were both sentenced to 5.5 years' imprisonment and will be subject to notification requirements for 15 years after their release.