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News updates

(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
18 December 2017: Opinion by Ida Sawyer, the Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, regarding the UN Committee Against Torture’s concluding observations on Rwanda and following denial by the government. Sawyer calls on the Rwandan government to implement its treaty obligations by investigating the allegations of torture and enforced disappearances.  

17 December 2017: The court of Bukavu which deployed a ‘mobile court’ in Kavumu, DRC convicted 11 Congolese militia members of crimes against humanity for murder and the rape of 37 young children. The 11 accused including Frederic Batumike, the provincial lawmaker and mastermind of the attacks, were sentenced to life in prison.  

16 December 2017: The Hague District Court sentenced on Friday Eshetu Alemu, an aide to former dictator Menthistu, to life in prison for war crimes carried out during Ethiopia’s 1977 “Red Terror” purges. Under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws, the court found the accused guilty on all charges including arbitrary detention, inhumane treatment, torture and mass murder.  

15 December 2017: Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court has issued an additional decision on reparations in the Lubanga case, setting the amount of collective reparation to $10 million. Lubanga was found guilty by the court of the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

14 December 2017: A report written by US law firm Cunningham Levy Muse and commissioned by the Rwanda government finds that the French government and its military officials were involved in supplying weapons and providing shelter to the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Rwandan government calls upon France to declassify all evidence related to the genocide.

13 December 2017: A report by the International Bar Association, Navi Pillay, Thomas Buergenthal and Mark Harmon declares that Kim Jong-un and other North Korean officials should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Based on interviews with 103 defectors, the report found that 10 out of the 11 recognized crimes against humanity have been committed in the state’s camps for political prisoners.

12 December 2017: The International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber II found on Monday that Jordan had failed to comply with its obligations under the Rome Statute by failing to arrest President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Amman last March. The Chamber has referred the matter to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of State Parties.

11 December 2017: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the Congolese authorities on Friday to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the attack which killed 15 Tanzanian UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN chief said the attack amounted to a war crime and was the worst one on the organisation in recent history.

10 December 2017: Guus Kouwenhoven, a Dutch business man convicted in April of being complicit to the war crimes committed by Charles Taylor forces in Liberia and Guinea, was arrested on Friday in South Africa following a Dutch warrant. According to the Court of Appeal of 's-Hertogenbosch, Kouwenhoven used his two timber companies in Liberia as a cover to smuggle arms between 2000 and 2003.

09 December 2017: The prosecutor of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has indicted the top Lafarge executives, including its former CEO on terrorist financing charges. The company is accused of having paid ISIL between 2013 and 2014 in order to keep their factory open in Jalabiya in Syria.

08 December 2017: The UN Security Council issued a presidential statement condemning the slave trade of migrants in Libya as heinous abuses of human rights, which it declared “may also amount to crimes against humanity”. The Council called upon the Libyan authorities to conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

07 December 2017: The Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court have elected six new judges for a nine-year term starting in March 2018. The election follows the Court’s judicial election process which replaces a third of the 18 judges every three years.

06 December 2017: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad declared before the Human Rights Council that the persecution of Rohingya by Myanmar’s security forces may amount to genocide. He said UN investigators have received "concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingyas" leading to about 626,000 Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh.

06 December 2017: Amnesty International calls upon the International Criminal Court to urgently open a preliminary examination regarding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs”. The NGO alleges that the state’s judiciary has proven itself unwilling and unable to hold those responsible for the crimes against humanity to account.

05 December 2017: The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor had declared there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that UK soldiers committed war crimes against persons in their custody during the Iraq conflict. She, however, dismissed the allegations that British troops committed war crimes on the battlefield.

05 December 2017: The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued her annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities. Between October 2016 and November 2017, she completed three preliminary examinations resulting in the decision to seek judicial authorisation to open an investigation regarding Burundi and Afghanistan.

04 December 2017: The state parties of the International Criminal Court will meet from 4 to 14 December at the annual session of the Assembly of State Parties. On the agenda, the states will discuss the 2018 budget, elect six new judges and consider activating the ICC’s authority over the crime of aggression.

03 December 2017: On 22 November, the International Crimes Division of Uganda sitting at the Kampala High Court confirmed in the pre-trial hearing of the Thomas Kwoyelo case, that customary international law is applicable in the domestic courts of Uganda. Kwoyelo, a former commander in the Lord’s resistance army is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on 93 counts.

02 December 2017: The Highest Regional Court in Celle ruled on 29 November that Oskar Groening, a former Auschwitz guard known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz” was fit to go to prison. He had been convicted in 2015 for his role in the murder of 300,000 people during the Holocaust.

01 December 2017: Interesting article by Dieneke de Vos summarising the existing jurisprudence in the context of corporate criminal accountability for international crimes. This post is the latest of Just Security’s series on the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Jesner v. Arab Bank.

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 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 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 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.