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News updates

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

26 July 2017:  The European Union's Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to rule today on whether Hamas, the Palestinian political organisation, should be removed from the EU's 'terror' list. In December 2014, a lower European court said Hamas should be removed from the list because the EU's decision to place it on the 'terror' sanctions list was based on information from the media and internet, and not the result of an independent investigation. The European Council, in turn, appealed the decision.

25 July 2017:  Philippines President Duterte announced this week that the so-called war on drugs which is scourging the country will continue despite international concern over grave human rights violations. Among the great alarm expressed by the international community, in October the International Criminal Courtexpressed concern over the occurrence of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in connection with Duterte's campaign.

24 July 2017:  On Monday, prominent journalists and other staff of a Turkish opposition newspaper went on trial on terrorism charges in a case that critics of President Erdogan consider attack on free speech. Several hundred people gathered outside the central Istanbul court to protest against the prosecution of 17 writers, executives and lawyers of the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

23 July 2017:  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the possible closing of the Office of Global Criminal Justice (OGCJ) in state department reorganisations. Human rights advocates fear closing the office would hamper efforts to combat impunity, raise awareness of atrocities committed all over the world and bring international crimes perpetrators to justice.

22 July 2017:  Amnesty International reported that Cameroon's security forces have tortured hundreds of people accused of supporting the Islamist group Boko Haram. The crimes committed may amount to war crimes. Evidence shows American military personnel visiting notorious torture chambers sites. The Cameroonian government was presented with Amnesty International report several months ago but has yet to respond to the accusations.

21 July 2017:  The European Union (EU) is rallying dozens of countries to stop the trade of torture equipment and lethal-injection drugs, which could make it harder for the United States to perform executions. It will call for an alliance against trading products used for executions and torture acts. Mongolia, which outlawed the death penalty in 2015, and Argentina, which has a similar legislation to the EU, will jointly launch the initiative with the EU in September.

20 July 2017:  Last week, the International Criminal Court ordered to review whether Laurent Gbagbo, the former Ivory Coast president, should be released from detention while the trial against him for crimes against humanity continues. Gbagbo and his former militia leader Charles Ble Goude have been charged with crimes committed during the post-election violence that broke out in Ivory Coast in 2011.

19 July 2017:  29 indigenous organizations from across South America have come together in Brazil and taken actions against governments for failing to protect the lives and lands of uncontacted peoples -a situation they say may amount to genocide. In June 2017, a conference with representatives of groups from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela condemned the alarming increase of violence against indigenous peoples across the continent and described the failure to properly protect the territory of uncontacted peoples as genocide. Brazil has recently made cuts to its indigenous affairs agency, leaving uncontacted peoples dangerously exposed to violence caused and diseases carried by outsiders. The country has two genocide convictions in its courts, both for crimes against indigenous peoples.

18 July 2017:  In light of the upcoming International Criminal Court's anniversary, the Statute of which was adopted on 17 July 1998, Human Rights Watch calls for an increased support to the Court by the international community.

17 July 2017:  Atrocities in Syria and Iraq: the obstacles to combat impunity being political, not the lack of evidence, human rights lawyer says. Prosecutors in several European countries are processing investigations on alleged international crimes in Syria using universal jurisdiction legislation. Furthermore, in light of the incredible amount of available evidence, it is possible to draw a list of those allegedly responsible for the countless atrocities that have been committed so far by all parties to the conflict.

16 July 2017:  A United Nations (UN) special rapporteur has concluded that the use of torture by Sri Lankan security services is endemic. In particular, he raised concerns in regards to the draft revised anti-terror laws prepared by the government, which would leave police forces' routine use of torture to obtain confessions without being monitored or checked. The rapporteur reported that authorities use the legislation disproportionately against members of the Tamil community. He added that 80% of those most recently arrested in late 2016 complained of torture and ill-treatment following their arrest. There seems to exist an alarming climate of impunity for officials committing such criminal acts. He furthermore reported that numerous prisoners had been in detention without trial for several years.

15 July 2017:  Leopold Munyakazi, prominent Rwandan academic, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a domestic court after being convicted of genocide. After fleeing Rwanda he sought refuge in the United States, where he taught French in Baltimore until being suspended in 2008 following an indictment issued by the Rwandan government. He was extradited to Rwanda last year. He opposed his transfer to the country and denied all charges against him.

14 July 2017:  Amnesty International said it identified a pattern of attacks by Iraqi forces and the United States-led military coalition backing them that may amount to war crimes during the fight to regain control over the city of Mosul. Islamic State's fighters are as well accused of violating international humanitarian law by inter alia deliberately endangering the lives of civilians by using them as human shields and impeding the advance of Iraqi and coalition forces. Amnesty calls for a thorough investigation into whether war crimes have indeed been committed by all parties to the conflict.

13 July 2017:  Yazidis from Iraq joined thousands of Bosnian Muslims at a commemoration on Tuesday 11 July 2017 of the 8,000 men and boys killed in 1995 at Srebrenica and called for the atrocities committed against the Yazidis by the Islamic State (ISIS) to be recognized as genocide. Tuesday's commemoration of the killings 22 years ago included the burials of 71 newly identified victims bringing the total number of those interred near the town to 6,575. More than 1,000 men and boys are still missing. Yazidis will commemorate the Sinjar massacre in August. "We have endured horrific abuses and persecution -the Bosnian Muslims at the hands of Serbs and Yazidis at the hands of ISIS- and we share the memories and recognize each other's feelings" said Hussam Abdukah, a Yazidi lawyer who is documenting ISIS crimes and involved in a peacebuilding project in northern Iraq.

12 July 2017:  A group of Swedish lawmakers filed a complaint accusing Turkish President Erdogan of genocidecrimes against humanity and war crimes in the southeast of Turkey. The complaint, filed to the Swedish International Public Prosecution Offices, names Erdogan and several ministers among whom Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. It is the first of this kind in Sweden against a head of state.

New cases, briefs and videos

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

NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. These include 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. 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 VIDEO: On 15 May 2017, Benjamin Ferencz, the only surviving Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, provided a lecture in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series co-organised by the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform on his life dedicate to the pursuit of international criminal justice. The video recording of the lecture can be viewed here. A report on the event 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 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.