(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
24 April 2018: In a report to the Security Council on 16 April 2018, the UN Secretary-General included Myanmar Armed Forces on an annual blacklist of groups that are “credibly suspected” of carrying out sexual violence during conflict. The acts were allegedly perpetrated during military “clearance” operations in October 2016 and August 2017 against the ethnic Rohingya community in Myanmar.
23 April 2018: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic begins his two-day appeals hearing on Monday before judges of the UN MICT. Karadzic was convicted in 2016 by the ICTY of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia as president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, and was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment. He has filed 50 grounds of appeal and asked for reversal of the entire judgment as well as a new trial. A verdict is expected by the end of 2018.
20 April 2018: Interesting article on how the principle of functional immunity under international law might be used by the United States against the International Criminal Court’s exercise of jurisdiction on U.S. personnel in the war crimes probe in Afghanistan.
19 April 2018: On 17 April, Mr Peter Lewis, a UK national, was sworn in as Registrar of the International Criminal Court for a period of five years.
18 April 2018: Five key suspects of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide have been placed under fresh investigations in the UK by the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit. The suspects were alleged to have held key leadership positions under the regime during the genocide. Rwanda issued indictments against them 11 years ago, while the indictments were not executed by the UK judiciary due to fair trial concerns.
17 April 2018: German prosecutors have charged a 94-year-old former SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp as an accessory to mass murder. The accused is a German national born in Serbia who allegedly served as a guard at Auschwitz in late 1942 and early 1943. It is estimated that 13,335 people were sent to the gas chambers during that time.
16 April 2018: Read this Just Security article that analyses the strengths and weaknesses of existing domestic and international legal arguments supporting the coordinated airstrike launched by the US, UK, and France over suspected chemical weapons use in Syria. On 14 April, the UN Security Council rejected a proposal by the Russian Federation to condemn the act as aggression.
13 April 2018: The global shipping industry reported 66 incidents of maritime piracy in the first quarter, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for most of the increase. In Q1, a total of 100 crew members were taken hostage and 14 kidnapped from vessels; 39 vessels were boarded, 11 fired upon and four hijacked. The numbers mark a 50% increase in piracy attacks cases, compared to 43 cases in Q1 2017 and 37 in 2016.
12 April 2018: The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) reversed Vojislav Šešelj’s 2016 acquittal delivered by the Trial Chamber of the ICTY and convicted him of crimes against humanity. It also reversed the Trial Chamber’s finding that there was no widespread or systematic attack against the non-Serbian civilian population in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Šešelj was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.
11 April 2018: The OHCHR and the UN Support Mission in Libya published a report which revealed the arbitrary dentention and torture of thousands of people in Libya by armed groups, including those affiliated with the state. Many detainees have been held without charge or trial since the 2011 revolution that overthrew former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Read the full report here.
10 April 2018: Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has asked for the Court’s ruling on whether it has jurisdiction over the deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The ruling will “assist in her further deliberations concerning any preliminary examination she may independently undertake”. Read the full request here.
10 April 2018: The Syrian city of Douma suffered from suspected chemical attack during the weekend that has resulted in the death of at least 42 people. This attack came almost exactly a year after the deadly sarin gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun. In a report, Human Rights Watch has compiled a timeline of chemical weapons attacks that took place in Syria since 2013.
9 April 2018: Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement regarding the worsening situation in Gaza, highlighting that “violence against civilians - in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute”, “as could the use of civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities.” The situation in Palestine is currently under preliminary examination at the ICC.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
INTERNSHIP VACANCY: We are currently hiring for the International Criminal Law and Legal Aspects of Counter-Terrorismintern Internship position (French required). The intern will work on the International Crimes Database and capacity building projects on International Criminal law and Transnational Criminal Law. The internship will be based at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague (Deadline: 3 April 2018).
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.