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News updates

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

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.

11 July 2017:  Last week, Italy made torture a crime after decades of non-compliance with its human rights obligations. However, Human Rights Watch notes how the compromise text which was approved falls short of the bar set by European and international bodies to which Italy is a member, failing to meet international law standards. The flaws rest with how the law defines the scope of the crime and its statute of limitations, determining Italy will continue to be in violation of its international obligations.

10 July 2017:  Last week, it was reported that Police from a region in the Philippines was considering issuing mandatory identification cards to thousands of Muslims living there. Authorities claimed that the policy is a counter-terrorism measures. Human Rights Watch noted how such an alarming measure would further single out Muslims in the country and violated individuals' rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement, and other basic rights.

9 July 2017:  The spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed grave concern about the arbitrary arrests and detentions of human rights defenders in Turkey on suspicion of membership to terrorist group. Among those arrested, regional director of Amnesty International Idil Eser. It is feared the activists are at a significant risk of torture and abuses.

8 July 2017:  On 5 July 2017 Italy's Chamber of Deputies approved a controversial bill outlawing torture. The bill was passed by a vote of 198 t0 35.

8 July 2017:  Last week, Poland requested the extradition from the United States of a man accused of Nazi war crimes. Michael Karkoc, 98, is a former commander of an SS-led unit responsible for burning Polish villages and killing civilians during World War II.

7 July 2017:  On July 6 2017, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court delivered its decision finding that South Africa failed to comply with its obligations by not arresting and surrendering Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the Court while he was on South African territory between 13 and 15 June 2015. The Chamber however decided not to refer South Africa's non-compliance to the Assembly of State Parties or the United Nations Security Council.

7 July 2017:  The Dutch government announced that the suspects allegedly responsible for downing flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 will stand trial in The Netherlands. The decision was taken at the request of the countries cooperating in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which has been investigating the circumstances of the disaster. The countries involved are: The Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium, Ukraine. On 17 July 2014, a Malaysian Airlines Boeing crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers on board, after being shot down by a missile. For more information in English, click here. For more information in Dutch, click here.

6 July 2017:  The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), with the support of more than 100 Mexican organisations, submitted a report to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requesting her Office to open a preliminary examination into the crimes committed in the Mexican state of Coahuila from 2009 until 2016. The report details how crimes against humanity were committed, including arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance.

6 July 2017:  A decision on whether to open a formal investigation before the International Criminal Court (ICC) into potential crimes committed in Afghanistan since 2003 has been delayed. The investigation would include possible violations committed by the Afghan authorities, the United States armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency and the Taliban and its affiliates. The Office of the Prosecutor said it received new information from the government of Afghanistan that could influence her decision.

5 July 2017:  Judge Catherine Marchi-Uhel was appointed late Monday by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to lead the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism, a legal team that will collect and preserve evidence of international crimes committed in Syria for domestic courts or an international body to use. The Mechanism was created by a General Assembly resolution in December in efforts to tackle the climate of impunity which has been reigning in the country since the beginning of the conflict.

5 July 2017:  Tomorrow Thursday 6 July 2017 the International Criminal Court (ICC) will rule on whether South Africa violated its international law obligations by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who remains at large and in office as conflict rages in Darfur despite two arrest warrants issued in 2009 and 2010. He is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The landmark decision will set a precedent for co-operation between countries and the ICC.

4 July 2017:  A new report by FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights, and its partner organisations in Burundi draws a disturbing picture of the situation in the country today, two years after the crisis broke out in April 2015 when demonstrations against the president's announcement to run for office for the third term were violently repressed. Since then, a cycle of violence has seen the death of more than 1,200 people and the fleeing of more than 400,000. There may have been between 400 and 900 victims of forced disappearance, several hundred or even thousands of people tortured, and over 10,000 people arbitrarily detained. The current repression has been characterised by genocidal dynamics and the political landscape is shrinking down to one party, the CNDD-FDD, which seems to be willing to retain power at all costs.

3 July 2017:  On Friday 30 June 2017, Myanmar said it would refuse to grant visas to three United Nations (UN) experts in charge of investigating recent violence against Muslims in the country. The UN reported in February that police officers and soldiers had allegedly killed hundreds of people of all ages, gang-raped women and girls and forced as many as 90,000 Rohingya from their homes. Those and other brutal actions were very likely to amount to crimes against humanity.

2 July 2017:  A report released by SNHR, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, documents the death toll due to torture in Syria from March 2011 until June 2017. At least 13,029 individuals have died, including 164 children and 57 women. Of those, Syrian regime forces have killed 12,920 individuals, including 161 children and 41 women. The remaining deaths are attributed to Self-Management Forces, ISIS, Fateh al Sham Front, armed opposition factions and other parties. The issue of torture being committed by both governmental and non-governmental forces involved in the conflict is not being adequately addressed and duly tackled on the international level, said the chairman of SNHR Fadel Abdul Ghany.

1 July 2017:  Fifteen years ago, on 1 July 2002, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court came into force. Although far from realising its full potentials, the Court has shown how international criminal justice works in the fight against impunity for heinous crimes and has been a bastion of hope. States should increase their efforts to support it.

30 June 2017:  Amnesty International denounces once again Duterte's bloody and lawless anti-drug campaign since assuming the presidency of the Philippines a year ago. No credible investigation into the widespread extrajudicial executions, which may amount to crimes against humanity, has been conducted, nor into the numerous heinous crimes and human rights violations committed. James Gomez, Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said that a preliminary investigation into the mass killings by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court may be the best option.

29 June 2017:  Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) faces accusations of complicity in genocidewar crimes and crimes against humanity during the Rwanda genocide. It is alleged the bank participated in financing the purchase of 80 tonnes of arms that served to perpetrate crimes during the genocide and that the intentions for which the transfer was authorized could not have been doubted. Three NGOs are leading the allegations: Sherpa, Ibuka France and Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda (CPCR). A separate claim was also filed last week against 'X' for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity during the Rwandan genocide by the group Survie.

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.