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News updates

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

2 December 2016:  In a letter to Dutch officials, Nils Muiznieks,  the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed his concern over three new counter-terrorism measures proposed in the Netherlands. The Commissioner believes that the provisions could potentially violate human rights and urged the officials to adapt the legislation in order to offer a better protection of these rights, while still preventing violence. The measures could among others possibly interfere with the freedom of movement, the right to privacy and family life as well as unduly burden minority groups.

2 December 2016:  A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern regarding the current situation in Myanmar. As such, the UN found there was "a wide range of violations against the Rohingya, including arbitrary deprivation of nationality, severe restrictions of the freedom of movement, threats to life and security, denial of rights to health and education, forced labor, sexual violence, and limitations to their political rights, among others". The report also raised the possibility that the pattern of violations could amount to crimes against humanity.

1 December 2016:  The Rwandan government announced that it has launched an inquiry regarding the possible role of 20 French military officials in the 1994 genocide. These unknown 20 individuals are to be questioned for information. During the genocide about 800 000 people were killed, mostly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

1 December 2016:  On Tuesday the police in Montenegro have arrested Miroslav Jovic, a Croatian citizen, at the airport of Tivat. Jovic had been sentenced in absentia to 15 years of imprisonment in May 2006  for war crimes committed in the 1990's.  

30 November 2016:  An American federal judge has ruled that the lawsuit against former Mayor Richard Daley could go forward. Daley is accused of turning a blind eye to evidence that Chicago police detectives tortured dozens of black suspects into murder confessions. He was asked to make a deposition in two other lawsuits regarding torture allegations before, but these cases were settled before he could testify under oath.  

30 November 2016:  The trial against Dominic Ongwen in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC)  is scheduled to start on 6 December. Mr. Ongwen was a former Commander in the Sinia Brigade of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. He stands trial for 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity occurring during attacks against civilians in 2003-2004.

29 November 2016:  Today, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Sarajevo authorities will sign an agreement to open a new information center in Sarajevo. The center will offer direct access to public files and archive materials from the ICTY to the general public and will be the first of its kind in former Yugoslavia.

29 November 2016:  A group of German lawyers submitted a criminal case against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to German Prosecutors. The lawyers are seeking to launch a case for the alleged war crimes committed by al-Assad's forces and foreign allies in Aleppo. German law allows such prosecution under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allow countries to pursue foreigner for crimes committed abroad. The complaint is among others based on Amnesty International reports and the accounts of asylum seekers in Germany.

28 November 2016: A UNHCR Official declared that the Burmese government is currently engaging in acts of  ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the Rohingya Muslim community, in the context of on-going violence against the minority group sparked by the murder of nine border guards in Myanmar on October. More than 200 000 Rohingya Muslims have already fled to neighboring Bangladesh in an attempt to escape an alleged genocide.

27 November 2016: On Friday, a German court issued a one year and nine month suspended sentence to a member of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) for being a member of a foreign terrorist organization and for heading PKK activities in Bremen, Germany. In its ruling, the Court took into account Turkey’s persecution of Kurds and support for ISIS.

26 November 2016: The fifteenth session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court concluded on Thursday evening in The Hague with, notably, the adoption of five resolutions by consensus on: 'the 2017 budget of the Court; the permanent premises; cooperation; amendments to the Rules of Procedures and Evidence and the strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of State Parties'.

25 November 2016: This Monday, a cooperation agreement related to witnesses' protection has been signed between Argentina and the International Criminal Court. The Court offers this type of protection in order to allow witnesses to testify safely. There are now 18 such agreements between the Court and different states.  

25 November 2016: The United Nations Human Rights Committee ordered Sri Lanka to provide Canadian Roy Samathanam with an adequate compensation for his unlawful detention and torture. The Committee added that the Sri Lankan government needed to locate and prosecute those responsible. Samathanam was locked up under the authority of anti-terrorism measures and was accused of acting against the national security.

24 November 2016: On the occasion of a side-event hosted during the 15th Session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, the non-profit organization No Peace Without Justice called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation against Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, in relation to alleged extra-judicial killings amounting to crimes against humanity committed in the context of the Government's war on drugs. The Organization submitted that Duterte's liability could be triggered under Article 25(3)(b) of the ICC Rome Statute.

23 November 2016: According to the Bosnian state prosecution, Azra Basic, a Croatian woman, has been extradited from the United States to Sarajevo. Basic allegedly committed war crimes against Serbs during the 1992-1995 war. She is more specifically accused of killing one Serb civilian and torturing several others in the Bosnian town of Dervanta in 1992.

23 November 2016: This morning, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia upheld the life sentences of two leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime. Both of them were found guilty in first instance in August 2014 of crimes against humanity after which they had decided to appeal their verdict. 

22 November 2016: Justice Duncan Ouseley, a British high court judge, ruled on Monday that the UK government has to provide interim relief to incarcerated torture survivors, including those detained pursuant to immigration law. Justice Ouseley held that the Home Office needs to use the prior definition of 'torture', which includes torture perpetrated by any individual or group, in determining whether individuals can be detained. This may lead to asylum seekers, who have experienced torture, being released from detention. A full hearing on the subject is scheduled for next year. 

22 November 2016: The French anti-terrorism police have arrested seven people in Strasbourg and Marseille who were accused of preparing a new potential terrorist attack. Six of the arrested suspects were unknown to the French intelligence services. 

22 November 2016: Jean Baptiste Mugimba and Jean Claude Lyamuremeye, two Rwandans who were extradited from the Netherlands, pleaded not guilty during their preliminary Rwandan court hearing in Kigali on Monday. Both men face charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and the formation of a criminal gang. Mugimba is additionally charged with incitement to genocide. 

21 November 2016: The appellate judgment in Case 002/01 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan will be delivered by the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Wednesday 23 November at 9.00 am. The two men were sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity

20 November 2016: Judge Claudette Dominguez of High Risk Court A in Guatemala has rejected the defence's motion to dismiss the charges against former Guatemalan dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt. The defence argued that he was mentally incompetent. He has been charged with the crimes of aggravated homicide and crimes against humanity

19 November 2016: Jean Claude Seyoboka has been extradited from Canada to Rwanda to face charges relating to genocide. Mr. Seyoboka was a lieutenant in the Rwandan military and has been charged with participating in the killing of 72 Tutsis in Kigali. he travelled to Canada in 1995 where he obtained refugee status. 

19 November 2016: Two Syrian men, Kamel THJ and Azad R, were charged with membership in a terrorist organization by German prosecutors. They allegedly fought with Ahrar al-Sham, one of the groups fighting in the conflict in Syria, and they arrived in Germany in 2015 via Turkey. 

18 November 2016: On his first trip to Kosovo and Serbia, Davis Schwendiman, chief prosecutor of the Kosovo Special Chambers, has stated: "I am not after organisations, I am not after ethnicities, I am looking at individual responsibility for what was done". He emphasized that the Chambers, which will be located in The Hague and examine alleged crimes committed by former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters between 1998-2000, "will be independent and free of any political influence".  

18 November 2016: Ibrahim Al F, a Syrian man suspected of leading a unit of 150 militiamen, has been charged with war crimes, including kidnappings, in relation to the conflict in Syria. He is believed to have been a commander in the group Ghurabaa al-Sham which was part of the Free Syrian Army. Ibrahim Al F allegedly "imprisoned and tortured" people who tried to prevent his group from looting in Aleppo. 

New cases, briefs and videos

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

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 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.