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News updates

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

29 August 2016:  A ceasefire has entered into effect in Colombia between the FARC rebel group and the government ending one of the world’s longest insurgencies, notable for numerous allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the 52 year old war.  The ceasefire came into effect at midnight local time and is the result of four years of peace talks between the two parties. Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, gave the order to stop firing stating "Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war…. All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past."

26 August 2016:  An Argentine court has sentenced former General Luciano Benjamin Menendez to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed at secret Dirty War-era detention centers in the late 1970s. Menendez stood trial with 42 other defendants who will also be sentenced after a nearly four year so-called "mega-trial" involving events related to over 700 victims. The General was in charge of two clandestine jails, known as La Perla and La Ribera, in the province of Cordoba where torture, assassinations, and other human rights abuses were carried out during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. He was charged with over 600 cases of torture, over 300 murders and forced disappearances, unlawful detentions, and other crimes against humanity committed at the two detention centers between 1976 and 1978.

26 August 2016:  The United Nations Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has expressed concern at inflammatory statements concerning the genocide in Rwanda that were made by a senior official of the ruling party in Burundi and cautioned that such statements could constitute incitement to violence. On 16 August, Pascal Nyabenda, at that time the President of the ruling Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party and President of the National Assembly suggested that the genocide in Rwanda was a “fabrication of the international community” and that it was used to remove the Hutu government that was in place at the time. Mr. Dieng said in a statement issued by his Office that “[This] has the potential to inflame ethnic tensions, both within Burundi and outside its borders.”

25 August 2016:  A cross-stone dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide has been opened and consecrated in the yard of the Armenian Church of St. Virgin Mary in the Swedish city of Södertälje. The ceremony was led by His Grace Bishop Markos Hovhannisyan. Armenian Ambassador to Sweden Artak Apitonyan, Södertälje Major Boel Godner and Fr. Tiran Petrosyan. Ambassador Apitonyan noted that “the first-ever cross-stone dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims unveiled in Sweden is not only of religious and cultural value.” “It also symbolizes the devotion of the Armenian community of Sweden to national identity, as well as the decisiveness of the Armenian nation to continue the struggle for the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.”

25 August 2016:
 The Colombian government and the Farc rebel group have signed a peace accord, putting an end to more than five decades of conflict, notable for numerous alleged war crimes. Both sides have agreed to work together to address social exclusion, to deliver justice to the victims of the conflict and build a stable and enduring peace. The announcement was made in the Cuban capital, Havana, where peace talks were launched in November 2012. The conflict has killed an estimated 220,000 people and displaced millions.

24 August 2016: France and Germany are set to ask the European Commission to force technology companies to limit the encryption used to keep messages private. The rule is being proposed as a way of helping governments monitor communications between suspected terrorists. The French Interior Ministry said that it would only use the powers to monitor people who were being investigated.

23 August 2016:  Amnesty International (AI) have condemned the hanging in Iraq of 36 men convicted of a mass killing of soldiers, saying some of their confessions were extorted under threats and torture. AI called on the Iraqi authorities to establish a moratorium on executions and to hold "fair and transparent" trials for those accused of involvement in the massacre.

22 August 2016:  A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has begun the trial of 215 members of an armed group accused of killing hundreds of civilians in and around Beni town in the northeast of the country. The initial six suspects who were present in Court are accused of participating in the killing of 51 people with machetes near Beni town and are charged with "participation in an insurrectional movement, crimes against humanity for murder and terrorism," according to Colonel Jean-Paulin Esosa, who presides over the military court.

22 August 2016: Iraq has hanged 36 men convicted over the massacre of hundreds of soldiers near the city of Tikrit in June 2014. Most of the victims are believed to have been young Shia recruits who were based at Camp Speicher when Tikrit was overrun by Islamic State militants. It is estimated that up to 1,700 people died in one of the worst atrocities committed in Iraq in recent times.

22 August 2016: The trial of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has begun at the International Criminal Court, with the suspect entering a guilty plea. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi faces charges of war crimes for destroying nine shrines and a mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, in 2012. Prosecutors say he was a member of Ansar Dine, an Islamist group that occupied the city's world heritage site for months.

18 August 2016: A new report by Amnesty International has revealed horrific examples of torture in Syria. The report citing the words of detainees said "Since the current crisis in Syria began in 2011, the situation has become catastrophic, with torture committed on a massive scale.” The Report added that prison torture is occurring now on an industrial scale, with more than 17,000 people believed to have been killed in custody and tens of thousands of others enduring horrific treatment on a daily basis.

17 August 2016: The US Department of Defense has announced the transfer of 15 detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates as part of President Obama's ongoing efforts to close the facility prior to the end of his presidency. The detention centre, which has been described by Amnesty International as 'a symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial', was established in January 2002 in order to house 'enemy combatants' from the 'war on terror'. 61 detainees remain at the centre.  

17 August 2016: Prime Minister Peter O'Neill of Papua Guinea and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of Australia have confirmed that the Manus Island regional processing centre will close. The centre is currently home to 854 male asylum seekers and refugees, and, after the closure, it is unclear where they will be sent as Mr. Dutton stated none will be resettled in Australia. The centre and the Australian government have received international criticism in the past. In 2015, the UN found that Australia was systematically violating the Convention against Torture due to the conditions at the centre and, in 2016, professors at Stanford Law School warned that those operating the centre may be liable for prosecution for crimes against humanity.

16 August 2016: The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has confirmed the indictment against Almir Dzinic. Mr. Dzinic has been charged with Organising a Terrorist Group in contravention of article 202d of the Bosnian Criminal Code. He is alleged to have travelled with his family to Turkey and subsequently Syria in December 2015. He then allegedly joined the Islamic State and participated in combat until he left Syria in July 2016. 

15 August 2016: Amnesty International (AI) has stated that a suspected chlorine attack on a residential neighbourhood in Aleppo, Syria would constitute a war crime if confirmed. Magdalena Mughrabi, the Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme for AI, has said that the attack 'signals a distressing pattern in the use of chemical weapons by regime forces'. 

15 August 2016: The German government has proposed new measures to combat terrorism, including enhanced surveillance, hiring more police officers, criminalising expressions of sympathy for terrorism and greater intelligence sharing across Europe. Thomas de Maiziere, Germany's interior minister, said the new measures are necessary to face and counter the new threats presented by terrorism. 

14 August 2016: The UN Committee against Torture has expressed its deep concerns surrounding an increase in alleged instances of torture of individuals held in detention in Burundi. The Committee recommended that all alleged crimes be investigated and prosecuted where appropriate in a prompt, efficient and impartial manner. Amnesty International emphasised that '[t]he spike in torture cases ... in Burundi since the onset of the crisis is extremely alarming and must be urgently addressed by the Burundian government'. 

14 August 2016: A spokesperson for the European Union (EU) has stated the EU 'regrets that Chad, a State Party of the [International Criminal] Court, did not fulfil its legal obligation this week, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1593, to execute the arrest warrant against Sudanese President Al-Bashir who visited the country on 8 August'. President Al-Bashir is currently the subject of two arrest warrants from 2009 and 2010 at the International Criminal Court that accuse him of committing crimes against humanitywar crimes and genocide

13 August 2016: Twelve Somalis have been sentenced to five years' imprisonment by a court in Mauritius in relation to sea piracy. On 14 July 2016, they were convicted of piracy for their roles in an attack in January 2013 against the MSC Jasmine, a Panamanian-flagged container ship. 

13 August 2016: On 11 August 2016, 20 year old Jaelyn Young was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment followed by 15 years' probation by a US District Court for attempting to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. Ms. Young pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, namely conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, earlier in March 2016. She was initially arrested in August 2015 with her boyfriend, Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, prior to boarding a flight to Istanbul. Mr. Dakhlalla also pleaded guilty to similar charges and is due to be sentenced on 24 August 2016.  

12 August 2016: Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced Sakhawat Hossain to death following his conviction on war crimes charges. Mr. Hossain, who is a former member of Parliament for the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was sentenced with seven others, all of whom received sentences of life imprisonment. Lawyers for the defendants have said they'll appeal the verdict. 

12 August 2016: The trial of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi before Trial Chamber VIII at the International Criminal Court is scheduled to commence on 22 August 2016. Mr. Al Mahdi has been charged with war crimes due to his alleged role in the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu, Mali. He has previously indicated that he intends to plead guilty to the charges.

11 August 2016: Zayn al-Ibidin Muhammed Husayn (also known as Abu Zubaydah) will have a hearing before the Periodic Review Board on 23 August 2016 in relation to his continued incarceration at Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Zubaydah was initially captured in Pakistan in 2002 and was mistakenly suspected of being a senior member of Al Qaeda, the terrorist organisation that claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks in New York. He was then 'used as a guinea pig for [the CIA's] ... post-9/11 torture program'. Mr. Zubaydah’s attorney, Joseph Margulies, stated '"[w]e anticipate our client will make a statement" at the hearing', marking the first time Mr. Zubaydah will have an opportunity to speak publicly about his time in detention.

10 August 2016: German authorities have identified eight suspects - four men and four women - who they allege were responsible for war crimes during the Nazi era. The Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes has opened preliminary investigations on suspicion of involvement in the murder of thousands of people. 'The investigations concern four men and four women who worked at the German concentration camp in Danzig' according to lead investigator Jens Rommel.



 

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 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?'. 

NEW CASE
: 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 HRM@asser.nl 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.