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News updates

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

26 October 2016: On 24 October, a Guatemalan court indicted Manuel Benedicto Lucas Garcia, Francisco Luis Gordillo, Edilberto Letona, Hugo Ramiro Zaldana and Manuel Antonio Callejas for crimes committed in relation to 'the 1981 kidnapping and disappearance of 14-year-old boy Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, including the torture and rape of his sister Emma Guadaloupe'. They have been charged with crimes against humanity, forced disappearance and aggravated rape and their indictments have been described as a 'step toward clarifying the historical truth in brutal crimes carried out at the hands of the military during Guatemala's ... civil war'. 

26 October 2016: Alongside Burundi and South Africa, Gambia has announced that it will also withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Sheriff Bojang, Gambia's information minister, cited 'the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders' by the ICC as well the lack of an indictment for 'Western war criminals' as reasons for withdrawing.  

25 October 2016: In the Molina Theissen case in Guatemala, a decision is expected on 25 October regarding whether retired general Benedicto Lucas Garcia will be charged with forced disappearance, crimes against humanity and aggravated sexual assault. Four other defendants involved in this case will also receive a decision as to whether they shall be charged with aggravated sexual assault. These charges concern the alleged illegal detention and sexual assault of Emma Guadalupe Molina Theissen in Military Zone 17 in Quetzaltenango. 

24 October 2016: Across Europe, trials surrounding alleged crimes that occurred in Syria are beginning to emerge. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has identified prosecutions in several European countries, including Sweden, Germany and France, where universal jurisdiction laws and evidence from Syrian refugees have allowed the investigation and prosecution of alleged crimes against humanitytorture and war crimes that occurred in Syria. HRW has stated that while 'all these cases have shortcomings, ... they represent small but vital steps towards ending impunity for crimes committed in Syria'. 

24 October 2016: Human Rights Watch has reacted to South Africa's notice of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), with International Justice Director Richard Dicker saying that the withdrawal '"would be a huge reversal of ... [South Africa's] role as a leader promoting victims' rights and the values in its post-apartheid constitution"'. Sadiki Kaba, the President of the ICC's Assembly of States Parties, has asked South Africa to reconsider its decision.

23 October 2016: Najmaddin Faraj Ahmad, a man accused of being behind the recruitment of people to fight in Syria and Iraq, can now be extradited from Norway to face charges in Italy. Mr. Ahmad, who is also known as Mullah Krekar, is suspected of being behind Rawti Shax, a terrorist group operating in Europe. Mr. Ahmad was arrested in November 2015 in Norway upon Italy's request. 

22 October 2016: A federal appeals court in the US has reinstated a lawsuit brought by four former inmates of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The four inmates are suing CACI Premier Technology, a company that contracted personnel to the US military in the early 2000s. These contractors allegedly tortured detainees during interrogations, including via beating detainees, taking their clothing and threatening them with dogs

22 October 2016: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has described the 'the weekslong bombardment and siege of rebel-held parts of Aleppo [as] "crimes of historic proportions" that had turned the ancient Syrian city into a "slaughterhouse"'. The Commissioner called for a war crimes investigation and the Human Rights Council subsequently adopted a resolution calling for an immediate end to the fighting in Aleppo. 

21 October 2016: Following Burundi's vote to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), Reuters isreporting that South Africa is also planning on withdrawing from the Court. According to a document seen by Reuters, South Africa '"has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation'" given by the ICC. The UN has not confirmed receipt of the document. 

21 October 2016: The Registry of the International Criminal Court has issued a call for experts on reparations for victims to assist with the Al Mahdi case. Following Mr. Al Mahdi's war crimes conviction in September, the trial will now enter the reparations phase and experts can be called to 'assist ... in determining the extent of any damage, loss and injury to or in respect of victims and to suggest various options concerning the appropriate types and modalities of reparations'. 

20 October 2016: 8 ex-Yugoslav military officers, including Borislav Djukic, have been charged with war crimes that were allegedly committed in Croatia. They are accused of ordering attacks on civilians or failing to prevent crimes by their soldiers, including 'torture, rape, expulsion and killing of more than 100 civilians during fighting in Croatia in 1991-95'.   

19 October 2016: Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court has found all 5 accused individuals guilty of offences against the administration of justice in the Bemba et al. case. The 5 individualsconcerned are: Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Bemba case earlier this year; Aime Kilolo Musamba; Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo; Fidele Babala Wandu; and Narcisse Arido. The penalties for the offences will be pronounced in due course.

19 October 2016: Amnesty International (AI) has released a report, entitled 'Punished for Daesh's crimes': Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces, which details alleged human rights abuses andwar crimesincluding torture, arbitrary detentions, forcible disappearances and extrajudicial executions, committed by paramilitary militias and government forces in Iraq. Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at AI, said that '[a]fter escaping the horrors of war and tyranny of IS, Sunni Arabs in Iraq are facing brutal revenge attacks ... and are being punished for crimes committed by' the Islamic State group. 

19 October 2016: President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi has signed the decree, which was voted upon last week by Burundi's parliament, that enables Burundi to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). In response to the vote, the ICC's President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Mr. Sidiki Kaba, stated that the loss of any state 'would represent a setback in the fight against impunity' and he invited 'the Burundian authorities to engage in a dialogue'. According to President Nkurunziza's website, the decision to leave will be effective immediately. The vote came after the ICC's Prosecutor opened of a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi in April 2016. 

18 October 2016: Tomorrow at 14:30, Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will deliver its verdict in the Bemba et al. case. This case, which has 5 co-accused, concerns allegations of offences against the administration of justice, namely influencing witnesses or presenting false or forged information before the ICC. The alleged crimes are connected to Mr. Bemba's initial case in which he was found guilty ofcrimes against humanity and war crimes, and sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment.  

18 October 2016: Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has released a statement in which she discusses concerns that alleged crimes committed in September 2016 in Kinshasa, Democractic Republic of the Congo (DRC), may come within the jurisdiction of the ICC. She further stated that '[i]t is imperative that all activities and actions in the territory of the DRC, irrespective of their actors, nature or form, be conducted with extreme restraint and a sense of responsibility'. 

17 October 2016: An Amnesty International (AI) report has accused the Australian government of 'subjecting refugees and asylum seekers to an elaborate and cruel system of abuse - brazenly flouting international law'. AI has found that the offshore processing system on Nauru amounts to torture due to '[t]he combination of refugees' severe mental anguish, the intentionally harmful nature of the system, and the fact that the goal of offshore processing is intended to intimidate or coerce others to achieve a specific outcome'. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described AI's report as 'absolutely false'. 

16 October 2016: On Saturday, African leaders signed a binding agreement concerning maritime security at a summit in Togo. The new agreement hopes to improve responses to issues such as piracy, including via enhanced information sharing between African nations. It will also 'create new national and regional institutions to improve security in African waters [and] ... signatories pledged a string of measures to protect the maritime environment and fight trafficking in drugs, arms and people'. 

15 October 2016: Amnesty International and FIDH have emphasised the ongoing need for justice for crimes in South Sudan in a joint briefing and have called for the establishment of a hybrid court. Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Director for Research & Advocacy, has said that 'as world attention has focused on ending the fighting, accountability for violations that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity has been put on the backburner'. 

14 October 2016: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has issued a statement regarding reports of extra-judicial killings in the Phillipines. Ms. Bensouda mentioned reports that over 3,000 people may have been killed in the last three months in the crackdown against drug dealers and users. Ms. Bensouda stated that she is 'deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials ... seem to condone' them. She noted that her office will continue to monitor developments and that extra-judicial killings may come within the jurisdiction of the ICC when 'committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack'. 

14 October 2016: Over 10-15 October, an African Union-sponsored summit on maritime security is being held in Togo and issues relating to the rising levels of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea will be discussed. While efforts at stemming piracy near Somalia have been achieving progress, efforts aimed at combatting piracy off the West African coast have not had similar success. The summit in Lome hopes to 'draw up and sign a charter on maritime security' to help address this issue among others. 

13 October 2016: Special Forces Sergeant Kevin Frost has come forward about alleged war crimescommitted by Australian forces during the war in Afghanistan. There is an ongoing investigation into these allegations with the assistance of Justice Paul Brereton, a Supreme Court judge in NSW. Sergeant Frost has said that he assisted in covering up the shooting of a prisoner of war and 'believes he should face further consequences for his role in [the cover up] ..., including jail time'. 

13 October 2016: On Wednesday, Burundi's parliament voted to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). Prior to leaving the ICC, the bill will first need approval from Burundi's upper house and also its president. The vote comes after the ICC opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi in April 2016. 

13 October 2016: The fourth Bahia Blanca crimes against humanity trial or the 'Army case' has commenced in Buenos Aires. This trial 'addresses alleged human rights abuses committed under the last military dictatorship between 1976 and 1977, [and] is focused on the Fifth Army Corps headquarters and clandestine detention centres in the region'. The trial features 38 suspects, including some individuals who have previously been convicted in earlier trials concerning crimes against humanity. 

12 October 2016: The second trial of Simone Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire for crimes against humanity has resumed following a two-month break. The trial began in May 2016 and focuses on alleged crimes 'committed during the post-electoral crisis in 2010-11'. Ms. Gbagbo is also the subject of an arrest warrant at the International Criminal Court, where she has been charged with crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and persecution. 

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.