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News updates

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

28 April 2017: On Monday, a Cameroonian military tribunal sentenced a journalist to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges, including for failing to report acts of terrorism to the authorities. The trial has drawn criticisms from human rights groups. Ahmed Abba, journalist for Radio France International, was convicted on the basis of evidence showing he had been in contact with Boko Haram militants and that he was aware of future attacks. Since his arrest in 2015, he has denied the charges. Amnesty International said that Abba's conviction, furthermore after being subject to torture and an unfair trial, is a clear evidence that Cameroon's military courts are not competent to try civilians and should not have jurisdiction in these cases. Abba's lawyer said he would appeal.

28 April 2017: French intelligence services said they have scientific proof that the Syrian regime was responsible for a suspected chemical attack that killed 87 people. On April 4, 2017, the rebel-held Khan Sheikhun was attacked. 31 children were among the dead. Samples taken at the scene showed that sarin gas was used and that this was produced by the Syrian regime. The substance used contains hexamine, a component which was also found in a gas attack in northwest Syria in 2013.

27 April 2017: The Appeals Chamber of the Extraordinary African Chambers confirmed ex-Chadian dictator Hissène Habre's sentence to life imprisonment. Habre had been convicted on May 30, 2016 for the commission of crimes against humanitywar crimes and torture, including sexual violence and rape. The Appeals Chamber also decided on an appeal by lawyers representing the victims on the reparations awarded to victims on July 29, 2016.

26 April 2017: On Monday, lawyer Jude Josue Sabio asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to charge President Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity in the killings of thousands of people over three decades. He contends Duterte is the mastermind of a campaign that has killed more than 9'400 people since 1988, when Mr Duterte was first elected mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines. Mr Sabio represents two men who say they were paid assassins for Mr Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City, but filed the case on his own.

25 April 2017: On April 24, 2017, the International Criminal Court (ICC) unsealed the warrant of arrest for Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled allegedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of the situation in Libya in 2011. The warrant of arrest was issued under seal on April 18, 2013. Mr Al-Tuhamy is charged with four crimes against humanity and with three war crimes. The warrant was unsealed upon the Prosecution's request to do so since reclassifying it as public may facilitate the suspect's arrest and surrender and foster support and cooperation from the international community.

24 April 2017: The UK Ministry of Justice announced on Friday plans to separate 28 'extremists' from the main stream prison population by placing them in one of three separation centers. The prisoners who will be subject to the separation are those involved in planning terrorism or are considered to pose a risk to national security. The centers are deemed necessary to combat the raise of extremism in prison. Prisoners in such centers will undergo a review by experts every three months; they can be returned to the general prison population if it is determined that their risk can be effectively managed in prisons. The decision has been subject to critics.

23 April 2017: Police arrested a 30-year-old man on Wednesday on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Ha was detained under the Terrorism Act 2000. On Saturday, a second man was arrested as part of an investigation in London by counter-terrorism officers.

23 April 2017: An international human rights commission has accused Brazil of failing to obey its own constitution and ring-fence ancient tribal territories in a landmark court case that pits the state against indigenous people. Brazil could be forced to pay damages if it loses the trial in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights which is hearing evidence from both sides in Guatemala. The case seeks to end a dispute over land which the indigenous Xucuru people say has dragged on for decades, costing it lives and eroding an ancient way of life. It is the first time the Brazilian state stands accused of indigenous rights violations at an international court.

22 April 2017: Human Rights Watch wrote to Gambia's Attorney General and Minister of Justice on April 21, 2017, welcoming the important steps the government of President Adama Barrow has already taken to end the impunity that underpinned Jammeh's era. The organisation shared its recommendations to ensure fair, credible accountability for past violations in Gambia after interviewing dozens of torture survivors, former detainees an family members of Gambians killed or forcibly disappeared during the Jammeh's time in power, including people targeted as long as 1996 and as recently as January 2017.

22 April 2017: The Spokesperson for the European Naval Force (EU NAVFOR), which operates off the Somali coast to deter piracy along the Indian Ocean coastline and in the Gulf of Aden, said pirates are returning to sea due to the intensified insecurity in recent months. The EU NAVFOR works with China's PLA Navy and other partners, among which Somali authorities, to defeat acts of piracy in the area. The EU NAVFOR's mandate has been extended to 2018 by the EU last December.

21 April 2017: The Court of Appeal in 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, sentenced 74-year old Guus K. to a prison term of 19 years after finding him accessory to war crimes committed by the armed forces of Charles Taylor in Liberia and the Republic of Guinea between 2000 and 2003. The man also provided weapons to the regime, violating the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations. For the English press release, see here.

21 April 2017: On Thursday, Rwanda's High Court sentenced to life imprisonment Bernard Mungyagishari, accused of leading and coordinating attacks on Tutsis in 1994. The man, who headed a government-allied militia known as the Interahamwe, in Rwanda's west, was convicted of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. Mungyagishari's lawyers said they would appeal. An estimated 800'000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide in just about 100 days.

21 April 2017: The European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) said on Thursday that a police reservist, identified as Z.V., was charged with war crimes against the civilian population while serving as a police officer and at a detention camp in northern Kosovo. The crimes includes "brutal and unlawful killings, inhuman treatment causing immense suffering, application of measures of intimidation and terror, property confiscation, pillaging and stealing of property".

20 April 2017: Activists are working to evacuate LGBT+ individuals from Chechnya as international pressure intensifies over reports of mass arrests and human rights violations targeting gay men. The Russia LGBT Network, an NGO based in the country, says it considers the alleged arrests, torturing and honour killing to amount to crimes against humanity.

19 April 2017: The Holocaust files kept by the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) have been made publicly available, potentially debunking many assumptions about the Nazi genocide of the European Jews. The files document how war crimes were handled by the Allies between 1943 and 1949, and include lists of alleged war criminals, files of charges brought against them, minutes of meetings, reports, correspondence, trial transcripts and other related materials. The Wiener Library in London announced this week that it is making 900 gigabytes of data -copied as PDFs from originals kept at the United Nations headquarters in New York- publicly available this Friday, April 21.

18 April 2017: UK Attorney General (AG) in bid to block case against Tony Blair over Iraq war. Jeremy Wright QC argues crime of aggression does not exist in English law, even though his predecessor reportedly claimed otherwise. The AG is going to court to demand the rejection of an attempt to prosecute Tony Blair over the Iraq war. The private prosecution seeks the trial in a British court of Tony Blair, the foreign secretary Jack Straw and Lord Goldsmith, the AG at the time. It seeks their conviction for the crime of aggression and is based on the findings of last year's Chilcot report into the British decision to join the invasion of Iraq under the false pretext that the Hussein regime had weapons of mass destruction.

17 April 2017: For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya. Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims. Some of the men have forcibly disappeared; others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since the brutal campaign began.

16 April 2017: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an interactive free SMS platform designed to create awareness and engage local communities in the ongoing Dominic Ongwen case. The platform will enable subscribers to receive and respond in three languages, Acholi, Ateso and English to regular public information at no cost. It will give victims and communities affected by the crimes alleged, and the general population of Uganda, the opportunity to follow the proceedings before the Court. It was developed in cooperation with the Canadian NGO 'Peace Geeks' with the aim to deepen the dialogue between Ugandan population and the representatives of the ICC engaged in outreach initiatives since 2006.

15 April 2017: Scotland Yard is examining allegations of war crimes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The Metropolitan police confirmed that their war crimes unit was assessing whether criminal prosecutions could be brought over Saudi Arabia's devastating aerial campaign in Yemen. The war has killed more than 10'000 civilians and displaced more than 3 million people, and the country is on the verge of famine while civilians die of starvation. The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of killing thousands of civilians and triggering a humanitarian catastrophe. The UK, which along the US supports the Saudis against the Houthis, has been urged to reconsider its arms exports to Saudi Arabia in light of the bloody air campaign, particularly considering May's official visit to Saudi Arabia.

14 April 2017: At the end of March, the transitional justice system in charge of trying war crimes committed during Colombia's armed conflict has ordered the immediate release of 63 military war criminals. The Defence Ministry had asked for the probational liberty of more than 1'000 members of the military, who have their case reviewed by the transitional justice tribunal and confess their crimes before a Truth Commission. In total, more than 24'400 imprisoned or tried state officials will be called to take part in the transitional justice system that was agreed upon in November 2016.

13 April 2017: The International Criminal Court (ICC) marks Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, holding that 'victims must come first'. The ICC joins global efforts during April to draw attention to the crime of genocide and the importance of accountability for such crimes. On the occasion of the Genocide Awareness Month, the Court reaffirms its commitment to addressing the plague of such atrocity crimes through its judicial work, as part of the broader global justice system including national, regional and international mechanisms. Grave crimes must not go unpunished, and victims must come first.

13 April 2017: Pictures and videos taken last weekend in the city of Saraqeb, north-western Syria, show bright lights typically produced by incendiary weapons. Other videos posted on social media show incendiary weapons used in attacks on the nearby villages of Latamneh and Ma'aret Hurmah on April 8. Syrian government forces have used these and other types of Russian or Soviet-made incendiary weapons since 2012, causing civilian deaths and burning homes and infrastructures to the ground. The best course of action for other countries concerned about civilian harm in Syria is to condemn such use of incendiary weapons and embrace the relevant international law, including through pressing for the enforcement by Russia of Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Syria, Human Rights Watch said.

12 April 2017: Hearings began in Spain on Monday regarding potential war crimes committed by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. The case is the result of a Spanish national's brother being abducted and tortured in Damascus before being executed in 2013. The family was able to identify the body after a forensic photographer smuggled pictures out of Syria. The investigation involves nine of Assad's closest aides.

11 April 2017: Egyptian President announced a national state of emergency following two terror attacks on Coptic Christian churches on Sunday, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. President el-Sisi announced his intention to declare a state of emergency for the next three months, during which more soldiers will be deployed to protect public buildings, police will be able to arrest civilians without laying charges, authorities will be able to search homes without warrants, large gatherings will be banned, and there will be tighter censorship. The new measures must be approved by the Egyptian parliament before being implemented.

10 April 2017: Zambia should reaffirm its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) to best advance justice for victims of atrocities, a group of African organizations and international nongovernmental organizations with a presence in Africa said. Zambia's government began public consultation on the country's ICC membership the week of March 27, 2017. This was in response to the African Union summit's adoption in January of an 'ICC withdrawal strategy'. An unprecedented 16 countries, including Zambia, entered reservations to this decision.

8 April 2017: The New York County District Attorney's Office indicted James Jackson, a man suspected of having stabbed to death his victim, Timothy Caughman, in March, on two state terrorism charges never before used in Manhattan: murder in the first degree (in furtherance of an act of terrorism) and murder in the second degree as a crime of terrorism. The case results to be interesting for a number of reasons, among which the fact that States rarely levy such charges since terrorism is almost exclusively dealt with by the federal government, and furthermore because the accused is a 'white supremacist charged with murdering a black man'. While 'radical Islamic terrorism' is what politics mostly and almost solely refer to, Jackson's prosecution and other similar cases could expand people's notion of such crime.

7 April 2017: Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on judges to hold South Africa accountable for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015. Two arrest warrants have been issued for Al-Bashir involving numerous charges, including crimes against humanitywar crimes and crimes of genocide. Prosecutors argue that the ICC must hold South African officials responsible and that South Africa's grant of immunity to Al-Bashir contradicts provisions in the Rome Statute.

6 April 2017: The United States (US) Department of Justice said that it paid victims over $800 million from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. The money compensated the survivors and families of victims of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Kenyan bombings, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole and other international terrorist events. Congress established the fund last May with the money seized from individuals convicted of money laundering and related financial crimes. In the next few weeks, the amount of money issued in compensation is expected to rise over a billion.

5 April 2017: On 4 April 2017, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled, in the context of criminal proceedings against 'Tamil Tigers' convicted in the Netherlands for involvement in the group 'Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam' (LTTE), that Dutch criminal law can be applied to members of an armed opposition group who commit terrorist offences outside the territory of the Netherlands in the course of an internal armed conflict. International humanitarian law does not apply exclusively to such cases in a manner that renders general criminal law inapplicable. For the English press release, see here. For the cases themselves (in Dutch only), see here.

5 April 2017: Dozens feared dead from chemical exposure in Syria, Human Rights Watch said. International law prohibits chemical attacks. With 192 member states, the Chemical Weapons Convention is one of the strongest weapons bans in international law. Syria joined the Convention and gave up its chemical weapons program in 2013 after a chemical weapon attack, likely carried out by government forces, killed hundreds in a suburb in Damascus. Nevertheless, the government has not stopped such brutal and inhumane practice, and chemical attacks have instead become a regular occurrence in Syria. The Security Council, including Russia and China, should condemn this latest attack and support steps to hold those responsible to account.

5 April 2017: United Nations (UN) war crimes investigators said on Tuesday they were looking into an alleged chemical weapons attack on a Syrian town in Idlib as well as reports of a subsequent attack on a medical facility where injured people were being treated. In a statement condemning the attack, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said the use of chemical weapons as well as any deliberate targeting of medical facilities would amount to war crimes and serious violations of human rights law.

4 April 2017: Six aid workers were ambushed on March 25 as they were traveling from Juba, Republic of South Sudan, towards the town of Pibor. Rebels said that the South Sudan government should be held responsible for the killing, while the government said it was too early to say who was behind the attack. This is the deadliest single assault on humanitarian staff in a three-year-old civil war.

4 April 2017: Two men who were born in Germany but do not have Garman citizenship will be deported to countries in North Africa, where their parents migrated from, over suspicions that they were planning on a terrorist attack. German officials say it is the first time the government is making such a move. A federal judge has rejected the men's bid to avoid deportation. Police arrested the suspects, ages 22 and 27, in a city of Gottingen in a massive raid in February.

3 April 2017:
 Gambia will set up a truth and reconciliation commission to look into crimes committed by the former regime, and it will offer to pay reparations to victims, Justice Minister announced last week. The Minister said the truth and reconciliation commission will be established in the next six months. The government of new President Adama Barrow has promised to reverse many of the actions taken under former leader Yahya Jammeh, who fled into exile in January. Last month, nine former high-ranking officers with the National Intelligence Agency were arrested and charged with murder in the death of an opposition activist.

2 April 2017: Former Guatemalan dictator Efrian Rios Montt has been ordered to stand for a second trial on genocide charges, this time for the deaths of some 200 people in the 1982 Dos Erres Massacre, human rights authorities said on Friday. The 90-year-old Montt is facing another trial for genocide in a separate case involving the Mayan Ixil population. In August 2015 however, the former leader was declared medically unfit to face a standard trial. The Dos Erres massacre, which took place over three days in December 1982, was the work of a counterinsurgency unit known as the Kaibiles in the rural village of Dos Erres in northern Guatemala. The soldiers shot, strangled and bludgeoned the villagers to death with sledgehammers, and one admitted to throwing a baby into the village well. In 1994, forensic anthropologists found the remains of 162 bodies in the well, including 67 children. The case led to the sentencing of four soldiers to 6'060 years each in 2011.

1 April 2017: On Friday, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor said that recent acts of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the killing of foreign United Nations (UN) experts, could constitute war crimes. About 400 people have been killed in the Kasai region, including two UN experts from Sweden and the United States and their interpreter.

31 March 2017: Millions in Yemen are being knowingly pushed to the brink of famine, Oxfam reports. Nearly 7 million people have been pushed to starvation and 70% of the population is in need of humanitarian aid. Urgent action on two fronts is needed: an immediate resumption of the peace process and for donors to provide the additional 2.1 billion USD the United Nations say is needed for the humanitarian response. Currently the appeal is only 7% funded. Over the last two years, airstrikes and fighting have killed more than 7'600 people, including over 4'600 civilians, forced over 3 million people from their homes and left 18.8 million people -70% of the population- in need of humanitarian assistance, the greatest number in any country in the world. Sajad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam's Country Director in Yemen, said: "if the parties to the conflict -and those fuelling it with arms sales- continue to ignore Yemen's food crisis, they will be responsible for a famine. The people of Yemen are being starved to death".

30 March 2017: Romania's High Court of Cassation and Justice upheld the 20-year prison sentence of Ion Ficior for crimes against humanity. Ficior was the commander of the Periprava labor camp from 1958 to 1963, during which approximately 103 political prisoners died. Former detainees accused him of having been subject to inhumane conditions. The court also upheld the ruling obliging Ficior, the interior ministry, the finance ministry, and the National Penitentiary Administration to pay 335'000 USD in damages to eight former political prisoners and their families. In February 2016, the court had upheld another conviction for the commission of crimes against humanity by Visinescu, former chief of the Ramnicu Sarat prison under Nicolae Ceausescu.

29 March 2017: An Ivory Coast court has found former first lady Simone Gbagbo not guilty of crimes against humanity. Gbagbo was on trial for serious human rights violations during the post-election crisis which followed Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to President Ouattara after the November 2010 presidential elections. The crisis degenerated into political violence and eventually a resumption of armed conflict. Between December 2010 and May 2011, at least 3'000 civilians were killed and more than 150 women were raped, with serious human rights violations committed by both sides. Simone Gbagbo had previously been sentenced to serve 20 years in Ivory Coast for crimes against the state during the post-election crisis. The whole judicial process has been deemed flawed by many irregularities and leaves unanswered serious questions about her alleged role in the brutal crimes that were committed.

29 March 2017: The Kosovo Specialist Chambers on Monday adopted the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. This brings the court to the brink of being operable. The matter now shifts to the Constitutional Court of Kosovo to decide the legality of the adopted procedures. The court will have 30 days to decide on the issue, and if affirmed, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers will become a functioning court. The Chamber also adopted the Code of Judicial Ethics and Rules on the Assignment of Specialist Chambers Judges. The court was established to prosecute war crimes stemming from the conflict of the late 1990's and early 2000's. Last month the European Union appointed 19 international judges to the Chambers.

28 March 2017:
 In a landmark decision, a judge in Spain's national court agreed on Monday to hear criminal proceedings against high-ranking members of Syria's security services over the 2013 death of Abdul, a 43-year-old delivery van driver in Syria with no known political connections. The complaint, filed by Abdul's sister Amal, accuses nine of Bashar al-Assad's top security chiefs of state terrorism, alleging that they used government institutions to commit crimes of extreme violence aimed at terrorizing the civilian population and silencing dissent after Arab Spring protests in 2011. Abdul's photo was among the 55'000 images brought out of Syria in 2014 by a former forensic officer code-named Caesar, documenting the torture and deaths of more than 6'700 prisoners in Assad's prisons. The case reflects accelerating efforts in Europe to bypass the political obstacles that have thwarted access to other international justice remedies for crimes committed in the Syria's war.

27 March 2017: An apparent Saudi-led coalition attack on a boat carrying Somali civilians off the coast of Yemen is likely to be a war crime, Human Rights Watch said. Several witnesses reported that on March 16, 2017, a helicopter fired on the boat, killing at least 32 of the 145 Somali migrants and refugees on board and one Yemeni civilian. Another 29, including 6 children, were wounded, and 10 more remain missing. All the parties to the conflict denied responsibility for the attack. Only the Saudi-led coalition has military aircraft; the Houthi-Saleh forces do not. Somalia, which supports the coalition, called on it to investigate.

26 March 2017: Jordan should deny entry to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir or arrest him if he enters the country, Human Rights Watch said. News reports say al-Bashir has been invited to visit Jordan on March 29, 2017, to attend the 28th summit of the Arab League. He has been a fugitive from the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2009, being subject to two ICC arrest warrants. The charges are for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

26 March 2017: On Friday, pirates hijacked a Somali fishing vessels with ten Yemeni crew aboard off the coast of Somalia's northern Puntland region. The pirates may have taken the vessel to use it in hijacking a larger target ship in the Indian Ocean. Earlier this month, Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker as it was transporting oil from Djibouti to Mogadishu.

25 March 2017:
 Bangladesh observes Genocide Day for the first time to commemorate the atrocities that the Pakistani forces carried out on unarmed civilians in the wake of Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971

25 March 2017:
 Prosecutors in Bosnia and Herzegovina say a woman wanted for war crimes she allegedly committed against Serb civilians during the country's 1992-95 war has been extradited from Switzerland. She is accused of the 'particularly cruel' murder of a 12-year-old Serb boy in 1992.

25 March 2017: The United Nations (UN) agreed on Friday to widen the investigation into widespread violations in North Korea with a view to documenting alleged crimes against humanity for future prosecution. North Korea said it rejected the resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. The Council called for North Korea to cooperate and allow access for UN investigators. A UN commission of inquiry, in a landmark 2014 report based on interviews and hearings with defectors, catalogued massive violations -including large prison camps, starvation and executions- that it said should be brought to the International Criminal Court.

24 March 2017: The Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) filed a lawsuit on Thursday in the US District Court of Massachusetts against former Haitian Mayor Jean Morose Viliena alleging he committed crimes against humanity in Haiti between 2007 and 2009. The lawsuit was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, which allows civil actions to be filed in the US against individuals who subject others to torture or extrajudicial killings under authority of a foreign nation when remedies in the location of the conduct have been exhausted.

24 March 2017: The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber II awarded individual and collective reparations to the victims of the crimes committed by Germain Katanga on February 24, 2003, during an attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Chamber assessed the extent of the physical, material and psychological harm suffered by the victims at a total monetary value of approximately USD 3'752'620. Observing the principle of proportionality, the Chamber set the amount of Mr Katanga's liability at USD 1'000'000. 297 victims were awarded with a symbolic compensation of USD 250 each, as well as collective reparations in the form of support for housing, income-generating activities, education aid and psychological support. Because of Mr Katanga's indigence, the Trust Fund for Victims was invited to consider using its resources for the reparations and present an implementation plan by the end of June 2017.

23 March 2017:
 Tomorrow March 24, 2017, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will deliver its order for reparations to victims in the case of Germain Katanga. Mr Katanga was sentenced in 2014 to a total of 12 years' imprisonment after being found guilty, as an accessory, of one count of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes committed on February 24, 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was later transferred to a DRC prison to serve his sentence, reduced by the ICC Appeals Chamber, which he completed in January 2016. Mr Katanga remains in prison in the DRC due to national judicial proceedings against him relating to other alleged crimes

23 March 2017: Human Rights Watch says the Islamic State (ISIS) executed and dumped the bodies of possibly hundreds at a site near Mosul. The bodies of those killed, including security forces, prisoners and women, were thrown into a naturally occurring sinkhole located in an area known as Khasfa. Local residents said that before pulling out ISIS laid improvised landmines at the site. The site is one of dozens of ISIS mass graves found between Iraq and Syria, but could be the largest discovered so far. While it is not possible to determine the number of people executed in the area, the estimates of residents reach into the thousands. Widespread or systematic murder carried out by a state or organized group as part of an attack against a civilian population -as part of a policy to commit murder- constitutes a crime against humanity, while the deliberate killing of civilians and civilian or military prisoners during armed conflict constitute a war crime.

23 March 2017: On Monday, more than 850 family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks filed a lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The suit alleges that Saudi Arabia provided support to al Qaeda in multiple ways and seeks unspecified damages, with the primary motive of trying to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the terrorist attacks.

22 March 2017:
 Bemba et al. case: Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court issues sentences for five convicted persons. On October 19, 2016, the Chamber found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aime Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidele Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. Sentencing was delivered today for all the convicted persons; in particular, Mr Bemba was condemned to one year imprisonment, to be served consecutively to his existing sentence in the Main Case, and was additionally fined EUR 300'000, to be paid to the Court within 3 months of its decision and subsequently be transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims

22 March 2017: On Tuesday, Pakistan's National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reinstate military courts in the country for two years, after a two months lapse. The courts were first introduced for two years in January 2015 to expedite the cases of terrorists after Pakistani Taliban attacked an army school in Peshawar killing more than 140 people, mostly children. Almost all of those who voted for the amendment acknowledged setting up a parallel system of justice is not an ideal solution, but said the step was necessary to deal with the extraordinary level of terrorism; human rights activists complain the military courts fail to provide transparent justice and violate the suspects' legal rights. The court were at the time introduced as a temporary solution, while promises were made to reform the country's civilian justice system.

22 March 2017: The head of anti-piracy operations in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia said he has been fired for speaking out about illegal fishing, which he claims could trigger a new outbreak of piracy in the Indian Ocean. Pirates hijacked an oil tanker off Somalia last week, the first such attack in the region since 2012.

22 March 2017: New Zealand's troops could potentially face an international war crimes case over allegations that New Zealand Special Air Service (NZ SAS) members were involved in the killings of civilians in Afghanistan, an international law expert says. Allegations in a book were made according to which six civilians were killed and fifteen injured during a raid north of Kabul. New York University adjunct law professor Alison Cole argued the book could be used as evidence by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

22 March 2017: On Tuesday, Twitter said it suspended 376'890 accounts in the second half of 2016 for "promotion of terrorism", an increase of 60% over the prior six-month period. The latest suspensions bring the total number of blocked accounts to 636'248 from August 2015; the actions come with social networks being under pressure from governments around the world to use technology tools to lock out jihadists and others who use the platforms to recruit and launch attacks.

New cases, briefs and videos

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

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.