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News updates

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

18 August 2017:  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on 17 August 2017 a settlement in a lawsuit against two psychologists who designed the torture techniques three former CIA prisoners were victims of.

17 August 2017:  The International Criminal Court on Thursday found that Ahmad Al Faqi is liable for individual and collective reparations for overseeing the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Timbuktu. The Court found he is liable for 2.7 million euros in expenses. The order stresses the fundamental importance of cultural heritage.

16 August 2017:  On Wednesday 16 August 2017, Iraq asked for the international community's assistance to collect and preserve evidence of crimes perpetrated by Islamic State's militants. It said it is working with the United Kingdom to draft a United Nations Security Council resolution to establish the investigation.

16 August 2017:  A report from the International Centre for the Study of Violent Extremism details the unimaginably horrific torture methods and abuses endured by those fallen into the Islamic State's hands. For a brief article summarising the report, see here.

15 August 2017:  The International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli. He is allegedly responsible for murder as a war crime in the context of seven incidents, involving 33 persons, during the non-international armed conflict in Libya.

14 August 2017:  The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria has gathered enough evidence for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried and convicted for the commission of international crimes, a member of the Commission said. While the Syrian government denies reports by the Commission documenting widespread war crimes, the Commission chronicled incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, acts of genocide against Iraq's Yazidi population, siege tactics, the bombing of aid convoys. All parties to the conflict have allegedly committed war crimes, and all have been investigated.

13 August 2017:  The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Judge Scott Silliman should have recused himself in a case concerning multiple defendants who were charged with aiding in the 9/11 terror attacks. The petitioner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed argued that the judge was biased in the matter.

13 August 2017:  An investigation conducted by the Myanmar government found no crimes against humanity took place during the violence in Rakhine state last year. Allegations of ethnic cleansing and gang rapes were denied, and while the occurrence of some crimes was acknowledged, they were attributed to individual members of security forces.

12 August 2017:  Senior European commission officials warned of Britain's urgent need for clarifying its position on security issues in order to avoid the risk to miss out on vital new counter-terrorism tools. The British government's ambiguity on how it plans to fit into Europe's evolving security apparatus leaves doubts as to what kind of cooperation will be possible in the future.

11 August 2017:  On 9 August 2017, Burundi's National Assembly adopted a bill on the setting up of the National Observatory for the Prevention and Eradication of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. The body will have the function of clarifying and identifying all crimes committed in the country, monitoring the development of Burundian society in regards to international crimes, preventing and eradicating acts of genocidewar crimes and other crimes against humanity, as well as proposing measures to effectively combat impunity. It will also promote and enforce legislation addressing international crimes, suggest victims' rehabilitation policies and contribute to the implementation of a program of awareness-raising and education for peace and national reconciliation.

10 August 2017:  Fares A. B., a Syrian 29-year-old man thought to have committed war crimes in his home country, has been arrested and detained in Germany. He is suspected of being a member of the Islamic State and of abusing at least three prisoners, repeatedly hitting another victim in the head and shooting and killing a man for alleged blasphemy in a public execution before leaving the man's body on display.

10 August 2017:  Colombia's transitional justice system received the case files of 12,000 alleged military war criminals. About 4,500 soldiers currently in prison have requested to be included in the transitional justice mechanism that would permit them to leave jail while awaiting to be tried, while the Defence Ministry has sent another 7,494 case files of military members who were either convicted or investigated on war crimes charges. In addition, the system is facing a number of legal issues, among which those arising from the case of the more than 4,000 extrajudicial executions conducted by the military under former President Alvaro Uribe, as the acts have been qualified in different ways. The transitional justice system was approved earlier this year and is currently choosing the judges and international assistant judges. The justice process is expected to take force in October.

9 August 2017:  The United Nations calls for more troops to be deployed in the Central African Republic as clashes renew. O'Brien, the United Nations aid chief, said the situation shows the early warning signs of a genocide.

8 August 2017:  A Mumbai court sentenced 16 Somali pirates to seven years in prison for hijacking a fishing vessel that had sailed from Iran in 2011 and taking the crew hostage. The pirates are to be deported to Somalia once they serve their prison terms.

7 August 2017:  Carla del Ponte, member of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said on Sunday 6 August 2017 she will leave the Commission due to the lack of political backing from the United Nations Security Council, which she said renders the Commission's job impossible.

7 August 2017:  On Friday 4 August 2017, Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka was handed over to the Congolese authorities in Kinshasa after he turned himself in to the United Nations peacekeeping forces in North Kivu at the end of July.

6 August 2017:  The defence team for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, sentenced to life without parole for the murder of 16 Afghans, plans to raise the possible use of controversial malaria drug as justification for the crimes committed. The drug may have allegedly caused potential long-term neurological damage and serious psychiatric side effects. Defence attorneys hope this could persuade judges to lessen Bales' sentence.

6 August 2017:  A Rwandan man who sought asylum in the United States after claiming of fleeing the country due to the genocide was charged by United States prosecutors with immigration fraud and perjury. Jean Leonard Teganya, 46 years old, reached the United States in 2014 where he applied for asylum, lying about having been part of the political party that led the killing during the genocide in 1994. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

5 August 2017:  Former Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko will remain in Swiss detention for another three months after the country's attorney general broadened an investigation into whether he committed crimes against humanity. Sonko has been in pre-trial detention since January, after Trial International filed a criminal complaint accusing him of torture. Sonko was interior minister from 2006 to 2016, when he fled to Sweden and then to Switzerland, where he applied for asylum in November and was taken into custody in January.

4 August 2017:  At the third year marking the anniversary of the Yazidi genocide in Iraq, Islamic State (ISIS) members have yet to be brought to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity. While it is unclear how many suspected ISIS fighters are in custody in Iraq, human rights groups have documented the deplorable and inhumane conditions of the detention facilities where the suspects are imprisoned. A resolution has been presented to the United Nations Security Council for an independent investigation to collect evidence of the atrocities committed against Iraqis by ISIS.

4 August 2017:  On Thursday, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria said the Islamic State is continuing to commit genocide against the Yazidi minority in Iraq, situation which remains largely unaddressed. Thousands of Yazidi remain missing and some 3'000 women and girls in Syria are subject to horrific violence.

3 August 2017:  Earlier this month, reports announced the planned closure of the United States' Department Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ). The Office is tasked with advising the Secretary of States and the government on the prevention of and response to international crimes. For an overview of the reasons why the office should not be closed, click here.

2 August 2017:  The militant group Hezbollah gathered dozens of foreign journalists to their mountain bases on the border between Lebanon and Syria with a view to show the way it triumphed in the area. Among other things, it addressed the policies adopted by the United States in the fight against terrorism.

1 August 2017:  A High Court in the United Kingdom ruled that former Prime Minister Tony Blair will not be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The court held that the crime of aggression Blair is accused of committing does not exist under English and Welsh law and therefore he cannot be charged.

31 July 2017:  An Argentinian court sentenced four former federal judges to life in prison for the commission of crimes against humanity during the country's 1976-1983 dictatorship. The judges were originally charged as accomplices for failure to investigate the kidnapping, torture and murder of dissenters. They were subsequently tried as principals on the basis of the fact their inaction preceded the disappearance of more than 20 dissidents.

30 July 2017:  In the United States, a federal court judge refused to drop a lawsuit against two psychologists who helped devise the C.I.A.'s interrogation program after 9/11, clearing the way for the case to proceed to trial in September. The three plaintiffs had argued that they were detained and tortured in C.I.A.'s detention facilities using techniques designed by the two former military psychologists, who served as C.I.A.'s contractors.

29 July 2017:  An Iraqi army division trained by the United States (US) government allegedly executed several dozens prisoners in Mosul's Old City, Human Rights Watch said. The organisation calls for the US government to suspend all assistance and support to the 16th Division pending Iraq's full investigation of the allegations and appropriate prosecution.

29 July 2017:  Fugitive rebel leader Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka surrendered to the United Nations forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 26 July 2017. He is wanted for crimes against humanity, including the mass rape of at least 378 civilians in the eastern DRC between 30 July and 2 August 2010.

28 July 2017:  Egypt established a national council for combating terrorism, giving it broad authority to set policies to fight extremism. The council is chaired by Sisi and includes the head of parliament, the prime minister, the head of Al-Azhar and several ministers.

27 July 2017:  The European Court of Justice (ECJ) overruled the General Court's view of 2014 that the Council of the European Union had insufficient evidence to maintain asset freezes and travel bans on Hamas. The lower court had found that the listing of Hamas as a terrorist organisation was based on media and internet reports rather than decisions by a competent authority. However, the ECJ said such decisions were not required for groups to stay on the list, only for their initial listing. In a parallel case, the top court did rule that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers, should be removed from the European Union's terrorism list.

26 July 2017:  The European Union's Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to rule today on whether Hamas, the Palestinian political organisation, should be removed from the EU's 'terror' list. In December 2014, a lower European court said Hamas should be removed from the list because the EU's decision to place it on the 'terror' sanctions list was based on information from the media and internet, and not the result of an independent investigation. The European Council, in turn, appealed the decision.

25 July 2017:  Philippines President Duterte announced this week that the so-called war on drugs which is scourging the country will continue despite international concern over grave human rights violations. Among the great alarm expressed by the international community, in October the International Criminal Courtexpressed concern over the occurrence of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in connection with Duterte's campaign.

24 July 2017:  On Monday, prominent journalists and other staff of a Turkish opposition newspaper went on trial on terrorism charges in a case that critics of President Erdogan consider attack on free speech. Several hundred people gathered outside the central Istanbul court to protest against the prosecution of 17 writers, executives and lawyers of the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

23 July 2017:  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the possible closing of the Office of Global Criminal Justice (OGCJ) in state department reorganisations. Human rights advocates fear closing the office would hamper efforts to combat impunity, raise awareness of atrocities committed all over the world and bring international crimes perpetrators to justice.

22 July 2017:  Amnesty International reported that Cameroon's security forces have tortured hundreds of people accused of supporting the Islamist group Boko Haram. The crimes committed may amount to war crimes. Evidence shows American military personnel visiting notorious torture chambers sites. The Cameroonian government was presented with Amnesty International report several months ago but has yet to respond to the accusations.

21 July 2017:  The European Union (EU) is rallying dozens of countries to stop the trade of torture equipment and lethal-injection drugs, which could make it harder for the United States to perform executions. It will call for an alliance against trading products used for executions and torture acts. Mongolia, which outlawed the death penalty in 2015, and Argentina, which has a similar legislation to the EU, will jointly launch the initiative with the EU in September.

20 July 2017:  Last week, the International Criminal Court ordered to review whether Laurent Gbagbo, the former Ivory Coast president, should be released from detention while the trial against him for crimes against humanity continues. Gbagbo and his former militia leader Charles Ble Goude have been charged with crimes committed during the post-election violence that broke out in Ivory Coast in 2011.

19 July 2017:  29 indigenous organizations from across South America have come together in Brazil and taken actions against governments for failing to protect the lives and lands of uncontacted peoples -a situation they say may amount to genocide. In June 2017, a conference with representatives of groups from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela condemned the alarming increase of violence against indigenous peoples across the continent and described the failure to properly protect the territory of uncontacted peoples as genocide. Brazil has recently made cuts to its indigenous affairs agency, leaving uncontacted peoples dangerously exposed to violence caused and diseases carried by outsiders. The country has two genocide convictions in its courts, both for crimes against indigenous peoples.

18 July 2017:  In light of the upcoming International Criminal Court's anniversary, the Statute of which was adopted on 17 July 1998, Human Rights Watch calls for an increased support to the Court by the international community.

17 July 2017:  Atrocities in Syria and Iraq: the obstacles to combat impunity being political, not the lack of evidence, human rights lawyer says. Prosecutors in several European countries are processing investigations on alleged international crimes in Syria using universal jurisdiction legislation. Furthermore, in light of the incredible amount of available evidence, it is possible to draw a list of those allegedly responsible for the countless atrocities that have been committed so far by all parties to the conflict.

16 July 2017:  A United Nations (UN) special rapporteur has concluded that the use of torture by Sri Lankan security services is endemic. In particular, he raised concerns in regards to the draft revised anti-terror laws prepared by the government, which would leave police forces' routine use of torture to obtain confessions without being monitored or checked. The rapporteur reported that authorities use the legislation disproportionately against members of the Tamil community. He added that 80% of those most recently arrested in late 2016 complained of torture and ill-treatment following their arrest. There seems to exist an alarming climate of impunity for officials committing such criminal acts. He furthermore reported that numerous prisoners had been in detention without trial for several years.

15 July 2017:  Leopold Munyakazi, prominent Rwandan academic, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a domestic court after being convicted of genocide. After fleeing Rwanda he sought refuge in the United States, where he taught French in Baltimore until being suspended in 2008 following an indictment issued by the Rwandan government. He was extradited to Rwanda last year. He opposed his transfer to the country and denied all charges against him.

14 July 2017:  Amnesty International said it identified a pattern of attacks by Iraqi forces and the United States-led military coalition backing them that may amount to war crimes during the fight to regain control over the city of Mosul. Islamic State's fighters are as well accused of violating international humanitarian law by inter alia deliberately endangering the lives of civilians by using them as human shields and impeding the advance of Iraqi and coalition forces. Amnesty calls for a thorough investigation into whether war crimes have indeed been committed by all parties to the conflict.

13 July 2017:  Yazidis from Iraq joined thousands of Bosnian Muslims at a commemoration on Tuesday 11 July 2017 of the 8,000 men and boys killed in 1995 at Srebrenica and called for the atrocities committed against the Yazidis by the Islamic State (ISIS) to be recognized as genocide. Tuesday's commemoration of the killings 22 years ago included the burials of 71 newly identified victims bringing the total number of those interred near the town to 6,575. More than 1,000 men and boys are still missing. Yazidis will commemorate the Sinjar massacre in August. "We have endured horrific abuses and persecution -the Bosnian Muslims at the hands of Serbs and Yazidis at the hands of ISIS- and we share the memories and recognize each other's feelings" said Hussam Abdukah, a Yazidi lawyer who is documenting ISIS crimes and involved in a peacebuilding project in northern Iraq.

12 July 2017:  A group of Swedish lawmakers filed a complaint accusing Turkish President Erdogan of genocidecrimes against humanity and war crimes in the southeast of Turkey. The complaint, filed to the Swedish International Public Prosecution Offices, names Erdogan and several ministers among whom Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. It is the first of this kind in Sweden against a head of state.

New cases, briefs and videos

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


NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. These include Benjamin Ferencz's lecture provided in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series co-organised by the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform on his life dedicated to the pursuit of international criminal justice, and lectures from Guido Acquaviva and Dov Jacobs in the context of the Lebanon lecture series. The video recording of the lecture provided by Benjamin Ferencz can be viewed here. The video excerpts of Guido Acquaviva's lecture on war crimes can be found here. The video excerpt of Dov Jacobs's lecture on genocide can be found here.

NEW VIDEO: On 15 May 2017, Benjamin Ferencz, the only surviving Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, provided a lecture in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series co-organised by the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform on his life dedicate to the pursuit of international criminal justice. The video recording of the lecture can be viewed here. A report on the event can be found here

NEW ICD BRIEFNadia Grant, who is a former intern at the T.M.C. Asser Institute and is currently working with Médecins Sans Frontières, has written a new ICD Brief entitled 'Duress as a Defence for Former Child Soldiers? Dominic Ongwen and the International Criminal Court'. You can read the Brief here

NEW CASEThe analysis of the Dutch Supreme Court's judgment in the case of Omar H is now available online. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal against the Court of Appeal's judgment in the case of Omar H, a foreign fighter convicted of training for terrorism. In upholding the Court of Appeal's judgment, the Supreme Court decided that training for terrorism in this context would be interpreted broadly and could include self-study. 

NEW CASEThe analysis of the Sentencing Remarks of Mr. Justice Holroyde in the case of R v Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman is now available online. Mr. Choudary and Mr. Rahman were found guilty by a jury verdict of inviting support for the proscribed terrorist organisation, the Islamic State, by signing an oath of allegiance and publishing a series of lectures online. They were both sentenced to 5.5 years' imprisonment and will be subject to notification requirements for 15 years after their release. 

NEW CASEThe analysis of the plea agreement in the case of United States of America v. Mufid A. Elfgeeh is now available online. Mr. Elfgeeh pleaded guilty in December 2015 to providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As part of the guilty plea, Mr. Elfgeeh acknowledged he had encouraged support for ISIL via social media, he had been involved in trying to recruit foreign fighters, and he had provided financial assistance. 

NEW CASEThe case analysis of United States of America v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi is now available online. Both Mr. Elhuzayel and Mr. Badawi were convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS). The defendants had used social media accounts to support IS, and Mr. Badawi had filmed Mr. Elhuzayel pledging allegiance to IS and promising to travel to Syria to fight. Mr. Elhuzayel was arrested prior to boarding a flight to Israel via Turkey. They were also found guilty of financial fraud charges, the proceeds of which had been used to fund the travel.   

NEW ICD BRIEFLaetitia Ruiz, who is currently a PhD candidate at the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT) at Tilburg University, has written a new ICD Brief entitled 'Gender Jurisprudence for Gender Crimes?'. 

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.