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News updates

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

20 January 2017:  Earlier this week, Amnesty International denounced Iran's persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments such as whipping, amputation and forced blinding. Randa Habib, Amnesty International's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said these inhuman punishments violate the absolute prohibition on torture and other ill treatment.

20 January 2017:  Yesterday, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons severely condemned the bombing of camps for internally displaced persons in Nigeria as a means for fighting Boko Haram. According to initial reports, as many as 50 people were killed and 200 were injured by the strike.

19 January 2017:  The Sawab Centre, a joint United Arab Emirates and United States initiative announced it would launch a social media campaign to highlight the Islamic State's committed atrocities and crimes against humanity. The three-day campaign on the Sawab Centre's social media pages will be run in English as well as in Arabic.

19 January 2017:  Nine Serbian activists of Youth Initiative for Human Rights were attacked for protesting during an event organised by the Serbian Progressive Party. According to Mia Mitic, one of the assaulted activists, the group was beaten by several men after interrupting and protesting against convicted war criminal Veselin Sljivancanin's speech.

18 January 2017:  According to an Amnesty International (AI) report, recent security laws in Europe have disadvantaged ethnic and religious groups, in particular Muslims. AI based its findings on the human rights analyses of 14 European member states.

18 January 2017:  On Monday Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia at the International Court of Justice for acts of terrorism and discrimination. In a press release, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin accused Russia of unlawful aggression in Ukraine and contempt for the Ukrainian's basic human rights.

17 January 2017:  Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party has been suspended for mentioning there had been a "genocide against minorities". Paylan's right to attend plenary session has been suspended for three days.

17 January 2017:  Yesterday, the Prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) presented its case against Dominic Ongwen, former child soldier and commander of the Lord's Resistance Army. Dominic Ongwen first appeared last month before the ICC as he pleaded not guilty to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, pillage, rape and enslavement.

16 January 2017:  According to a report from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, no less than 12.958 barrel bombs were dropped by the Syrian regime in 2016. The report further highlights that barrel bombs are indiscriminate weapons with a huge destructive impact and that the dropping of those bombs by a plane constitutes a war crime.  

15 January 2017:  Ramush Haradinaj, the former prime minister of Kosovo, arrested by the French authorities earlier this month, has been released on bail by decision of a French court. Serbia wants to try the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1998-1999 conflict in the former Yugoslavia. He was previously tried and acquitted by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

14 January 2017:  According to an international watchdog, ten years after its civil war, Nepal has failed to punish war crime perpetrators. Activists say the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission to Investigate Enforced Disappearances, two panels set up to hear complaints, do not meet the international standards and were set up under legislation allowing amnesties.

13 January 2017:  During a debate in Parliament British politicians have called for an independent inquiry into breaches of humanitarian law allegedly committed during the recent civil war in Yemen, as Saudi Arabia's progress in delivering a report on its investigation into its own allegations of war crimes is deemed too slow.  

12 January 2017:  According to a global maritime watchdog, in 2016 sea piracy has been at its lowest point in 18 years with 191 incidents compared to 246 in 2015. However, kidnappings of crew members are increasing off West Africa and in the Sulu Seas near the Philippines.

12 January 2017:  In the United States, the families of three victims of the Islamic State attacks in Brussels and Paris decided to sue Twitter for failing to keep the terrorist organization off its platform. The lawsuit alleges Twitter has played a "uniquely essential role in the development of ISIS's image, its success in recruiting members from around the world, and its ability to carry out attacks and intimidate its enemies".

11 January 2017:  In a recent report, Amnesty International (AI) deplored the fact that many war crimes perpetrators remain unpunished in the Central African Republic. According to the organisation "thousands of victims of human rights abuses are still waiting for justice to be served, while individuals who have committed horrific crimes like murder and rape roam free". For this reason AI is calling for funds to rebuild the country's justice system and establish a Special Criminal Court to hold perpetrators to account.

11 January 2017:  A Maryland resident and former Guatemalan soldier possibly linked to a 1982 attack on the village of Dos Erres in Guatemala has been arrested by U.S. federal agents. Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales is the fifth suspect arrested in the U.S. for the slaughter of civilians in Dos Erres. He is wanted in Guatemala for murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

10 January 2017:  In a parish of Bugesera, a district of the Eastern province of Rwanda, more than 160 genocide perpetrators engaged in a process of reconciliation with survivors. As part of the process they are asked to confess their crimes and ask for forgiveness. Overall, this programme is perceived rather positively by victims who see it as a way to achieve true unity and reconciliation.

10 January 2017:  Yesterday, Chad's former president Hissene Habre appealed his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last May, Mr. Habre had been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Extraordinary African Chambers for summary execution, torture and rape. He always refused to recognise the court's authority.

9 January 2017:  The Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council and Chair of the UN/ISSG Task Force on Humanitarian Access in Syria, Jan Egeland, stated during a press conference that the interruption of water that has deprived millions of Syrians of clean access to water constitutes a war crime.

8 January 2017:  The Sri Lankan Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms has recommended the appointment of a hybrid court, which would be composed of international and local judges, to adjudicate allegations of war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's civil war. The recommendation echoes a  2015 report by the UN Human Rights Commission.

7 January 2017:  The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has received a petition by a group of Ugandan lawmakers asking for an investigation into possible genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by national security forces when clashing with a tribal militia last year in Western Uganda.

6 January 2017: In the United States two indigenous groups have brought a case for damages against Germany for the alleged genocide of their ancestors in Namibia between 1904 and 1908. Germany has repeatedly refused to recognize a genocide ever occurred.

6 January 2017: On Tuesday the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected the defence's challenge of its jurisdiction in the Ntaganda case. Contrary to what the defence had claimed, the Court decided it did have jurisdiction over the counts relating to the alleged war crimes of rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers. Trial Chamber VI argued that there was no reason to exclude members of the same armed force as potential victims of these war crimes.

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.