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News archive

April

9 April 2019: Malaysia has decided to withdraw from the International Criminal Court just one month after acceding to the Rome Statute. Following the accession in March, an alliance of the United Malay National Organization (UMNO) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) heavily criticised the government over concerns that the ICC could prosecute the King, as supreme commander of the State's armed forces, and threaten Malaysia’s sovereignty. Human Rights Watch has called on Malaysia to reverse this decision, stating it “makes a mockery of the government’s commitment to justice”.

8 April 2019: The first trial of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) members for war crimes has commenced in Uganda. Thomas Kwoyelo has been accused of murder, rape and enslavement in the context of the Ugandan conflict from 1987-2006. He pleads not guilty to all 93 counts against him. Mr. Kwoyelo is the first LRA rebel to appear before the Ugandan International Crimes Division, which was established in 2008. 5 April 2019: The United States has revoked the entry visa for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has stated: "If you're responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you will still have or get a visa, or that you will be permitted to enter the United States. We're prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course". The move is in response to the ICC's investigation into whether the US engaged in war crimes, such as torture at secret CIA-run detention sites, in Afghanistan.

4 April 2019: Amnesty International has reported that increased air strikes in Somalia by United States forces have led to civilian deaths that may constitute war crimes. The report investigates five instances in Lower Scabelle, Somalia, involving the death of 14 civilians and injuries to 8. In 2018 and in response to the Amnesty Report, the US has denied that civilians have been killed during the course of the strikes, and that all resulting deaths are members of Al-Shabaab, an armed group currently engaged in conflict with the Somali government. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) stated: "In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducts airstrikes to defend the people of Somalia against terrorism, and to assist the Federal Government of Somalia as it works to alleviate security challenges." Amnesty International contests these claim and calls on the US to carry out effective investigations, acknowledge civilian casualties, provide victims and their families with reparations, allow for safe and accessible means for communities to self-report civilian casualties and ensure all strikes are carried out in compliance with international humanitarian law.

3 April 2019: A delegation from the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has arrived in Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of torture, which have continued since the end of the civil conflict in 2009. The delegation will meet with government bodies, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and other civil society actors. This visit comes just after the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution granting Sri Lanka another two years to implement processes ensuring reconciliation, accountability and human rights. Amnesty International has expressed disappointment that the resolution does not address Sri Lanka's failure to implement these processes to date. A report from human rights group Freedom from Torture states that "torture has continued in a context of ongoing security operations in post-conflict Sri Lanka, despite the new government's promise of a 'zero tolerance' policy on torture". 

2 April 2019: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and Thai human rights group Fortify Rights have released a report accusing a transnational crime syndicate of committing crimes against humanity by trafficking Rohingya Muslims feeling Myanmar, as well as Bangladeshi citizens travelling to Malaysia. According to the report, between 2012 to 2015 approximately 170,00 people fled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand following violence in Myanmar. Traffickers are accused of murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, starvation and forced displacement of victims during this period. Mass graves have been discovered in both Thailand and Malaysia. Thailand has convicted over 60 people for human trafficking in 2017, including 9 government officials, however according to the CEO of Fortify Rights Matthew Smith, such investigations have not occurred in Malaysia. It has been reported that human traffickers profited from between US$50 to US$100 million each year from this trade.

1 April 2019: The United Kingdom has joined forces with the Seychelles to tackle piracy in the Indian Ocean. Piracy is said to cost the international economy between $7 billion - $12 billion per year. The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) will assist under the Navigation, Stabilisation Advice and Training (SONSAT) program in the Seychelles. This consists of raising awareness of government officials on the existing infrastructure to deal with maritime piracy, such as the World-Wide Navigational Warning Service and the Rescue Coordination Centres. The tourism industry in the Seychelles is impacted by piracy in the region, as are the UK’s economic interests as it uses the surrounding waters for trade.


March 2019


29 March 2019: Prosecutors in Switzerland have indicted a Liberian national, Alieu Kosiah, for war crimes during the first Liberian civil war. Swiss Investigators are currently looking into a dozen other cases relating to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. This is the first instance of an international criminal law indictment being raised in the Swiss criminal justice system. The suspect is accused of being a former commander for the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) and of committing murders, rape and other activities “aimed at enslaving and terrorising the population in the Lofa County between 1993 and 1995". 

28 March 2019: A Lithuanian court has found the Soviet Union’s last defense minister, Dmitry Yazov, guilty of war crimes and has sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment in absentia. The conviction was part of a trial of over 60 former Soviet officials for a violent suppression of Lithuania’s independence movement in January 1991 that left 14 people dead and hundreds injured. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has stated: “On this historic day, justice has come. Those responsible for the death of peaceful freedom defenders have been sentenced”.

27 March 2019Eight Lebanese citizens have been charged with ‘terrorism’ in the United Arab Emirates. All are Shia Muslims, and Human Rights Watch has reported that they have been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement and denied legal representation in a trial ‘marred with violations’. The charges are yet to be made public, with UAE media reporting the group has links to Hezbollah, a group that has been categorised as a terrorist organisation by UAE.

26 March 2019: A Canadian court has ruled that the sentence of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, has expired. Khadr was born in Canada and sent to Afghanistan by his father, a member of al-Qaeda. He was captured in 2002 at age 15, and spent the following decade at the US Guantanamo Bay detention center. He was convicted by a US military commission in 2010 of war crimes and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, subsequently being transferred to a prison in Canada after striking a plea deal in 2012. He was released on bail in 2015 and has sued the Canadian government for violating his constitutional rights and being complicit in his detention at Guantanamo Bay, receiving a C$10.5 million settlement. 

25 March 2019: Saša Cvetković, a former member of Republika Srpska Army, has been found guilty of war crimes and convicted for the rape of two women and the murder of two civilians in a village near Srebrenica in 1992. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and ordered to pay compensation of 15,000 BAM to one of the sexual violence victims. This is the 13th case where victims of sexual violence during conflict have been awarded compensation before the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

22 March 2019: The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Israel for human rights violations, including war crimes, regarding the IDF’s response to the violent riots at the Israel-Gaza border during the Great Return March, which began exactly a year ago. The Council adopted a UN report which investigated the killings of 189 demonstrators, including 35 children, in Gaza between the 30th of March and the 31st of December, 2018. The report says: “The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that individual members of the Israeli security forces, in the course of their response to the demonstrations, killed and gravely injured civilians who were neither directly participating in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat.” 
The report was instantly denounced as “biased” and “anti-semitic” by Israel and its closest allies.

21 March 2019: According to a new report of Amnesty International, the United States may have committed war crimes as it bombed al-Shabab militants in Somalia. Researchers for Amnesty International investigated five U.S. airstrikes and found that they had resulted in 14 civilian deaths. They found that the airstrikes killed farmers, women and an eight-year-old girl, whom the group assessed had no ties to al-Shabab. "Due to the nature of the attacks, the U.S. government is violating international humanitarian law and these violations may amount to war crimes", said a researcher working for the group.

20 March 2019: The UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Appeals Chamber has updeld Radovan Karadzic conviction and sentenced him to life prison.
Judge Vagn Prüsse Joensen, the presiding judge of the Appeals Chamber, said an earlier prison term of 40 years (handed down in 2016) "inadequately reflected" the gravity of the crimes. Karadzic was found guilty of genocide and nine other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

19 March 2019: The withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, became effective as of 17 March 2019. However, it will not impact any on-going consideration of alleged crimes against humanity committed before the withdrawal entered into force. Should any further similar crimes be committed after 17 March 2019, the ICC will not have jurisdiction.

18 March 2019: Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the USA said the United States will withdraw or deny visas to any International Criminal Court personnel directly responsible for investigating possible war crimes by US forces or allies in Afghanistan. The Trump administration already threatened in September to ban  ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the US and sanction funds they have there if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan. In November 2017, the ICC prosecutor requested authorization from judges to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, including in states where the CIA held prisoners.

15 March 2019: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will face the IRMCT's Appeals Chamber on Wednesday for a ruling that will end one of the highest profile legal battles stemming from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Karadzic, 73, was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2016 after being convicted of genocide for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence and a second genocide conviction for his alleged role in a policy of targeting non-Serbs across Bosnia in the early years of the war while Karadzic is appealing against his conviction.

14 March 2019: Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday it had asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the murders of 102 journalists in Mexico from 2012 to 2018. According to the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, these crimes against humanity (constitute) a generalized and systematic attack on a civilian population: journalists.

13 March 2019: