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News archive

October

8 October 2019: Amnesty International released a report, entitled “Do you think we will prosecute ourselves: No prospects for accountability in South Sudan”, highlighting what it calls the “crippled justice system” in South Sudan. The report criticises the lack of independence of the judiciary, as well as the government of South Sudan for granting blanket amnesties for international crimes and failing to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes committed by both government and opposition forces in the armed conflict since 2013. “By repeatedly granting these blanket amnesties, the President violates South Sudan’s obligations under international law and denies victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparations”. The report calls for the establishment of a hybrid transitional justice mechanism, which was provided for in the peace agreements of 2015 and 2018 but never materialised.

7 October 2019: The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution to create an independent fact-finding body to investigate human rights violations in Venezuela since 2014. Allegations against the Venezuelan government include enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrests, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and extrajudicial killings. The resolution was presented by the Lima Group, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru. Human Rights Watch has called on the body to share information with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, which opened a preliminary examination into the situation of alleged crimes against humanity in Venezuela in February 2018, and also called on other States to prosecute torture cases pursuant to universal jurisdiction.

3 October 2019: A law firm has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The filing states: "Mohammed Bin Salman, through command or superior responsibility, is guilty of murder, torture, rape, extortion, illegal detentions, wrongful prosecution and the death penalty, i.e., crimes against humanity as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute".

2 October 2019: The Bosnian Constitutional Court has rejected the appeal filed by former Serbian paramilitary leader Gojko Jankovic. Jankovic was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 34 years’ imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed against the non-Serb civilian population of Foča, including unlawful detention, murder, torture and rape and sexual enslavement of young women and girls. He was originally indicted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), with his case being referred to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005.  

1 October 2019: The Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court has confirmed the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud. The Chamber found there are substantial grounds for concluding that Al Hassan is responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Timbuktu, Mali between 2012-2013.

September 

27 September 2019: Nine Sudanese victims have filed a criminal complaint in a French Court relating to alleged complicity of BNP Paribas (BNPP) in crimes against humanity, torture and genocide in Sudan. The filing was supported by FIDH and Project Expedite Justice. Between 2002 and 2008 the Sudanese government is alleged to have committed numerous international crimes which led to the death of more than 300,000 civilians. In proceedings in the United States related to BNPP’s breach of US sanctions, the company admitted to acting as Sudan’s foreign bank during this period. Investigations are also ongoing in France relating ot BNPP’s role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.    

26 September 2019: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has announced her intention to appeal the acquittal of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo. In January 2019, Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Blé Goudé were acquitted of crimes against humanity relating to post-electoral violence in 2010-2011 in Côte d'Ivoire that led to the death of around 3,000 people.

25 September 2019: An indictment against Salim Jamil Ayyash has been made public by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The indictment relates to attacks against three Lebanese politicians, Mr Marwan Hamade, Mr Georges Hawi and Mr Elias El- Murr. It contains five charges, including conspiracy to commit a terrorist act (alternatively criminal association), committing terrorist acts, intentional homicide with premeditation and attempted intentional homicide with premeditation. Both a Lebanese and international arrest warrant has been issued for Ayyash, whose current whereabouts is unknown.

24 September 2019: The confirmation of charges hearing in The Prosecutor v. Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona has commenced at the International Criminal Court. The hearing is scheduled until 27 September 2019, with the Pre-Trial Chamber to delivery its decision on whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial within 60 days. Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona are alleged to be responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between 2013-2014.  

23 September 2019: Liberian President George Weah has endorsed the creation of a war crimes court to secure justice for the atrocities committed during Liberia’s civil wars. In a letter to the legislature, President Weah wrote: “I ... do hereby call on the National Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report, including the establishment of the Economic and War Crimes Court.” To date, the few cases dealing with crimes committed during the Liberian civil wars have been dealt with outside of Liberia, pursuant to universal jurisdiction.

19 September 2019: The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court has granted the request of the Prosecution to bring an appeal against its decision to block investigations into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. In April the Chamber found that it was not in the interests of justice to allow the proposed investigation, a decision for which it was heavily criticised for giving the appearance that the Court had given into political pressure from the United States.

18 September 2019: The Hague District Court in the Netherlands has held a hearing on a war crimes case against former Israeli commander Benny Gantz. The claimant is a Dutch/Palestinian man who seeks damages from the accused and a co-defendant, Amir Eshel, for their role in killing six of his relatives during the 2014 Gaza War. Counsel for the defendants argued that a Dutch court was not an appropriate forum for this matter, which should be dealt with in Israel, with the claimant’s lawyer arguing that Palestinians do not have recourse to justice in Israel. The Dutch courts may hear war crimes cases pursuant to universal jurisdiction enshrined in Dutch law, so long as the claimant cannot get a fair trial elsewhere. A decision as to whether the case can proceed is expected in January 2020.

16 September 2019: A report by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria has suggested that all parties to the ongoing conflict may have committed war crimes. It indicated that the failure of US-led coalition forces to take the necessary precautions to discriminate between military objectives and civilians during air strikes may constitute war crimes. Moreover, the campaign by the Syrian government and allied Russian forces appearing to target medical facilities, schools, markets and farmland may also constitute war crimes. Finally, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group formerly known as the Nusra Front, has been accused of firing rockets indiscriminately and killing civilians.

13 September 2019: The United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has handed over its evidence of international crimes to the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM). The evidence has been transferred in a way to ensure its integrity for possible future use in prosecutions. The IIMM was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 39/2 to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011 and to prepare files in preparation for criminal prosecutions. The Head of the IIMM, Nicholas Koumjian, officially commenced his function on 1 July 2019.

12 September 2019: Colombian energy company EMP has been called to appear before the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) in relation to its role in flooding an area where prosecutors were looking for hundreds of missing persons. In 2002 the crime syndicate La Oficina de Envigado took control of the city of Medellin and hundreds of people went missing from a valley that was flooded by EMP, which is now the site of a controversial hydroelectric dam project. EMP will appear before the JEP to clarify its role in the flooding and preventing the search for the missing persons. The JEP has also ordered the inspection of two quarries in Medellin where, according to a local court, 300 people are buried. 

11 September 2019: The European Union has set up a counter-terrorism register in hopes of facilitating the prosecution of returning foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria. The database will collect information from all EU countries on ongoing investigations and prosecutions of terrorist suspects and is hoped to lead cooperation between States that will prevent suspects from escaping prosecution or being prosecuted for lesser crimes due to lack of evidence or insufficient coordination of parallel investigations, culminating in the prosecution of war crimes. It is also hoped the new tool could prevent terrorism in Europe.

9 September 2019: The lawyer representing 23 civil parties in the case relating to the 2015 Paris attacks has applied to the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office to try the defendant Salah Abdeslam for crimes against humanity instead of terrorism offences. Abdelam is the only survivor of the attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis that left 131 dead and almost 500 injured.

6 September 2019: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to reconsider her decision not to open an investigation into an attack by the Israeli Defence Force on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in 2010. The Appeals Chamber rejected the Prosecutor's appeal of the 2015 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber holding that the Prosecutor had made a material error in determining that the incident was not of "sufficient gravity" to warrant further action by the ICC. The Chamber acknowledged that the decision whether or not to pursue an investigation ultimately lies with the Prosecution.

5 September 2019: The trial of a Syrian national accused of committing war crimes in Syria has commenced in the Netherlands under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws. It is alleged that Ahmad al Khedr, aka Abu Khuder, is a member of the Nusra Front. He has been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, as well as the war crime of murder in relation to the summary execution of a Syrian soldier. Al Khedr had been living in the Netherlands since 2014, where he had been granted temporary asylum.

4 September 2019: A report submitted to the United Nations by the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen indicates that states such as France, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States which have supported or provided assistance to parties to the conflict in Yemen, for example through arms transfers, may be complicit in war crimes. The report outlines a host of violations committed by both sides to the conflict that may lead to criminal responsibility for war crimes, including unlawful airstrikes, the use of shelling and snipers, starvation as a method of warfare, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and other ill-treatment, hostage-taking, violations affecting children and attacks on civilians.

2 September 2019: A date has been set in January 2021 for the war crimes trial of the five men accused of planning and supporting the September 11 terrorist attacks. The trial will take place at the United States military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the defendants have been held since 2006. The war crimes charges include terrorism, hijacking and almost 3,000 counts of murder.

August

30 August 2019: The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced former Jamat-e-Islami supporter Md Abdus Samad Musa to death for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the murder of 15 people, arson attacks, looting, confinement and torture during the Liberation War in Bangladesh in 1971. This decision is not final and can be appealed. To date the Tribunal has convicted 89 people, 62 of which have been sentenced to death.

28 August 2019: A German court has brought charges against a Syrian national for war crimes relating to his involvement in fighting with Islamic State against the Syrian government. The suspect is accused of posing for a picture with a severed head of what is presumed to be an opposition fighter and mocking the victim. If convicted, the suspect, who is currently imprisoned for other offences, faces an additional sentence of between 1-10 years’ imprisonment.

27 August 2019: A report released by the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar on sexual and gender-based violence concludes that “rape and other sexual violence have been a particularly egregious and recurrent feature of the targeting of the civilian population in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States since 2011”. The Mission considers these grave violations to amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It considers the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, to be the main perpetrator of these crimes, and calls for the investigation and prosecution of senior military officials. 

26 August 2019: Jose Miguel Narvaez, former deputy director of Colombia’s former intelligence agency DAS, has requested to submit to the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) war crimes tribunal. Narvaez was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment for involvement in the murder of journalist/comedian Jaime Garzon in 1999, and 8 years’ for his role in wiretapping perceived political opponents of former President Uribe. If Narvaez can demonstrate his sincere intention to tell the truth and provide redress to victims, his cooperation with the tribunal could lead to his early release.

23 August 2019: In a bid to halt the sale of British Weapons to Saudi Arabia, a report has been submitted to the UK government by a team of international lawyers and a Yemeni humans rights group presenting new e