4 June 2019: The Concurring and Separate Opinion of Judge Mindua on the investigation of the situation in Afghanistan at the International Criminal Court was released late last week. The opinion states: “I fully concur with my learned two colleagues in rejecting the Prosecutor’s ‘Request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to article 15’”. The opinion sought to clarify Judge Mindua’s opinion regarding the issues of the scope of the Pre-Trial Chamber’s authorisation of an investigation and the meaning of the expression "interests of justice".
3 June 2019: A submission by international lawyers Juan Branco and Omer Shatz to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has called for the prosecution of the EU and member states for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya. The submission alleges that the EU, and members states such as Italy, Germany and France have committed crimes against humanity: “In order to stem migration flows from Libya at all costs … and in lieu of operating safe rescue and disembarkation as the law commands, the EU is orchestrating a policy of forced transfer to concentration camps-like detention facilities [in Libya] where atrocious crimes are committed.” No particular politicians or officials are singled out for specific responsibility, but the submission does quote diplomatic cables and comments from national leaders, such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.
29 May 2019: An Amnesty International report on the “War in Raqqa” indicates that US-led coalition forces have caused the death of over 1,600 people in strikes against Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria. Amnesty claims that this has involved disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks that violate international humanitarian law (IHL), constituting war crimes. Amnesty has called on the coalition to take responsibility for the high number of civilian deaths. Separately, it has come to light that nearly 800,000 documents have been smuggled out of Syria, containing evidence of alleged war crimes committed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
28 May 2019: Human Rights Watch has released a report detailing grave abuses against civilians amounting to war crimes committed by Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula. The report documents the conflict in the North Sinai region that has killed and wounded thousands of individuals since 2013, based on a two year investigation. Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch stated: “This horrific treatment of Sinai residents should be another wake-up call to countries like the US and France that heedlessly endorse Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts.”
27 May 2019: Controversy has arisen regarding statements made by US President Donald Trump that he will consider giving pardons to particular US armed forces personnel who have either been convicted of or will stand trial for war crimes. Gabor Rona, Visiting Professor of Law and Director of the Law and Armed Conflict Project at Cardozo Law School, has authored a blog post arguing that, as Commander in Chief of the US armed forces, President Trump may be committing a war crime by issuing these pardons under the principle of command responsibility, for failing to punish violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) committed by his subordinates. The International Committee of the Red Cross has also weighed in on the debate, releasing a statement on the legality of pardons for war crimes under IHL, albeit without explicitly mentioning any particular case.
24 May 2019: According to the United Nations mission to Mali, a March attack in which 157 people were killed in Ogossagou was “planned, organized and coordinated” and could amount to a crime against humanity.
23 May 2019: A Syrian national has been arrested in the Netherlands on suspicion of having committed war crimes and terrorist offences in Syria. The man is accused of acting as a commander of a terrorist Jabhat al-Nusra battalion. He will be brought before the District Court in The Hague, the court that has appointed to rule on cases concerning international crimes.
22 May 2019: The defence counsel for Bosco Ntaganda has filed a request for the disqualification of Judge Kuniko Ozaki pursuant to art 41(2) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In the request, it is argued that Judge Ozaki’s concurrent service as a diplomatic ambassador for Japan “was incompatible with her judicial independence” and that a “Judge who is not independent cannot be reasonably perceived as being impartial”. It is this lack of appearance of impartiality that is the basis of the request, as “[t]he appearance of a serving Ambassador of a State sitting on the bench of an ongoing case at the ICC profoundly undermines, in the eyes of an objective observer, the judicial character of the Court.” The request highlights that Judge Ozaki’s subsequent resignation from her ambassadorial post does not restore the appearance of her independence or impartiality, given the belated timing of her resignation, her failure to acknowledge that the resignation is required by the dictates of judicial independence and the negative impact on her interests because of the resignation.
21 May 2019: The man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch mosques attack in New Zealand on March 15 has been charged with the offence of “engaging in a terrorist act”, in addition to facing murder and attempted murder charges. It is the first time anyone in New Zealand has been charged with this offence.
20 May 2019: Judge Liu Daqun of the International Residual Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals has revoked an order referring a contempt case to Serbia, after witnesses raised concerns about their safety. Vjerica Radeta and Petar Jojic were charged in 2012 with tampering with witnesses in the trial against their party leader, Vojislav Seselj. A summons has been issued for the return of Radeta and Jojic to the Hague to be tried, however they are refusing to cooperate, arguing that extradition to the Hague could only be for accusations of war crimes, not contempt of court, on the basis of a Serbian High Court ruling in 2016.
16 May 2019: Amnesty International has presented evidence suggesting the commission of war crimes in Libya and has urged the ICC Prosecutors to undertake an investigation of the situation there. According to Amnesty, eye witness testimony and satellite imagery reveals evidence of indiscriminate attacks in residential areas and attacks on migrant and refugee detention centres. “Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property, and indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians amount to war crimes. All sides have an absolute obligation under international law to protect civilian lives and to clearly distinguish between civilians and fighters during their attacks.”
15 May 2019: Amnesty International has called on the international criminal justice system to take a “vigorous response” to crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions and deaths and injuries. Americas director at Amnesty International Erika Guevara-Rosas said: “As we have been saying for years, in Venezuela there is a systematic policy of repression against opponents or those perceived to be opponents simply because they are protesting, for which Nicolás Maduro’s government must be held accountable before the international justice system”. You can read the full report here.
14 May 2019: Sudanese prosecutors have announced that former President Omar al-Bashir has been charged in relation to the killing of protestors during demonstrations that led to his removal from government. It is reported that the prosecutor’s office indicated that al-Bashir and others have been accused of incitement and complicity in relation to these deaths. Two arrest warrants for the arrest and surrender of al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court relating to charges of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes remain outstanding.
13 May 2019: The United States has revoked the visas of several Colombian judges. It was reported that Counstitutional Court magistrates Antonio Lizarazo and Diana Fajardo were informed their visas were revoked, following their refusal to dine with US Ambassador Kevin Whitaker after alleging he was involved in "meddling" over the country's war crimes tribunal. This also follows criticism by the US of Colombian courts not allowing the extradition of suspects of war crimes on war trafficking charges in order to prioritize the victims of the conflict in Colombia.
10 May 2019: A Kosovo parliamentary commission has approved a draft resolution accusing Serbia of committing genocide of Albanians during the 1998-99 war. The resolution alleges that Serbians were responsible for over 270 killings and that 1,600 people still remain missing. It also proposes a Day of Commemoration of Genocide against Albanians in Kosovo, calls on Serbia to recognise that it committed genocide and crimes against humanity and requests the introduction of laws penalising justification, minimisation or denial of the genocide in Kosovo.
9 May 2019: Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), addressed the United Nations Security Council on the progress of bringing perpetrators of international crimes in Libya to account. She stated that “the first and indispensable step” for the international community is to ensure that the outstanding arrest warrants of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled are executed and that these suspects are transferred to the ICC for prosecution for war crimes. She emphasised that: “Such a development would send a strong and necessary message to the victims of grave crimes in Libya, that the Council and the international community at large are serious about pursing justice...and committed to taking concrete action towards that end”. Bensouda appeared before the Security Council in New York despite the previous revocation of her visa by US authorities. Conflict continues in Libya, with the United Nations most recently expressing concern in relation to airstrikes in Eastern Tripoli that led to dozens of civilian deaths.
8 May 2019: Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi has been transferred to a prison in Scotland to serve his 9 year sentence. Al-Mahdi was convicted in 2016 by Trial Chamber VIII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after pleading guilty of the war crime of directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Mali in 2012. He was the first accused to plead guilty at a trial before the ICC.
7 May 2019: Human Rights Watch has called on States participating in Côte d’Ivoire’s third Universal Periodic Review before the United Nations Human Rights Council to raise concerns over its failure to provide justice for victims of post-election human rights abuses that arose in 2010-2011. In August 2018 an amnesty was announced in Côte d’Ivoire for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses committed during this period. The West Africa Director at Human Rights Watch stated: “The lack of justice for thousands of victims of one of Côte d’Ivoire’s worst episodes of political violence is a stain on the government’s rights record and threatens the country’s peace and stability.”
6 May 2019: The International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber has confirmed the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber II finding that Jordan failed to comply with its obligations to arrest and surrender (now former) Sudanese President al-Bashir whilst he was present on its territory, but reversed the referral of Jordan to the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for this failure. The Court held that as under Art. 27(2) of the Rome Statute immunities do not bar the ICC's jurisdiction and this reflects customary international law, there is therefore no immunity for Heads of State under customary international law before international courts and tribunals.
6 May 2019: The Syrian Network for Human Rights has released its monthly special report documenting notable human rights violations in April 2019 committed by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria. The report outlines that during this period there were 324 civilian deaths, 459 cases of arbitrary arrests and at least 51 attacks on civilian objects. It is suggested that Syrian-Russian forces committed extrajudicial killings, arrest, torture and enforced disappearance, as well as engaging in indiscriminate attacks and attacks on civilians amounting to war crimes. It is reported that Islamist extremist groups were also involved in such human rights violations, and that indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by the alliance of International Coalition forces and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are also considered to be in violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), amounting to war crimes. The report calls on the United Nations to take a number of measures to help relieve the situation in Syria as well as refer the situation to the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be prosecuted.
3 May 2019: The Public Prosecutor in Sudan has ordered the interrogation of former President Omar al-Bashir on charges of money laundering and financing terrorism. The Prosecutor also indicated that other senior officials will also be investigated. Reuters also reports that the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) has presented the Transitional Military Council currently in power a draft constitutional document on how it envisages future civilian rule in Sudan. This has followed continued protests since the ousting of al-Bashir demanding a civilian-led interim government.
2 May 2019: The Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed that Judge Kuniko Ozaki has resigned her post as Japanese Ambassador to Estonia. The notification issued highlights that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on 23 April 2019 that the resignation of Judge Ozaki was officially accepted by the Government of Japan on 18 April 2019.
1 May 2019: Bosco Ntaganda's defence counsel has requested the disqualification of International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge Ozaki pursuant to Art. 40(2) of the Rome Statute on the basis of her appointment as Ambassador of Japan in Estonia. Ntaganda’s counsel argue that Judge Ozaki’s role as a senior Japanese diplomat in an EU State Party to the Rome Statute “creates the appearance that she is not independent”. This move has followed calls that Judge Ozaki must “resign – or be removed” in light of her diplomatic appointment following a decision by a majority of the ICC Judges in March allowing Judge Ozaki’s request to stay on as a non-full-time judge alongside her diplomatic post, as it “was not incompatible with the requirements of judicial independence”. The request by Ntaganda's counsel asks the Judges to reconsider this decision and disqualify Judge Ozaki.
30 April 2019: Judge Péter Kovács of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has postponed the confirmation of charges hearing for former Malian militant Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud. Al Hassan is accused of religious and gender-based persecution in Mali and has been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. A warrant for his arrest was issued on 27 March 2018 and he has been in custody since 31 March 2018 when he surrendered to the Court. The postponement from 6 May to 8 July 2019 was justified on the basis of procedural delays experienced by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). The OTP said that the continuing insecurity in Mali has made the collection of witness testimonies and implementing protective measures for witnesses difficult, the latter of which are required to be instituted before the identities of the witnesses can be disclosed to the defence.
29 April 2019: A Chamber of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP) in Colombia has ordered the arrest of Hernan Velasquez, also known as "El Paisa", a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) during the Colombian civil conflict. The order relates to the former rebel leader's failure to participate in reconciliation efforts mandated by the country’s peace deal, which was introduced in 2016 signaling the end of the conflict. In particular, Velasquez is accused of failing to provide testimony in a case relating to guerilla kidnappings, and as such he is no longer protected by the benefits of the peace agreement, such as avoiding jail time for war crimes. Velasquez has previously been sentenced to imprisonment in relation to his involvement in a 2003 car bombing in Bogota.
26 April 2019: Four former Presidents of the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties have called for an independent assessment of the Court’s functioning in the wake of the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber rejecting the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation into into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan. Prince Zeid Raad al Hussein, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Christian Wenaweser and Tiina Intelman expressed concern about the “…growing gap between the unique vision captured in the Rome Statute… and some of the daily work of the Court”, claiming that “… the powerful impact of the Court’s central message is too often not matched by its performance as a judicial institution.”
25 April 2019: This week Ecuador’s National Assembly approved the ratification of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This makes Ecuador the 38th ICC State Party and 7th Latin American State to ratify the Amendments on the Crime of Aggression adopted in Kampala in 2010. According to Parliamentarians for Global Action the ratification “sends a clear message to the international community of Ecuador’s public commitment to international peace and accountability for international crimes and reaffirms that Latin America remains at the forefront of the rule of law.”
24 April 2019: Saudi Arabia has executed 37 people, 33 of which were part of the country’s Shi’a minority, in connection with terrorism-related crimes. It is reported that a statement by the official Saudi Press Agency indicated the men were executed “for adopting terrorist and extremist thinking and for forming terrorist cells to corrupt and destabilise security”. Amnesty International has expressed concerns about Saudi Arabia’s escalating use of the death penalty and of sham trials violating international standards and allegedly using torture evidence, stating in particular that “the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shi’a minority”.
23 April 2019: A terrorist attack in Sri Lanka over the weekend targeting churches and hotels has caused the death of 310 victims and left a further 500 injured. The main suspect is a little-known Islamic organisation recognised for being anti-Buddhist, but which had not previously been linked to terrorism, and which is suspected of having received “international support”. A state of emergency has been called in Sri Lanka and 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
18 April 2019: A report prepared by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has revealed that despite evidence of reduction in the levels of torture or ill-treatment in Afghan detention centres, overall figures remain “disturbingly high”. The report is based on interviews with more than 600 detainees across 77 facilities, and shows on average almost one in three conflict related detainees provided “credible and reliable” accounts of torture or ill-treatment. The report called on the Afghan Government to take a number of measures to eradicate torture.
17 April 2019: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has expressed concerns over the escalating violence in Libya, stating: “I will not hesitate to expand my investigations and potential prosecutions to cover any new instances of crimes falling within the Court’s jurisdiction, with full respect for the principle of complementarity. No one should doubt my determination in this regard”. She has called on all parties to the fighting to refrain from committing war crimes and fully respect international humanitarian law, including protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and prisons. The Office of the Prosecutor is currently investigating several cases in relation to the Libyan situation, which was referred by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011).
16 April 2019: The President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, was deposed last week by the Sudanese military. A transitional military council has taken over governance of Sudan, imposing a two year transition period to be followed by elections. Demonstrations that began in December calling for the removal of al-Bashir from government have continued, with opposition groups demanding a civilian transition government be instated immediately. The transitional military council have indicated that they will accept a new prime minister chosen by opposition parties. The council has also stated that it will not extradite al-Bashir to The Hague to face the International Criminal Court, which issued two warrants for al-Bashir's arrest in 2009 and 2010 for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It has been reported that instead al-Bashir may be tried domestically by Sudanese courts.
15 April 2019: The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court has unanimously rejected the Office of the Prosecutor's request to open an investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan. In the decision, the PTC II considered the significant time that elapsed between the crimes and the request, the "scarce cooperation" during the preliminary examination and the likelihood that evidence and witnesses would be still available relevant to its ultimate finding that "the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited" and therefore "an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice". The PTC II also highlighted that the nature of the crimes and the context in Afghanistan mean the investigation would require "a significant amount of resources" which would have to be redirected from other situations with greater prospects of leading to trials.
12 April 2019: The trial of a German national, identified as Jennifer W, for war crimes has commenced in Munich. The woman is accused of enslaving a five year old Yazidi girl and letting her die of thirst. The charges against her include murder, war crimes, membership in a foreign terrorist organisation and weapons violations, for which she faces a life sentence. The woman travelled to Iraq in 2013 to join ISIS and was deported back to Germany in 2016 whilst trying to renew travel documents in Turkey.
11 April 2019: The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has warned that attacks of civilians in Libya may amount to war crimes. Libya has faced violence and instability since 2011 when leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed. It is reported that rebel leader Gen Haftar, who heads the Libyan National Army (LNA), is making advances on the capital, Tripoli, after taking control of southern Libya and its oil fields earlier this year. The Libyan Prime Minister, Fayez al-Serraj, has accused Haftar of attempting a coup to take control of the country. This Sunday there were UN-backed peace talks planned between the opposition groups, however it is no longer clear whether they will go ahead. The World Health Organization has reported that in the past 6 days there have been 56 deaths, including medical workers, another 266 people injured and thousands displaced as a result of the clashes.
10 April 2019: Romania’s former President Ion Iliescu has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role in the revolution that overthrew the communist regime in 1989. Iliescu, alongside former Deputy Prime Minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu and former Air Force Cdr Iosif Rus, has been accused of spreading misinformation to spread terror, as well as simulating a trial to summarily convict and execute communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena. Approximately 862 people were killed during the revolt.
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.
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 2019: Eight 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: Guatemalan lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to grant amnesty for war crimes committed during the country’s brutal 36-year civil war. The bill would free more than 30 former army officers, soldiers and civil defense patrolmen within 24 hours and halt investigations into thousands of cases. Backers of the amnesty say they are simply trying to move on and promote peace. But for victims and their families, the bill is a denial of justice and a negation of history.
12 March 2019: Jean-Pierre Bemba, former vice-president and rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is seeking 69 millions of euros in compensation from the International Criminal