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News archive 2013-2015

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December 2015

23 December 2015: Adopting a new resolution on Tuesday, the Security Council welcomed the completion of judicial work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) set up in the wake of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, following delivery of the court’s last judgment on 14 December and its impending closure, set for 31 December 2015. The Security Council acknowledged its “substantial contribution…to the process of national reconciliation and the restoration of peace and security, and to the fight against impunity and the development of international criminal justice, especially in relation to the crime of genocide.” The ICTR will become the first ad hoc international criminal tribunal to complete its mandate and hand its remaining functions over to its residual mechanism, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which the Council set up in 2010 to carry out a number of essential functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), after the completion of their respective mandates.

23 December 2015: UK judge has ruled that five Rwandan men accused of taking part in the country's 1994 genocide should not be extradited to face trial. District judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates' Court said there was a real risk they would not get a fair trial in Rwanda. An attempt to extradite four of the men, who are all of Hutu ethnicity, was thrown out by the High Court in 2009 on similar grounds. The Crown Prosecution Service indicated it would appeal against the ruling.

22 December 2015: The East Africa Law Society has asked the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to quickly start a probe to establish if crimes against humanity are being committed in Burundi. President Nassor Khamis said in a letter to Fatou Bensouda on Friday that quick intervention will help end the violence in the country UN officials said is on the brink of civil war. Burundi said there was no need for peacekeepers but the African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Council has proposed sending 5,000, invoking for the first time a rule which allows it to deploy a force without a country's consent. The AU decision, drawn up late on Thursday, needs approval from the UN Security Council.

22 December 2015:  The US government’s investigation into the October 3, 2015 airstrike on a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, should be treated as a criminal matter, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said  in a letter to US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. HRW found that there is a strong basis for determining that criminal liability exists. “The attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz involved possible war crimes,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director. “The ongoing US inquiry will not be credible unless it considers criminal liability and is protected from improper command influence.” The attack, involving an AC-130 gunship firing for at least 29 minutes on a designated medical facility, killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens of others.  

21 December 2015: The African Union (AU) will be violating Burundi’s sovereignty if it goes ahead with plans to send in peacekeeping troops to the country to protect civilians and help restore peace, presidential adviser Willy Nyamitwe said. "Those who are bringing the issue of genocide [are] only in their minds. There is no genocide in Burundi", he added.  The AU’s Peace and Security Council approved sending peacekeepers to Burundi on Thursday to review the current situation in the country. Violence has been escalating in Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for an additional term of office, and his subsequent re-election.

21 December 2015: On 19 December 2015, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Germain Katanga were transferredto a prison facility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to serve their respective sentences of imprisonment. This constitutes the first time that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has designated a State for the enforcement of imprisonment's sentences, pursuant to article 103 of the Rome Statute. Lubanga and Katanga had each expressed a preference to serve their respective sentences of imprisonment in the DRC, their home country. The enforcement of the sentences of imprisonment shall be subject to the supervision of the Court and shall be consistent with widely accepted international standards governing the treatment of prisoners. Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment after having been found guilty, on 10 July 2012,  of the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities. On 1 December 2014, the Appeals Chamber confirmed the conviction and sentence imposed. He has been detained at the ICC Detention Centre in The Hague since 16 March 2006. Katanga was sentenced, on 23 May 2014, to 12 years' imprisonment after being found guilty of one count ofcrime against humanity and four counts of war crimes. On 13 November 2015, a Panel of three Judges of the ICC Appeals Chamber reviewed his sentence and decided to reduce it. Accordingly, the date for the completion of his sentence is set to 18 January 2016.

18 December 2015: The man who bought the assault rifles his friend used in the San Bernardino massacre was charged yesterday with a terrorism-related charge alleging he plotted earlier attacks at a college they attended and on a congested freeway. Enrique Marquez Jr., 24, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists for those earlier plots with Syed Rizwan Farook. Those plans may never have come to light if not for the Dec. 2 terrorist attack where Farook and his wife used guns Marquez bought years ago to kill 14 people at a holiday meeting of Farook's co-workers. The couple were killed in the shootout.

18 December 2015: A new 86-pages Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, titled 'If the Dead Could Speak',features photographs and testimonies that document the deaths of nearly 7,000 people in detention facilities at the hands of Syria's security agencies. Many appear to have died from torture, beatings or starvation. HRW Deputy Director for the Middle East, Nadim Houry, said the Syrian Government must allow independent monitors in to see conditions in detention centres for themselves. Former detainees who have since been released, and guards who have also defected, have confirmed the horrendous conditions for those in custody in Syria, and say torture and malnutrition were widespread. The Syrian Government has previously and consistently rejected photographs or any evidence of torture inside its prisons.

18 December 2015: The African Union said violence in Burundi must end, the 54-member bloc said on Thursday. "Africa will not allow another genocide to take place on its soil," the AU's Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in messages posted on its Twitter account as it discussed the crisis in Burundi, adding there was "an urgent need for action to stop the killings." On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that Burundi "is on the brink of a civil war that risks engulfing the entire region." Burundi descended into bloodshed in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, which he went on to win in July.

17 December 2015: On 10 December 2015, the District Court in the Hague issued its judgment in the so-called Context case, the largest terrorism case in the Netherlands in years. All nine suspects - eight men and one woman - were convicted. Six of the men were convicted on the basis of Article 140a of the Dutch Criminal Code (criminal organisation with terrorist intent), receiving punishments varying from three years, of which one year suspended, to six years. According to the Court, the six suspects were part of a Hague-based 'ronselorganisatie' (recruitment organisation), which incited, recruited, facilitated and financed youngsters who wanted to travel to Syria to fight. Of the six men, two are still participating in the armed conflict in Syria, whereas a third person has returned. The Judgment (in Dutch) can be found here.

17 December 2015: Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The alliance was announced by Mohammed bin Salman, the country's Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince. Arab countries such as Qatar and the UAE will join the coalition, as well as Middle Eastern, Asian and African states including Pakistan, Malaysia, and Nigeria. Mohammed bin Salman said the new alliance would co-ordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. When asked if the alliance would deploy troops on the ground, Saudi's Foreign Minister said "nothing is off the table". However, the coalition has faced criticism in that neither Iraq nor Syria, whose governments are close to Shia-ruled Iran, are in the coalition, nor is Afghanistan. 

17 December 2015: Two former top Bosnian Serb officials closely linked to ex-leader Radovan Karadzicopened appeals a the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Wednesday against their 22-year jail terms, accusing a judge of bias in their trial. Mico Stanisic and his subordinate Stojan Zupljanin were sentenced in 2013 for their roles in the Balkan country's 1992-95 war. Stanisic, 61, a former Bosnian Serb interior minister and former regional security services chief Zupljanin, 64, faced charges of war crimes andcrimes against humanity including murder and torture. Stanisic's lawyer Stephane Bourgon said one of the former trial judges in his client's case showed "reasonable... bias" in favour of convicting the court's suspects, including his own client.

17 December 2015: A man found guilty of lying about his participation in Bosnian war crimes in 1992, but later granted a new trial in Vermont, US, agreed on Wednesday to give up his United States citizenship and leave the country. If the man, Edin Sakoc, complies with his promises, prosecutors will dismiss the criminal charges against him, the government stipulated in a United States District Court filing in Burlington. Mr Sakoc is a Bosnian Muslim who was charged in 2013 with lying about his role in the Bosnian civil war when he applied for US citizenship. Prosecutors accused Mr Sakoc of raping a woman in the town of Pocitelj and aiding in the killings of two women in her Bosnian Serb family in July 1992. 

16 December 2015: The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, criticised the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday for its “empty promises” to bring Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to trial for atrocities in Darfur. In 2005, the Security Council asked the ICC to investigate war crimes in Darfur. ICC judges issued arrest warrants in 2009 for Mr. Al-Bashir and other top officials for genocidecrimes against humanity and war crimes in the western Darfur region. Ms Bensouda called on the UNSC do more to demonstrate its commitment to Darfur, including aiding in the arrest of suspects against whom the Court has issued warrants of arrest. She concluded that “only strong and committed action by the Council and States will stop the commission of grave crimes in Darfur and ensure that the perpetrators of past crimes are held accountable.”

16 December 2015: Six genocide convicts have had their sentences cut by the Appeals Chamber of theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as it handed down its last judgment on Monday. The six include a Rwandan minister who was sentenced to life in jail for her role in the 1994 genocide, and had her sentence cut to 47 years. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, ex-Minister of Family Affairs and the only woman tried by the Tribunal, was found guilty in June 2011 on genocide charges for atrocities committed in Rwanda's southern Butare region. She has been in custody since July 1997. Two other convicts were ordered to be released after their sentences were cut. The Appeals Chamber said the sentence reduction was for “prejudice” to the six because their right to trial within a reasonable time had been violated. 

16 December 2015: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia(ICTY) on Tuesday ordered the retrial of two former Serbian security officials who were acquitted two years ago of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. Appeals judges foundthat Jovica Stanisic, former head of Serbia's State Security Service (DB) and Franko Simatovic, an officer in the DB, had been mistakenly acquitted by trial judges who had misapplied the law. The pair have been in custody since 2003. Given the scale and complexity of the four-year trial, the error could only be fixed by a full retrial, said Presiding Judge Fausto Pocar.

15 December 2015: Two Swedish men were sentenced to life in prison on Monday for assisting in executions in Syria in 2013. Police found a USB stick containing films showing the killings during a search of one of their homes, a Swedish district court was told. The court argued that since the killings and the video intended to seriously intimidate the population of Syria, the two men's actions should be considered a terrorcrime. It was the first conviction of Swedish citizens on charges of "terror crimes" in Syria.

15 December 2015: The Greek Supreme Court prosecutor’s office on Monday presented two separate lawsuits to the Greek parliament against Education Minister Nikos Filis, over comments he made on television denying that an actual genocide took place against ethnic Greeks in the Pontus region of what is now Turkey. Greece recognised the genocide in 1994. The two lawsuits against Filis claim he violated a Greek law passed in 2014 that criminalises the denial of internationally recognised genocides and includes other matters including racism and xenophobia. Parliamentarians will review the lawsuits to determine if Filis’ parliamentary immunity should be lifted so he can stand trial.

15 December 2015: The Serbian government has published a draft of the country’s first national war crimesstrategy, pledging to remedy past failings and prosecute high-level perpetrators for large-scale crimes committed during the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia. The Justice Ministry said the strategy has three main goals: “adequate punishment of those responsible for war crimes, justice for victims, and location of the bodies of the missing”. The Justice Ministry has allowed about two weeks for anyone who wants to comment on the strategy to send in its queries. After that, the revised version of the strategy will be adopted.

14 December 2015: An Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) reserve officer who fought in Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 was detained for questioning several weeks ago in the United Kingdom on charges ofwar crimes before diplomatic efforts secured his released. The officer, who came to Britain on a business trip, was released a few hours after being detained, thanks to the intervention of the Foreign Ministry with the assistance of the IDF's Operations Directorate and the IDF's international law division. British authorities apologised to Israel following the incident. Pro-Palestinian organisations have been lobbying foreign governments to arrest Israeli army officers and soldiers on charges that they committed war crimes in the counter-terror Operation Protective Edge campaign last year.

14 December 2015:  After two decades of work and 61 convictions at a cost of nearly $2-billion, theInternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is due to close. The Tribunal will deliver its 45th and final judgment today - an appeal ruling against six convictions - then it will formally close. The Tanzanian-based and United Nations-backed ICTR, set up in late 1994 to try the alleged masterminds behind Rwanda’sgenocide, is ending its work, with only its appeals chamber staying open for one final trial after December 31.  The ICTR became the first international court to pass a judgment on genocide and was also the first international court to recognise rape as a means of perpetrating genocide. In all, 93 individuals were indicted, consisting of politicians, businessmen, high-ranking military and government officials, heads of media and religious leaders. Two-thirds of them were sentenced, and more than 3,000 witnesses appeared in court to give their personal accounts.

14 December 2015: The European External Action Service (EEAS) has deployed eight security and intelligence experts to its missions in the Middle East, North Africa and Nigeria to boost its counter-terrorismefforts and take the fight to countries where many radicals are recruited. The EU’s new counter-terrorism attachés are tasked with reporting back to the EU delegations and the EEAS on domestic policy in the fields of counter-terrorism, violent radicalisation, organised crime, migration and corruption, and to help some of the host countries build up their own counter-terrorism capacity, using financial aid from the EU.

11 December 2015: A new United Nations Against Torture report says that the government of Azerbaijan has failed to prosecute a single torture case despite hundreds of allegations of torture in its detention facilities in the past few years, Human Rights Watch said today. The report of Azerbaijan’s fourth review under the Convention against Torture highlights the government’s denial of credible and consistent torture allegations and calls on the government to free unjustly imprisoned human rights defenders. The Committee published its conclusions on December 9, the same day the government freed an ailing prominent human rights defender, Leyla Yunus, who had been held for more than 16 months. The Committee Against Torture, consisting of 10 independent experts, scrutinized Azerbaijan’s record as part of its periodic review of the government’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture. Azerbaijan has been a party to the convention since 1996.

11 December 2015: Interpol agents arrested a Rwandan who is among the nine most-wanted fugitives in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, officials said on Thursday. Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who had a $5m bounty on his head, had been on the run for 21 years. He was arrested in the eastern Congo city of Goma late on Monday. The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sought Ntaganzwa to answer charges related to participation in genocide and incitement to commit genocide. Richard Muhumuza, Rwanda’s prosecutor general, said the country has started extradition proceedings for Ntaganzwa to stand trial in Rwanda.

11 December 2015: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the Security Council yesterday to refer the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is the latest chapter stemming from a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK almost two years ago, which found “unspeakable atrocities” driven by policies established at the highest level of State. The General Assembly has repeatedly called on the Security Council to take action by referring the situation in DPRK to the ICC.

10 December 2015: Hours after the International Crimes Tribunal-1 issued arrest warrants against eight people following a prosecution petition, police in Bangladesh on Wednesday arrested  four accused of war crimes for their alleged involvement in crimes committed in Mymensingh and Jamalpur during the 1971 Liberation War. Earlier in the day, a two-member tribunal led by Justice Md Shahinur Islam issued the arrest warrants. Police continue to seek arrest of the remaining four accused. 

10 December 2015: On Wednesday, the United Nations marked the first ever International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime  to remember the victims of the “crime of crimes” and to call for action against the rise of hostility, xenophobia and intolerance across the world. The day was chosen to mark 67 years since the adoption of the first international human rights treaty, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in 1948.  To commemorate the day, the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda has built a new education center, which will host tens thousands of teachers and students every year to learn about the genocide and peace building. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the Day that there is a need to pay more attention to the warning signs, and be prepared to take immediate action to address them.

10 December 2015: The United Nations warned on Tuesday that violence in Burundi could degenerate into a civil war, after which "everything is possible", and stressed the urgent need for a political dialogue. Adama Dieng, a special UN adviser for the prevention of genocide, told reporters he was worried that both the government and the opposition were manipulating ethnic tensions in Burundi, pitting Hutus and Tutsis against each other. He stated: "I am not saying that tomorrow there will be a genocide in Burundi but there is a serious risk that if we do not stop the violence this may end with a civil war and following such a civil war anything is possible". Dieng says he is also calling on Burundi's neighbors, including Rwanda and Tanzania, which has seen a large influx of Burundians fleeing the violence, to help.

9 December 2015: A complaint has been lodged with police calling for British Prime Minister David Cameron to be arrested over "international war crimes", as Britain on Saturday launched its second air strike on Islamic State in Syria. Representatives of the Scottish Resistance, a pro-independence group, walked into Rutherglen Police Station near Glasgow on Friday, with copies of an 87-year-old peace treaty, which they claim Cameron broke last Wednesday when the government passed a vote to extend airstrikes in Syria. Led by campaigner James Scott, the men told a lone officer that Cameron broke the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact by voting to extend RAF airstrikes on Isis from Iraq into Syria.

9 December 2015: Amnesty International has published a scathing analysis of the weapons in the hands of the radical Islamic State movement (ISIL) used to commit war crimes. According to Amnesty International, the arsenal used to commit atrocities in Iraq and Syria comes from more than two dozen countries, including the United States and European Union countries. The report also documents ISIL and other groups getting hold of arms from Russia and other former Soviet states, and China. The report urges that steps be taken now to curb future arms proliferation in unstable countries and regions. It is calling on all countries to embargo Syrian government forces, as well as opposition groups implicated in committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights abuses. 

9 December 2015: Police in Bosnia-Herzegovina  have arrested a former Bosnian army general suspected of war crimes against Serb prisoners of war during the 1992-95 war. The prosecutor's office said in a statement Tuesday that Sakib Mahmuljin is suspected of having not prevented a mujahedeen unit that operated on the territory he was in charge of in central Bosnia from kidnapping and killing 50 prisoners that Mahmuljin's units arrested during a 1995 battle. Prosecutors believe that Mahmuljin had information that the mujahedeen were preparing to commit the crime and once they did, he failed to punish them.

8 December 2015:  U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Monday he would soon announce changes to the national alert system to warn the public about terrorism risks. "We need to get [...] to a new system with an intermediate level," Johnson said. Under the current system, there are two levels for threats: imminent and elevated. A new level will be added to cover less serious threats, though officials declined to say what it will be called.

8 December 2015: An international conference taking place on Dec. 8-10 in Geneva will consider a resolution to hold an annual meeting of states that have ratified the Geneva Conventions to report on how they are enforcing its provisions to protect civilians, prisoners and the wounded in armed conflict, and on breaches of the Conventions, which are potential war crimes. "There is a glaring vacuum at the heart of the Geneva Conventions system", said Valentin Zellweger, Head of the Directorate of International Law at the Swiss foreign ministry, at the Graduate Institute of Geneva on Friday. Russia is leading an effort to defeat or dilute the proposal. There is "serious resistance among states" to the plan to strengthen compliance, put forward by Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Zellweger said. The new mechanism would be the first modification in nearly 40 years, since additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions were agreed in 1977.

7 December 2015: The Indian Navy, which plays a crucial role in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia coast, today said there has been no hijacking of any ship for the last two years "mainly due to the concerted efforts" of it along with the international maritime forces. Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba said "not a single ship under the escort of Indian Navy since 2008 has been hijacked by the pirates". Addressing media on board INS Sunayna, Lanba said that 53 naval ships have done the patrolling since 2008.  Lanba also voiced confidence that the Indian Navy is fully prepared to tackle terrorist threats. 

7 December 2015:  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a report titled, “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture,” setting forth a legal case for the criminal prosecution of senior US officials for their roles as conspirators and accomplices in the illegal Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture program (2001-2009). The report names “US officials who created, authorized, and implemented the CIA program should be among those investigated for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes", including offenses such as war crimes, assault, and sexual abuse. The report claims that the US government has not adequately accounted for these abuses and reports despite its obligation under international law to prosecute torture where warranted and provide redress to victims.

4 December 2015: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is reconsidering the legality of the only remaining conviction of a Guantanamo Bay detainee who once served as Osama bin Laden's personal assistant. In June, a divided three-judge appeals panel had ruled that the case against Ali Hamza al-Bahlul is legally flawed because conspiracy is not recognized a war crime under international law. That ruling could have limited the government's ability to prosecute terror suspects outside the civilian justice system. The Obama administration successfully appealed the ruling to the full court. It argues that Congress acted lawfully in making conspiracy a crime that can be tried by the special military tribunals created following the 9/11 attacks. Al-Bahlul was arrested after the attacks in Pakistan and turned over to the U.S. military. Two military commissions were later convened at Guantanamo Bay to try al-Bahlul for conspiracy, but those panels were dissolved. In 2008, charges were re-issued against al-Bahlul and a military commission convicted him of conspiracy, soliciting others to commit war crimes and providing material support to aterrorist organization. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and remains at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

4 December 2015: France's National Assembly voted yesterday to send a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide back to the Justice Commission, which had discussed the measure on 25 November. The measure is purportedly supported by the majority of the parliamentarians. A bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide was adopted by the French Parliament's Lower House in December 2011 and its Upper House - the Senate - in January 2012. However, it was declared unconstitutional one month later by France's highest judicial body, the Constitutional Council.

4 December 2015: Several people who were wrongly detained and allegedly tortured by Mexican police have been released after spending years in custody, human rights groups reported. The releases involved four people who were arrested in 2012 and 2013 in cities along the border with the United States and accused of crimes of which they were ultimately absolved. While in custody they were allegedly tortured physically and psychologically by police, and subjected to sexual abuse. They all walked free Wednesday. Amnesty international said in a statement that "the fact that judges in different states of the country can strike down shaky accusations based on torture shows us that there is some hope for justice in other cases".

3 December 2015: The parliament of Aragon, an autonomous region in northeast Spain, adopted a declaration recognising and condemning the Armenian Genocide on Wednesday. The text pays homage to the over 1.5 million victims of the genocide and asks all Turkish institutions, including the government, to acknowledge historical fact. Aragon is the fifth region in Spain that has recognised the Armenian Genocide, after the Basque Country, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Navarre. In addition, the text pays tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide in the spirit of solidarity and European justice. It underlines that the European Union should make genocide prevention and punishment for crimes against humanity a top priority.

3 December 2015: Civil society members and mainstream media in Bangladesh on Wednesday asked the government to sever ties with Pakistan as anger mounted over Islamabad’s denial of committing war crimes during Bangladesh’s independence conflict in 1971. Following the executions in Bangladesh last week of senior opposition leaders convicted of war crimes during the conflict, Islamabad "rejected insinuation of 'complicity in committing crimes or war atrocities'" in a statement by the foreign office on Monday. "Nothing could be further from the truth," the statement added. Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, described as “unacceptable” Pakistan’s reaction against Bangladesh’s 1971 war crimes trial and execution of convicts, while the foreign office handed down a “strong” protest note summoning Islamabad’s envoy in Dhaka. On Monday, Dhaka University’s Vice-Chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique told a rally: “Its [Pakistan] statement over the ongoing trial of the war criminals is blatant interference in our domestic affairs. After this [statement], there is no scope to maintain the diplomatic relation with Pakistan and our government should sever diplomatic ties with the country unless they seek unconditional apology.”

3 December 2015: Human right groups have called for an investigation of French soldiers active in Rwanda in 1994 on suspicion of complicity in the genocide. The International Federation of Human Rights and two other groups have accused French troops of abandoning Tutsis who were later killed by extremist Hutus. The groups claimed they were in possession of a fax from June 1994 that showed French soldiers had been informed that about 2,000 Tutsis were at risk of being killed in the Bisesero hills and that the intervention of the French army was needed. The groups are asking French authorities to include the document in a judicial investigation into the role of French troops in Rwanda that began after genocide survivors filed a case in 2005.

2 December 2015: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has issued arrest warrants for two lawyers and an associate of the Serbian nationalist Vojislav Seselj, who is on trial for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity but was temporarily released to seek medical treatment late last year. The Tribunal ordered the arrest of lawyers Peter Jojic and Vjerica Radeta from Seselj's defense team, as well as his wartime ally Jovo Ostojic, with all three being "charged with contempt of the Tribunal for allegedly having threatened, intimidated, offered bribes to, or otherwise interfered with two witnesses".

2 December 2015: Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye  is calling for a total ban on all people convicted of genocide crimes from being interviewed by journalists. The Minister told a gathering at the closure of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that the media should be barred from accessing convicts because it reopens wounds of the genocide. Rwanda claims that a total ban on media interviews with persons convicted on genocide crimes is a way of preventing them from revising the history of the Rwandan genocide. In his speech, Mr Busingye criticised the UN tribunal for allowing media interviews to those jailed despite promising not to do so.

2 December 2015: Sri Lanka will set up a special court in the next few weeks to examine alleged war crimes committed in the final phase of its 26-year conflict with Tamil rebels said Chandrika Kumaratunga, who led Sri Lanka from 1994 to 2005 and now heads the reconciliation unit of President Maithripala Sirisena's government. She told reporters the mechanism would be a domestic one but might get technical assistance from international experts. The Sri Lankan military, under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, was accused of committing grave human rights abuses during the war, which ended in 2009, and in its immediate aftermath.

1 December 2015: Activists on the ground in the Syria have accused Russia of dropping deadly white phosphorus on civilians, as its intensive bombing campaign against ISIS continues. Use of the chemical  is accepted under international law in order to light up the battlefield and provide cover for ground troops, but it is banned under the Geneva Conventions for use in densely populated areas or when directly targeted at infantry due to it being highly toxic and can burn through skin and bone. In these circumstances its use may amount to a war crime. Additionally, human rights organisations claim that Russian military airstrikes have killed more civilians than ISIS fighters in Syria since the start of its bombing campaign two months ago.

1 December 2015: Former Yugoslav Army general Vladimir Lazarevic will be released by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 3 December, after serving two-thirds of his 14-year prison sentence, the president of Serbia’s national council for cooperation with the ICTY Rasim Ljajic has announced. Lazarevic's sentence was reduced from 15 to 14 years imprisonment in 2014 at an appeal that upheld his conviction for crimes against humanity during the Kosovo war in 1999. According to the verdict, Lazarevic aided and abetted the deportation of Albanians from Kosovo and committed other inhumane acts by providing practical assistance to members of the Yugoslav Army.

1 December 2015: China's Defence Ministry said on Friday that the first joint drill of anti-piracy patrols between Chinese naval forces and NATO ships took place last Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden. The exercise will help improve communications between ships on anti-piracy duties so that China and NATO can together maintain maritime security and stability in the Gulf of Aden, as China seeks a greater global security role.  This week, China said it was in talks with the Horn of Africa country Djibouti to build logistics "facilities" to support Chinese peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions. 

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November 2015


30 November 2015:
Perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence could be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) because they constitute crimes which offend the conscience of humanity as a whole, the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has warned. “I will spare no effort to bring accountability for such heinous crimes. Where others may want to draw a veil over these crimes, I, as prosecutor, must draw a line under them,” she said in a statement marking the International Day for the elimination of violence against women.

30 November 2015:  The United Nations Security Council condemned a rocket attack that killed two UN peacekeepers and a contractor Saturday in northeast Mali, warning it could be a war crime. In a unanimous declaration, the council’s 15 member countries urged the Malian government to “swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice and stressed that those responsible for the attack should be held accountable.” A statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated this, stating: "The Secretary-General stresses the urgent need to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice and reiterates that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law".

30 November 2015: A Dutch court on Friday withheld the decision to have two Rwandan genocide suspects extradited to Rwanda to face genocide charges. The Hague district court ruled that the two defendants will be tried in the Netherlands, citing lack of a fair and impartial judicial system in Rwanda. The decision overturns the earlier ruling endorsing the transfer of both suspects to Rwanda to face charges. Jean-Baptiste Mugimba 56, and Jean Claude Iyamuremye 38 were arrested separately in 2013 and 2014 in the Netherlands. They are accused of various counts of crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994.

30 November 2015: The 14th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) concluded in The Hague on Thursday with governments agreeing to include in the Assembly’s final report an interpretation of an ICC rule on the use of pre-recorded witness testimony currently under appeal in the crimes against humanity trial of Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto. The inclusion of the requested Kenyan language in the final report holds no obligations for states or the ICC and it remains for ICC appeals judges to decide on the application of Rule 68. 

27 November 2015: The Presidents of France and Russia agreed Thursday to tighten cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, although they remain at odds over their approach towards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. French president Francois Hollande has been on a diplomatic drive since the Paris attacks to increase cooperation in tackling IS. Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on increasing intelligence sharing, intensifying their airstrikes against IS in Syria and cooperating on selected targets - two days after Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border. "We agreed on a very important issue: To strike the terrorists only, Daesh and the jihadi groups only, and not to strike the forces and the groups that are fighting against the terrorists, Hollande said after the meeting. IS has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks against both of the countries' citizens in recent week: Nov. 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people, and the Oct. 31 bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that claimed 224 lives.

27 November 2015: Bangladesh has refuted the claim of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that the war crimes trials at the International Crimes Tribunal were not fair. Saying that the statement is "highly disturbing", the government has sent a reply to the UN human rights body and protested such claim. On Tuesday, the OHCHR renewed its call to the government of Bangladesh to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty and abolish it. The statement came two days after Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, a senior politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) party, and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were executed for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation war.

26 November 2015: A Pakistani man was sentenced by a federal judge in New York to 40 years in prison on Tuesday for plotting to bomb a shopping center in England, as part of an al Qaeda plan to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, including an attack on the New York subway system and a newspaper office in Copenhagen. After being extradited from the UK to the US, a jury found him guilty on charges including of providing material support to al-Qaeda and conspiracy to use a destructive device. Two other men, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, have pleaded guilty to US charges stemming from the New York subway plot. A third, Adis Medunjanin, was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison.

26 November 2015: A United States military inquiry into the US aircraft attack on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) clinic in the Afghan city of Kunduz has found it was the result of "human error". The investigation states the crew of the aircraft mistook the clinic for a nearby government building that had been seized by Taliban fighters. At least 30 civilians were killed in the 3 October attack, amid a campaign to retake Kunduz from Taliban forces. In a press release on Wednesday, MSF said the US assessment reveals gross negligence and war crimes were committed and calls again for an independent and impartial investigation into the incident.

26 November 2015: A group of Russian lawmakers have submitted a Bill to parliament on holding to account anyone who denies that the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces was genocide.  The leader of Russia's opposition A Just Russia party, Sergei Mironov, said on Wednesday that the Bill proposes a fine of up to 500,000 rubles (more than €7,000) for any denial of what is considered by Armenia and some other countries as genocide. Russia is among the 25 countries that has recognised the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.

25 November 2015: The Namibian government has approved a recommendation by the Swapo Party for the country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Namibian information Minister Tjekero Tweya said on Monday that the Cabinet approved the "position regarding possible withdrawal from the ICC, given the discussions of the Swapo Party central committee on the issue". The Swapo Party has over the years repeatedly criticized the ICC for being biased against African and other developing countries and targeting African leaders for indictment. Namibia, which joined the ICC in 2002, is the first African country announcing such a stance, two months after South Africa's ruling African National Congress also recommended that the country withdraws from the court. Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the Rome Statute but is on record denouncing the court, calling for the formation of an African Court of Justice.

25 November 2015: The International Criminal Court (ICC) is citing the Nigerian army for two alleged war crimes in the war against Boko Haram. The Islamic extremist group has reportedly been cited for six war crimes. In its Preliminary Examination Report on Nigeria, the ICC accused the military of indiscriminate arrest, detention, torture and extrajudicial killings of people suspected to be Boko Haram fighters. The army is also accused of attacking the civilian population as well as the recruitment of child soldiers by pro-government militia. Nigeria's defence headquarters have described the ICC report as "biased, subjective and unacceptable".

25 November 2015: Bahrain has criticized as "misleading" a Human Rights Watch report accusing the kingdom's authorities of torturing detainees and granting security officials impunity. Information Minister Isa al-Hammadi said the report published Monday is "misleading, unbalanced and controversial". Hammadi emphasized that Bahrain has establishes national watchdogs to probe any alleged illegal practices involving detainees and that such action is taken seriously by the kingdom.

24 November 2015: Belgian authorities have charged a fourth suspect with terrorism offences after they arrested 16 people on Sunday. The federal prosecutor said in a statement that the suspect, who was not identified, was charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group and a terrorist attack", referring to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. Authorities had charged three other suspects with the similar offences last week. The other 15 people detained on Sunday evening were released.

24 November 2015: Somali pirates have hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel with 15 crew members, a Somali official said on Monday amid warnings that piracy might be making a comeback in the Indian Ocean. Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, director of the anti-piracy and seaport ministry in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, said the Iranian ship was taken on Sunday evening in waters off northern Somali city of Eyl. Two other Iranian fishing ships were captured by suspected pirates in March. Although there are still occasional cases of sea attacks, piracy near Somalia's coast has largely subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security details and the presence of international warships.

23 November 2015: Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation as regulatory bodies set up after the 2011 uprising "lack of independence" and officials are not held accountable, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. Scores of opponents have been detained, with many facing trials, while others convicted of involvement in violence have been handed heavy sentences, including loss of citizenship and life in prison. In its report, HRW said that physical assaults include "being subjected to electric shocks; suspension in painful position [...]; forced standing; extreme cold; and sexual abuse". The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, set up by King Hamad to probe allegations of government wrongdoing, had already said in a November 2011 report that police had used "excessive force" and tortured detainees in that year's crackdown on opponents.

23 November 2015: After a dramatic security sweep in the historic city center of Brussels on Sunday, the Belgian authorities announced today that 16 people had been arrested in a joint police and military operation. This operation aimed at heading off what the Belgian Prime Minister described as a "serious and imminent" threat of a Paris-style terrorist assault. Eric Van der Sijpt, a magistrate and spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office said however that the main target of the clampdown, Salah Abdeslam, suspected to be one of the gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, was not among those arrested.

23 November 2015: Bangladesh has executed two opposition party leaders convicted of war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, a senior politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) party, and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), were hanged in Dhaka Central Jail early Sunday, Bangladesh's national police chief AKM Shahidul Hoque confirmed. Bangladesh's International Crime Tribunal (ICT) sentenced them to death in 2013. Both had filed appeals, which were rejected by the court on 18 November 2015. Set up in 2010, the ICT has prosecuted more than a dozen opposition leaders for war crimes. In all, four people have now been hanged.

20 November 2015: The United Nations General Assembly's human rights committee has adopted a resolution condemning North Korea's bleak human rights situation and encouraging the Security Council to refer the country to the International Criminal Court. The European Union and Japan have been pursuing such resolution every year. This year, 112 States voted in favor of the resolution, while 19 voted against and 50 abstained.

20 November 2015: The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday rapped Sudan for failing to arrest a Darfur rebel leader and said it would refer to the United Nations (UN) Security Council. In September 2014, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Abdallah Banda, who faces three war crimes charges for his alleged role in an attack on African Union peacekeepers in September 2007 in northern Darfur, in which 12 peacekeepers died. His trial was supposed to start on 18 November 2014. "By disregarding the request to arrest and surrender Mr Banda [...] Sudan failed to comply with requests to cooperate with the court", the panel on three judges found. An earlier UN resolution has ordered the country, which is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, to cooperate with the ICC.

20 November 2015: South Africa has questioned why the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not try to arrest leaders involved in conflicts in Palestine and Afghanistan in the "current era of disorder" with the same vigor it pursues Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. In a speech delivered at a meeting of the Assembly of State Parties on Wednesday, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashaban said South Africa's commitment to human rights and the fight against impunity was beyond question, however it would not be quiet if it thought there were serious flaws in how the ICC interpreted the Rome Statute. She questioned whether it had become the universally accepted institution for justice as hoped for, or whether some permanent member of the United Nations Security Council could protect themselves and their allies from the court.

19 November 2015: The 14th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is taking place from 18 to 26 November in the Hague, where civil society from around the world join ICC member states to address issues central to the Court's operations. On the first day of the Assembly on Wednesday, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke on behalf of the African Union in criticising the Court for its unrelenting focus on the continent, as it called for a case against Kenya's deputy president to be dropped. The Assembly of States Parties approved Kenya's agenda for discussion, which will take place today. Kenya wants to convince the Assembly that it was wrong for the Court to use Rule 68, which permits Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to use the evidence of witnesses who have disowned their testimony, in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua Sang, who are accused of committing crimes against humanity.

19 November 2015: Russia has submitted to the United Nations a revised version of a resolution on fighting the Islamic State. France is planning to submit its own resolution, as world powers scramble to make plans towards defeating the terrorist group. Russia put its new draft forwards on Wednesday, about two months after the Russian draft text was first presented to the Security Council in late September, but was rejected by the United States, Britain and France over a provision that calls for battling the IS extremists with the consent of the Syrian regime. The new version contains a similar provision, though Russian UN representative Vitaly Churkin said this time he hoped world powers could reach a consensus and the resolution calls for greater coordination among different powers in fighting the extremists.

19 November 2015: Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected final appeals from two opposition leaders against death sentences for war crimes committed in the 1971 Liberation War. The Supreme Court's decision means Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury could be hanged as early as next week if the president does not grant them clemency. Earlier this month, Amnesty International criticised Bangladesh's handling of the two men's cases, claiming the trials were "clearly flawed" and condemning the death sentence.

18 November 2015: A new study released on Tuesday has shown that deaths from global terrorism increased by 80% in 2014, with 32,658 people being killed. The Global Terrorism Index report highlights that despite 78% of terrorist acts being concentrated in five countries - Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq - terrorism is spreading, with more countries recording attacks and deaths than previously. The report states there has been a "dramatic rise" in terrorism over the last 15 years. Nine times more people are killed in terrorist attacks today than there were in 2000, with Islamist groups Boko Haram and ISIS together responsible for 51% of claimed global killings in 2014.

18 November 2015: Last week's attacks in Paris may constitute crimes against humanity according to the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune. She said on Tuesday "these attacks may constitute a crime against humanity and certainly one which viciously and deliberately targeted sites of arts and leisure where people come together to enjoy their cultural rights", while urging the international community to aide French authorities in ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international law. On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the "despicable terrorist attacks," and gave his full faith to the French authorities' ability to prosecute those responsible. 
 
18 November 2015: Bosnian authorities have arrested a police commissioner, a lawyer and a third Muslim Bosnian suspected of having committed war crimes against Bosnian Serb civilians during the 1992-95 war. Sarajevo lawyer Ibro Merkez and Gorazde police commissioner Esef Huric were arrested Tuesday morning suspected of having illegally imprisoned more than 100 Serbs at a local police station at the start of the war. A statement from the State prosecutor said the civilians were held for several months in inhuman conditions, so bad that two of them died. In a separate case, police arrested Ahmet Sejdic, a former army commander, under suspicion of illegal imprisonment, expulsion, torture and inhumane treatment of dozens of Serb civilians and prisoners of war.

17 November 2015: The Panel of the Section II for Organised Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down its verdict against Husein Bosnić on 5 November. Bosnić was found guilty of the criminal offence of Encouraging Terrorist Activities in Public, of Recruitment for Terrorist Activities and of Organising a Terrorist Group. He has been sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2013 and 2014, Bosnić was a religious authority in the so-called Salafi community organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina and he took actions for the purpose of propagating and increasing Islamic radicalism in the country and a wider region. He publicly held speeches, published through social networks, inciting the Salafi community members to become members of the ISIL organised terrorist group in the so-called Islamic State and to take part in the activities organised by the terrorist organization.

17 November 2015: The United Nations has said that all sides in Libya’s conflict are committing breaches of international law that may amount to war crimes, including abductions, torture and the killing of civilians. A joint report by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), published on Monday, documented serious abuses and violations of international law between 1 January and 31 October of this year. The report calls on all those with effective control on the ground to immediately take action to stop acts in breach of international human rights and humanitarian law, stating that those involved in such infractions were criminally liable, including before the International Criminal Court, under which the situation in Libya continued to be investigated.

17 November 2015: Finland has arrested a 29-year-old Iraqi man on suspicion of committing war crimes in his home country last year. The Pirkanmaa Regional Court in southern Finland says the suspect, Jebbar-Salman Ammar, was being held in custody on suspicion of war crimes committed in Iraq in June 2014. The suspect can be held for four months during a preliminary investigation before being charged. This is the first war crimes investigation in Finland since 2006.

17 November 2015: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has released her annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities , including a probe into alleged war crimes committed by Israelis and Palestinians since June 2014. After the preliminary investigation was launched in January 2015, the ICC received and analysed 66 communiques from Israel, Palestine and various organisations around the world detailing incidents of alleged crimes said to have occurred since 13 June 2014. The Office of the Prosecutor said it was “in the process of conducting a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available, in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been or are being committed.”

17 November 2015: A resolution on the Armenian Genocide has been adopted by a large majority at the 23rd European Green Party Council in Lyon, France. The resolution acknowledges that the Ottoman Empire perpetrated genocide against the Armenian people and calls on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide and work towards reconciliation with Armenia and its people. The European Green Party called upon all countries that have not yet done so to publicly recognise the Armenian Genocide, underlining that doing so will positively impact the relations between Turkey and Armenia and help prevent further crimes against humanity.

16 November 2015:  A judge in Spain has issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seven other former and current Israeli officials over a 2010 fatal raid by the Tel Aviv regime forces on a Gaza-bound aid ship in which war crimes were allegedly committed. The investigation into this case was launched after Spanish activists on board the main vessel in the flotilla, the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara, filed a criminal complaint against Israeli officials involved in the raid. In response to the judge's order, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said: "We consider it to be a provocation. We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it cancelled. We hope it will be over soon."

16 November 2015: Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday granted early release to convicted war criminal Germain Katanga, making the Congolese warlord, sentenced to 12 years prison in 2014 for one count of crimes against humanity and four of war crimes, the first ICC convict to be released early.  A three-judge panel of the Appeals Chamber of the ICC conducted a review of Katanga's sentence under the guidelines provided in Rome Statute Article 110 that allow for judicial review of a sentencing term after the person has served two-thirds of their sentence. The judges decided that Katanga's sentence would be completed on 18 January 2016, reducing the sentence by 3 years and 8 months, after taking into consideration the time Katanga spent in detention before he was sentenced in May 2014 and a number of contributing factors outlined in the Rome Statute and the ICC rules of procedure and evidence.

16 November 2015: The