News archive 2019-2020
24 December 2020: Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court decided to postpone the commencement of the confirmation hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman to Monday, 24 May 2021. The hearing had been scheduled to commence on 22 February 2021. Mr Abd–Al-Rahman is charged with 53 counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan.
23 December 2020: United Nations investigators into violence in Mali informed the Security Council of evidence indicating that security forces committed war crimes, and fighters and other armed groups perpetrated crimes against humanity in Mali. The International Commission of Mali, a three-member panel investigated the violence that unfolded over six year from 2012-2018, made these allegatons in a 338-page report which is yet to be made public.
22 December 2020: The United Nations is striving to get a team on the ground to investigate alleged human rights violations, including a mass killing in Tigray that could potentially amount to war crimes. Ethiopia’s army has been fighting rebellious forces in the northern Tigray region for more than six weeks in a conflict that has displaced close to 950,000 people. Access for humanitarian workers has until recent days been impossible and rights workers are now seeking access on the ground to verify reports.
21 December 2020: Nine persons have been charged for crimes against humanity in Sokolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are accused of joint criminal enterprise in the widespread and systematic attack on the Bosniak civilian population in 1992. The accused's are charged with the criminal offence of crimes against humanity under Article 172 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
18 December 2020: The Australian government has appointed Judge Mark Weinberg as the special investigator to probe allegations that Austalian special force soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Mark Weinberg is a Victoria court of appeal judge with extensive criminal law experience, who is scheduled to begin the probe in early 2021.
17 December 2020: The International Criminal Court's Office of the Prosecutor in its Annual Report on Preliminary Examinations Activities 2020, declared that there is reasonable basis to believe that the Philippines has committed crimes against humanity in connection with its so-called war on drugs operation. A final decision into a formal preliminary examination would come in the first half of 2021, owing to delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
16 December 2020: The International Criminal Court prosecutors have rejected calls by exiled Uighurs to investigate China for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity. The Office of the Prosecutor in its Annual Report on Preliminary Examinations Activities 2020, stated that it was unable to act because majority of the crimes alleged do not meet the Court's territorial jurisdiction requirements.
15 December 2020: Azerbaijan has arrested four soldiers suspected of involvement in war crimes. They are accused of defiling the bodies of Armenian soldiers, inhumanely mistreating Armenian troops, and defacing gravestones belonging to Armenians. Azerbaijan's Prosecutor's office has issued a statement warning that anyone else suspected of similar war crimes would face similar legal action.
14 December 2020: Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court has announced the closing of preliminary examination into the situations in Ukraine and Nigeria and will request authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber to open investigations. The Office of the Prosecutor concluded that there is reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in the situation in Ukraine. With respect to the situation in Nigeria, the Office of the Prosecutor recognised criminality attributable to non-state actors as well as members of the Nigerian Security Forces.
11 December 2020: Amnesty International reports that it has investigated and verified videos depicting mistreatment of prisoners of war and claims that both Azerbaijani and Armenian forces have committed war crimes. Videos circulated on private Telegram groups form the recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh region apparently capture the decapication of captives and the desecration of the corpses of opposing forces.
10 December 2020: The Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court has announed the conclusion of the preliminary examination into the situation in Iraq/United Kingdom (UK). While confirming reasonable basis to believe that members of the British armed forces committed war crimes in Iraq, the OTP acknowledged efforts made by the UK authorities in investigating the allegations and decided to not open an investigation.
9 December 2020: Amnesty International reports that, a group of United Nations human rights experts have written to the Iranian government warning that past and ongoing violations related to prison massacres in 1988 may amount to crimes against humanity and that they will call for an international investigation if these violations persist. Between late July and early September 1988, thousands of imprisoned political dissidents across Iran were forcibly disappeared and then extrajudicially executed in secret, and information regarding this is still systematically concealed.
8 December 2020: Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the situation on Belarus and said that reported beatings of protesters by security forces may in some cases amount to torture. She said she was “alarmed by the numerous allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in custody,” by the harassment and arrests of many journalists and human rights advocates, and by disciplinary action against teachers and students.
7 December 2020: Members of the Philippine army have been accused of committing a war crime, after posing for a photo with the body of a suspected communist rebel fighter belonging to the New People's Army. The Maoist-led rebel group has been engaged in on-and-off talks with the Philippine government in a bid to end half a century of conflict in which tens of thousands of people have died and thousands of others forced from their homes.
4 December 2020: The State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has found two Bosnian Serbs guilty of crimes against humanity committed within a widespread and systematic attack By the military, paramilitary and police forces of Republika Srpska, RS. Radovan Paprica and Macak, were sentenced to eight years each in prison and ordered to pay compensation to the victim.
3 December 2020: The United Kingdom has opened an investigation into allegations of war crimes by British mercenaries involved in the Sri Lankan civil war. The Metropolitan police received a referral concerning war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in the 1980's after which it carried out a scoping exercise. The Metropolitan Police, which is the UK force designated to investigate accusations of war crimes or human rights abuses, will investigate multiple atrocities including the 1987 prawn farm massacre in which 83 people were killed.
2 December 2020: Trial of former Liberian commander accused of war crimes including rape, pillage, and assassinations has begun in Switzerland. Alieu Kosiah was allegedly involved in the Liberian conflict from 1989-2003 which killed nearly a quarter of a million people. It is Switzerland's first war crimes trial to be heard outside of a military court.
1 December 2020: Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court announced that the judgment on conviction or acquittal in the case The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen will be delivered on 4 February 2021. The delivery was initially scheduled for 12 January 2021. Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda.
30 November 2020: The United Nations has expressed concern about possible war crimes after a threat by the Ethiopian army to start an assualt on the northern Tigray region's capital. Fighting between the government and regional forces in Tigray has been going on for over three weeks. A deadline set by the government for fighters in the region to surrender expired last Wednesday.
27 November 2020: The Australian Defence Force has sent notice of likely dismissal to 13 special forces soldiers following the report on the alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan. They are suspected of being accessories or witnesses to the killing of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners, or of being dishonest in testifying. They are separate from the 19 Special Air Service troops who could face prosecution for the murders.
26 November 2020: Azerbaijan has declared that it is investigating war crimes committed by Armenian and Azerbaijani forces during the six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev told that four ethnic Armenian leaders, including the president of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh republic, Arayik Harutyunyan were charged with war crimes in absentia.
25 November 2020: A former militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been sentenced to life in prison for war crimes and mass rape. Natabo Ntaberi Sheka was convicted of murder, rape, sexual slavery and enlisting children under 15 years old, by a military court at the end of a two year trial. The decision has been hailed by the United Nations as a blow to the impunity provided to armed group in the country.
24 November 2020: The Guardian reports that, according to human rights lawyers and activists, Myanmar is continuing to commit genocide against Rohingya Muslims. The International Court of Justice had ordered Myanmar to cease the commission of genocidal acts, prevent the destruction of evidence of crimes against the Rohingya's and report back every six months.
23 November 2020: The Australian defence chief, General Angus Campbell says he accepts that officers and more senior commanders bear some responsibility for the handling of alleged war crimes against special forces in Afghanistan. Campbell said that he was "determined to see deep, comprehensive and enduring change where it is needed" to prevent repetition of such horror.
20 November 2020: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has urged the UK government to establish an independent inquiry to review and investigate possible war crimes by British special forces in Afghanistan. This call comes after reports of unlawful killings of Afghans by Australian forces were confirmed by an inquiry into the same. Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of the Commission said that US, UK and other countries with armed presence in Afghanistan should investigate allegations of acts of violence against Afghans.
19 November 2020: The Australian Defence Force has released findings from a four-year inquiry into misconduct by its forces in Afghanistan. It said 19 current or ex-special forces soldiers should be investigated by police over killings of "prisoners, farmers or civilians" between 2009-2013. The inquiry conducted by Major Gen Justice Paul Brereton, also found evidence of possible war crimes committed by the forces.
18 November 2020: Defence lawyers for former leaders of the Kosovo guerrillas, including ex-president Hashim Thaçi said that their trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot begin before the summer of 2022 at the earliest. A Prosecution lawyer told at the hearing at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers that the trial could start in the summer of 2021. The trial concerns charges including murder, torture and illegal imprisonment allegedly committed during Kosovo's 1998-99 battle for independence from Serbia.
17 November 2020: The Guardian reports that the British Foreign Office is resisting publishing files relating to its diplomatic support for British mercenaries in Sri Lanka in the 1980's. This resistance comes despite the Metropolitan police launching an unprecedented inquiry into potential war crimes by Keenie Meenie Services, one of Britain's first mercenary companies. The Met launched a scoping exercise in March into allegations of war crimes committed by the firm, and this has now been elevated into a fully fledged inquiry.
16 November 2020: Amnesty International has confirmed that hundreds of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town in the South West Zone of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region on the night of 9 November. It is apprehended that forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) were responsible for the mass killings, apparently after they suffered defeat from the federal EDF forces. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa stated that, "TPLF commanders and officials must make clear to their forces and their supporters that deliberate attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited and constitute war crimes".
13 November 2020: The initial appearance in the case of Prosecutor v. Félicien Kabuga before the U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals was held in The Hague before Judge Iain Bonomy, the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber. Mr. Félicien Kabuga stands charged of seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. The initial appearance was held exceptionally in The Hague, where Mr. Kabuga is undergoing a detailed medical assessment to determine his fitness to travel to the Mechanism's Arusha branch for trial.
12 November 2020: Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced that a special investigator will be appointed to investigate and possibly prosecute alleged war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. The final inquiry report examining more than 55 incidents of alleged unlawful killings between 2005 and 2016 by the special forces will be released next week.
11 November 2020: The Guardian reports that the inquiry into alleged war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan has delivered its final report. Defence Chief Anugua Campbell confirmed that he had received the report which examines the conduct of Australian forces in more than 55 incidents of alleged unlawful killings between 2005 and 2016. Delivery of the report follows Afghan and Australian human rights groups last week urging the Australian government to release in full the details of the inquiry into the alleged war crimes.
10 November 2020: The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has been urged by an international alliance of parliamentarians to accept a complaint alleging genocide by China against its Uighur Muslim minority. The complaint, backed by more that 60 parliamentarians from 16 countries, says the Chinese government may be committing crimes amounting to genocide and other crimes against humanity against the Uighur and other Turkic peoples.
9 November 2020: Ao An, a former senior Khmer Rouge official and suspect at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia died at the age of 87 in Battambang province. He was charged for genocide against the Cham people in Kamping province, crimes against humanity as well as violations of the 1956 Penal Code.
6 November 2020: Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, a guerrilla leader during the country’s war for independence from Serbia in the 1990s, has resigned to face charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague. Thaçi announced his resignation at a news conference in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital. He said he was taking the step “to protect the integrity of the presidency of Kosovo”.
5 November 2020: Jakup Krasniqi, a veteran Kosovo politician and former spokesman for the Kosovo Liberation Army, has been arrested and transferred to The Hague. He will face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Jakup Krasniqi is being tried for his involvement in the war between 1998 and 1999 that eventually led to Kosovo's independence from Serbia 10 years later.
4 November 2020: A cross-party parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom has described the Overseas Operations Bill as violative of international law. The Bill that was introduced last month, seeks to exempt British soldiers from prosecution for crimes including genocide, war crimes and torture. The Independent reports that, the government insists that it is open for dialogue on possible changes to the Bill but has dismissed every amendment put forward.
3 November 2020: The Al Jazeera reports that 72 nations have offered their unwavering support to the International Criminal Court. This affirmation was made in a joint declaration signed by the countries including Australia, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. On September 2, the administration of US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Court's Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and other officals involved in investigating alleged war crimes committed by US troops in Afghanistan.
2 November 2020: Mr. Paul Gicheru has surrendered to the authorities in The Netherlands pursuant to an arrest warrant issues against him by the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court. Mr. Gicheru is suspected of offences against the administration of justice consisting of corruptly influencing witnesses regarding cases from the sitation in Kenya. Kenya is currently under investigation for alleged crimes against humanity in the post-election violence in 2007-2008.
30 October 2020: The Guardian reports that Afghan and Australian human rights groups have urged the Australian government to release an inquiry into the allegations of the special forces war crimes in Afghanistan committed between 2005 to 2016. More that 20 organisations published an open letter to the assistant inspector-general of the Australian Defence Force, Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton, who is leading the inquiry into the conduct of elite forces in more than 55 incidents of alleged unlawful killings. Reports suggest Justice Brereton’s findings will focus on a small group of special forces troops alleged to be largely responsible for alleged war crimes.
29 October 2020: Authorities in Bosnia have detained two people suspected of taking part in the killing of at least 78 civilians during the 1992-1995 war. They were identified and located following an order of a prosecutor of the Special Department for War crimes. They have been charged with crimes against humanity under the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
28 October 2020: In Argentina, eighteen people have gone on trial on charges of crimes against humanity and torture. According to the prosecution, they were responsible for baby theft and killings carried out in detention centres under military rule between 1976 and 1983. The Prosecutors have claimed that, "torture was systematic" and sexual violence an integral part of the attempts to dehumanise those detained".
27 October 2020: Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga has been transferred to the custody of U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague. His transfer comes over 22 years after his first indictment for his alleged involvemnet in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Last week Judge Iain Bonomy ordered that Felicien Kabuga would be transferred to The Hague for a medical assessment amid concerns about this health and the coronavirus pandemic. In The Hague his health will be assessed to establish if he is fit enough to be flown at a later date to Arusha to stand trial there. The 87 year old Rwandan genocide suspect was arrested in Paris in May, 2020. Earlier this month, a court in Paris approved Félicien Kabuga's extradition to Arusha, Tanzania to face trial.
26 October 2020: The Gambia submitted its memorial to the International Court of Justice in its lawsuit against Myanmar for failing to prevent genocide against Rohingyas. Myanmar has three months to file a counter-memorial. The memorial and counter-memorial will not be made public for the duration of the trial. Simultaneously, the International Criminal Court is continuing to investigate crimes within its jurisdiction committted against the Rohingyas and in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
23 October 2020: Judge Iain Bonomy of the U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ruled that Felicien Kabuga would be transferred to The Hague for a medical assessment amid concerns about this health and the coronavirus pandemic. In The Hague his health will be assessed to establish if he is fit enough to be flown at a later date to Arusha to stand trial there. The ruling has been made in response to the request of the defense lawyer of Félicien Kabuga, who had appealed to not send him to Tanzania to face trial and instead transfer him to The Hague, citing health concerns. The 87 year old Rwandan genocide suspect was arrested in Paris in May, 2020. Earlier this month, a court in Paris approved Félicien Kabuga's extradition to Arusha, Tanzania to face trial.
22 October 2020: Civil society groups have urged countries convening a UN-backed Rohingya donor conference to acknowledge that genocide was committed against the ethnic minority of Rohingya in Myanmar. They assert that a genocide determination would send a sense of urgency to spur multilateral diplomatic engagement and pressure needed to stop Myanmar from committing further atrocities against the Rohingyas. The virtual aid conference is co-hosted by the United Kingdom, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the United States and European Union.
21 October 2020: The International Criminal Court's Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda issued a statement at a media briefing in Khatoum, Sudan welcoming the Juba Peace Agreement and the committment to cooperate between Sudan and the Court. She mentioned that while the Court was investigating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by five Sudanese suspects, other suspects could be prosecuted through the Darfur Special Court, allowing for positive burden sharing between the ICC and Sudanese courts.
20 October 2020: Human Rights Watch declares that the North Korean pretrial detention and investigation system is arbitrary and lacks any semblance of due process. The report titled, "Worth Less Than an Animal: Abuses and Due Process Violations in Pretial Detention in North Korea" specifically highlights pretrial abuses of detainees as gross human rights violations. In 2014, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea said that the systematic human rights violations committed by the North Korean government constituted crimes against humanity.
19 October 2020: The International Criminal Court's delegation including its Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda arrived at Sudan to discuss the cases of Al-Bashir and two other former officials of Sudanese government wanted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok expressed commitment to achieving justice and cooperating with the International Criminal Court.
16 October 2020: Human Rights Watch has accused the Syria-Russia alliance of committing possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by attacking civilians in rebel-held Idlib province. The report, titled Targeting Life in Idlib - Syrian and Russian Strikes on Civilian Infrastructure, examines 46 attacks on civilian infratructure such as schools and hospitals in Idlib during the 11-month offensive and calls for sanctions against 10 top military officials involved.
15 October 2020: Amnesty International reports that Ecuador’s largest Indigenous organisation has filed a lawsuit against President Lenin Moreno and other officials for alleged crimes against humanity committed during protests last October that left 10 people dead. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) asked the prosecutor’s office on Monday to investigate “crimes against humanity” because they believe the crackdown was “a systematic and widespread attack on the civilian population,” the group’s lawyer, Carlos Poveda said.
14 October 2020: UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals announced that Milan Lukic, wartime leader of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group has filed for appeal to reconsider the judgment that found him guilty of wartime crimes. Milan Lukic was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012. He is currently serving his sentence in Estonia.
13 October 2020: According to new evidence gathered by Amnesty International, there have recently been indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Rakhine State, amid serious escalations in the ongoing armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army. This evidence is based on firsthand testimony, photographs and video obtained from inside Rakhine State, and analysis of satellite imagery as well as media reports and civil society sources. This barely one month since the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that in some recent cases in Rakhine State, civilians appeared to have been indiscriminately targeted or attacked, actions that may "constitute further war crimes or even crimes against humanity.”
12 October 2020: The Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor confirmed that it received a criminal complaint submitted by a group of NGOs accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for committing war crimes by using chemical weapons and targeting citizens. The chemical attacks that occured in Syria twice, in 2013 and 2017, are being considered under the principle of universal jurisdiction in Germany.
9 October 2020: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court yesterday confirmed the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber II to reject the interim release of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd–Al-Rahman. Judge Piotr Hofmański, Presiding judge on this appeal, read a summary of the judgment in open Court. Mr Abd–Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, is charged with 53 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan, on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility.
8 October 2020: Allegations of a leak of Kosovo war crimes case documents from the Specialist prosecutor's Office in The Hague could compromise witnesses' safety and hinder the prosecution of serious crimes. It is suspected that three batches of confidential Prosecutor's Office file, including the names of protected witnesses and other highly senstive information, were delivered to the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veternas's Organisation in Pristina by anonymous couriers in September. Apparently, the files, whose authenticity has neither been independently verified nor denied, have been returned to the Prosecutor's Office.
7 October 2020: The defense lawyer of Félicien Kabuga, has appealed to not send him to Tanzania to face trial and instead transfer him to The Hague, citing health concerns. Lawyer Emmanuel Altit has made the request in writing to the U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The 87 year old Rwandan genocide suspect was arrested in Paris in May, 2020. Last week a court in Paris approved of Félicien Kabuga's extradition to Arusha, Tanzania to face trial.
6 October 2020: Human Rights Watch reports that the UK government is seeking parliament’s approval of a law, the Overseas Operations Bill, that would make it nearly impossible to prosecute British soldiers for torture and other war crimes committed overseas. HRW argues that the Bill would make it very difficult to prosecute genuine cases by creating a “presumption against prosecution” after five years for torture and other war crimes allegedly committed by members of UK forces overseas. The human rights organisation added that the new law would increase the power of the attorney general, a member of the government, to protect soldiers from prosecution and urged parliament to reject it.
5 October 2020: The Belgian police last week arrested three men suspected of being involved in the Rwandan genocide. Rwandan state media has identified the three suspects as Pierre Basabose, Seraphin Twahirwa and Christophe Ndangali. The Belgian Prosecutor's office continues to investigate the matter while the three Rwandan nationals have been charged with serious human rights abuses and have been held under preventive detention.
2 October 2020: A team of prominent US human rights lawyers are suing the Trump administration over an executive order they say has gagged them and halted their work pursuing justice on behalf of war crimes victims around the world. As a result of the order in June threatening “serious consequences” for anyone giving support to the work of the international criminal court in the Hague, the lawyers say they have had to cancel speeches and presentations, end research, abandon writing ICC-related articles and dispensing advice and assistance to victims of atrocities.
1 October 2020: The French civil court ruled yesterday that Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga can be handed over to a United Nations tribunal in Tanzania, dismissing his lawyers’ arguments that he is too frail to be extradited. UN prosecutors accuse the former tea and coffee tycoon of bankrolling and importing huge numbers of machetes for ethnic Hutu fighters that killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda during a 100-day period in 1994.
30 September 2020: The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers have begun hearings on war crimes committed by Kosovo’s former separatist fighters, more than two decades after its war for independence from Serbia and nine years after a prosecutor was first appointed to investigate reports of atrocities. The Court has ordered the arrest of three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who were detained by EU police and transferred to the Netherlands. Two of them have already appeared before a judge, in a specially built courtroom fitted with transparent screens as a precaution against coronavirus.
29 September 2020: According to SkyNews investigations, evidence of a recent war crime has been discovered in Northern Yemen, alleged to have been orchestrated by the Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by the United States and Britain. The journalists claim to have gathered the evidence by examining the area and talking to multiple eyewitnesses as well as survivors of a recent massacre in the remote village of Washah near the Yemeni-Saudi border where there was an airstrike on a family home.
28 September 2020: The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) announced via twitter that French prosecutors had opened a formal investigation of BNP Paribas over its alleged complicity in crimes against humanity, genocide and torture in Sudan. Nearly a year ago, nine sudanese victims filed a complaint, with the help of the FIDH and Project Expedite Justice, against BNP Paribas for its involvement in the atrocities committed in Sudan between 2002 and 2008. The complaint alleged that BNP Paribas and its Swiss subsidiary served as the “de facto” bank for the Sudanese government at a time when the government committed massive human rights violations.
25 September 2020: Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, Salih Mustafa, has been arrested in Kosovo and transferred to the Kosovo war crimes tribunal’s detention center in the Netherlands, the court said. The indictment charges Mustafa, 48, with four counts of war crimes including the beating and torture of at least six people and one murder. According to the indictment, Mustafa led a guerilla unit which ran a detention facility and interrogation site where inmates were beaten, tortured, given electric shocks and urinated on.
24 September 2020: According to the UN-backed Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Milivoj Petkovic has already been transferred to a Belgian jail to serve the remainder of his 20-year term for crimes against Bosniaks during the Bosnian war. Petkovic was convicted in 2017 of committing crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions between 1992 and 1994. He was found guilty of participating in a joint criminal enterprise intended to remove Bosniaks from territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina in which the Bosnian Croat leadership, along with the leadership of Croatia, wanted to establish Croat domination.
23 September 2020: According to CNN, former Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philipines, Albert del Rosario, announced that Justice Antonio Carpio, an expert on the law of the sea, will serve as lawyer in charging Xi Jimping for crimes against humanity for Beijing's illegal moves in the disputed waters. The filing said China's encroachment on islands in the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, resulted in "environmentally destructive and illegal reclamations and artificial island building activities" in Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan Islands and deprived Filipino fishermen from livelihood.
22 September 2020: Former Bosnian Serb army fighter, Ranko Radulovic has been indicted for crimes against humanity against the Bosniak civilian population in and around the Foca area as a member of the Bosnian Serb Army during the war. According to the prosecution, Radulovic, who has citizenship of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, was charged with persecuting the Bosniak civilian population during July and August 1992, acting jointly with others and participating, as part of this prosecution, in an attack on civilians and villages that resulted in the deaths of victims.
21 September 2020: Eric Danboy Bagale, a former presidential guard from the Central African Republic was arrested in eastern France on Tuesday and taken to Paris. He is accused of leading a group of largely Christian militias which carried out revenge killings after the CAR's president was ousted in 2013. Mr Bagale has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, both for his actions as head of former President François Bozizé's guard and later as head of the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias, according to the AFP news agency.
18 September 2020: In their published findings, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela cited evidence of unlawful executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture in the country since 2014. Senior military and ministerial figures were likely aware of the crimes, said the investigators, who were appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva in September last year. These crimes were “part of a widespread and systematic course of conduct, thus amounting to crimes against humanity”, the authors maintained, in a call for further action by the International Criminal Court, along with justice and reparations for the victims and their families.
17 September 2020: In a report published by a United Nations-backed fact-finding mission, it has been found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Venezuelan authorities and security forces have since 2014 planned and executed serious human rights violations, some of which include arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture and amount to crimes against humanity. Marta Valiñas, chairperson of the UN mission stated that this finding was as a result of investigating 223 cases of alleged extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, and reviewing an additional 2,891 to corroborate patterns of violations and crimes.
16 September 2020: A United Nations report has pointed to signs that Syria's government still continues to commit crimes against humanity including rape, torture, and murder as the country's nine-year war grinds on. The team also cited possible war crimes by a Turkey-backed coalition of rebel groups and called on Ankara to do more to help prevent them. This is the 21st report from the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and was based on 538 interviews as well as documents, satellite imagery, and other evidence.
15 September 2020: The United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said on Monday that recent civilian casualties in Myanmar may amount to “further war crimes” and that three years after an exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, no concrete measures on accountability had been taken. Bachelet said that civilian casualties from fighting in Rakhine and neighbouring Chin states had been increasing, including through disappearances and extra-judicial killings. She added that satellite images and eyewitness accounts indicated that areas of northern Rakhine had been burnt in recent months and called for an independent investigation.
14 September 2020: The Vaud Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has written to the Deputy Attorney General of the Swiss Confederation in Bern, stating that he has set aside the previous decision of the Prosecutor’s Office to close the case of the assassination of Dr. Kazem Rajavi. He added that the case had been transferred to the Attorney General’s Office to be revisited in the context of genocide and crimes against humanity. Dr. Kazem Rajavi was assassinated on April 24, 1990, by terrorists alleged to have been dispatched by the Iranian regime.
11 September 2020: Human Rights Watch has published a 42-page report, “‘Video Unavailable’: Social Media Platforms Remove Evidence of War Crimes,” stating that social media platforms are taking down online content they consider terrorist, violently extremist, or hateful in a way that prevents its potential use to investigate serious crimes, including war crimes. The report urged all stakeholders, including social media platforms, to come together to develop an independent mechanism to preserve potential evidence of serious crimes. The human rights organisation added that the content should be available to support national and international investigations, as well as research by nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and academics.
10 September 2020: In a UN report, member of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen (GEE), led by Melissa Parke have, for the third year running since the Human Rights Council set the experts to work, found “reasonable grounds to believe that the parties to the conflict have committed and continue to commit serious violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. Some of these crimes, the report added, may amount to war crimes.”
9 September 2020: U.N. investigators have said in a report that weapons provided by Western powers and Iran to the warring sides in Yemen are fuelling the six-year-old conflict, marked by deadly Saudi-led coalition air strikes and Houthi shelling. The report stated that Coalition air strikes in the past year may amount to war crimes, while the Iran-aligned Houthi movement carried out killings and other abuses that may also constitute war crimes. Countries including Britain, Canada, France, Iran and the United States continued their support to the warring sides “including through arms transfers, thereby helping to perpetuate the conflict”, the U.N. panel said in the report entitled “Yemen: A Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land”.
8 September 2020: The murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 15-year-old daughter in El Salvador in 1989 put a focus on the country's 12-year civil war and outraged human rights activists all over the world. Now, two American women, a Stanford University professor and a national security analyst hope that their testimony in a Spanish court will bring justice 31 years later. After the Salvadoran government passed an amnesty law in 1993 that made it difficult to investigate and prosecute human rights cases, Spain applied the legal principle of universal jurisdiction to take up the Jesuits' case because five of the slain priests were Spanish citizens. According to international law, unresolved war crimes or crimes against humanity can be tried by other countries, even when they happen outside their borders.
7 September 2020: The Prosecutor of the Special Department for War Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina has issued an Indictment against Ranko Radulovic, who has citizenship of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with committing crimes against humanity against the Bosniak civilian population in and around the Foca area as a member of the Bosnian Serb Army during the war. The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be corroborating the allegations in the Indictment by summonsing around fifty (50) witnesses, including seven (7) witnesses with assigned protection measures, as well as by enclosing around two hundred (200) pieces of material evidence. The Indictment has been forwarded to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for confirmation.
4 September 2020: Prominent British human rights lawyer barrister Geoffrey Nice, who previously led the prosecution of ex-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic over the Balkans war and worked with the International Criminal Court, is convening an independent tribunal in London. The tribunal aims to investigate whether the Chinese government’s alleged rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the far western Xinjiang region constitute genocide or crimes against humanity.
3 September 2020: Canada and the Netherlands will formally join the Gambia's legal bid to hold Myanmar accountable over allegations of genocide against its mostly-Muslim Rohingya minority in a move described by observers as historic. In a joint statement on Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok said the two nations were intervening in the case before the International Court of Justice in order "to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account".
2 September 2020: The Khmer Rouge’s chief jailer, who admitted overseeing the torture and killings of as many as 16,000 Cambodians while running the regime’s most notorious prison, has died. Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was 77 and had been serving a life prison term for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Duch was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for atrocities he had committed as a commandant of the Tuol Sleng prison. At least 14,000 people died after being held there, most of them sent to a killing field after being tortured and forced to confess to often imaginary crimes. Only a handful survived.
1 September 2020: Sudan’s power-sharing government signed a peace agreement with key rebel groups on Monday, a step towards resolving deep-rooted conflicts from the long rule of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir, who is charged with crimes against humanity by the ICC. Three major groups signed the deal, including factions from Darfur where more than 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since 2003, and one from southern regions which say they were also marginalised. The deal offers rebels political representation and devolved powers, integration into the security forces, economic and land rights and the chance of return for displaced people.
31 August 2020: Félicien Kabuga, a key suspect accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, is likely to be transferred to the UN tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania before the end of the year, said Serge Brammertz, the IRMCT chief prosecutor. He had been indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (a predecessor to IRMCT) in 1997 on seven counts; genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination.
28 August 2020: A 45-year-old was detained by officers from the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of war crimes, contrary to section 51 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001. Police said the arrest followed an allegation of offences relating to the first and second civil wars in the African nation, between 1989 and 2003. Officers are searching an address in southeast London and enquiries are ongoing. Up to a quarter of a million people were killed in the Liberian civil wars, while thousands more were mutilated and raped.
27 August 2020: Rwanda has issued an international arrest warrant for former Rwandan spy chief, Aloys Ntiwiragabo, who is under investigation in France over his role in the African country's 1994 genocide. France opened a probe into alleged crimes against humanity by the ex-military official after he was found in the suburbs of the city of Orleans, about 100km southwest of Paris. French investigative news site Mediapart tracked down Ntiwiragabo, who had been identified by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as one of the architects of the genocide.
26 August 2020: Colombia has requested the extradition of a notorious paramilitary warlord jailed in the US on drug charges, amid fears that he may be deported to Italy and escape justice for human rights crimes, allegedly amounting to crimes against humanity in the Andean nation. Salvatore Mancuso, 56, led a rightwing paramilitary group which carried out some of the worst violence against civilians during Colombia’s decades-long civil war. Colombian President Iván Duque this month called for Mancuso’s return, saying his “his crimes will not continue to be met with impunity.
25 August 2020: Former Bosnian-Serb commander, Ratko Mladic returned to the United Nations court in The Hague on Tuesday to appeal his 2017 conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity during the Yugoslav Wars. The appeal was originally scheduled to begin in March but was postponed because of Mladic's health. Later it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally convicted on 10 counts, prosecutors say he should also be found guilty of genocide against Bosniaks and Croats in 1992.
24 August 2020: Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan's Prime Minister, has announced that the country is ready to cooperate with the International Criminal Court so those accused of war crimes in Darfur appear before the tribunal, a list that includes deposed President Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir, who has been in jail in Khartoum since he was toppled after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur in a conflict that killed an estimated 300,000 people beginning in 2003.
21 August 2020: The Court of Appeal in the Romanian city of Constanta said that it has refused to extradite Zoran Stojcic to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he is accused of committing a war crime by beating a Croat prisoner in 1992. The Romanian judges justified rejecting the Bosnian Justice Ministry’s extradition request by saying that there are not enough guarantees that Stojcic will not face capital punishment in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity if he extradited and convicted.
20 August 2020: Party-list group Bayan Muna wants the International Criminal Court to file criminal complaints against President Rodrigo Duterte for the recent spate of activist killings. Activist groups have blamed the administration for the two recent killings, but presidential spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that the administration was against any form of violence against citizens, including activists criticizing the government. In December 2019, the ICC said that the investigation and assessment of the complaints against Duterte, which included crimes against humanity under the controversial war against illegal drugs, would continue despite the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute the international agreement that created the ICC.
19 August 2020: Remains of over 100 victims of the genocide have so far been exhumed from a backyard of a home belonging to a man convicted for genocide against the Tutsi. François Simbizi in Mpano village, Cyivugiza cell of Nyamirambo sector in Nyarugenge District is said to have set up a roadblock near his house where Interahamwe militia converged daily to kill every passerby found to be a Tutsi fleeing their homes. More remains are suspected to still be in the compound. Simbizi died in prison years after he was convicted for genocide.
18 August 2020: Last Tuesday on World Minorities Day, Pakistan urged the international community to act to stop the "ethnic cleansing" of Kashmiris, which he termed as genocide. Shehryar Khan Afridi, the chairman of parliament's Kashmir Committee accused New Delhi of unleashing a "reign of terror" against Indian minorities, particularly Muslims. Afridi called for an immediate end to atrocities being meted out to minorities in general and "Kashmiris in particular."
17 August 2020: The Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by British mercenaries in Sri Lanka during the 1980s. The probe follows the publication earlier this year of Keenie Meenie: the British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes, by former Morning Star journalist Phil Miller. Mr Miller exposed how British military veterans from a company called Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) evaded accountability for their part in war crimes against Tamil civilians at the start of Sri Lanka’s civil war.
14 August 2020: The Bosnian state prosecution filed an indictment on Wednesday charging Predrag Bastah with crimes against humanity for his alleged participation in the murders of 37 Bosniak civilians at Mracni Dol in the Vlasenica municipality. Bastah was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2011 for his involvement in the murders of civilians, unlawful detention, forcible disappearances and resettlement of the local population in the Vlasenica area. The new indictment has been filed to the state court for confirmation.
13 August 2020: Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Tuesday said reparations offered by Germany for mass killings in its then colony at the start of the twentieth century were “not acceptable” and needed to be “revised.” German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres, which historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century. Namibia was called German South West Africa during Germany’s 1884-1915 rule, and then passed under South African rule for 75 years, finally gaining independence in 1990.
12 August 2020: The Supreme Court Chamber of the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Monday terminated the case against former senior cadre Ao An after thirteen years of investigation into charges of crimes against humanity. Ao An, known as “Ta An”, was a former Khmer Rouge deputy secretary of the Democratic Kampuchea regime’s Central Zone and Sector 41 secretary. He was charged in 2015 with premeditated homicide and crimes against humanity. In 2016, he was charged with additional crimes, including genocide.
11 August 2020: The Appellate Division Panel of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has delivered its appeals judgment finding the accused Ivan Kraljević, Vice Bebek and Stojan Odak guilty of war crimes against civilians. The Appellate Panel ultimately sentenced them as follows: the accused Ivan Kraljević to one year and three months of imprisonment; the accused Stojan Odak to two years and six months of imprisonment; and the accused Vice Bebek to one year of imprisonment. The accused Ivan Kraljević, Stojan Odak and Vice Bebek were found guilty that between April 1993 and March 1994, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the armed conflict between the Croat Defense Council (HVO) and the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as members of the HVO Military Police.
10 August 2020: Lebanese protesters enraged by official negligence blamed for the enormous explosion in the capital Beirut have vowed to rally again after a night of demonstrations that saw protesters storm several ministries. The death toll from the explosion stood at 158 people, with 60 still reported missing, and a staggering 6,000 wounded, many by flying glass as the shockwave tore through the city. The head of Lebanon's Maronite church, Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai, joined the chorus of people pressing Diab's entire cabinet to step down over a blast he said could be "described as a crime against humanity".
7 August 2020: In a statement issued in Monrovia on August 5, 2020, nine human rights groups in Liberia have expressed fear that they are receiving threats from some ranking security officers of the Liberian Government. The groups, which include CIVITAS MAXIMA, in a collective tone, noted that “Credible threats” have been made against a staff of the Global Justice and Research project (GJRP), Hassan Bility, as well as witnesses of alleged crimes by a recent defendant of a war crimes unit in the United Kingdom. The human rights organisations added that Adama Dempster, Secretary-General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, also received threats in connection to his human rights work and advocacy for a war crimes court.
6 August 2020: Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has presented an award to a Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect despite mounting criticism, decorating a wartime Croat police unit for their "contribution to the liberation of Croatia". Zlatan Mijo Jelic, a retired general of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), received the award at a ceremony in the Croatian city of Knin marking the 25th anniversary of the country's victory over rebel Serbs during the war in 1995. Bosnia's state prosecution indicted Jelic in 2016 over alleged war crimes against Bosniaks in the southern city of Mostar between 1993 and 1994. Jelic has refused to stand trial and denies the charges. He moved to Croatia in 2012 and renounced his Bosnian citizenship, according to Trial International, an NGO fighting impunity for international crimes.
5 August 2020: According to the United Nations, more than 1,300 people were killed in the first six months of the year by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), three times more than in the same period in 2019. The report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) said fighters of all armed groups were responsible for the summary executions or arbitrary killings of at least 1,315 people, including 165 children, between January and June 2020.The UN has warned that some of the latest attacks could amount to crimes against humanity.
4 August 2020: According to the Lybia Observer, Khalifa Haftar, who is facing several lawsuits in the United States for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has hired New York law firm, Tucker Levin PLLC to represent him in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, according to a statement by the Libyan American Alliance (LAA). Faisal Gill, the lawyer retained to represent families of Haftar's victims in Libya said that after ignoring the courts for months, Haftar finally got the message that the people filing the lawsuits are serious about pursuing justice for the victims of his egregious and violent actions.
3 August 2020: Renewed attacks in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan by armed groups and government dispersals of protests have left dozens dead and thousands displaced. The southwestern region has witnessed a wave of violence that led to the death of at least 100 civilians in July, despite a short lull in the unrest after the 2019 Sudanese revolution that ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir, who is in jail and wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of overseeing crimes against humanity over his scorched-earth campaign against rebels in Darfur more than a decade ago.
31 July 2020: The state court of Bosnia has awarded two men acquitted of war crimes some 5,000 euros each for suffering non-material damage. Both Zijad Hamzic and Nusret Muhic were represented by lawyer Kenan Hadzimuhovic. According to Hadzimuhovic, in the first case, the first instance court awarded Hamzic 4,000 marks only, but following an appeal, they raised the amount to 10,000, about 5,000 euros while concerning the second case, the first instance court awarded him 17,000 marks but the second instance chamber upheld an appeal filed by the Office of the Attorney General and reduced it to KM 10,000.
30 July 2020: A report by the UN, based on 100 first-hand accounts by North Korean women, details allegations that they were beaten or suffered other individual or collective punishment while in detention between 2009 and 2019, which could amount to crimes against humanity. “These accounts show once again the systemic nature of human rights violations in the DPRK, and the need to keep seeking pathways to proper accountability for such crimes”, said Ms. Bachelet, the UN Human Rights Chief. Ms. Bachelet added that the UN Human Rights Office will continue to collect evidence of this kind to support a process of criminal accountability. The report concludes with recommendations calling for the Government to bring the detention system into line with international norms and standards.
29 July 2020: The Swiss-based organization, Civitas Maxima which has been working in collaboration with the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) to facilitate the documentation of international crimes, and pursues the redress of such crimes on behalf of victims who do not have access to justice, has taken Madam Agnes Reeves-Taylor to task over her damning indictment of the group’s effort in pursuit of alleged perpetrators of the Liberian civil war. Civitas said it is now more important than ever that the Liberian Government listens to calls from Liberians and the international community to establish a war crimes court. “Until then, Liberia will be the land of impunity, where war criminals can find safe haven. And this is the greatest disservice to all the people that have died and suffered, to those that were brave enough to testify, and to those who relentlessly advocate for justice and accountability.”
28 July 2020: An umbrella group of unions and social organizations representing more than 1 million Brazilian medical professionals have filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Bolsonaro of committing a crime against humanity by reacting to the outbreak with "contempt, neglect and denial." With more than 87,000 deaths and 2.4 million registered infections so far, Brazil has suffered more cases than any other country except the United States. The complaint also cites Bolsonaro's "adamant insistence" on the use of the anti-malarial medicines, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Multiple scientific studies show these are ineffective against COVID-19.
27 July 2020: France has opened an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity by a top former Rwandan military official, Aloys Ntiwiragabo, during the country's 1994 genocide that killed at least 800,000 people. French investigative news site Mediapart tracked down the former Rwandan spy chief, who was identified by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as one of the architects of the genocide in Rwanda. Prosecutors opened investigations after Ntiwiragabo was found hiding in the suburbs of the city of Orleans, about 100km (62 miles) southwest of Paris.
24 July 2020: A former Liberal justice minister, Irwin Cotler, is urging Canada’s Parliament to become the first to define China’s “mass atrocities” against the country’s Uighur minority as genocide. The international human rights lawyer made the challenge to parliamentarians on Monday during his testimony before a House of Commons subcommittee studying the reports of abuses, including mass incarceration and forced sterilization, targeting Uighur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs in northwestern China.
23 July 2020: A Malaysian court will hear a bid to set aside caning sentences handed down to 27 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, lawyers said, a punishment that rights groups have decried as vicious and tantamount to torture. On Monday, rights group Amnesty International urged Malaysia not to cane the refugees, saying it was "cruel and inhumane". "The men who face violent lashings on top of jail terms have already fled persecution and crimes against humanity in Myanmar," Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Malaysia researcher at Amnesty, said in a statement.
21 July 2020: Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan called Azerbaijan’s threat to bomb the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, located outside Yerevan, to unequivocally be considered a crime against humanity. He asserted that such an action is a threat to commit terrorism against humanity and should be given an appropriate international probe and reaction. Pashinyan explained that the meeting was called to discuss the operative situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the military-political situation in the region that has become tense due to Azerbaijan’s aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.
20 July 2020: As confirmed by the duty prosecutor of the Herzegovina Neretva Canton Prosecutor’s Office, the body of Hague war crimes convict Zdravko Mucic Pava was found on Saturday at around 3 pm in Lake Jablanica in the settlement of Cerići near Konjic. The 65-years old Mucic from Konjic, whose disappearance was reported on Friday, had been released from custody by The Hague tribunal in 2003 following a decision on his early release after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
17 July 2020: The Panel of the Appellate Division of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down, on 16 July 2020, a second instance judgment in the case of SretkoPavić. The accused Sretko Pavić was found guilty of war crimes against the Civilian Population under Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the SFRY, as read with Article 22 of the same Code and sentenced to a term of eleven years by the Appellate Panel of the Court of BiH.
16 July 2020: An Israeli newspaper, Haaretz has reported that Israel is compiling a top secret list of military and intelligence officials who could be arrested abroad if the International Criminal Court in the Hague opens an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. The list is alledged to contain between 200 and 300 officials, some of whom are not aware of their inclusion.
15 July 2020: Amnesty International has stated that the authorities in Sudan must promptly investigate the killing of nine protesters by an armed militia group affiliated with the Sudan security forces which occurred in Fata Borno, North Darfur, on 13 July. The people of Darfur have endured deadly attacks from armed militia and been caught in the middle of fights between armed militia and government forces. The violence has resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000, and the displacement of more than 2 million since 2003. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for four Sudanese government officials including former President Omar Al Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed against the people of Darfur.
14 July 2020: The trial of a Malian fighter accused of demolishing Timbuktu's shrines has begun at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, 42, who was active in Timbuktu during 2012 and 2013, has been charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape and sexual slavery. Al Hassan is the second Malian fighter to face trial at the ICC for the destruction of the Timbuktu shrines, following a landmark 2016 ruling at the world's only permanent war crimes court.
13 July 2020: Bosnian Muslims marked 25 years since the Srebrenica genocide, the worst atrocity on European soil since the end of the second world war, with the memorial ceremony sharply reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event marked July 11, 1995, the day when Bosnian Serb forces marched into Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave on Serb territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been under the UN protection.
10 July 2020: Lawyers representing two Uighur activist organizations have filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court accusing Chinese officials of genocide and other crimes against humanity against Uighur Muslim minority groups. The complaint will be the first legal proceeding challenging the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing brutal treatment of the Uighurs, which dates back to 1884. Notwithstanding evidence supporting these allegations, the ICC cannot exercise jurisdiction over China because China is not a party to the Rome Statute governing the ICC. However, international lawyer Rodney Dixon, who is currently leading the case, said in a recent JURIST interview that jurisdiction “should not be a barrier at all” because the unlawful acts occurred in two Rome Statute member states outside of China: Cambodia and Tajikistan.
9 July 2020: Amnesty International reports that it has collected new evidence showing that indiscriminate airstrikes by the Myanmar military have killed civilians, including children, amid worsening armed conflict in the country’s Rakhine and Chin States. Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director said that while Myanmar authorities were urging people to stay at home in order to stop COVID-19, its military was burning down homes and killing civilians in indiscriminate attacks that amount to war crimes in Rakhine and Chin states.
8 July 2020: A UN investigation has said that war crimes and possible crimes against humanity were committed during the battle for Syria's opposition-held Idlib province. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said people endured "unfathomable suffering" during the campaign launched in late 2019 by pro-regime forces to retake the last remaining areas in the country held by armed groups. "Children were shelled at school, parents were shelled at the market, patients were shelled at the hospital, and entire families were bombarded even while fleeing," said commission chair Paulo Pinheiro.
7 July 2020: In a report released on Monday, the UN's Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the DRC documented a series of "widespread, systematic and extremely brutal" rights abuses by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Intensified attacks by ADF, an armed group in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over the past 18 months have killed at least 800 civilians, according to the United Nations, which said the assaults may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.
6 July 2020: According to the New York Times, Uighur exiles have urged the International Criminal Cour to investigate Beijing for genocide and crimes against humanity, the first ever attempt to use international law to hold China’s ruling Communist Party accountable for its draconian crackdown on the Muslim minority. A team of London-based lawyers representing two Uighur activist groups has filed a complaint against Beijing for pursuing the repatriation of thousands of Uighurs through unlawful arrests in or deportation from Cambodia and Tajikistan. The case could bring greater international scrutiny of the Chinese state’s power to impose its will beyond its borders.
3 July 2020: Human Rights Watch argues that with the recent death of Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza, the country has a new opportunity to start afresh, however the repressive system Nkurunziza put in place remains firmly entrenched. Two newly appointed senior government officials, the prime minister and interior minister are on international sanctions lists for their alleged role in abuses since 2015. When the International Criminal Court in 2016 initiated a preliminary investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Burundi, the country became the first to ever leave the court. Presently, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry is the most important mechanism conducting in-depth investigations although Burundi won’t let its team into the country.
2 July 2020: A group of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank submitted a complaint on Tuesday to the International Criminal Court, requesting an investigation into senior Israeli and US officials who authorised Donald Trump's “Peace to Prosperity” plan. William Schabas, a professor of international law at the UK's Middlesex University, filed the complaint on behalf of his clients citing Israel's plans to unilaterally and illegally annex up to a third of the West Bank, a scheme that gained traction after Trump's plan was launched in January. In a statement, Schabas said “there is credible evidence” that Trump, Pompeo and Kushner “are complicit in acts that may amount to war crimes relating to the transfer of populations into occupied territory and the annexation of the sovereign territory of the State of Palestine”.
30 June 2020: Australia's special forces chief has admitted that SAS soldiers did commit war crimes in Afghanistan. Australian Special Operations Commander Major-General Adam Findlay told SAS soldiers at Perth's Campbell Barracks that, 'there are guys who criminally did something' and 'poor leadership' is to blame. This is the first time a senior officer, who is still serving has said that SAS soldiers broke the law in Afghanistan. His comments are widely interpreted as an admission that the Brereton Inquiry - an investigation into more than 55 cases of alleged misconduct by Australia's special forces - is going to make adverse findings when it finishes in July.
29 June 2020: Last week convicted genocide criminal, Leon Mugesera, was back in court this time appealing the life sentence he was handed in 2016. The basis of the appeal, he says, is on account that the judge who presided over the case distorted the content of his infamous 1992 speech in Kabaya, Gisenyi, calling for the extermination of the Tutsi population in Rwanda. Mugesera spent seventeen years in Canadian courts challenging the Supreme Court’s ruling to have him deported to Rwanda to stand trial for genocide crimes and crimes against humanity.
26 June 2020: In a resolution adopted last week with 493 votes to 104 and 67 abstentions, the European Parliament strongly condemned the appalling death of George Floyd in the US, as well as similar killings elsewhere in the world. MEPs called on the US authorities to address structural racism and inequalities, criticised the police crackdowns on peaceful protesters and journalists and President Trump’s threat to deploy the army as well as his “inflammatory rhetoric”. Parliament also called on EU institutions and the member states to officially acknowledge past injustices and crimes against humanity committed against black people, people of colour and Roma, according to Parliament, which declares slavery a crime against humanity.
25 June 2020: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has been accused of war crimes by a special international prosecutor in The Hague. Mr Thaci and others "are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders", torture and enforced disappearances, the prosecutor said. Thaci was a former commander with the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war for independence from Serbia between 1998 and 1999. The accusations, covering Kosovo's independence war against Serbi, are being assessed by a judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers who will decide if the case goes to trial. Mr Thaci has denied any wrongdoing.
24 June 2020: The International Criminal Court has begun hearing an appeal by the UN tribunal's chief prosecutor against last year's acquittal of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on charges of crimes against humanity. Fatou Bensouda said in her appeal submission that the court erred in clearing Gbagbo and his right-hand man Charles Ble Goude of allegations of post-electoral violence in the restive West African nation in 2010-2011, in which about 3,000 people died.
23 June 2020: Bill Horace, a Toronto man shot in London, Ontario, in the early hours of Sunday morning, died without facing justice for war crimes he allegedly committed nearly three decades ago during Liberia’s devastating civil wars. London Police Service say four men forced their way into a home in a quiet middle-class neighbourhood, where a struggle took place and Mr. Horace was shot. The assailants fled. Mr. Horace made it outside and reached at least one neighbour’s home to ask for help. In 2012, he was under investigation by Canada’s crimes against humanity and war crimes program, which involves the RCMP, the Department of Justice, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Canada Border Services Agency. No charges were laid.
22 June 2020: German federal prosecutors arrested a Syrian doctor for suspected crimes against humanity and grievous bodily harm, they announced today. The case is an expansion of Germany's legal campaign against the alleged enforcers of Bashar Assad's tyrannical suppression of human rights. The man, identified only as Alaa M. in accordance with Germany's privacy laws, was a suspected member of the Syrian military intelligence agency. He allegedly worked in a regime prison and allegedly tortured a detainee on least two occasions. He allegedly left Syria in mid-2015 and traveled to Germany, where he had been working as a doctor.
19 June 2020: The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has condemned the German Bridge Prize Society for giving its 2020 Award to former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The announcement was also condemned by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. The Society announced that the award would go to Livni for her role in spreading the culture of peace in the Middle East. Euro-Med expressed its “serious concern” about the decision of the Bridge Prize Society to award the 2020 prize to Livni. “She stands accused of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the blockaded Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9 when she was Israel’s Foreign Minister.
18 June 2020: The European Union on Tuesday stepped up its criticism of Donald Trump's decision to authorize sanctions against International Criminal Court officials for inquiry into possible war crimes , branding the move "unacceptable" and calling on the U.S. president to reverse course. "The European Union expresses grave concern about the announced measures and reconfirms its unwavering support for the International Criminal Court," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement. Trump last week signed an executive order authorizing the possible imposition of economic sanctions and visa restrictions on ICC employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
17 June 2020: Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has urged the UN to provide "technical assistance" in collecting and documenting evidence of war crimes committed by the militia affiliated with warlord Khalifa Haftar. Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Al-Qiblawi in a statement on the ministry's social media account said al-Sarraj, in his message to the UN Support Mission in Libya, asked them to provide the necessary assistance to the country's authorities to investigate the crimes and violations committed in the south of the capital city of Tripoli and city of Tarhuna. After many civilian mass graves were found in Tarhuna, the Libyan government said Haftar’s militias should be investigated "on the grounds of planting explosives, mines in civilian areas, executions and torture" and called on to the international community to take action.
16 June 2020: A Sudanese militia leader has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Darfur conflict in his first appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday. Ali Kushayb was formally told of the more than 50 charges against him as he appeared by video link from a detention centre in The Hague because of coronavirus measures. Kushayb, 70, turned himself in earlier this month in the Central African Republic after 13 years on the run stemming from allegations relating to the devastating conflict in the western Sudanese region."Yes I was informed of the charges but this is untrue, they made me come here and I hope that I will get justice," said Kushayb.
15 June 2020: According to The Guardian, US prosecutors have failed to include one of WikiLeaks’ most shocking video revelations in the indictment against Julian Assange, a move that has brought accusations that the US doesn’t want its “war crimes” exposed in public. Assange, an Australian citizen, is remanded and in ill health in London’s Belmarsh prison while the US tries to extradite him to face 18 charges, 17 under its Espionage Act for conspiracy to receive, obtain and disclose classified information.
12 June 2020: International investigators looking into charges of war crimes by Americans in Afghanistan will face economic penalties and travel restrictions, the Trump administration warned on Thursday, accusing the Hague-based international court of corruption and maintaining that the United States can prosecute its own military and intelligence personnel. The sanctions come more than two years after the International Criminal Court announced an inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity, including torture and rape by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and at C.I.A. interrogation facilities abroad.
11 June 2020: The trial of former Territorial Defence fighter Milan Trisic, accused of committing crimes against humanity in the village of Hranca and in the town of Bratunac in 1992, began at the Bosnian state court on Wednesday. Trisic is alleged to have participated in the persecution of Bosniak civilians from the village and of involvement in murders, detentions, forcible disappearances and torture. He was deported to Bosnia and Herzegovina from the US in October last year. While in the US, he was prosecuted for giving false data about his participation in the Bosnian war.
10 June 2020: One of the most notorious Sudanese militia leaders in the brutal conflict in Darfur has been arrested in the Central African Republic and handed over to the International criminal court. Ali Kushayb, who had been on the run for 13 years, surrendered to authorities in a remote corner of northern CAR near the country’s border with Sudan, said a spokesman for the ICC. The charges against him consist of 22 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, and 28 counts of war crimes, including intentionally attacking a civilian population, rape, and destruction of property.
9 June 2020: International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has told the ICC’s Pretrial Chamber that a war crimes probe against Israelis can proceed despite the continued application of the Oslo Accords. Israel and its allies have claimed that the Oslo Accords prevent the PA from seeking ICC involvement in a potential criminal issue. Bensouda’s decision on Monday was a rejection of Israel’s legal argument. The ICC chief prosecutor’s statement came in response to a May 27 request from the ICC Pretrial Chamber to clarify the status of the Oslo Accords and their impact on a war crimes probe against Israel.
8 June 2020: Ali Khan, Professor Emeritus of Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, argues in JURIST that crimes against African Americans are crimes against humanity, and the U.S. is under a legal obligation to recognize African Americans as a persecuted population. Furthermore, state officials and private citizens committing crimes against African Americans must be charged with crimes against humanity. He argues that George Floyd’s death in Minnesota is not an isolated act of police brutality and that preceding deaths represent a pattern of crimes against African Americans. Khan contends that the domestic and global reaction underscores a simple fact that African Americans are a persecuted community whose human dignity is under widespread and systematic attack.
5 June 2020: Kosovo’s Supreme Court has ruled against court verdicts that found Serb fighter Milorad Zajic not guilty of committing war crimes against civilians and violating the Geneva Conventions. The Supreme Court ruled against the March 2019 verdict handed down by the Basic Court in Peja/Pec, and the October 2019 Court of Appeals verdict that cleared Zajic of what the court described as the “criminal act of organising groups to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of war”.
4 June 2020: Allegations of financial wrong-doing have cast a cloud over efforts to prosecute war crimes in Syria and in particular the first such case to be brought against henchmen of the Syrian regime. The European Union's Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) recommended in March that the European Commission seek to recoup 1.9 million euros in funding from entities connected to the Syria Rule of Law project, an EU initiative that began around 2013. Authorities in the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium should “consider prosecuting the involved project partners for possible offences of fraud and forgery”, Olaf said in its investigation report.
3 June 2020: All but one of the thousands of complaints linking British soldiers to Iraq war crimes have been dropped, according to an independent investigator looking into the allegations in the United Kingdom. Andrew Cayley, director of the Service Prosecuting Authority, told BBC radio on Tuesday that it was "quite possible" that none of the original allegations would lead to a prosecution.British combat troops fought alongside US and other coalition forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent war that lasted eight years.
2 June 2020: United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo yesterday previewed imminent action by the Trump administration aimed at countering the International Criminal Court’s investigation of alleged war crimes committed by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan. In an interview on the “What the Hell Is Going On?” podcast, produced by the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute think tank, Pompeo said he is “very concerned” about the probe being conducted by the Hague-based tribunal. The warning from America’s top diplomat comes after ICC judges in March authorized an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly perpetrated by Afghan government forces, the Taliban, American troops and U.S. foreign intelligence operatives. The inquiry marks the first time the court’s prosecutor had been allowed to scrutinize U.S. forces.
29 May 2020: The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials deemed responsible for the oppression of Uighur Muslims, sending the bill to the White House for President Donald Trump to veto or sign into law. The Uighur Human Rights Act passed by a 413-1 vote on Wednesday and came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Congress that the administration no longer considered Hong Kong autonomous from China. The bill calls for sanctions against those responsible for the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China's Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps. It singles out the region's Communist Party as responsible for alleged state-sponsored genocide against them.
28 May 2020: Widespread and systematic killings, beheadings, rape and other barbaric acts by militia mostly from the ethnic Lendu community in northeastern Congo may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, the United Nations said yesterday. In the six months to April 2020, at least 296 people were killed, 151 wounded and 38 raped, including women and children, mostly by fighters linked to the CODECO rebel group, said a report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO). The recent attacks against civilians not only targeted the Hema and Alur communities, but included communities previously spared, UNJRHO report said. The raids intensified from March this year, particularly around artisanal mining sites.
27 May 2020: In a chilling new report, Amnesty International warns that Nigeria must urgently address its failure to protect and provide education to an entire generation of children in the Northeast, a region devastated by years of Boko Haram atrocities and gross violations by the military. The 91-page report, ‘We dried our tears’: Addressing the toll on children of Northeast Nigeria’s conflict, examines how the military’s widespread unlawful detention and torture have compounded the suffering of children from Borno and Adamawa states who faced war crimes and crimes against humanity at the hands of Boko Haram. It also reveals how international donors have bankrolled a flawed programme that claims to reintegrate former alleged fighters, but which overwhelmingly amounts to unlawful detention of children and adults.
26 May 2020: It has been reported by a United Nations war crimes prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, that the remains of Augustin Bizimana, former Rwandan defence minister and one of the top suspects wanted over the country's 1994 genocide, have been identified in a grave in the Republic of Congo. Brammertz said Bizimana, who was indicted on 13 charges, including genocide, murder and rape, is believed to have died in Pointe Noire, in Congo, in 2000. The announcement of Bizimana's death follows the arrest in Paris last week of 84-year-old Felicien Kabuga, another of a handful of prominent suspects from the Rwandan genocide who had been on the run for more than 20 years.
25 May 2020: EU-backed "Genocide Network" has reported that Islamic State (IS) fighters who returned to Europe from conflicts in Iraq and Syria should be charged with war crimes along with terrorism. According to the network, many so-called returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) affiliated with IS only face charges under domestic terrorism laws in their EU home countries, which come with a statute of limitations that sets a time limit to prosecution. However, core international crimes, like genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, can be prosecuted without a statute of limitations and be added to domestic terrorism charges. Culminating charges can lead to stiffer sentencing, the report said.
20 May 2020: According to a UN investigation, efforts to gather evidence for the prosecution of Daesh militants are proving to be fruitful and “significant progress” is being made in building a legal case against the terrorist group which controlled large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria beginning in 2014. Details of the progress by the investigative team were included in a report to the UN Security Council which was obtained by the Associated Press. The investigative team is reportedly continuing to engage with the Iraqi government on pending legislation that would allow the country to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed by the Daesh terrorist group.
19 May 2020: The International Criminal Court ruled on Monday that ex-Congolese vice president and militia leader Jean-Pierre Bemba is not entitled to damages after his successful appeal of a war crimes conviction. Bemba’s lawyers failed to convince the court that their client must be compensated for the nearly $75 million they claimed he lost because of his imprisonment, including legal fees and what they say was the court’s mismanagement of his seized assets. The judges acknowledged that the 10 years Bemba spent in jail awaiting trial is a “significant amount of time to spend in custody, likely to result in personal suffering.” But they also ruled that Bemba “failed to establish that he had suffered a grave and manifest miscarriage of justice.”
18 May 2020: Félicien Kabuga, alleged to be a leading figure in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, was apprehended in Paris by French authorities as a result of a joint investigation with the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT). He was indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 on seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. UN secretary General, António Guterres said in a statement, "Mr. Kabuga’s apprehension sends a powerful message that those who are alleged to have committed such crimes cannot evade justice and will eventually be held accountable, even more than a quarter of a century later."
15 May 2020: The International Criminal Court has responded to Israeli criticisms over the prosecutor’s decision to probe Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the occupied West Bank, besieged Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was quoted on the court’s official Twitter account as saying that “misinformation and smear campaigns do not change facts about the conduct of my Office’s work concerning the situation in Palestine.”
14 May 2020: Myanmar's military has conceded its troops abused prisoners in Rakhine state after a video of soldiers battering blindfolded detainees spread on social media, a rare admission of wrongdoing by a force often accused of acting with impunity, including committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The video, which emerged on Sunday, shows plain-clothed men punching and kicking the heads of handcuffed and blindfolded detainees. Myanmar's armed forces are locked in an increasingly brutal war with the rebels, who are fighting for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.
13 May 2020: According to Human Rights Watch, the attack carried out yesterday by unidentified assailants on a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan shows blatant disregard for civilian life and is an apparent war crime. A suicide bombing attack and ensuing gun battles killed at least 13 civilians, including 2 infants, and wounded at least 15. More than 80 patients, including children, were evacuated from the hospital. No armed group claimed responsibility for the attack on the hospital, whose maternity clinic is supported by the international aid organization Médecins San Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). The Taliban have denied involvement. The Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood in Kabul, where the hospital is located, is predominantly Shia and has been the location of a number of attacks by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province, a group affiliated with the Islamic State.
12 May 2020: The Bosnian state court told BIRN that Marinko Sunjic, who was accused of detaining, persecuting and committing grave abuses against Bosniak civilian prisoners in Mostar in 1992-93, has died and the proceedings against him have been discontinued. Sunjic had been standing trial for crimes against humanity together with Jure Kordic, Drazen Lovric, Dario Susac, Nedzad Tinjak, Nuhan Sikalo, Dario Mihalj, Stanko Skobic, Tomislav Ancic and Slavko Golemac. All the defendants were former members of the Second Brigade’s First Battalion and the Convicts’ Battalion of the Croatian Defence Council.
11 May 2020: Former prime minister of Ivory Coast, Guillaume Soro, a rebel leader before he joined politics, is facing a lawsuit in France for war crimes, murder and torture. Soro was handed a 20-year jail term in Ivory Coast last month for embezzlement, money laundering and buying a mansion in the West African country’s economic capital Abidjan with public funds. According to the plaintiffs, the case is being filed in France because Soro has been living in the country since 2019. He is being accused of ordering the kidnapping of former rebel leader Ibrahima Coulibaly on April 27,2011 and his subsequent torture and assassination.
8 May 2020: Australia’s most decorated Afghan veteran, Ben Roberts-Smith, has been referred by the federal police to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to face possible charges for alleged war crimes. It is reported that a brief of evidence has been submitted by federal agents to prosecutors outlining allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith kicked a defenceless prisoner off a cliff and covered up his subsequent murder during a special forces mission in Afghanistan in September 2012. Multiple special forces sources have also confirmed that more of Mr Roberts-Smith’s fellow SAS soldiers have come forward to allege he was involved in other serious war crimes during his various tours of Afghanistan.
7 May 2020: The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has said her office is working on new arrest warrants in Libya, pointing out that military commanders may be held responsible for crimes committed by their forces, namely the targeting of civilians with air strikes and artillery fire. Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council that Libya remains a priority for her office. She noted the offensive launched over a year ago by eastern-based forces under military commander Khalifa Haftar trying to take the capital, Tripoli, has not abated. She said her office is monitoring events, particularly civilian casualties from air strikes and shelling and incidents that may constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
6 May 2020: The UN’s special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabian Salvioli, has said that measures to protect against COVID-19 in overcrowded jails should not lead to amnesties or pardons being granted to people convicted of serious violations of human rights, crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes. While countries have a duty to avoid overcrowding and ensure adequate sanitation and hygiene in detention facilities amid the pandemic, people convicted of offences like war crimes are usually kept away from mass contact for security reasons, Salvioli noted. If there is a persistent problem of overcrowding amid the ongoing health emergency, they should be relocated to other prisons, or put under temporary house arrest, he added.
1 May 2020: A federal judge says there are reasonable grounds to believe a Quebec resident was complicit in crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia. Federal Court Justice Paul Crampton sided with Ottawa in its case against Cedo Kljajic, saying a civilized society cannot turn its back on the victims of distant crimes. The government alleged Kljajic fraudulently obtained Canadian citizenship by concealing his role in the creation and operation of a police force that carried out abuses on behalf of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb Republic in the early 1990s. In his ruling, Crampton concluded Kljajic became a permanent resident and later a citizen through false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing relevant circumstances.
30 April 2020: Colombia will offer individuals who leave crime gangs and rebel dissident groups legal benefits including reduced sentences in an effort to weaken illegal armed groups, Miguel Ceballos, the country's high peace commissioner said yesterday. Those who voluntarily surrender will get legal benefits like reductions in jail sentences and access to an up to six-year reintegration process that includes economic support. There will however not be pardons or amnesties for those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity like the use of landmines, Ceballos said.
29 April 2020: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar is calling for an immediate investigation into the military, following allegations of continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity in western Rakhine and Chin States despite the International Court of Justice's provisional measures and its own Presidential directive to respect the Genocide Convention. Yanghee Lee accused Myanmar's army, also known as the Tatmadaw, of ignoring a call for a ceasefire by rebel groups, and instead carrying out an armed offensive "inflicting immense suffering on the ethnic communities" in the two western states. Lee added that the focus of all authorities, including security forces, should be on dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, but instead, aid workers have also been singled out in the conflict.
28 April 2020: According to Al Jazeera, Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk, former President of South Africa, publicly stated that apartheid was not a crime against humanity in an interview with the national broadcaster, the SABC during the country's Freedom Day celebrations. During the interview, de Klerk said he was "not fully agreeing" with the presenter who asked him to confirm that apartheid - the legalised segregation of and discrimination against non-white people, was a crime against humanity. Although de Klerk later retracted his statement, the debacle opened old wounds and raised questions about his legacy.
24 April 2020: A Chilean Court of Appeal, in a move to hault the rapid spread of coronavirus, released some prisoners from overcrowded prisons. Among those who were granted release and sentence reductions were 17 State actors convicted of crimes against humanity perpetrated against thousands of Chilean citizens during the Pinochet dictatorship, provoking condemnation by survivors and the international human rights community. With the decision by the Court, Chile is also not in compliance with international treaties and the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The cases of Almonacid, Arellano and others v. Chile, and La Cantuta v. Perú have established unequivocally the obligation of member states to investigate and prosecute all crimes against humanity, treating them as the most serious violations of human rights.
23 April 2020: This week, German prosecutors charged Syria's Anwar Raslan and Eyad al-Gharib under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows them to bring cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide even when the actions occurred outside the country and were perpetrated by or against non-nationals. As expounded in The New Humanitarian, most countries recognise the concept, though Germany and Norway are the two European nations that interpret it most broadly. Countries such as France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Spain have adopted less sweeping versions. For now, universal jurisdiction is one of the only judicial tools available to prosecutors because Syria isn’t a party to the Rome Statute, which governs the International Criminal Court, and Russia has vetoed all UN Security Council attempts to refer Syrian-related matters to the ICC.
22 April 2020: A human rights NGO in Zagreb said in its annual report published last Friday that “as in previous years, war crimes prosecutions were stagnant” in Croatia in 2019, while hate speech and intolerance toward minorities persisted in the public arena and on social media. Instead of improving regional co-operation with the judiciary of the countries where war crimes indictees lived, the number of trials in absentia increased. Croatia continues to prosecute a small number of suspected members of it's military and police units and there is extremely poor cooperation between the relevant authorities of Croatia and Serbia, the report said.
21 April 2020: Following the ongoing conflict in Libya, the UN Mission in Libya has warned of possible war crimes, detailing a "dramatic increase" of indiscriminate shelling on densely populated civilian areas in the capital, Tripoli, that killed five civilians and wounded 28 over the past few days. Eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Haftar have been laying siege to Tripoli since last April, trying to wrest the city from the UN-backed government. The UN also expressed concern about the fate of civilians in Tarhuna following the GNA’s military offensive. Without naming Western-based forces, it lamented arbitrary arrests, abuse of civilians and fighters and electricity and gas supply cut-offs, which it said amounted to "collective punishment" in the strategic city.
20 April 2020: Germany has taken in more than a million asylum seekers, many fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and as a result, it sometimes becomes a surreal arena where victims run into their erstwhile torturers in the streets. Anwar al-Bunni and Anwar Raslan arrived in Berlin within two months of each other, and crossed paths when they were briefly staying in the same centre for asylum seekers. In the first legal proceedings worldwide over state-sponsored torture in Syria, Raslan will be tried under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity. This week, the two men will face each other in a German court, where Raslan will be one of two alleged former Syrian intelligence officers in the dock accused of crimes against humanity for Bashar al-Assad's regime.
17 April 2020: According to Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has been reluctant to identify perpetrators of war crimes against children. Among several instances mentioned, is a summary he published on 6 April about an investigation into seven attacks on civilian facilities in Syria that found it “highly probable that the Government of Syria and/or its allies” bombed a school in Qalaat al-Madiq in April 2019, but lacked enough evidence “to reach a conclusive finding.” This is despite the fact that last December, the New York Times used flight logs, witness statements, and cockpit recordings to pin the attack on a Russian warplane. The UN secretariat isn’t the only UN body seemingly reluctant to name names of abusers. On April 8, the Security Council’s working group on children and armed conflict published a statement that rightly condemned Yemen’s Houthis for abuses but declined to mention Saudi Arabia or the UAE at all.
16 April 2020: Rio state Governor Wilson Witzel said that he had contracted the coronavirus and criticised president Bolsonaro's defiance of guidelines from the United Nations and World Health Organization, adding that it could be considered a "crime against humanity". Bolsonaro has attacked social isolation measures and state governors who introduced them, ignoring the advice of his own health minister, Luiz Mandetta, to mingle with supporters, arguing they wreck Brazil's economy. There are more than 25,000 confirmed cases in Brazil but a study published by a number of Brazilian universities and institutes suggests that the country is likely to have 12 times more cases of coronavirus than the number being reported by the government. It estimated that only 8% of cases are being officially reported.
15 April 2020: A new lawsuit has been filed with the International Criminal Court, arguing that coronavirus is a bioweapon. The theory has already been debunked in the past by a paper published on the New England Journal of Medicine, but the argument is still consistently put forward. The lawsuit, filed by Freedom Watch Founder Larry Klayman partly reads, "with respect to China’s handling of the Wuhan Coronavirus by suppressing medical reporting, there is sufficient evidence that the Communist Party of China is guilty of crimes against humanity."
14 April 2020: Civictas Maxima, the Swiss-based group, responsible for bringing some of the major players of Liberia’s long-running civil war to face justice for their crimes says victims of war crimes can take solace that while Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyou died on Monday from the deadly Coronavirus, he will forever be linked to his role during the first Liberian civil war, thanks to his conviction last year. In a statement, Alain Werner, Director of Civitas Maxima said that although he will never be sentenced, he was convicted of criminal offenses directly linked to his role during the first Liberian civil war, and this will never be taken away from the many victims of the NPFL’s vicious crimes. Woewiyu had faced trial in June 2018 in Philadelphia, U.S, and in July 2018 was convicted by a jury who found him guilty of 11 counts of immigration fraud and perjury for lying to the U.S immigration authorities about his role in a rebel movement during the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996).
10 April 2020: Iran Security Chief is accusing the US of 'crimes against humanity' for blocking a loan from the IMF. President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to block Iran’s request for a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fund its fight against the coronavirus. US officials believe the money would not actually go towards the country's public health crisis. Iran, which has been the worst hit of all the countries in the Middle East by the coronavirus outbreak, requested the emergency loan last month.
9 April 2020: Bosnian war victims’ representatives have welcomed decisions by Carmel Agius, president of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, to reject requests for early release filed by war crimes convicts because he thinks they have not demonstrated rehabilitation. In one decision, where he rejected a request from wartime Croatian Defence Council fighter Miroslav Bralo, who asked to be released early from a Swedish prison, he justified the decision by saying, “I generally do not consider it appropriate to enable convicted persons to return to the affected regions before they have served their full sentence, without having demonstrated a certain degree of rehabilitation, including that their release will not endanger peace and security in the envisaged place of residence.”
8 April 2020: According to the Human Rights Watch, the Afghan government should bring appropriate war crimes charges against Aslam Farooqi, leader of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), an affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS), for his alleged role in directing attacks against civilians in Afghanistan. On April 4, 2020, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, announced that they had arrested Farooqi, in Kandahar province. Farooqi had replaced the group’s former leader, known as Abu Omar Khorasani, in July 2019, after the group suffered setbacks under pressure from military operations by the United States, the Afghan government, and the Taliban.
7 April 2020: Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad who was found guilty of crimes against humanity and convicted in 2015, has been temporarily set free from his prison cell in Senegal. His legal team had requested his release, arguing that the risk of him being infected with the coronavirus was high in jail. The Senegalese authorities granted him a 60-day release on humanitarian grounds, but he will be kept under house arrest during those two months.
6 April 2020: The state court in Sarajevo has asked Interpol to call for the arrests of Dusan Cimes, Slobodan Curcic and Goran Mojovic, who are all wanted to face war crimes charges but are currently living abroad. Cimes is accused of participating in a widespread and systematic attack by the Bosnian Serb Army and police against the Bosniak civilian population. Curcic, a former Bosnian Serb Army soldier who now lives in Montenegro, is accused of killing two Bosniak civilians during an attack on the village of Hum in the Foca municipality in 1992. Mojovic is accused of committing crimes against humanity related to the destruction of cultural, religious and historical monuments.
3 April 2020: Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, held in Belmarsh prison in London and facing extradition to the US for exposing war crimes, is alleged to have a chronic lung condition. His lawyers argued that he should be released because he was highly vulnerable to the coronavirus, however he was denied bail. Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the arguments, stating that Assange’s past conduct showed how far he was prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings and there were substantial grounds to believe that if released he would abscond again. She added that “As matters stand today, this global pandemic does not as of itself provide grounds for Mr Assange’s release.”
2 April 2020: The independent United Nations human rights expert in Mali, Alioune Tine, has called on Australia to cease selling arms to the war-torn country and urged the international community to do more to stop nations “actively producing and selling weapons” in conflict zones. Tine said the diffusion of arms in the region should be considered a crime against humanity, and urged the international community, including the UN security council and African Union, to do more to pressure those nations exporting arms to conflict zones. According to the Guardian, the Australian government had issued 16 permits to arms manufacturers to export weapons or military technology to Mali in 2019 despite the fact that Mali has been in near-perpetual conflict for eight years.
1 April 2020: Former Serbian paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic, alias Captain Dragan, who was convicted of committing war crimes against Croatian civilians and prisoners of war in 1991, was released from Lepoglava prison in northern Croatia last week after serving a 13½-year sentence. He led a paramilitary pro-Serbian group during the war in the 1990s. Vasiljkovic, who has both Serbian and Australian citizenship, was escorted across the border to Serbia by armed guards, and has been placed in quarantine for the coronavirus. He has been banned from entering any European Union country for 30 years, and Australian officials are also looking at taking away his Australian passport and right to live in Australia.
31 March 2020: Lawyers, through Stoke White, a UK based law firm, have filed a case through the United Nations regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Yemen. The firm made the submissions in three jurisdictions - Britain, the US and Turkey, on behalf of its clients. Stoke White explained that the applications have been made using UN mechanisms, requesting the authorities to investigate further the notorious Sanaa Funeral Hall bombing in 2016, the UAE’s use of mercenaries and allegations of torture in secret prisons in the country. The submissions are said to include evidence that officials and even authorities higher up in the coalition partners, notably the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well as mercenaries were all involved directly in war crimes in Yemen.
30 March 2020: Sri Lanka's president has pardoned a soldier who was sentenced to death for war crimes involving killing eight civilians during the country’s civil war, leading to accusations that the government was taking advantage of the chaos from the coronavirus pandemic to free a wartime ally accused of atrocities. The pardoned soldier, former Staff Sgt. Sunil Ratnayake, was sentenced in 2015 for blindfolding eight civilians from the Tamil ethnic group, slitting their throats and dumping their bodies into a sewer in 2000. Three of the victims were children. The pardon brought outrage from rights activists, including Amnesty International, which accused the government of taking advantage of a world distracted by the coronavirus to release those convicted of heinous crimes and termed the action as "reprehensible".
30 March 2020: Chad rebel chief Mahamat Nouri has been freed from detention in France, where he was charged with crimes against humanity. Nouri was charged in Paris nine months ago over alleged crimes in Sudan and Chad between 2005 and 2010. He is the founder and exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), one of the main groups opposing Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno. Before joining the rebels, Nouri served in several ministerial positions and held the position of defence minister between 2001 and 2003.
27 March 2020: A report published by the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre NGO asserts that Serbian war crimes prosecutors are continuing to issue only a small number of indictments, most of them in cases transferred from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and none of them charging high-ranking suspects. It argues that bearing in mind that the War Crimes Prosecution Office’s data from November 2019 exhibits 2,557 cases in the preliminary investigation stage, only 15 cases are in the active investigation stage, hence such a work rate will solve a negligible percentage of war crimes cases in the coming period.
26 March 2020: The UK government has presented new legislation to protect military personnel and veterans from prosecution for alleged historical war crimes in conflicts overseas. The legislation proposes a five-year limit on criminal prosecutions from the date of an incident, unless there is compelling new evidence and a six-year limit for any civil case involving personal injury or death. The bill will also compel any future government to consider a derogation, effectively opting out from the European Convention on Human Rights in any conflict overseas. Human Rights Watch argues that if passed, the bill would greatly increase the risk that British soldiers who commit serious crimes will avoid justice.
25 March 2020: According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the "apparently systematic" human rights violations in North Korean detention centres, including sexual violence against women and girls, could amount to crimes against humanity. Michelle Bachelet said the alleged violations appeared to have taken place under the "direct authority of two ministries" and with the likely involvement of "higher authorities" in North Korea. North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation. The country has been under UN sanctions since 2006 because of its ballistic missiles and nuclear programmes.
24 March 2020: The trial by a German court of two alleged former Syrian intelligence officers accused of participating in crimes against humanity is set to begin in April and is expected to run at least until August. Anwar Raslan, 57, is charged with crimes against humanity, rape and 58 counts of murder, while 43-year-old Eyad Al-Gharib is accused of having been an accomplice. Raslan allegedly led the investigations division of "Branch 251" of the Syrian secret services, which operated a prison in the Damascus area. Prosecutors say he participated in the torture and abuse of prisoners between April 2011 and September 2012.
23 March 2020: The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has postponed the long-awaited war crimes trial of former Liberian rebel leader Alieu Kosiah due to the rapid spread of Covid-19. The trial had been scheduled to take place from April 14-30 in Bellinzona. It will be the first international criminal trial in a non-military Swiss court and “historic” according to Swiss group Civitas Maxima, one of the NGOs representing Liberian victims in the case. Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), is charged with war crimes committed during the first Liberian civil war between 1989 and 1996. He was arrested in Switzerland in November 2014 and has been in pre-trial detention ever since, as Swiss authorities conducted investigations.
20 March 2020: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 17 threatened two staff members of the International Criminal Court. He called them out by name, claimed they were putting Americans at risk, and intimated that the US could act against them, as well as other ICC personnel and their families. On March 5, ICC judges authorized the court’s prosecutor to open an investigation into possible war crimes committed in connection with the conflict in Afghanistan.
19 March 2020: Australia's Defence Minister Linda Reynolds says she is "deeply disturbed" by new allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, with the findings of a four-year investigation to be handed down within months. It comes as the ABC's Four Corners program aired explosive footage from a helmet camera of aAustralian soldier in Afghanistan shooting an unarmed Afghan man three times in the head and chest while he crouches on the ground.
18 March 2020: A South African court ruled late last month that it would not extradite Guus Kouwenhoven, a Dutch arms dealer tied to Charles Taylor, the former Liberian President who was convicted for war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Cape Town court ruled against extradition, citing that Kouwenhoven committed his crimes in Liberia, not in the Netherlands and that consequently, that made his extradition contrary to the extradition treaty. The Dutch Supreme Court had upheld Kouwenhoven's sentencing in December 2018 and found that the 77-year-old businessman was guilty of smuggling weapons into Liberia and distributing them to the violent regime of then Liberian president Charles Taylor.
17 March 2020: Former Congolese militia warlord, Thomas Lubanga, was yesterday set free after serving a landmark 14-year term for war crimes handed down by the International Criminal Court. The first man to be arrested, tried and convicted by the ICC in 2012, Lubanga went on trial in 2009, accused of enlisting child soldiers under the age of 15 years. In December 2015, he was transferred from the ICC prison to Kinshasa to serve the rest of his sentence with fellow Congolese warlord Germain Katanga, who was also convicted by the Internanational Criminal Court.
16 March 2020: Former Territorial Defence fighter Milan Trisic will go on trial on March 23 for crimes involving murders, expulsions, unlawful arrests and pillage, the Bosnian state court decided last week on Tuesday. Trisic is charged with crimes against humanity, which include having participated in the persecution of the Bosniak civilian population from the village of Hranca and the town of Bratunac during a widespread and systematic attack by the Bosnian Serb Army and police between April and October 1992. The indictment alleges that, as a member of the Territorial Defence force, he participated in several attacks on the village of Hranca during which people were unlawfully arrested and more than 250 local residents were forcibly relocated.
13 March 2020: Finland has arrested Gibril Massaquoi, a 50 year old Sierra Leonean national suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia, the first African who is not a Liberian to be held in connection with the country’s 14-year bloody civil war. The former Sierra Leonean warlord who during the civil war in his country was a Lieutenant-Colonel and spokesman of the RUF rebel group was arrested on Tuesday by Finnish police after Civitas Maxima and the GJRP informed them about the warlord’s alleged involvement in mass atrocities in Liberia.
11 March 2020: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has signed a decree to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a move to launch direct talks with the armed group to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan that has resulted in the alleged commission of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity. The release of prisoners is part of a deal signed by the United States and the Taliban last month that would allow US forces and NATO troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in order to foster peace in the region.
10 March 2020: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court unanimously confirmed the admissibility of the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi before the Court and rejected his appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber I's decision dismissing his challenge to the admissibility of this case. In reviewing the Pre-Trial Chamber's decision, the Appeals Chamber found no error in it and agreed with its interpretation of the Rome Statute, indicating that the decision issued by a national jurisdiction must be final before a case can be declared inadmissible. Saif is accused of war crimes of murder, torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, and the crimes against humanity of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and other inhumane acts.
9 March 2020: The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Liberia has called on the Legislature to pass into law a bill seeking the establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia. The draft bill was crafted by the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) and is seeking the establishment of the court to prosecute individuals accused of gross violations of human rights, serious humanitarian law violations and certain domestic crimes. The resolution had already met the required two-thirds majority signature and was set to be passed when the Speaker took the unprecedented decision of ceasing it, much to the dismay of several lawmakers who championed the legislative piece.
6 March 2020: The International Criminal Court has authorised an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan, which would include allegations against United States, Afghan and Taliban armed fighters. “The ICC Appeals Chamber’s decision to greenlight an investigation of brutal crimes in Afghanistan despite extreme pressure reaffirms the court’s essential role for victims when all other doors to justice are closed,” said Param-Preet Singh, the associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch.
5 March 2020: Amnesty International has called on police in Ethiopia to account for the whereabouts of Abdi Regassa, a senior member of the opposition political party Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), who remains missing after security officers in Addis Ababa broke into his home and arrested him alongside eight other party members on 29 February. The police have denied they are still holding him according to his lawyer and family members. The OLF, an extremist ethnic nationalist organization, accuses the Ethiopian government of assassination attempts,harassment and arbitrary arrest of the organizations’ leaders and maintains that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government is committing genocide in the region. Currently, the Ethiopian government has a military operation in the Wollega area of the region where the armed groups operate.
4 March 2020: The UN Commission of Inquiry said in its report on Monday that Russia is responsible for war crimes in the ongoing Syrian conflict. The report’s findings were based on investigations conducted from July 11 to January 10. According to the report, Russia was in direct involvement in war crimes for indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in syria. The report also states that human rights violations have continued, with activists, journalists and civilians being unlawfully detained. Access to medical care for the wounded has been undermined by aerial and ground attacks of pro-government forces, while attacks on women’s and children’s hospitals have prevented pregnant women and new mothers from receiving medical care.
3 March 2020: The closing statements in the case The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen are scheduled for 10-12 March 2020 before the International Criminal Court. The Prosecution, the Legal Representatives of Victims and the Defence will present their final arguments. Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda.
2 March 2020: WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange last week appeared in a London court to fight attempts by the American authorities to make him answer charges of espionage. He is accused of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to break into a classified military network under another user’s identity and has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act that included his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents. His subsequent disclosure of alleged war crimes included a classified military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two employees of the Reuters news agency. If found guilty on all charges, Assange could face as many as 175 years in prison.
28 February 2020: El Salvador's Congress has narrowly approved a controversial law intended to allow the prosecution of war crimes committed during the country's bloody civil war. While proponents argue the law is meant to ensure that nobody receives an amnesty or pardon for their crimes during the civil war, opponents, including human rights organizations, argue it will achieve the opposite. The law is intended to establish how the country will handle justice and reparations for crimes against humanity during that period as well as history, access to military and police archives, and makes it illegal to praise disgraced characters for their role during the civil war.
27 February 2020: On 11 February 2020, Colombia’s Constitutional Court made public its full reasoning in the precedent-setting tutela action by Helena (a pseudonym), a woman forcibly recruited by the FARC and subjected to forced contraception and forced abortion, as well as other violations. As analyzed by Opinio Juris, this decision is noteworthy both for its finding that forced contraception and forced abortion are forms of sexual and gender-based violence that constitute war crimes, as well as for its adoption and expansion of the ICC’s reasoning in Ntaganda with respect to intra-party crimes. Although this was ultimately a ruling on an individual constitutional action it may set important precedent for similar cases both in Colombia and elsewhere.
26 February 2020: Australia is investigating more than 50 alleged war crimes by the country's special forces in Afghanistan, including the killing of civilians and prisoners, a military watchdog said. According to an annual report, these relate mainly to unlawful killings of persons who were non-combatants or were no longer combatants, as well as "cruel treatment" of such persons. The probe was launched in 2016 in response to what the watchdog called "rumours" of "very serious wrongdoing" over more than a decade by members of Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
25 February 2020: After seven years of civil war, South Sudan's feuding leaders have announced a unity deal that has seen rebel leader Riek Machar sworn in as President Salva Kiir’s vice president. The announcement came amid war crimes report in which Andrew Clapham, a member of the U.N. commission said included thousands of civilians forcibly displaced following a scorched earth policy in which the parties to the conflict were attacking villages, torching homes, killing civilians and also raping women and girls. This kind of arrangement has twice collapsed before and numerous attempts at peace have failed, including a deal that saw Mr. Machar return as vice president in 2016, only to flee the country on foot months later amid fresh gunfire.
24 February 2020: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister, who oversaw a brutal end to a decades-long conflict with Tamil separatists, announced on Wednesday last week that the country was withdrawing from a United Nations resolution investigating alleged war crimes. It is believed the move is a response to the US imposing a travel ban on Sri Lanka’s army commander and his family. The travel ban alleges that Commander Silva committed human rights violations during the final stages of the civil war in 2009 and uses that as the basis for denying him entry to the US.
20 February 2020: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court delivered its judgment yesterday, unanimously rejecting the appeal of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz and consequently confirming Pre-Trial Chamber I's decision of 27 September 2019, which had considered that the case against Mr Al Hassan is of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court. Mr Al Hassan was transferred to the ICC on 31 March 2018 following a warrant of arrest issued by the Chamber on 27 March 2018 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
19 February 2020: The Nigerian military burned and forcibly displaced entire villages in response to a recent escalation in attacks by the armed group Boko Haram, Amnesty International reported, based on interviews with affected villagers in Borno State and satellite data analysis. Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria asserted that these brazen acts of razing entire villages, deliberately destroying civilian homes and forcibly displacing their inhabitants with no imperative military grounds, should be investigated as possible war crimes.
17 February 2020: The United States has imposed an entry bar on Sri Lanka’s army chief, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, citing his alleged involvement in war crimes during the final stages of the country’s civil war. According to a statement on Sunday, Sri Lanka denounced the ban, reiterating that there were no substantiated or proven allegations of human rights violations against Silva.
14 February 2020: Zijad Hamzic, who was acquitted of war crimes against Serbs in the Kladanj area, is suing the state for 7,860 euros in compensation because he was put under house arrest and barred from travelling. Hamzic and six other defendants were acquitted in September 2017 of the unlawful detention, beating and inhumane treatment of Serb civilians in Stupari, near Kladanj, between May 1992 and July 1993.
13 February 2020: The United Kingdom, Turkey and the United States have been asked to open police investigations into alleged war crimes committed by the United Arab Emirates and its mercenaries in Yemen in 2015 and 2019, and arrest Emirati officials under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Yemeni complainants filed charges through a UK law firm asserting that UAE officials hired mercenaries to attack and kill civilians.
12 February 2020: Sudan's transitional authorities and rebel groups from Darfur have agreed that those wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes in the region should appear before the tribunal. Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019 after months of nationwide protests, faces five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes at the ICC in The Hague. The crimes were allegedly committed during Sudan's military campaign in Darfur between 2003 and 2008.
11 February 2020: Six Libyan families sued Libyan eastern-based renegade commander Khalifa Haftar and the United Arab Emirates government in a federal U.S. court on Monday for their alleged roles in committing war crimes in Libya. In the lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, the families, whose relatives were murdered, injured or faced attempted killings are seeking $1 billion in damages. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Martin F. McMahon & Associates, Haftar is "not just a war criminal, but also a U.S. citizen with assets and family members in the U.S. and he can and will be held accountable for his illegal and barbaric acts".
10 February 2020: Five leaders of a predominantly Christian militia in the Central African Republic have been handed life sentences for war crimes and crimes against humanity after dozens of Muslims were slaughtered in a southeastern town in May 2017. Twenty-eight individuals were also given terms ranging from 10-15 years of forced labour, mainly for murder and illegal possession of weapons. CAR's Justice Minister, Flavien Mbata said that it was the first time a sentence for crimes against humanity had been handed down by a CAR court.
7 February 2020: Former reservist policeman Goran Stanisic was charged with participating in the deportation of Kosovo Albanians during the war in 1999, as well as committing other war crimes against civilians. Kosovo’s Special Prosecution claims that Stanisic participated in the deportation of the Kosovo Albanian civilian population and was involved in killings and other unlawful acts, in violation of international humanitarian law.
6 February 2020: 78 women and 50 children were released by an armed group in South Sudan early this week. They were among more than 500 women and children abducted between April and August 2018 by the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO RM) and subjected to repeated rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage. South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has been marred by years of armed conflict and instability following a political crisis which has resulted in the commission of serious alleged war crimes.
5 February 2020: On 1 February 2020 Kiribati became the 123rd State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, thus becoming the newest ICC member, and the 16th State Party among the Pacific Island states. Adopted in July 1998, the Rome Statute led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court – the only permanent international judicial mechanism with the objective of investigating and prosecuting genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression in 2002.
4 February 2020: This week the ICC Appeals Chamber will hold a hearing in the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé case to hear observations on the application of Mr Laurent Gbagbo of 7 October 2019, requesting the Appeals Chamber to reconsider its judgment of 1 February 2019 which imposed conditions on the release of Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé following their acquittal. Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé were charged with crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d'Ivoire in 2010 and 2011.
3 February 2020: Islam Alloush, a former spokesperson for Jaish al-Islam, a group largely based in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta and suspected for the disappearance of a number of prominent human rights activists, has been arrested in France for war crimes. It is alleged that Jaish al-Islam carried out a "reign of terror" in the areas it controlled and numbered more than 20,000 fighters. Alloush is thought to have travelled to France on an Erasmus student visa.
31 January 2020: At the 7th annual dinner of the Coordinating Council Of The Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF), historian Taner Akçam said that recognition of Armenian Genocide was a precondition for peaceful society in Turkey. Akçam maintained that Turkey's acknowledgement of the atrocities of its predecessor, the Ottoman empire, was a precondition for its people to be able to live in peace and tranquillity, not only with one another but with the other people of the region.
30 January 2020: A Dutch district court has thrown out a case alleging war crimes against former Israeli Armed Forces chief Benny Gantz brought by a Dutch Palestinian who lost six relatives in an Israeli air strike on Gaza in 2014, saying it did not have jurisdiction. “A Dutch judge is not competent to rule on the case of the claimant,” presiding Judge Larisa Alwin said, explaining that universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility but not in a civil case. In civil cases in national courts, Gantz enjoys immunity from prosecution due to his government function at the time of the alleged crimes, Alwin said.
30 January 2020: A former member of Guatemala's paramilitary community patrols was arrested Wednesday on charges of crimes against humanity, after he was deported from the United States. Francisco Cuxum Alvarado allegedly participated in mass rapes of indigenous women between 1981 and 1985, during the country’s 36-year civil war. He was a member of a civil militia that helped government forces violently remove, rape and massacre Maya Achi people from the Rio Negro area.
29 January 2020: Miladin Trifunovic, the wartime commander of the Vogosca Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, went on trial at the Bosnian state court on Tuesday for committing crimes against humanity in the Vogosca and Ilijas area in 1992. The indictment alleges that Trifunovic’s actions were part of a widespread and systematic attack by the Bosnian Serb Army on the Bosniak civilian population in the municipalities of Vogosca and Ilijas between early July 1992 and December 16 that year.
28 January 2020: The European Union has called on the Myanmar government to act on the report by a government-established international panel that found war crimes and grave human rights abuses had been committed in Rakhine State in 2017. The commission, headed by senior Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo, said in its 461-page report that war crimes had been committed during the massive military campaign against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) between August 25 and September 5, 2017.
27 January 2020: Today the world marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. From the perspective of the ICC, the vow of 'never again' is a shared responsibility regarding which the Court stands ready to play its part. In a statement by the President of the ICC, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, that part requires the ICC to put itself between the victims and the atrocities that the world had in mind when creating the ICC, even if this means brooking political attacks against the Court itself.
27 January 2020: The Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has filed an indictment against Ljuban Ećim, born in 1964 in Svilajnac, Serbia. Ećim is charged with committing crimes against humanity in Kotor Varoš and surrounding areas from the beginning of June 1992 until mid-1994, having participated in a joint criminal enterprise, with other commanders and members of the military and police.
24 January 2020: The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), resumed last week before the International Crimes Division (ICD) sitting at the High Court of Uganda in Gulu. Kwoyelo is facing 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005 in northern Uganda.
23 January 2020: The Court of Nations has ordered Myanmar to “take all measures within its power” to prevent its military or others from carrying out genocidal acts against the Rohingya, who it said faced “real and imminent risk.” In a unanimously - ruled order issued by a panel of 17 judges, and read by presiding Judge Abdulaqawi Ahmed Yusuf, the court upheld the provisions of the 1948 Genocide Convention, saying Myanmar had "caused irreparable damage to the rights of the Rohingya. The ICJ also essentially put Myanmar under court oversight, telling it to submit regular reports to the tribunal explaining what steps it had taken.
22 January 2020: The International Criminal Court delays jurisdiction ruling on Israel war crimes case over document length amid calls for sanctions against it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the Hague Court of a "full frontal attack" on democracy and the Jewish people's right to live in Israel in light of its prosecutor's intent to probe Israel's alleged war crimes against Palestinians.
21 January 2020: An independent commission established by Myanmar's government has concluded there are reasons to believe that security forces committed war crimes in counterinsurgency operations that led more than 700,000 members of the country's Muslim Rohingya minority to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. The commission however asserts that there is no evidence supporting charges that genocide was planned or carried out against the Rohingya.
20 January 2020: President Donald Trump insists that Iranian cultural sites are fair game for US military, dismissing concerns that it may constitute a war crime under international law. He further threatens punitive sanctions on Iran if US troops were expelled in retaliation for an American air strike in Baghdad that killed a senior Iranian official. Iran however promises to retaliate, and the Iraqi parliament responded on Sunday by voting to oust US troops based in the country.
15 January 2020: The trial of Malko Koroman, former chief of the Serbian police’s Public Security Station, commenced in Bosnia on Monday. Koroman faces charges of crimes against humanity relating to allegations that he organised and enabled unlawful arrests and detentions at both the Public Security Station and a nearby gym, as part of a widespread and systematic attack on the Bosniak civilian population in 1992. It is alleged that the detainees were subjected to torture and murder. Witnesses for the prosecution are due to be called on 27 January.
14 January 2020: The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has upheld the death sentence of Syed Mohammad Qaisar for crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Qaisar, a former state minister of the Jatiya Party in Bangladesh, had appealed the conviction and sentence given to him by Bangladesh’s now defunct International Crimes Tribunal-2 in 2014. This is the 9th crimes against humanity case to be dealt with by the Supreme Court.
13 January 2020: Violence committed recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may amount to crimes against humanity, according to the United Nations. At least 701 people have been killed and 168 injured in attacks in the Ituri province involving Hema and Lendu communities between December 2017 and September 2019. In particular, Lendu armed groups have become highly organised in orchestrating attacks against the Hema, with the objective of taking control of their land and resources. The grave violence committed includes sexual violence and beheadings, including against women and children.
10 January 2020: Former politician Charles Blé Goudé has been convicted in absentia in Côte d'Ivoire and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for charges of murder, rape and torture committed during a period of post-election violence in 2010-2011. In January 2019 Blé Goudé and former President Laurent Gbagbo were acquitted by the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the same period on the basis that there was no case to answer. As per the ruling of the Court, Blé Goudé remains in the Netherlands pending a possible appeal of this decision.
9 January 2020: A report released by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in the United States has indicated that crimes against humanity may have been committed by China in the Xinjiang region. The report specifically refers to the mass internment camps in China that have been used to detain the Uighur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities. The report states: ‘Scholars and rights groups provided a strong argument, based on available evidence, that the "crimes against humanity" framework may apply to the case of mass internment camps’ in China. It also calls on governments to implement sanctions against China for this conduct.
7 January 2020: A statement released by Human Rights Watch has indicated that if carried out, US President Donald Trump’s threats of targeting cultural sites in Iran could constitute war crimes. These threats have arisen in the context of tensions following a drone strike of 3 January that killed commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani. Human Rights Watch stated: “Trump’s threats against Iran’s cultural heritage reflect his administration’s broader disregard for human rights in Iran and elsewhere”, also urging the US to comply with the laws of armed conflict at all times.
17 December 2019: A former Argentinian police officer has been extradited from France to Argentina. Mario Sandoval is suspected of crimes against humanity, including torture, allegedly committed during Argentina’s dictatorship. In particular, he is implicated in the killing of architecture student Hernán Abriata, who disappeared from a secret detention center in Buenos Aires in 1976. Sandoval has been living in France for over 30 years, working as a university lecturer and security advisor to French officials. Argentina first requested his extradition in 2012 and Sandoval had continued to deny and appeal the accusations against him, until last week when France’s top administrative court approved his extradition.
16 Dec 2019: Bosnian prosecutors have indicted Milan Lukic, a Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader who was previously convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Following an interrogation of Lukic in Estonia, where he is currently serving his life sentence, the Bosnian prosecutor has issued an indictment for crimes that were not covered in the ICTY case. This indictment includes war crimes relating to the torture and execution of 20 people seized from a train passing through Bosnia in 1993 by the White Eagles/Avengers paramilitary group, led by Lukic. The indictment has been sent to the Bosnian State Court for confirmation.
12 December 2019: Pre-Trial Chamber II (PTC II) of the International Criminal Court has confirmed the charges against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona. PTC II unanimously decided that there is substantial grounds to believe Yekatom and Ngaïssona are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between 2013-2014, committing both to trial.
11 December 2019: Montenegro's Court of Appeal has confirmed the conviction of former Yugoslav soldier Vlado Zmajevic of war crimes for the murder of four ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999. He faces a sentence of 14 years' imprisonment. This judgment is final and cannot be appealed. To date, Montenegro has only tried six war crimes cases.
10 December 2019: Charges against former Liberian first lady Agnes Reeves Taylor have been dismissed in a United Kingdom court. Taylor was charged with torture and conspiracy to commit torture allegedly committed during Liberia’s civil war and has remained in custody since her arrest in 2017. Her ex-husband, former Liberian President Charles Taylor, is currently serving a 50 year sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone.
9 December 2019: The Assembly of States Parties has approved a Swiss proposal enabling the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute the war crime of intentional starvation of civilians in non-international armed conflicts. Previously, starvation of civilians was only a war crime under the Rome Statute if committed during international armed conflicts. As pointed out by scholar Kevin Jon Heller on the Opinio Juris blog, this amendment will only apply to States Parties who choose to ratify it.
5 December 2019: An Argentinian rights group has released a report alleging that members of Bolivia’s de facto government are responsible for crimes against humanity. The report states: "We have found that the repressive system set up by the de facto government has caused dozens of deaths, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, thousands of wounded, countless cases of coercion and torture, rapes and other crimes against the physical, psychological and sexual integrity of the victims who are men, women, children, the elderly and members of vulnerable groups”.
4 December 2019: The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (OTP) has confirmed its decision not to open an investigation into an attack by Israeli Defense forces on a Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The OTP has maintained its position that this situation is not sufficiently grave to open an investigation. This follows a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber in November 2018 ordering the OPT to reconsider its decision not to open an investigation into the Comoros situation.
2 December 2019: A former senior military official has been indicted in Guatemala on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the country’s 36-year civil war. Luis Enrique Mendoza Garcia is due to be tried in March for his role in an operation in the 1980s that led to the death of at least 1,771 of the Maya Ixil Indigenous group and displaced thousands. Mendoza Garcia is the fourth military official to be indicted recently for genocide against the Maya Ixil community, alongside Benedicto Lucas Garcia, Manuel Callejas and Cesar Noguera.
29 November 2019: A group of Brazilian lawyers and former ministers have lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against President Jair Bolsonaro. The Arms Commission for Human Rights Defense and Brazil’s Human Rights Advocacy Collective (CADHu) requested that the Prosecutor investigate allegations that Bolsonaro is guilty of inciting genocide of Indigenous peoples and committing crimes against humanity for failure to protect the Amazon forest in light of the recent fires.
28 November 2019: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court has rejected the appeal of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and confirmed the September 2018 Re-Sentencing Decision of Trial Chamber VII. In this decision the Trial Chamber sentenced Bemba to one year of imprisonment and ordered a 300,000 euro fine for witness interference during the proceedings against him.
25 November 2019: In response to the BBC Panorama/Sunday Times joint investigation which found that the United Kingdom armed forces have been involved in repeatedly covering up evidence of war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, a joint letter authored by the directors of a number of human rights organisations has called on whichever political party which will form the next UK government to take action to address these allegations. The crimes revealed in the investigation include the murder of children, torture and the killing of civilians. The letter calls for prompt and effective investigation by a fully independent body, where appropriate leading to the domestic prosecution of those responsible, as well as cooperation with any investigation the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court may take into these alleged crimes.
22 November 2019: The head of the Raia Mutomboki militia group, Frederic Masudi Alimasi, has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Alimasi was found guilty of the crimes against humanity of rape, murder, torture, sexual slavery, deprivation of liberty, looting and destruction of property. The court also held that the Congolese state was responsible for failing to protect civilians and ordered it to pay damages to over 300 victims.
21 November 2019: An Iranian national has been detained in Sweden and awaits a decision by Swedish prosecutors as to whether he will be charged with crimes against humanity. Hamid Nouri was arrested upon arrival at the international airport in Stockholm. He is accused of involvement in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 in his former position as assistant prosecutor in Iran’s prison system. This is the first time that a high-level Iranian official could be prosecuted in a foreign country for crimes committed in Iran pursuant to the principle of universal jurisdiction.
20 November 2019: Two US soldiers, Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Major Mathew Golsteyn, have been granted presidential pardons in relation to war crimes cases. Lorance had been convicted and sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment for the shooting of Afghani civilians in 2013, whilst the trial of Golsteyn for allegedly executing an unarmed Afghani civilian suspected of being a Taliban bomb-maker was set to commence in February 2020. The demotion of Petty Chief Officer Edward Gallagher, who earlier this year was acquitted of the murder of a 17 year old ISIS militant, but convicted of posing with a corpse for a picture, has also been reversed.
19 November 2019: The Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court has granted the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation into the Situation in Myanmar/Bangladesh. This follows the Jurisdiction Decision of September 2018 which indicated that the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes where at least one element of the crime was perpetrated in the territory of a State Party to the Rome Statute. As such, the Court found it has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation of the Rohingya population from Myanmar, which is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, to Bangladesh, which is a State Party.
15 November 2019: Aung San Suu Kyi, head of state of Myanmar, has been named among other high level officials in a case filed in Argentina relating to crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya population. This case has been brought pursuant to the principle of universal jurisdiction, enshrined in Argentinian law. A separate case was also launched this week in the International Court of Justice relating to violations of the Genocide Convention by Myanmar.
14 November 2019: A court in Vietnam has convicted an Australian national of a the crime of "terrorism to oppose the people’s administration’ and sentenced him to 12 years', alongside two Vietnamese citizens. The three men belong to an organisation called the Viet Tan, which the Vietnamese government has designated as a terrorist organisation, but has been described by the United Nations as "a peaceful organisation advocating for democratic reform". The group has called the proceedings a “sham trial” and accused the government of "criminalizing human rights advocacy".
13 November 2019: A Paris Court of Appeal has overturned the decision to prosecute the French company Lafarge for crimes against humanity, but has upheld the charges of financing terrorism. Lafarge continues to be under investigation over allegations that a subsidiary of the company continued to operate factories during the conflict in Syria and paid money to intermediaries who negotiated with ISIS to transfer employees and supplies through dangerous areas in order to evacuate the country.
12 November 2019: Five torture survivors from Syria have filed a criminal complaint in Norway against officials from the Syrian intelligence services and military. The victims, supported by several human rights groups, have requested Norwegian prosecutors to investigate the allegations of torture and crimes against humanity. 17 officials have been identified as being involved in the alleged crimes committed in 14 different detention facilities. Currently, similar claims of crimes in Syria have been brought in France, Sweden and Austria pursuant to universal jurisdiction, with the first trial expected to start in Germany in early 2020.
11 November 2019: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has released a decision on the definition of terrorism. The decision discusses the development of the definition of terrorism under Pakistani law, highlighting the emergence of a concept of terrorism that is based upon the objective and motivation of the particular crime. In particular, an act will be considered terrorism if it is intended to undermine the State, rather than based on whether it causes fear and insecurity in society. The Supreme Court indicated that this approach is more consistent with international perspectives than the previous 'effects-based' definition adopted in Pakistan, calling on the legislature to amend and clarify terrorism legislation to reflect the current approach.
8 November 2019: Bosco Ntaganda has been sentenced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to 30 years’ imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2002-2003. This is the longest sentence that has been handed down by the Court to date. Ntaganda was convicted in July of 18 counts including murder, rape and the use of child soldiers. He is also the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery before the ICC.
7 November 2019: The South African government is considering a bill that will initiate the process for withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The International Crimes Bill is currently before the South African Parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services Committee. It criminalises genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and creates an alternative system to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute international crimes at the domestic level. South Africa was reprimanded by the ICC in 2015 for failing to arrest then sitting President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir during a visit to South Africa, in spite of a warrant for his arrest that had been issued by the ICC. In support of the bill, the South African government has cited concerns that the ICC is not in compliance with international law by failing to respect the immunity of heads of state. The leader of the opposition party Democratic Alliance has indicated the party will oppose the bill.
6 November 2019: The trial of Fabien Neretse, a former Rwandan official and alleged Hutu militia leader, has commenced in Belgium. Neretse is accused of committing genocide in Rwanda in 1994. This is the fifth trial in Belgium in relation to the conflict in Rwanda of 1994 but the first in which the accused has been charged with the crime of genocide. The charges relate in particular to the killing of Belgian citizen Claire Beckers, her husband Isaïe Bucyana, a Tutsi, and their daughter Katia.
4 November 2019: The municipality of Gjakova/Djakovica’s Office for the Collection and Documentation of War Crimes in Kosovo has filed 102 new criminal complaints to the police relating to alleged war crimes committed by Serbian nationals. This is the 13th time the Office has filed criminal complaints of this nature, bringing the total number of complaints to around 1,600. The head of the office, Shkendije Hoda, stated: “The aim of these complaints is to provide help and provide evidence about [war] crimes. We see that the police have the will to deal with our evidence”.
31 October 2019: Prosecutors in Germany have charged two alleged former Syrian secret service officers with crimes against humanity. Anwar Raslan is alleged to have led an investigation unit which is accused of torturing detainees, and has been charged with 59 counts of murder, as well as rape and aggravated sexual assault. Eyad al-Gharib is accused of reporting directly to Raslan, and arresting protesters who were then delivered to the investigation unit’s prison, known as Branch 251. He has been charged with abduction and torture. Raslan and Gharib sought asylum in Germany in 2014 and 2018 respectively, and were arrested in February in a joint operation by German and French police. The trial is set to start in 2020.
30 October 2019: The Trust Fund of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in Gambia is to receive $1 mil from assets seized from former President Yahya Jammeh. The funds are to provide compensation to victims of Jammeh’s regime. The Trust Fund is unique in that the compensation is paid directly from the TRRC. Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou stated: “... former President Yahya Jammeh was a central pillar of terror and human rights abuses that were unleashed on ordinary Gambians and others under his leadership. Consequently, the government deems it more fitting and just that reparations for his victims should be granted directly from his wealth and assets”. An investigation by the Gambian government uncovered that Jammeh stole $362 mil from the State during his time as President.
28 October 2019: The first person to be tried for terrorism offences in the United Kingdom for fighting against ISIS has been convicted. Aidan James was found guilty of attending a terrorist training camp in Iraq. He travelled to Iraq in August 2017, where he underwent combat training with the YPG and had several interactions with the PKK. He arrived back in the UK in February 2018, where he was arrested upon arrival at Liverpool airport and charged with terrorism offences the following day. He is due to be sentenced on 7 November.
25 October 2019: The Prosecutor for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers based in The Hague has summoned former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s (KLA) general staff/former politician Azem Syla for questioning. The prosecution is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed by KLA during and just after the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo. It is not currently known whether Syla as been invited to The Hague as a witness or possible suspect. Several other Kosovo Albanians have also been invited for questioning.
24 October 2019: The head of the United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar has warned that there is a “serious risk of genocide reoccurring” against the Rohingya Muslim minority still residing in the country. In an address to the General Assembly’s human rights committee, Marzuki Sarusman stated: “Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide”. Recently, the fact-finding mission transferred 1,227 interviews of victims and witnesses to the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, a new UN body.
23 October 2019: The Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has filed an appeal requesting the Appeals Chamber to declare a mistrial for the proceedings against Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé which resulted in their acquittal in January. Former head of state Gbagbo and former his deputy Blé Goudé were acquitted of crimes against humanity related to post-electoral violence in 2010-2011 in Côte d'Ivoire. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought the declaration of mistrial on the basis that the trial judges failed to comply with the Court’s rules when rendering the acquittals without offering written explanations, as at the time of the acquittal only oral reasons were offered, with the decision being issued six months later. She also argues that the Trial Chamber applied inconsistent and unpredictable legal and evidentiary standards in considering the defense motion for stay of proceedings. The first paragraph of the filing states “[t]o build public trust, it is essential for the Court to act predictably and in accordance with the applicable law”.
21 October 2019: The French Court of Cassation has upheld the life sentence of two Rwandans who were convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in 1994 in Rwanda. Octavian Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, successive Mayors (Bourgmestres) of the former Kabarondo Commune, were accused of participating in the massacre of Tutsi refugees at the Kabarondo Catholic Church, resulting in the death of 1,200 people.
18 October 2019: The Court of Appeal in Bucharest, Romania, has acquitted two former Securitate officers who were accused of committing crimes against humanity, leading to the death of political dissident Gheorghe Ursu whilst detained in 1985. Marin Parvulescu and Vasile Hodis were former members of Romania’s political police for the communist regime, who maintained their innocence throughout the trial process. They were accused of conducting interrogations of Ursu and subjecting him to systematic beatings. The judgment is not final and will be appealed by the Ursu family’s legal counsel. Four others have already been convicted in relation to Ursu’s death.
17 October 2019: The proceedings against Thomas Kwoyelo in the International Crimes Division of the Ugandan High Court have been indefinitely adjourned. The adjournment relates to a dispute between the prosecution and defense about the use of closed sessions. Kwoyelo is a former Lord’s Resistance Army commander who has been charged with 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005 in northern Uganda.
16 October 2019: Mental health experts will provide testimony for the defense in the proceedings against Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Trial Chamber IX has allowed the experts to testify to Ongwen’s mental state during the period which he has been charged with committing crimes against humanity and war crimes, but not as to his current mental state. The hearings will take place late November. The testimony will support the defense's argument that Ongwen had mental illness or defect during the period when the crimes are alleged to have been committed and as a result he is not responsible for these crimes. Ongwen faces charges of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed when he was a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005.
15 October 2019: Genocide Watch has re-issued a genocide alert for the Kurdish, Christian and Yezidi minority populations in North East Syria following the recent Turkish incursion, suggesting the ‘Turkish narrative is used as a "self-defense justification" for genocidal massacres of Kurds.’ The warning was originally issued in January 2018 when Turkish forces launched cross-border military operations in Afrin in North West Syria in order to target the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Genocide Watch has also co-signed a joint statement with 97 humanitarian organisations active in Syria condemning the Turkish offensive and warning of the risks that the situation will develop into a wide-scale conflict.
14 October 2019: An Iraqi national who was extradited from Greece to Germany is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and human trafficking. The suspect, identified as Taha A.-J, is alleged to have been a member of terrorist organization Islamic State since 2013. German Prosecutors allege Taha was married to German national Jennifer W and that in 2015 the couple bought a 5 year old Yazidi girl and her mother as slaves. Whilst enslaved, the mother and child were forced to convert to Islam and were beaten, with the child dying of dehydration whilst chained outdoors. The Prosecution argue that this killing was part of Islamic State’s wider plan to exterminate Yazidis and constitutes genocide. The trial of Jennifer W commenced in Germany in April.
10 October 2019: Former federal prosecutor Roberto Domingo Mazzoni and former penitentiary warden Pablo César Casco are the first civilians to be convicted for crimes against humanity perpetrated during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship. The Tribunal Oral Federal Penal court in Resistencia sentenced both to 11 years’ imprisonment and banned both from public office for life. Mazzoni was convicted for not investigating crimes, malfeasance and applying illegal pressure. Casco was convicted for the politically motivated torture of prisoner Hugo Dedieu, who was detained at U7 penitentiary where Casco was previously warden.
9 October 2019: The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) has issued a Review Judgement in the Case of Prosecutor v Augustin Ngirabatware rejecting Ngirabatware’s claim that the key witnesses in his trial had truthfully recanted their testimonies. In 2012 Augustin Ngirabatware was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, instigating and aiding and abetting genocide and the crime against humanity of rape through the extended form of joint criminal enterprise. In its first decision in 2014, the IRMCT confirmed the convictions of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and instigating and aiding and abetting genocide, quashed the crime against humanity conviction and sentenced Ngirabatware to 30 years’ imprisonment.
8 October 2019: Amnesty International released a report, entitled “Do you think we will prosecute ourselves: No prospects for accountability in South Sudan”, highlighting what it calls the “crippled justice system” in South Sudan. The report criticises the lack of independence of the judiciary, as well as the government of South Sudan for granting blanket amnesties for international crimes and failing to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes committed by both government and opposition forces in the armed conflict since 2013. “By repeatedly granting these blanket amnesties, the President violates South Sudan’s obligations under international law and denies victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparations”. The report calls for the establishment of a hybrid transitional justice mechanism, which was provided for in the peace agreements of 2015 and 2018 but never materialised.
7 October 2019: The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution to create an independent fact-finding body to investigate human rights violations in Venezuela since 2014. Allegations against the Venezuelan government include enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrests, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and extrajudicial killings. The resolution was presented by the Lima Group, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru. Human Rights Watch has called on the body to share information with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, which opened a preliminary examination into the situation of alleged crimes against humanity in Venezuela in February 2018, and also called on other States to prosecute torture cases pursuant to universal jurisdiction.
3 October 2019: A law firm has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The filing states: "Mohammed Bin Salman, through command or superior responsibility, is guilty of murder, torture, rape, extortion, illegal detentions, wrongful prosecution and the death penalty, i.e., crimes against humanity as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute".
2 October 2019: The Bosnian Constitutional Court has rejected the appeal filed by former Serbian paramilitary leader Gojko Jankovic. Jankovic was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 34 years’ imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed against the non-Serb civilian population of Foča, including unlawful detention, murder, torture and rape and sexual enslavement of young women and girls. He was originally indicted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), with his case being referred to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005.
1 October 2019: The Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court has confirmed the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud. The Chamber found there are substantial grounds for concluding that Al Hassan is responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Timbuktu, Mali between 2012-2013.
27 September 2019: Nine Sudanese victims have filed a criminal complaint in a French Court relating to alleged complicity of BNP Paribas (BNPP) in crimes against humanity, torture and genocide in Sudan. The filing was supported by FIDH and Project Expedite Justice. Between 2002 and 2008 the Sudanese government is alleged to have committed numerous international crimes which led to the death of more than 300,000 civilians. In proceedings in the United States related to BNPP’s breach of US sanctions, the company admitted to acting as Sudan’s foreign bank during this period. Investigations are also ongoing in France relating ot BNPP’s role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
26 September 2019: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has announced her intention to appeal the acquittal of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo. In January 2019, Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Blé Goudé were acquitted of crimes against humanity relating to post-electoral violence in 2010-2011 in Côte d'Ivoire that led to the death of around 3,000 people.
25 September 2019: An indictment against Salim Jamil Ayyash has been made public by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The indictment relates to attacks against three Lebanese politicians, Mr Marwan Hamade, Mr Georges Hawi and Mr Elias El- Murr. It contains five charges, including conspiracy to commit a terrorist act (alternatively criminal association), committing terrorist acts, intentional homicide with premeditation and attempted intentional homicide with premeditation. Both a Lebanese and international arrest warrant has been issued for Ayyash, whose current whereabouts is unknown.
24 September 2019: The confirmation of charges hearing in The Prosecutor v. Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona has commenced at the International Criminal Court. The hearing is scheduled until 27 September 2019, with the Pre-Trial Chamber to delivery its decision on whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial within 60 days. Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona are alleged to be responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between 2013-2014.
23 September 2019: Liberian President George Weah has endorsed the creation of a war crimes court to secure justice for the atrocities committed during Liberia’s civil wars. In a letter to the legislature, President Weah wrote: “I ... do hereby call on the National Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report, including the establishment of the Economic and War Crimes Court.” To date, the few cases dealing with crimes committed during the Liberian civil wars have been dealt with outside of Liberia, pursuant to universal jurisdiction.
19 September 2019: The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court has granted the request of the Prosecution to bring an appeal against its decision to block investigations into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. In April the Chamber found that it was not in the interests of justice to allow the proposed investigation, a decision for which it was heavily criticised for giving the appearance that the Court had given into political pressure from the United States.
18 September 2019: The Hague District Court in the Netherlands has held a hearing on a war crimes case against former Israeli commander Benny Gantz. The claimant is a Dutch/Palestinian man who seeks damages from the accused and a co-defendant, Amir Eshel, for their role in killing six of his relatives during the 2014 Gaza War. Counsel for the defendants argued that a Dutch court was not an appropriate forum for this matter, which should be dealt with in Israel, with the claimant’s lawyer arguing that Palestinians do not have recourse to justice in Israel. The Dutch courts may hear war crimes cases pursuant to universal jurisdiction enshrined in Dutch law, so long as the claimant cannot get a fair trial elsewhere. A decision as to whether the case can proceed is expected in January 2020.
16 September 2019: A report by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria has suggested that all parties to the ongoing conflict may have committed war crimes. It indicated that the failure of US-led coalition forces to take the necessary precautions to discriminate between military objectives and civilians during air strikes may constitute war crimes. Moreover, the campaign by the Syrian government and allied Russian forces appearing to target medical facilities, schools, markets and farmland may also constitute war crimes. Finally, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group formerly known as the Nusra Front, has been accused of firing rockets indiscriminately and killing civilians.
13 September 2019: The United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has handed over its evidence of international crimes to the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM). The evidence has been transferred in a way to ensure its integrity for possible future use in prosecutions. The IIMM was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 39/2 to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011 and to prepare files in preparation for criminal prosecutions. The Head of the IIMM, Nicholas Koumjian, officially commenced his function on 1 July 2019.
12 September 2019: Colombian energy company EMP has been called to appear before the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) in relation to its role in flooding an area where prosecutors were looking for hundreds of missing persons. In 2002 the crime syndicate La Oficina de Envigado took control of the city of Medellin and hundreds of people went missing from a valley that was flooded by EMP, which is now the site of a controversial hydroelectric dam project. EMP will appear before the JEP to clarify its role in the flooding and preventing the search for the missing persons. The JEP has also ordered the inspection of two quarries in Medellin where, according to a local court, 300 people are buried.
11 September 2019: The European Union has set up a counter-terrorism register in hopes of facilitating the prosecution of returning foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria. The database will collect information from all EU countries on ongoing investigations and prosecutions of terrorist suspects and is hoped to lead cooperation between States that will prevent suspects from escaping prosecution or being prosecuted for lesser crimes due to lack of evidence or insufficient coordination of parallel investigations, culminating in the prosecution of war crimes. It is also hoped the new tool could prevent terrorism in Europe.
9 September 2019: The lawyer representing 23 civil parties in the case relating to the 2015 Paris attacks has applied to the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office to try the defendant Salah Abdeslam for crimes against humanity instead of terrorism offences. Abdelam is the only survivor of the attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis that left 131 dead and almost 500 injured.
6 September 2019: The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to reconsider her decision not to open an investigation into an attack by the Israeli Defence Force on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in 2010. The Appeals Chamber rejected the Prosecutor's appeal of the 2015 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber holding that the Prosecutor had made a material error in determining that the incident was not of "sufficient gravity" to warrant further action by the ICC. The Chamber acknowledged that the decision whether or not to pursue an investigation ultimately lies with the Prosecution.
5 September 2019: The trial of a Syrian national accused of committing war crimes in Syria has commenced in the Netherlands under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws. It is alleged that Ahmad al Khedr, aka Abu Khuder, is a member of the Nusra Front. He has been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, as well as the war crime of murder in relation to the summary execution of a Syrian soldier. Al Khedr had been living in the Netherlands since 2014, where he had been granted temporary asylum.
4 September 2019: A report submitted to the United Nations by the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen indicates that states such as France, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States which have supported or provided assistance to parties to the conflict in Yemen, for example through arms transfers, may be complicit in war crimes. The report outlines a host of violations committed by both sides to the conflict that may lead to criminal responsibility for war crimes, including unlawful airstrikes, the use of shelling and snipers, starvation as a method of warfare, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and other ill-treatment, hostage-taking, violations affecting children and attacks on civilians.
2 September 2019: A date has been set in January 2021 for the war crimes trial of the five men accused of planning and supporting the September 11 terrorist attacks. The trial will take place at the United States military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the defendants have been held since 2006. The war crimes charges include terrorism, hijacking and almost 3,000 counts of murder.
30 August 2019: The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced former Jamat-e-Islami supporter Md Abdus Samad Musa to death for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the murder of 15 people, arson attacks, looting, confinement and torture during the Liberation War in Bangladesh in 1971. This decision is not final and can be appealed. To date the Tribunal has convicted 89 people, 62 of which have been sentenced to death.
28 August 2019: A German court has brought charges against a Syrian national for war crimes relating to his involvement in fighting with Islamic State against the Syrian government. The suspect is accused of posing for a picture with a severed head of what is presumed to be an opposition fighter and mocking the victim. If convicted, the suspect, who is currently imprisoned for other offences, faces an additional sentence of between 1-10 years’ imprisonment.
27 August 2019: A report released by the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar on sexual and gender-based violence concludes that “rape and other sexual violence have been a particularly egregious and recurrent feature of the targeting of the civilian population in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States since 2011”. The Mission considers these grave violations to amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It considers the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, to be the main perpetrator of these crimes, and calls for the investigation and prosecution of senior military officials.
26 August 2019: Jose Miguel Narvaez, former deputy director of Colombia’s former intelligence agency DAS, has requested to submit to the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) war crimes tribunal. Narvaez was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment for involvement in the murder of journalist/comedian Jaime Garzon in 1999, and 8 years’ for his role in wiretapping perceived political opponents of former President Uribe. If Narvaez can demonstrate his sincere intention to tell the truth and provide redress to victims, his cooperation with the tribunal could lead to his early release.
23 August 2019: In a bid to halt the sale of British Weapons to Saudi Arabia, a report has been submitted to the UK government by a team of international lawyers and a Yemeni humans rights group presenting new evidence of alleged war crimes committed in Yemen by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. In a statement, the organisations behind the report stated “[t]he coalition has continued to carry out apparently unlawful attacks throughout the course of the conflict, failed to credibly investigate, and whitewashed significant civilian harm”.
22 August 2019: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has terminated proceedings against Nuon Chea following his death, in accordance with Cambodian criminal law and its own procedural rules. Chea was alleged to have been the most senior official serving in Pol Pot's regime and was convicted of crimes against humanity in 2014 and genocide in 2018. The defence argued that the proceedings relating to its appeal notice of 1 July 2019 should be considered posthumously in the interests of justice.
21 August 2019: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard has expressed concerns that fair trial standards have not been accorded to a group of French nationals convicted of terrorism offences and sentenced to death in Iraq. It was reported that these individuals were subject to torture and ill-treatment whilst detained in Iraq. The Special Rapporteur has urged the French government to enter into an extradition agreement with Iraq, stating "[t]here are serious allegations that the sentences were handed down following unfair trials, with the accused having no adequate legal representation or effective consular assistance".
20 August 2019: Testimony provided by Inês Etienne Romeu, the sole survivor of a clandestine prison known as the 'House of Death' in Petrópolis in the 1970's, could lead to the conviction of former Brazilian army Sergeant Antônio Waneir Pinheiro de Lima. De Lima had previously been found to be protected by Brazil's amnesty laws. Two out of three Federal Tribunal Judges have overturned a decision to this effect, finding that the allegations against de Lima, including rape and kidnapping, constitute crimes against humanity and are therefore not covered by the amnesty.
19 August 2019: International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber I Judges Péter Kovács and Marc Perrin de Brichambaut have opposed the request of defence counsel for Malian militant Al Hassan Ag Abdoal Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud for the disqualification of Pre-Trial Chamber I on the basis of the participation of Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou. The request highlights concerns with Judge Alapini-Gansou's former positions as Commissioner for the African Commission on Human and People's Rights and Head of the Human Rights Component of the Mission de l'Union africaine pour le Mali et le Sahel (MISAHEL) affecting her impartiality in the proceedings against Al Hassan, on the basis that she had previously been involved in proceedings against the defendant "in an investigative and advisory capacity". Al Hassan is accused of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Timbuktu, Mali, between April 2012 and January 2013, with the request coinciding with the beginning of his confirmation of charges hearing.
12 July 2019: The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution, passed narrowly by four votes, authorising United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to launch an investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and Crimes Against Humanity committed by President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte. The official death toll from Duterte’s “war on drugs” is at 5,300, however human rights groups estimate the real figure is somewhere between 12,000-20,000.
11 July 2019: Two petitions for the disqualification of Judge Brichambaut at the International Criminal Court have been dismissed. Early this month it was reported that the Plenary of Judges determined that the evidence presented did not meet the high threshold for disqualifying a judge on grounds of impartiality. Accusations against Judge Brichambaut included that he had continued to engage in a variety of professional activities aimed at advancing the political and military interests of France and that he showed signs of bias when speaking about issues under litigation.
10 July 2019: The trial of two Dutch alleged Islamic State militants has commenced in the District Court of The Hague’s International Crimes Chamber, sitting in Schiphol, the Netherlands. Oussama Achraf Akhlafa has been charged with war crimes allegedly committed in Iraq and Syria, including posing with a corpse and sharing images of dead victims online, as well as membership in a terrorist organisation. The second defendant, Reda Nidalha, is accused of membership of a terrorist organisation and recruiting radical jihadists via Facebook. This is the first trial in the Netherlands dealing with war crimes committed by alleged Islamic State militants.
9 July 2019: Yesterday the confirmation of charges hearing in the Al Hassan case commenced before the International Criminal Court. According to the warrant of arrest, Mr Al Hassan was allegedly a member of Ansar Dine and a de facto chief of the Islamic Police in Mali. He is alleged to have committed a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Timbuktu, Mali, between April 2012 and January 2013.
8 July 2019: Former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has been convicted before the International Criminal Court on 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ituri, DRC, between 2002-2003. In the ruling, Judge Robert Fremr stated that Ntaganda was a “key leader” who gave orders to “target and kill civilians”. Ntaganda is also the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery before the International Criminal Court.
5 July 2019: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested that the Court authorise an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Prosecutor has conducted a preliminary examination into alleged crimes committed against the Rohingya population in Myanmar and Bangladesh and has indicated in the request that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crimes against humanity of deportation, other inhumane acts and persecution under article 7 of the Rome Statute have been committed. In September 2018 the Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over the situation, as one element of the crime of deportation had been committed in a State Party to the Rome Statute (Bangladesh).
5 July 2019: A military court in San Diego in the United States has found Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who had been accused of war crimes allegedly committed in Iraq, not guilty on a number of charges. In the high-profile case, Gallagher had been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly fatally stabbing a 17 year old ISIS militant in a US military hospital and with the attempted murder of civilians, and was acquitted on both charges. He was convicted for posing and taking a photograph with a dead body.
4 July 2019: The Iranian Center for International Criminal Law (ICICL) has filed a communication with the International Criminal Court requesting the Prosecutor to open a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The alleged war crimes highlighted in the communication include intentionally directing attacks against civilians; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in humanitarian assistance missions; attacks against buildings dedicated to hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected; and intentionally directing attacks against protected objects, including buildings dedicated to education.
3 July 2019: The High Court in Podgorica, Montenegro, has convicted former Yugoslav soldier Vlado Zmajevic of war crimes in relation to the murder of four ethnic Albanians in Zegra, Kosovo, in 1999. Zmajevic faces 14 years’ imprisonment for the war crimes of attacking the civilian population. This is the first war crimes trial in Montenegro in recent years, with only six other cases having previously been opened.
2 July 2019: West Africa is becoming a new "hotspot" for maritime piracy, according to a report released by the organisation One Earth Future. The report outlines incidents of hijacking, kidnapping, robberies and boarding attempts in a number of different regions, highlighting increases in West Africa from 54 incidents in 2015 to 112 in 2018. It indicates poverty, political instability, a lack of proper law enforcement and many lucrative targets as the reasons for this increase, with the Gulf of Guinea being the worst affected region worldwide.
1 July 2019: The Presidency of the International Criminal Court has rejected the request by Germain Katanga to revoke its previous authorization for new proceedings to go ahead against Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After serving the sentence ordered by the ICC, Katanga has remained imprisoned in the DRC and faces trial there. His lawyer requested the Presidency revoke its authorization of these proceedings on the basis that Katanga’s fair trial rights had not been respected. The Presidency decided that whilst it did have the power to revoke its previous decision, that course of action was not warranted under these circumstances as the standard for reconsideration, that new information be presented indicating that the prosecution undermines fundamental principles of processes of the Rome Statute or otherwise affects the integrity of the Court, had not been met.
28 June 2019: The Secretary-General of the United Nations has released a report on the prevention of genocide. The report states that the “prevention of the crime of genocide is intrinsically connected to the prevention of crimes against humanity and war crimes” and “[c]onsequently, initiatives aiming at preventing one of the crimes will, in most circumstances, also cover the others.” It also highlights that the United Nations “must change the culture of reaction to one of prevention and be prepared to invest the necessary resources.” There is an emphasis in the report on education surrounding genocide as being a key aspect of prevention, as well as a number of recommendations for measures relating to national capacities and on raising awareness and education.
27 June 2019: Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar is being sued for alleged war crimes in a US Federal Court by four Libyan families. Haftar, a dual Libyan-US citizen, is accused of carrying out indiscriminate bombings in Libya, resulting in many civilian deaths. Since April, Haftar has made advances towards Tripoli with the aim of seizing power from the internationally recognised government established there by a peace agreement of 2015.
26 June 2019: International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has filed a notification indicating her intention to request authorisation to open a formal investigation into the situation in Bangladesh and Myanmar concerning the treatment of the Rohingya people. A United Nations fact finding mission concluded that mass killings and gang rape of Muslim Rohingyas had been carried out by Myanmar’s military. This notification follows a finding by the Court in September 2018 that it has jurisdiction over the situation, as one element of the crime of deportation had been committed in a State Party to the Rome Statute (Bangladesh).
25 June 2019: The ramming of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel may boost the complaint of crimes against humanity against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court, according to former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. Del Rosario and former Ombudsperson and Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpior Morales filed the complaint in March of this year on behalf of 300,000 Filipino fishermen who are the victims of Chinese activities in the South China Sea. The filing came two days before President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the Rome Statute on March 17.
24 June 2019: Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard has called the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul an international crime attracting universal jurisdiction. In a report released on the killing, she indicates that a number of arguments can be made to support the assertion that Khasoggi's killing was an international crime, including that it amounted to an act of torture or ill-treatment and that it constituted a violation of a jus cogens norm, arguing that there is no a priori legal or normative reasons why a single execution cannot constitute an international crime. Callamard has called on States to ensure that any individuals identified by an independent, impartial and effective investigation as being responsible are promptly brought to justice, as well as on United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to establish an independent expert panel to determine individual responsibility for the killing.
21 June 2019: The request made by defence counsel for Bosco Ntaganda to have Judge Kuniko Ozaki disqualified from Ntaganda’s case has been dismissed. It was argued in the request 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”. The Plenary of the Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC), consisting of Judges Perrin de Brichambaut, Herrera Carbuccia, Mindua, Schmitt, Kovács, Pangalangan, Akane, Alapini-Gansou, Prost and Aitala, held “that the Disqualification Request fails to demonstrate that the circumstances of Judge Ozaki’s tenure as Ambassador of Japan to Estonia, which had been authorised pursuant to article 40(4) of the Statute, satisfies the high threshold necessary to rebut the presumption of impartiality.”
20 June 2019: The Dutch Public Prosecution Service has announced charges against four suspects for alleged involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH1 in July 2014. According to investigators in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) the accused are allegedly responsible for bringing the anti-aircraft system used in the attack from Russia to eastern Ukraine. A trial in the District Court in the Hague is due to begin on 9 March 2020.
19 June 2019: The Center for Constitutional Rights, a US NGO, has filed a complaint with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, requesting an investigation into US interference with the International Criminal Court in relation to the request to launch an investigation in Afghanistan. The Center argues that threats made by the Trump administration, including of prosecution and denial of visas, influenced the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber to reject the Prosecution’s request to open an investigation.
18 June 2019: France has arrested three individuals for alleged crimes against humanity committed in Chad and Sudan between 2005-2010. Amongst them is General Mahamat Nouri, who planned a failed coup against current President of Chad Idriss Deby in 2008.
17 June 2019: Human Rights Watch has indicated that an attack by Houthi forces on a civilian airport in Saudi Arabia may constitute a war crime. 26 people were injured in the attack, and Human Rights Watch has called on Houthi forces to cease targeting civilian infrastructure. Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch stated: “Unlawful Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen never justify Houthi attacks on Saudi civilians.”
14 June 2019: Former Congolese leader in the Patriotic Resistance Front of Ituri (FRPI) militia Germain Katanga faces a second trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), after serving time for his conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Despite being due for release in 2016 Katanga remains imprisoned, with the second trial against him commencing in February 2016 and provisional release being denied. Ituri civil society president Jean-Bosco Lalo stated: "To pursue Katanga again in the DRC after the ICC prosecutions is judicial harassment, it's unfair. We believe that Katanga has already paid for his mistakes and crimes". In January 2019 Katanga’s former legal counsel at the ICC requested the ICC Presidency to revoke its decision to authorise prosecution in the DRC.
13 June 2019: United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals President Carmel Agius has called on States to cooperate and accept 9 individuals acquitted of genocide and currently stranded in Arusha for relocation. In the bi-annual report addressed to the United Nations Security Council, President Agius indicates that “the status quo presents a humanitarian crisis that profoundly affects the fundamental rights of the nine persons”, which “threatens to cast a shadow over both the Mechanism and the United Nations more broadly.”
12 June 2019: A group of United Nations (UN) human rights experts have called for an independent investigation to be launched into alleged human rights violations in the Philippines. “We have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders.” The joint statement also expressed serious concern about the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
11 June 2019: The Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has sought leave to appeal the April decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber rejecting the request to open a formal investigation into the situation in Afghanistan. Three issues are raised in the motion, namely: the interpretation of ‘interests of justice’; the Pre-Trial Chamber’s discretion under the relevant provisions; and the Pre-Trial Chamber’s understanding of the scope of any investigation it may authorise. It is stated that all of these “issues significantly affects the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings”. Several victims who participated in the proceedings have also filed an appeal directly with the Appeals Chamber, on the basis of the findings of the Pre-Trial chamber on its jurisdiction and the interpretation of “interests of justice”.
7 June 2019: A report released by Kosovo’s Anti-Corruption Agency has revealed that a convicted war criminal has been working as an adviser to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci for the last four months in secret. Rrustem Mustaka was a commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and was convicted of war crimes in 2013 and imprisoned for four years.
6 June 2019: Discussions on the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) are gaining momentum across Europe, in response the hundreds of European ISIS supporters and their families currently being detained by the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria. However, human rights groups have raised concerns about the creation of such a tribunal, including relating to legitimacy concerns about overlooking atrocities committed by other actors in the conflict.
5 June 2019: A Canadian government inquiry has found that Canada is complicit in genocide against indigenous women. The 1,200 page report, which is the result of three years of research, has found that indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be killed or disappeared than other women in Canada and links this to deep-rooted colonialism and state inaction.
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 Court after being acquitted of war crimes by the Appeals Chamber last June. The payment sought from the ICC also includes compensation for legal costs and losses in the value of assets frozen by the court while he was in prison. If awarded, the money will "provide reparations to the people of the Central African Republic".
11 March 2019: A New York Federal Court Judge has dismissed a case against Germany relating to the alleged genocide in Namibia in the early 1900s. The claim was brought in relation to allegations of colonial German troops killing of tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people in what was then called German South West Africa under an extermination order issued by German General Lothar von Trotha. The case was dismissed as inadmissible on the basis of the principle of sovereign immunity making prosecution of Germany impossible. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs have stated that they intend to appeal the decision.
8 March 2019: A report released by several human rights groups has highlighted the role of the United States and Europe in alleged war crimes committed in Yemen. The report, entitled ‘Day of Judgment: The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen’, highlights the humanitarian crisis that has evolved in Yemen in light of the Saudi and UAE led war on Houthi rebels. According to the report, 4 years into the conflict approximately 20,000 civilians have been killed or wounded and half the population faces famine.
7 March 2019: Two legal teams have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Syrian Presiden Bashar al-Assad. The legal teams have suggested that the jurisdiction decision of the ICC on the situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar in 2018 may be a basis for which Syria can be prosecuted, despite not being party to the Rome Statute. The case was submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor on behalf of 28 Syrian refugees in Jordan who have been forcibly displaced.
6 March 2019: On Monday March 4 Malaysia acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Mr. O-Gon Kwon stated, "[t]his commitment sends a strong signal to the Asia-Pacific region and the world, reinforcing the independent system of international criminal justice to fight impunity and prevent the most serious crimes under international law." Global Parliamentarians for Action have applauded this decision, highlighting that Malaysia is now "the 124th State Party to the first permanent judicial institution having jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression."
5 March 2019: It has been reported that Pakistan will lodge a complaint against India at the United Nations, claiming India has engaged in 'eco-terrorism' in relation to the damage of pine trees during Indian air strikes in Pakistani territory on February 26. India has stated that it engaged in a pre-emptive airstrike against a militant terrorist group. The strike follows a suicide bombing in which 40 Indian security personnel were killed earlier this month.
4 March 2019: Croatia has confirmed the release of former Bosnian Croat battalion commander Marko Radic last December. Radic was convicted of Crimes Against Humanity by the Bosnian State Court in Sarajevo in 2011, where he was given a 21 year sentence for involvement in setting up prisons and ordering the arrest and unlawful detention of Bosniak civilians in Mostar. Radic had been transferred to Croatia, where his sentence was reduced to 12.5 years by a court in Zabreb on the basis that the Croatian domestic legal system does not recognise Joint Criminal Enterprise as a mode of liability.
1 March 2019: A United Nations commission of inquiry has reported on violence on the border of Israel and Gaza during mass protests in 2018, claiming Israeli forces may have committed crimes against humanity. The panel accused Israeli forces of killing and injuring demonstrators not posing an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others, nor participating in hostilities. The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement blaming the militant group Hamas for the violence and claiming the UN report is a product of anti-Israeli bias. The panel has called on Israel to investigate all protest-related injuries and deaths in accordance with international standards to determine if crimes against humanity or war crimes have been committed.
28 February 2019: The US District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania has recently found that claims which involve war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed within Liberia can be brought in US courts under the Alien Tort Statute. The plaintiffs’ are survivors of the July 1990 St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Massacre, with the Court finding Alien Tort Statute claims sufficiently “touch and concern” the US to “displace the presumption against extraterritorial application”.
27 February 2019: Prosecutor of the ICC Fatou Bensouda has requested the Court to dismiss the appeal filed by Jean-Pierre Bemba on the grounds that the penalty imposed upon him for witness tampering was "a manifestly excessive and disproportionate sentence". In September 2018, the ICC fined Jean-Pierre Bemba 300,000 euros and sentenced him to 12 months for witness tampering during his War Crimes trial. In a statement, Bensouda said that "[the Court] should not be asked to displace judicial certainty in favour of devoting countless time and resources to frivolous and obscure litigation."
26 February 2019: The Lima Group has requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assess the current crisis in Venezuela. On 5 January Juan Guaido was elected as president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other government branches refused to recognise. Over 50 States recognise Guaido, with incumbent President Maduro characterising his move for power as a coup staged by the US. The statement by the Lima Group indicated "[w]e have decided to turn to the International Criminal Court with a request to take into account the grave humanitarian situation in Venezuela, the criminal violence of [Venezuelan President] Nicolas Maduro's regime against civilians and the denial of access to international aid, which is a crime against humanity".
25 February 2019: The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals has announced it will rule on the appeal of convicted war criminal Radovan Karadžić on 20 March, 2019. In March 2016, Karadzic was found guilty of genocide relating to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, crimes against humanity and war crimes including persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, forcible transfer, terror, unlawful attacks of civilians and hostage-taking and was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.
22 February 2019: The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, in a report it will submit to the Human Rights Council next month, detailed continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and intensifying repression by the country’s security services. The report emphasized the role of South Sudan’s oil industry as “a major driver for the violations of International Humanitarian Law witnessed there.”
21 February 2019: On 20 February 2019, the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber II decided to join the cases of Mr. Alfred Yekatom and Mr. Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona allegedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic. The Chamber also scheduled the hearing on the confirmation of the charges in the joint case for 18 June 2019.
20 February 2019: A Swedish court has convicted a man who fought against the Islamic State group in Iraq of war crimes for posting macabre pictures and videos on Facebook. The asylum-seeker, who arrived in Sweden in late 2015 with his wife and two children, has confessed to being in the pictures but denied committing war crimes
19 February 2019: Switzerland's Federal Court has rejected the opposition to a recently-unveiled monument commemorating the Armenian genocide in Geneva. opposition from Turkey also made the monument a diplomatic headache into which the federal government was forced to wade. The #genocide was recognized by the parliament of Geneva in 2001 and by the Swiss federal parliament in 2003.
18 February 2019: FBI is dismantling a special unit that investigates international war crimes. The unit has had a hand in many high-profile prosecutions including the Liberian warlord Thomas Woewiju. The dismantling of the unit raises concerns on the enforcement of human rights law putting in jeopardy prosecutions.
15 February 2019: FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, “Timochenko,” testified before Colombia’s war crimes tribunal about his involvement in mass kidnapping during the armed conflict. As a result of the peace process, 5,000 of the 7,000 active FARC members have been granted amnesty. The rest, including alleged war criminals like Timochenko, will have to stand trial in the Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz for crimes against humanity.
14 February 2019: The government of Israel has asked a Dutch court to dismiss war crimes allegations against Benny Gantz, an ex-military chief who is challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the April 9 election. A Dutch-Palestinian man originally from the Gaza Strip is suing Gantz and Israel's former air force chief, Amir Eshel, for their roles in an airstrike on his family's home that killed six relatives. An internal Israeli military investigation determined the airstrike had killed four militants. It said the attack was permissible under international law, and argued the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction.
13 February 2019: According to the UN Human Rights Commission, the United States may be violating the UN Convention Against Torture by force-feeding immigrant detainees on a hunger strike inside an El-Paso detention facility. This would constitute “ill-treatment” as stated under the Convention. Force-feeding also raises ethics issues for medical professionals working inside ICE facilities. World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo, states that when prisoners refuse food and physicians believe they are capable of "rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially."
12 February 2019: Matthew Goldsteyn, a captain and a US Army Special Forces soldier, is investigated for war crimes allegedly committed in Afghanistan in 2010. The case was initially closed in Nov 2013, when the Army did not find enough evidence to prosecute him.
11 February 2019: Military activity has increased in Myanmar since early January. Reportedly, detention of civilians, blocking of aid and firing the villages take place in northern part of the country.
8 February 2019: The publication of a memo by Radio France and Mediapart, suggests that French intelligence, DGSE, knew about the attack on the plane carrying the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, which is considered the event that triggered the genocide that killed 800,000 people. It also establishes that this attack must have been premeditated for a long time by Hutu extremists.
7 February 2019: The Guatemalan Congress votes to reform national reconciliation law and give absolute impunity for crimes against humanity including genocide and rape. Michelle Bachelet, the nited Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said it is a "drastic step backwards for rule of law and victims' rights".
6 February 2019:The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov noted in the UNSC that piracy and criminal activities on the high seas are becoming 'increasingly sophisticated', posing 'immediate danger to people's lives and safety'. He also elaborated upon the links between piracy, terrorism and illegal trafficking.
5 February 2019: The United Nations SG Antonio Guterres noted on Monday that there is a rise in the number of mercenaries, who contribute, among all, to terrorism and transnational crime. He stated also that the activities of the mercenaries 'evolved over the years'. Further, at the United Nations Security Council meeting presided by Teodoro Obiang Nguema from Equatorial Guinea, Obiang mentioned '...mercenary groups continue to act with total impunity in Africa'.
4 February 2019: Laurent Gbagbo, the former President of the Ivory Coast and the first former head of state tried at the International Criminal Court, was released from custody. The release follows his acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
1 February 2019: The Appeals Chamber of ICC has ordered today the conditional release of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé based on the condition that they live in an (yet to be specified) country pending the appeal of the prosecution. They were being prosecuted for four counts of crimes against humanity.
30 January 2019: President Rodrigo Duterte has advocated for legislation that will lower the legal age of criminal responsibility in the Philippines to 12 years old. He initially wanted it to be 9 years old. This legislation is currently being debated at the Parliament. This decision comes in the context of Duterte's 'drug war' which is currently under preliminary investigation by the ICC for crimes against humanity.
29 January 2019: New details related to Edward R. Gallagher, a Navy SEAL (the USA) who was charged with a number of war crimes became known during the last hearing at the Naval Base San Diego last week. Additionally, immunity has been granted to seven Navy SEALs to testify for the Prosecution during the trial on the 19 February.
28 January 2019: Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, indicted for alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, remains at large. Nonetheless, he is facing protests against his rule across the country, including in the regions usually loyal to the President. As noted by an analyst Khalid al-Tijani '...the crisis has reached a new level'.
24 January 2019: Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was transferred from France, where he was arrested, to the International Criminal Court custody yesterday. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed against Séléka group in CAR.
23 January 2019: 13,200 individuals charged or convicted of treason or terrorism have been pardoned in Ethiopia. Critics stated that the anti-terrorism law in that country de facto criminalised dissent or opposition.
22 January 2019: According to a report submitted to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Terrirory by Defense for Children International - Palestine and the City University of New York, Israeli forces and officials are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity for the killing of Palestinian child protesters in Gaza. The report establishes proof children did not present any imminent, mortal threat or threat of serious injury.
21 January 2019: The International Criminal Court AC decided that Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are to remain in custody. The decision follows an appeal by the Prosecutors, submitted against the TC's decision to release both individuals after their acquittal regarding crimes against humanity.
18 January 2019: In Bogotá, 21 people were killed and at least 68 injured in an attack which was described by President Iván Duque as a 'crazy terrorist act'. Car bombs were not unusual during the long-lasting conflict in that country, but no such attack took place within the last nine years.
17 January 2019: The International Criminal Court Trial Chamber I, by majority, Judge Herrera Carbuccia dissenting, found that there were no exceptional circumstances preventing the release of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé from ICC detention following their acquittal for crimes against humanity. The ICC Prosecutor may appeal this decision. It would be then for the Appeals Chamber to decide whether or not to maintain Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé in ICC custody.
16 January 2019: A terrorist attack on a hotel complex has been claimed by the group Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group.The same group was responsible for several attacks such as the Westgate shopping mall attack in 2013 and the Garissa University attack in 2015. The Nairobi attack shows that al-Qaeda’s east African affiliate retains the capability of bringing that form of urban terrorism to states beyond the Somali border.
15 January 2019: The ICC, by majority with a dissenting opinion of Judge Herrera-Carbuccia, has decided to acquit Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé for crimes against humanity. According to the court, the prosecution has failed to provide enough proof beyond a reasonable ground. The Court will reconvene tomorrow at 10am, as Senior Trial Attorney Eric Mcdonald has decided to avail himself of the possibility of appeal stated under article 81 of the Rome Statute.
14 January 2019: The Helsinki District Court has found a corporal in the Iraqi army, guilty of committing war crimes. Indeed, according to the court, he was handed an 18-month suspended sentence for desecrating and violating the dignity of a dead body, which constitute war crimes under international law. In casu, the soldier had decapitated the body of an ISIS militant.
11 January 2019: On Tuesday 15 January, the Trial Chamber 1 of the International Criminal Court will deliver a long-awaited decision for Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé-Goudé. The Chamber will determine whether to release them or not. Gbagbo has spent 7 years in detention accused of four counts of crimes against humanity and his defence team claims there is not enough evidence to proceed with the trial.
10 January 2019: The United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published a report in which it accused Bahrain of arbitrarily arresting three members of the family of Sayed Alwadaei, an activist of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, without a warrant and a fair trial. According to the Working Group, this is not the first time Bahrain has arbitrarily detained people and declares that the systematic deprivation of citizens' liberty may constitute crimes against humanity.
9 January 2019: At least four cases are being prepared to be brought in The Netherlands regarding the war in Syria. Basing on the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, the Syria Legal Network - NL is attempting to obtain damages on behalf of Syrian citizens for their pain and suffering.
8 January 2019: A US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, Monir, has been arrested and accused of "killings, confinement, rape, arson and looting" cases during the 1971 war of independence of Pakistan. He will be tried by the widely criticised International Crimes Tribunal, a national court established by Bangladesh in 2010 to prosecute those accused of war crimes in 1971.
7 January 2019: The Helsinki Court of Appeals denied a request for early release of Pastor Francois Bazaramba from his life imprisonment. Bazaramba was convicted in 2012 for his role in the 1994 Tutsi genocide.
4 January 2019: Eight individuals were charged with war crimes in Bosnia and Hercegovina. The charge is related to ill-treatment of twenty Serbs, which included sexual assault, severe physical and mental injuries as well as other acts, which may amount to torture.
3 January 2019: Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher will be arraigned Friday at Naval Base San Diego on a long list of criminal charges including war crimes. Prosecutors argued that Gallagher had allegedly killed civilians with his sniper rifle as well as conducted the premeditated murder of a prisoner of war.
2 January 2019: On Monday, the Court of Appeal of Paris has ordered the extradition of Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona. He is suspected of committing war crimes in Central African Republic. He was allegedly in charge of coordinating the anti-balaka militias, accused of human rights abuses including mass killings and mutilation.