(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
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.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
NEW CASES: New case summaries of the two most recent decisions in The Public Prosecutor v. Guus Kouwenhoven in the Netherlands are now available online. The 's-Hertogenbosch Court of Appeal decision found Guus Kouwenhoven guilty of weapons smuggling and complicity in war crimes committed by Charles Taylor's regime in Liberia during the second civil war from 1999-2003. The Court found that the amnesty scheme implemented by Charles Taylor's government shortly before Taylor fled Liberia did not prevent the prosecution of Kouwenhoven in the Netherlands, and sentenced Kouwenhoven to 19 years' imprisonment. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld this decision, finding that the Court of Appeal had correctly decided that the amnesty scheme did not prevent the prosecution of Kouwenhoven.
NEW BRIEF: The first ICD Brief of 2019 (available here) is now available on our website! Matt Brown has written on the evacuation of Eastern Aleppo in Syria, dealing with a question as to whether it could be classified as forced displacement under international law.
NEW CASES: The twelve summaries (available in the database) added are related to terrorism, attempted terrorism, and providing material support. Most of the cases are from the United States as well as England and Wales, and relate to (attemped) fighting in Syria and Iraq (foreign fighters). They give a good insight of common law approaches to prosecuting terrorism-related offences. An example of a new case analysis is United States of America v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi. Both Mr. Elhuzayel and Mr. Badawi were convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS). The defendants had used social media accounts to support IS, and Mr. Badawi had filmed Mr. Elhuzayel pledging allegiance to IS and promising to travel to Syria to fight. Mr. Elhuzayel was arrested prior to boarding a flight to Israel via Turkey. They were also found guilty of financial fraud charges, the proceeds of which had been used to fund the travel. In the preparation of the US cases for the ICD database, the Asser Institute received assistance from students enrolled in the International Justice Project of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law.
NEW BRIEFS: The new briefs (available here) are related to the work and legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (‘ICTY’), that operated from 1993 - 2017. Among its accused were Slobodan Milošević, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. The tribunal was formally closed last year after 24 years of operation and after having issued 161 indictments. The authors of these Briefs have all worked for the ICTY.
Appeals on errors of fact
Rupert Elderkin’s ICD Brief concentrates on the ICTY’s appeals on errors of fact. It highlights the Appeals Chamber’s little deference to the trial chambers’ factual findings. By implicitly identifying the judges responsible for those judgements, the Appeals Chamber unnecessarily raised doubts about the judicial professionalism of the institution.
Role of defence in international criminal proceedings
In their Brief, Fiana Reinhardt and Lisa Feirabend examine the changing perception of the importance and role of the defence in international criminal proceedings. They emphasise the changing role of the defence before the ICTY, and how the lessons learnt there are reflected in the practice of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the International Criminal Court.
Jonas Nilsson elaborates upon the last case before the ICTY, the trial of Ratko Mladić. Nilsson analyses its pre-trial and trial proceedings and expands on its lessons learned that are of relevance to present and future courts and tribunals. Nilsson also provided a lecture on this topic in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series, which can be viewed here.
NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. On 22 March 2018, David Schwendiman, former Specialist Prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, provided a lecture on his time at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and the challenges ahead. On 31 January 2018, Jonas Nilsson, team leader of the Mladić case in Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, gave a lecture on ‘The Mladić Trial - An Insider's View’. Both lectures were given in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law (SCL) Lectures Series hosted by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut. The video recordings for both lectures can be viewed here. The report on the Mladić Trial lecture can be found here.
INTERNSHIP VACANCY: We are currently hiring for the International Criminal Law and Legal Aspects of Counter-Terrorismintern Internship position (French required). The intern will work on the International Crimes Database and capacity building projects on International Criminal law and Transnational Criminal Law. The internship will be based at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague (Deadline: 3 April 2018).