(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
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.
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).