(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
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 CriminalCourt 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.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
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).