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News updates

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

22 Augsust 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". 

19 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.

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.

Mladić case

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).