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