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18 Jan 2012 - NPWJ News Digest on international criminal justice
Bringing foreign war crimes before dutch courts
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Thijs Bouwknegt, 18 Jan 2012
“People with blood on their hands shouldn’t feel they’re safe here,” says Hester van Bruggen, who brings international human rights cases before Dutch courts. She is just back from Rwanda, where she’s been hearing witnesses.
Van Bruggen is currently preparing a case against a Dutch-Rwandan national, Yvonne Basebya, on charges of genocide, murder and rape. She took the case in 2006 and since then has been flying back and forth to Rwanda to hear witnesses. Last summer, she secured the conviction of another Rwandan, Joseph Mpambara, who was sentenced to life in prison by a court in The Hague.
In addition to the two cases relating to the Rwanda genocide, Van Bruggen and her legal team are also working on a case involving a number of Sri Lankans accused of financing terrorism from the Netherlands.
ICTR legacy: fragile and confusing
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 18 Jan 2012
“The Prosecution has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Karemera and Ngirumpatse, or other leaders, planned the massacre of Tutsis in advance of the assassination of President Habyarimana,” judges wrote in the summary of their yet unpublished decision.
It is the last major judgement that an ICTR trial chamber is likely to hand down. And it underlines the fragile and confusing legacy of the court regarding the narrative of the 1994 genocide. To date, 11 former cabinet ministers have been tried (four of whom were acquitted), two are still on trial and two more are at large or dead. In effect, almost the entire government that presided over the genocide has been brought to book.
On Monday evening, awaiting the ruling, President Wade said: “I will most probably order his transfer.” The “protectionist” attitude of both former President Abdou Diouf and incumbent Abdoulaye Wade has been vexing the thousands of relatives and victims of Mr Habré for nearly 22 years now.
Darfur – ICC’s mission impossible
Radio Netherlads Worldwide, by Josephine Uwineza, 14 Jan 2012
The deadline, originally Friday 13 January 2012, for applying to participate in the trial proceedings as a victim in the case of Abdallah Banda & Saleh Jerbo, anti-government rebels accused of attacking peacekeepers, has been extended to 29 February. This, argue victims groups, will in turn make thorough investigation even harder.
“The process is beset by logistical difficulties: the applicants reside in different locations within the country; the Court has no field presence; suitable interpreters have to be found; there is a lack of available resources,” said Paolina Massidda, Principal Counsel of the International Criminal Court's Office of Public Counsel for Victims.
UN Observer Recalls Removal of Srebrenica Civilians
Institute for war and peace reporting, by Rachel Irwin, 13 Jan 2012
A former United Nations military observer testified this week in the trial of former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic that the removal of thousands of Bosniak civilians from the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995 appeared to have been pre-planned.
Prosecution witness Joseph Kingori, a major in the Kenyan air force, was stationed as a military observer in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica from March 1995. About two years earlier, Srebrenica had been designated a demilitarised UN “safe area”.
Despite its protected status, Bosnian Serb forces began shelling the town in early July 1995, officially capturing it on July 11. In the days that followed, some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed at various sites around Srebrenica. The massacre has been classified as genocide by both the Hague tribunal and the International Court of Justice.
Kingori was present as the enclave fell, and also when thousands of Bosniak civilians fled to the UN compound in nearby Potocari.
Senegal court’s ruling on Habré eases pressure on Wade to act
Barreu Pénal International Criminal Bar, 13 Jan 2012
Late on Wednesday, an official from Senegal’s justice ministry said: “The Dakar Appeals Court today rejected the request to have Hissene Habré extradited to Belgium. It ruled that Belgium’s demand did not conform to legal provisions”.“Belgium did not respect the procedure,” he said, without giving details. Belgium had proposed in July that Mr Habré be extradited, with support from the Chadian government.
Mr Reed Brody, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch who has spearheaded the case against Habré, said the ruling was not definitive. “They did not refuse extradition, they said Belgium had not annexed the original arrest warrant and other papers” only photocopied versions, he told AFP by telephone from Belgium.“It is purely a technical ruling. It leaves the door open to a fresh Belgian extradition request... it is not a definitive ruling on the merits of the case.”
Mr Habré is wanted for assassinating over 30 thousand victims and torture of several scores while scores more allegedly went missing during his rule between 1983 and 1990 when he was toppled by incumbent President Idriss Deby.
Libyan authorities dismiss ICC?
Reuters, by Mahmoud Habboush and Ali Shuaib, 12 Jan 2012
Minister of Justice Ali Humaida Ashour told Reuters the ICC had accepted in principle a request by Libyan authorities to try Saif al-Islam and would make a final decision within weeks.
"We expect the court (ICC) will accept that Saif is tried in Libya," he told Reuters in an interview in the Libyan capital."The Libyan judiciary is the one that has the jurisdiction to try Saif al-Islam Gaddafi because the Libyan judiciary is the base and the ICC complements it."
The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said in November that he was happy for Libya to hold the trial, even though he had no guarantee that it would be fair.
But the decision rests with ICC judges who, shortly after Moreno-Ocampo's comments, said that if Libya wished to try Saif al-Islam, it must submit a formal challenge to the ICC and answer questions about his arrest and conditions of detention.
Born in Unity, South Sudan Is Torn Again
The New York Times, by Jeffrey Gettleman, 12 Jan 2012
South Sudan, born six months ago in great jubilation, is plunging into a vortex of violence. Bitter ethnic tensions that had largely been shelved for the sake of achieving independence have ruptured into a cycle of massacre and revenge that neither the American-backed government nor the United Nations has been able to stop.
heavily armed militias the size of small armies are now marching on villages and towns with impunity, sometimes with blatantly genocidal intent.
Eight thousand fighters just besieged a small town in the middle of a vast expanse, razing huts, burning granaries, stealing tens of thousands of cows and methodically killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of men, women and children hiding in the bush.
The raiders had even broadcast their massacre plans :“We have decided to invade Murleland and wipe out the entire Murle tribe on the face of the earth,” the attackers, from a rival ethnic group, the Nuer, warned in a public statement.
ICC has a crucial year ahead in 2012
Hirondelle News Agency, 11 Jan 2012
For the International Criminal Court, 2012 will be marked by the arrival of a new Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, who takes up her post on June 16. Important decisions due in the first half of the year will be key to how the legacy of the current prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is seen, in terms of his prosecutorial strategy.
Ten years after it was set up, the Court is expected to hand down this month its first judgment, concerning former Congolese militiaman Thomas Lubanga. Lubanga is accused of war crimes for enlisting child soldiers in his troops during the conflict in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2002-2003.
Another much awaited decision concerns six prominent Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity for their alleged role in post-electoral violence in 2007-2008. ICC judges are expected to announce before January 21 whether the charges are confirmed.