19 Apr 2017 - NPWJ News Digest on international criminal justice


Kenya: Nandi County Hires Lawyer Karim Khan in Case Against Britain
By AllAfrica, 18 Apr 2017

The Nandi County government has begun the process of suing Britain seeking compensation for atrocities committed against the community during the colonial period. It has appointed international lawyer Karim Khan and Lilan and Koech advocates to collect evidence for a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over displacement of the Nandi community from their ancestral land and the brutal killing of Koitalel Samoei over 120 years ago for resisting colonial rule. "We have signed an agreement with the two law firms and they are expected to tour the region next week to start collecting evidence in readiness to file the suit," George Tarus, a political adviser to Governor Cleophas Lagat, said by phone on Tuesday. The county assembly has already approved Sh108 million to hire legal experts to file the suit at the ICC and the African Court of Justice. Mr Khan specialises in international criminal and human rights law. He represented Deputy President William Ruto and Francis Muthaura in the crimes against humanity case at the ICC relating to the 2007/2008 post-election violence. The cases against the two and four other Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, were later dropped for lack of evidence. "Our local and international lawyers have made some progress and the suit will be formally filed once they collect satisfactory evidence," added Mr Tarus. "What we want is justice and compensation from the British government over the killing of our leader and forceful displacement from ancestral land to pave the way for tea plantations," demanded the Nandi leaders, led by the governor last year during the memorial event to mark the killing of Koitalel.

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Special Report: Police describe kill rewards, staged crime scenes in Duterte's drug war
By Reuters, 18 Apr 2017

The Philippine police have received cash payments for executing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes, said two senior officers who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs." In the most detailed insider accounts yet of the drug war's secret mechanics, the two senior officials challenged the government's explanations of the killings in interviews with Reuters. Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate anti-drug operations. Human rights monitors believe many of the remaining two thirds were killed by paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes - a charge the police deny. The two senior officers, one a retired police intelligence officer and the other an active-duty commander, claimed the killings are in fact orchestrated by the police, including most of those carried out by vigilantes. They spoke with Reuters on the condition of anonymity. "It is the Philippine National Police doing it," said the retired intelligence officer. "This killing machine must be buried six feet under the ground." He said he was angry about the impact of the killings on police discipline and wanted "to put Duterte on the defensive." Reuters was unable to independently verify if the police are behind vigilante killings. The president's office and the Philippine police did not respond to questions from Reuters.

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As Atrocities Mount in Syria, Justice Seems Out of Reach
by The New York Times, 15 Apr 2017

Three tons of captured Syrian government documents, providing a chilling and extensive catalog of the state’s war crimes, are held by a single organization in Europe. A Syrian police photographer fled with pictures of more than 6,000 dead at the hands of the state, many of them tortured. The smartphone alone has broken war’s barriers: Records of crimes are now so graphic, so immediate, so overwhelming. Yet six years since the war began, this mountain of documentation — more perhaps than in any conflict before it — has brought little justice. The people behind the violence remain free, and there is no clear path to bring the bulk of the evidence before any court, anywhere. More than 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war. Half the country’s population has been displaced. Syrian human rights groups list more than 100,000 people as missing, either detained or killed. Tens of thousands languish in government custody, where torture, deprivation, filth and overcrowding are so severe that a United Nations commission said they amounted to “extermination,” a crime against humanity. But so far, there is only one warcrimes case pending against Syrian officials: filed in Spain, over a man who died in government custody. No cases have gone to the International Criminal Court. Syria never joined it, so the court’s chief prosecutor cannot start an investigation on her own. The United Nations Security Council could refer a case to the court, but Russia has repeatedly used its veto power to shield Syria from international condemnation. And even if the Council were to take action, President Bashar alAssad and his top officials are battened down in Damascus, making their arrests difficult, to say the least.

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International Criminal Court marks Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month: Victims must come first
By International Criminal Court, 12 Apr 2017

The International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") joins global efforts during April to draw attention to the crime of genocide and the importance of accountability for such crimes. The ICC is an independent international judicial institution created by States to fight impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, including genocide. Through its work, the Court hopes to contribute to the deterrence of future crimes and bring justice to the victims, in conformity with its mandate. On the occasion of the Genocide Awareness Month, the Court reaffirms its steadfast commitment to addressing the scourge of atrocity crimes through its judicial work, as part of the broader global justice system that includes national, regional as well as international courts. As reflected in the Court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, grave crimes that threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world must not go unpunished. Victims must come first.

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Bosnia’s 25-year Struggle With Justice
By Huffington post, 11 Apr 2017

In fact, according to a 2013 public opinion poll, just one in six residents of BiH feels that the three ethnic groups that live there – the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats – have reached reconciliation. It would be easy to pass this sentiment off as what one former U.S. secretary of state called “ancient tribal, ethnic and religious rivalries.” But I believe it raises profound doubts about the ability of international justice to bring about a more peaceful world. As I demonstrate in my book, “The Costs of Justice,” transitional justice – the process of dealing with human rights abuses committed by a previous regime – is an inherently political process made even more contentious by taking it out of the country. The fallout is not just a lack of reconciliation, but also the constant threat of violence. In BiH, more than 30 percent believe a renewal of armed conflict could be right around the corner.  First was the fall election of a Serbian genocide denier, Mladen Grujicic, as mayor of Srebrenica – a town where more than 8,000 Bosniaks, or Bosnian Muslims, were systematically killed in 1995. Next came the Bosniak response: a February request for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to review its 2007 ruling that cleared the neighboring state of Serbia of complicity in genocide during the war. The war may be long over, but wounds are still oozing. Lack of reconciliation in BiH comes despite – or perhaps because of – a major international effort to ensure justice in the region. BiH, like other states of the former Yugoslavia, was under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague for more than two decades.

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