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Syria. Photo: scrapetv.com via Bing (CC).

Syrian Intelligence Officers Arrested in Germany on Charges of Crimes Against Humanity:  Two Syrian secret service officers have been arrested in Germany and charged with crimes against humanity. The officers, known as Anwar R and Eyad A, were living in Germany after seeking asylum in 2012. It is alleged that Anwar R controlled a prison in which torture and abuse of prisoners occurred, while Eyad A controlled a checkpoint that sent hundreds of people to that prison. Syria’s government denies any torture or abuse occurred within its prisons. The arrests were made under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and mark the first time western criminal prosecutors have arrested alleged torturers of the Assad regime. Arrest warrants for 24 other Syrian officials have also been issued.  (BBC, The Guardian).

Widow of Kiobel Testifies Against Shell Oil in The Hague in Ogoni Nine Litigation:  Esther Kiobel has testified in The Hague in proceedings brought by the widows of four men who were killed by the Nigerian military in 1995, allegedly with Shell’s complicity. The men, known as the Ogoni Nine, were involved in protests against the oil company at the time of their execution. In June 2017, the widows of these men brought civil claims in Dutch courts in which it is alleged that Shell is complicit in their deaths.  Shell expressed regret over the deaths but denies any involvement. Kiobel previously sued Shell under the American Alien Torts Statute (ATS) in 2013, however the Supreme Court held that  the ATS does not apply to human rights violations committed in other countries. (BBC, The Guardian, ICLMR).
Post by: Rebecca Campbell

The post 14 February 2019 – Syrian Intelligence Officers Arrested in Germany on Charges of Crimes Against Humanity, and Ogoni Nine Widow Testifies Against Shell in The Hague appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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International Criminal Court. Photo: coalitionfortheicc.org via Bing (CC).

ICC OTP’s Appeal brief on Comoros case following PTC’s Decision: On 11 February 2019, the ICC Prosecutor filed an appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber’s Decision of 15 November 2018 in which it inter alia ordered the Prosecution to submit its further review and final decision on opening investigations into the “Gaza Flotilla case.” The Prosecution was order to submit its decision by no later than 15 May 2019 while at the same time the Pre Trial Chamber (PTC) granted it leave to appeal. The PTC’s decision of 15 November 2018 is the second order of its kind in this case, when it ordered the Prosecution, based on the request of the state party – the Union of Comoros –  to reconsider its decision to open investigations. On 14 May 2013, the Comoros referred the situation with respect to the 31 May 2010 Israeli raid on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla bound for Gaza Strip to the ICC Prosecutor. Several months later, on 6 November 2013 the ICC Prosecutor concluded the preliminary investigation and announced her decision not to open an investigation into the situation as requirement of sufficient gravity under the Rome Statute had not been met. Later in 2015, the Union of the Comoros requested the PTC to order the Prosecution to review its decision. After receiving further evidence and having reviewed further submissions in the case, on 29 November 2017, the Prosecutor notified PTC I of her “final decision”, in which she upheld the view that the information available did not provide a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation. Subsequent to that, in January 2018, the Comoros requested the PTC to review the Prosecution’s “final decision.” The Prosecution’s appeal of 11 February 2019 is two fold. In essence however, the Prosecution’s appeal goes to the core of Article 53(3)(a) of the Rome Statute and powers between the Prosecution and the PTC when the referring state party requests review of the decision of the Prosecution with regards to opening of the investigations. The Prosecution argues that the case at hand raises a dissonance between the powers of the Prosecution and the PTC and a fundamental dilemma of “ultimately, to whom did the drafters of the Statute entrust the responsibility to make the “final decision.” The Prosecution argues in its first ground of appeals that it cannot be obliged by the PTC to accept particular conclusions of law or fact and hence, the PTC committed an error of law. The Prosecution argued that on the sole reading of Article 53(3)(a) of the Rome Statute or Rule 108(2), it is indeed subject to the process but not subject to an obligation of result. In the second ground of appeals, the Prosecution submits that the PTC acted ultra vires and erred in law in determining that the Prosecutor’s Final Decision was not “final.” The Prosecution argued that neither the Statute nor the Rules allow for further review of its final decision. In conclusion, the Prosecution requested that the Appeals Chamber should give effect to the principle of reasonable finality in rule 108(3) and dismiss the request of the Union of Comoros. (ICC, OTP Appeals Brief)

Israel asks for dismissal of Dutch case against former Israeli army chief, now election candidate: The Israeli Ministry of Justice has requested a Dutch court to drop a lawsuit against ex-military chief Benny Gantz relating to allegations of war crimes committed in the 2014 Gaza conflict. According to the New York Times, Mr Gantz is running against Benjamin Netanyahu in April’s national elections. The case against Mr Gantz and Israel’s former air force chief, Amir Eshel, was brought before the Dutch court by Ismail Zeyada, a Dutch-Palestinian national who lives in The Hague. The allegations concern  Mr Gantz’s alleged role in the killing of six or Mr Zeyada’s relatives during the 2014 air strikes in Gaza. While there does not seem to be a precedent for such a case before Dutch national proceedings, Ismail Zeyada stated that “It’s possible that our case will be a model for all bereaved families to achieve justice and accountability.” Israel has challenged the jurisdiction of the Dutch courts to hear the case on the grounds of state immunity as well as the availability of several mechanisms for the lawsuit to be brought before the national courts in Israel. Moreover, Israel has argued that the attack was “permissible under international law.” Mr Zeyada, together with his family, decided to file the lawsuit against the two Israeli army officials in the Netherlands because “they do not have access to an Israeli court, that is highly discriminatory against them” and their general disbelief in the ability of the Israeli military to lead an independent investigation. Mr Gantz, who led the military offensive against Gaza militants in the 2014 conflict, left the military in 2015. In his election campaign he boasted about his role in the killing of 1,364 “terrorists.” It is reported that during the air strike that killed six relatives of Mr Zeyada, four militants were also killed. According to the UN, the 2014 conflict in Gaza led to death of 1,400 Palestinian civilians. The UN also noted that both sides of the conflict were potentially implicated in war crimes. The case against Mr Gantz is pending before the Dutch court while it determines the question of its jurisdiction. (New York Times)

Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). Photo: politika.rs via Bing.

Lahi Brahimaj summoned by Kosovo Specialist Chamber, six years after ICTY acquittal: Former senior Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) officer Lahi Brahimaj has been summoned for questioning by the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) in The Hague. Without stating the precise date of the questioning, which is yet to take place, Mr Brahimaj confirmed he will be questioned “as one of the KLA’s leaders.” Mr Brahimaj was acquitted on retrial by the ICTY in 2012.  During the indictment period, he was acting as a military officer in Jablanica region and Deputy Commander of the Dukagjin Operative Zone. He was initially indicted in March 2005 together with Ramush Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj for his alleged role in instructing as well as committing cruel treatment, torture and murder of the detainees in the Jablanica detention centre. While Ramush Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj were acquitted in April 2008, Mr. Brahimaj was sentenced to six years imprisonment. On appeal, the Appeals Chamber  upheld Mr. Brahimaj’s sentence, however, on the grounds of witness intimidation, all three accused were re-tried. In the judgment of 29 November 2012, the ICTY Trial Chamber acquitted all three accused due to the lack of evidence presented by the Prosecution demonstrating that the crimes were committed as part of the Joint Criminal Enterprise. Even though the SPO has already questioned some former KLA officers, it has yet to issue indictments. With a seat in The Hague, and as part of the Kosovo judicial system, it is tasked to investigate war crimes and crime against humanity allegedly perpetrated by KLA during and in immediate aftermath of the Kosovo battle for of independence between 1998 and 2000. (Balkan Insight)

Post by: [Zuzana Drexlerova]

The post 13 February 2019 – ICC OTP’s Appeal brief on Comoros case, Israel asks for dismissal of Dutch case against former Israeli army chief, Lahi Brahimaj summoned by Kosovo Specialist Chamber appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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African Court on Human and People’s Rights https://ijrcenter.org/2018/07/24/african-union-elects-four-judges-to-the-african-court/ (via Bing) (CC)

UN Human Rights Office and African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights sign agreement: On 9 February 2019, the UN Human Rights Chief and the President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights signed a detailed agreement to strengthen the working relationship between the two organisations. Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Sylvain Oré the President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights  met in Addis Ababa during 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of African States. Justice Oré was quoted as saying: ‘’The Court and the UN Office share common values on humanity, including the culture of promoting and protecting human rights.’’ The UN Human Rights Office has signed similar agreements with other regional inter-governmental organisations, including the Council of Europe, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

(CNBC Africa)

Reports that FBI War Crimes unit may be disbanded: In a piece by Beth van Schaack published on Just Security, it was reported that the special unit dealing with war crimes within the Federal Bureau of Investigation may be shut down. The FBI’s Human Right’s Unit investigates individuals within the US who are accused of international crimes. It also investigates international crimes that are committed by or against US citizens. The Unit can enforce immigration statutes against those who cannot be prosecuted in the US, such as Jakiw Palij, a former Nazi guard who lived in the US until his 2018 deportation to Germany. The Unit has successfully prosecuted perpetrators from Liberia, Guatemala and the former Yugoslavia in the past. The piece acknowledges that the closure is only “potential” at this time and is unable to cite direct sources confirming the potential closure or when it might happen.

(Just Security)

The post 12 February 2019 -UN Human Rights Office and African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights sign agreement and reports that FBI War Crimes unit may be disbanded appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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ICC accused, Alfred Yekatom. Photo: diplomatmagazine.nl via Bing.

Registry submits observations on methods for victims applications to participate in Yekatom case: On 5 February 2019, the ICC Registry  submitted its observations and recommendations on aspects related to the admission process for victims seeking to participate in the proceedings (“Admission Process”) in the case of The Prosecutor v Alfred Yekatom. There is no standard procedure for how victims participate in court proceedings and the Registry has determined what the procedure is on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the Registry made specific recommendations regarding: the Admission Process; the Application Form; and Legal Representation.

With respect to the admission process, to provide a process that both enhances procedural efficiencies and maximizes victims’ access to the ICC while respecting the accused’s fair trial rights, the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (“VPRS”) recommended the approach that was adopted in both the Ntaganda and Al Hassan cases.  This approach categorises the applicants into those who clearly qualify as victims (Group A), those who clearly do not qualify as victims (Group B), and those for whom the VPRS could not make a clear determination for any reason (Group C). The VPRS then transmits all complete applications to the Chamber under these groupings on a rolling basis. Barring a clear, material error in the VPRS’s assessment, the Chamber would ratify the assessments for the Group A and B applicants through a decision. For Group C, the VPRS would submit the application to the parties for observations and once the parties’ observations have been received on the unclear applications, the Chamber would assess the Group C applications individually and determine whether the members concerned can be admitted to participate. According to the Registry, this approach is beneficial because it allows both the parties and the Chamber to concentrate on pre-assessed unclear or borderline issues arising from victim applications in a bundled fashion and saves resources as the VPRS’s processing and redaction obligations would extend to only to relevant Group C forms enabling the VPRS to process the highest number of victim applications with a view to their timely participation in the proceedings.
For the application form, the VPRS recommended that the Chamber deviate from the standard two page application form for participation in the proceedings that was approved by the Presidency in 2017. Following  lessons learned from the Al Hassan and Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo cases, the need to have a tool that complies with the relevant legal requirements relating to reparations, the overall need for procedural and economic efficiency in the application process in order to enable as many victims as possible to exercise their procedural rights, and the volatility of the security environment in the Central African Republic (“CAR”), the Registry submitted a Proposed Application Form. The Proposed Application Form included: 1) a slight amendment to the question about harm; and 2) the inclusion of a question on reparations. According to the Registry, collecting information on participation and reparations at the same time enables the VPRS to safely secure all procedurally relevant victim-related information through a single application process. Further, even if the case does not reach the reparations phase, the information collected may still be of relevance for the Trust Fund for Victims.
With respect to legal representation, in line with prior practice in pre-trial proceedings, the Registry stated that it stood ready to submit, in a timely manner, preliminary observations on how an approach that prioritises victims’ choice of counsel may proceed, which would include a description of the steps and time necessary for the Registry to provide a final report on this issue before the confirmation of charges hearing.
In conclusion, the Registry requested that the Chamber approve the Proposed Application Form for the purpose of victim participation in the upcoming confirmation of charges hearing and sought the Chamber’s guidance as to its preferred modus operandi in relation to the admission process and legal representation of victims. (ICC, Pre-trial Chamber II, Registry Observations on the Admission of Victims for Participation in the Proceedings)
ICC accused, Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona. Photo: via Bing (CC).
Prosecution response to possible joinder of Yekatom and Ngaïssona cases: On 4 February 2019, the ICC Prosecution  submitted its Observations Regarding Joinder of the Yekatom and Ngaïssona cases. It was submitted that joinder was the most appropriate course of action at this stage. According to the Prosecution, “[s]ince their inception, the two cases have been pled and prosecuted jointly” and “consolidating the proceedings is pragmatic, the most efficient course forward, and would not unfairly prejudice either Suspect”. Further, “[d]oing so, particularly early, would conserve valuable and limited Court and Prosecution resources, reduce potential hardship to witnesses, and advance the interests of justice.”
The Prosecution submitted that there was a presumption favouring joinder in this case because the Suspects are charged jointly, the prosecution has always intended to to prosecute the case jointly, as per “article 64(5) and rule 136(1), [s]uspects prosecuted together shall be tried together” and although article 64(5) and rule 136(1) primarily apply to the trial stage, the presumption extends to pre-confirmation proceedings. Joinder was also supported by the fact that the crimes, contextual elements and evidentiary basis of the cases were the same and that Ngaïssona and Yekatom’s alleged criminal responsibility were related. Accordingly, the Prosecution submitted that joining the cases would enhance fairness and judicial economy allow the Chamber to avoid “the unnecessary cost and work of having witnesses testify more than once or with managing two separate but substantially overlapping case files”. In addition, it submitted that not only would joinder minimise the potential impact that presenting evidence before the court would have on the physical and mental wellbeing of witnesses, but it also would not unfairly prejudice either suspect.
Noting that an order to join the cases would affect other aspects of the case, the Prosecution also asked the Chamber to consider ordering a confirmation hearing for both suspects on 18 June 2019.  (ICC, Pre-trial Chamber, Prosecution’s Observations Regarding Joinder – Ngaïssona) (ICC, Pre-trial Chamber, Prosecution’s Observations Regarding Joinder – Yekatom)
Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic. Photo: balkaninsight.com via Bing.

Last Prosecution witness finishes giving evidence in Stanišić and Simatović retrial: The last prosecution witness in the the Stanišić and Simatović case concluded his testimony before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) on 6 February 2019. The hearing has been adjourned until 26 and 28 February 2019 when the Trial Chamber will hear oral submissions for judgment for acquittal.  The ICTY Trial Chamber acquitted Stanišić and Simatović of war crimes charges in 2013. In December 2015, the ICTY Appeals Chamber overturned their acquittal and ordered a retrial due to a number of serious legal and factual errors that were found in the first trial. The retrial commenced before MICT on 13 June 2017. (UN MICT Twitter)

The post 11 February 2019 – Registry proposes method for victim participation application, OTP supports joinder of Yekatom and Ngaïssona cases and last Prosecution witness finishes giving evidence in Stanišić and Simatović retrial appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). Photo: rechtspraak.nl via Bing.

Kosovo Specialist Chambers grants interim measure suspending Prosecution’s Order for Mahir Hasani to provide information while considering Referral on rights: On 7 February 2019, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers granted an interim measure which suspended the Specialist Prosecutor’s order summoning Mahir Hasani to the court for questioning and ordering him to provide certain documents and information by 11 February 2019.  The interim measure was made after Counsel for Mr Hasani filed a Referral before the KSC in response to the Prosecution’s Order.  The Referral which argued that the Order of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office directing him to provide documents and information was in violation of his right against self-incrimination, his right to silence and the presumption of innocence.  The Chamber’s decision to grant the interim measure suspends the effect of the PRosecution’s Order while the Chamber makes a determination by the Chamber on the admissibility and merits of the Referral.  The Chamber found in favour of granting the interim measure by reasoning that compliance with the Order could result in serious harm to him. (KSC).

Post by: Ari Bilotta

The post 8 February 2019 – KSC grants Hasani Interim Measure suspending Prosecution Order for information appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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UN Human Rights Council. Photo: UN Photo / Jean-Marc FerrŽ via Flickr (CC).

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and Others Call for UN Investigation into China’s Mass Detention of More than a Million Muslims: International human rights groups have called upon the UN Human Rights Council to conduct a fact finding investigation into China’s treatment of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province. Around one million people are detained in re-education camps, and Muslim religious customs have been banned. Kumi Naidoo of Amnesty International stated that the Muslim minorities are subject to ‘…high-tech surveillance, political indoctrination, forced cultural assimilation, arbitrary arrests and disappearances.’ China is a member of the Human Rights Council and often opposes investigations into alleged human rights violations in other countries. Michael Ineichen of the International Service For Human Rights has called for greater scrutiny of member countries such as China, stating the credibility of the Human Rights Council is at stake.(New York Times, Reuters)

US Navy Seal Faces Prosecution for War Crimes in Iraq, but Two Charges Dropped:  Navy SEAL and medic Edward R Gallagher has been charged with the war crime of murdering an injured teenage IS fighter, who was brought to him for medical treatment, in Iraq in 2017. Charges for celebrating his reenlistment next to the body and operating a drone above the body have been dropped. However, Gallagher still faces allegations of posing for photographs with the body, and a charge for obstructing justice by forbidding his subordinates to report his conduct. Gallagher also faces unrelated charges of aggravated assault for shooting and killing civilians while deployed in Iraq. Gallagher’s platoon commander, Lt. Jacob Portier, also faces court-martial for charges that he was aware of complaints against Gallagher but did not report them. Seven Navy SEALS have been granted immunity to testify for the Prosecution. Gallagher’s court-martial hearing is set for 19 February. (Los Angeles Times)

Post By: Rebecca Campbell

The post 7 February 2019 – HRW, Amnesty & Others Call for UN Investigation into China’s Mass Detention of Muslims, and US Navy Seal Faces Prosecution for War Crimes in Iraq appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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Soldier in the Central African Republic. Photo: antimili-youth.net via Bing (CC).

CAR government signs a peace deal with rebel groups: After seven years of conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) the government and military groups have agreed the terms of a peace agreement which will be signed in the country’s capital, Bangui, in the coming days. Following the extensive Khartoum peace talks between the CAR President Austin Archange Touadera and representatives of the fourteen rebel groups active in the country, a conclusion was announced by the African Union on 2 February 2019. The parties agreed on five points of the agreement including a mechanism for transitional justice, which resolves the demands for a general amnesty, and outlines the means of military and governmental cooperation between the government and militia. The agreement aims to bring national unity to the country which has been fractured by the military control of many rebel groups. The agreement intends to bring together both Muslim Seleka rebels and the Christian anti-Balaka alliance and at the same time it gives rise to possible means of cooperation between the government and the rebels. One representative from the rebel groups will be appointed as prime minister. The most frequently mentioned name from the ranks is Moustapha Sabone from the “Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique” (FPRC). The parties agreed to form mixed brigades of Central African soldiers and rebels under the supervision of MINUSCA. A truth, reconciliation and compensation commission will be established moving the country forward towards transitional justice. A general amnesty for the members of the military groups for the crimes they allegedly committed during the years of conflict was rejected by the government.  After negotiations, the amnesty was only agreed upon for petty crimes including theft. However amnesty for the most severe crimes, including crimes against humanity does not form part of the agreement. This is particularly due to ongoing UN investigations and proceedings before the ICC. A few days ahead of the conclusion of peace talks, the UN Security Council announced the possibility of easing the arms embargo imposed on CAR to allow supplies for the militias, which still control much of the country. The Khartoum peace agreement is the eighth since the conflict emerged in CAR in 2012. (Aljazeera, Deutsche Welle)

Sylejman Selimi, former KLA commander, appointed as political advisor ahead of questioning by Kosovo Specialist Chambers:  A week ahead of questioning by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), Sylejman Selimi, the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander, was appointed as a political advisor to the current Kosovan prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj. Mr Selimi already served five years out of seven for crimes against Serb civilians during the Kosovo war of independence in 1998-2000. As a member of the Drenica Group he was found guilty of torturing a civilian prisoner at a detention centre in the village of Likovac. In 2016, he was sentenced to seven years in prison in a local detention centre. He was released on parole on 25 January 2019. Mr Selimi was questioned by the SPO in Pristina at EULEX premises. His lawyers have suggested that he was questioned as a suspect. Established on 1 September 2016, with a seat in The Hague, the Netherlands, the SPO is part of the judicial system of Kosovo. It is tasked with the prosecution of members of the KLA for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the war of independence between 1998 and 2000. (Balkan Insight, France24)

Post by: [Zuzana Drexlerova]

The post 6 February 2019 – Peace treaty signed in CAR between government and rebel groups, former KLA commander appointed as political advisor ahead of questioning by Kosovo Specialist Chambers appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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ICC accused, Dominic Ongwen. Photo: coalitionfortheicc.org via Bing (CC).

Ongwen Defence files motions on defects in the confirmation of charges decision: In the case of The Prosecutor v Dominic Ongwen currently before the Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Defence has filed four motions as part of a “Defects Series”, requesting the Chamber to rule on defects identified in the Pre-Trial Chamber’s Confirmation of Charges Decision which was released on 23 March 2016 (the CoC Decision). The Defence argues that the defects in the charges violate Mr Ongwen’s right under Article 67(1) of the Statute to notice of the nature, cause and content of the charges. The defence seeks for the modes of individual criminal liability under which Mr Ongwen is charged (direct perpetration, indirect co-perpetration, and ordering) be dismissed under Article 64(2) of the Rome Statute and Rule 134(3) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The Defence indicates in Part I that it has filed the application in a series because, due to the large nature of the decision, it would not be possible to appropriately analyse the defects within the standard 20-page limit. The Defence has then set out its arguments regarding the basic principles of fair trial and notice, where notice is to be found, timeliness of the motion, prejudice in the first part of the series. It argues that there is no time limitation for applications regarding preliminary motions, but in the event that the Chamber finds that there is, the principle of fairness outweighs the principle of timeliness.

Part II addresses alleged defects in mens rea under modes of liability under Articles 25 (3)(a), 25(3)(b), and 28(a) of the Rome Statute. The Defence argues that the CoC Decision fails to identify the mens rea elements for each of the modes of liability, namely individual criminal liability, indirect co-perpetration and ordering. It argues that standard language was used throughout the decision referring to mental state of the accused, but that this was not supported in the facts of the Decision. It further submits that these defects were not cured by auxiliary documents as the mens rea was not alleged in the Prosecution’s pre-confirmation brief nor the pre-trial brief.

Part III addresses alleged defects in pleading of command responsibility and common purpose liability. Regarding command responsibility, the Defence argues that “there are three defects in notice in pleading of the mode of liability a) the legal elements identified are incomplete; b) where cited, they simply track the language of the Statute; and c) there are no factual allegations in support of the legal elements of the mode of liability.” Regarding common purpose, the Defence argues that the Pre-Trial Chamber violated a basic principle of criminal law that a person cannot be punished for thoughts alone by interpreting that Article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute does not require that the accused’s contribution to the common purpose be “’significant’ or reach a certain ‘minimum degree’.”

Finally, Part IV addresses alleged defects in individual crimes under the CoC Decision, namely persecution, sexual and gender-based crimes, and conscription of child soldiers The Defence argues that the charges are “facially deficient”, face jurisdictional defects, fail to stipulate the elements of the crimes or fail to link the evidence to the elements.

Mr Ongwen’s trial began on 6 December 2016. The Prosecution and Legal Representatives for the Victims completed their presentation of the evidence in 2018 and the Defence opened its case on 1 October 2018. Mr Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes which are alleged to have been committed since 1 July 2002 in northern Uganda. (Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV)

The post 5 February 2019 – Ongwen Defence files motions on defects in the confirmation of charges decision appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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Laurent Gbagbo. Photo: alchetron.com via Bing.

Belgium willing to accept Gbagbo after acquittal: Belgium has agreed to host the former president of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, following his acquittal and order of conditional release on 15 and 16 January 2o19, respectively. Mr Gbagbo was acquitted on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to satisfy the burden of proof over the accusations. The conditions of release prohibit Mr Gbagbo and his co-accused Mr Blé Goudé from leaving Belgium without the explicit prior authorisation of the ICC. They also require that they report weekly to law enforcement and surrender their passports to the Registry of the ICC. (BBC NEWS) (Al Jazeera) (ICC Appeals Chamber)

Syria. Photo: scrapetv.com via Bing (CC).

US Federal court finds Syria liable for extrajudicial killing of US journalist; Marie Colvin under FSIA: A US Court has found the Syrian Government liable for $300 million in punitive damages for the extrajudicial killing of journalist Marie Colvin. In the judgment, published on 31 January 2019, Judge Amy Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia held that the Syrian government deliberately targeted journalists during the country’s civil war in order to “intimidate news-gathering” and suppress dissent.

The claim was filed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which allows claimants to sue foreign countries through the US courts for compensation and punitive damages. Although foreign governments are typically immune from jurisdiction in US courts, the FSIA contains an exception that lifts immunity when the alleged crime is committed against a US citizen by a “state sponsor of terrorism” (a.k.a. the terrorism exception). Under the FSIA terrorism exception, US nationals may seek an award of economic damages, solatium and punitive damages against non-immune foreign states. Under Section 1605A, a designated state sponsor of terrorism is liable to a US national  for death caused by an act of “extrajudicial killing” of that “state, or of an official, employee, or agent of that foreign state.” The court agreed that the killing of Marie Colvin constituted an extrajudicial killing in violation of the FSIA and in addition to the overall punitive damages, the court also ordered Syria to pay $2.5 million in compensation to Colvin’s sister and $11,836 in funeral expenses. (The Guardian) (Time) (The Financial Times) (Complaint, Colvin v Syrian Arab Republic) (Motion for Default Judgment, Colvin v Syrian Arab Republic)

The post 4 February 2019 – Gbagbo to go to Belgium, and US Courts find Syria liable for journalist killing under FSIA appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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ICC Appeals Chamber decide, after hearing, that Gbagbo and Ble Goude can be released with condition: On 1 February 2019, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided unanimously that conditions will be imposed on Mr. Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Charles Blé Goudé, once they are released to a State willing and able to enforce the conditions set by the Appeals Chamber. On 15 January 2019, Trial Chamber I, by majority, acquitted both men of all charges, and the following day found there were no exceptional circumstances preventing their release.  The conditions of their release are soon to be set out in written form. (ICC).

Mavi Marmara. Photo: alresalah.ps via Bing (CC).

Statute conference in Turinabo et al case schedule before MICT: On 30 January 2019, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ordered a status conference for the case of Turinabo et al. The purpose of a status conferences is to organise exchanges between the parties, review the status of the case, and to allow the accused the opportunity to raise issues in relating to their detention, including their mental and physical condition. (MICT).

Appeals Chamber rejects Prosecution’s request for suspensive effect on PTC order for Flotilla case reconsideration: On 31 January 2019, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC rejected the Prosecutor’s request for suspensive effect with respect to the Decision on the Application for Judicial Review by the Government of the Union of the Comoros. The Appeals Chamber failed to find compelling reasons within the Prosecutor’s request, chiefly because the Prosecution’s reconsideration of the matter would not be affected by any future appeals. (ICC-AC).

The post 1 February 2019 – Prosecution not granted suspensive effect during Flotilla reconsideration appeal; and statute conference schedule in Turinabo case appeared first on ICL Media Review.

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