Week 11 2017 ICL Media Review

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Friday, March 17, 2017 - 17:51

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the ICC summoning South Africa to appear, no revision of a genocide ruling at the ICJ, Sri Lanka’s domestic investigation, and more

ICC summons S. Africa representative over failure to apprehend al-Bashir

Officials from South Africa have been asked to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 7 April 2017, in connection with the country’s failure to apprehend Omar Hassan al-Bashir in June 2015. The Court had issued an order to arrest the Sudanese President when he visited the state two years ago. The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has submitted an amicus curiae observation to the court on determining South Africa’s legal obligations and compliance implications resulting from the failure to arrest Al Bashir. SALC’s submission posits that South Africa had clear domestic (as well as international) legal obligations to arrest and surrender the president to the ICC, and presents evidence to show that South Africa actively facilitated Al Bashir’s escape or, at minimum, failed to comply with its duty to surrender him to the ICC. SALC first addresses the South African domestic legal framework; second, outlines the facts of Al Bashir’s entry and exit; third, identifies documentation evidencing the entry and exit; and fourth, emphasizes the importance of a formal finding on South Africa’s non-compliance. On this basis, SALC submitted that South Africa failed to comply with its obligations under the Rome Statute by not arresting and surrendering Al Bashir to the Court while he was on South Africa’s territory, and that these circumstances warrant a formal finding of non-compliance and referral of the matter to the UN Security Council. (Reuters AfricaICC Amicus Submissions)

ICJ rejects Serbia request to revise decision in genocide judgment

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has denied a request to revise its ruling on Bosnia’s genocide lawsuit. In the 2007 ruling, it was found that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica, but that Serbia was not liable. The decision arose after confusion as to whether Bosnia-Herzegovina had the intention to request a revision. In May 2016, the ICJ received a letter from Sakib Softic in which he inquired whether he was validly appointed as representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the case of a proceeding for the revision of the judgment. The Court subsequently received letters from Mladen Ivanic, member of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Igor Crnadak, minister for Foreign Affairs, in which they stated that no decision had been adopted by the President regarding the institution of new proceedings. The Court held that no decision had been taken by the competent authorities, on behalf of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state, to request the revision of the judgment. (b92)

ICC rejects Ongwen Defence leave to appeal order over medical records

In the case against former Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen at the ICC, judges rejected a Defence request over medical records. Previously, Trial Chamber IX had ordered the Defence to immediately disclose the medical records of Ongwen – the records had been referred to in a psychiatric report commissioned by the Defence – but on 27 February 2017 the Defence requested leave to appeal this order. On 10 March 2017, Trial Chamber IX rejected this request to appeal. It did so on the basis that the issue on which the Defence requested leave to appeal does not concern whether the medical records will be disclosed, but rather the timing for the disclosure, and this issue of timing is not one that will significantly affect the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings or the outcome of the trial. Further, the Court noted that they did not see how proceedings would be significantly tainted from disclosure of Ongwen’s medical records even if they are disclosed before the Defence decides whether to raise Ongwen’s mental health as a ground excluding criminal responsibility. (ICC TC Decision)

Sri Lanka seeks two more years for investigation after Tamils insists on int’l mechanism

On 13 March 2017, the Sri Lankan Government sought a two-year extension of the timeline for fulfilment of commitments made in Resolution 30/1– the UN Human Rights body resolution taken in October 2015 granting Sri Lanka 18 months to initiate a credible investigation into the civil war with the LTTE. This comes after the 11 March 2016 call from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka’s main ethnic Tamil party, urging the Government to fulfil its commitments to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “through an appropriate mechanism to probe into the alleged war crimes committed during the civil war with the LTTE”. According the Tamil National People’s Front Spokesman S Kajendran, the government did nothing and the “TNA has excluded the opinion of the majority of Tamils.”  Last month, the UNHRC criticised the Sri Lanka’s slow progress “in addressing its wartime past and reiterated its earlier call for hybrid court of international and local judges to investigate allegations of rights violations”. (New Indian ExpressDNA India)

Former UN investigator into North Korea urges HR Council to pursue case

Marzuki Darusman, a veteran investigator who served on the UN commission of inquiry on North Korea, has urged the UN Human Rights Council to appoint an international legal expert to oversee judicial proceedings against North Korea’s leadership for crimes against humanity. The UN commission of inquiry’s 2014 report outlined massive violations in the country, which included large prison camps, starvation and executions, and recommended that such violations be brought to the International Criminal Court. In addition, Darusman stated that a new ad hoc tribunal on North Korea should be set up. (Reuters)

UN special rapporteur says Myanmar military and police abuse amount to crimes against humanity

Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, has said that the actions of the military and police against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority amount to crimes against humanity. Lee has said that the abuse was ‘systematic’ within the Buremese security forces, but that the government also has to “answer and respond to these massive cases of horrific torture and very inhumane crimes”. The Burmese government has set up its own investigation, but it has been criticized by Ms Lee for being dominated by military men and for its methodology. She is due to present her findings to the UN Human Rights Council and will call for a commission of inquiry to be established. (BBC News)

ICL Media Review is an independent UK Small Charity which aims to provide a daily survey of news and developments affecting international criminal law and international human rights in a neutral and impartial manner.


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