Week 2 2017 ICL Media Review

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Sunday, January 15, 2017 - 12:00

15 January 2017 - Weekly ICJ Media Review

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the ICC’s legal aid system, former Kosovo PM released in France, former Chadian president appeals against torture and rape conviction, and much more.

ICC exteriorReport released on ICC legal aid system

A report assessing the International Criminal Court’s Legal Aid System recommends new processes to ensure greater transparency and fairness. Commissioned by the court’s Registry, the report notes that the Registry must be able to account for spending on legal aid, and the budget should be seen in light of the court’s financial context. The report’s recommendations broadly cover the list system and resources, and the procedure for monitoring fees. These include recommendations on developing the process for selecting/assigning counsel to ensure greater fairness and transparency, the team composition, where during the appeal and reparations stages the lead counsel would determine the team composition within the allocated budget, remuneration, and the redefining of the expenses budget to cover only case-related personal costs. In addition, the report recommends applying three types of procedures for fee claims: hourly timesheets, fixed monthly fees, and lump sum per stage. (International Criminal Court Bar Association)

French Court releases formerly acquitted ICTY accused, Haradinaj, on judicial supervision

On 12 January, former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj was released from detention after his arrest on 4 January on a Serbian arrest warrant.  The French appeals court in Colmar ordered his release but decided he must stay in France under judicial supervision with his passport surrendered while the court considers the extradition request. These include accusations of unlawful detention of civilians in Kosovo in 1999 who were allegedly tortured, raped and abused or killed.  During the hearing held on 12 January before the appeal court, Haradinaj is quoted as telling the court “These accusations from Serbia are purely political. What you are doing here is an abuse of rights.”  Haradinaj has previously appeared before the UN’s tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in two separate trials and was acquitted of war crimes in both. (Balkan Insight, RT, B92RFI)

Appeal begins in Habre case before the Extraordinary African Chambers

On 9 January 2016, the hearings in the appeal trial of former Chad President Hissene Habre started before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC), a special tribunal created by the African Union and Senegal. During Habre’s presidency from 1982 to 1990, it is alleged that up to 40,000 people were killed and many more kidnapped, raped or tortured. On 30 May 2016, the EAC found Mr. Habre guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. On 29 July 2016, the EAC rendered its decision on the civil aspect and ordered Mr. Habre to pay compensation to victims: 20 million CFA francs for each victim of rape or sexual slavery, 15 million CFA francs for each victim of  arbitrary detention, torture and war crimes and 10 million CFA francs for each indirect victim. This conviction, result of a “three-decade battle for justice led by Habre’s victims”, is not only “the first of a former head of state by an African court for crimes against humanity but also the first time a former head of state was found personally guilty of rape by an international court”. While Mr. Habre refused to recognize the EAC’s authority, his court-appointed lawyers appealed the decision on his behalf. They alleged several errors of fact and law and irregularities in the trial and argued that it was politically motivated. Defence lawyer Mbaye Sene told the court the judgment should be “thrown out” as there was “not a shred of proof for the guilt of president Habre“. They questioned the credibility of some witnesses and in particular, Mrs. Khadidja Zidane’s testimony who stated she was raped four times by the former president. The hearings began with the Defence’s request to see appeal judge Bara Gueye dismissed, on the basis that the judge had presided over a previous hearing where the accused was a claimant. While the President of the Court of appeal, Judge Wafi Ougadeye, rejected the Defence request stating that there was no nexus between the two matters, he granted Habré’s request to not appear during the appeal hearings. The Defence lawyers focused more on the life sentence than on the conviction. The civil parties lawyers also lodged an appeal. A final decision should be rendered before the end of April 2017  (US NewsThe Guardian, YahooAFPCUForum Chambres AfricainesForum CAE)

Expert testifies to ECCC on possible manipulation of human remains

In Case 002 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) against former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, expert witness Voeun Vuthy has concluded his testimony with a firm rejection of the defence’s suggestion that the skeletal remains left by executions conducted at gravesite Choeung Ek could have been moved from another location. Vuthy, an archaeologist, provided expert evidence on the number of human remains found at the site and the possible causes of death, and stated clearly that “I have not yet seen any evidence that the victims were exhumed and then reburied,” particularly given that soil samples from the bones consistently matched that of the surrounding grave site. The debate over whether the remains had been moved was prompted by Nuon Chea’s defence lawyer’s argument that Vietnamese soldiers could have planted some of the remains in the mass graves. Vuthy’s testimony was followed by a reiteration by Khieu Samphan’s defence that Samphan was unaware of the extent of the crimes. (The Phnom Penh Post)

ECCC concludes investigation in Case 003 accused, Meas Muth

In a possible upcoming Case 003 at the ECCC against former Khmer Rouge naval commander Meas Muth, the Court’s initial investigation has now concluded, after almost eight years. Cambodian news outlets have reported that the conclusion of the investigation brings Case 003 one step closer to going to trial at the ECCC, although judges may still decide not to proceed to trial. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has opposed any new cases at the ECCC beyond the current Case 002 ongoing before the Court – warning that the continuation of prosecutions could bring Cambodia to the brink of civil war. Charges were brought against the subject of Case 003, Meas Muth, for genocide and war crimes in 2015 for alleged acts including extermination and enslavement committed during his time as navy chief. Now that the investigation into the charges has concluded, parties have 30 days to request further investigations. Prosecutors will then finalise their submission and ECCC judges will decide on this basis whether to proceed to trial. (The Cambodia Daily)

EU provides grant to African human rights system

The EU has signed a €1.8 million grant contract which completes a five-part series of contracts through which the EU will provide approximately €10 million to strengthen the African human rights system under the EU Pan/African Programme (PANAF). The primary goal of the latest contract, which was signed with the Pan-African Parliament, will be to facilitate the ratification and implementation of African Union human rights instruments amongst all African Union members. The contract also foresees cooperation between the European Parliament of the EU and the Pan-African Parliament regarding the formulation of legislation in the field of human rights. The previous four grant contracts were signed with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. (EIN News)

Amnesty calls for justice reform in CAR to prevent impunity for war crimes

Amnesty International has released a report strongly calling for major investment in the Central African Republic’s justice system, warning that without serious reform the country will be unable to quell the instability, impunity and mass human rights violations that have occurred since December 2012. The report spotlights the ongoing presence in senior positions of power held by multiple individuals involved closely in recent atrocities, and states that “the only long-term solution to this entrenched impunity is the comprehensive overhaul of CAR’s national justice system, including by rebuilding its courts, prisons and police force.” Regarding impunity prevalent throughout the CAR, Amnesty highlighted that none of the ten people named on a UN sanctions list have been arrested nor investigated, and similarly, that of the 21 people Amnesty identified in July 2014 as reasonable suspects of international crimes – including crimes against humanity and war crimes – only two have been arrested. Finally, the report notes that though important progress has been made towards establishing a hybrid Special Criminal Court (SCC), the court still lacks adequate funding and will need more sustained support to establish, for example, effective witness protection programmes. The report was based on dozens of interviews with magistrates, prosecutors, members and advisors to the Minister of Justice, lawyers, and victims in the Central African Republic. (AmnestyInternational Business Times)

Trial against Jovan Tintor, Karadzic’s former adviser, begins in Sarajevo

On 9 January 2017, the trial of Jovan Tintor started before the Bosnian state court in Sarajevo. Tintor was the former president of the Crisis Committee of the Vogosca municipality, the former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic’s adviser and the head of the Serb Democratic Party in Vogosca. He is charged with “eight counts of having participated in a widespread and systematic attack against the non-Serb population in the municipality from April 1992 to the end of July that year” such as unlawful detention, torture, forced labour and murdering Bosniak and Croat victims notably in detention camps. The prosecution alleges that these alleged crimes resulted in the deportation of almost the entire Bosniak and Croat population from the Vogosca area by the end of 1992. Mr. Tintor pleaded not guilty. Nina Kisic, one of the defence lawyers, acknowledged that he has been the president of the Crisis Committee of the Vogosca municipality but said that another person took over in the end of May 1992. The Defence lawyer denied the allegations of widespread and systematic attack and argued that his client was “not involved in any criminal activities”. Mr. Tintor’s trial will resume on 16 January 2017. Mr. Karadzic was convicted of genocide by the ICC and the case has gone to appeal. (Balkan Insight)

UN to establish task force to develop a strategy to combat sexual violence

On 6 January, the UN announced the establishment of a high-level task force to strengthen the organization’s approach to preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse. Aimed at developing a “clear, game-changing strategy” to achieve “visible and measurable further improvement, the task force will use the upcoming Report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation to present its strategy. The newly appointed UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that he wants the strategy developed “as a matter of urgency,” and that Member States and relevant organizations across the UN System are to be widely consulted. (UN News Centre)

US sanctions N. Korean officials over human rights abuses

On 11 January 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a statement saying that it has added seven senior North Korean officials, including Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, and the Minister of State Security Kim Won Hong, to its sanctions list. The sanctions were aimed at exposing individuals responsible for the severe human rights abuses in North Korea, which include torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. (Yahoo News)




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