ICJ Media Review: Appeals Chamber overturns acquittal & convicts Seselj of crimes against humanity. Sentenced to time served

Like Vojislav Seselj
Friday, April 13, 2018 - 12:57

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about Seselj’s overturned acquittal before the MICT Appeals Chamber, Special Tribunal for Lebanon closing briefs scheduled, ICC jurisdiction over deportation of Rohingya, ICC and Special Criminal Court prosecutors in CAR affirm cooperation and more

Appeals Chamber overturns acquittal & convicts Seselj of crimes against humanity. Sentenced to time served

Vojislav Seselj, the former President of the Serbian Radical Party and member of the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, was previously acquitted of all charges by the UN ICTY Trial Chamber on 31 March 2016. In the public judgment of 11 April 2018, the UN MICT Appeals Chamber partially reversed Mr Seselj’s acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity and convicted him of committing crimes against humanity through instigating persecution, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution in Hrtkovci, Vojvodina. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber erred in failing to consider the parallel between Mr. Seselj’s inflammatory speech in Hrtkovci on 6 May 1992, calling for the expulsion of the Croatian population, and the subsequent violence against the non-Serb civilian population in Hrtkovci.

The Appeals Chamber also found that the Trial Chamber erred in failing to find the existence of a widespread and systematic attack against the non-Serb civilian population in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This failure was the basis upon which Mr Seselj was acquitted of crimes against humanity. Consequently, the Appeals Chamber sentenced Mr Seselj to ten years in prison. However, it declared the sentence served because of the time he had already spent in detention. In the Indictment, confirmed on 14 February 2003, Vojislav Seselj was charged with planning, ordering, instigating, committing or otherwise aiding and abetting the crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. He was alleged to have participated in the crimes as part of a Joint Criminal Enterprise by propagating war, inciting hatred towards non-Serb people and instigating volunteer units and other Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to commit crimes. The judgment of 11 April 2018 is the second judgment rendered by the MICT. (UN MICT Appeal Judgement SummaryBalkan Insight)

Lebanon tribunal schedules filing of final briefs and oral closing arguments in June 2018 in the Ayyash et al. case

In the main case before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al., the Trial Chamber scheduled oral closing arguments for the period between 25 June and 6 July 2018. The Trial Chamber also ordered the Prosecutor, Defence counsel, and the Legal Representative of Victims to file their final trial briefs by 4 June 2018, with responses due on 18 June. The scheduling order follows the closing of the Prosecution case on 7 February 2018 against the four accused, who are charged with crimes relating to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the killing of 21 others in Beirut on 14 February 2005. The proceedings against the accused are being held in absentia at the Tribunal in The Hague. (STL Press Release)

ICC OTP requests ruling on jurisdiction over alleged deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh

On 9 April 2018, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) requested the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to rule on the question of jurisdiction, under Article 19(3) of the ICC Rome Statute, over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. In accordance with Article 12(2)(a) of the Statue, the ICC has territorial jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a state party. Therefore, the OTP’s request is limited to the alleged crime of deportation across the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh.Myanmar, where other crimes are alleged to have been perpetrated, is not a state party to the Rome Statute. But Bangladesh is. The OTP argues that Article 12(2)(a) requires at least one of the constituent elements of an Article 5 crime, i.e. crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC occurring on a state party’s territory. Thus, the territorial jurisdiction clause covers a crime committed in “whole or in part”within the territory of a state party. The OTP also distinguishes forcible transfer from cross-border deportation as a distinct crime under Article 7(1)(d).

The OTP argues that there are reliable sources for establishing that the crime of deportation has been committed against the Rohingya population. The filing makes reference to the reports of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights, the UN Human Rights Council Independent International Fact-Finding Mission in Myanmar, the UNHRC, renowned NGOs, available video footage and other open sources as well as 42 individual communications received under Article 15. The material cited in the Request alleges that Myanmar security forces, acting in concert with other individuals have  deported  over 670,000 ethnic Rohingya to Bangladesh since August 2017. Even though the request is limited to the crime of deportation, the Request listed numerous other alleged acts which may constitute crimes against humanity and genocide committed against the Rohingya population in Myanmar. The Request suggests that these acts alone have prompted the mass flow of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh. In the same filing, the OTP stresses the importance of criminal jurisdiction over enforced migration as an “acute international concern at the present time.” This request is the first time in the ICC history that the OTP has filed a brief under Article 19(3). The ruling of the Pre-Trial Chamber will assist the ICC Prosecutor in deciding whether to open a preliminary examination into the situation. (ICC OTP RequestThe Guardian)

ICC prosecutor calls for end to violence in Gaza

On 8 April 2018, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for an end to violence in the deteriorating situation in Gaza, particularly in light of recent violence by the Israeli Defence Forces against civilians participating in demonstrations. Bensouda highlighted that violence against civilians and the use of civilians to shield military activities could constitute war crimes. The situation in Palestine is under preliminary investigation by the prosecutor. Although Israel is not a state party to the Rome statute, Palestine has been admitted as a member of the ICC and any crimes committed on the territory of a member may fall within ICC jurisdiction. (ICCReutersReliefwebEuro NewsY Net News)

MICT commemorates the international day of reflection on the 1994 Rwandan genocide

On 7 April 2018, the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) participated in the commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The events were held in Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Tanzania. The genocide resulted in the deaths of around 800,000 people. MICT representatives at each event reiterated their commitment to ensuring that the atrocities were not forgotten. The MICT was established in 2010 to continue the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which ceased operation in 2015. (UNMICT)

ICC and Special Criminal Court prosecutors confirm their willingness to cooperate

The ICC prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda and the prosecutor of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic (CAR) have signed a declaration of their intention to cooperate between their two jurisdictions. The declaration came during Bensouda’s visit to the CAR on 21-23 March 2018 as part of a training programme for the examining magistrates and judges of the SCC. The SCC has been established to investigate serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed in the country since 2003. In a statement issued on 28 March 2018, Bensouda highlighted the need for cooperation between the ICC and the CAR to bring an end to the recurring cycle of violence in the African state. The legislation establishing the court was passed in 2015, and judges and other staff have recently been appointed. At the end of 2014, the ICC prosecutor opened a second investigation into the situation in the CAR and has since been collecting evidence related to crimes committed there. (Info Plus GabonCourt Penale Speciale

Activists in Myanmar say Facebook used to assist genocide

A group of Myanmar civil society organisations complained in an open letter to to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the social media platform is being used to incite harm against the country’s Rohingya population. New research suggests that there was a spike in hate speech on Facebook following the military campaign in western Rakhine state in August 2017, which has been described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing, suggesting extremists used the platform to escalate the conflict. (CNN)

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