ICJ Media Review: Dutchman to be tried in the Netherlands for war crimes during Ethiopian war

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Friday, October 27, 2017 - 00:34

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the deliberate famine as a war crime, Int’l Law Commission, war crimes trial in NL for Ethiopian war, ICC asset recovery conference, Sri Lankan transitional justice, finding on Liberian war crimes in the US and MICT project on DU video calls

UN Rapporteur on right to food says deliberate famine could be war crime

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver, has stated that “if the famine comes from deliberate action of the State or other players using food as a weapon of war, it is an international crime,” specifying further that famine may constitute a war crime or a crime against humanity, and making the point that more civilians die from hunger and disease related to conflicts than in the conduct of hostilities. The statements were made in connection with the report the Special Rapporteur presented to the General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues – she also highlighted that an estimated 70 million people across 45 countries are currently in need of food aid. (UN News Centre)

International Law Commission reviews drafts of crimes against humanity

The Sixth Committee (responsible for legal issues) of the UN General Assembly has begun its comprehensive consideration of the International Law Commission’s report on its 69thsession, during which the ILC adopted a complete set of draft articles on crimes against humanity, and (separately) concluded considerations on the remaining draft guidelines on the “provisional application of treaties.” In presenting the draft articles on crimes against humanity, ILC Chair Georg Nolte highlighted that among the three core international crimes, only crimes against humanity lacked a treaty focused on building up national laws, national jurisdiction and inter‑State cooperation in the fight against impunity; if adopted on second reading, the ILC draft articles would provide a model treaty for States to fill this gap. In the 6th Committee discussion that followed, representatives including those from Mexico, Switzerland, and China requested clarification on the draft articles on topics including the rights of victims, conflicting requests for extradition, and criminalization under national law. (Relief Web)

Dutchman to be tried in the Netherlands for war crimes during Ethiopian war

Following an investigation conducted by the International Crimes Team of the Dutch police, a Dutchman will face charges in the Netherlands on 30th October 2017 for war crimes he allegedly committed in Ethiopia in the 1970s. He is accused of ordering the killing of 75 detainees and being responsible for the incarceration and inhumane treatment of over 200 opponents of former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. The man has already been sentenced to death in absentia by an Ethiopian court. His trial in the Netherlands will involve statements of several Ethiopian witnesses. (Reuters)

Conference held on ICC Asset Recover

A conference entitled “The ICC and International Cooperation: The Challenges of Asset Recovery” took place in Paris on 20 October, sponsored by the facilitators of the Working Group on Cooperation of States Parties to the Rome Statute. The conference focused on identifying concrete ways to strengthen cooperation between the ICC and key actors in this issue – ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda commented that “In today’s inter-connected and borderless world, money moves as fast as ever. As a result, we are committed to a coordinated strategy whereby expertise and information is shared, within the relevant legal frameworks and as appropriate.” The conference also discussed the draft Paris Declaration on Cooperation in Asset Recovery, which will be proposed for adoption at the next Assembly of ICC States Parties. Senior State officials, ICC officers, international experts in financial investigations, representatives of regional and international organisations, and members of civil society attended the conference. (ICC Press Release)

UN Rapporteur for Transitional Justice notes delays in addressing war crimes in Sri Lanka

On 23 October 2017, the UN special rapporteur for transitional justice, Pablo de Greiff criticised Sri Lanka’s delays in dealing with allegations of war crimes and other human rights violations relating to the civil war. De Grieff said the government had not addressed many of the issues he had raised more than two years ago, including civilian lands occupied by the military, its anti-terror law, timely prosecution of terror suspects and intimidating forms of surveillance. If it did not take steps to ensure a credible investigation, he said Sri Lanka risked action by foreign jurisdictions. In August 2017, the International Truth and Justice Project filed war crimes lawsuits in Brazil and Colombia against former Sri Lankan general Jagath Jayasuriya, then ambassador to Latin America. (DWAl JazeeraBBC)

MICT Secretariat launches pilot project of video calls from detention unit

On 20 October 2017, the MICT Secretariat announced plans for a pilot project to allow detainees to make video calls. It follows several requests by Radovan Karadzic, most recently on 10 October 2017, to be allowed to access the internet and use Skype. At the moment, detainees are only allowed to receive and send letters, make telephone calls and receive visitors. (Balkan Insight)

Liberian man convicted in US federal courts of immigration fraud for lying about war crimes involvement

On 18 October 2017, 51-year-old Mohammed Jabateh, a former Liberian warlord was convicted of immigration fraud in Philadelphia, USA. 17 witnesses flown in from Liberia testified to as to Jabateh’s past, and named him as the perpetrator of acts of murder, rape, enslavement and cannibalism, thereby demonstrating that Jabateh lied in his asylum application. Witnesses identified him by his nom de guerre, Jungle Jabbah’.  Jabateh claimed he was a victim of former President Charles Taylor’s autocratic regime, fleeing Liberia in 1997 to seek asylum after being imprisoned and tortured by Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia. Sentencing is yet to take place, though with a possible 30-year sentence alongside eventual deportation being available, Jabateh’s lawyer did not discount the possibility of an appeal.  The conviction has reportedly sparked discussion in Liberia as to whether this will prompt further investigations into other former rebel leaders, some of whom currently hold positions within the Liberian government. (Philly, CBS Philly)

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