In this week’s review, news about the ICC’s annual Preliminary Examination report, the Prosecutor’s decision on reconsideration of the preliminary examination concerning the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, calls to investigate crimes against humanity in the Philippines, submissions on the closing of the Colombia tribunal’s investigation against Meas Muth, and more
ICC prosecutor’s office publishes annual report on Preliminary Examinations
On 4 December, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court published its seventh annual Report on Preliminary Examinations. These reports are prepared in November each year and provide an overview of the preliminary examination activities conducted during the reporting period, including a summary of the current status of each investigation. The current report details ten situations under consideration for investigation during the period between 1 October 2016 and 30 November 2017. This includes three situations in the “Subject Matter Jurisdiction” phase including the situations in the Gabonese Republic, Palestine and Ukraine; four situations in the “Admissibility” phase including in Columbia, Guinea, Iraq/UK and Nigeria; and three completed investigations including in Burundi and Afghanistan, and the situation on the Registered Vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia. (Office of the Prosecutor, Full Report)
Amnesty calls on ICC to investigate alleged crimes against humanity in the Philippines
On 4 December, Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement calling for the ICC to urgently open a preliminary examination into alleged crimes against humanity committed in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines. Amnesty’s call comes amid growing reports of crimes against humanity allegedly being committed against children in anti-drug operations in the country. “It is time for international justice mechanisms to step in and end the carnage on Philippine streets by bringing the perpetrators to justice. The country’s judiciary and police have proven themselves both unwilling and unable to hold the killers in the ‘war on drugs’ to account,” said James Gomez, AI’ Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In the statement, AI points the finger to President Duterte and other high-level government officials, alleging their involvement in commanding the killings. “The ICC must act now. We believe the “war on drugs” meets the threshold of crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute, and international pressure is needed to persuade the Philippine authorities to change course,” concluded Gomez. (Amnesty International)
ICC Prosecutor makes decision on reconsideration of closing Preliminary Examination on Gaza Freedom Flotilla
On 30 November, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor filed her decision, reaffirming her previous decision regarding the Situation on registered vessels of the Union of the Comoros, et al. In July 2015, the Pre-Trial Chamber granted a request by the Government of Comoros for the Prosecution to reconsider its November 2014 determination on the matter. This request was in turn upheld on 6 November 2015 by the Appeals Chamber. The Pre-Trial Chamber found in July 2015, that the Prosecution had committed material errors in its decision not to investigate, which impacted its analysis regarding further investigation. However, in its 30 November decision, the OTP states that arguments made by the Union of the Comoros and legal representatives of the victims were unable to demonstrate that the 2014 Decision was unreasonable or legally incorrect, and therefore maintains the decision to close the Preliminary Examination on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
The Examination having been prompted by the 2010 boarding of the Mavi Marmara by Israel Defense Force personnel; an incident which saw 10 passengers kill and up to 50 passengers wounded. The Prosecutor noted that the decision did not discount the possibility that the killings could amount to war crimes. Stating rather, that the acts lacked the “sufficient gravity” required by the Rome Statute to open an investigation. Moreover, the Prosecutor sought to stress the finality of the decision, and that it was subject only to her ongoing discretion, as provided for under Article 53(4) of the Rome Statute (OTP).
Two convicted of crimes against humanity in Argentinian courts for 1976-83 murders and torture
On 29 November, two former navy officers in Argentina were sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed between 1976 and 1983 under military rule. The two defendants in question, captains Alfredo Astiz and Jorge Eduardo Acosta, were found guilty of involvement in the torture and murder of hundreds of political opponents during the ruling decade of the military junta. They were among the 54 people who were tried for alleged crimes committed at the Naval Mechanical School, or Esma, a widely-known Buenos Aires navy school that was used as a clandestine torture centre during those years. The trial initially opened in 2012, focusing on crimes committed at Esma against 789 victims. Both Astiz and Acosta had also been sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for other counts of torture, murder and forced disappearance. (BBC)
13 arrested in Bosnia on allegations of crimes against ethnic Serbs
In Bosnia, police have arrested 13 people suspected of war crimes against ethnic Serbs during the civil war which occurred between 1992 and 1995. Prosecutors allege that the 13 people are former officials in the Bosnian army, territorial defence forces and the interior ministry, suspected of the murder, rape, persecution and expulsion of civilians during the period of the conflict. (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, B92)
International arrest warrant against former ICTY accused Ramush Haradinaj removed
An international arrest warrant issued against Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has been lifted. Earlier this year Serbia issued the warrant for the arrest of Mr Haradinaj in regards to his suspected involvement in war crimes while leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Mr Haradinaj was initially arrested in France but his extradition to Belgrade was refused and the warrant remained outstanding. Interpol has now lifted the warrants on Mr Haradinaj and 17 others in Kosovo who are alleged to have been involved in war crimes. Mr Haradinaj has twice been tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for war crimes and crimes against humanity and been acquitted on both occasions. (Business Insider)
Final Submission of Co-Prosecutors filed at the Colombia tribunal for conclusion of Meas Muth investigation
On 14 November, the Co-Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia filed their final submissions in Case 003 to the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges. Case 003 concerns Meas Muth, who held various senior positions in the armed forces during the Democratic Kampuchea regime and who the Co-Prosecutors allege is responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide. The National and International Co-Prosecutors filed separate submissions in this case reflecting their differing views on whether the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges should file an indictment against Meas Muth. While the submissions themselves are confidential, the Co-Prosecutors have released a public statement summarising the contents of the submissions. (ECCC, Phnom Penh Post)