ICJ Media Review: There is enough evidence to convict Assad, says war crimes expert Carla Del Ponte

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Friday, August 18, 2017 - 22:36

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the ICC’s new Libyan arrest warrant, the ICC and Colombia’s post-conflict justice, evidence on Ukrainian crimes give to the OTP, MICT and accused communications, Del Ponte’s Syria Inquiry resignation, the Mali attack on a peacekeeping base and more:

ICC issues arrest warrant against Al-Werfalli for Libya war crimes

On 15 August 2017, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC issued a public arrest warrant against Libyan national, Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, for the war crime of murder under Article 8(c)(i) of the Rome Statute.  The arrest warrant stated that it was issued for Al-Werfalli’s alleged criminal responsibility for the killing of 33 people during seven incidents in and around Benghazi from 3 June 2016 to 17 July 2017.  

Jurisdiction for the arrest warrant is by way of UN Security Council Resolution 1970 which gave the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed in Libya from February 2011 to date.  The arrest warrant requested the Registry of the Court to transmit the arrest warrant and requests for cooperation to the competent authorities of Libya and other States for cooperation in executing the arrest warrant.  (ICC PTC arrest warrantICC Press ReleaseReuters)

Bensouda to visit Colombia; Colombia’s post-conflict justice mechanism receives war crimes files

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will visit Colombia in September to gather information regarding the status of domestic-level war crime investigations concerning some of Colombia’s top military commanders, including the commander of the armed forces, General Juan Pablo Rodriguez, 23 other generals and six corporals. The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor is currently conducting a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes committed since 1 November 2009 and alleged crimes against humanity committed since 1 November 2002 in Colombia.

In this respect, the OTP is considering whether an investigation would be admissible to the ICC based on whether national courts are dealing with the alleged crimes, and Bensouda’s visit is intended to inform this assessment. The Prosecutor visit was announced as Colombia’s transitional justice body stated that it had received 12,000 case files for alleged war criminals stemming from the decades long civil war between the Colombian government and FARC armed group. Of these case files, 4,500 were requested by soldiers already in jail, who will likely be released from prison as they await their new trials due to their participation in the transitional justice system.  

The Defense Ministry has sent an additional 7,494 case files of members of the military who have either been convicted or investigated on war crimes charges, to the transitional justice system. Moreover, difficulties have arisen around the time allowed by the State Council to classify alleged crimes as war crimes. This will conclude by October 2017, paving the way for the transitional justice tribunal and the truth commission to take force.  (Colombia Reports, Colombia Reports)

Ukrainian prosecutor’s office gives OTP evidence of Ilovaisk murders of military personnel

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has submitted evidence to the ICC’s OTP following the former’s investigation into the murder of Ukrainian military personnel in Ilovaisk in the Donetsk region, which the Ukrainian Prosecutor alleges was a war crime. The evidence is based on an examination of a significant volume of documents detailing the reform of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from 2005 to 2014; military documents regarding operations conducted in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions; and the questioning of witnesses and victims.

The OTP at the ICC is currently conducting a preliminary examination into alleged crimes committed in the context of the “Maidan” protests since 21 November and other events in Ukraine since 20 February 2014. In this respect, the OTP is currently assessing whether the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction. (Middle East North Africa Financial Network)

MICT Registrar explores methods of electronic communication with The Hague detention unit

At the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), the Registrar has filed a submission to the President of the Court in the case of the Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadzic, wherein it sets out its exploration of options for the use of electronic communication in the ongoing case. This follows the Order for Submissions of 12 June 2017 in relation to the Appeal of Registrar’s Decision on Skype of 8 May 2017.

The Registry, in this respect, submitted that it has consulted various parties – including the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency, the ICRC (regarding standard operating procedures for secure video communication in other countries), and the Norwegian authorities (who are running a pilot programme of ‘Skype for Business’ in a Dutch prison) – to inform its consideration of the use of electronic communication at the Court. (MICT Court Filing)

UN Sec Gen condemns attack on UN peacekeepers in Mali as possible war crimes

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has stressed that a recent attack against UN peacekeepers in Mali may constitute a war crime under international law. His remarks follow an attack on 14 August 2017 by unidentified men on the UN peacekeeping force headquarters in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu, which killed seven and injured seven others.

Those killed include five UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) security guards, one member of the Mali National Police and one civilian contractor working for MINUSMA, in addition to six assailants. A Malian security guard and six peacekeepers were also wounded in the incident. Two neighbouring UN camps were targeted the same day, killing a further two. MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, was deployed as a 12,000 strong force to Mali in 2013. (Al Jazeera, CNN)

Del Ponte says enough evidence on Assad for WC after resigning from Commission of Inquiry

Carla del Ponte has reportedly said that there is enough evidence to convict Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of war crimes. Del Ponte is quoted as saying that all parties to the Syrian conflict have committed war crimes and that the Assad government has committed crimes against humanity. One week earlier, Del Ponte announced her resignation from the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria due to frustration with the UN Security Council’s inaction over such crimes.  (Reuters, Special Broadcasting Service)

Photos: U.S. Mission Photo / Eric Bridiers

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