ICL MEDIA REVIEW: Catch me if you can. Omar al-Bashir travels to Qatar for conference

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Friday, May 19, 2017 - 00:00

In this week's review, news about the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, Nuon Chea’s closing brief, the ICTY and Popovic, Mladic’s provisional release request, the ICC’s Chambers Practice Manual, appeal brief in the ICC contempt case, Bashir’s travel, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Brazil and more

ICC Trust Fund for Victims to initiate program for rehabilitation and support in Côte d’Ivoire

On 16 May, the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims at the ICC decided to launch a new assistance programme aimed at providing rehabilitation and support to victims of crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction in Côte d’Ivoire. Based upon the recommendation of the situation country assessment prepared by the Trust Fund Secretariat, the Board agreed “to provide physical, psychological rehabilitation and material support for the benefit of victims and their families”, while also exploring the possibility of collaborating with the local government to assist the victims in expressing their views and needs with respect to government-provided reparations programmes.

The Trust Fund foresees the assistance projects to start in Côte d’Ivoire in 2018 and has devolved 800,000 EUR towards them. “Today, the Board has taken an important first step towards helping victim survivors in Côte d’Ivoire move beyond the harm that they have suffered to rebuild their lives and to begin the journey of healing, regaining dignity, and creating a better future,” said Trust Fund Board Member Mama Koité Doumbia. After the Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire is now officially the third country in which the ICC Trust Fund will put into practice its assistance mandate. (ICC Press Release)

Nuon Chea asks for full acquittal in closing brief before the Cambodia Tribunal

In Case 002 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea has request acquittal for charges of genocide and forced marriage as a crime against humanity. The 550-page closing brief argues that Chea did not have sufficient authority to incur liability for the crimes, and also alleges judges’ bias, lying witnesses, and Vietnamese interference in the trial. Regarding forced marriage, the brief states that “The likely reason why the [Communist Party of Kampuchea’s] legitimate policies have been portrayed as inherently criminal is that the issue of sexual violence and particularly forced marriage has become the ‘hot topic’ in international criminal law.”

In response, the Prosecution has stated that “Both cadre and forced marriage victims testified to the practice . . . In the coercive environment of [Democratic Kampuchea], where even breaking a spoon could result in execution, few dared to refuse,” and further that “We believe that evidence consistently disproved the conspiracy theories and Khmer Rouge propaganda on which the Nuon Chea team chose to base their defence.” Judgment on the case is expected by mid-2018. Chean and Samphan are already serving life sentences for previous convictions. (Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia Daily)

ICTY denies Mladic request for provisional release; Russia criticises decision

On 11 May, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) denied accused and former commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces, Ratko Mladic’s request for provisional release. Noting that Maldic evaded arrest for 16 years and lived as a fugitive despite serious medical conditions, the Chamber stated that it was not convinced that the accused will “return to the seat of the Tribunal if granted provisional released”. After examining medical reports, the Chamber found that the Defence failed to demonstrate that the Accused was “receiving inadequate medical treatment” and that his health state was compatible with ongoing detention.  On 17 May 2017, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it did not understand why the ICTY had refused to temporarily release Mladic on medical grounds – stating that “the refusal to transfer the Serb for medical treatment is quite illustrative of The Hague’s justice. Previously, the ICTY used to sanction temporary release of convicts on much less weighty grounds. So, the tribunal’s decision and its arguments can cause nothing but bewilderment.”

Mladic had submitted a request for temporary release from his detention in the Hague, to undergo medical treatment in Russia, on 20 March 2017. Pointing to the fact that Mladic had evaded arrest for 16 years prior to his arrest and extradition in 2011, on 11 May 2017 the ICTY denied Mladic’s request for provisional release, on the basis that it was not convinced that the accused would “return to the seat of the Tribunal if granted provisional release.” (ICTY Press Release, The Republic, TASS Russian News)

Kosovo prosecutors charge Serb citizen with war crimes

Prosecutors from Kosovo and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) have accused a Serbian citizen of war crimes during the 1998-1999 war. The prosecutors’ statement alleged that the man killed four people, in addition to torturing and stealing from at least 25 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, in acts amounting to war crimes. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment. (ABC News)

ICC indicted Bashir travels to Qatar for conference; causes Western condemnation

Sitting Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has travelled to Doha in Qatar to participate in the 17th Doha Forum, a humanitarian conference which will address issues including refugees, investment in developing countries, and oil and gas. His travel comes despite two outstanding warrants for his arrest, issued by the ICC for crimes against humanity and genocide. Qatar is not a party to the Rome Statute. His appearance on a list of speakers at the conference caused the US, Canadian, and Australian ambassadors to boycott the event, while three European diplomats walked out of the event prior to Bashir’s speech. (Journal du CamerounReuters)

ICTY rejects Popovic motion for access to materials in Mladic case

On 23 January, counsel for International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) accused, Vujadin Popovic, filed a motion seeking access to confidential and inter parties materials from the case against Ratko Mladic. The Prosecution opposed the request. On 11 May 2017, the Trial Chamber noted that there was a nexus between the Popovic and the Mladic indictments with respect to alleged crimes committed in Srebrenica. In rejecting the Popovic’s request, the Chamber noted that the Popovic case was concluded in 2015 and that the request aimed to establish “a new fact capable of constituting the basis for a review application of Popovic’s conviction”. The Chamber found that the Defence “failed to demonstrate a legitimate forensic purpose for receiving access to the Materials”. Hence, the Chamber denied the request. (ICTY Chamber’s Decision)

ICC releases the third edition of Chambers Practice Manual

On 12 May, the third edition of the “Chambers Practice Manual” for the judges of the ICC was issued. As a result of the collective discussions held in October 2016, a new section addresses issues related to the preparation phase of trial proceedings. (ICC Press Release)

NGO files complaint with ICC Prosecution on genocide of gay community in Chechnya

Three gay rights groups in France have filed a complaint at the ICC accusing President Kadvrov of the Russian Republic of Chechnya of a policy of genocide against the gay community in Chechnya. The filing describes a “wave of persecution,” including arbitrary arrests, torture camps, and an incident where a 17-year old male was thrown from a ninth-story window. Russian President Putin backed an internal inquiry into the reported crackdown in Chechnya, but the French groups want the ICC to launch its own investigation. (BBC)

Jean-Jacques Mangenda files appeal brief in ICC contempt case

On 15 May, the defence team for Jean-Jacques Mangenda filed its appeals brief in the appeals proceedings concerning contempt connected to the main case against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. The brief sets out legal and factual errors which the defence submitted are “accompanied by a failure to give adequate or any explanation for rejecting relevant evidence or arguments especially in respect of Mr Mangenda”.

According to the Defence team, the only “appropriate remedy is to overturn all convictions against Mr Mangenda”. The appeals submission set out five grounds of appeal; namely that (1) the Chamber should not have admitted into evidence “the fruits of telephone surveillance authorised on the basis of financial records [obtained] without judicial authorization”; (2) by relying on discussions about the merits of the main case, the Court “violated the framework of the case set” at the start of trial; (3) the Chamber erred in law and in fact by failing “to define or apply a standard of ‘corruptly influencing a witness’” which included the element of intent while also failing “to distinguish between illicit coaching and witness preparation”; (4) the Chamber ignored the position of the Pre-Trial Chamber, independent counsel and prosecution on the “bribery-scheme”; and (5) the Chamber did not consider that calls were legitimate “pre-cut-off” contacts based on the date when they were placed.  Based on the grounds of appeal set out in the appeals brief, the defence for Mr. Mangenda asked that the Appeals Chamber overturn all convictions against him.  (ICC Submission)

Inter-American Court of Human Rights issues judgment on police abuses in Brazil

On 12 May, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a ruling condemning Brazil for police violence and for failing to ensure justice for the victims of the ‘Nova Brasília’ massacres that occurred more than 20 years ago. The latter refer to two incidents which occurred in October 1994 and May 1995 in Rio de Janeiro’s Complexo do Alemão favela, during which police officers raped three women, two of whom were minors at the time, and killed 26 people. The case was filed to the Court by two non-governmental organisations, the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Institute for Religious Studies (Instituto de Estudos da Religião – ISER).

In its ruling, the IACHR found that Brazil violated the rights to judicial guarantees and protections under the provision of the American Convention of Human Rights by failing to properly investigate and punish those who committed these crimes. The Court also ruled that the government should re-open investigations into the massacres and that victims and their families be compensated within one year’s time from the ruling.

“The ruling recognizes that the violence perpetrated by the public security agents of the state of Rio de Janeiro occurs systematically, and is frequently aided by omissions made by justice administrators,” said Beatriz Affonso, director of CEJIL’s Brazil program. The judgment also stipulates that Brazil must publish an annual report with data on deaths resulting from police intervention across the country, while also establishing policies and objectives aimed at reducing violence and police killings in Rio de Janeiro. (InSight CrimeIACHR ruling)

Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Trust Fund for Victims and ICTY/Flickr.

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