ICL Media Review: Nobel prize winners seek justice for sexual violence victims in conflicts

Like 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winners Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad
Monday, December 17, 2018 - 20:41

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the arrest of Ngaïssona under an ICC arrest warrant, the summoning of a KLA commander to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague, the MICT’s decision not to transfer the Turinabo case to Rwanda, postponement of the Appeals Chamber’s decision on the Lubanga reparations appeal, the OTP’s annual report on Preliminary Examinations, a complaint against Australia for crimes against humanty in Naura and Manus against migrants and more:

Nobel prize winners seek justice for sexual violence victims in conflicts

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winners have called for justice for the victims of sexual violence in conflicts around the world. Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State, received the prize on 10 December in Oslo, Norway. Mr Mukwege highlighted the lack of accountability for war lords following the Second Congo War, and the need for justice to be included in any peace process. Ms Murad campaigned for a United Nations team to investigate acts by Islamic State in Iraq that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. The team began its work in August 2018 after being approved by the United Nations Security Council. (Reuters)

Former CAR Anti Balaka leader Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona arrested in France under ICC warrant

French authorities arrested Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, the alleged former Anti-Balaka leader in Central African Republic (‘CAR’) in compliance with an arrest warrant issued against him by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II on 7 December 2018.  The arrest warrant against Mr. Ngaïssona was issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber based on evidence that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity and war crimes had been committed in the western part of CAR against the Muslim Seleka group between at least 5 December 2013 and at least December 2014. In his role as an alleged former Anti-Balaka senior leader and National General Coordinator, Mr Ngaïssona is alleged to have committed, or aided and abetted crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, torture, enforced disappearance and war crimes not limited to murder, mutilation, intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population, personnel and attacks against buildings dedicated to religion. The situation in CAR since 1 August 2012, also known as CAR II, was referred to the ICC by the Government of the CAR on 30 May 2014 and involves crimes allegedly committed by both  groups in the context of an armed conflict between the Muslim Seleka coalition, an opposition to the Christian Anti-Balaka.  The UN warned that the situation in CAR is at the risk of genocide. Mr Ngaïssona has not yet been transferred to the ICC. He is the second accused in the CAR II situation, following the recent arrest of Alfred Yekatom. (ICC Press Release

Kosovo army commander summoned by Special Prosecutor’s Office

Rustem Mustafa, a former senior commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), has been summoned for questioning at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in the Hague, according to his lawyers. Mr Mustafa is also a former MP and senior official of the Democratic Party. The KSC was established to investigate and prosecute allegations of organ trafficking and war crimes by former KLA officials. While it is based in The Hague and separate from other Kosovar institutions, it will operate under Kosovo law, with a mixture of national and international judges. The Special Prosecutor’s Office is yet to comment on the reports of the summons. (Independent Balkan News Agency, N1)

UN MICT decides to remain seised of Turinabo contempt case after suitability for transfer to Rwanda considered

On 7 December, the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) found that the interests of justice and expediency weighed in favour of the MICT trying the Turinabo et al. case and therefore ordered that the MICT remain seised of the case and conduct the trial. The Appeals Chamber considered the submissions of the Prosecution to be unpersuasive in view of the Government of Rwanda’s submissions that justice would be better served by trying the case before the MICT. The Prosecution had argued that referring the case to Rwanda would be in the interest of justice because, among other things, it would bolster faith in international justice and deter similar offences. The Appeals Chamber further held that there was a strong likelihood of the trial running more expeditiously at the MICT (an important consideration in contempt cases) and that the Turinabo case is closely related to ongoing review proceedings in the Ngirabatware case so maintaining jurisdiction would help the parties to access the relevant information in these related cases.  The five accused in the Turinabo case are charged under Rule 90 of the MICT with having participated in a joint criminal enterprise through witness interference. Each of these Parties had submitted that the case should not be transferred to Rwanda arguing, among other things, that witnesses could be placed at risk, the Rwandan government does not have jurisdiction to hear the case (as it is a contempt case), the Rwandan government is not truly willing and adequately prepared to accept the case and that a trial in Rwanda would compromise the fair trial rights of the accused. (MICT Decision on Suitability of Referral of the Case)

Appeals Chamber postpones delivering decision on Lubanga reparations to January

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court has postponed the hearing for the appeals of the legal representatives of the V01 group of victims and of Mr Thomas Lubanga Dyilo against the decision of 15 December 2017 in which the Trial Chamber set the size of the reparations award to be paid by Mr Lubanga. A new date for the hearing in January 2019 will be set in due course. (ICC Appeals Chamber Public Order)

ICC OTP releases annual report on status of Preliminary Examination Activities

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has released an annual report on the status of its Preliminary Examinations. The report outlined that when making a Preliminary Examination the OTP uses a ‘filtering process’ through which it determines which situations warrant investigation and which do not. This process comprises of four phases. Through this process the OTP conducts an initial assessment of all information on alleged crimes, determining what information if any, appears to fall within the jurisdiction of the Court, and whether the alleged crimes fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court. The OTP also assesses the matters of complementarity and the gravity of offences. Finally, the OTP makes an examination of whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation. The report outlined ten situations currently undergoing Preliminary Examination. There are currently four situations at phase two of the ‘filtering process’, concerning subject-matter jurisdiction, those are: Bangladesh/Myanmar, Republic of the Philippines, Ukraine, and Venezuela. There are also six situations at phase three regarding admissibility, which are: Colombia, Guinea, Iraq/United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Palestine. The report also outlined that the Preliminary Examination into the situation concerning the Gabonese Republic has been concluded. Further, due to additional considerations made by the Pre-Trial Chamber, the report did not contain summaries of examinations of situations concerning the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, or the registered vessels of the Union of the Comoros, the Hellenic Republic, and the Kingdom of Cambodia. (OTP Report)

MICT Prosecutor Brammertz Accused Croatian Government of Blocking Cases Against Croatian Army & Defence Council

The Chief Prosecutor of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Serge Brammertz, has reported to the UN Security Council that Croatia’s policy of non-cooperation for certain war crimes trials is effectively blocking the cases. The policy excludes cooperation in cases that allege the accused participated in joint criminal enterprise with Croatian political or military officials. Brammertz claims that investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina have become deadlocked without Croatia’s assistance. The Prosecutor’s office has made direct efforts to convince Croatia to change it’s policy to little effect, and Brammertz’s report has again urged the Croatian government to cooperate, warning that the current policy ‘has an influence on promoting impunity to the detriment of victims throughout the region’. Brammertz has also criticised a Croatian Court for reducing the sentence of Marko Radic, who was convicted of war crimes in a Bosnia court but transferred to Croatia to serve his sentence, on the basis that Croatian law does not recognise the concept of joint criminal enterprise. (Balkan Insight)

Rights Group Claims Australia’s Offshore Detention of Migrants on Nauru and Manus Constitutes Crimes Against Humanity

Australian human rights group, National Justice Project, has filed two class action lawsuits against the Government of Australia before Australia’s High Court.  The lawsuits seek orders that asylum seekers held on Nauru be transferred to Australia and compensated for the harm they have suffered in detention, which includes arbitrary imprisonment, lack of adequate food, water and medical care and the lack of a safe environment. These factors, it is argued, amount to torture and crimes against humanity. The legal pleadings use the Rome Statute definition of crimes against humanity, which also appears in the Australian Commonwealth Criminal Code. High rates of self-harm and suicide attempts among those detained on Nauru have prompted international medical teams to call for complete evacuation of the detention centre, and the Court has been presented with evidence of detainees ‘self-cutting, lip sewing, swallowing rocks, burning with cigarettes’ and ‘refraining from eating and drinking.’ Australian members of parliament have proposed a bill to allow medical transfers to occur more quickly, however, Australian Immigration Minister David Coleman opposes any measures to bring asylum seekers on Nauru to Australia. Lawyers from the National justice Project anticipate a lengthy legal battle, but hope for an outcome that will allow the asylum seekers to be moved to a safe place. (New York Times)

Denmark Extradites Genocide Suspect to Rwanda

Denmark has extradited genocide suspect Wenceslas Twagirayezu to stand trial in Rwanda on the charge of inciting violence during the Rwandan genocide. He is alleged to have led a pro-Hutu militia in the north-west of the country that targeted ethnic Tutsis during the 100-day genocide.  Twagirayezu, who has presented legal challenges to his extradition is now expected to arrive in Kigali on Tuesday. (BBC)

Photos: The Nobel Prize/Twitter 

ICL Media Review is an independent UK 'Small Charity' which provides a daily publication on updates and developments in International Criminal Law and Human Rights Law.  Since 2015, ICLMR has partnered with Justice Hub to provide the content for each Friday's edition of ICJ Media Review.

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