ICL Media Review: Russian veterans seek ICC investigation into use of mercenaries in Syria

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Monday, November 19, 2018 - 14:03

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the ECCC conviction of Chea and Samphan for genocide, the adjournment of Kwoyelo’s trial in Uganda, Defence submissions in Gbagbo and Blé Goudé case, the conviction of a Bosnian Serb soldier for war crimes and Nigerian forces face allegations of crimes against humanity and more:

ECCC Judgment fins Nuon Chea an Khieu Samphan guilty of genocide in Case 002/02

On 16 November 2018, the ECCC’s Trial Chamber issued its judgment finding accuseds, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, guilty of genocide.  The accuseds, who are 92 and 87 years of age respectively, are two of the most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime, and are alleged to be criminally responsible for crimes which resulted in the death of approximately 1.7 million people during the Khmer Rouge’s power from 1975-1979.  The charge of genocide in Case 002/02 concerns the killing of the Cham and Vietnamese people by members of the regime (but excluding crimes allegedly committed by the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea on Vietnamese territory).  Chea was convicted of genocide against both the Vietnamese people and Cham Muslim minority, and Samphan was convicted of genocide of the Vietnamese people but acquitted of genocide against the Cham people.  Both were convicted of charges concerning murder, externmination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution on religious racial and political grounds, enforced disappearances and rape.  Case 002/02 against Chea  and Samphan commenced on 17 October 2014, and closing statements concluded in the case on 23 June 2017. (BBC, The Guardian, CNN).

Russian veterans seek ICC investigation into use of mercenaries in Syria

Several Russian military veterans’ groups are planning to write to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, to call for an investigation into the use of civilian contractors by the Russian government in Syria, Ukraine and several African countries. The groups allege that the Russian government contracted mercenaries to fight alongside government forces in Syria, which is illegal under Russian law. Neither Russia nor Syria are states party to the Rome Statute and no referral of the situation has been made by the United Nations Security Council. As a result the ICC currently does not have jurisdiction over the situation. (Reuters)

Kwoyelo’s trial adjourned to February 2019 by International Crimes Division of High Court in Gulu

The International Crimes Division of the High Court in Gulu, Uganda has adjourned the hearing of charges brought against Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, until February 2019. Mr Kwoyelo is facing 93 charges of  crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly perpetrated by LRA troops reportedly under his command during the armed conflict in Kilak Hills between 1995 and 2005. The Prosecution in the domestic proceedings reported approximately 29 victims killed, with others injured or abducted. Mr Kwoyelo has repeatedly pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him. He was arrested in Garamba National Park in 2008.  While he was brought before the court in 2011, a series of pre-trial hearings only commenced in 2015, after his amnesty application was rejected by the Supreme Court. Three years into the case, neither victims nor the Defence were asked to comment on the indictment. In October 2018, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights ordered Uganda to compensate Mr Kwoyelo with an appropriate sum of money for the illegal detention and violation of rights to a fair trial.It also faulted the Supreme Court’s failure to provide reasons for staying Mr Kwoyelo’s amnesty. (Dispatch UgandaInternational Justice Monitor)

Defence makes oral submissions in Gbagbo and Blé Goudé case

In the case of the Prosecutor v Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé currently before the ICC, Defence for Mr Gbagbo made submissions that the accused should be acquitted because his trial had descended into a “fake reality”. The Defence then blamed anti-Gbagbo rebels for post-election violence in the Cote d’Ivoire in 2010. The submissions come after the Defence made an application in April 2018 that Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé had no case to answer and should be acquitted. Prosecution submissions were heard in October 2018. Mr Gbagbo has been charged with crimes against humanity including murder, rape, persecution, and other inhumane acts relating to post-election violence after he lost an election in 2010 to current president Alassane Ouattara.  He was arrested and transferred to the ICC in November 2011 and has been in custody since then. The trial commenced in January 2016. Mr Blé Goudé was the minister for sport and youth affairs at the time of the alleged offences. His trial was joined with Mr Gbagbo’s in 2015. (Business Live)

Former Bosnian Serb soldier convicted of war crime

The Belgrade Higher Court sentenced a former Bosnian Serb Army soldier, Milanko Devic, to seven years in prison for a war crime committed in 1992. Mr Devic was convicted of killing a Bosnian civilian, Ismer Slijvar in Slijvari village, Kljuc area together with two other soldiers dressed in Bosnian Serb uniform. The trial initially commenced before Bosnian courts however due to his Serbian nationality, the case was handed over to the Serbian judiciary, with charges following in 2016. One of the two other men responsible for killing Mr Slijvari, Bogdan Sobot, was identified by a Bosnian court in Bihac in 2017 and sentenced to eight years in prison. His sentence was reduced on appeal to six years.  Mr Devic can appeal the verdict. (Balkan Insight)

African Bar Association Evaluates Allegations of Crimes Against Humanity by Nigerian Forces in Sierra Leone

The African Bar Association has received a petition from Lead Counsel representing the victims of violations committed in Sierra Leone, Dato Shyamala Alagendra.  The petition regards allegations of gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed by members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, during their service in the ECOWAS intervention force (ECOMOG) in the civil conflict in Sierra Leone between 1997 and 2000. The petition included video evidence and witness testimony which appeared to reveal serious violations against civilians of Sierra Leone, including torture, summary execution and sexual abuse. The African Bar Association has decided to intervene in the matter and will consider various options for redress on behalf of the victims. (African Bar Association)

Amnesty International Strips Aung San Suu Kyi of its Highest Award Amid Rohingya Repatriation

Amnesty International has stripped Myanmar Leader Aung San Suu Kyi of it’s highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. The honour was bestowed in 2009 for Ms Suu Kyi’s efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, however it has been revoked due to her refusal to acknowledge the human rights violations occurring against the Rohingya. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has stated that the violence committed against the Rohingya could amount to crimes against humanity and genocide, and the International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into some of the ‘crimes of persecution and other inhumane acts’. Though human rights violations continue to occur against the Rohingya, Ms Suu Kyi has recently entered a deal with Bangladesh for thousands of Rohingya refugees residing there to be returned to Myanmar. Ms Bachelet has said that returning the Rohingyan refugees to Burma, where they are likely to face further violations of their human rights, would be a clear violation of international legal principles. Other humanitarian agencies have also expressed concern that the repatriation process is ‘dangerous and premature’. (New York TimesBBC News)

Photos: ICC-CPI/Flickr 

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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