ICL Media Review: Swedish Government approves indictment of oil executive over war crimes committed in Sudan

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Sunday, October 28, 2018 - 08:41

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the health of ECCC convict Duch, Bemba files Notice of Appeal on re-sentencing decision, Al-Hassan confirmation hearing postponed, Central African Republic Special Court’s first hearing and more:

Swedish Government approves indictment of oil executive over war crimes committed in Sudan

On 18 October, The Swedish government authorised the prosecution authority to proceed with the indictment of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss national, chief executive of Lundin Oil, and Ian Lundin, the company’s Swedish chairman of the board. Sweden can prosecute crimes committed abroad, though government approval is needed to press charges again foreign nationals.

The company is suspected of funding the Sudanese army and several militias drive off local populations near sights of oil exploration. It is suspected that 12,000 people were killed or died for reasons linked to the conflict between 1997 and 2003 in the region where Lundin Oil was active. On its website, Lundin Oil denied the allegations and stated that the company was a force for development in Sudan, and an advocate for peace. The pair face life sentences for their alleged crimes. (TheLocalShippingWatch)

Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic holds first meeting

On 22 October, the Special Criminal Court of the Central African Republic held its inaugural session in Bangui. This marks the formal commencement of the investigation process by the court, which was established by law in 2015. The court is a hybrid tribunal integrated into the country’s domestic justice system. It features national and international judges and court staff. It has jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute and try serious violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed after 1 January 2003. The Court is supported by both the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the UN Development Program. (UN Press Release)

ECCC convict Kaing Guek Eav – “Duch” – in intensive care

It is reported that on Saturday 20 October, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, was brought to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh and placed in intensive care.  The director of the prison where he is serving his sentence has reported that his health has since stabilised.  Kaing Guek Eav is the first person to be tried and convicted before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for his role in overseeing Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21, and for the death of nearly 14,000 people in the prison during the Khmer Rouge’s regime.   He was convicted of Crimes Against Humanity including persecution on political grounds, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, torture and other inhumane acts, and War Crimes including wilful killing, torture and inhumane treatment, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, willfully depriving a prisoner of war of their rights to a fair trial and unlawful confinement of a civilian.  Sentenced by the ECCC Trial Chamber in 2010 to 35 years in prison, his sentence was first reduced by 5 years by the Appeals Chambers and then overturned for a life sentence by Supreme Court Chamber. (Reuters)

Bemba files Notice of Appeal for re-sentencing decision in Contempt case

On 18 October, the Defence for Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo filed to the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a Notice of Appeal concerning the decision re-sentencing Mr. Bemba. The Defence presented three grounds for appeal. First, the Trial Chamber failed to comply with the Appeals Chamber’s directive to issue a concrete determination of the degree of Mr. Bemba’s participation and the harm caused by his conduct, resulting in a disproportionate sentence. Second, that the Trial Chamber failed to provide a remedy for the cumulative impact of egregious violations of Mr. Bemba’s rights, thereby erring in law by not staying proceedings and discharging Mr. Bemba. Third, the Trial Chamber failed to apply the principle of totality, and identify relevant circumstance which when assessed against the punishment already endured by Mr. Bemba was disproportionate, as per Article 81(2)(a) of the Rome Statute. On September 17 2018, the Trial Chamber re-sentenced Mr. Bemba for having been found guilty of offences against the administration of justice. The sentence amounted to a one-year imprisonment with the full time already served, and a €300,000 fine to be paid within three months. (ICC Defence Submission)

Presiding Judge for Bemba re-sentencing appeal named

On 22 October, Judge Howard Morrison was named presiding judge in the appeal by Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo concerning the re-sentencing of Bemba in the Article 70 contempt case against him.  On 18 October, the Defence for Bemba filed Notice of Appeal on the Trial Chamber’s 17 September re-sentencing decision raising three grounds of appeal. (ICC AC Decision)

Al-Hassan confirming hearings postponed to 6 May 2019

On 20 July, the Pre-Trial Chamber I (“Chamber”) of the ICC decided that the confirmation hearing for Mr Al-Hassan be postponed to 6 May 2019. Both the Prosecution and Defence argued in favour of having the hearing postponed. The Chamber, in its decision, took into consideration the Defence’s argument that it would need additional time to acquaint itself with relevant evidentiary material before the confirmation hearing. Additionally, the Chamber agreed with the Prosecutor that issues would arise in preparing for hearing from witnesses should the date go unchanged, and that unplanned delays would have a knock-on effect to other proceedings. (ICC)

Israel suspends expulsion of Bedouin villagers

Israel has said that it would suspend the expulsion of Bedouin villagers from the West Bank. Israel had claimed that the village in question, Khan al-Ahmar, was built without permits and was attempting to demolish it and relocate its inhabitants to another area. This resulted in criticism from the European Union and the United Nations and, on 17 October 2018, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a public statement voicing her concerns about this situation and highlighting the fact that destruction of property and population transfers in occupied territory may constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute. Most countries consider settlements built by Israel on land it captured in 1967 as illegal. Israel disputes this. (HaaretzReuters)

South Sudan’s opposition accused of crimes against humanity by UN bodies

UN bodies have for the first time accused the People’s Liberation Army- in Opposition (SPLA-IO), a South Sudanese armed opposition group led by Riek Machar, of committing crimes against humanity in the Western Equatoria region including killings, rape, slavery, forced recruitment, destroying more than 28 villages and targeting civilians. According to the UN, between April and August 2018 (when the peace agreement was signed), the SPLA-IO kidnapped 900 people and forced more than 2,000 people to flee their homes. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has appealed to the rebel movement to release nearly 1,000 civilians allegedly abducted from the Western Equatoria region. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer, noting that it was disappointing that the spike in violence had taken place during peace agreement negotiations,  said that “A new peace agreement has been signed which puts the onus and responsibility on the warring parties to ensure that no atrocities are committed in the future. UNMISS will be closely monitoring any potential violations and abuses.” (Ashraq Al-Awsat)

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accepts admissibility of case concerning Jamaican laws affecting LGBTQ community

On 2 July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) accepted the admissibility of a case challenging Jamaica’s anti-buggery law. The case, which was first filed over six years ago, was brought by a gay man living in exile, Gareth Henry, and a lesbian who says she was also forced to flee the country, Simone Carline Edwards. The parties claim that sections of Jamaica’s 1864 Offences Against the Person Act – a British colonial-era law that outlaws the ‘abominable crime of buggery’ and acts of ‘gross indecency’ – not only criminalize consensual sexual activity but also legitimise violence towards LGBTQ people. In the report setting out the decision on admissibility, the IACHR acknowledged the victims’ concerns about  “violence and discrimination against LGBTI people and the impact of buggery laws” and stated “if proved, the alleged facts relating to threats to life, personal integrity, interference with private and family life, obstacles to the right of residence and movement, unequal treatment, lack of access to justice and judicial protection, and interference in access to health care, could establish possible violations…” The case is now proceeding to be heard on the merits and the IACHR will consider whether and how Jamaica’s laws violate rights under the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man – an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS). (IACHR Report No. 80/18, Petition 1850-11. Admissibility, Caribbean 360)

Photos: William Cho/Pixabay 

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.


You meant Cambodian tribunal, not Colombian!

Monday, October 29, 2018 - 09:50