ICL Media Review - Week 32

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Friday, August 12, 2016 - 11:30

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about an ECCC expert who refuses to testify, sexual violence in South Sudan, ICC Prosecution request on trial costs, Kosovo war crimes conviction, Ocampo on Yizidi genocide, ICC Trial Chamber and Appeals Chamber decisions and more.

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)Expert witness refuses to testify before ECCC

On 9 August, Michael Vickery announced to the Khmer Rouge tribunal that he no longer wishes to testify as an expert witness. The renowned historian was due to begin his testimony on 1 August. The court stated that the decision stemmed from advice given to Vickery by a lawyer friend who he should not testify. The news came as a disappointment to both the defence and prosecution, with co-prosecutor William Smith stating that he hoped Vickery ‘would reconsider’ and defence lawyer Victor Koppe stating that it was ‘unfortunate’. (The Phnom Penh Post

Zainab Hawa BanguraUN urges action on accountability for sexual violence crimes in South Sudan

The UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has expressed disappointment that her meetings with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar have not put an end to the wave of sexual violence affecting women and girls in South Sudan. Special Representative Bangura furthermore vowed to fight until perpetrators of rape and violence against women and girls in South Sudan are held accountable. The recent conflict in South Sudan broke out in December 2013 between supporters of President Kiir and First Vice President Machar. A preliminary UN investigation into the conflict has revealed that government forces have engaged in a campaign of rape: 217 cases of sexual violence were documented in the capital, Juba, between 8 and 25 July alone. Special Representative Bangura emphasised that “all action should be taken by the government to put an end to this”. She insisted that “those who think they will get off ‘scot-free’ must be joking because we will go after them. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they are. We will go after them and hold them accountable for these crimes.” In addition, last week the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said a preliminary UN investigation into the latest outbreak of violence in South Sudan found that government security forces carried out killings and rapes, as well as looting and destroying properties.  (UN News Centre, UN News Centre, UN News Centre

ICC Prosecution request info from Registry on costs of trial and defence witnesses

The Office of the Prosecutor has filed a Request to Obtain Financial Information from the Registry in the case of The Prosecutor v Jean-Pierre Bemba et al, a case concerning offences against the administration of justice, entailing accusations that Bemba and others corruptly influenced witnesses in prior proceedings. The Prosecutor’s request asks for information regarding the cost of Bemba’s prior trial and the costs incurred by the Court in relation to the witnesses who the Prosecutor argues were corruptly influenced. The Prosecutor wants to present the extent of the pecuniary damage done to the Court by Bemba’s alleged conduct, pursuant to Rule 145(1)(c)’s stipulation that the Chamber consider the “full extent of the damage caused” by alleged crimes. The Prosecutor’s request was made before Trial Chamber VII on 10 August. (ICC Prosecution submission

Kosovo Special War Crimes Court convicts Krasniqi of war crimes

Kosovo’s special war crimes court has sentenced an ethnic Albanian guerrilla fighter, Xhemshit Krasniqi, to eight years imprisonment for war crimes committed in 1999 in Albania and Kosovo. A former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Krasniqi was convicted for the “arrest, illegal detention, violation of bodily integrity, health and torture of several witnesses and unknown civilians in the KLA camps”. The Kosovo court consists of a panel of mostly international judges and is part of an EU-funded rule of law project. (Radio Free Europe, Business Standard

Former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno OcampoFormer ICC prosecutor says Yazidi community victims of genocide

Former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has voiced his commitment to seeking justice for the crimes suffered by the Yazidi community at the hands of ISIS. As part of his efforts to gather evidence which could be used to bring a case to the ICC, Ocampo recently joined a group of Yazidi activists on a visit to a refugee camp in Greece sheltering over 1300 Yazidis. Ocampo observed that “these people have escaped ISIS. They have fled from genocide and that is why they are here now in Europe.” He emphasised the importance of recognising the Yazidis as victims of genocide. Though Iraq – where the crimes occurred – is not a State Party to the ICC Statute, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has stated that it will cooperate with the ICC to prosecute members of ISIS for the mass killing of an estimate 1,800 Yazidis in 21 locations in August 2014, as well as for the enslavement of thousands more. (Washington Post, Rudaw

ICC Trial Chamber rejects Ntaganda defence request for reconsideration

On 8 August, Trial Chamber VI of the ICC rendered a decision in the Ntaganda case on the Defence request for reconsideration of the decision regarding the admission of certain documents used with Witness P-0315. In its request filed on 8 July, the Defence aske the TC to reconsider its decision on the admissibility of Human Rights Watch reports. The TC decided to reject the request, considering that the Defence did not meet the standard required for reconsideration of a decision. The TC stated that Defence failed “to establish that exclusion of the Report is necessary to prevent an injustice”. It further found that the Defence’s claim was not constitutive of a ‘new fact’ and decided that the Defence’s reliance on the ‘best evidence rule’ was ‘misguided’ , recalling its power to “freely assess all evidence submitted” and their weight. (ICC TC decision

New court room at the International Criminal CourtICC AC rejects appeal of Mangenda on compensation for unlawful detention in Article 70 case

On 8 August, the ICC Appeals Chamber rejected in limine the appeal of Jean-Jacques Mangenda against the decision on request for compensation for unlawful detention. He appealed the decision, alleging that the TC has “no basis for finding that the continued detention of Mr Mangenda between 22 to 31 October 2014 was unlawful". The AC found that Mangenda not only failed to “address the TC’s specific findings with which he takes issue or show how the TC allegedly erred in finding that his detention was not unlawful” but also failed to “demonstrate any unreasonableness in the TC’s ultimate determination on the lawfulness of his detention”. Therefore, the Chamber decided to not consider the merits of the grounds of appeal concerned and dismissed the ground in limine. The Article 70 case is constituted of Mangenda, former case manager of the defence team of Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was tried for offences against the administration of justice (giving false testimony in the courtroom, presenting false evidence and corruptly influencing witnesses by giving them money and instructions to provide false testimony), along with his co-defendants: Jean-Pierre Bemba Gongo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido. (ICC AC decision

ASP holds conference in Dakar for Day of International Criminal Justice

On 16 July, a conference on International Criminal Justice against Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes was held in Dakar to commemorate the Day of International Criminal Justice. Panelists included ministers from various African governments and officials from several international and hybrid tribunals, along with lawyers, judges, religious leaders and representatives of numerous organisations. In turn, participants addressed impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes and called for different ways of action, presenting recent developments in their respective jurisdiction. They further talked about contributions of civil society and its role in the prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes, citing the example of the trial of Hissène Habré at the Extraordinary African Chambers. (ICC website)

UN Committee on Torture concerned over reprisals in Burundi

On 8 August, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) sent a letter to Burundi's UN ambassador voicing grave concern about reported reprisals against four Burundian lawyers who provided information to the UN body. According to the Committee, the four lawyers – Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana – were part of the coalition of Burundian non-governmental organisations that contributed to an alternative report that was presented to the CAT for its review. The reported reprisals concern the request of a Burundian prosecutor to the president of the Bujumbura Bar Council to strike the lawyers off the professional register on the basis of allegations of several offences, including involvement in an insurrectionist movement and an attempted coup. In the letter, the CAT underlined the way in which the prosecutor’s request for sanctions against the lawyers, rather than an inquiry to establish the facts on the matter, “raises concerns with respect to the presumption of innocence”. In expressing its concerns, the UN body reminded the Burundian government that reprisals contravene Article 13 of the Convention against Torture, which it has been part of since 1993 and which provides that complainants and witnesses should be protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of making a complaint or giving evidence. (UN News Centre)

ICTY working to house its archives in Potocari

On 5 August, the Outreach Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) told BalkanInsight that it is in the final stage of negotiations with the Genocide Memorial Centre in Potocari to set up information centres in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, where the Tribunal’s archives will be kept. According to the Office, the establishment of these information centres and archives in countries of the former Yugoslavia was recommended by the UN Secretary General with the aim of strengthening the rule of law and peace in the region. The archives will reportedly be located in the Genocide Library of Potocari’s memorial centre, and free access will be granted to all Hague Tribunal documents. (BalkanInsight)

Photos: 

  • Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (United Nations)
  • Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict (Bing)
  • Former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo (Bing)
  • New ICC courtroom (Bing)

ICL Media Review is an independent UK Small Charity, which aims to provide a daily survey of news and developments affecting international criminal law and international human rights in a neutral and impartial manner.

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