ICL Media Review - Week 33
By ICL Media Review
In this week's review, news about individual criminal responsibility for ECCC accused, ADC-ICTY request on arrest on legal team, Al-Mahdi ICC trial, threats concerning ICC and Palestine and crimes against humanity in the Philippines.
On 16 August, Anita Guisse, defence for Khieu Samphan, argued before the ECCC that the prosecution in Case 002/02 has failed to establish that Samphan is individually criminally responsible. Khieu Samphan is currently on trial before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, along with Nuon Chea, for crimes against humanity. Using evidence put forward by the prosecution, Guisse presented the case that Samphan had limited knowledge of the atrocities committed when he was president. In particular, Guisse argued that the prosecution has failed to present sufficient evidence linking Samphan with the Phnom Kraol security centre, where prisoners were tortured and killed. Guisse dismissed the argument that telegrams between the security centre and Samphan proved that he had knowledge of the crimes committed there. In addition, the defence pointed to evidence that there was sometimes a lack of communication between Chea and Samphan, resulting in Samphan being ‘out of the loop’. (The Phnom Penh Post)
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi’s trial for war crimes will start on 22 August at the ICC before Trial Chamber VIII. On 24 March 2016, Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed Al-Mahdi’s charges for having allegedly destroyed historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu, Mali, between 30 June 2012 and 11 July 2012. An arrest warrant had been issued against Al-Mahdi on 18 September 2015. He was surrendered 10 days later. Currently in ICC custody, he announced his intention to plead guilty. Due to this position, the trial should last for about a week. It will start by verifying that the accused understands the consequences of his position. A strict schedule has been set for the Prosecution, the legal representatives of victims, and Defence who will be provided with an opportunity to introduce written statements in relation to the sentence. Both the judgment and the possible sentence will be issued together after the hearings. (ICC website)
The Dutch authorities have launched an investigation into numerous death threats received by Nada Kiswanson, a legal researcher at the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, following her submissions to the ICC preliminary examination of the 2014 conflict in Gaza. Kiswanson, a Jordanian-Swedish citizen, has been receiving frequent death threats since the beginning of 2016. The threats have come in the form of emails, messages sent to family members, flowers with messages delivered to her home and phone calls both to herself and to her relatives on both Jordanian and Swedish numbers. Kiswanson also received a death threat from a hacked email account at Amnesty International, prompting Amnesty to announce that they will temporarily close their office in The Hague. This marks the first time a human rights activist working with the ICC has been threatened in the Netherlands. The Dutch authorities have assigned Kiswanson protection while they investigate. Since 2015, the ICC has been conducting a preliminary examination of possible crimes committed by both Israeli and Palestinian sides in the Gaza conflict of 2014. (Reuters, Expatica)
President of Philippines accused of crimes against humanity
On 8 August, the US government raised concerns about the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers in the Philippines and called on its government to comply with human rights obligations in its war on drugs. Following this, both a Philippine lawyer and Senator Leila de Lima stated that President Rodrigo Duterte could face charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC due to the “widespread and systematic use of force against” drug users since his election in May. While the Philippines is a signatory to the Rome Statute, the Filipino justice secretary denied these accusations and responded that “criminals are not humanity”. De Lima has called for a clarification of a potential prosecution before the ICC of President Duterte during a Commission on Human Rights inquiry on the killings. The inquiry will take place on 22 and 23 August 2016. (News Info, IB Times)
ADC-ICTY requests release of detained ICT-Bangladesh defence team member
On 15 August, the Association of Defence Counsel Practicing Before the ICTY issued a press release requesting the immediate safe release of Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal defence team member Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem. The ADC-ICTY stated that Quasem was ‘abducted in Dhaka by law enforcement authorities without a lawful order’. Witnesses to the assumed arrest stated that no justification for the detention was given. In addition, Quasem’s current whereabouts remains unknown. The ADC-ICTY linked Quasem’s detention to suggestions that Quasem’s father, who was convicted by the Bangladesh Tribunal and is facing execution, is behind a global conspiracy against the State of Bangladesh. The ADC-ICTY denounced the detention as against the ‘Bangladesh constitution and legal framework, and those international standards to which Bangladesh is obligated to follow by being a State Party to the ICCPR and the UDHR’. (Association of Defence Counsel press release)
- Khieu Sampan (Flickr)
- Ahmed al-Faqi al-Mahdi (Bing)
- International Criminal Court permanent premises (ICL Media Review)
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.