Week 13 2017 ICL Media Review

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Friday, March 31, 2017 - 17:38

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, Ivory Coast’s former first lady is acquitted, Sudan’s president wanted for genocide travels to Jordan, reparations for war crimes victims in DR Congo from the ICC and more

Ivory Coast court finds Simone Gbagbo not guilty of crimes against humanity

A jury in Côte d’Ivoire’s highest criminal court has unanimously acquitted former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges were based on Gbagbo’s alleged role in organising post-electoral violence in 2010 when her husband, former President Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede defeat in the presidential poll. Although she was acquitted of these charges, Mrs. Gbagbo currently continues to serve a 20-year sentence – handed down by an Ivorian court in March 2015 – on charges of “attacking state authority.” Significantly, these domestic proceedings have continued despite an ICC arrest warrant for Ms Gbagbo issued in 2012 for four counts of crimes against humanity. Côte d’Ivoire refused to transfer the former first lady to the ICC, and proceeded to try her domestically. (Al JazeeraNew York TimesAfrica News)

Bashir to attends Arab League summit in Jordan, as NGOs protest

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is attending the Arab League summit taking place in Jordan which is a State party to the ICC Statute. Al-Bashir’s travel comes despite the two standing arrest warrants that the ICC issued against al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 for counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Human Rights Watch urged Jordan to either deny al-Bashir entry to the country, or to arrest him – pointing out that the visit will mark the first occasion on which Jordan has welcomed a person indicted by the ICC. In response, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour criticized Human Rights Watch as continuously hostile towards Sudan and simply seeking publicity. On 21 February 2017, the ICC’s Registry sent a request for information about al-Bashir’s visit to Jordan and reiterated its request for Jordan’s cooperation in the immediate arrest of al-Bashir if he enters Jordanian territory – Jordan sent a confidential reply on 24 March 2017. (Sudan TribuneNews24ICC Filing)

Spain court accept jurisdiction for investigation into kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial killing by Syrian Government

A Spanish court has ruled that Spain has the jurisdiction to investigate allegations of torture brought by a Spanish national against nine members of the Syrian state’s security and intelligence forces. The claimant, who was born in Syria, alleges that her brother was forcibly disappeared, tortured and executed by Syrian government officials in 2013. And that she has standing before the court on the basis that family members of individuals killed in international crimes are victims with rights to bring claims. This case will be the first criminal case to proceed against Bashar al-Assad’s security forces before a European court. On this note, the claimant’s Spanish lawyers stated that the decision on jurisdiction is an “extraordinary step in fighting against impunity in Syria and demonstrates the importance of the principal of universal jurisdiction when investigating international crimes.” (The GuardianBBC)

Katanga victims receive $1 million in reparations; first award of its kind

On 24 March, the International Criminal Court ordered ex-militia leader Germain Katanga to pay reparations to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The reparations payment, which is the first award of its kind, is to benefit victims targeted in the 2003 massacre in north-eastern DRC. Katanga was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years, for aiding and abetting war crimes, for his role in the massacre. In total, the court estimated that the total harm suffered by the victims amounts to more than $3.7 million, with Katanga expected to contribute $1 million. However, as Katanga is insolvent and in prison in the DRC, it is expected that the ICC Trust Fund for Victims will award the sum. The payment consists of both individual small payments and collective reparations, which will go towards implementing long-term projects to benefit the wider community. (BBC NewsThe New York Times)

Prosecution closes its case in trial against Ntaganda

On 29 March, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC filed a notice to Trial Chamber VI. The filing notified Trial Chamber VI, which has been assigned to the trial proceedings of The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda case, that the prosecution closed its case. Mr. Ntaganda is the alleged Deputy Chief of Staff of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), an organized armed group involved in two conflicts in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2002-2003. He has been on trial at the ICC since September 2015, facing 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and the enlistment and conscription of child soldiers. (ICC Prosecution filing)

Cambodian authorities and UN meet to discuss funding for ECCC

Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Bun Chhin met with the UN’s Special Expert to the ECCC, David Scheffer, on 24 March 2017 to discuss funding for the ECCC as well as the broader relationship between the UN and Cambodia. Both the UN and Cambodia pledged to commit more funds to support the hybrid tribunal in Cambodia. (Khmer Times)

UN Human Rights Council documenting crimes, prosecution case against N. Korea

In a resolution passed on Friday, the UN Human Rights Council agreed to widen its investigation into widespread human rights violations in North Korea. A landmark 2014 report by the UN identified “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations”, including enslavement, extermination, murder, rape, and enforced disappearances, constituting crimes against humanity. The UN human rights office in Seoul will be strengthened by the addition of international criminal justice experts who can develop legal strategies for eventual prosecutions, and a central repository to receive, preserve and consolidate information and evidence. The resolution, which was boycotted by North Korea, also called on the state to cooperate and allow access for UN investigators. (Human Rights Watch, ReutersNew York Times)

UN sends fact-finding mission to Myanmar for Rohingya investigations

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has decided that a fact-finding mission should be undertaken in Myanmar to investigate the alleged violence by the security forces against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The resolution, which was adopted by consensus, follows a February UN report which identified evidence of mass rapes and killings, potentially amounting to crimes against humanity. The investigation will seek to establish the facts of the alleged atrocities, and seek full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims. An oral update in expected in September, with a full report of the findings in a year’s time. The UNHRC stopped short of demanding a Commission of Inquiry, which was called for by the UN’s Special Rapporteur in Myanmar, but which was opposed by the Myanmar Government. (Al Jazeera)

 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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