Friday, April 28, 2017 - 00:00

Extraordinary African Chambers upholds conviction of Habre on appeal

On 27 April the Extraordinary African Chambers issued its judgment on appeal confirming the trial judgment which convicted the former Chadian leader for war crimes and handed him a life sentence.   A summary of the judgment was read out in court on Thursday and a written judgment of more than 200 pages is to be issued.  Richard Dicker  of Human Rights Watch stated that “For over 26 years, the many victims of Hissène Habré’s crimes fought courageously for justice to be done … Today, their journey ends with the conviction of a once untouchable leader confirmed and his life sentenced upheld, giving hope to victims everywhere.”  

Reed Brody, a lawyer advocating on behalf of victims stated that “Habré’s life sentence is a powerful message that the days when tyrants could brutalize their people, pillage their treasury and escape abroad to a life of luxury are coming to an end.  The trial against Hissine Habre began on 20 July 2015 before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese courts was inaugurated by the African Union and Senegal to try Habre. (NYTimesHRWFrance24)

ICC unseals warrant against Gaddafi era Interior Security Chief

On 24 April 2017 the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber I unsealed an arrest warrant issued on 18 April 2013 for the Internal Security Department chief of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Al-Tuhami Mohamed Khaled is charged with three war crimes and four crimes against humanity arising from acts committed by Libyan security agencies between February and August 2011 “in furtherance of a policy designed by the Libyan state to quash the political opposition to the Gaddafi regime by any means,” according to the arrest warrant. The acts described in the warrant – four crimes against humanity (imprisonment, torture, persecution, and other inhumane violations) and three war crimes (torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity) – include the arrest and torture of perceived political opponents, and the subjection of detainees to “various forms of mistreatment, including severe beatings, electrocution, acts of sexual violence and rape, solitary confinement.”

Though the warrant was issued in 2013, it has now been made public in the interest of facilitating Khaled’s arrest, upon the request of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Bensouda stated that “reclassifying the warrant of arrest as public may facilitate Al-Tuhami’s arrest and surrender as all states will then be aware of its existence” and “could foster support and cooperation for an arrest operation from the international community.” Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute, but on 26 February 2011 the ICC was mandated to investigate international crimes in Libya when the UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the Court via Resolution 1970. (Al JazeeraLibya ObserverICC Court Record)

ICC signs enforcement agreement with Sweden

The ICC has signed an agreement on the enforcement of sentences for persons convicted before the ICC with the Kingdom of Sweden.  The agreement which entered into force on 26 April, states that convicted person may serve their sentence in Sweden if the Court decides and Sweden agrees. (Public Affairs Unit)

Dutch trader convicted as accessory to war crimes in Sierra Leone Civil War

Guus Kouwenhoven, an international timber trader, has been convicted by the Dutch appeal court of being an accessory to war crimes for selling weapons to Charles Taylor, Liberia’s former president and convicted war criminal, in violation of a UN arms embargo. The 74-year-old has been sentenced to 19 years in prison. Kouwenhoven used his company, the Oriental Timber Company, as a cover for smuggling hidden arms between 2000 and 2003, which were subsequently used in armed conflicts with rebels. The case is thought to be the first war crimes conviction for a businessman profiting from conflict resources. (The GuardianDW)

Human Rights Watch pens letter to Gambia regarding past crimes accountability

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has sent a letter to Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, outlining recommendations for ensuring accountability for past violations in the country. HRW noted that Gambian courts can play a leading role in seeking accountability for human rights violations committed during the Jammeh era, but highlighted that significant financial investment and technical assistance from international donors is likely needed.

In addition, it was stated that President Barrow’s support for a truth and reconciliation commission is not a substitute for criminal judicial proceedings. The letter also highlights the need to develop a sound prosecutorial strategy and undertake judicial reforms, including abolishing the death penalty. Finally, HRW proposed that universal jurisdiction may provide an additional avenue for accountability. (Human Rights Watch)

Former Interahamwe leader sentenced to life for genocide by Rwanda high court

Rwanda’s high court has sentenced Bernard Munyagishari to life imprisonment for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Munyagishari, who headed the Interahamwe, a government-allied militia, was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity for helping transport members of the militia and distributing weapons used in the killings. (Reuters)


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