Week 51 ICL Media Review

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Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 15:36


Habre appeal to be heard on 9 Jan by Extraordinary African Chambers

The Extraordinary African Chambers – a special tribunal set up by Senegal and the African Union – will hear the appeal of former president of Chad Hissene Habre against his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity on 9 January 2017. The Extraordinary Chambers convicted Habre in May of this year for acts committed during his eight-year presidency from 1982-1990, and he received a life sentence for his crimes. Habre is thought to have overseen up to 40,000 politically-motivated murders, including many by the State intelligence police. Though Habre continues to refuse to recognise the jurisdiction of the special tribunal, his lawyers requested the opportunity to appeal against the verdict. (News 24, Reuters, Yahoo News)

UNSC extends terms of office of ICTY judges until Nov 2017

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)’s seven permanent judges (comprising both the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber) until November 2017. The extension will run until 30 November next year or until the completion of the cases to which the judges were or would be assigned, whichever is sooner. The Security Council’s Resolution also underlined that “States should cooperate fully with the ICTY” as well as with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which takes over the ICTY's role; reappointed Serge Brammertz as the Prosecutor of the MICT; and emphasised that this extension would be final. (Relief Web)

Ntaganzwa genocide trial before Rwanda court delayed for defence preparations

The Specialised Chamber for International Crimes of Rwanda’s High Court has postponed the hearing of Ladislas Ntaganzwa, a former Rwandan mayor accused of genocide and extradited from the DR Congo to Rwanda in March. Ntaganzwa is charged with participation in genocide and public incitement to commit genocide, as well as extermination, murder and rape as crimes against humanity. Appearing in court this week, he requested that his trial be delayed on the grounds that he had not had sufficient time to prepare his defence since receiving the details of the charges against him one week ago. The Prosecution agreed that an extension could be granted to the defendant on the condition that no further delays are raised at subsequent hearings prior to the commencement of the trial. The presiding judge agreed to grant Ntaganzwa until March 6 to prepare, but warned that he should not attempt to drag the case out. Ntaganzwa had previously been indicted by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), but was still at large when the ICTR closed. The international court handed its pending indictments over to Rwanda, which secured Ntaganzwa’s arrest. (The New Times)

UN OHCHR responds to amnesty bill in Colombia

While an amnesty law which would pardon all members of the FARC rebel group who are not suspected or convicted of grave violations of international humanitarian law is being debated in Colombia’s Congress, the UN has urged Bogota to ensure the legislation “fully respects international standards regarding human rights.” The law is now before Congress, following the Constitutional Court’s approval of the government’s new peace deal with FARC rebels, and would form part of a larger transitional justice system being constructed to accommodate the prosecution of 16,000 FARC members, 24,400 state officials and 12,500 civilians. Commentators have observed that the law must pass if FARC rebels are to demobilise and submit to vetting for war crime allegations. The statement by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia says the UN “recommends providing procedures and resources to ensure that amnesties contribute to the obtaining of truth, justice and reparation for victims,” and the UN’s mission chief in Colombia has cautioned that “the benefits granted must be the result of the fulfilment of commitments made by eventual beneficiaries of the measures. They cannot be the starting point nor become an end in themselves.” A vote on the amnesty law is expected by the end of the year. (Colombia Reports)

Rights Group points to possible crimes against humanity against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

On 19 December, Ammesty International asserted that crimes against humanity may have been committed in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims.  Rafendi Djamin, Southeast Asia director for Amnesty International, stated that Myanmar military activities against Rohingya civilians “could be part of a widespread and systematic attack on a civilian population and may amount to crimes against humanity”. Amnesty accuses Burmese forces of murdering civilians, rape and torture, calling the Burmese government to “order a stop to the violence, publically condemn rights violations, allow unimpeded access to Rakhine and launch an impartial investigation with the UN”, and is based on interviews of 35 victims and 20 others involved in humanitarian and reporting efforts.  Amnesty describes crimes including “random killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, rapes, torture, looting and destruction of property including the torching of 1,200 homes and other buildings like schools and mosques.”  (AlJazeera, BBC)

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention criticises detentions in Cambodia

On 21 November, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) issued a decision finding that the ongoing detention of Ny Chakrya  Deputy Secretary General of the National Election Committee  and Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony  four staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) was arbitrary. The UNWGAD stated that they “have been discriminated against based on their status as human rights defenders (HRDs), and in violation of their right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law under article 26 of the ICCPR”.   The UNWGAD found that their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights were violated including their rights to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance and other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights”, right to freedom of association, fair trial rights, lawful detention, and presumption of innocence. (OMCT)



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Saturday, August 26, 2017 - 07:31