Conference held on African Justice and ICC cooperation
On 23 May the President of the ICC’s Assembly of State Parties Sidiki Kaba held a high-level conference on the topic of “Capacity-building with regard to African judicial systems through effective and dynamic complementarity and cooperation with the International Criminal Court” in Dakar, Senegal. Sponsored by the government of Switzerland, the conference brought together participants including Ministers of Justice, diplomats, parliamentarians, lawyers, academics, and representatives of the judiciary from across African State Parties to the Rome Statute. Representatives from the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor also attended, alongside civil society and international organisations.
The conference was opened by Senegalese Prime Minister Mahammed Dionne, who emphasised the importance of strengthening African judicial systems in order to boost the fight against impunity, and throughout the conference African Ministers of Justice and members of the judiciary shared experiences on topics including capacity-building, the prosecution of international crimes, and the importance of norm implementation. (ICC Press Release)
Mladic defence team appeals decision on provisional release
On 22 May, the defence team for Ratko Mladic issued a statement announcing their appeal of the ICTY’s decision to deny provisional release to Mladic which was requested for medical treatment. According to the Defence team, the Chamber misunderstood and ignored the Russian Federation’s diplomatic guarantees to return Mladić to ICTY custody. The statement set out that the Court disregarded the accused state of health and ignored contradictions between the UN Detention Unit’s and the independent medical examiner. The defence team’s appeal came after Trial Chamber I decided on 11 May to reject Mladic’s request for provisional release. In another statement issued on 19 May by the Defence team days after the decision was released, it was similarly asserted that reports of medical experts were ignored as well as the risk that Mladic could die without the requested necessary medical treatment, which the defence argues he is not receiving while in detention in The Hague.
Lead Counsel for Mladic, Branko Lukić stated that “The ICTY’s disregard of deviations from mandatory American and European medical standards in denying provisional release should alarm anyone who cares about fair trials and fundamental rights, especially since the Trial Chamber has performed no adequate analysis of this in reaching its decision.” Co-Counsel, Dragan Ivetić, stated that “The ICTY denied our request even though the requirements of the rules for provisional release have been met and the ICTY has provisionally released many other detainees with less serious medical conditions in similar circumstances if they have official state guarantees.” (Mladic defence press release, Mladic defence press release)
ECCC Co-prosecutors urge life sentence in lead up to closing arguments
Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have requested the ECCC’s Trial Chamber to sentence accused, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, to life imprisonment. Closing arguments in Case 002/02 are due to start on June 13, where they face charges of genocide against the Cham ethnic minority and the Vietnamese. Kong Sam Onn, Mr. Samphan’s lawyer, has said that it is meaningless to sentence them to life imprisonment, as 91-year-old Chea and 86-year-old Samphan have already been sentenced to life imprisonment in Case 002/01 after being found guilty of crimes against humanity. (Khmer Times)
ECCC victim submit closing brief in case against Chea and Samphan
In the case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan before the ICC, victims acting as a civil party have submitted their closing brief. The closing brief details crimes such as cannibalism, the killing of children and Cham Muslims, rape and forced marriage of women, and killings, torture and abuses in security facilities. In addition, victims recounted psychological suffering as a result of crimes experienced and witnessed. Nearly 4,000 victims applications to participate as civil parties were admitted in the case, and 64 victims testified during the trial.
The defence raised challenges to the victims’ accounts, arguing that victims may be putting forward a “collective memory” based on the fact that “large groups that share common lawyers” and after hearing stories from other victims may have distorted the memory of their own experience. Marie Guiraud, international lead co-lawyer for the civil parties, refused this assertion stating that “to make a broad conclusion that they are particularly susceptible to criticism based on ‘collective memory’ is not a particularly fair conclusion.” (Cambodia Daily, ECCC Press Release)
ICC Prosecutor’s statement on crimes in the Central African Republic
In a statement issued on 23 May, the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda expressed her concerns about the recent attacks in the Central African Republic against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers. Bensouda stated that her office was monitoring it and that they may fall under the ICC jurisdiction. Urging “all individuals and groups in the CAR engaged in violence […] to desist”, she further stated to be ready to “assist the competent Central African authorities who have the primary duty to investigate and prosecute those allegedly responsible for these crimes”. (ICC Prosecutor’s Statement).
Inter-American Commission of Human Rights considers complaint on US border patrol killing
A complaint has been filed with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on behalf of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, an undocumented resident of California whose death was ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner’s Office following a fatal beating he received from US Border Patrol agents at the US border with Mexico in 2010. Following seven years of domestic litigation in the USA, which ultimately concluded in March 2017 when the US government agreed to pay $1 million to settle a civil case brought by Hernandez-Rojas’ family, the IACHR will now consider the complaint first filed by the Hernandez-Rojas family in March 2016.
Notable because it is the first time the IACHR will consider a claim of extrajudicial killing and torture in the USA, the IACHR will assess whether the victim’s rights were violated under the American Convention on Human Rights. The US government has until 10 August 2017 to respond to the complaint – in the absence of a response, the IACHR may issue a default judgment (accepting the facts presented in the filing as true). (Courthouse News Service)
AU requests international support in fight against Kony in the Central African Republic
The African Union has requested international military support to assist in the fight against Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic. The United States and Uganda have announced their decision to withdraw troops, with the latter saying that the mission had been successful in ‘neutralising’ Kony. However, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council remain concerned that the LRA still pose a threat. Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity but remains at large. (Reuters)
Photo: Sidiki Kaba/Twitter