Stanisic and Simatovic ordered to surrender at Hague detention unit by 30 May
The ICTY has ordered former Serbian state security officials Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic to surrender to the UN detention unit in The Hague by 30 May for their retrial to start on 13 June 2017. The two were acquitted in their first war crimes trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in January 2013 due to insufficient evidence linking the former intelligence officers to the actions of the Serbian paramilitary units which killed and forcibly remove thousands of non-Serbian civilians between 1991 and 1994. In December 2015, the judges of the appeals court quashed the original ruling and ordered the retrial, citing several legal errors made during the first trial. (InSerbia News, DW)
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights releases report on crimes by militant groups in CAR from 2003-2015
On 30 May, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a report identifying hundreds of human rights violations allegedly committed by successive governments and armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) between 2003 and 2015. In the report, UN investigators allege that some of the abuses may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and urge both prosecution and the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission. The document does not characterise the sectarian violence in the country as genocidal, but does “identify facts which may warrant further investigation to determine whether the elements of the crime may have been met”.
“In documenting the violations and abuses of the past, we hope to galvanize national and international efforts to protect and bring justice to the victims of these crimes,” said Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the U.N. special representative for the country. While the report fails to identify the alleged perpetrators unless they are already the subject of sanctions or an arrest warrant, those identities are known and are being kept in a confidential database, UN officials say. The report also calls upon CAR’s Special Criminal Court, which has been agreed to in 2015, to collaborate closely with the International Criminal Court, which has opened a second investigation in CAR focusing on alleged crimes committed since 2012. (Reuters, Euronews, WashingtonPost)
Saif Gaddafi freed under Libyan amnesty law despite ICC arrest warrant
According to Libya’s Government of National Accord, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi, is now free despite an ICC arrest warrant. In July 2015, a court in Tripoli sentenced Saif Gaddafi to death for war crimes, including for the alleged killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution. Gaddafi has allegedly been held under house arrest by a Zintani militia since 2011, who has refused to hand him over to the national government.
According to the Libya Herald, Eisa Alsaghir, from the justice ministry, has confirmed that Gaddafi is free to move around Libya or abroad, as any other free Libyan citizen. “Saif is free under the terms of the general amnesty law issued by the House of Representatives in July 2015,” Alsaghir said. However, other local sources claim that, while Gaddafi may no longer be under house arrest, he remains under guard in Zintan “for his own protection”. (IOL News)
African Court says Kenya violated indigenous people’s rights
On 26 May 2017, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled that Kenya violated the Ogiek people’s right to land, religion, culture, development and non-discrimination, by removing them from their ancestral land against their will. The decision is the first time that the court has issued a ruling on indigenous people’s rights. The Kenyan Government has justified the evictions on the ground of environmental conservation, which the court rejected. The Court ordered Kenya to take “all appropriate measures” to remedy the violations. (Reuters, Amnesty International)
Former Serbian policeman pleads not guilty to war crimes charges in EULEX proceedings in Mitrovica court
On 29 May, Zoran Vukotic, a former Serbian policeman, pleaded not guilty to the war crimes charges leveled against him by the Kosovo Special Prosecution during the opening hearing at the Mitrovica Basic Court. Vukotic was extradited from Montenegro to Kosovo in November 2016, and now faces three counts of war crimes for abuses allegedly committed against the Kosovo Albanian civilian population in 1999.
The indictment, brought by the prosecutor of the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo (EULEX), alleges that Vukotic actively participated in the attack on the civilian population in May 1999 and that, in his capacity as a police officer reservist and prison guard at the time, he played a part in the unlawful detention and inhumane treatment to which a large number of civilians were subject to in the Smrekovnica Prison, in the Mitrovica region. (BalkanInsight)
Austrian man extradited to Poland for trial, suspected of killing Russian separatists in Ukraine
On 29 May, Poland extradited to Austria a man suspected of war crimes committed during the conflict in eastern Ukraine. According to Polish authorities, the Austrian national was allegedly involved in the killing of civilians, ethnic Russian separatists, and injured troops. The suspect has denied all allegations. (AbcNews)
ICTJ says Nepalese political leaders impeding war crimes investigations
A study by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) has found that Nepali political parties and security forces are impeding efforts to bring justice to victims for the human rights violations that occurred during the civil war. The study said that the “protection of perpetrators is privileged over victims’ right to remedy”. Shankar Nayak, Nepal’s Law Minister, has said that efforts to pursue justice have been hampered by political instability in the country. Currently, perpetrators can be granted amnesty under war crimes legislation. (Reuters)
U.S. immigrations team deports individual suspected in Srebrenica war crimes
Srdjan Bilic has been deported from the US to face charges in Serbia for crimes allegedly committed during his military service in the Bosnian war. The removal was facilitated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), supported by the ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). ICE say that Bilic was a member of the Republika Srpska Army’s Bratunac Brigade, which is implicated in assisting in the mass killings in Srebrenica in July 1995. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has characterised the crime, where 8,000 men and boys were executed and 30,000 women and children were violently expelled, as genocide. Serbia has apologised for the massacre but has denied that it was an act of genocide. (Balkan Insight; ICE)