(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
15 January 2020: The trial of Malko Koroman, former chief of the Serbian police’s Public Security Station, commenced in Bosnia on Monday. Koroman faces charges of crimes against humanity relating to allegations that he organised and enabled unlawful arrests and detentions at both the Public Security Station and a nearby gym, as part of a widespread and systematic attack on the Bosniak civilian population in 1992. It is alleged that the detainees were subjected to torture and murder. Witnesses for the prosecution are due to be called on 27 January.
14 January 2020: The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has upheld the death sentence of Syed Mohammad Qaisar for crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Qaisar, a former state minister of the Jatiya Party in Bangladesh, had appealed the conviction and sentence given to him by Bangladesh’s now defunct International Crimes Tribunal-2 in 2014. This is the 9th crimes against humanity case to be dealt with by the Supreme Court.
13 January 2020: Violence committed recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may amount to crimes against humanity, according to the United Nations. At least 701 people have been killed and 168 injured in attacks in the Ituri province involving Hema and Lendu communities between December 2017 and September 2019. In particular, Lendu armed groups have become highly organised in orchestrating attacks against the Hema, with the objective of taking control of their land and resources. The grave violence committed includes sexual violence and beheadings, including against women and children.
10 January 2020: Former politician Charles Blé Goudé has been convicted in absentia in Côte d'Ivoire and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for charges of murder, rape and torture committed during a period of post-election violence in 2010-2011. In January 2019 Blé Goudé and former President Laurent Gbagbo were acquitted by the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the same period on the basis that there was no case to answer. As per the ruling of the Court, Blé Goudé remains in the Netherlands pending a possible appeal of this decision.
9 January 2020: A report released by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in the United States has indicated that crimes against humanity may have been committed by China in the Xinjiang region. The report specifically refers to the mass internment camps in China that have been used to detain the Uighur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities. The report states: ‘Scholars and rights groups provided a strong argument, based on available evidence, that the "crimes against humanity" framework may apply to the case of mass internment camps’ in China. It also calls on governments to implement sanctions against China for this conduct.
7 January 2020: A statement released by Human Rights Watch has indicated that if carried out, US President Donald Trump’s threats of targeting cultural sites in Iran could constitute war crimes. These threats have arisen in the context of tensions following a drone strike of 3 January that killed commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani. Human Rights Watch stated: “Trump’s threats against Iran’s cultural heritage reflect his administration’s broader disregard for human rights in Iran and elsewhere”, also urging the US to comply with the laws of armed conflict at all times.
19 December 2019: Bolivian prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for former President Evo Morales in relation to allegations of sedition and terrorism. Morales has been accused of instructing demonstrators to block roads to protest against the current interim government, which took over power after Morales resigned in early November following contested elections. Following his resignation he initially sought asylum in Mexico and recently moved to Argentina, where he has been granted refugee status.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
NEW BRIEF: A new ICD Brief is available on the International Crimes Database entitled “Human Rights Remedies for Violations of the Law of Armed Conflict: Reflections on the Right to Reparation in Light of Recent Domestic Court Decisions in the Netherlands and Denmark”, by Vessela Terzieva.
Vessela Terzieva is an international criminal lawyer and an external PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam. Her ICD Brief relates to recent decisions in the Netherlands and Denmark awarding compensation for damage at the hands of the military during armed conflict, including the July 2019 ruling of the Dutch Supreme Court in the 'Mothers of Srebrenica' case. It explores how these decisions contribute to the debate on the right to reparation for victims of international humanitarian law violations.
NEW CASES: New case summaries are available on the International Crimes Database!
Prosecutor v Ayyash et al.
Two of the five new case summaries relate to the case of The Prosecutor v Ayyash et al. before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). In its Interlocutory Decision of 16 February 2011 (available here), the Appeals Chamber of the Tribunal found whilst it was bound to apply Lebanese criminal law, international law could be used to aid in the interpretation of these domestic provisions. Significantly, the Chamber concluded that the crime of terrorism exists in customary international law. In the STL Trial Chamber Decision of 1 February 2012 (available here), the Tribunal found that the four accused may be tried in absentia, as all four of the accused had absconded or otherwise could not be found and all reasonable steps had been taken to secure their presence.
Prosecution of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan
The other three summaries (here, here and here) relate to the trial of Nuon Chea, the former Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and Khieu Samphan, the former Head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). This string of cases culminated in the conviction and life sentence of Chea and Samphan for crimes against humanity relating to the forcible transfer of the population, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity committed at security centres and worksites. Both were also found guilty of genocide of the Vietnamese people, whilst Chea was also guilty of genocide of the Cham people.
The Asser Institute received assistance from the Washington College of Law Internship Programme in the preparation of these case summaries.
NEW CASES: New case summaries of the two most recent decisions in The Public Prosecutor v. Guus Kouwenhoven in the Netherlands are now available online. The 's-Hertogenbosch Court of Appeal decision found Guus Kouwenhoven guilty of weapons smuggling and complicity in war crimes committed by Charles Taylor's regime in Liberia during the second civil war from 1999-2003. The Court found that the amnesty scheme implemented by Charles Taylor's government shortly before Taylor fled Liberia did not prevent the prosecution of Kouwenhoven in the Netherlands, and sentenced Kouwenhoven to 19 years' imprisonment. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld this decision, finding that the Court of Appeal had correctly decided that the amnesty scheme did not prevent the prosecution of Kouwenhoven.
NEW BRIEF: The first ICD Brief of 2019 (available here) is now available on our website! Matt Brown has written on the evacuation of Eastern Aleppo in Syria, dealing with a question as to whether it could be classified as forced displacement under international law.
NEW CASES: The twelve summaries (available in the database) added are related to terrorism, attempted terrorism, and providing material support. Most of the cases are from the United States as well as England and Wales, and relate to (attemped) fighting in Syria and Iraq (foreign fighters). They give a good insight of common law approaches to prosecuting terrorism-related offences. An example of a new case analysis is United States of America v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi. Both Mr. Elhuzayel and Mr. Badawi were convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS). The defendants had used social media accounts to support IS, and Mr. Badawi had filmed Mr. Elhuzayel pledging allegiance to IS and promising to travel to Syria to fight. Mr. Elhuzayel was arrested prior to boarding a flight to Israel via Turkey. They were also found guilty of financial fraud charges, the proceeds of which had been used to fund the travel. In the preparation of the US cases for the ICD database, the Asser Institute received assistance from students enrolled in the International Justice Project of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law.