(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
20 October 2020: Human Rights Watch declares that the North Korean pretrial detention and investigation system is arbitrary and lacks any semblance of due process. The report titled, "Worth Less Than an Animal: Abuses and Due Process Violations in Pretial Detention in North Korea" specifically highlights pretrial abuses of detainees as gross human rights violations. In 2014, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea said that the systematic human rights violations committed by the North Korean government constituted crimes against humanity.
19 October 2020: The International Criminal Court's delegation including its Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda arrived at Sudan to discuss the cases of Al-Bashir and two other former officials of Sudanese government wanted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok expressed commitment to achieving justice and cooperating with the International Criminal Court.
16 October 2020: Human Rights Watch has accused the Syria-Russia alliance of committing possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by attacking civilians in rebel-held Idlib province. The report, titled Targeting Life in Idlib - Syrian and Russian Strikes on Civilian Infrastructure, examines 46 attacks on civilian infratructure such as schools and hospitals in Idlib during the 11-month offensive and calls for sanctions against 10 top military officials involved.
15 October 2020: Amnesty International reports that Ecuador’s largest Indigenous organisation has filed a lawsuit against President Lenin Moreno and other officials for alleged crimes against humanity committed during protests last October that left 10 people dead. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) asked the prosecutor’s office on Monday to investigate “crimes against humanity” because they believe the crackdown was “a systematic and widespread attack on the civilian population,” the group’s lawyer, Carlos Poveda said.
14 October 2020: UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals announced that Milan Lukic, wartime leader of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group has filed for appeal to reconsider the judgment that found him guilty of wartime crimes. Milan Lukic was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012. He is currently serving his sentence in Estonia.
13 October 2020: According to new evidence gathered by Amnesty International, there have recently been indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Rakhine State, amid serious escalations in the ongoing armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army. This evidence is based on firsthand testimony, photographs and video obtained from inside Rakhine State, and analysis of satellite imagery as well as media reports and civil society sources. This barely one month since the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that in some recent cases in Rakhine State, civilians appeared to have been indiscriminately targeted or attacked, actions that may "constitute further war crimes or even crimes against humanity.”
12 October 2020: The Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor confirmed that it received a criminal complaint submitted by a group of NGOs accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for committing war crimes by using chemical weapons and targeting citizens. The chemical attacks that occured in Syria twice, in 2013 and 2017, are being considered under the principle of universal jurisdiction in Germany.
New cases, briefs and videos
(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)
NEW VIDEO: A new video is available online. The very first online (Zoom) Supranational Criminal Law (SCL) lecture was organised on 3 June 2020, titled ‘Challenges to Prosecuting Paramilitaries: Insights from the former Yugoslavia and Syria’. Speakers were Dr Iva Vukušić, Visiting Research Fellow at Department of War Studies, King’s College London, Ali Aljasem, MA, Researcher at the History Department, Utrecht University and Dr Matthew Gillett, Director, Peace and Justice Initiative and Trial Lawyer, Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC. The video recording can be viewed here.
NEW VIDEO: A new video is available online. On 10 February 2020, Dr Christopher Soler, Judge Kimberly Prost and Dr. Yasmin Naqvi provided a lecture at the Asser Institute in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lectures Series (SCL). The lecture was organised to celebrate the publication of the book The Global Prosecution of Core Crimes under International Law. The video recording can be viewed here.
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.