(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)
12 December 2019: Pre-Trial Chamber II (PTC II) of the International Criminal Court has confirmed the charges against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona. PTC II unanimously decided that there is substantial grounds to believe Yekatom and Ngaïssona are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between 2013-2014, committing both to trial.
11 December 2019: Montenegro's Court of Appeal has confirmed the conviction of former Yugoslav soldier Vlado Zmajevic of war crimes for the murder of four ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999. He faces a sentence of 14 years' imprisonment. This judgment is final and cannot be appealed. To date, Montenegro has only tried six war crimes cases.
10 December 2019: Charges against former Liberian first lady Agnes Reeves Taylor have been dismissed in a United Kingdom court. Taylor was charged with torture and conspiracy to commit torture allegedly committed during Liberia’s civil war and has remained in custody since her arrest in 2017. Her ex-husband, former Liberian President Charles Taylor, is currently serving a 50 year sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone.
9 December 2019: The Assembly of States Parties has approved a Swiss proposal enabling the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute the war crime of intentional starvation of civilians in non-international armed conflicts. Previously, starvation of civilians was only a war crime under the Rome Statute if committed during international armed conflicts. As pointed out by scholar Kevin Jon Heller on the Opinio Juris blog, this amendment will only apply to States Parties who choose to ratify it.
5 December 2019: An Argentinian rights group has released a report alleging that members of Bolivia’s de facto government are responsible for crimes against humanity. The report states: "We have found that the repressive system set up by the de facto government has caused dozens of deaths, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, thousands of wounded, countless cases of coercion and torture, rapes and other crimes against the physical, psychological and sexual integrity of the victims who are men, women, children, the elderly and members of vulnerable groups”.
4 December 2019: The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (OTP) has confirmed its decision not to open an investigation into an attack by Israeli Defense forces on a Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The OTP has maintained its position that this situation is not sufficiently grave to open an investigation. This follows a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber in November 2018 ordering the OPT to reconsider its decision not to open an investigation into the Comoros situation.
2 December 2019: A former senior military official has been indicted in Guatemala on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the country’s 36-year civil war. Luis Enrique Mendoza Garcia is due to be tried in March for his role in an operation in the 1980s that led to the death of at least 1,771 of the Maya Ixil Indigenous group and displaced thousands. Mendoza Garcia is the fourth military official to be indicted recently for genocide against the Maya Ixil community, alongside Benedicto Lucas Garcia, Manuel Callejas and Cesar Noguera.
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.