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News updates

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(For older news updates, please visit our news archive.)

12 July 2016: The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution, passed narrowly by four votes, authorising United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to launch an investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and Crimes Against Humanity committed by President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte. The official death toll from Duterte’s “war on drugs” is at 5,300, however human rights groups estimate the real figure is somewhere between 12,000-20,000.

11 July 2019: Two petitions for the disqualification of Judge Brichambaut at the International Criminal Court have been dismissed. Early this month it was reported that the Plenary of Judges determined that the evidence presented did not meet the high threshold for disqualifying a judge on grounds of impartiality. Accusations against Judge Brichambaut included that he had continued to engage in a variety of professional activities aimed at advancing the political and military interests of France and that he showed signs of bias when speaking about issues under litigation.  

10 July 2019: The trial of two Dutch alleged Islamic State militants has commenced in the District Court of The Hague’s International Crimes Chamber, sitting in Schiphol, the Netherlands. Oussama Achraf Akhlafa has been charged with war crimes allegedly committed in Iraq and Syria, including posing with a corpse and sharing images of dead victims online, as well as membership in a terrorist organisation. The second defendant, Reda Nidalha, is accused of membership of a terrorist organisation and recruiting radical jihadists via Facebook. This is the first trial in the Netherlands dealing with war crimes committed by alleged Islamic State militants.

9 July 2019: Yesterday the confirmation of charges hearing in the Al Hassan case commenced before the International Criminal Court. According to the warrant of arrest, Mr Al Hassan was allegedly a member of Ansar Dine and a de facto chief of the Islamic Police in Mali. He is alleged to have committed a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Timbuktu, Mali, between April 2012 and January 2013.

8 July 2019: Former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has been convicted before the International Criminal Court on 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ituri, DRC, between 2002-2003. In the ruling, Judge Robert Fremr stated that Ntaganda was a “key leader” who gave orders to “target and kill civilians”. Ntaganda is also the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery before the International Criminal Court.

5 July 2019: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested that the Court authorise an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Prosecutor has conducted a preliminary examination into alleged crimes committed against the Rohingya population in Myanmar and Bangladesh and has indicated in the request that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crimes against humanity of deportation, other inhumane acts and persecution under article 7 of the Rome Statute have been committed. In September 2018 the Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over the situation, as one element of the crime of deportation had been committed in a State Party to the Rome Statute (Bangladesh).

5 July 2019: A military court in San Diego in the United States has found Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who had been accused of war crimes allegedly committed in Iraq, not guilty on a number of charges. In the high-profile case, Gallagher had been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly fatally stabbing a 17 year old ISIS militant in a US military hospital and with the attempted murder of civilians, and was acquitted on both charges. He was convicted for posing and taking a photograph with a dead body.  

New cases, briefs and videos

(For older announcements, please visit our announcements archive.)

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.

NEW BRIEFS: The new briefs (available here) are related to the work and legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (‘ICTY’), that operated from 1993 - 2017. Among its accused were Slobodan Milošević, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. The tribunal was formally closed last year after 24 years of operation and after having issued 161 indictments. The authors of these Briefs have all worked for the ICTY.

Appeals on errors of fact

Rupert Elderkin’s ICD Brief concentrates on the ICTY’s appeals on errors of fact. It highlights the Appeals Chamber’s little deference to the trial chambers’ factual findings. By implicitly identifying the judges responsible for those judgements, the Appeals Chamber unnecessarily raised doubts about the judicial professionalism of the institution.

Role of defence in international criminal proceedings

In their Brief, Fiana Reinhardt and Lisa Feirabend examine the changing perception of the importance and role of the defence in international criminal proceedings. They emphasise the changing role of the defence before the ICTY, and how the lessons learnt there are reflected in the practice of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the International Criminal Court.

Mladić case

Jonas Nilsson elaborates upon the last case before the ICTY, the trial of Ratko Mladić. Nilsson analyses its pre-trial and trial proceedings and expands on its lessons learned that are of relevance to present and future courts and tribunals. Nilsson also provided a lecture on this topic in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law Lecture Series, which can be viewed here

NEW VIDEOS: New videos available online. On 22 March 2018, David Schwendiman, former Specialist Prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, provided a lecture on his time at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and the challenges ahead. On 31 January 2018, Jonas Nilsson, team leader of the Mladić case in Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, gave a lecture on ‘The Mladić Trial - An Insider's View’. Both lectures were given in the context of the Supranational Criminal Law (SCL) Lectures Series hosted by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut. The video recordings for both lectures can be viewed here. The report on the Mladić Trial lecture can be found here.

INTERNSHIP VACANCY: We are currently hiring for the International Criminal Law and Legal Aspects of Counter-Terrorismintern Internship position (French required). The intern will work on the International Crimes Database and capacity building projects on International Criminal law and Transnational Criminal Law. The internship will be based at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague (Deadline: 3 April 2018).