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

7 August 2020: In a statement issued in Monrovia on August 5, 2020, nine human rights groups in Liberia have expressed fear that they are receiving threats from some ranking security officers of the Liberian Government. The groups, which include CIVITAS MAXIMA, in a collective tone, noted that “Credible threats” have been made against a staff of the Global Justice and Research project (GJRP), Hassan Bility, as well as witnesses of alleged crimes by a recent defendant of a war crimes unit in the United Kingdom. The human rights organisations added that Adama Dempster, Secretary-General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, also received threats in connection to his human rights work and advocacy for a war crimes court.

6 August 2020: Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has presented an award to a Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect despite mounting criticism, decorating a wartime Croat police unit for their "contribution to the liberation of Croatia". Zlatan Mijo Jelic, a retired general of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), received the award at a ceremony in the Croatian city of Knin marking the 25th anniversary of the country's victory over rebel Serbs during the war in 1995. Bosnia's state prosecution indicted Jelic in 2016 over alleged war crimes against Bosniaks in the southern city of Mostar between 1993 and 1994. Jelic has refused to stand trial and denies the charges. He moved to Croatia in 2012 and renounced his Bosnian citizenship, according to Trial International, an NGO fighting impunity for international crimes.

5 August 2020: According to the United Nations, more than 1,300 people were killed in the first six months of the year by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), three times more than in the same period in 2019. The report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) said fighters of all armed groups were responsible for the summary executions or arbitrary killings of at least 1,315 people, including 165 children, between January and June 2020.The UN has warned that some of the latest attacks could amount to crimes against humanity.

4 August 2020: According to the Lybia Observer, Khalifa Haftar, who is facing several lawsuits in the United States for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has hired New York law firm, Tucker Levin PLLC to represent him in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, according to a statement by the Libyan American Alliance (LAA). Faisal Gill, the lawyer retained to represent families of Haftar's victims in Libya said that after ignoring the courts for months, Haftar finally got the message that the people filing the lawsuits are serious about pursuing justice for the victims of his egregious and violent actions.

3 August 2020: Renewed attacks in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan by armed groups and government dispersals of protests have left dozens dead and thousands displaced. The southwestern region has witnessed a wave of violence that led to the death of at least 100 civilians in July, despite a short lull in the unrest after the 2019 Sudanese revolution that ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir, who is in jail and wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of overseeing crimes against humanity over his scorched-earth campaign against rebels in Darfur more than a decade ago.

31 July 2020: The state court of Bosnia has awarded two men acquitted of war crimes some 5,000 euros each for suffering non-material damage. Both Zijad Hamzic and Nusret Muhic were represented by lawyer Kenan Hadzimuhovic. According to Hadzimuhovic, in the first case, the first instance court awarded Hamzic 4,000 marks only, but following an appeal, they raised the amount to 10,000, about 5,000 euros while concerning the second case, the first instance court awarded him 17,000 marks but the second instance chamber upheld an appeal filed by the Office of the Attorney General  and reduced it to KM 10,000. 

30 July 2020: A report by the UN, based on 100 first-hand accounts by North Korean women, details allegations that they were beaten or suffered other individual or collective punishment while in detention between 2009 and 2019, which could amount to crimes against humanity. “These accounts show once again the systemic nature of human rights violations in the DPRK, and the need to keep seeking pathways to proper accountability for such crimes”, said Ms. Bachelet, the UN Human Rights Chief. Ms. Bachelet added that the UN Human Rights Office will continue to collect evidence of this kind to support a process of criminal accountability. The report concludes with recommendations calling for the Government to bring the detention system into line with international norms and standards.

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 (herehere 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.