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

4 December 2020: The State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has found two Bosnian Serbs guilty of crimes against humanity committed within a widespread and systematic attack By the military, paramilitary and police forces of Republika Srpska, RS. Radovan Paprica and Macak, were sentenced to eight years each in prison and ordered to pay compensation to the victim. 

3 December 2020: The United Kingdom has opened an investigation into allegations of war crimes by British mercenaries involved in the Sri Lankan civil war. The Metropolitan police received a referral concerning war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in the 1980's after which it carried out a scoping exercise. The Metropolitan Police, which is the UK force designated to investigate accusations of war crimes or human rights abuses, will investigate multiple atrocities including the 1987 prawn farm massacre in which 83 people were killed.

2 December 2020: Trial of former Liberian commander accused of war crimes including rape, pillage, and assassinations has begun in Switzerland. Alieu Kosiah was allegedly involved in the Liberian conflict from 1989-2003 which killed nearly a quarter of a million people. It is Switzerland's first war crimes trial to be heard outside of a military court. 

1 December 2020: Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court announced that the judgment on conviction or acquittal in the case The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen will be delivered on 4 February 2021. The delivery was initially scheduled for 12 January 2021. Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda.

30 November 2020: The United Nations has expressed concern about possible war crimes after a threat by the Ethiopian army to start an assualt on the northern Tigray region's capital. Fighting between the government and regional forces in Tigray has been going on for over three weeks. A deadline set by the government for fighters in the region to surrender expired last Wednesday. 

27 November 2020: The Australian Defence Force has sent notice of likely dismissal to 13 special forces soldiers following the report on the alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan. They are suspected of being accessories or witnesses to the killing of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners, or of being dishonest in testifying. They are separate from the 19 Special Air Service troops who could face prosecution for the murders.

26 November 2020: Azerbaijan has declared that it is investigating war crimes committed by Armenian and Azerbaijani forces during the six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev told that four ethnic Armenian leaders, including the president of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh republic, Arayik Harutyunyan were charged with war crimes in absentia.

New cases, briefs and videos

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

NEW CASES: Case analysis of the summary of the judgment in the The Prosecutor v Ayyash et al. case (August, 2020) is now online. It can be accessed here.

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.