Saturday, December 20, 2008
We're celebrating more than 15,000 visits to the International Law Prof Blog. We are especially pleased to have a wide readership from all around the world, including with colleagues who live in countries where direct communication is sometimes otherwise difficult. We thank you for your visits, comments, and contributions. Please continue to send us news of conferences, books and other legal scholarship, moot court competitions, international exchange opportunities, and important substantive developments in international law. Here's an update of the list of places from which we have visitors to our blog . . . our latest addition to the list is Malta!
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Thank you all for visiting the International Law Prof Blog.
The U.N. Security Council called on the United Nations war crimes tribunals dealing with the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s to conduct their trials as quickly and efficiently as possible, and pledged to support their efforts to complete their work.
Ambassador Neven Juric of Croatia, which holds the Council Presidency for the month of December, noted that “the deadline for completion of trial activities at first instance has not been met and that the Tribunals have indicated that their work is not likely to end in 2010.”
The completion strategy of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) requires it to finish trials of first instance by 2009. But its President, Patrick Robinson, told the Security Council that while the Tribunal was still on track to complete most of its trials during 2009, some trials would continue into the first part of 2010. This would also affect the dates for appeals, which may spill over into 2012.
Likewise, President Dennis Byron of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said that instead of the decreased workload that might have been expected with the Tribunal moving towards the completion of its mandate, the court was now confronted with as many as 10 new cases. At the same time, ICTR is faced with the resignation of judges and 13 fugitives remained at large.
To assist the ICTR, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the Secretary-General to appoint up to three additional ad litem, or short-term, judges to ICTR, as requested by its President. The Council took a similar decision regarding the ICTY last week. Click here to read Security Council Resolution 1849 on ICTY.
Friday, December 19, 2008
For those of you who enjoy following briefing schedules, the International Court of Justice has directed the Rebublic of Nicaragua to submit a Reply and the Republic of Colombia to submit a Rejoinder in the case known as Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia). Click here to read more.
The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia rendered its judgment in the Astrit Haraqija and Bajrush Morina Contempt of Court case. It found both defendants guilty of trying to persuade a witness not to testify in the trial of Ramush Haradinaj and others. Harqija was sentenced to five months' imprisonment and Morina to three months’ imprisonment.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ordered disclosure to Radovan Karadzic of any written or recorded evidence the prosecution may have concerning an alleged meeting in July 1996 between Karadzic and Richard Holbrooke. Karadzic claims that Holbrooke offered him immunity if he would withdraw from public life. Click here to read more on the International Law Reporter Blog nicely run by Professor Jacob Katz Cogan at the University of Cincinatti College of Law.
By the way, the ICTY has now concluded proceedings against 116 persons. Click here to visit the new website for the ICTY.
ICTR Gives Life Sentences for Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity to Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva; Kabiligi Acquitted and Released
From an ICTR Press Release: Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) rendered judgement in the “Military I” case involving four senior officers of the Rwandan army in 1994: Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, Director of Cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence; General Gratien Kabiligi, head of the military operations bureau (G-3) of the army general staff; Major Aloys Ntabakuze, commander of the Para Commando Battalion; and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, commander of the Operational Sector of Gisenyi.
It sentenced Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes based on their role in crimes committed in Rwanda. The Chamber acquitted Kabiligi of all charges against him and ordered his release. It also acquitted each of the Accused of conspiring to commit genocide before 7 April 1994.
The Chamber found that, in the first days after the death of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, Bagosora was the highest authority in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence with authority over the Rwandan military. He was considered responsible for the killing, on 7 April, of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Joseph Kavaruganda, the President of the Constitutional Court, as well as Frédéric Nzamurambaho, Landoald Ndasingwa and Faustin Rucogoza, who were opposition party officials and government ministers. He was found guilty in connection with the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers who were killed by soldiers at Camp Kigali on 7 April. Bagosora was also responsible for the organised killings perpetrated by soldiers and militiamen at a number of sites throughout Kigali and Gisenyi between 6 and 9 April. Ntabakuze was found guilty, as the commander of the elite Para Commando Battalion, for the participation of his soldiers in killings at Kabeza, Nyanza Hill and the L’Institut Africain et Mauricien de Statistiques et d’Economie (IAMSEA) in Kigali. Nsengiyumva was considered responsible for massacres at Mudende University, Nyundo Parish as well as the targeted killing of civilians in Gisenyi prefecture, the area under his operational command. He was also guilty of sending militiamen to the Bisesero area of Kibuye prefecture to kill Tutsi refugees in June 1994. The Prosecution alleged that Kabiligi participated in the distribution of weapons, meetings to plan the genocide as well as a number of specific crimes, many of which were related to roadblocks in the Kigali area. Kabiligi advanced a successful alibi for much of this time period. It was also not proven that he had operational authority or that he targeted civilians.
The trial opened on 2 April 2002 before Trial Chamber III. After the non-reelection of one judge and the announced retirement of another, the case was transferred with the consent of the Accused in June 2003 to Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse of Norway (presiding), Sergei Alekseevich Egorov of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji.
A total of 242 witnesses were heard during the trial, 82 for the Prosecution and 160 for the Defence. The trial concluded after 408 days. More than 300 written judicial decisions were issued during the course of the proceedings.
In parallel with this trial, the judges heard nine single-accused cases. The Prosecution trial team was lead by Barbara Mulvaney of the United States. The Defence teams were led by Raphaël Constant of Martinique (Bagosora); Paul Skolnik of Canada (Kabiligi); Peter Erlinder of the United States (Ntabakuze); and Kennedy Ogetto of Kenya (Nsengiyumva).
Thursday, December 18, 2008
It used to be that when I taught the 1980 Filartiga v. Pena-Irala case on torture and came to the reference to piracy from United States v. Smith (1820), it all seemed like ancient history to my students. However, the regular news reports in 2008 regarding piracy off the coast of Somalia has renewed interest in the issue of piracy under international law. In Filartiga, the U.S. Circuit Court opined: "[t]he torturer has become-like the pirate and slave trader before him-hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind." Statements such as these by jurists and others contribute to the international law concept that piracy is a crime over which there is universal jurisdiction, i.e., that all states have the duty to prevent and punish piracy. Regional and international cooperation will clearly be necessary to reduce or end piracy in the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa.
On December 16, 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) issued a press release proposing measures to stop piracy in the Horn of Africa, which includes a number of measures to deter, arrest and punish pirates. In this day and age, "[p]irates cannot be keel-hauled or forced to walk the plank, nor should they be dumped off the Somali coast," says UNDOC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. Rather, "they need to be brought to justice." Somali pirates cannot be tried in Somalia because its criminal justice system has collapsed. According to Mr. Costa, trials in the countries where the vessels are flagged are also unlikely because those countries do not want to deal with crimes committed thousands of miles away. Some consideration has been given to the idea that the country that captures the pirates, such as the United States or India, could hold trials; however, Mr. Costa suggests that procedural protections under international human rights law may hinder that idea as well. Accordingly, UNDOC is proposing that pirates be tried in the region after having been arrested by local policemen. UNDOC suggests that local policemen from countries such as Kenya, Tanzania or Yemen, be employed as "ship riders" on warships operating off the Horn of Africa and that these "ship riders" effect the arrest of the pirates in the name of their home countries and have the pirates sent to those countries for trial. According to UNDOC, this practice has been employed in the Caribbean to arrest drug traffickers.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The U.N. Security Council unanimously extended for a further two months the mandate of the independent probe into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and several other political killings in Lebanon. Click here to read more.
In response to an earlier blog posting on the subject of whether the United States should ratify CEDAW, Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Dean of Symbiosis Law School in Pune, India wrote: " Given the debatable nature of linking ratification to efficacy of treaties, I wonder if this is important. We should now be looking at reservations rather than ratification. Further, ratification or no ratification, the state practice is the best indicator, along with the HDI [Human Development Index] of the concerned group."
We thank Dr Gurpur for the comment and we welcome additional views on the subjects of treaty reservations and of linking ratification to the efficacy of treaties, including whether widespread ratification is truly an indicator of state practice.
The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law announced that the topic of the 2009 Human Rights Essay Award will be “60 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Its Contemporary Normative Impact.” Deadline for submissions is February 3, 2009. The award consists of a scholarship to the 2009 Specialized Human Rights Program, travel expenses to Washington, D.C., housing at the university dorms, and per diem for living expenses for the three-week sessions. A comprehensive list of rules is available by clicking here.
Hat tip to Russell Kerr.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
On Monday, December 15, Montenegro filed its official application to become the 28th member of the European Union (EU). Montenegro hopes to gain candidate country status sometime in 2009. Montenegro was part of the former Yugoslavia, but declared its independence in 2006. It then signed a Stabilisation and Accession Agreement (SSA) with the EU in 2007 in preparation for filing its membership application. Before Montenegro can join the EU, however, it must work on further reforms to its public administration and judicial systems and on reducing corruption. Approval of its membership application requires an unanimous affirmative vote by the existing members of the EU.
With respect to the EU membership status of other former Yugoslav states, Croatia and Macedonia have had their membership applications pending since 2004 and 2005, respectively. Croatia began its accession talks with the EU in 2005 and hopes to conclude them in 2009. Macedonia has yet to begin its accesssion talks. Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav state to have successfully joined the EU, which occurred in 2004.
The section's Spring 2009 meeting will be held April 14-18, 2009 in Washington, D.C. (The Spring meeting fluctuates each year between New York City and Washington DC, and 2009 is the year for Washington). The meeting is a not-to-be-missed event, always well attended because of its high quality programs and in international business law, international dispute resolution, public international law, international trade law and other international topics of interest to lawyers with a cross-border practice. April in Washington is also a lovely time of year to visit the city.
The Section of International Law will hold a leadership retreat in Wisconsin in the last week of July, just before the ABA annual meeting in Chicago. The leadership retreat is open to section leaders . . . and to section members who would like to become section leaders.
The section's Fall 2009 meeting will be held October 27-31, 2009 at the Eden Roc Renaissance Beach Resort and Spa in Miami Beach, Florida. More than 800 international lawyers from around the world are expected to attend, with more than 70 programs of interest to lawyers with a cross-border practice, and of course international law professors and other readers of this blog who have an interest in international law issues.
Visit the section website for more information.
The Special Tribunal to try those responsible for political killings in Lebanon appears to be on track to begin its work on March 1, 2009. Among the cases that tribunal will handle is the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was killed in a massive car bombing in downtown Beirut.
Monday, December 15, 2008
A bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee Report has said that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials are directly responsible for abuses of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that decisions by those officials also led to serious offenses against prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere. The report contradicts Bush Administration claims that harsh prisoner interrogation techniques were sought by front-line military officers. Click here for a link to the Law Librarian Blog, which has a link to the Report's executive summary. You can also read more about it here on Jurist, which has some great document links as well.
Hat tip to Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog.
The Chinese Law Prof Blog notes that the People's Republic of China has filed its state-party report to the U.N. Human Rights Council. That is the report that every state-party nation must file. Click here to read more. The English translation of China's report has not yet been posted, but the links here will provide that once it is available.
Hat tip to the Chinese Law Prof Blog.