Monday, October 31, 2011

Both sides in the Libyan conflict want ICC action

In June, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi and his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Although Gaddafi's death moots his arrest warrant, the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, reportedly has "substantial evidence" against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, indicating his involvement in planning attacks against civilians. Reports also suggest that the ICC prosecutor is in indirect talks with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi regarding his possible surrender to the ICC.

Meanwhile, it is also reported that Gaddafi's other family members want the ICC prosecutor to investigate claims that NATO violated international law during its involvement in the Libyan conflict. Gaddafi's family alleges that NATO's airstrikes led to Gaddafi's death in violation of article 8 of the ICC Statute regarding war crimes.

The family is likely to have difficulty asserting ICC jurisdiction over the matter. The ICC can only obtain jurisdiction through a referral by the United Nations Security Council, a referral by a State Party or a matter brought by the prosecutor and approved by a chamber of judges. Libya is not a party to the ICC Statute, so its government could not refer the matter. It seems unlikely that the UNSC would refer the matter to the ICC given that some of the permanent members of the UNSC are also members of NATO. Thus, the Gaddafi family would have to rely on the discretion of the ICC prosecutor and judges.


October 31, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Proposed Law Change in Norway Would Remove Rights of Indigenous Minority Group

A United Nations expert urged Norway today to strongly reject the proposal by one of its parties to repeal key laws and policies designed to protect indigenous groups, saying its approval would represent an “enormous setback for the recognition and protection of human rights in the country.”  “Norway could cease to be the world leader it has become in the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples if the Norwegian national Parliament approves the proposal of one of the largest political parties in the country, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet),” said Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people James Anaya.

The proposal would take away many of the land ownership, self-determination and protection rights of the Sami people, Norway’s largest indigenous group, which also inhabits parts of Sweden, Finland and Russia.  “If approved, the proposal will reverse the many advances Norway has made towards recognizing and securing the rights of the Sami people in accordance to international standards, despite significant challenges,” Mr. Anaya said.  “I am further concerned that the ensuing debate on the proposal could perpetuate negative views of the Sami people and encourage discrimination against them.”

The proposal recommends that the Norwegian Parliament denounce the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention on indigenous and tribal peoples which gives indigenous groups the right to choose to integrate or maintain their cultural and political integrity.  In addition, it recommends the abolition of the Sami Parliament and the administrative area for the Sami language, as well as asking the national Parliament to repeal the Finnmark Act, which gave the Sami people the right to manage their land without interference.

 “I am pleased that the Government of Norway has taken a firm position against the proposal,” Mr. Anaya stressed. “I appeal to the members of the standing committee on local government and public administration, members of the Norwegian national Parliament, and to the Norwegian people as a whole, to likewise strongly reject the proposal of the Progress Party, as well as any future proposals that may undermine the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Sami people in Norway.”

Last year, Mr. Anaya met with Government officials in Norway to discuss key issues affecting Sami people, including their right to land, water and education. In January, Mr. Anaya issued a report on their living situation focusing on their right to self-determination at a national level exercised through Sami parliaments and efforts to revitalize their language and provide Sami children with culturally appropriate education.

(UN Press Release)

October 28, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICC Prosecutor is in Indirect Negotiations with Qadhafi's Son

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today his office is in indirect contact with Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, son of the former Libyan leader, on his possible surrender to face charges for crimes against humanity.  “Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement. “The Office of the Prosecutor has made it clear that if he surrenders to the ICC, he has the right to be heard in court, he is innocent until proven guilty.”

In June the ICC issued arrest warrants for Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, his son and the country’s intelligence chief, Abdullah Al Sanousi for their roles in attacks against protesters, hundreds of whom are confirmed to have been killed since opposition forces rose up against the regime as part of a wider pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East.

Muammar al-Qadhafi was killed last week in his hometown of Sirte during the final days of the eight-month-long conflict. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said his office is galvanizing efforts to carry out the arrest warrants against the other two men.

He also noted reports that there is a group of mercenaries who are offering to move Mr. al-Islam to an African country not party to the 1998 Rome Statute that established the ICC. His office is exploring the possibility of intercepting any plane within the airspace of a State party to make an arrest, said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.  “This is a legal process and if the judges decide that Saif is innocent, or has served his sentence, he can request the judges to send him to a different country as long as that country accepts him.”

The Prosecutor has stated in the past that while Libya is not a State party to the Rome Statute, it has the primary responsibility to carry out the arrest warrants in compliance with the relevant resolution of the Security Council, which referred the situation in the country to the ICC.

Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) on Sunday declared the full liberation of the country, just days after the death of Mr. Qadhafi. The North African nation now faces a host of challenges, including organizing an electoral process, establishing public security and starting a reconciliation process.

(UN Press Release)

October 28, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (Meeting Announcement for California)

The U.S. Department of State announced a meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy to discuss what narratives are, how they are shaped, and how they are countered; also, the conference will delve into the impact on narratives of actions and words and the impact of environmental factors. The meeting will be November 29, 2011, 9 am, the RAND Offices, 1176 Main Street, Santa Monica, California. FR66345.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office


October 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Compensation Commission Pays Out More than $1 Billion Today

Over $1 billion was disbursed today to eight successful claimants by the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which settles the damage claims of those who suffered losses because of Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. This latest round of payments – a total of $1,038,375,281 – brings the overall amount of compensation made available to date by the Commission to nearly $34.3 billion for over 100 governments and international organizations for distribution to 1.5 million successful claimants.

Successful claims are paid with funds drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is funded by a percentage of the proceeds – set at 5 per cent – generated by the export sales of Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, according to a news release from the Commission.  The Geneva-based UNCC’s Governing Council has identified six categories of claims: four are for individuals’ claims, one for corporations and one for governments and international organizations, which also includes claims for environmental damage.

Established in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the Security Council, the Commission has received nearly 3 million claims, including from close to 100 governments for themselves, their nationals or their corporations.

(UN Press Release)

October 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

President of ICJ Addresses UN

Judge Hisashi Owada, President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), gave his annual report on the activities of the Court to the UN General Assembly today. He stated that it is vital that international law underpin developments on the global stage, especially in an ever increasingly globalized and interconnected world.

“It is no exaggeration to say that all regions of the world have become closely intertwined. . . In this 21st century, international politics are undeniably interconnected; a truly global economy has emerged; and our natural environment and global climate change have created new challenges. In these times of unprecedented interconnection between States and peoples, it is my sincere belief that a firm reliance on international law must underpin any and all future developments on the global stage.”

Judge Owada noted the trust that the international community continues to place in the Court to handle a wide variety of legal disputes: “States from all corners of world, faithful to their attachment to international law, continue to have recourse to the Court in order to find a judicial settlement to their disputes."

Since last October, the Court has rendered four judgments and three orders on cases involving countries from various regions of the world and raising a broad range of legal questions, from border and maritime disputes to compensation for injury and racial discrimination.

Given a “remarkable” increase in the number of cases on the docket, the President said the Court is now opining on more than a few cases on a parallel basis, thus making its best endeavours to eliminate a backlog on judicial work.

“It is my hope that Member States will continue to rely on the International Court of Justice to assist them in the pacific settlement of their disputes and that more States will accept the Court’s jurisdiction.”

The Court’s current docket stands at 15 cases, most of which are still at the stage of being in the hands of the parties who are presenting their written proceedings in advance of the oral hearings.

The two most recent cases that have been filed concern a border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua as well as the row between Cambodia and Thailand over the Preah Vihear temple.

(cgb) (from a UN press release)

October 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Vanuatu Set to Join WTO

WTOThe World Trade Organization (WTO) has approved Vanuatu's accession package, clearing the way for Vanuatu to become the 154th member of the WTO.  Vanuatu must complete the ratification process by April 2012 and its membership will become effective 30 days later.  For more information, visit the WTO website.


October 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Briefly Noted: Attorneys on the Move

The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf announced that Carter Brod has joined the firm as a partner in the Moscow office. Mr. Brod was previously at White & Case. He will head the Russian Capital Markets practice.



October 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Royal Dutch Shell sued again under ATS

Royal Dutch Shell is facing legal action once again for its international activities. The company is accused of contaminating well water in Nigeria with benzene at levels that are 900 times greater than recommended by the World Health Organization. The UN Environment Program issued a report in August implicating Royal Dutch Shell and the state-owned Nigerian oil company in the contamination, which allegedly resulted from a failure to take adequate measures to prevent oil spills and to adequately clean them up. Several tribal leaders in the Delta region of Nigeria brought the lawsuit in US District Court in Michigan under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) which permits suits by aliens for torts in violation of international law. News reports indicate that Royal Dutch Shell is accused of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, willful negligence and violations of various treaty obligations. The lawsuit seeks $1 billion in damages as well as clean-up of the contamination. Royal Dutch Shell is also a defendant in another ATS lawsuit before the US Supreme Court (Kiobel) and settled another lawsuit arising from its operations in the Nigerian Delta region for $15 million in 2009.


October 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Antonio Cassese, A Giant of International Law, Has Died in Italy

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to Judge Antonio Cassese, a renowned legal expert who died on Saturday, calling him "a giant of international law" and a loyal friend to the United Nations.

Judge Cassese, who also taught international law to generations of students around the world, passed away at his home in the Italian city of Florence at the age of 74.  He had a long and distinguished career, during which he assisted the United Nations in a number of capacities. He was the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the first President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He stepped down from the latter post recently due to illness. He also reviewed the judicial efficiency of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), and led the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur.

"In these and many other functions Antonio Cassese shaped the development of international criminal justice and made a major contribution to fighting impunity and bringing about an age of accountability," Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.  "The United Nations will fondly remember Antonio Cassese as a giant of international law, as a loyal friend who was always there when the Organization needed his wise counsel and dedicated services, and mostly as an exceptionally charming and warm human being who courageously stood up for justice, for human rights and for humanity," the statement added.

(UN Press Release)

The Board of the International Law Students Association (ILSA), which was meeting on Saturday when news of Professor Cassese's death was announced, adopted a special resolution remembering his life and his many contributions to the field of international law and international criminal law in particular.

Click here for more information (in Italian) on Prof. Cassese.




Tributes continued to flow in on Monday for Judge Antonio Cassese, first president of both the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the UN-backed special court created to try the suspects in the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Judge Cassese, who died on Friday, “has always been at the forefront of international criminal justice,” International Criminal Court (ICC) President Sang-Hyun Song said in a statement. “All of us who work in the field of international criminal law shall remain greatly indebted to him.”

The president of UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Jon M. Kamanda, recalled Judge Cassese’s work as an independent expert looking at the challenges faced by that court, including the need to prepare a completion strategy. “Other tribunals will also build on Judge Cassese’s legacy as they too complete their work,” he said.

(UN Press Release)

October 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Business Entrepreneur Network

Friday, October 21, 2011

Security Council Elections

Guatemala, Morocco and Pakistan will serve as non-permanent members of the 15-member Security Council in 2012-13 after winning their seats during the first round of elections held earlier today.

United Nations Member States voted in the General Assembly by secret ballot for five non-permanent seats divided by geographical grouping – three from the Africa and Asia-Pacific grouping, one from Eastern Europe, and one from Latin America and the Caribbean.  To win election, a country must receive a two-thirds majority of those countries present and voting, regardless of whether or not they are the only candidate in their region. Voting continues until the two-thirds threshold is reached for the required number of seats.

Guatemala received 191 votes and was duly elected to the Latin America and Caribbean seat, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser announced after the conclusion of the first round of voting.

Morocco received 151 votes and Pakistan received 129 votes, which means they were elected to two of the three seats allocated this year to Africa and the Asia-Pacific.

Togo (119 votes), Mauritania (98), Kyrgyzstan (55) and Fiji (one) did not receive enough votes, and during a second, restricted round of voting Togo again received 119 votes while Mauritania obtained 72. A third round of voting will now be held for the third seat in that region.

In the Eastern European category, Azerbaijan received 74 votes, Slovenia picked up 67, and Hungary received 52 in the first round. Slovenia received 97 votes during the second round of balloting while Azerbaijan obtained 90. A third round of voting will be conducted.

Today’s elections are being held to replace the departing members of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

The new members will join Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa, whose terms end on 31 December 2012, and the five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

(UN Press Release)

October 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nine States Vie for UNSC Seats

Elections for five non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council will be held tomorrow. Nine countries are formally campaigning for the seats.

The UNSC seeks diverse geographic representation for these seats. Accordingly, three countries from Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, one from Eastern Europe and one from Latin America and the Caribbean will be chosen to succeed Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brazil, whose terms all expire at the end of 2011. Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo are vying for the three seats for Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, while Azerbaijan, Hungary and Slovenia are vying for the Eastern European category. Guatemala is the only declared candidate for the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

a UN Press Release describes the voting process as follows: "Member States will meet in the General Assembly tomorrow morning to elect the Council members by secret ballot, with winning candidates needing two thirds of those countries present and voting. Balloting will continue until enough candidates reach that threshold, even if only one country is competing for a seat in a particular region."

The other non-permanent seats are currently held by Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa. Their terms expire on 31 December 2012. The five permanent UN Security Council members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.


October 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Khmer Rouge Leader With Dementia May Not Be Able to Participate in Trial

One of the Khmer Rouge regime leaders facing genocide and other war crime charges has been diagnosed with dementia and may not be able to participate in court proceedings, the United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia heard today.

According to the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials (UNAKRT), a decision on whether Ieng Thirith, former Social Affairs Minister for the Democratic Kampuchea, can continue with trial proceedings will be issued before the start of substantive hearings next month.

Ms. Ieng is on trial for genocide and other crimes against humanity along with her husband and former foreign minister Ieng Sary, former Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, and former head of State Khieu Samphan, all leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime during the late 1970s.

Four expert psychiatrists who examined her last month diagnosed Ms. Thirith with clinical dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s, which would hinder her participation in court hearings.

“She has a diagnosis of dementia… This was a consensus diagnosis, so we all agreed on this,” forensic psychiatrist Seena Fazel told the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which was established based on an agreement between the Cambodian Government and the UN.

The experts told the court that while she did understand questions posed to her, she had trouble understanding why they were being asked, and did not remember the name of her husband or whether she had a son.

“We came to the conclusion that she would have considerable difficulty following court proceedings,” said Huot Lina, who also took part in the examination.

Ms. Ieng’s counsel, Diana Ellis, argued it would be unfair if she was tried when she was unable to comprehend the nature of the charges and to participate in the proceedings in a meaningful way.

“We submit that it would be wrong to let her stand to trial in this circumstance,” she said, urging the chamber to sever her from the case and consider discontinuation.

However, prosecutors oppose the move, saying doctors had found Ms. Ieng could still understand the meaning of questions and was capable of interacting with others, arguing this would enable her to participate in the proceedings.

(UN Press Release)

October 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Legal Chief Urges Cambodian Government to Let Tribunal Do Its Work

The United Nations legal chief today strongly urged the Cambodian Government to refrain from interfering in any way with the judicial process relating to the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try those accused of the worst crimes under the notorious Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.

Patricia O’Brien, the UN Legal Counsel, met with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Phnom Penh, the capital, to discuss recent developments at the tribunal, known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (<"">ECCC).

Last week Judge Siegfried Blunk, the international co-investigating judge at the ECCC, resigned from the tribunal. He cited repeated statements by senior Government officials opposing the progress of what are known as Cases 003 and 004 – which concern senior Khmer Rouge officials suspected of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

In a statement issued after her meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. O’Brien voiced concern about recent developments at the ECCC and reiterated the UN’s call on everyone to respect the integrity and independence of the tribunal’s judicial process.

“The Legal Counsel strongly urged the Royal Government of Cambodia to refrain from statements opposing the progress of Cases 003 and 004 and to refrain from interfering in any way whatsoever with the judicial process,” the statement noted.

“She emphasized the obligation of the Royal Government of Cambodia to cooperate fully with the ECCC.”

The tribunal, which uses a mixture of Cambodian and foreign judges and personnel, is tasked with trying those alleged responsible for mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Up to three million people died under the regime in what is widely recognized as genocide.

(UN Press Release)

October 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New! Improved! Now Including Kyrgyzstan!

The nations of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia have agreed to expand their Customs Union to include Kyrgyzstan.  Click here for more information.


October 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judicial Abuses in Iran

The United Nations independent expert on the situation of human rights in Iran today voiced concern over alleged violations in the country’s judicial system, citing practices such as torture, cruel or degrading treatment of detainees, and the imposition of the death penalty without proper safeguards.  Presenting his report to the General Assembly’s third committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, also identified denial of access to legal counsel and medical treatment, and widespread use of secret and public executions, as other issues of concern.  There were also reports of capital punishment in juvenile cases, and the use of the death penalty for cases that do not meet the level of serious crimes by international standards, he said.

“In some cases, elements of Iran’s penal code and legal practices amount to contravention of those international laws it acceded to,” said Mr. Shaheed.  He said Iran’s record seems to have gained particular attention because of the country’s “lack substantive cooperation with the UN human rights system and because of the existence of frequent reports of suppression of those self-correcting mechanisms that deprive Iranians from freely seeking redress or reform within the parameters of their human rights.”

The “self-correction mechanisms” that are suppressed include free and fair elections, denial of freedom of expression and assembly, allegations of depravation of the right to education, harassment and intimidation of religious and ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and civil society and religious actors. He urged Iranian authorities to provide adequate medical access to the well-known cleric Ayatollah Kazemeini-Boroujerdi, and to consider his immediate release.

He also called upon Tehran to consider releasing all individuals listed in his report, including political leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who consider themselves detainees of the Government, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, student and women’s rights activist Bahareh Hedayat, student activist Abdollah Momeni, and Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani.  He also urged Iran to cooperate with him as he carries out his mandate. “In the absence of this, however, my course of action will be to continue to obtain information through interaction with Iranians both in the region and in other parts of the world, as well as with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other parts of the UN system.”

Mr. Shaheed said he had been informed of the arrests and prosecution of at least 42 lawyers for their attempts to provide legal counsel. Charges brought against the majority of them include acting against national security; participating in illegal gatherings; insulting the Supreme Leader; and spreading propaganda against the regime.  He took notice of the positive steps taken by the Iranian authorities, including the Government’s recent decision to release between 60 and 100 prisoners, many of whom had been arrested as a result of their participation in events related to the 2009 presidential elections.

(UN Press Release)

October 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Malawi Asked to Explain Why It Didn't Arrest Omar Hassan al-Bashir

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today requested Malawi to explain its alleged failure to arrest and surrender to the court Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.  The request follows media reports indicating that Mr. Bashir visited Malawi last Friday, according to a press release issued by the ICC.

The court said a diplomatic note sent its registrar sent to the Malawian embassy in Brussels reminding the country of its legal obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute, the treaty the established the ICC, and asking for cooperation was not answered. Malawi has until 11 November to submit its observations to the ICC.

The ICC last year issued a second arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir, adding genocide to the list of charges for crimes he has allegedly committed in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region. He had the previous year become the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the Court. States are obliged to arrest him and hand him over to the ICC in the event that he enters their territory.  Under the Rome Statute, States that fail to comply with a request to cooperate with the Court may be referred to the Assembly of States Parties or to the Security Council if the Council had referred the matter to the ICC.

In August last year and May this year, the ICC pre-trial chamber issued three decisions informing the Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute about Mr. Bashir’s visits to Kenya, Chad and Djibouti “in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate.”

In October and December last year, the judges also issued two decisions requesting Kenya and the Central African Republic (CAR) to inform ICC about any problem which would impede or prevent the arrest and surrender of Mr. Bashir in the event that he visited those countries.

(UN Press Release)

October 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Judge Theodor Meron Elected as President of ICTY

ICTYJudge Theodor Meron of the United States, a veteran jurist with long experience in dealing with war crimes and international law, was today elected to his second term as President of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

He will begin a two-year term on 17 November, succeeding President Patrick Robinson of Jamaica, as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) hears cases against two of the most important defendants ever brought before it during its nearly 20 years of  existence, the former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadžic and military chief Ratko Mladic.

Both have been indicted on a slew of charges over atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, including genocide, extermination, murder, persecutions, deportation, hostage-taking and inflicting terror on civilians, particularly in the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica in July 1995 in one of the most notorious events of the conflict.

Since his election to the ICTY by the UN General Assembly in March 2001, Judge Meron has served on the appeals chamber for both the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and already served as ICTY President from March 2003 to November 2005. He was elected today by acclamation today by his fellow ICTY judges.

A leading scholar of international humanitarian law, human rights, and international criminal law, Judge Meron spearheaded a series of reforms during his first presidential term to increase the efficiency of court proceedings and helped to establish a war crimes chamber in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, an important step in the development of the rule of law in the Balkans.

Prior to his election to the ICTY, Judge Meron was a member of the US delegation to the human dimensions conference of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Copenhagen in 1990 and to the Rome conference in 1998 on setting up the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The judges today also elected Carmel Agius of Malta, who was first elected to ICTY in 2001, as Vice-President in succession to O-gon Kwon of the Republic of Korea (ROK).

(UN Press Release)

Click here to read more about Judge Meron.

October 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cambodia Tribunal Gets "WIsh List" from Khmer Rouge Victims

Lawyers representing 4,000 victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities today presented a wish list for reparations to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).  The ECCC was set up under an agreement signed in 2003 by the UN and the Cambodian Government.  It is is tasked with trying those deemed most responsible for crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, during which as many as two million people are thought to have died.

Former leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge-controlled communist organization -– Defence Minister Ieng Sary, head of State Khieu Samphan, Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith and Nuon Chea, also known as Former Brother Number 2 –- are currently on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity. 

Victims are allowed to participate before the ECCC as civil parties in an international criminal trial and can request “moral and collective” reparations in the event of conviction.

“Reparations have to be satisfactory for civil parties. Reparations have to alleviate their pain and grief,” said international lead co-lawyer Elisabeth Simonneau-Fort. “It is our duty to be ambitious… If we are not ambitious, we cannot represent our civil parties.”  Among the reparations listed were the establishment of a national remembrance day, providing health services for elderly victims, and supplying vocational training to victims of forced marriage and their children. There was also a request to provide legal counsel to help ethnic Vietnamese who had been forcibly deported by the Khmer Rouge to obtain Cambodian nationality.

According to the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials (UNAKRT), lawyers focused on the importance of preserving the memory of the Khmer Rouge period so younger generations can understand the significance of that time period in the country’s history.  Senior assistant prosecutor Vincent De Wilde D’Estmael supported the reparations requests, saying that civil parties “are the voice of all of the victims who remained voiceless during the regime of the Democratic Kampuchea” and encouraged the parties in court to do everything possible to ensure their requests are accepted.

But defence attorney Michael Karnavas said the list was beyond the scope of the tribunal. “It would appear highly commendable and aspirational, but it is something the Government should be doing,” he said. “I’m not convinced that the court is capable to grant those reparations requests.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

Click here for an article questioning whether the rights of victims are really being protected before international criminal tribunals.

Click here for an earlier blog post about a judgment from the ECCC.


October 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)