Thursday, June 30, 2011
We extend our good wishes to all of our Canadian readers. Here are the comments on Canada Day offered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Yesterday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously to extend the terms of the eight permanent judges serving on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The ICTY was created to try perpetrators of the worst crimes committed during conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The extension is necessary to ensure that the court is adequately staffed to complete its work. Their terms have been extended until 31 December 2012 or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned. In addition, the terms of nine ad litem judges – who are limited to particular cases – were also extended until 31 December 2012 or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned.
The UNSC Resolution “reiterates the importance of the International Tribunal being adequately staffed to complete its work expeditiously and calls upon relevant United Nations bodies to intensify cooperation with the Secretariat and the Registrar of the International Tribunal and to take a flexible approach in order to find practicable solutions to address this issue as the International Tribunal approaches the completion of its work, and at the same time calls upon the International Tribunal to renew its efforts to focus on its core functions,” said the resolution.
The Resolution calls on all States, especially those that emerged from the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, to intensify cooperation with and to render all necessary assistance to ICTY, particularly in the arrest of Goran Hadžic, a key war crimes suspect who remains at large.
The UNSC also commended States that have concluded agreements for the enforcement of sentences of those convicted by ICTY or have otherwise accepted such convicts to serve their sentences in their territories, and urged countries to renew their commitment to the enforcement of sentences and to positively consider requests from the tribunal in this regard. Finally, it urged States that have not concluded agreements for the enforcement of sentences of ICTY convicts to consider entering into such pacts.
(cgb) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This week, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on Trafficking in Persons in which it ranks 184 nations, including the U.S., with regard to efforts to fight trafficking. The report focuses on government efforts towards prevention, prosecution and protection. It defines trafficking in persons as occurring "when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service." The report places countries in one of three tiers: 1. Countries that fully comply with the minimum standards set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TPVA); 2. Countries that do not fully comply with the TPVA, but are making significant efforts to comply; and 3. Countries who are not in compliance with the TPVA and are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. This year, there are 15 countries that fall into Tier 3. For more information or to read the full report, click here.
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) publishes an electronic "International Law in Brief" with discussions of new international law developments and links to original source documents. It is a great resource and one we should all visit regularly. The current issue includes the new ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, the UN General Assembly Resolution on "The Role of Mediation in the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Conflict Prevention," and the World Health Organization's Preparedness Framework for the Influenza Pandemic. Click here to read more.
Hat tip to Sheila Ward
The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University recently launched a new blog to discuss issues in health law and policy. They will also post announcements on their research and fellowship programs, scholarships, and other events. Click here for more information.
Hat tip to Susan Kim at the O'Neill Institute. Congratulations Larry Gostin!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The primary responsibility for arresting Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and two others sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) rests with the North African nation, the tribunal’s Chief Prosecutor said today, a day after warrants were issued for the three men for alleged crimes against humanity.
Mr. Qadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and the head of the Libya’s intelligence forces, Abdullah Al Sanousi, are being sought 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.
“Today, it is time for arrest. Let me clarify who should arrest them and how they can do it,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference in The Hague, where the Court is based.
Libya – although not a State party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC – has the primary responsibility to carry out the arrest warrants, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said, noting that it is obligated to comply with Security Council resolution 1970, which was adopted in February. In that resolution, the Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC and specifically called on the country to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor.”
“Qadhafi’s inner circle is the first option: they can be part of the problem and be prosecuted, or they can be part of the solution, work together with the other Libyans and stop the crimes,” he stated.
The second option is the Interim National Council, which represents the opposition and has expressed its willingness to implement the arrest warrants, he added.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the international forces operating in Libya under Security Council resolution 1973, which was adopted in March and authorized States to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians amid the regime’s violent crackdown against its own people, have no specific mandate to carry out arrest warrants. The Prosecutor added that if Mr. Qadhafi travels to a State party to the ICC, he should be arrested.
Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that it has received reports of significant displacement in the Nafusa mountains, which has been the scene of intense fighting between Government forces and opposition groups since mid-March.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that, since the start of the conflict, more than 64,000 Libyans have been displaced from the Nafusa Mountains and other parts of western Libya into Tunisia, where they are largely hosted by local communities. As of Sunday, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to deliver, through partners, a total of 546 tons of food for more than 100,000 people in the mountains. However, UN agencies have so far been unable to gain access to the Nafusa mountains to undertake assessments and monitor the delivery of assistance. OCHA says that an inter-agency mission into the Nafusa mountains remains a priority to accurately determine humanitarian needs.
(UN Press Release)
The Thompson Reuters Foundation sponsors TrustLaw - a series of web pages providing legal assistance and news relating to good governance and women's rights. Recently, Trustlaw Women became the lastest member of the Foundation's Trustlaw family. Trustlaw Women is designed to be "a global hub for news, information, resources and discussion devoted to women's legal rights." The Trustlaw Women's page covers everything from the five most dangerous countries for women (Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Pakistan and Somalia), to recent U.S. laws restricting abortions to the rise in mental illness for Nepalese women. It may prove to be a valuable resource for those working on human rights of women.
Another useful resource for those in the field of women's human rights may be the American Bar Association's IMPOWR - International Models Project for Women's Rights. The IMPOWR vision statement describes IMPOWR as "an innovative initiative to harness the information sharing power of the internet to empower advocates and defenders of gender equality under the law around the world. The project is focused on the establishment of a global, collaborative, online database of information on gender-equality laws, law reform efforts and law enforcement strategies." During the last year, IMPOWR launched its website and database, which is a work in progress, but which may prove to be a valuable resource in coming years. Volunteers to work on the website and database are being sought.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Readers of this blog will likely remember Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamden (Osama Bin Laden's driver), who successfully challenged the United States' use of military commissions before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. Hamden was subsequently tried before a reconstituted military commission under the 2006 Military Commissions Act and was sentenced to 66 months imprisonment. He served that time at Guantanamo Bay and was released to Yemen. He appealed his conviction and sentence on the ground that providing material support for terrorism is not a crime that is triable by military commission. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review issued its opinion rejecting Hamden's argument and finding that his conduct did, in fact, violate the laws of war. The decision may be found here.
The joint trial of the four most senior surviving leaders of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime got under way today in Cambodia at the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to deal with the worst offences committed under the group’s reign. Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are all facing charges of genocide, murder, torture, religious persecution and other war crimes and crimes against humanity over their alleged actions when the Khmer Rouge was in power between April 1975 and January 1979.
A five-judge panel at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), sitting in Phnom Penh, today began hearing preliminary arguments from lawyers for the four accused, who were arrested in 2007 and indicted by the tribunal last year. At least 1.7 million Cambodians are estimated to have died from starvation, forced labour, torture and execution during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, which was followed by a protracted period of civil war.
The indictment states that Mr. Nuon, 84, known as “Brother Number Two” under the Khmer Rouge, acted as chief policy architect of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, controlled the country’s internal security apparatus and rendered support for the regime’s policies of forcible relocation, enslavement and other inhumane acts. Mr. Ieng, 84, served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under the Khmer Rouge.
A former history professor, he fled to Thailand when the regime fell in 1979. His wife, Thirith, served as social affairs minister. Khieu Samphan, 79, was a professor before serving as head of State of Democratic Kampuchea. He took over from Pol Pot when he retired as the official head of the Khmer Rouge in 1987. All four have previously denied the allegations against them.
Between today and Thursday, the ECCC trial chamber is expected to hear arguments over statutory limitations and discuss witnesses for the first phases of the substantive hearing, which is expected to begin later this year. The courtroom was filled with hundreds of Cambodians who came from across the country to observe the proceedings, known as Case 002, in person. The ECCC was set up in 2006 and the UN provides assistance through the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT) and participates in the operations of the tribunal.
(UN Press Release)
Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued three arrest warrants today for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, and Abdullah Al-Senussi. They are being sought for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from February 15, 2011 until at least the end of February. Click here to read more.