Saturday, December 17, 2011

Controversy over "All-American Muslim"

There's a current controversy in the United States this week about advertisers who withdrew ads vrom a television show called "All-American Muslim" in response to an organization claiming the show "falsely humanized Muslims in America.”  We received a noted from the "My Fellow American Project," asking us to remind readers of this blog that the telelvision advertising controversy has exposed more Islamophobia in America.  Readers are asked to visit www.myfellowamerican.us to share views about this controversy.  The website hopes to spread the message of tolerance to fight back against intolerance and fear-mongering. They have just posted a host of new content from various entertainers and faith leaders on the topic.

Hat tip to Elizabeth Potter, Unity Productions Foundation

(mew)


December 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor-Elect of the International Criminal Court

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met today with Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor-elect of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and pledged his continued support for her and the United Nations’ cooperation to assist the court in fully achieving its great potential.  According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, during their meeting Mr. Ban warmly congratulated Ms. Bensouda on her election and wished her the best of success in her important new role. He also underscored the vital significance of the court as “the indispensable centrepiece of our system of international criminal justice and our best hope for ending impunity for international crimes.”

Ms. Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer who has served as ICC Deputy Prosecutor since 2004, will start her term in June next year, replacing the current ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo from Argentina.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICTY Charges Contempt of Court Against Witness in Karadžic Trial

ICTYInternational Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has charged a former Serb municipal official with contempt of court for failing to comply with orders to testify in the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic who faces multiple genocide charges.  Milan Tupajic, former chief of the crisis staff and president of the Serb municipality of Sokolac, was charged with contempt of court for failing to comply or show good cause as to why he should not testify in Mr. Karadžic’s trial.

An order in lieu of indictment for contempt was made confidentially by the trial chamber on 30 November. It set out that Mr. Tupajic was informed on 5 October and 8 November of the contents of two subpoenas, and of his obligation to appear before the chamber or give a valid explanation for his refusal to appear.  Mr. Tupajic is accused of having “knowingly and wilfully interfered with the administration of justice by refusing to comply with the chamber’s subpoenas,” the ICTY said in a news release. A warrant for his arrest and an order for surrender were also issued on 30 November. Mr. Tupajic was arrested by Bosnian authorities on Tuesday and will be transferred to the Detention Unit shortly. His initial appearance in court is scheduled for tomorrow.

Mr. Karadžic is charged with two counts of genocide and a series of other crimes, including murder, extermination, persecution, deportation and hostage taking, related to actions against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. His trial began in October 2009.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Rulings from the ICTR Appellate Chamber

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has reduced the sentences of two former senior officials found guilty in 2008 after a number of their convictions were overturned on appeal.

The appellate chamber reduced jail terms handed down in December 2008 to Théoneste Bagosora and Anatole Nsengiyumva from life in prison to 35 years and 15 years, respectively. Mr. Nsengiyumva was immediately set free following today’s ruling after receiving credit for time already served.  The trial chamber had found Mr. Bagosora and Mr. Nsengiyumva guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions as well as for other crimes committed in April and June 1994 in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, and in the western prefectures of Gisenyi and Kibuye.

The appeals chamber affirmed Mr. Bagosora’s convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of some aspects of the Geneva Conventions. However, it reversed his convictions for the killing of Augustin Maharangari and Alphonse Kabiligi and the murder of international peacekeepers. He was also absolved of the killings in Gisenyi town, at Mudende University, and at Nyundo Parish.

The appeals chamber also set aside the trial court’s contention that Mr. Bagosora was responsible for ordering crimes committed at Kigali area roadblocks, but found him liable as a superior instead. It also reversed a number of Mr. Bagosora’s convictions for murder as a crime against humanity and for other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity for the defilement of the body of then Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana after she was murdered.

Judges in the appeals chamber reversed Mr. Nsengiyumva’s convictions for the killing of Alphonse Kabiligi, as well as for the murders at Mudende University, Nyundo Parish, and Bisesero. It also overturned his convictions for murder as a crime against humanity.

The appeal judges affirmed Mr. Nsengiyumva’s convictions for genocide and crimes against humanity in relation to the killings in Gisenyi town on 7 April 1994.

Mr. Bagosora was head of department in the Rwandan defence ministry at the time of the genocide. He was arrested in Cameroon on 9 March 1996 and will remain in the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania, where the ICTR is based, pending transfer to another country to serve the rest of his term.

Mr. Nsengiyumva served as commander of the Gisenyi operational sector of the Rwandan army at the time. He was also arrested in Cameroon on 27 March 1996.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICTR Appellate Hearing Begins

An appellate hearing at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) began this week for Gaspard Kanyarukiga, a businessman convicted of genocide and other war crimes for his role in the destruction of the Nyange Church on April 16, 1994.  The attack led to the deaths of about 2,000 Tutsi civilians.  He had been sentenced to 30 years in jail.  Both the defense and prosecutors have appealed against decisions on convictions and sentencing.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICTR Appeals Chamber Reduces Prison Sentence

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has reduced the jail sentence of a former local official who was convicted last year of his role in a notorious massacre in which thousands of ethnic Tutsi civilians died.

The ICTR Appeals Chamber ruled that Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, a former sub-prefect in Rwanda’s southern prefecture of Butare, will now serve 20 years in prison instead of 25 years.  The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber had erred when it convicted Mr. Ntawukulilyayo of ordering genocide for the killings at Kabuye hill on 23 April 1994, just weeks after the genocide began. But the five-member appeal panel upheld Mr. Ntawukulilyayo’s conviction for aiding and abetting genocide over the same incident.

During his trial, the court heard how Mr. Ntawukulilyayo instructed many Tutsi families who had gathered at Gisagara market over four days to move to nearby Kabuye hill, promising them they would be protected and fed.  But he later transported soldiers to the hill, and the soldiers joined with other assailants to attack the Tutsis, killing thousands.

(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Executing Arrest Warrants Will End the Crimes in Darfur

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has renewed his call for the arrest and transfer of those alleged to have committed genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, citing the need to protect millions of lives in the troubled Sudanese region.  Since it took up the situation in Darfur in 2005, the court has issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as then government minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb.

“The execution of the arrest warrants will end the crimes in Darfur,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in his briefing this week to the Security Council. “The individuals sought by the court are still allegedly committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the Sudanese Government has repeatedly failed to carry out the arrest warrants. He also noted that Malawi, a State party to the ICC, recently refused to arrest Mr. al-Bashir when he visited the country.  “The world knows where the fugitives of the court are,” he stated. “They are in official positions, controlling the Government of the Sudan, commanding military operations in different parts of the Sudan.”

Meanwhile, civilians in Darfur continue to be subject to indiscriminate aerial bombardment and the Janjaweed militiamen have still not been disarmed, “despite numerous injunctions by this Council,” said the prosecutor.  “The people of Darfur need the leadership of the Security Council,” he stressed.  “The arrest warrants shall be implemented. The Security Council resolutions shall be implemented. Millions of civilians in Darfur shall be protected.”

Earlier this month the prosecutor requested an arrest warrant against Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, saying there was evidence that he is one of those who bears the greatest criminal responsibility for the same crimes and incidents presented in the arrest warrants for Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb.  In addition, the ICC has issued summonses to appear for Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo, two rebel leaders who stand accused of orchestrating the 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 African Union peacekeepers in the Haskanita area of Darfur. Both men have committed to surrender voluntarily to the ICC for trial.

The Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC six years ago after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law in the region, where fighting has raged since 2003.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lebanon Tribunal Prosecutor Calles One Term Enough

The Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), created to try those alleged responsible for the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, has informed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that he will not seek a second term for health reasons, the tribunal reported today.  “While this long and difficult journey is far from over, solid foundations have been laid to achieve justice and accountability for the attack of 14 February 2005 and connected cases, through the rule of law,” said Daniel Bellemare, the Prosecutor of the UN-backed tribunal, announcing his decision not to seek reappointment when his term expires at the end of February next year.  “I am proud to leave behind a strong team of committed professionals who have assisted me in the past three years in carrying out our challenging mandate and will continue to ensure that justice is achieved for the people of Lebanon,” he added. 

Mr. Ban told a news conference at UN Headquarters today that he will seek Mr. Bellemare’s replacement in consultation with the UN Legal Counsel, Patricia O’Brien.  The tribunal is an independent court created at the request of the Lebanese Government, with a mandate issued by the Security Council. It is based in The Hague in the Netherlands.  It was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bomb in Beirut that killed Mr. Hariri and 21 other people was seriously flawed, and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.

The President of STL, David Baragwanath, said Mr. Bellemare had undertaken a difficult job with “vigour and determination.” The tribunal’s registrar, Herman von Hebel, praised Mr. Bellemare’s commitment to his duties, saying it had led to the submission and confirmation of an indictment earlier this year.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release(

December 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Issues its First Report on Rights of LGBT Persons

The first ever United Nations report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people details how around the world people are killed or endure hate-motivated violence, torture, detention, criminalization and discrimination in jobs, health care and education because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  The report, released this week by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, outlines “a pattern of human rights violations emerges that demands a response,” and says governments have too often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in every region of the world, the report finds, and ranges from murder, kidnappings, assaults and rapes to psychological threats and arbitrary deprivations of liberty.  LGBT people are often targets of organized abuse from religious extremists, paramilitary groups, neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists and others, as well as family and community violence, with lesbians and transgender women at particular risk.

“Violence against LGBT persons tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes,” the report notes, citing data indicating that homophobic hate crimes often include “a high degree of cruelty and brutality.”  Violent incidents or acts of discrimination frequently go unreported because victims do not trust police, are afraid of reprisals or are unwilling to identify themselves as LGBT.

The report – prepared in response to a request from the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year – draws from information included in past UN reporting, official statistics on hate crimes where there are available, and reporting by regional organizations and some non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  In the report, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calls on countries to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality, abolish the death penalty for offences involving consensual sexual relations, harmonize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual conduct, and enact comprehensive anti-discrimination laws.  In 76 countries it remains illegal to engage in same-sex conduct and in at least five countries – Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen – the death penalty prevails.

Ms. Pillay recommends that Member States also promptly investigate all killings or serious violent incidents perpetrated because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and to establish systems to record such incidents.  The High Commissioner also calls on countries to ensure that no one fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is returned to a territory where their life or freedom is at threat, and that asylum laws recognize that sexual orientation or gender identity is a valid basis for claiming persecution.  Public information campaigns should be introduced, especially in schools, to counter homophobia, and police and law enforcement officials should also receive training to ensure LGBT people are treated appropriately and fairly. 

Charles Radcliffe, the report’s lead author and chief of OHCHR’s global issues section, told UN Radio that “one of the things we found is if the law essentially reflects homophobic sentiment, then it legitimizes homophobia in society at large. If the State treats people as second class or second rate or, worse, as criminals, then it’s inviting people to do the same thing.”  He stressed that all UN Member States have an obligation under international human rights law to decriminalize homosexuality, adding it was important to persuade rather than lecture States to change their laws.  “I think we have seen the balance of opinion amongst States really shifting significantly in recent years. Some 30 countries have decriminalized homosexuality in the last two decades or so.”

Mr. Radcliffe said that while all people have freedom of religion, “no religious belief or prevailing cultural values can justify stripping people of their basic rights.”  The report, which will be discussed by Council members at a meeting in March next year, has been released as top UN officials have increasingly raised concerns about human rights violations against LGBT people.  Last year, in a speech marking Human Rights Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “as men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”  Ms. Pillay, during a public conversation last week on social media, also called for an end to bullying and other forms of persecution of LGBT people.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US DOJ Indicts Siemens Executives and Agents in Largest Ever FCPA Case

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged eight former executives and agents of Siemens AG of Germany and its subsidiaries with paying $100 million in bribes to officials in Argentina to get a $1 billion government contract to make national identity cards. This case is the largest one ever filed under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  In addition, this case involves the first-ever indictment under the FCPA of a board member of a global Fortune 500 company, Mr. Uriel Sharef, a former member of Siemen's central executive committee.  Although the relevant actors are not U.S. persons and the alleged illegal actions took place aboard, the U.S. government asserts jurisdiction over the matter because Siemens is registered on the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  The Siemens executives also allegedly laundered $25 million through New York banks.

Three years ago, the Siemens company settled a related FCPA case brought by the US DOJ for $800 million as well as a separate corruption case brought by German authorities for $800 million.  The US DOJ is now going after the responsible individuals. 

(cgb)

December 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

International Law Events at AALS in January 2012

For our readers who will be attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) in January in Washington, DC, we want to bring your attention to a couple of events of interest to international law professors.

First, on Thursday, January 5, there is an all-day program on "North American Legal Developments - 2011 and Beyond."  The program features discussions of issues concerning the Northwest Passage, the Arctic Ocean and the North American Free Trade Agreeement (NAFTA).  The first two topics will include a focus on US ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty.  The NAFTA panel will focus on trade issues, as well as the intersection between trade and labor and environmental issues.  The program is being co-sponsored by the International Law Section and the North American Cooperation Section.  The program is scheduled to be held in Delaware Suite B, Lobby Level, Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

Second, on Saturday morning, January 7, the Pacific McGeorge School of Law is continuing is tradition of hosting a breakfast for international law professors and members of the American Society of International Law Teaching Interest Group.  The breakfast is 7-8:30 am in Nathan Hale, Wardman Tower at the same hotel.  Contact Frank Gevurtz at Pacific McGeorge to RSVP or for more information.

(cgb)

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cambodia Tribunal Will Not Release Defendant

The United Nations-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia has ruled that Ieng Thirith, a 79-year-old former senior member of the Khmer Rouge who was found unfit to stand trial, will not be released as ordered last month but remain in detention.

On November 17, the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) said it found that Ms. Thirith suffers from “a progressive, degenerative condition.” It ordered her unconditional release and that the proceedings against her be stayed.  However, the tribunal’s Supreme Court chamber today granted an appeal from the prosecution and set aside the release order, adding that the trial chamber must exhaust all available measures
potentially capable of helping the accused to become fit to stand trial.

“Such decision was adopted in the light of the possibility, albeit slight, of a meaningful improvement in the mental health of the accused which was foreseen by the medical experts appointed by the trial chamber,” stated a news release issued by the ECCC.  In a situation where the stay of proceedings may be lifted, the Supreme Court chamber found that unconditional release of an accused is not required. It concluded that the original ground for keeping the accused in provisional detention, namely to ensure her presence during the proceedings, remains valid and relevant.

Four expert psychiatrists who examined Ms. Thirith in September diagnosed her with clinical dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s, which would hinder her participation in court hearings.  The Supreme Court chamber today directed the trial chamber to request additional treatment for the accused “which may help improve her mental health to such extent that she becomes fit to stand trial.” Such treatment is to be carried out in a hospital or other appropriate facility in Cambodia.

Six months after the start of this treatment, the accused shall undergo a medial, psychiatric and/or psychological expert examination, after which the trial chamber shall determine her fitness to stand trial without delay.  Ms. Thirith, former Social Affairs Minister for the Democratic Kampuchea, was on trial for genocide and other crimes against humanity along with her husband and former foreign minister Ieng Sary, former so-called Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, and former head of State Khieu Samphan, all leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime during the late 1970s.

The ECCC is tasked with trying those deemed most responsible for crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge. It is an independent court set up under an agreement signed in 2003 by the UN and the Government, and uses a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kyrgyzstan Must Do More to Prevent Torture

An independent United Nations human rights expert has urged the Kyrgyz Government to prevent abuses, torture and ill-treatment, and to end impunity by ensuring that alleged perpetrators are held responsible.  Juan E. Méndez voiced concern that there is “a serious lack of sufficiently speedy, meaningful, thorough and impartial investigations” into allegations of torture and ill-treatment, as well as lack of effective prosecution of law enforcement officials.  “I heard multiple allegations of corruption in the administration of justice which demonstrates how deeply ingrained it is in the criminal law system,” he said in a statement to the press in Bishkek, the capital, at the end of his visit, which began on 5 December and ended yesterday.

A key element of his fact-finding mission was interviewing people held in various types of detention facilities as well as victims of torture and ill-treatment in Bishkek, Osh and Jalalabad.  “The use of torture and ill-treatment is a widespread phenomenon, usually committed by the operative investigative officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the first hours of apprehension and interrogation for the purpose of extracting confessions,” said Mr. Méndez, who is the Special Rapporteur on torture. “I have received multiple allegations of torture that share the same pattern of being subjected to asphyxiation through plastic bags and gas masks, punched, beaten with police truncheons and applied electric shock committed by police officers during arrest and first hours of informal interrogation,” he stated.

“The use of torture by the criminal investigation police is exacerbated by the reliance placed on confessions in the judicial system,” added the expert, who also met with senior State officials, representatives of civil society, lawyers and human rights advocates.  He stressed that Kyrgyzstan needs to revamp the framework of procedural safeguards against torture, including by creating a meaningful and transparent system of access to assistance of counsel from the moment of arrest, and to ensure that it is implemented in good faith. “Almost all detainees indicated that they were subjected to mistreatment or beating since the moment of apprehension and delivery to a police station for the purpose of extraction of confessions by means of torture,” said the expert.

“Other allegations were that the judicial system is slow, inefficient and corrupt, which leads to a situation where many persons are deprived of their liberty in places of detention that are completely inadequate for long-term detention and held in pre-trial detention for up to a year.”  Mr. Méndez said the conditions in detention centres he visited ranged from adequate to dreadful, with unsanitary conditions, almost no ventilation, no windows or daylight. 

“I recognize that many of the problems observed are caused by a lack of resources and I encourage international donors to support the Government in its attempts to improve prison conditions,” he stated.  “However, some important steps could be taken that are not resource-dependent, such as establishing stronger legal and procedural safeguards. In addition, greater use of non-custodial measures for accused persons, particularly those accused of petty crimes, would significantly contribute to more humane conditions of detention.”

The expert reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Summer Conference of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

Call for Proposals

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops on the benefits of variety in all aspects of teaching and learning.  The Institute’s summer conference provides a forum for dedicated teachers to share innovative ideas and effective methods for cutting edge legal education.   This conference will take place at Gonzaga University on June 25, 2012.  The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme.

Workshops can address teaching and learning in first-year courses, upper-level courses, clinical courses, writing courses, and academic support roles.  The workshops can deal with variety and innovation in learning objectives, materials, teaching methods, and assessment. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop as well as when they return to their campuses.  Workshops should be lively seminar sessions in which presenters model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the participants.  Proposals with strong interactive components will be given preference.

To be considered for the conference, proposals must be limited to one page, single-spaced, and include the following:

  • The title of the workshop;
  • The name, address, phone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
  • A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods.

The Institute must receive proposals by February 1, 2012.  Email proposals to Barb Anderson, Program Coordinator, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning at banderson2 [at] lawschool.gonzaga.edu.

Hat tips to Conference Organizers Gerry Hess and Sandra Simpson 

(mew) 

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference VII

The seventh Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 12-14, 2012.  Contact me for more information.

(mew)

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Does Your Law School Offer (or Require) an International Law Course in the First Year?

Join the ongoing conversation on our hot topic of whether law schools (in the United States and other countries) require international law courses for first year students.  Click here.

(mew)

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Julia Sebutinde of Uganda Elected to ICJ

The General Assembly and the Security Council today elected a Ugandan jurist to fill the final vacancy on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  Julia Sebutinde obtained an absolute majority in both the Assembly and the Council, a requirement for successful candidates, during voting this afternoon at UN Headquarters in New York.  Ms. Sebutinde obtained 97 votes in the Assembly, compared to 93 for rival candidate Abdul G. Koroma of Sierra Leone, while in the Council she obtained nine votes and Mr. Koroma received six.

The new judge will serve a nine-year term on the ICJ, also known as the World Court, starting on 5 February next year.  She joins Italy’s Giorgio Gaja, Hisashi Owada of Japan, Slovakian Peter Tomka and China’s Xue Hanqin, who were all elected early last month during the first round of simultaneous voting in the Assembly and Council.  The Assembly and Council had been deadlocked on the final vacancy, with Ms. Sebutinde obtaining a majority in the Assembly and Mr. Koroma a majority in the Council during previous rounds of voting.

Judges are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not their nationality, but no two judges can be from the same country. Effort is also taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are reflected in the composition of the court.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Chad Failed to Arrest al-Bashir

The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided today that Chad has not met its obligation to fully cooperate with the court by failing to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to Chad in August.  Following its decision, pre-trial chamber I of the ICC referred the matter to the Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statue, the ICC’s founding treaty.

Mr. al-Bashir is facing charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide with the ICC having issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and in July last year.  The chamber also concluded that Chad did not fulfil its obligation to consult the chamber by not submitting the question of immunity of Mr. al-Bashir for its determination, and recalled its decision yesterday declaring that Malawi had also failed to cooperate in Mr. al-Bashir’s arrest.

The chamber reaffirmed that there is no conflict between the obligations of States Parties to the Rome Statute towards the court to surrender suspects, and their obligations under customary international law. This reiteration underscores that States Parties, as well as the African Union (AU) cannot refuse to comply with the ICC’s requests for cooperation in this matter.

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.  “It is for the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to take any measures they may deem appropriate to ensure the full cooperation with the ICC,” said a news release issued by the ICC.

The chamber has previously informed the council and the assembly of Mr. al-Bashir’s visits to Djibouti, Chad and Kenya.

(UN Press Release)

December 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Malawi Failed to Arrest Sudan's President

The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided today that Malawi failed to cooperate with the court when it did not arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, when he visited the Southern African country two months ago.  Following its decision, the pre-trial chamber I of the ICC referred the matter to the Security Council and the Assembly to States Parties of the Rome Statute, the ICC said in a news release.
The chamber found that there is no conflict between Malawi’s obligations to the court to arrest and hand over Mr. Bashir and its obligations as a country under customary international law.  ICC judges also indicated that their analysis addressed the legal validity of the African Union’s position, which Malawi relied upon in its submission to the court.

On October 19, 2011, the ICC requested Malawi to explain why it had failed to arrest Mr. Bashir five days earlier when he visited the country. 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.  “The current position of Omar al-Bashir as head of a State which is not a party to the Statute, has no effect on the court’s jurisdiction over the present case,” the chamber said in a statement, adding that Malawi “failed to comply with its obligations to consult with the chamber by not bringing the issue of Omar al-Bashir’s immunity to the chamber for its determination.”

In today’s decision, the chamber also examined Malawi’s observations submitted last month, and considered that international law does not exempt a head of State when he or she is sought out by an international court for crimes.

The ICC judges noted that immunity for heads of State before international courts has been rejected time and again dating all the way back to the First World War, and gave examples of international prosecutions against Slobodan Miloševic, Charles Taylor, Muammar al-Qadhafi and Laurent Gbagbo, noting that initiating international prosecutions against heads of State has gained widespread recognition as accepted practice.  The ICC first issued a warrant against Mr. Bashir in March 2009, making him the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the court. A second arrest warrant was issued in July last year.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More than 5,000 Persons Have Died in Syria

More than 5,000 people have now died since the start of the public uprising in Syria, the United Nations human rights chief said today, sounding the alarm that a crackdown and fresh eruption of violence could be imminent in one of the country’s key cities. 

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said “many voices are warning that a major assault” on Homs – already the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and protesters this year – is about to begin, with a military build-up reported.  “I am not in a position to confirm those reports, but the prospect of such an attack is extremely alarming,” she said after briefing Security Council members in a closed-door session on the latest developments in Syria.

Ms. Pillay’s office (OHCHR) has received reports that hundreds of tanks and weapons have been deployed over the past few days, dozens of checkpoints have been set up and numerous trenches have been dug.  While OHCHR is unable to verify those reports because it has not been allowed access, it has seen video footage showing corpses on the streets, buildings riddled with bullets and tanks in residential streets.

Ms. Pillay said the overall death toll in the Syrian clashes “probably exceeds 5,000,” based on what she said were credible reports from a series of sources. The toll includes at least 300 children.  “This number includes civilians, as well as defecting soldiers and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians,” but does not include serving members of the military, security forces or allied armed groups. Hundreds of people from that category are also thought to have been killed.

“I am appalled by the constant stream of grave violations that have taken place since the first protests in Syria in March. I am concerned that this continued ruthless repression and deliberate stirring of sectarian tensions, especially in Homs, may soon plunge Syria into civil war.”  The High Commissioner said the Syrian Government “has manifestly ignored the pleas and condemnations of the international community at all levels.”

Speaking to reporters after the Council briefing, she reiterated her earlier calls for the situation inside Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the “widespread and systematic nature” of killings, detentions and acts of torture constituted crimes against humanity.  She also noted the “huge numbers” of people kept in detention centres across Syria.

The uprising in Syria is part of a broader popular protest movement that has engulfed North Africa and the Middle East this year and led to the toppling of long-term regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)