July 1, 2012
ICTY Dismisses Karadzic's Motion for Acquittal on 10 Counts of the Indictment Against Him, but Grants Him One
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has dismissed Radovan Karadžic’s oral motion for acquittal on 10 counts of the indictment against him, but granted his motion in relation to count one of the indictment, in which he was charged with genocide for crimes committed between March and December 1992 in several municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mr. Karadžic, a former Bosnian Serb leader, was charged by the prosecution with 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity 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. He was indicted in July 1995 and was transferred into the Tribunal’s custody in July 2008, after more than 13 years spent evading arrest. The trial began in October 2009, and his defence team is scheduled to present its case on 16 October this year.
Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 126 have been concluded and proceedings are currently ongoing for 35 accused.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
ICTY Sentences a Leader of the Serb Radical Party to Two Years' Imprisonment for Failing to Remove Confidential Information from His Website
The Intenational Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has sentenced a leader of the Serb Radical Party – already facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity – to two years imprisonment for failure to remove confidential information from his website, in violation of the court’s orders.
Vojislav Šešelj is on trial before the ICTY for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 1991 and 1994, against the non-Serb population from large parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Vojvodina, Serbia. On his website, Mr. Šešelj published four of his books and six confidential filings which reveal confidential information about a number of protected witnesses who testified in his main trial before the Tribunal for alleged war crimes.
“Non-compliance with such orders is a serious matter, which not only interferes with the administration of justice but risks undermining public confidence in the Tribunal and, thereby, the effectiveness of its judicial function, including its ability to grant effective protective measures where necessary,” said the presiding judge, Stefan Trechsel, said in a news release. According to the ICTY, Mr. Šešelj was in position to remove the information from his website, but failed to so despite repeated orders, and had explicitly stated that he did not intend to comply with the order to remove on of his books in particular.
This was the ICTY’s third contempt trial against Mr. Šešelj. He was first convicted to 15 months of imprisonment in May 2010 for disclosing the personal details of protected witnesses in a book he authored, and subsequently to 18 additional months for the same reason in a different book. Both books were among those at issue in the third contempt case.
“The repetitious nature of his conduct is demonstrated by his continuing refusal to obey the orders requiring him to remove confidential material which he has disclosed on many occasions over the course of several years,” the Tribunal said. “This flagrant disregard for Chambers orders amounts to a direct attack upon the judicial authority of the Tribunal.”
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Myanmar Signs an Action Plan to Prevent Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers
The United Nations and the Government of Myanmar have signed an action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children by Myanmar’s armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, and allow for the release of under-age recruits. “UNICEF welcomes the signing of the action plan and is ready to support the Government to take forward these key commitments,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in the South-East Asian nation, Ramesh Shrestha, said in a news release issued this past week. “The most important work begins now to ensure that children are released from the Tatmadaw as soon as possible and are returned to their families and communities and receive support to promote their well-being, learning and livelihoods,” he added.
The action plan sets a timetable and measurable activities for the release and reintegration of children associated with Government armed forces, as well as the prevention of further recruitment. The plan was signed in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, by senior military officers on behalf of the Government of Myanmar, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Ashok Nigam, and Mr. Shrestha. Among those witnessing the signing was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.
“This is an ambitious plan agreed by the Government and the United Nations to deal with this long standing issue, and the international community must support it,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said. “This is a testament but also a test of Myanmar’s engagement for children, and I hope to see it through.”
The Special Representative’s office noted that the action plan calls for additional UN and Government programmes for affected children. It also refers to the possibility of opening up dialogue on similar commitments with armed groups also listed in the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.
According to UNICEF, the plan is the result of years of negotiation between the Government and the United Nations, on behalf of a Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting of grave violations of child rights in armed conflict (CTFMR), with the latter made up of various UN agencies and programmes, as well as international non-governmental organizations.
“The signing of the Action Plan brings a great opportunity for the United Nations and the Country Task Force to work together with the Government and send a strong message that children should not, and will no longer, be recruited and used for military purposes,” said Resident Coordinator Mr. Nigam, who along with Mr. Shrestha, serves as a co-chair of the CTFMR.
The action plan was negotiated under the mandate of Security Council resolution 1612, which established the UN-led Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to report on six grave violations of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict.
In Secretary-General Ban’s annual report to the Council on children and armed conflict, he lists parties that commit grave violations against children.
UNICEF said that in Myanmar, there are eight parties listed for the recruitment and use of children. Apart from the Tatmadaw, which is directly affected by Wednesday’s agreement, these include the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, the Kachin Independence Army, the Karen National Liberation Army, the Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, the Karenni Army, the Shan State Army-South and the United Wa State Army. The agency added that they are considered persistent perpetrators because they have been listed for more than five years.
(adapted from a UN press release)
ICTR Transfers Another Case to the Courts of Rwanda
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has transferred to Rwandan authorities the case of Aloys Ndimbati, a former local government official charged with crimes against humanity. Mr. Ndimbati, who was the mayor of the Gisovu commune from 1990 until the end of July 1994, currently remains at large, according to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He has been charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, as well as with murder, extermination, rape and persecution as crimes against humanity. It is alleged that Mr. Ndimbati, along with others, was involved in the planning and execution of the systematic attacks directed against the Tutsi civilian population in the Gisovu commune during the Rwandan genocide.
In its ruling, the ICTR Referral Chamber ordered that the case of Mr. Ndimbati be referred to the authorities of Rwanda, which will then refer the same to the High Court of Rwanda. In its decision, the Referral Chamber expressed its hope that Rwanda, in accepting referrals from the Tribunal, “will put into practice the commitments it has made about its good faith, capacity, and willingness to enforce the highest standards of international justice.”
Mr. Ndimbati’s case is the seventh case to be transferred to Rwanda by the ICTR. The previous six cases involved Jean Uwinkindi and Bernard Munyagishari whose transfer decisions were issued in June 2011 and June 2012, respectively, and of fugitives Fulgence Kayishema, Charles Sikuwabo, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, and Ryandikayo, whose cases were referred to Rwanda for trial from February onwards this year.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)