Thursday, January 26, 2012
We previously reported that the United States had appealed the WTO Tuna Dispute Panel Report on January 20, 2012. As might be expected, a few days later (on January 25, 2012) Mexico notified the WTO Dispute Settlement Body that it was going to cross-appeal the panel report in DS381, “United States — Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing And Sale of Tuna And Tuna Products.” Click here for more information about the case.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
At its meeting last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) conducted a variety of important business, including the establishment of three new dispute resolution panels as follows:
In DS425, the European Union (EU) requested review of anti-dumping duties imposed by China on EU X-ray scanners.
In DS426, the EU also requested review of measures applied by Canada in its renewable energy sector called the "feed-in tariff" program.
In DS427, The United States (US) requested review of China’s anti-dumping and countervailing measures on US chicken broiler products.
At its meeting, the WTO DSB also adopted the panel and Appellate Body reports which found that the Philippines’ tax regime on distilled spirits violated WTO rules.
In other business, the DSB chair, Ambassador Elin Østebø Johansen (Norway), informed WTO members that Appellate Body (AB) judge Shotaro Oshima had expressed his intention to resign from his position. Mr Oshima’s resignation will take effect 90 days from the date of his resignation letter such that there would be a vacancy in the AB as of 6 April 2012. Ambassador Johansen said she would submit a proposal at the DSB meeting on 22 February 2012 to launch the selection process for a new AB judge so that the DSB would take a final decision on 24 May 2012.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The United Nations human rights chief said today she was shocked at reports that 34 people were executed in Iraq in a single day last week and called on the country to institute an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty. “Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated in a news release. “Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure,” she added.
The 34 individuals, including two women, were executed on 19 January following their conviction for various crimes, according to the UN human rights office (OHCHR). The total number of individuals sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004 is believed to stand at more than 1,200. The total number actually executed since then is not known, although at least 63 individuals are thought to have been executed in the past two months alone.
The death penalty can be imposed in Iraq for around 48 crimes, including a number of non-fatal crimes such as – under certain circumstances – damage to public property. “Most disturbingly,” said Ms. Pillay, “we do not have a single report of anyone on death row being pardoned, despite the fact there are well documented cases of confessions being extracted under duress.” She called on the Government to implement an immediate moratorium on the institution of death penalty, noting that around 150 countries have now either abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, or introduced a moratorium. The High Commissioner also urged the Government “to halt all executions and, as a matter of urgency, review the cases of those individuals currently on death row.”
(UN Press Release)
A U.S. Congressional Resolution [H Res 521 (Wilson, D-FL)] has been introduced to express the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should work with the government of Haiti to address gender-based violence against women and children. The resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Cong. Rec. H114 (Jan. 23, 2012).
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Monday, January 23, 2012
The International Criminal Court (ICC) today ruled that four prominent Kenyans, including the deputy prime minister, are to stand trial for crimes against humanity and other offences allegedly committed following general elections in late 2007. The ICC pre-trial chamber confirmed charges against Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; William Samoei Ruto, former Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology; Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet; and Joshua arap Sang, Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station.
With respect to Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang, who are charged with crimes against humanity, deportation or forcible transfer and persecution, the pre-trial judges found that “on the basis of the evidence presented, that they are responsible for the charges levied against them,” according to a summary of the pre-trial chamber’s decision. “These crimes resulted in the death of hundreds, and the displacement of thousands of civilians from Turbo town, the greater Eldoret area, Kapsabet town and Nandi Hills. The Chamber also found that these crimes were committed as part of an attack directed against particular groups, namely, Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii, due to their perceived political affiliation to the Party of National Unity.”
As regards Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Muthaura, the court found that the prosecution had established substantial grounds to believe that the crimes of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, other inhumane acts and persecution were committed in an attack on the civilian residents of Nakuru and Naivasha towns between 24 and 28 January 2008. “With respect to the criminal responsibility of Mr. Muthaura and Mr. Kenyatta, the chamber was satisfied that the evidence also established substantial grounds to believe that they are criminally responsible for the alleged crimes, as indirect co-perpetrators.”
“As a result of the decisions issued today, Mr. Ruto, Mr. Sang, Mr. Muthaura and Mr. Kenyatta are committed to trial. They will be tried before a different chamber for the charges confirmed. To this end, one or more trial chambers will be established by the Presidency of the ICC,” the pre-trial chamber stated in its ruling.
The pre-trial chamber declined to confirm charges against two other suspects – Henry Kiprono Kosgey, former Minister of Industrialization, and Mohamed Hussein Ali, the Police Commissioner at the time of the violence, saying that the prosecution had not produced sufficient evidence to link them to the charges against them.
“It is our utmost desire that the decisions issued by this chamber today bring peace to the people of the Republic of Kenya and prevent any sort of hostility,” pre-trial judges Ekaterina Trendafilova, the presiding judge, and her colleagues, Hans-Peter Kaul and Cuno Tarfusser, said in their decisions. “The decisions are the result of intensive and committed judicial work of the chamber, conducted impartially, independently and conscientiously in the interests and in the service of justice,” they added.
More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and at least 100,000 properties were destroyed, according to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
(UN Press Release)
On Friday, January 20, the United States notified the WTO Dispute Settlement Body of its decision to appeal the panel report in case DS381, “United States — Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products” - a case that involves the intersection of trade law and environmental issues.
Mexico initiated the proceeding against the US in 2008, alleging that the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act and implementing regulations, which set forth conditions for the use of a "dolphin-safe" label on tuna products, were not consistent with Articles I and III of GATT or with Article 2 of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement under the WTO. The WTO Panel rejected Mexico's claim that the US laws discriminate against Mexican tuna products. However, the panel agreed with Mexico that the US requirements are more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfill legitimate objectives of consumer and dolphin protection. Therefore, the panel found the US to have violated Article 2 of the TBT.
No schedule has been announced as yet for the WTO Appellate Body proceedings. More information may be found on the WTO website here.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Mali has become the first African country to conclude an agreement to enforce sentences of imprisonment handed down by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The agreement was signed by Fatoumata Dembele Diarra, the First Vice-President of the ICC, and Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, Mali’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in the West African country’s capital, Bamako, last week. (Click here to see a photo.)
“The enforcement of sentences is a crucial element of a well-functioning justice system, and the ICC is grateful to every State party that expresses its willingness to accept persons convicted by the Court,” said Ms. Diarra. “This agreement with Mali – the first to be signed by an African State – is particularly significant considering the principle enshrined in the Statute and Rules of the ICC that States parties should share the responsibility for enforcing sentences of imprisonment, in accordance with principles of equitable geographical distribution.”
The Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, provides that sentences handed down by judges “shall be served in a State designated by the Court from a list of States which have indicated to the Court their willingness to accept sentenced persons.” In addition to the agreement with Mali, the ICC has signed agreements on the enforcement of sentences with the Governments of Austria, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Serbia, and Colombia.
The ICC currently has seven situations under investigation, all of them in Africa: Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, the Darfur region of western Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Libya, and Uganda.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)