Friday, March 2, 2012

No Amnesty for Former Guatemalan Dictator

A judge in Guatemala has rejected the claim that former dictator Efrain Rios Montt is protected under an amnesty law from being tried on charges of genocide.

Rios Montt, 85, was in power from 1982 to 1983 when some of the country’s worst civil war atrocities occurred, including the murder, torture and displacement of thousands of indigenous Mayans.  For the past 12 years, Mr. Rios Montt served as a congressman and enjoyed immunity from prosecution. However, this immunity was lifted on 14 January 2012, when he lost a re-election race last year.

A news release from the United Nations states that Judge Miguel Angel Galvez ruled the amnesty law is invalid because of a 1949 international treaty against genocide that Guatemala signed long before the amnesty was declared. 

This ruling “appears to open the door to striking down amnesty for anyone accused of genocide related to the country’s 36-year civil war, in which around 200,000 people are believe to have been killed,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  Speaking to reporters in Geneva, he reiterated OHCHR’s position regarding amnesties, affirming that they should never be granted for serious international crimes.

(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

March 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The World Bank Owes Me Money? I Don't Think So, Mr./Mrs. Scammer

It's often outrageous to see e-mail scams promising payments from some foreign inheritance, winnings from foreign lottery tickets that I have never purchased, or advice on how to help some widow whose husband received $10 million from the former government, and that she's willing to share part of that with me if I only will give her my bank account information.

Some of these are funny, as this one, received from "WORLD BANK AUDIT []" that suggests that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund owe me some money:

Attn: Sir,
Please reconfirm urgently to avoid transfer in error. Did you authorize any person by power of attorney to have your long outstanding payment with us?
Note that the WORLD BANK in conjunction with IMF has taken responsibility after auditing of some banks in Africa and Europe to settle all inheritance, contracts and lotto payments. We discovered your file among those unpaid.
Do contact the officer in charge with his contact email below:
Phil Cox.
World Bank/IMF (Auditor)
Thanks and anticipating to hearing from you urgently.
Mrs. Marcy Achibong
We'll I won't be contacting them or sharing my banking information or reconfirming my password.  It's sad when I see these scams in general, but sadder still when they try to bring in organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund.  Our international civil servants have enough to do without having to track down these fraudsters abusing the good name of their organizations.

March 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

EU Grants Serbia Candidate Status

SerbiaAt its meeting in Brussels yesterday, the European Council agreed to grant Serbia the status of a candidate country.  The next step is the opening of accession talks.  These talks could begin before the year is out if Serbia continues to make progress on issues of corruption and improving day-to-day relations with Kosovo. However, the final step of entry in the European Union (EU) will depend on resolution of difficult issues involving the status of Kosovo and the status of Kosovar Serbs in north Kosovo.  It is likely to be at least a few years before Serbia reaches the stage of entry.

In other EU news, Romania was unable to make progress on its bid to join the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.  Some EU states believe Romania has fulfilled technical criteria for Schengen entry. However, one stumbling block is the Netherlands, whose representative stated that the Netherlands would only vote in favor of Romania's entry after the European Commission reports that Romania has done enough to fight corruption.



March 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Sudan's Defense Minister

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued an arrest warrant against Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein on 41 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur. 

The Court’s pre-trial chamber considers that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Mr Hussein is criminally responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity (persecution, murder, forcible transfer, rape, inhumane acts, imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty and torture).  He is also believed to be criminally responsible for 21 counts of war crimes (murder, attacks against civilian population, destruction of property, rape, pillaging and outrage upon personal dignity).

The alleged crimes that Mr. Hussein is allegedly responsible for were perpetrated during attacks on the towns and villages of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala in the Wadi Salih and Mukjar localities of West Darfur state from August 2003 to March 2004.

When the Prosecutor of the ICC requested the arrest warrant in December, he stated that the evidence led him to conclude that Mr. Hussein is one of those who bears the greatest criminal responsibility for the same crimes and incidents presented in previous warrants of arrest for government minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, both of whom have been indicted by the Court.

This is the ICC’s fourth case in Darfur, which the Security Council referred to it in 2005 after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law.

In addition to Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb, ICC judges have issued arrest warrants against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and summonses to appear for rebel leaders Abdallah Banda, Saleh Jerbo and Abu Garda for war crimes.

(UN Press Release)

March 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wrapping Up the Remaining Tasks of the ICTR and the ICTY

The United Nations Security Council today appointed a prosecutor for the mechanism set up in 2010 to finish the remaining tasks of the United Nations war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda when their mandates expire.

The Council decided to appoint Hassan Bubacar Jallow, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), as the Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for a term of four years. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had nominated Mr. Jallow, a citizen of the Gambia, for appointment to the post. Mr. Jallow will continue to serve as ICTR prosecutor.

The Secretary-General appointed Judge Theodor Meron of the United States as President of the mechanism for a term of four years with effect from 1 March.  The decision to appoint Judge Meron was made in consultation with the President of the Security Council and the judges of the mechanism. Judge Meron will continue serving as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) while working as the President of the mechanism.

The Secretary-General also welcomed the decision of the Security Council to appoint Mr. Jallow as the mechanism’s prosecutor.  “The Secretary-General believes that the mechanism will benefit immensely from their considerable experience, outstanding leadership skills, and profound commitment to international criminal justice,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The Council set up the mechanism in December 2010 and mandated it to take over and finish the remaining tasks of the ICTR and the ICTY when they are closed after their mandates expire. The Council has urged the two tribunals to conclude their work by the end of 2014.

The ICTR branch of the mechanism will begin functioning on 1 July this year, while the branch for ICTY will start on 1 July 2013.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A New Prosecutor and a New Appellate Judge Are Appointed for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Norman Farrell of Canada as the prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the U.N.-backed independent tribunal set up to try those responsible for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.  Mr. Farrell replaces Daniel Bellemare, who has completed his term as prosecutor of the STL.  Mr. Farrell is currently deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to Mr. Bellemare for his leadership in advancing the work of the Special Tribunal.

The Secretary-General also appointed Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko of Uganda as an international judge of the appeals chamber of the special tribunal. Mr. Nsereko is currently a judge in the appeals division of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He replaces the late Antonio Cassese, who was also a former president of the STL.

“In announcing these appointments, the Secretary-General once again reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to the efforts of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to uncover the truth regarding the terrorist attack that took the lives of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, as well as other connected attacks, so as to bring those responsible to justice and send a message that impunity will not be tolerated,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The STL is an independent court created at the request of the Lebanese Government, with a mandate issued by the Security Council.

Mr. Hariri and the 22 others were killed on 14 February 2005 after a massive car bomb exploded as his motorcade passed through central Beirut.

Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, all Lebanese nationals, have been indicted over the killing. They will be tried in absentia after the STL determined earlier this month that all reasonable attempts had been made to inform the four men of the charges they face and to bring them before the court.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Criminal Court to Deliver Its First Judgment Next Month

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced today that next month it will deliver its first ever verdict, issuing a judgment in the war crimes trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congolese man accused of participating in the recruitment of child soldiers.  The verdict in the trial of Mr. Lubanga Dyilo will be made in open court on 14 March. His trial started in January 2009 and the closing statements were presented by the parties and participants in August last year.

In accordance with the Rome Statute that established the ICC, to convict an accused person, the trial chamber must be convinced of his or her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In the event of a conviction, the trial chamber will consider an appropriate sentence. Irrespective of whether the accused is acquitted or convicted, the court is required to establish the principles to be applied in relation to reparations, and it may make orders regarding awards of reparations to victims.

Mr. Lubanga Dyilo is accused of having committed, with others, the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 into the rebel group known as Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo), and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri district in north-eastern the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between September 2002 and August 2003.  He was transferred to The Hague, where the ICC is based, in March 2006 after his surrender. A warrant of arrest had been issued against him.

Currently, 14 cases have been brought before the ICC, including four that have reached the trial stage.

(UN Press Release)

February 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Society for Mediterranean Law and Culture

La Conferenza Inaugurale della Società di Diritto e Cultura del Mediterraneo

The Society for Mediterranean Law and Culture will hold an inaugural conference on June 21-22, 2012 at the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law, Sardinia, Italy.  The conference will be co-sponsored by the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law and its sister school, The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Mock, WilliamDemuroThe conference organizers are Professors Gianmario Demuro (pictured at right) and Giovanni Coinu of the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law and Professors William B.T. Mock Jr. (pictured at left) and Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. 

Other conference committee members include Professor Lauren Fielder of the University of Lucerne Faculty of Law in Switzerland and Professor David Austin of the California Western School of Law in San Diego.

Papers and panels at this conference may be presented in English, French, or Italian (and other languages depending on the needs of the participants and audience). 



February 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Despite worldwide recession, WTO dumping cases on decline

WTOYesterday, the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, reported the surprising news that antidumping actions have declined from 213 in 2008 to 153 in 2011.  This decline is significant because in past recessions, governments have tended to take more protectionist measures to assist their domestic industries, resulting in increased complaints of unfair trade practices by foreign producers.  Mr. Lamy also noted that although there was a surge in safeguard actions from 2008-2009, these actions have also declined since that time.  On the other hand, the initiation of countervailing measures in response to subsidies has been increasing since 2005 (although they were still far fewer than antidumping actions).  Overall, the total number of trade remedy actions remained relatively constant.


February 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Special Court for Sierra Leone Plans for Appeal in Charles Taylor Case

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) announced the appointment of Philip Waki of Kenya to serve as an alternate judge in its appeals chamber, in anticipation of any appeal that may follow the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Mr. Waki took his oath of office today in Freetown before the tribunal’s registrar Binta Mansaray and the President of the court Jon Kamanda.

The SCSL is an independent tribunal established jointly by Sierra Leone’s Government and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996.  The trial of Mr. Taylor is continuing in a chamber of the court sitting in The Hague in the Netherlands for security reasons.

(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICTR transfers case to Rwandan national authorities

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), set up to try persons responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has decided to transfer to Rwandan authorities the case of Fulgence Kayishema, an indicted former police inspector who remains at large.
Since the accused is yet to be arrested, the referral chamber requested that Rwanda, upon apprehension of the accused or receiving news or confirmation of his death, to provide the ICTR or the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with regular reports on efforts taken to apprehend him.

This is the second case the ICTR has decided to transfer to Rwandan national authorities. The first was that of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi whose transfer decision was made last year. However, Mr. Uwinkindi’s transfer is yet to be effected because the President of the ICTR wants to be satisfied that a suitable monitoring mechanism has been established first. Thus, it remains to be seen whether and when this latest decision will be upheld and effectuated.


February 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)