Friday, February 17, 2012

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Vote on Syria

On February 16, 2012, the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate ordered favorably reported an original resolution condemning violence by the government of Syria against the Syrian people.

(Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office)


February 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICJ Announces Upcoming Public Hearings

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced public hearings at the Peace Palace in the Hague in two cases:

In Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), public hearings will be held from March 12 to March 21.  More information may be found here.

In Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Columbia), public hearings will be held from April 23 to May 4.  The press release with more information may be found here.

Both hearings will be streamed live on the Court's website.



February 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conference for LL.M. Administrators

The Registration site is now up and running for the inaugural LLM Administrators’ Conference at American University Washington College of Law on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4, 2012.  Although the agenda is not set yet, the organizers expect that there will be a few plenary sections and some breakout sessions on specialized topics.  Topics covered will include LLM admissions, marketing, academic advising, career advising, international students issues, and LL.M. integration in the law school community.  Topics will focus on both U.S. and foreign-trained LL.M. students.  The conference is open to all administrators and faculty who work with LLM students, applicants, and alumni.

The Conference website is  At the website, you can register for the conference, obtain information about hotel blocks, and submit panel proposals.  Please register and submit panel proposals as soon as you know that you will be able to attend.  Whether the organizers will offer concurrent sessions will depend on the number of people registered and the number of proposals that we receive, so early registration and proposal submission is critical.    

The registration fee for the conference will be $100, which will help defray the cost of breakfast both days, a networking luncheon, coffee breaks, and program materials. On Thursday night there will be some kind of pay-on-your-own dinner.  For planning purposes, the conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday and end before lunch on Friday. 

Here are the names of the conference planning committee members:

LLM Administrators’ Conference Planning Committees


  • Bill Churma, American University Washington College of Law
  • Amy Lutgens, Hamline University School of Law
  • Cristina Gapasin, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Patrick Cassidy, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Joseph Schneider, SUNY Buffalo Law School

 Academic Advising

  • Amy Sugin, Cardozo School of Law
  • Karen McMichael, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Yvette Gutierrez, St. John’s University School of Law
  • Khary Hornsby, University of Minnesota School of Law
  • Mark Shulman, Pace University School of Law
  • Anne Dries, Emory University School of law


  • Cathy Schenker, American University Washington College of Law
  • Ron Rosenberg, William & Mary Law School
  • Carrie Feeheley, MSU College of Law
  • Elena Helmer, Ohio Northern University College of Law
  • Sherhernaz Joshi, George Washington University Law School


  • Hilary Lappin, American University Washington College of Law
  • Lisa Kaplan, Atlanta's John Marshall Law School
  • Anthony Doyle, Widener University School of Law
  • Susan Wawrose, University of Dayton School of Law
  • Anne Marlenga, USC Gould School of Law
  • Polly Lawson, University of Virginia School of Law

Thursday night dinner

  • David Dye, University of Oklahoma School of law
  • Amy Lutjens, Hamline University School of Law
  • Cathy Schencker, American University Washington College of Law

 Career Advising

  • Jessica Dworkin, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Amy Tenney, American University Washington College of Law
  • Roza Pati, St. Thomas University School of Law
  • Skip Horne, University of San Diego School of Law

Hat tips to Amy Tenney and Hilary Lappin


February 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gay Rights Conference Shut Down in Uganda - Alleged Violations of International Human Rights Law

A group called Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has issued a press release in response to the shutting down of its capacity-building workshop.  The workshop was shut down by the Uganda State Minister of Ethics and Integrity, the Reverand Father Simon Likodo.  Here is the press release from the group.



KAMPALA - February 15, 2012

Exactly one week after the re-tabling of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (2009) by MP David Bahati, a workshop organized by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders was invaded and shut down in Entebbe. The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President, Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo, in the company of an aide and the police, announced that the workshop was illegal and ordered the meeting to close immediately or else force would be used to end the meeting.

"I have closed this conference because it is illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home," Mr Lokodo told the workshop participants.

SMUG condemns this outright abuse of office by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity.

According to Frank Mugisha one of the Coordinators of the Capacity Development workshop and present at the time: "Closing our workshop today totally violates our constitutional rights and this intimidation will not stop us from fighting, for equal treatment of all Ugandan citizens."

Frank Mugisha is the Executive Director of SMUG and 2011 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate.

The Minister also ordered the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, the Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda and 2011 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders when she dared to challenge him for disrupting the workshop. Kasha with the help of colleagues was whisked out of the hotel to safety.

The State Minister's actions are illegal and in direct contravention of the Constitution of Uganda, The African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other international human rights covenants to which Uganda is a party. These human rights instruments all robustly promote and protect the rights to Freedom of Speech, Expression, Association, Peaceful Assembly and the Right to Information of all citizens and human beings, without discrimination.

Sexual Minorities Uganda strongly condemns this notorious and continuous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda. Our campaign for equal rights is rooted in the fact that, as Ugandans, we are entitled to the respect and protection of the law just like all other Ugandans.


1.  We call on the Government of Uganda to protect the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and associate as is guaranteed in our Constitution and in international human rights law.

2.  We call on the Government of Uganda to protect all peoples within her borders against threats, violence and harassment by state and non-state actors, irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

3.  We call on the Government and people of Uganda to reject the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would only serve to further violate international human rights law and plant seeds of hate, intolerance and violence in Ugandan society.

4.  We call on the Ugandan people to reject the government's move to use homosexuality issues to divert Ugandans' attention from the most pertinent issues that are affecting the nation.



February 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ASIL Insight Explains ICJ Decision in Germany v. Italy

The American Society of International Law (ASIL) which publishes a series of "Insights" on international law, has released its latest installment covering the recent dection of the International Court of Justice in the case of Germany v. Italy (with Greece intervening), in which the ICJ majority affirmed principles of state immunity.   Click here to read the ASIL Insight about that case. 

Hat tip to Sheila Ward.



February 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern about reports of fresh clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the Middle East country. 

In a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Ban called on all sides to show maximum restraint and said he expected Bahrain’s authorities “to act in accordance with their international human rights obligations.  “The Secretary-General strongly believes that a genuine, all-inclusive and meaningful dialogue that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis is the way to promote peace and stability in the country.”

Last year’s protests in Bahrain were part of the wider Arab Spring movement that resulted in the toppling of long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen and has led to deadly fighting and humanitarian suffering in Syria.

In his statement Mr. Ban reiterated his earlier call on Bahraini authorities “to do everything possible to expedite the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, especially its provisions aimed at effective confidence-building measures.”

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sudan and South Sudan Sign a Peace Treaty

The governments of Sudan and South Sudan have signed a "Memorandum of Understanding on Non-Aggression and Cooperation."  The peace treaty was signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday.  It calls for the respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs, and rejects the use of force in relations between the two countries.

South Sudan became an independent State last July, six months after its people voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan.  Tensions between the two countries over unresolved border disagreements have simmered since, with a dispute over tariffs charged by Sudan on South Sudan for the use of a pipeline and port to export oil recently further straining relations.

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mladic Trial to Begin on May 14, 2012

ICTYThe International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that the trial of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military chief facing charges of genocide and other war crimes, will begin on May 14, 2012.

The trial was previously expected to begin in late March, but the court pushed back the date to allow both sides to complete their pre-trial preparations.

Prosecutors told the court last week that they expect to call more than 400 witnesses and present nearly 28,000 exhibits during the trial, and they anticipate they will need about 200 hours of tribunal time to present their case.

Mr. Mladic, 68, is accused of carrying out genocide and other crimes against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians between May 1992 and late 1995.  The indictment against him alleges that Mr. Mladic led forces that conducted the notorious massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the supposed safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995 in the most notorious episode of the war.  The former army chief also faces charges for the shelling and sniping of Sarajevo during the protracted wartime siege of the city.  In addition, the indictment lists more than 70 incidents of murder in 20 municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and accuses forces under Mr. Mladic’s supervision of torturing, mistreating and physically, psychologically and sexually abusing civilians confined to detention centres.

Defence lawyers had argued that the health of Mr. Mladic be considered in determining the trial’s schedule, but ICTY judges said they were not convinced that his health condition required modification of the schedule.

Mr. Mladic was arrested in May last year in Serbia after evading capture for 16 years. In July, at a court hearing, a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica

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

Click here for more information about the conference.

Click here to register.


February 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tenth Anniversary of the OP to the CRC on Children in Armed Conflict

February 12, 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, used the anniversary to call for universal ratification of protocol that outlaws the use of minors to fight wars and encourages States to set 18 years as the minimum age for recruitment. Thus far, 144 States have ratified the treaty.

“Every country, big or small, with or without a standing army, at peace or in conflict, has a role to play in abolishing the inhumane practice of recruiting and using children in war,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy.

In an effort to strengthen international norms against child recruitment, in 2010, Ms. Coomaraswamy jointly with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Special Representative on Violence against Children, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched the universal ratification campaign of the Optional Protocol.

Since the launch of the ‘Zero under 18 Campaign,’ 16 additional States have signed or ratified the protocol, with Grenada becoming the most recent party to the treaty just last week on February 6.


February 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced hope that Argentina and the United Kingdom can avoid escalating their dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and resolve their differences through dialogue.  Mr. Ban met with Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman in New York this morning, and the two officials discussed recent developments relating to the islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Mr. Ban expressed concern about the increasingly strong exchanges between Buenos Aires and London on the issue, according to information released by a spokesperson for the Secretary-General.  He called on the two governments to avoid escalating their dispute and to resolve their differences peacefully and through dialogue, stressing that his good offices remain available if requested.

(UN Press Release)

February 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Baltasar Garzón Reportedly Convicted and Suspended for Investigating Crimes Under Franco

The United Nations human rights office today voiced concern at the trial of Judge Baltasar Garzón for probing alleged atrocities committed during Spain’s civil war, noting that the country is obliged under international law to investigate past serious human rights violations.

“Judges should not be subject to criminal prosecution for doing their job,” Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

The prominent Spanish judge was reportedly convicted yesterday in a separate trial for authorizing illegal phone-tapping, and suspended from the judiciary for 11 years.

He is also on trial on charges of “knowingly exceeding his jurisdiction” by admitting and investigating complaints related to crimes against humanity regarding allegations of enforced disappearances between 1936 and 1951, during the country’s civil war and then under the regime of Francisco Franco.  These cases are allegedly inadmissible because of a Spanish amnesty law introduced after General Franco’s death and the expiration of the statute of limitations.

“Spain is obliged under international law to investigate past serious human rights violations, including those committed during the Franco regime, and to prosecute and punish those responsible,” said Mr. Colville.  He recalled that, after reviewing the report presented by Spain, the UN Human Rights Committee in 2009 informed the country that it should repeal its amnesty law, which was not in conformity with international human rights law.  In its concluding observations that same year, the Committee also recommended that Spain consider taking the necessary legislative measures to guarantee recognition by the domestic courts of the non-applicability of a statute of limitations to crimes against humanity, he said.

(UN Press Release)

February 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN General Assembly to Debate Situation in Syria on Monday

UN HeadquartersThe United Nations General Assembly will meet on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, where the death toll keeps rising as Government forces continue their bloody crackdown against a pro-democracy uprising.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will brief Member States on the latest developments after a request from General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

The 193-member Assembly will also discuss the report of the UN Human Rights Council from December last year in which that body strongly condemned abuses by Syrian authorities carried out as part of the crackdown.

More than 5,000 people have been killed since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year, and senior UN officials have urged the Government to stop the violence and hold dialogue with opposition groups.

Earlier this week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN is considering sending a joint observer mission with the League of Arab States in a bid to resolve the crisis engulfing the country.  He also voiced regret that the Security Council was unable to agree on collective action on the issue after Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution endorsing Arab League efforts to end the crisis.  “The failure to do so is disastrous for the people of Syria,” he said. “It has encouraged the Syrian Government to step up its war on its own people. Thousands have been killed in cold blood… I fear that the appalling brutality we are witnessing in [the city of] Homs, with heavy weapons firing into civilian neighbourhoods, is a grim harbinger of worse to come.”

Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for Ms. Pillay, told reporters today in Geneva that international law requires that during any armed conflict the wounded and sick must be treated humanely, and the neutrality of medical facilities must be respected.

Fadéla Chaib, a spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), also expressed concern about press reports indicating that health-care facilities were not being treated as neutral premises.  Ms. Chaib said there has been a massive increase in weapons-related injuries in recent days, and medical staff have also outlined disruptions to the supply of medicines and pharmaceuticals.

(UN Press Release)

February 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Montenegro Joins Hague Service Convention and Evidence Convention

On January 16, 2012, the depositary of the Hague Conventions received the instruments of accession from Montenegro to (1) the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters and (2) the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters.

Montenegro is the 65th Contracting State to the Hague Service Convention and the 56th Contracting State to the Evidence Convention


February 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Bouvier Law Dictionary

Sheppard"The world of law is a world of words."  So says Stephen Michael Shepard, a professor of International Law, Environmental Law, and several other subjects at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.  Professor Shepard has lectured or presented in China, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Sweden.  But for the past six or seven years (at least), he's been busy working as the general editor of a new edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary, recently published by Wolters Kluwer.

The new work brings back to life the American law dictionary first published in 1839 by John Bouvier.  I'm not a Bouvier scholar by any means, but I can at least let you read part of the wikipedia entry about John Bouvier so that you can appreciate the importance of this law dictionary: 

John Bouvier (1787–1851) was born in Codogno, France, but came to the United States at an early age. He became a U.S. citizen in 1812, was admitted to the bar in 1818, and began practicing law in Philadelphia. During his years of practice and study, he noticed the lack of a solid American law dictionary. He decided to fill this need, and worked on a new law dictionary incessantly for 10 years. One of his main goals was to distinguish American law from its Englishantecedent. He finally presented it for publication in 1839. Like many of his generation, Bouvier used his preface to justify his work, stating the irrelevance of English legal dictionaries to the American legal system of the United States. He wanted to create a totally new law dictionary that would address the American legal system, so he derived his definitions almost wholly from customs, court decisions, and statutes of the United States.

So that's the book that Professor Sheppard has now updated.  The Bouvier Law Dictionary was the one used by Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, John Marshall, Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, and all of the other great early American jurists and lawyers.

This new edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary was well received at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, where Professor Sheppard kindly signed a copy for me.  Actually the new dictionary is being published in three versions, a desk edition, the compact paperback version, and an electronic version.

John Bouvier drew on material for his first dictionary from all of the sources that influenced American law.  This new edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary "is an entirely new book, with new definitions for every term, based on quotations and entries from tens of thousands of new cases, books, and statutes, as well as on Bouvier's final text and other classic materials."  (Preface, at page ix).  I had to laugh at Professor Sheppard's acknowledgment page, where he thanked his student research assistants by saying that his "sincere thanks go to each of you, and I remind all of you who haven't returned some of my books that is never too late to do so."

The dictionary entries are easy to read and often provide a little more information about particular legal terms than you might find in other dictionaries.  We will still use our other law dictionaries, but we now have a second source that we'll also consult.

The ISBN Number for the Compact Paperback Edition of the Bouvier Law Dictionary is 978-0-7355-6852-5.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

February 9, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ICJ Rules that Italy Violates International Law by Allowing Suits Against Germany

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled last Friday that Italy has violated its obligation to respect Germany’s immunity under international law by allowing civil claims seeking reparations for Nazi war crimes to be brought against it in Italian courts.

Germany filed the case in December 2008 after a court in Italy ordered Berlin to compensate an Italian civilian sent to a German labour camp in 1944. Germany had claimed that the ruling failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity that it has a right to under international law.  It had also claimed that it had already paid reparations under international treaties with Italy and argued that as a sovereign State it has immunity in Italian courts. At the same time, it fully acknowledged the untold suffering inflicted on Italians during the war.

“The Italian Republic has violated its obligation to respect the immunity which the Federal Republic of Germany enjoys under international law by allowing civil claims to be brought against it based on violations of international humanitarian law committed by the German Reich between 1943 and 1945,” the ICJ, also known as the World Court, stated in its judgment.

Italy has also violated Germany’s immunity by taking measures of constraint against Villa Vigoni, German State property situated in Italian territory, and by declaring enforceable in Italy decisions of Greek civil courts based on violations of international humanitarian law committed in Greece by Nazi Germany.  The Court added that Italy must ensure that the decisions of its courts and those of other judicial authorities infringing on Germany’s immunity “cease to have effect.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ECCC Supreme Court Chamber Increases Duch's Sentence from 35 Years to Life

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is the court charged with prosecuting cases of mass murder and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime.  Last week, the ECCC Supreme Court Chamber increased the sentence of the former head of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, and ordered that he be jailed for life, the maximum sentence under the law for crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

In July 2010, the trial chamber had sentenced him to only 35 years in prison for war crime and crimes against humanity.

Last week, the Supreme Court increased that term to life.  It also overturned the trial chamber’s decision to grant Mr. Kaing remedy for illegal detention by the Cambodian military court between 1999 and 2007.

The prosecution had argued in its appeal that the earlier judgement gave “insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch’s crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes.” The court dismissed Mr. Kaing’s own appeal in which he argued that the ECCC had no jurisdiction over him.

Mr. Kaing headed the S-21 security prison in Phnom Penh, where numerous Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed in the late 1970s. A minimum of 12,272 people died at S-21 over a period of three years. 

“The crimes committed by Kaing Guek Eav were undoubtedly among the worst in recorded human history,” said Judge Kong Srim, the president of the ECCC’S Supreme Court.  “They deserve the highest penalty available to provide a fair and adequate response to the outrage these crimes invoked in victims, their families and relatives, the Cambodian people, and all human beings.”

The court rejected claims for reparation either because they would be unenforceable, or due to the fact that implementing them would require Mr. Kaing, who is indigent, to pay, or place the compensation obligation on the State.

The ECCC is a hybrid court set up after a 2003 agreement between the UN and the Cambodian Government with the aim of trying those accused of the worst crimes during the Khmer Rouge regime.  As many as 2 million people are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the South-East Asian country.

(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

For an article on the rights of victims before international criminal tribunals, including a discussion of the ECCC trial court verdict in the Duch case, click here.

February 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICTY Sentences Member of Legal Defense Team to a Year in Prison for Contempt of Court

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has sentenced a member of a legal team defending a Bosnian Serb to 12 months’ imprisonment for contempt of the court.  The sentencing of Jelena Rašic follows her conviction last Tuesday of having knowingly and wilfully interfered with the administration of justice by procuring false witness statements in exchange for money.

Announcing her sentencing, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) stated that “the crimes which Jelena Rašic has admitted to having committed are grave. Procurement of false evidence in any situation amounts to direct interference with the administration of justice. When perpetrated before an international criminal jurisdiction, such as the Tribunal, such interference has far-reaching consequences.”

Ms. Rašic was the case manager on the defence team of Milan Lukic, a Bosnian Serb who was sentenced in 2010 by the trial chamber to life imprisonment for crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Višegrad.  Last month she pleaded guilty to five counts of contempt of court, including obtaining a false witness statement from Zuhdija Tabakovic in exchange for €1,000 in cash.  Ms. Rašic was also convicted of inciting Mr. Tabakovic to offer bribes and to procure false witness statements from two other individuals. Mr. Tabakovic accepted and on 15 March 2010 was convicted of contempt of the tribunal and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment.

The tribunal said it would give Ms. Rašic credit for the 78 days she has already spent in detention, and also ruled that the remaining eight months of the sentence would be suspended for a period of two years. In a news release, the tribunal stated that the decision to suspend the remaining eight months of Ms. Rašic’s sentence was made taking into account the “difficult circumstances engendered by her being the only female detainee in the United Nations Detention Unit, Rašic’s health condition, her comparably young age and the fact that this is the first time she has received a prison sentence.”

The tribunal stated that Ms. Rašic will not have to serve the last eight months of her sentence unless she is convicted for another crime punishable with imprisonment over the next two years.

(modified from a UN Press Release)

February 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Executive Order on Iran

President Barck Obama announced an Executive Order blocking property of the government of Iran and all Iranian financial institutions in the United States. FR6659.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office



February 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Baltasar Garzón

A series of independent United Nations human rights experts today voiced concern about the impact of the trial of a prominent Spanish judge on his independence, particularly his efforts to investigate more than 100,000 allegations of enforced disappearances during the country’s civil war and then under the regime of Francisco Franco.

Judge Baltasar Garzón is currently on trial in Spain, charged with “knowingly exceeding his jurisdiction” by admitting and investigating complaints related to crimes against humanity regarding allegations of enforced disappearances between 1936 and 1951.  These cases are allegedly inadmissible because of a Spanish amnesty law introduced after General Franco’s death and the expiration of the statute of limitations, and last week the country’s Supreme Court rejected a prosecution request to dismiss the case against Judge Garzón.

In a joint statement, Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and the five-member UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, said it was “regrettable that Judge Garzón could be punished for opening an investigation which is in line with Spain’s obligations to investigate human rights violations in accordance with international law principles.”  Ms. Knaul noted in the statement that “supposed errors in judicial decisions should not be a reason for the removal of a judge and, even less, for a criminal proceeding to be launched,” adding that “autonomy in the interpretation of the law is a fundamental element in the role of a judge and for progress in human rights.”

The Working Group, for its part, underlined that enforced disappearance is a continuing offence and human rights violation as long as the fate or whereabouts of the victim remain unclarified.  “Reconciliation between the State and the victims of enforced disappearances cannot happen without the clarification of each individual case, and an amnesty law should not allow an end to a State’s obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for disappearances.”  The Working Group, set up in 1980 to help families determine the fate or whereabouts of disappeared relatives, is currently comprised of Jeremy Sarkin (Chair-Rapporteur), Olivier de Frouville (Vice-Chair), Ariel Dulitzky, Jasminka Dzumhur, and Osman El-Hajjé.

(UN Press Release)

February 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)