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International Justice in the News

The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life brings you a monthly selection of news about the people involved in the work of international courts and tribunals, significant developments in international justice, and articles and publications of interest. We hope that this brief selection will help you keep abreast of the field and lead you to sites where you can inform yourself further.

January 2012

People in the News

fFatou Bensouda is the Prosecutor-Elect of the International Criminal Court, by vote of the ICC Assembly of State Parties. Bensouda, a native of The Gambia, has served as the Deputy Prosecutor at the ICC since 2004. She headed the prosecutions division, which is central to the process of deciding which crimes and individuals the court will target. Bensouda is outspoken about the need for more attention to be paid to crimes of sexual violence, as reported in ABC News. Click here to read Bensouda’s speech following her election.


The ICC Assembly of State Parties has also elected six new judges: Miriam Defensor-Santiago (the Philippines), Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona (Trinidad and Tobago), Robert Fremr (Czech Republic), Olga Venecia Herrera Carbuccia (Dominican Republic), Howard Morrison (United Kingdom) and Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria).  See AllAfrica.com for more information on the new judges.




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  judge sebutinde (uganda)
The last of five judges has been elected to the International Court of Justice. In November, Judges Hisashi Owada (Japan), Peter Tomka (Slovakia), and Xue Hanqin (China) were re-elected. Giorgio Gaja (Italy) was elected as a new member of the Court. However, for the final spot, the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council could not agree between Abdul Koroma (Sierra Leone), a member of the bench since 1994, and Julia Sebutinde (Uganda), currently a judge with the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Sebutinde has emerged victorious. All five judges will serve a term of nine years beginning February 2012. Read more about the contentious election from the Ugandan Daily Monitor.




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president assad
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay has recommended that the Security Council refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. More than 5,000 people have died during the nine-month long Syrian uprising, at least 300 children are among the dead, and there are thousands of people in dentention. Read more from the Detroit Free Press. In an interview with journalist Barbara Walters, President Assad questions these figures, denies any wrongdoing on his part, and challenges the legitimacy of the United Nations. See the story and link to the interview at Ha’aretz.com.





mWar crimes suspect Inocente Montano faces additional federal charges in Boston. The former Salvadoran government military officer, accused of colluding in the killing of six Jesuit priests two decades ago, has been charged with making false statements on immigration forms and committing perjury. He had been living in Massachusetts for years under his own name before being arrested last August. Read more from Boston.com.




mThe number of charges against Ratko Mladic will drop from 196 to 106 in the interest of a fair and expeditious trial, said the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This strategy was proposed by the Prosecution, which will present a new indictment within two weeks, listing the 106 crimes. Mladic is facing 11 overall counts, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his part in the Bosnian war. Find more details in Jurist.



gFormer Ivorian President Laurent Gbago has been transferred from Côte d’Ivoire to the International Criminal Court. He is the sixth suspect taken into custody by the court, which has launched seven investigations, all of them in Africa. Gbagbo faces four charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, in the wake of his country’s disputed 2010 presidential election, which led to the deaths of 3,000 persons. Read more about his transfer from The Huffington Post. Find details about Gbagbo’s first appearance in court, and his allegations of France’s complicity in his arrest, here.



Developments in International Justice

 
cShould the principles of international law be applied in virtual war games? This question is being investigated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Widely played games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, it is asserted, do not accurately represent the rules of armed conflict as dictated by international humanitarian and human rights law. The ICRC had decided that it should address the issue of the 600 million gamers who “may be virtually violating” such law, although it is unclear what form its intervention might take. The ICRC is clear, however, that only those who commit war crimes in reality can be prosecuted. Read more about the situation here.



iThe fourth defendant in the second trial of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has had her release revoked. Former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith was ordered released by the court’s Trial Chamber in November after experts testified that she was suffering from dementia. A new ruling by the Supreme Court chamber asserts, however, that the lower chamber had “erred in law” and that national and international standards did not warrant Thirith’s release. Read more here. Follow the progress of the second trial at the ECCC website.



wThree men have been indicted by the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for war crimes against Serbs committed in Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 war. Besim Muderizovic, Ramiz Avdovic, and Romanian-born Iulian Nicolae Vintila were charged with running a military prison in Sarajevo where Serbs were beaten and persecuted. According to the charges, at least 200 Serb civilians were detained in the prison, and 18 died while being held there. Read more from ahramonline.




aFour Iranian exiles have filed a civil lawsuit in United States court against senior Iranian and Iraqi officials for their alleged role in an attack on Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp for Iranian dissidents in Iraq. The four plaintiffs claim that they suffered heavy injuries during the 8 April 2011 attack, including assault and battery and false imprisonment. The raid left at least 36 people dead and scores more injured. The plaintiffs demand damages for "torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and crimes against humanity as violations of international and domestic law." Read more from Yahoo News. Watch footage of the attack on YouTube.



vVanuatu is the latest state to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, bringing the number of States Parties to 120. The instrument of its accession will enter into force in the South Pacific island nation on 1 Febuary 2012. ICC President Sang-Hyon Song has said, “I hope Vanuatu’s example will encourage other members of the Pacific Island Forum – many of which still remain outside the Rome Statute system – to join the ICC in the near future.”  Read more from the UN News Service





Articles and Publications of Interest

Following is information about two publications on the issue of victims’ participation in international criminal proceedings. This topic arose repeatedly during Brandeis’ recent symposium Just Performance: Enacting Justice in the Wake of Violence. Read a news item on the event here.

1. Susana SaCouto, director of the War Crimes Research Office, has authored a forthcoming paper entitled “Victim Participation at the International Criminal Court and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: A Feminist Project?” The paper recognizes the unprecedented victims’ rights granted in the Rome Statute, and the similar scheme established for the ECCC, as both allow victims to participate in criminal proceedings independent of their role as witnesses. The paper explores how this novel victim participation has fared, particularly for survivors of gender-based violence. An abstract of the paper, and information on how the full text may be obtained, can be found here. Read more from SaCouto in her contribution to the Intlawgrrls blog.


e2. “Victims Right to Remedy: Awarding Meaningful Reparations at the ECCC” is a recent report by Access to Justice Asia, the Berkeley Law International Human Rights Law Clinic, and the Center for Justice and Accountability. The report analyzes the benefits of ECCC collective and moral reparations to Cambodian victims and society, and the development of international law.  The ECCC is the first internationalized court to offer reparations to Civil Parties on such a large scale, serving as an example for other international(ized) tribunals. To set a just example, the ECCC must, and this paper does, examine its reparations framework to identify and learn from previous missteps. Click here for the report.




lThe United Nations has issued its first-ever report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Entitled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” the report details how persons are killed or endure hate-motivated violence, torture, criminalization and discrimination around the world because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Released by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the report says that governments have too often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.




International Justice in the News is edited by Leigh Swigart, Director of Programs in International Justice and Society, with the assistance of Katherine Alexander '12.

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