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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 who work in 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.

October 2009

People in the News
  • ashcroftFormer U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft may face personal liability for the decisions that led to the detention of an American citizen as a material witness after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, a federal appeals court panel recently ruled. In the decision, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, was sharply critical of the Bush administration’s practice of holding people it suspected of terrorism without charges, as material witnesses. Read an article on the decision from the New York Times.
  • Judge Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, of the Russian Federation, has been sworn in as a permanent judge of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. His nomination followed the resignation of his compatriot Judge Sergei Alekseevich Egorov.
  • hartmannFlorence Hartmann, former spokesperson for a Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, has been convicted of contempt of the Tribunal by a specially appointed chamber. It was determined that Hartmann disclosed confidential information about a high-profile case in two different publications she authored in 2007 and 2008. Hartmann has been sentenced to pay a fine of 7,000 Euros. Read more in the ICTY press release.
Developments in International Justice
  • ECJ logoThe European Court of Justice has ruled that member states are permitted to run state monopolies for online betting. Austrian-based betting company Bwin and the Portuguese League for Professional Football (LPFP) were fined €74,500 and €75,000 respectively for offering games of chance via the internet and advertising those games in Portugal. According to Portuguese law, a centuries-old non-profit organization, the Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Lisboa, has the exclusive right to organize and operate lotteries, lotto games and sporting bets via the internet. Read the court’s press release and a commentary from the Society for Computers and Law.
  • map of GambiaLawyers and rights activists are calling on the African Union's human rights body, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to move its headquarters out of The Gambia after President Yaya Jammeh threatened human rights defenders on national television and said he would kill anyone collaborating with them. The Open Society Institute and the Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and People’s Rights are calling on the Commission to stop holding sessions in The Gambia until the matter is resolved, and for civil society organizations to refrain from attending any sessions. Read more from the Africa News Update.
  • UN tanksThe General Assembly has adopted by consensus its first resolution on the responsibility to protect, agreeing to hold further discussions on the international understanding to intervene to stop atrocities from taking place. 


Agreed at a summit of world leaders in 2005 and sometimes known as ‘R2P’, it holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met. Read more from the Institute for Security Studies.
  • The Republic of Chile has become the newest State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Read the ICC’s press release.
Articles and publications of interest
  • goldstoneThe United Nations investigation into the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, has issued its report. While it finds that there were war crimes committed on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, it asserts the disproportional use of force by Israeli forces. Read an article from the New York Times here, as well as an op-ed by Justice Goldstone about his decision to lead the investigation. Read a response from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as reported by Haaretz. Learn more about the legal notion of proportionality here.
  • romano bookThe Sword and the Scales: the United States and International Courts and Tribunals is now available from Cambridge University Press. Edited by Cesare P.R. Romano, the book features articles by American legal scholars on U.S. relations with disparate institutions of international justice, including the International Courts of Justice, WTO, and NAFTA dispute settlement systems; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and all international criminal courts and tribunals.
  • The Third Chautauqua Declaration was issued upon the completion of the Annual International Humanitarian Law Dialogs. This event brings together the prosecutors of all international criminal courts and tribunals with other practitioners to discuss important issues in their field. The theme of this year’s Declaration was “Honoring Women in International Criminal Law: From Nuremberg to the ICC.”
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