Past Editions

Go to the current edition.

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.

February 2012

People in the News

bThe World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body has two new members, Ujal Singh Bhatia (India) and Thomas Graham (United States). According to the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Understanding (DSU), Appellate Body members “comprise persons of recognized authority, with demonstrated expertise in law, international trade and the subject matter of the WTO agreements generally.” The DSU also requires that the Appellate Body membership be broadly representative of the WTO membership. Read the biographies of the new members.

lJudge Richard Brunt Lussick (Samoa) has been elected as Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. This chamber of judges heard evidence in the case of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and is currently working on the final judgment. Another judge of this chamber, Julia Sebutinde (Uganda), was elected to the bench of the International Court of Justice in December and will leave the Special Court before the Taylor verdict is delivered. Read more here.

                        uhuru kenyatta
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan Finance Minister, and William Ruto, a former Minister, will stand trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed after the turbulent 2007 elections in their country. This is not the only thing they have in common, however – both men also plan to run for president in the 2013 Kenyan elections. Ruto said he found the ICC ruling strange and plans to appeal it and run for president anyway. Kenyatta has since resigned the post of Minister but also insists he will run a presidential campaign. An anti-corruption activist observed that Kenyatta and Ruto “have joined an exclusive small club of individuals who have had questions to answer before the entire world with regard to crimes against humanity ... Ratko Mladic, Charles Taylor ... That's not polite company at all."

In the same ruling, the ICC confirmed charges against Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, and Joshua arap Sang, Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station. Read more about the situation here.

gSpanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, renowned for his role in pursuing Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet, now finds himself on trial in his home country. Garzón is charged, among other crimes, with exceeding his powers by ordering an investigation into the disappearance of tens of thousands of people during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. A conviction would spell the end of Garzón’s career. His supporters claim that Garzón is being unfairly targeted by people who resent his work on human rights over the past two decades. Read more from The New York Times.

mAlleged Rwandan war criminal Léon Mugesera has been deported to Rwanda after a 16-year legal battle in Canadian courts. Mugesera recently lost appeals filed in provincial and federal courts in Canada that would have prevented his deportation. Mugesera is wanted for having given an inflammatory speech in 1992 that is believed to have helped incite the Rwandan genocide. Mugesera is now in custody of Rwandan national courts in Kigali. Find more detail and background to the case in this IntLawGrrls blogpost.

Developments in International Justice

aThe European Court of Justice has ruled that plans to include airlines from outside the European Union in the emissions trading scheme (ETS) are legitimate. A group of US and Canadian airlines had challenged the law, claiming that the inclusion of non-EU airlines in the ETS was illegal under international law. Initially, the ETS did not cover greenhouse-gas emissions from air transport, but three years ago the EU passed a law indicating that starting on 1 January 2012, the carbon emissions of all flights going in and out of EU airports would need to be offset through the purchase of allowances. The North American airline industry has vowed to fight the ruling. Read more from GreenAir.

fThe French Senate has passed legislation that criminalizes the denial of genocide, including that of the Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire. Prior to the vote, the Turkish government warned that criminalizing the denial of genocide could cause permanent harm to Franco-Turkish relations. Turkey categorically rejects the term “genocide” to refer to the 1915 slaughter of more than 1.2 million ethnic Armenians. The legislation would punish “those who have publicly denied or trivialized crimes of genocide” with a year in prison and/or a 45,000 Euro fine.  The final vote was 127-86 in favor of the law.

Read more about the law and reactions to its passage from CNN.

fA German prosecutor has filed a motion to imprison a man convicted in The Netherlands of Nazi war crimes. Klaas Carel Faber, No. 3 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted Nazis, was convicted in 1947 for aiding The Netherlands’ Nazi occupiers during World War II and for involvement in 22 murders. He was sentenced to life in prison, but in 1952 escaped and fled to Germany where he has lived freely ever since, despite several attempts to try or extradite him. Read more from The Washington Post.

eCambodia’s decision not to appoint the current reserve judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia as the new international co-investigating judge breaches the agreement that established the court, according to the United Nations. The Government of Cambodia claims that it has ethical concerns about the judge in line for appointment, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet. After investigation, the UN states that these concerns are unfounded. Special Expert David Scheffer, former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, is travelling to Cambodia to aid the resolution of this dispute. Read more from the UN News Centre.

pNATO, rebel forces, and those loyal to Colonel Gaddafi all committed war crimes and human rights violations in last year’s Libyan uprising, according to a recent report by the Arab Organization for Human Rights together with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the International Legal Assistance Consortium. The report stresses that findings are not conclusive, but adds weight to mounting concerns that violations were committed by all sides to the conflict.
Read more from The Guardian.

pTwo recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have focused on the rights of prisoners in the United Kingdom. In Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom, the applicants were British nationals currently serving mandatory sentences of life imprisonment for murder. When convicted, the applicants were given whole life orders, meaning they cannot be released other than at the discretion of the Secretary of State. They argued that the whole life order amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment. In a vote of 4 to 3, the ECHR found that there had been no inhuman and degrading treatment. For the ECHR press release, click here.

eIn Harkins and Edwards v. the United Kingdom, the plaintiffs alleged that their extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, for murder among other offences, presented a real risk of US authorities seeking the death penalty, as well as the possibility of being sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The ECHR ruled that the extradition did not amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, particularly as the US Government had provided assurances that the death penalty would not be sought in their respect. For the ECHR press release, click here.

Articles and Publications of Interest

sDavid Scheffer, who was recently appointed as Special Expert to advise the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, has now published his memoirs. All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton University Press) is his account of the efforts to establish a system of accountability for war crimes from the US perspective. Read a review of the book by Philippe Sands QC.

uHuman Rights Watch recently released “Justice for Serious Crimes before National Courts: Uganda’s International Crimes Division.” This briefing paper examines the progress of the International Crimes Division of the Uganda High Court, which has a mandate to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, in addition to other international crimes including terrorism and human trafficking. The paper highlights challenges such as whether Uganda’s Amnesty Act will ultimately bar acts against members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), stresses the importance of pursuing cases against both the LRA and the Ugandan armed forces, and explores the impact of structural inadequacies within the Division on the ability of the International Crimes Division to render credible justice.
Read more here.

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.

To comment, or to receive our monthly “International Justice in the News” e-letter, send a message here.