Weekly News Recap (28 Sept-4 Oct 2020)

Photo by Simon via Flickr

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

  • African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Adoption of new Rules of the Court
  • European Court of Human Rights: Adoption of an interim measure in the case of Armenia v. Azerbaijan
  • Kosovo Specialist Chambers: First Appearances of Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj
  • Three suspects arrested in Belgium for their involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide
  • International Criminal Court: Independent Expert Review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute System
  • Open Society Justice Initiative has filed a complaint against Trump Administration over the International Criminal Court Executive Order
  • IRMCT: Assignment of a Trial Chamber in the case Prosecutor vs. Félicien Kabuga
  • IRMCT: The President of the IRMCT issued an order assigning judges to the Appeals Chamber’s case of Prosecutor vs. Milan Lukić
  • The Netherlands to set up an independent inquiry into the 2015 bombing in Iraq

INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

  • NATO: Establishment of a Military de-confliction mechanism between Greece and Turkey
  • Ukraine: two persons and four entities involved in the construction of the Kerch railway bridge added to EU sanctions list
  • EU provides initial emergency aid to civilians affected by the Nagorno Karabakh conflict
  • At the summit, EU leaders discuss external relations related to Turkey and Belarus
  • OPCW issued two reports on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Adoption of new Rules of the Court

On 28 September 2020, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, announced the adoption of new Rules of the Court, which entered into force on 25 September 2020 and replaced the Rules of the Court from 2010. The new Rules of Court seek to enhance the effectiveness of the Court by, among other things, facilitating access to the Court, improving the management of cases as well as ensuring better implementation of the decisions of the Court.

https://www.african-court.org/en/index.php/news/press-releases/item/367-african-court-on-human-and-peoples-rights-adopts-new-rules-of-court


European Court of Human Rights: Adoption of an interim measure in the case of Armenia v. Azerbaijan

Upon the request for interim measures lodged by the Government of Armenia on 28 September, the European Court of Human Rights granted the interim measure on 29 September and called upon both Azerbaijan and Armenia to refrain from taking any measures, in particular military action, which might entail breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with regards to rights of the civilian population. The Court called upon both States to comply with their engagements under the Convention, notably in respect of the right to life and the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Court also invited both Contracting Parties to inform it, as soon as possible, of the measures taken to comply with their obligations.

https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6809725-9108584


Kosovo Specialist Chambers: First Appearances of Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj

On 29 September and 1 October 2020, Kosovo Specialist Chambers held first public hearings at its premises. The first defendants to appear before the Specialist Chambers were Mr Hysni Gucati and Mr Nasim Haradinaj, both suspected of offences against the administration of justice, namely intimidation of witnesses, retaliation and violation of secrecy of proceedings, pursuant to the Kosovo Criminal Code.

https://www.scp-ks.org/en/public-hearing-first-appearance-hysni-gucati

https://www.scp-ks.org/en/public-hearing-first-appearance-nasim-haradinaj


Three suspects arrested in Belgium for their involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide

It has been reported that on 29 and 30 September, three suspects were arrested in Brussels and Hainaut for their involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Federal Prosecution confirmed their arrest. Three Rwandan exiles are charged with serious violations of international humanitarian law.

https://www.levif.be/actualite/international/genocide-des-tutsis-trois-rwandais-interpelles-en-belgique-info-le-vif/article-normal-1340153.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/03/world/europe/rwanda-genocide-arrests-belgium.html


International Criminal Court: Independent Expert Review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute System

On 30 September 2020, the Group of Independent Experts, appointed by the Assembly of States Parties to carry out the Independent Expert Review of the ICC and the Rome Statute System in December 2019, issued their findings. The Experts focused on the areas they assessed need improvements and made several recommendations for implementation by the Court and the Assembly, including Court-wide matters, organ specific matters and external governance.

https://asp.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/ASP19/IER-Final-Report-ENG.pdf


Open Society Justice Initiative has filed a complaint against Trump Administration over the International Criminal Court Executive Order

The lawsuit filed on 1 October by the Open Society Justice Initiative and four law professors, Diane Marie Amann, Gabor Rona, Milena Sterio, and Margaret deGuzman in a federal court in the Southern District of New York comes one month after the U.S. imposed sanctions on senior officials at the International Criminal Court, including Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s Prosecutor. The lawsuit argues that the executive order violates constitutional rights, including the plaintiffs’ freedom of speech, and prevents them from carrying out work in support of international justice. The lawsuit also seeks to stop the U.S. government from enforcing the executive order while the court considers its constitutionality.

https://www.justiceinitiative.org/newsroom/open-society-justice-initiative-sues-trump-administration-over-international-criminal-court-executive-order


IRMCT: Assignment of a Trial Chamber in the case Prosecutor vs. Félicien Kabuga

On 1 October 2020, the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) issued an order assigning a Trial Chamber in the case Prosecutor vs. Félicien Kabuga. Mr Kabuga was indicted on seven counts including genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 but remained a fugitive until May 2020, when he was arrested in France.

On 30 September 2020, the French Court of Cassation issued an ordinance to extradite Mr Kabuga in the custody of the IRMCT. The French Court of Cassation has agreed to extradite the alleged financier of the Rwandan genocide to face trial in Tanzania. Mr Kabuga is accused of being the top sponsor of the genocide. Moreover, he is alleged to have funnelled money to militia groups as chairman of the national defence fund as well as being the main owner of the private radio station RTLM that was accused of inciting ethnic Hutus to kill Tutsis.

The order of the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals will become effective upon Mr Kabuga’s transfer to Arusha, Tanzania.

https://www.irmct.org/sites/default/files/casedocuments/mict-13-38/president’s-orders/en/201001-order-assigning-trial-chamber.pdf


IRMCT: The President of the IRMCT issued an order assigning judges to the Appeals Chamber’s case of Prosecutor vs. Milan Lukić

In 2012, Mr Milan Lukić was convicted for crimes against humanity committed in Bosnia and sentenced to life in prison. He has been serving his sentence in a prison in Estonia. Following the filing of a Motion for Review of his judgment on 1 September 2020, the President of the IRMCT on 1 October 2020 composed the Trial Chamber of five judges to review the final (Appeal) judgment issued in the case against Lukić.

https://www.irmct.org/sites/default/files/casedocuments/mict-13-52-r1/president’s-orders/en/201001-order-assigning-judges-appeals-chamber-13-52-r1.pdf


The Netherlands to set up an independent inquiry into the 2015 bombing in Iraq

On 2 October, the Dutch Defense Minister announced the establishment of an independent enquiry to examine the bombing of the Iraqi town of Hawija in 2015 led by the Netherlands. As a result of the bombing, 70 civilians had lost their lives. The Minister also announced funding of housing, water and electricity restoration and creating jobs. The Minister emphasized that the compensation is given voluntarily as a consequence of bombing a legitimate target, an Islamic State’s bomb factory, which resulted in unpredicted collateral damage. Individual victims will, however, not be compensated. The Netherlands is also facing several claims from Iraqi citizens. On 8 September 2020, the Netherlands announced reaching an out of court compensation settlement with an Iraqi resident who lost several of his family members in a Dutch airstrike on his house in Mosul in 2015.

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/10/dutch-set-up-independent-inquiry-into-2015-hawija-bombing

https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/ministeries/ministerie-van-defensie/nieuws/2020/10/02/winnie-sorgdrager-gaat-onderzoek-naar-wapeninzet-hawija-leiden


INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

NATO: Establishment of a Military de-confliction mechanism between Greece and Turkey

On 1 October, a bilateral military de-confliction mechanism was established between Greece and Turkey. This mechanism was set to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean, partly through the creation of a hotline between the concerning states. The establishment of the mechanism resulted from a series of technical military de-confliction talks which started in September at the initiative of NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg.

Involvement by NATO in such a military de-confliction between the Allies took place already in the 1990s, when the organisation helped to set up a similar mechanism intended to reduce tensions in the region.

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_178523.htm


Ukraine: two persons and four entities involved in the construction of the Kerch railway bridge added to EU sanctions list

On 1 October, the Council of the European Union sanctioned two individuals and four entities for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. The list, compiling all the actors involved, is composed of 177 individuals and 48 entities, which will be subjected to sanctions. These are comprised of travel bans, assets freezes and interdictions for EU citizens and companies providing funds to the listed persons and entities. These measures were taken in light of the action the individuals and entities played in the construction of infrastructure linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula, resulting in the deepened isolation of the latter from Ukraine. The first restrictive measures were decided upon on 17 March 2014.

The list is regularly updated and reviewed by the Council, and its content is published in the Official Journal.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/10/01/ukraine-two-persons-and-four-entities-involved-in-the-construction-of-the-kerch-bridge-added-to-eu-sanctions-list/


EU provides initial emergency aid to civilians affected by the Nagorno Karabakh conflict

On 2 October, the EU decided to provide health support, medical equipment and food packages to the civilian population on both sides of the contact line. This occurs after the EU called for the end of hostilities earlier this week. In order to provide immediate relief to the population, the initial funds of €500,000 will be given to humanitarian organizations associated with the EU, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič emphasized the need for international humanitarian law to be respected.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEX_20_1810


At the summit, EU leaders discuss external relations related to Turkey and Belarus

On 2 October, EU leaders reached an agreement, warning Ankara to resolve its disputes with Greece and Cyprus. According to the conclusion of the European Council, if Turkey manages to dissipate the tensions, it would benefit from enhanced trade conditions, cooperation on migration and refugee issues, as well as a potential easing of visa requirements for Turkish travellers to the EU.

This deal had another effect, which was to get Cyprus to agree on sanctions over Belarus. This accord is the fruit of the European Council’s strategy to “have a stronger voice on the international stage”, as the European Council’s President Charles Michel announced.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/10/01/european-council-conclusions-on-external-relations-1-october-2020/

https://www.politico.eu/article/at-summit-eu-leaders-talk-tough-on-turkey


OPCW issued two reports on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria

On 2 October, the Fact-Finding Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued two reports on the investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons on 24 November 2018 in Aleppo and on 1 August 2016 in Saraqib. The results of the analysis did not allow the Fact-Finding Mission to establish whether or not chemicals were used as a weapon in the incidents. These reports on two allegations of chemical weapons have been shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and were also transmitted to the UN Security Council through the UN Secretary-General.

https://www.opcw.org/media-centre/news/2020/10/opcw-issues-two-fact-finding-mission-reports-chemical-weapons-use

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