THE SOUNDTRACK TO GENOCIDE: Using Incitement to Genocide in the Bikindi Trial to Protect Free Speech and Uphold the Promise of Never Again

By Justin La Mort
Courtesy of The Council for American Students in International Negotiations

The promise to “never again” allow the crime of genocide is often made, although promises alone were not enough to protect the victims in Srebrenica and Kigali.  Legal concepts such as universal jurisdiction and the Responsibility to Protect are being used, or at least considered, as ways to uphold this promise, but the Genocide Convention still remains the main means of protection.  One of the Convention’s tools of prevention and punishment is the criminalization of “direct and public incitement to commit genocide.”  The meaning of these seven controversial words will help decide where the international community draws the line between preventing the crime of crimes and protecting the fundamental right of free speech.

The claims of genocide are increasing, while advocates are pushing for expanding the Convention’s boundaries.  No one wants to allow the next genocide.  No one wants to allow perpetrators to escape punishment.  This does not mean that in striving towards “never again” we sacrifice free speech as a casualty of war.  Freedom of speech is “the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.”  A vague or overly expansive interpretation of incitement will be abused and misused by dictators in silencing artists, journalists, and genuine political opposition.  A limited, well-defined interpretation will still allow for the intended purpose of prevention and punishment of genocide, yet respect the basic tenets of free expression.

The upcoming appeal of Rwandan musician Simon Bikindi, who was charged with incitement to genocide in various contexts, including direct calls to action, implicit appeals, music composition, and failure to prevent radio broadcasts of his songs, will allow the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to clarify the elements of incitement to genocide.  Based upon a review of the genocide jurisprudence and the lessons learned from the American experience, I propose the following test: whether the speaker directly, seriously, and publicly urges the commission of genocide in the near future and that the message is reasonably likely to produce such action.  Explicitly incorporating an imminence standard will permit incitement to genocide to serve its intended purpose of prevention while safeguarding freedom of speech.

This analysis is divided into six parts.  Part I reviews the background of Simon Bikindi whose case has the potential to elucidate the incitement to genocide standards.  Part II tracks the development of international law in response to the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide, while Part III examines nearly a century of U.S. experience in balancing speech and security.  Part IV canvasses the proposed tests leading to Part V, which explains why the proposed imminence test should become the accepted standard.  Lastly, Part VI details the test’s application in Bikindi’s appeal.

To read the complete article, please see:

Justin La Mort, THE SOUNDTRACK TO GENOCIDE: Using Incitement to Genocide in the Bikindi Trial to Protect Free Speech and Uphold the Promise of Never Again.

The Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law (IJHRL) is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal designed to address international human rights issues more broadly. The first volume of the IJHRL was ranked #8 among top international law reviews on ExpressO rankings. The journal explores political, philosophical, and legal questions related to international human rights from diverse perspectives. It strives to create a more thoughtful polity better able to make informed choices about ethical foreign policymaking.

“COURTING” LEGITIMACY: Democratic Agency and the Justiciability of Economic and Social Rights

By Deval Desai
Courtesy of The Council for American Students in International Negotiations

The potential of Economic and Social Rights (ESR) as a tool to ensure the inherent dignity of all has been, to use a popular phrase, “detained for questioning.” Over the last sixty years, debate has centered on arguments denying the justiciability and judicial enforcement of Economic and Social Rights. However, the former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Louise Arbour, recently stated that “[i]t is now widely recognized that there is nothing inherently non-justiciable about economic, social and cultural rights.” The enactment of an Optional Protocol on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, detailing an international “communications procedure” for violations of ESR supports Ms. Arbour’s contention. However, scholars, nation-states, and courts themselves still argue against the idea that ESR are justiciable rights capable of being adjudicated by courts. Even where objections to ESR’s justiciability are overcome, arguments are still made in favor of limiting the scope of judicial oversight, oft times by the courts themselves.

In this paper I reconsider scholarly approaches to justiciability. The language of legitimacy is miscast. The idea that the (nominally) elected government only, and not the courts, has the absolute and exclusive legitimacy to decide on questions of resource allocation is a sham: the worse off a polity, the less democratic agency its citizens exercise. The already delegitimated character of poor governments justifies judicial intervention in distributive questions in democratic terms as an exercise of the will of the people to serve the common good. Traditional arguments against the justiciability of ESR are based in a concept of democratic deficit; traditional arguments in favor of ESR are made in terms of a comparative analysis to civil and political rights (CPR). This is based in the concept of the indivisibility of rights, making such comparisons appealing. However, that conceptual framework cannot be applied in an effective manner to countries where there is insufficient democratic agency for meaningful democracy, whether due to poverty, mismanagement, or corruption.

In this paper I use the democratic legitimation argument to support judicial intervention and engage with the democratic deficit problem itself. Part I of the paper will sketch out the recent arguments for and against the justiciability of ESR from the point of view of scholars, governments, and courts. Parts II and III will examine the question of legitimacy of governments and courts to deal with this issue and argue that, if breaches of ESR affect polities’ ability effectively to participate in elections, a government’s legitimacy must be questioned. Part IV will look at the implications of this on governments, NGOs, and judiciaries, and argue that, this being the case, it is inappropriate to exclude the judiciary from a role in ESR enforcement (in the wide sense of the word), and, further, that they should have a positive role. Part V will conclude that, given the calculus of contrasted legitimacy between government and judiciary, this argument has implications for both poor countries and rich countries with a substantial poor population.

To read the complete article, please see:

Deval Desai, “Courting” Legitimacy: Democratic Agency and the Justiciability of Economic and Social Rights.

The Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law (IJHRL) is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal designed to address international human rights issues more broadly. The first volume of the IJHRL was ranked #8 among top international law reviews on ExpressO rankings. The journal explores political, philosophical, and legal questions related to international human rights from diverse perspectives. It strives to create a more thoughtful polity better able to make informed choices about ethical foreign policymaking.

Bangladesh: Important step forward for international justice

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
25 March 2010

Amnesty International welcomes Bangladesh’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 23 March 2010. The ratification follows more than a decade of campaigning by Amnesty International and other civil society groups since Bangladesh signalled its willingness to do so by signing the Rome Statute on 16 September 1999.

Bangladesh is the 111th state to ratify the Rome Statute and the seventh in Asia to do so, joining Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, Timor-Leste and Japan.

By ratifying the Rome Statute, Bangladesh has demonstrated an important commitment to international justice and working to end impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The ratification by Bangladesh could have a significant impact in Asia, particularly on Nepal and Indonesia, which has promised to ratify the Rome Statute. Amnesty International hopes that Bangladesh will encourage these and other states in the region to do so and to join it in sending a high-level delegation, either as states parties or as observers, to the Review Conference on the Rome Statute scheduled to take place in Kampala from 31 May to 11 June 2010.

The Rome Statute sets a high-standard for states in investigating and prosecuting crimes under international law. Bangladesh will need urgently to re-examine the law establishing International Crimes Tribunals, which it plans to set up to try people accused of crimes committed during Bangladesh’s independence war. This will be to ensure that the law it applies and the procedures it uses are fully consistent with the Rome Statute and other international law.

Ratification of the Rome Statute is, however, just the first step.

Second, Bangladesh must enact effective implementing legislation defining genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as crimes under international law in accordance with the strictest international law definitions. This will enable it to prosecute persons regardless of rank for those crimes, whenever and wherever they were committed. That legislation needs also to provide for full cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

 Third, in order to ensure such cooperation, it must also ratify the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court (APIC) so that the Court and its officials can visit Bangladesh.

Fourth, Bangladesh should enter into agreements with the Court providing for relocation of victims and witnesses.

Fifth, it should enter into an agreement with the Court providing for the enforcement of Court sentences in Bangladesh and in prison facilities which meet international standards.

Amnesty International hopes the government of Bangladesh will now rise to the expectations generated by the ratification of the Rome Statute to enhance human rights protection in the country and elsewhere.

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Bangladesh: Important Step Forward for International Justice – 25 March 2010

Press Release: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center Releases Report on Iran’s 1988 Massacre of Thousands of Political Prisoners

29 August 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2009

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT – The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) today released a report documenting and analyzing the Iranian government’s massacre of political prisoners during the summer of 1988. Much of the material presented in the report, Deadly Fatwa: Iran’s 1988 Massacre, is the result of interviews conducted by IHRDC with survivors and family members of victims.

In late July 1988, pursuant to a fatwa issued by then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian government began systematically interrogating, torturing and summarily executing thousands of political prisoners. The interrogations of prisoners who supported leftist parties began twenty-one years ago today. Although the exact number of victims is not known, thousands of prisoners were tortured and executed over the course of only a few months.

The victims included prisoners who had served their sentences but had refused to recant their political beliefs, prisoners who were serving sentences of imprisonment, people who had been detained for lengthy periods but had not been convicted, and former prisoners who were rearrested. Many families were never informed about the executions and many of the victims were buried in unmarked mass graves. Families who received the remains of their loved ones were not allowed to hold funeral services and, to this day, are forbidden from mourning their loss. The government recently bulldozed a mass grave site at Khavaran Cemetery in Tehran .

The Iranian government has never identified those who were secretly executed and tortured, and has never issued an explanation for this crime. However, many of the men who were responsible for the massacre continue to hold positions of power in the Iranian government.

Deadly Fatwa: Iran ’s 1988 Massacre, is available in English on IHRDC’s website www.iranhrdc.org. A Persian translation of the report will be available this fall.

IHRDC is a nonprofit organization based in New Haven , Connecticut that was founded in 2004 by a group of human rights scholars, activists, and historians. Its staff of human rights lawyers and researchers produce comprehensive and detailed reports on the human rights situation in Iran since the 1979 revolution. The Center’s goal is to encourage an informed dialogue among scholars and the general public in both Iran and abroad. The human rights reports and a database of documents relating to human rights in Iran are available to the public for research and educational purposes on the Center’s website.

For further information, please contact:

Renee C. Redman, IHRDC Executive Director, (203) 772-2218 Ext. 215 rredman@iranhrdc.org

Position Open at the Public International Law & Policy Group for Chief of Party, Uganda

The Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which operates as a global pro bono law firm providing free legal assistance to states and governments involved in conflicts. To facilitate the utilization of this legal assistance, PILPG also provides policy formulation advice and training on matters related to conflict resolution. To date, PILPG has advised over two dozen states and governments on the legal aspects of peace negotiations and post-conflict constitution drafting, and over two dozen states and War Crimes Tribunals in Europe, Asia and Africa concerning the protection of human rights, self-determination, and the prosecution of war crimes.

PILPG’s Uganda project is designed to build the capacity the Government of Uganda to draft legislation that supports the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms and creates a sustainable domestic War Crimes Division that meets international fair trial standards.  As part of this effort, PILPG is training the judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys for the War Crimes Division, providing assistance to the Ugandan government officials on the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) Liaison Office to effectively manage communication with the ICC, preparations for the ICC Review Conference in Kampala, and the design of a national strategy for dissemination of information regarding the creation of transitional justice mechanisms.  PILPG’s legal assistance is intended to support the implementation of the Juba Peace Accords, in particular the establishment of a special division within the Ugandan High Court to try top Lord’s Resistance Army commanders for war crimes, thus meeting the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) regime of complementarity.

PILPG is working with Ugandan government officials, members of the judiciary, and legislators, as well as civil society to draft legal memoranda on key issues, engage in consultations and roundtables with officials, and facilitate capacity building and technical assistance workshops to support the development and implementation of key aspects of the Juba agreements on Accountability and Reconciliation.

Role of the Chief of Party

PILPG is seeking a professional with seven to ten years experience in the field of international law, with particular expertise in international criminal law, transitional justice, and rule of law, to serve as the Chief of Party for its Uganda project.  The Chief of Party is based in Kampala, Uganda and works under the supervision of the Project Director of the Uganda project.

Program Responsibilities

  • Build and maintain relationships with PILPG clients, including Uganda government officials, parliamentarians, judges, and civil society leaders.
  • Maintain relationships and respond to requests made by USAID Mission personnel.
  • Assist in the facilitation of workshops and trainings on war crimes prosecution and justice and reconciliation mechanisms.
  • Direct, manage, and undertake international criminal law and transitional justice research.
  • Oversee the drafting of legal memoranda for PILPG’s Ugandan clients.
  • Supervise the work of pro bono law firms and research associates providing legal assistance on the Uganda project.
  • Coordinate closely with PILPG’s Washington, DC office on the overall strategy and development of the project.
  • Develop and maintain strong partnerships with civil society, NGOs, and INGOs and other development organizations operating in the region.
  • Provide regular briefings to PILPG’s Washington, DC office on political developments and implementation of the program.

Administration

  • Draft materials on the Uganda project for PILPG’s website and annual reports at the request of senior staff.
  • Coordinate closely with the Project Director on the preparation of legal memoranda and other documents required to implement activities.
  • Assist in maintaining PILPG’s financial books related to the Uganda project in accordance with PILPG’s financial policies and procedures manual.
  • Develop quarterly project reports that detail project activities and measure and evaluate project results.
  • Maintain regular communication with the Project Director, as well as the research team, including conducting weekly Skype calls and drafting bi-weekly updates on project activities.
  • Coordinate closely with other PILPG field offices located in Nepal, Kenya, Somaliland, Tanzania, South Sudan on overlapping technical issues.

Educational and Professional Qualifications

  • A law degree.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of public international law, including international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and international human rights law.
  • A minimum of seven to ten years work experience in international law, including experience with international criminal law, post-conflict rule of law, and/or transitional justice.
  • Knowledge of East Africa and the Uganda conflict in particular is highly desirable.
  • Prior overseas field work is preferable.

Communication and Organizational Skills

  • Excellent political judgment and the proven ability to develop and carry out program strategy.
  • Strong analytic and organizational skills.
  • Fluent in English with proven legal writing and editing skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and able to work closely with multiple team members located across the globe.
  • Ability to manage effectively multiple activities in a fast-paced environment.
  • Responsive, a self-starter, and able to solve problems independently.

How to Apply:

Send resumes, cover letter, and writing sample to brutherford@pilpg.org by Friday, January 29, 2010.  Include in the subject line: Application: Uganda Chief of Party

The Public International Law & Policy Group is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is prepared by the International Justice Practice of the Public International Law & Policy Group and the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Live Blogging Session on the Opening of International Criminal Court’s Second Trial

December 2009

01 December 2009

Live Blogging Session on the Opening of International Criminal Court’s Second Trial

On Wednesday, December 2, 2009, from 4 to 5 p.m. CET /10 to 11 a.m. EST, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) will hold a live blogging session on the opening of International Criminal Court’s second trial with NGO expert Mariana Pena, Permanent Representative of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in The Hague.

Leading victims’ rights advocate Mariana Pena will answer questions and read comments from interested Internet users on the Katanga/Ngudjolo trial which opened on 24 November 2009, including on issues of victims’ participation to the trial, outreach and communications, or fair trial.

Please note that the session will be held in English.

To follow the live discussion or read a transcript of the chat, go to www.iccnow.org/blog

To submit questions ahead of the chat or during the chat, please email communications@iccnow.org

BACKGROUND:

KATANGA/NGUDJOLO TRIAL:
Katanga and Ngudjolo are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the village of Bogoro in the Ituri district of eastern DRC from January to March 2003, including child soldier and rape charges. The Katanga/Ngudjolo trial – the second trial of the Court – will open on Tuesday 24 November 2009. The ICC is the world’s first permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It is also the first international criminal tribunal to allow victims to participate in court proceedings and receive reparations.
More at: http://www.iccnow.org/?mod=drctimelinekatanga

MARIANA PENA:
Mariana Pena has been representing the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) at the International Criminal Court since 2006 and in this capacity she has monitored ICC judicial and institutional proceedings and the impact of the work of the Court on the communities most affected by the crimes it investigates. Prior to joining FIDH, she was involved in advocacy for the ICC in the United States, and in facilitating victims’ access to justice within the Inter-American system of Human Rights. She an attorney at law with litigation experience in domestic affairs, and has also worked as a tribunal clerk.

INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS:
Created in 1922, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an umbrella organisation for a network of 155 human rights organisations around the world. Its mandate is to contribute to the respect of all the rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. FIDH aims at obtaining effective improvement in the protection of victims, the prevention of Human Rights violations and the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators. Some of its main priorities are the fight against impunity for serious violations of human rights and the provision of assistance to victims of such violations before judicial and quasi-judicial mechanisms. FIDH has been a member of the steering committee of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court since its establishment, and has been closely involved in following developments in relation to the Rome Statute system.
More at: www.fidh.org/

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

October 2009

29 October 2009

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) seeks to establish a comprehensive and objective historical record of the human rights situation in Iran since the 1979 revolution, and on the basis of this record, establish responsibility for patterns of human rights abuses; make such record available in an archive that is accessible to the public for research and educational purposes; promote accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iran; and encourage an informed dialogue on the human rights situation in Iran among scholars and the general public in Iran and abroad.

The IHRDC believes that the development of an accountability movement and a culture of human rights in Iran are crucial to the long-term peace and security of the country and the Middle East region. As numerous examples have illustrated, the removal of an authoritarian regime does not necessarily lead to an improved human rights situation if institutions and civil society are weak, or if a culture of human rights and democratic governance has not been cultivated. By providing Iranians with comprehensive human rights reports, data about past and present human rights violations and information about international human rights standards, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the IHRDC programs will strengthen Iranians’ ability to demand accountability, reform public institutions, and promote transparency and respect for human rights. Encouraging a culture of human rights within Iranian society as a whole will allow political and legal reforms to have real and lasting weight.

In September 2009, IHRDC released its report entitled Forced Confessions: Targeting Iran’s Cyber-Journalists. The report compiles witness statements of three Iranian cyber-journalists and bloggers who were arrested and detained by the Iranian government in 2004 and 2005. The witness statements are the results of interviews conducted by IHRDC staff in 2008 and 2009. Currently, IHRDC is in the process of preparing another report compiling witness statements. These statements detail the experiences of several political prisoners who survived the Islamic Republic’s summary execution of thousands of prisoners during the summer of 1988. The statements are being prepared pursuant to in-person and telephonic interviews conducted with survivors.

IHRDC also publishes a newsletter. The September 2009 issue contains articles on:
1. Sentencing in Post-Election
2. TrialsUniversity Protests Continue
4. New Head of the Basij Appointed
5. Another Juvenile Executed
6. Karrubi in Danger of Being Arrested
7. IHRDC Co-Sponsors Panel on Iran

For additional information, please visit the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center website.

ABA Releases Report on Exploring Counterterrorism Detention Alternatives

01 October 2009

ABA Releases Report on Exploring Counterterrorism Detention Alternatives

By Mario A. Flores
Special Features Editor, Impunity Watch Journal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In June of this year, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security brought together a group of legal experts, scholars and practitioners in the field of national security law for a day-long workshop on “Exploring Counterterrorism Detention Alternatives.” The workshop focused on whether new or different detention authority is necessary and wise for effective counterterrorism policy.

This is the third workshop that the ABA has sponsored as part of their series “Due Process and Terrorism.” The workshop that initiated the series was held in October 2007. The next one was in April of this year and focused on “Trying Terrorists in Article III Courts.”

The ABA then releases post-workshop reports that compile the insights and experiences of the expert practitioners and scholars who participate in the discussions.

To read the reports, please click on the following links:

Exploring Counterterrorism Detention Alternatives – September 2009

Trying Terrorists in Article III Courts – July 2009

Due Process and Terrorism – November 2007

IHRDC Releases Report: Forced Confessions: Targeting Iran’s Cyber-Journalists

IHRDC Releases Report: Forced Confessions: Targeting Iran’s Cyber-Journalists

Press Release – September 14, 2009

CONNECTICUT, United States – The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) today published witness statements by three Iranian bloggers and cyber-journalists who were arrested and detained by the Iranian government in 2004 and 2005.  The witness statements are the results of interviews conducted by IHRDC staff in 2008 and 2009.

Two of the journalists—Roozbeh Mirebrahimi and Omid Memarian—were active cyber-journalists residing in and around Tehran at the time of their arrests. The third witness—Arash Sigarchi—was the Editor-in-Chief of Gilan-e Emrooz in the northern Iranian city of Rasht. They were charged with (and convicted of) moral, press, and national security crimes. The statements, published under the title, Forced Confessions: Targeting Iran’s Cyber-Journalists, describe, in detail, the journalists’ arrests, detention, torture, forced confessions and eventual convictions.

The experiences of these journalists are not unique. In conjunction with the IHRDC reports Ctrl+Al+Delete: Iran’s Response to the Internet (May 2009) and Covert Terror: Iran’s Parallel Intelligence Apparatus (April 2009), these statements expose a network of Iranian government actors—including members of the security and parallel intelligence forces, the Judiciary, and state-run media outlets such as Kayhan newspaper and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting—responsible for silencing voices of dissent in cyberspace.

Their experiences are also particularly relevant at this time.  In an apparent effort to crush any expression of dissent or even disagreement following the disputed presidential election on June 12, the Islamic Republic continues to shut down newspapers, arrest, detain and torture editors and journalists, and arrest and charge Iranian bloggers with crimes such as using the internet to organize demonstrations.

IHRDC continues to call on the United Nations to investigate these and other human rights violations committed by the Iranian government.

IHRDC is a nonprofit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut that was founded in 2004 by a group of human rights scholars, activists, and historians.  Its staff of human rights lawyers and researchers produce comprehensive and detailed reports on the human rights situation in Iran since the 1979 revolution.  The Center’s goal is to encourage an informed dialogue among scholars and the general public in both Iran and abroad.  The human rights reports and an archive of documents are available to the public for research and educational purposes on the Center’s website.

Case Western Reserve University School of Law War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Case Western Reserve University School of Law War Crimes Prosecution Watch

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is prepared by the International Justice Practice of the Public International Law & Policy Group and the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.


Volume 4, Issue 12 – September 14, 2009



On Wednesday, September 9, 2009, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law honored the memory of professor and former Nuremberg prosecutor Henry T. King, Jr. (1919-2009).

Please visit http://law.case.edu/lectures/index.asp?lec_id=214 to learn about Professor King and to view the webcast of the memorial honoring his legacy and achievements.


AFRICA

International Criminal Court

  • Central African Republic & Uganda
  • Darfur, Sudan
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (ICC)

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Special Court for Sierra Leone

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia

Uganda (Truth & Reconciliation & Domestic Prosecutions / Non-ICC)

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Iraqi High Tribunal

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA

United States

REPORTS

UN Reports


War Crimes Prosecution Watch is a bi-weekly e-newsletter that compiles official documents and articles from major news sources detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world.  If you do not want to receive future issues of War Crimes Prosecution Watch, please email warcrimeswatch@pilpg.org and type “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

Chautauqua Declaration

05 September 2009

Chautauqua Declaration

The issuance of the Chautauqua Declaration marked the culmination of the proceedings of the 3rd Annual International Humanitarian Law Dialogs held on August 31 – September 1, 2009. The subject was titled: “Honoring Women in International Criminal Law: From Nuremberg to the ICC (International Criminal Court)”. For further information on the Chautauqua Declaration, please visit www.roberthjackson.org.

Impunity Watch Annual Symposium: ‘American Warlord’ the Prosecution of Chucky Taylor

March 2009

24 March 2009

Impunity Watch Annual Symposium: ‘American Warlord’ the Prosecution of Chucky Taylor


Impunity Watch is hosting a symposium to discuss the legal and political ramifications of Chucky Taylor’s war crimes prosecution. The discussion will feature Johnny Dwyer of Rolling Stone Magazine, who wrote an article for that magazine about Chucky Taylor, Professor Evan Criddle of the Syracuse University College of Law and Doctor Nancy Snow of the Newhouse School. The symposium will be held on April 3rd from 12:00 pm until 2:00 pm at the Syracuse University College of Law in room 201. This event is free and open to the public. We encourage everyone who is able to come and attend.

HRW Reports on Efforts to End Dress Code Arrests

12 March 2009

HRW Reports on Efforts to End Dress Code Arrests

Human Rights Watch posted the following story about a Guyana law requiring people to wear gender appropriate clothes on March 5, 2009.

(Georgetown) – Guyana should halt arrests and police abuse of transgender people and repeal a repressive law that criminalizes wearing clothes considered appropriate only for the opposite sex, six human rights organizations said today in a letter to President Bharrat Jagdeo.The letter was signed by the Caribbean Forum for Liberation of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS), Global Rights, Guyana Rainbow Foundation (Guybow), Human Rights Watch, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). They called on the Guyanese authorities to drop the charges against seven people arrested under the law in February, 2009, and investigate allegations of abuse by the police.

“Police are using archaic laws to violate basic freedoms,” said Scott Long director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “This is a campaign meant to drive people off the streets simply because they dress or act in ways that transgress gender norms.”

Between February 6 and 10, police in the Guyanese capital, Georgetown, detained at least eight people, some of them twice, charging seven of them under section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02. This criminalizes as a minor offense the “wearing of female attire by man; wearing of male attire by women.”

Officers took the detainees to Brickdam police station. The detainees reported to SASOD Guyana, a local human rights organization working for the freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, that police refused to allow them to make a phone call or contact a lawyer, both basic rights under Guyanese law.

Police kept five of the men in solitary confinement until the day of the trial, contending that it was for their safety.

The first arrests took place on February 6, when plainclothes policemen detained three men in downtown Georgetown, near Stabroek Market. On February 7, the police detained five more. In both occasions acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson fined the detainees GY$7,500 (US$36) each. On February 10, the police detained four people; three of whom had been among those arrested on February 6 and 7.

In court, when handing down the sentence, Chief Magistrate Robertson told the detainees they were not women but men and exhorted them to “go to church and give their lives to Christ.”

“The enforcement of laws repressing individuals’ self-expression is against basic provisions of human rights,” said Stefano Fabeni, program director of the LGBTI Initiative at Global Rights. “Police treatment during arrest and detention of the eight men shows serious breaches of Guyana’s international human rights obligations.”

The Summary Jurisdiction (Offenses) Act provides for adjudication of these cases without a jury. The act dates from colonial times. Other offenses under the same provision include: “exposing for sale cattle in improper part of town (iv); beating [a] mat in [a] public way in town (vii); cleansing cask, etc. in public way (xl); driving cattle without proper assistance (xv), etc.”

Police use the law to target people born male who wear what police regard as female clothing. This violates the individual’s privacy, freedom of expression, and personal dignity.

“It is outrageous in this day and age that human beings get arrested for cross-gender expression,” said Vicky Sawyer, transgender representative for CARIFLAGS. “Transgender issues should be dealt with using international human rights standards, not police abuse.”

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Guyana has agreed to respect the absolute prohibition against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment set out in the treaty (Article 7). Article 14 of the same treaty affirms the right to counsel. The treaty also bars interference with the right to privacy (Article 17) and protects freedom of expression (Article 19). Guyana has the obligation to respect and ensure these rights, and to do so in a nondiscriminatory manner, as set forth in Article 2.

Guyana has several laws that criminalize relationships between people of the same sex. Section 351 of the Criminal Law (Offenses) Act punishes committing acts of “gross indecency” with a male person with a two-year prison sentence. Section 352 criminalizes any “attempt to commit unnatural offenses.” This includes a 10-year prison sentence for any “male [that] indecently assaults any other male person.” Finally Section 353 states that “Everyone who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature, shall be guilty of felony and be liable to imprisonment for life.”

The original article can be found here.

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant Omar Hassan Al-Bashir

Today, the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.  This is the first time that the ICC has issued such a warrant for a sitting head of state. The office of the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations Association of the USA have issued statements regarding the decision.


For further information, please see press releases here and here.

International Criminal Court Accepting Children’s Drawings as Evidence

March 4, 2009

International Criminal Court Accepting Children’s Drawings as Evidence

The International Criminal Court has begun accepting children’s drawings as supporting evidence of alleged crimes taking place in Darfur. The pictures depict the horrors of the region as seen through the eyes of a child provide vivid insight into what is going on on the ground.

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For more on these images and their use by the ICC, please see the BBC’s coverage here.