article
13 March 2006 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first international tribunal to allow victims to actively participate. The trial chamber's January 17 ruling allows six victims to get involved at a very early stage of the proceedings - during the investigations that the ICC is conducting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On January 23, the prosecutor filed an application for leave to appeal this decision he strongly opposes. From his point of view, "the broad scope of victim participation envisioned creates a serious imbalance between victims and any future accused persons", and admitting them at the investigation stage could lead the chamber to "premature and inappropriate factual conclusions".

issue
27 February 2006

Chief Norman gets top-notch defense

Samuel Hinga Norman is currently the most well-known defendant standing trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He is also the most controversial. Three years after his arrest, the former head of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF) kicked off his defense with some high caliber witnesses.

Who will oversee the victims at the ICC?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first international tribunal to allow victims to actively participate. The trial chamber's January 17 ruling allows six victims to get involved at a very early stage of the proceedings - during the investigations that the ICC is conducting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On January 23, the prosecutor filed an application for leave to appeal this decision he strongly opposes. From his point of view, "the broad scope of victim participation envisioned creates a serious imbalance between victims and any future accused persons", and admitting them at the investigation stage could lead the chamber to "premature and inappropriate factual conclusions".

Bagaragaza: ICTR subcontracts to Norway

On February 15, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) filed a motion to transfer Michel Bagaragaza's trial to Norway, which has agreed to try him. There are, however, ulterior motives behind this apparent successful attempt to lighten the Arusha tribunal's caseload.

Brief news:
• Liberia: truth commission up and running
• ICC goes the way of the world
• Mittal Steel suspends Omarska memorial over ethnic divisions
• Algeria: peace charter provides amnesty for security forces

issue
06 February 2006

The "Bosnian model" takes its first steps

On February 1, the Bosnia-Herzegovina War Crimes Chamber began its third trial in two months. The same week in Sarajevo, the prosecutor concluded his presentation of evidence in one of the two trials started at the beginning of December, and a preliminary hearing was held in a fourth case involving 11 suspects charged with genocide. In two months, this new style "mixed" tribunal that is still testing out its hybrid nature, will be facing its first major trials.

​Saddam's trial in firmer hands

The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein resumed in Baghdad on the January 29, after being disrupted by the surprise resignation of the presiding judge. The trial resumed with fiery debates, ending with the eight co-defendants boycotting the trial on the tenth day, February 2. They were protesting the appointment of the new presiding judge, Ra'uf Abd al Rahman, who is trying to firmly bring the trial back under control. The court heard testimony from the 23rd prosecution witness in the absence of the defendants. The next court session is due on February 13.

DC-CAM: the archives of the future trial

Just as judges are about to be appointed to the Extraordinary Chambers to try former Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) is preparing to hand over to the prosecutors information it has collected over the past ten years. DC-Cam was first established in 1995 at Yale University in the United States to collect documentation on the Khmer Rouge so as to explain history and establish responsibility for crimes committed. It has been operating in Phnom Penh since 1997 under the leadership of Youk Chhang, a former survivor. Chhang and his center will be playing a crucial role in the preparation of future trials. 

Gacaca under pressure

The start of gacaca trials throughout Rwanda, slated for the beginning of 2006, will be delayed by the local and municipal elections scheduled for February and March, indicated the Rwandan authorities in early January. Inaugurated three years ago, and having opened the first trials nearly a year ago, only 10% of the 10,000 people’s courts have entered the trial phase. Since March 2005, 118 gacaca courts have handed down 4,000 decisions. And while 120,000 prosecution cases are waiting to come before the judges, it is estimated that 700,000 people, nearly a tenth of the population, are currently free but could have to face charges before a gacaca court. But under what circumstances?

Brief news:
• Sierra Leone: Norman defends himself
• Investigation into 3,268 murders in Northern Ireland
• Timor: Accusations against Indonesia
• Hissène Habré: an African dilemma

 

article
06 February 2006 by Anne-Laure Porée

Just as judges are about to be appointed to the Extraordinary Chambers to try former Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) is preparing to hand over to the prosecutors information it has collected over the past ten years. DC-Cam was first established in 1995 at Yale University in the United States to collect documentation on the Khmer Rouge so as to explain history and establish responsibility for crimes committed. It has been operating in Phnom Penh since 1997 under the leadership of Youk Chhang, a former survivor. Chhang and his center will be playing a crucial role in the preparation of future trials. 

article
06 February 2006 by Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi

The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein resumed in Baghdad on the January 29, after being disrupted by the surprise resignation of the presiding judge. The trial resumed with fiery debates, ending with the eight co-defendants boycotting the trial on the tenth day, February 2. They were protesting the appointment of the new presiding judge, Ra'uf Abd al Rahman, who is trying to firmly bring the trial back under control. The court heard testimony from the 23rd prosecution witness in the absence of the defendants. The next court session is due on February 13.

article
06 February 2006 by Thierry Cruvellier and Berber Hettinga

On February 1, the Bosnia-Herzegovina War Crimes Chamber began its third trial in two months. The same week in Sarajevo, the prosecutor concluded his presentation of evidence in one of the two trials started at the beginning of December, and a preliminary hearing was held in a fourth case involving 11 suspects charged with genocide. In two months, this new style "mixed" tribunal that is still testing out its hybrid nature, will be facing its first major trials.

article
06 February 2006 by Louis-Martin Rugendo

The start of gacaca trials throughout Rwanda, slated for the beginning of 2006, will be delayed by the local and municipal elections scheduled for February and March, indicated the Rwandan authorities in early January. Inaugurated three years ago, and having opened the first trials nearly a year ago, only 10% of the 10,000 people’s courts have entered the trial phase. Since March 2005, 118 gacaca courts have handed down 4,000 decisions. And while 120,000 prosecution cases are waiting to come before the judges, it is estimated that 700,000 people, nearly a tenth of the population, are currently free but could have to face charges before a gacaca court. But under what circumstances?

issue
23 January 2006

DRC awaiting first arrest warrants

On January 10, Serge Brammertz, the deputy prosecutor in charge of investigations at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was given a six-month temporary assignment as head of the UN's fact-finding committee on the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister. Since his departure, Congolese NGOs, which had already advised the Court to issue arrest warrants before the December 18 referendum, are concerned that the ICC "legal proceedings will be stalled" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a country where individuals suspected of war crimes hold political office, and whose terms may be renewed following the March 5 legislative elections, the question is: why is the ICC waiting to issue its first arrest warrants in the DRC?

IER: truth without punishment

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has reason to be satisfied. Since completing its work a couple of weeks ago, the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) has been flooded with compliments. The United States, France, Great Britain and many other countries have expressed their support for this unprecedented initiative in truth and democratization in the Arab-Islamic world. Never before has a country in this region embarked upon such a critical assessment of its past. But beyond the symbolic nature of the IER report, what exactly does it say?

The steel giant and the memory of Omarska

​In August 1992, Europe discovered the existence of concentration camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Prijedor region, Serb authorities were subjecting non-Serb civilians to inhuman detention conditions, torture and murder at Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje. Those images went around the world and remain one of the symbols of the Bosnian drama. After the conflict Omarska returned to what it used to be: an iron ore mine. But after buying the mine, international steel giant Mittal Steel must now deal with the strong memories.

Brief news:
• ICC: 6 victims to participate in DRC proceedings
• ICTR: The Uwilingiyimana mystery
• Spain accuses Cavallo
• The Netherlands: 15 years for Van Anraat
• Chile: Fujimori stays in prison
• Argentina: Lukic extradited to the ICTY
• Bosnia: a bloody and disorderly arrest

article
23 January 2006 by Massimo Moratti and Berber Hettinga

In August 1992, Europe discovered the existence of concentration camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Prijedor region, Serb authorities were subjecting non-Serb civilians to inhuman detention conditions, torture and murder at Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje. Those images went around the world and remain one of the symbols of the Bosnian drama. After the conflict Omarska returned to what it used to be: an iron ore mine. But after buying the mine, international steel giant Mittal Steel must now deal with the strong memories.

article
23 January 2006 by Pierre Hazan

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has reason to be satisfied. Since completing its work a couple of weeks ago, the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) has been flooded with compliments. The United States, France, Great Britain and many other countries have expressed their support for this unprecedented initiative in truth and democratization in the Arab-Islamic world. Never before has a country in this region embarked upon such a critical assessment of its past. But beyond the symbolic nature of the IER report, what exactly does it say?

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