14 January 2015

International courts are increasingly looking at ways to compensate victims of crimes for their suffering. For its first issue in 2015, IJT 173 is thus focusing on reparations. Our correspondents examine the reparations controversy at the ECCC, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal; developments at the ICC; disgruntled victims in northern Uganda; and the story of Srebrenica survivor Hasan Nuhanovic, who won a landmark civil case against the Dutch government for compensation.

30 November 1999

ICC joins the Congolese chess game

​On 23 June, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno Ocampo announced he was opening his first investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to his press release, Ocampo has already been "carefully analysing the situation in DRC" since July 2003. But the new step, which marks the difference between a "preliminary analysis" and the opening of an investigation, is notable for the legal process that could lead to the first trials before the international court, and is highly significant in the current political context.

Five Rwandan files kept on the back burner

On June 8, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted France of failing to prepare its case against the Rwandan priest Wenceslas Munyeshyaka within a reasonable timeframe. The initial complaint, implicating him in the 1994 genocide, was filed nine years ago in July 1995. Although this is the first time such a case has been heard before the ECHR, the situation is not unique. Complaints filed between 1995 and 2001 against four Rwandans suspected of genocide who are residing in France are still pending in the French courts.

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

19 February 2007

Liberians will have to wait for the truth

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Liberia has indefinitely postponed the public hearings scheduled for January 31. The Commission, which was established under the 2003 Peace Agreement, is facing serious funding problems, while public expectation to see it begin holding hearings of victims and perpetrators is mounting.

Croatia reluctant to prosecute its politicians

Despite the evidence gathered during investigations, in addition to the evidence handed over by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Croatia's political class is in no hurry to try two of its most notorious politicians charged with war crimes: Branimir Glavas, a member of Parliament and retired general, and Tomislav Mercep, former MP and presidential candidate in 2000, even though this is Croatia's main obstacle to European Union (EU) membership.

International justice - new investment opportunity?

Recent gifts by Microsoft to the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia and a project reintegrating former paramilitaries in Colombia may signal a new era of private sector philanthropy. The burgeoning field of international justice is certainly in need of additional sources of funding, but would corporate contributions come at a hidden cost?

Morocco - From collective pardon to collective amnesia?

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.


02 April 2007

Canada unveils universal jurisdiction

The first case under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) opened at the main courthouse in Montreal on March 26, 2007. The defendant, who has been in custody since being arrested in Toronto nearly eighteen months ago, walked into the courtroom more nattily attired than any previous occupant of the prisoner’s box. Désiré Munyaneza, a Rwandan charged with genocide, wore a color-coordinated suit, shirt and tie. He looked around, spotting his wife, other family members, attorneys and the single judge.

Trial of political leaders running aground

One of the most important trials before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has again run into difficulty following the withdrawal of a judge for health reasons. Nine years after the arrest of the three defendants—leaders of the former presidential party (MRND) who are among the prime suspects in the 1994 genocide—the trial is unlikely to finish before 2008, the completion date set by the UN Security Council for all ICTR trials.

Van Anraat, a high-stakes second round

The appeals arguments in the trial of Frans van Anraat will be held at The Hague from April 4-25. On December 23, 2005 a Dutch court sentenced the 65 year-old businessman to 15 years in prison for complicity in war crimes committed by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, his cousin Ali Hassan al- Majid and his son in law Hussein Kamal al-Majid. Both parties are challenging the lower court's judgment and legal reasoning.

Brief news:


Ernesto Baez at confession

"Parabusiness" scandal revealed


Registrar of the court dismissed


Lubanga's defense demands appropriate means


16 April 2007

No more waiting for Bernard Ntuyahaga

Bernard Ntuyahaga, a former major in the Rwandan army, will be tried starting April 19 before a court of Rwanda's former colonial power. For the Belgian justice system, this third universal jurisdiction trial for crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994 is the result of twelve years of efforts to try one of those it holds responsible for the murder of ten Belgian UN soldiers on April 7, 1994. For the accused, it is above all the end of a long drawn-out legal process.

The trial of an "extremely important event"

An expert on the three days following the April 6, 1994 attack on the plane of President Juvénal Habyarimana in Kigali, Filip Reyntjens has already testified before the Tanzanian judges "to prevent Bernard Ntuyahaga from being extradited to Rwanda." He will be cited by the prosecution as an expert witness in the trial that is opening in Brussels.

India non-aligned, but held back by insurgencies

India was an active participant at the Rome conference that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998. Much of its interest was linked to the legacy of the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who had a vision of nations not allied with major power blocs. An international court that is not beholden to such blocs has some appeal in India. But issues of sovereignty, internal insurgencies and India's aspiration to have a permanent seat at the UN Security Council made it not signing the ICC Statute.

Brief news:


• The Rwandan defendant attacked in jail

• Finland prepares to try a Rwandan suspect

Former Yugoslavia

• "Scorpions" sentenced in Serbia

• ICTY: Lukic trial transfered to Sarajevo


• Washington spurs on Peruvian justice


07 May 2007

The rules for the Defense: "a step backward"

Since opening in July 2006, the Extraordinary Chambers, tasked with trying former Khmer Rouge leaders, has been paralyzed by the failure to adopt internal, procedural rules. Now, at last, the court is likely to have its rules in place by the end of May. On April 28, after five months of deadlock, the Cambodian Bar Association removed the last major obstacle by agreeing to lower its registration fees for foreign lawyers from $4,900 to $500. Rupert Skilbeck, Chief of the Defense Support Section, talks with IJT about issues of concern for the defense.

Controversy between the president and judges

On April 25, a federal appellate court in Buenos Aires ruled that the presidential pardons granted to former junta members years ago were unconstitutional. This ruling opens the door for Rafael Videla, currently under house arrest, to be put in prison and for the transfer of Emilio Massera, declared senile, to a military hospital. Mostly, it comes at a time when the pace of trials for crimes against humanity has created a rift between President Nestor Kirchner and the country's top criminal court, the Court of Cassation.

South Africa, peace mediator above all

South Africa has unmatched economic and moral power on the African continent, where the International Criminal Court (ICC) has focused its first prosecutions. The government's attitudes towards the ICC are shaped by its anti-colonial struggle against apartheid and by its own choice of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Brief news:

• Russia: Defendants in Chechnya murder trial go missing

• Darfur: the ICC issues two arrest warrants

• Bagaragaza, first transfer from the ICTR

• Timor-Leste: the truth according to Wiranto


21 May 2007

End of the officers' trial: 13 years later, what proof?

From May 28 to June 1, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will hear closing arguments from the Prosecutor and defense in its most important trial - that involving Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the former Chef de Cabinet at the Ministry of Defense and the presumed architect of the 1994 genocide. The trial has centered around allegations that Bagosora led a conspiracy that planned the genocide well in advance of the killings. Now, after twelve years of investigation and more than five years of trial, what do we actually know?

Europe supports the ICC without fail and without zeal

Since its conception, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has found its most fervent supporters in Europe. No fewer than 20 European countries participated in the pro-ICC "like-minded group" of 58 during the Rome Statute negotiations in 1998. This diplomatic activism—rewarded by the election of judges from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Latvia and other European states to the permanent court—has continued unfailingly within the European Union (EU). However, on a practical level, the cooperation is less effective and relations with the ICC remain bilateral for the most part, just like relationships between States regarding universal jurisdiction cases.

Brief news:

• France: Judicial inquiry into Agathe Habyarimana

• ICC: Judge Jorda resigns

• ICTR: Controversy over the presidency

• Complicity in genocide: the double response from The Hague

• Tribunal for lebanon: to be passed by force?


04 June 2007

Taylor, last chance for the Sierra Leone model

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor's trial will open before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on June 4. The Court has been relocated to the Hague to try the case, which will be both its most important trial and its last. The Special Court, which was created in 2002, was expected to last just three years. In the end, it will have taken eight years to try nine individuals. And the jury is still out as to whether the Court will live up to expectations.

Brazil: reliable, but far from dynamic

Brazil played an active part in the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet the Latin American giant has mostly stayed on the sidelines when it comes to international criminal justice. This is because, for several years now, its diplomatic activity has focused on gaining a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, Brazilian courts have been slow to act when it comes to judging human rights violations committed under the prior military regime.

Butare, a trial out of bounds at the ICTR

Brief news:
• Special Tribunal for Lebanon created
• ICTY: General Tolimir arrested
• Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Stankovic's escape
• Central African Republic: ICC's fourth investigation



18 June 2007

Ntuyahaga: political trial for a ghost

"Was there a genocide? You'd have to ask a specialist. I'm a military man; it's too much to ask of me." Bernard Ntuyahaga, a former major in the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), sometimes gave irritated half answers in response to questions from the judges of the Court of Assises in Brussels. In the troubled hours following the attack on President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane on the evening of April 6, 1994, this G4 army officer (logistics) seemed a stranger to the events. "A ghost in Kigali," quipped presiding judge Karin Gérard.

Israel cornered by Occupied Territories

After the genocide of the Jews during the Second World Ward and since the 1950s, Israel has been actively engaged in the project for an international criminal court. In Rome, in 1998, its leaders hoped to be able to adhere to the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC). But the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians - and the continued existence of settlements in the Occupied Territories, which puts Israel at risk of being accused by the court - decided otherwise.

Brief news:

• Sierra Leone: Taylor's trail opens without him

• Cambodia: The Khmer Rouge tribunal finally adopts its internal rules

• Lebanon: Will new attacks go before the Special Court?

• ICTY: 35 years for Martic