Refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos in September 2015 (Photo: Flickr/Ben White - CAFOD)
08 March 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Parallel to calls for the establishment of an international tribunal to address alleged war crimes committed in Syria [IJT-169], many European countries say they have stepped up screening procedures to weed out possible war criminals amid the influx of Syrian refugees. The Netherlands, which has been somewhat of a pioneer in this regard, last week announced that in 2015 they denied asylum to 10 Syrian nationals because they are suspected of committing war crimes. But past experience points to a wide gap between identifying potential perpetrators and actually bringing them to justice.

24 October 2005 by -

Swedish police released Somali colonel Abdi Qeybdid on October 20 for lack of proof of the accusations of genocide against him, according to AP. The police had arrested him three days before, after a Somali refugee claiming universal jurisdiction had accused Qeybdid of massacres committed at the port of Kismayo in 1991. The Swedish prosecutor has said he will not appeal. Upon his release, which was jubilantly celebrated in Mogadishu, Qeybdid accused Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed of conspiring to have him arrested. This may well inflame opposition between the two men's factions.

09 November 2011


STL: in absentia - the only way?

The first hearing trials in absentia under international law will take place before the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon on November 11. The defence and the prosecution will present arguments on moving into absentia proceedings. The STL is the anomaly in the family of international courts. Its Statute is the only one that permits trials in absentia. This marks a significant departure from current practice and procedure in relation to international law. But there is no convincing justification for this yet, say experts.

Green light - Sweden to Rwanda genocide extradition

The long-awaited judgement in the case of Ahorugeze v Sweden was delivered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on 27 October. Judges decided that Sylvere Ahorugeze’s extradition to Rwanda would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights: his extradition would not expose him to a real risk of ill-treatment (Article 3) and it conformed with his rights to a fair trial, guaranteed by Article 6.

Guilty - Argentina dirty war commanders

A historic ruling convicting 16 people accused of crimes against humanity was handed down by a Federal Court in Buenos Aires on October 26. They were convicted of arbitrary detention, torture and unlawful killing, committed at the Naval Mechanical by rocketsaler">School (ESMA) during the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

Reconciliation or prosecution in Ivory Coast?

A situation without precedent in a country that seems to have returned to normal. But where hate and anger have yet to disappear completely. Healing the wounds after post-electoral violence in 2010/2011 is the new mandate of the Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation (CDVR). Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is conducting its investigations in the same country.

ECHR: power to the people

Reforms are desperately needed by the European Court of Human Rights – the supra-national court for citizens in 47, which belongs to the Council of Europe. It is based on the European Convention on Human Rights – the only international human rights agreement that provides the individual with a high degree of protection.