Helen Mack, sister of murdered Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack, speaks at March 2015 meeting of La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) (Photo: Flickr/cidh/Daniel Cima)
02 December 2015

IJT 188 takes a close look at Guatemala's newly opened 'high-risk' court, which many hope will expedite lawsuits concerning the country's decades-long armed conflict. 

Other features:

  • In the Netherlands, an Afghan army commander-turned-Dutch national was arrested and accused of war crimes allegedly committed in 1979.
  • In Bangladesh, two men were hanged for committing international crimes during the war of independence, compelling many Bangladeshis to celebrate and international human rights organizations to question the International Crimes Tribunal's fairness.
  • While ICC state parties held their annual meeting last month in The Hague, groups discussed on the side whether ecocide could become the fifth crime against peace.


A sign marks the entrance of the asylum application centre of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (Photo: Flickr/directie_voorlichting_venj)
12 November 2015 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In an extraordinary case testing the boundaries of universal jurisdiction and refugee law, an alleged war criminal of Afghan origin who had acquired Dutch nationality has been arrested in the Netherlands at the initiative of victims.


18 November 2011 by -

“Courage, Mama!” is the cry that reverberates throughout the courtroom in The Hague. The 64-year-old woman in the dock blows kisses to her weeping daughters. “The truth shall triumph,” vows Yvonne Basebya, suspect in the first genocide case against a Dutch citizen. The facts of the case occurred some 5,000 kilometres away and the legal procedure has been sluggish.

By Thijs Bouwknegt, The Hague

18 November 2011 by -

A bill expanding the jurisdiction of Dutch courts to hear cases involving international crimes was adopted by the Dutch parliament on 10 November. In particular the bill, which still has to be adopted by the Senate, allows for the exercise of universal jurisdiction over crimes of genocide committed since 1970. Also, for jurisdiction over cases referred to the Netherlands by international criminal tribunals.

By Cedric Ryngaert, Associate Professor of International Law, Utrecht University

11 November 2009 by -

The 93rd edition of the International Justice Tribune is now available. You can read it here.

Download the print version of the International Justice Tribune 93 (PDF file)

Subscribe to the International Justice Tribune

30 March 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

It is winter, four years after the Rwandan genocide. Joseph Mpambara arrives at Schiphol airport, carrying a false Ugandan passport. He tells Dutch Immigration officials that he fled his village Mugonero in 1994. He says he feared for his life as Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels massacred Hutus. Later, Mpambara feared persecution because he had testified in defence of his brother at the ICTR.

11 November 2009 by Thijs Bouwknegt

As the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) prepares to close its doors in Tanzania, courts around the world are taking up the task of trying suspected Rwandan génocidaires. They do so under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction: a doctrine that allows prosecutors to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture, war crimes or genocide committed elsewhere. 

29 March 2005 by -

Justice has so far been relatively powerless to prosecute those who make money out of conflicts that result in the deaths of millions of civilians. Recently, the Netherlands has taken the initiative to tackle the problem. On 18 March, Gus van Kouwenhoven, a 62-year-old Dutchman, was arrested and accused of war crimes for breaking the embargo on selling arms to Liberia. In the mid-1990s, Dutch courts investigated the role of «Mr Gus» in trafficking drugs through Liberia. In 2001, the UN identified him as a key player in the violence in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

24 October 2005 by -

Five years after Canada established a special office to investigate war criminals and passed specific legislation in this respect, the Canadian judiciary announced on October 19 that it had initiated its first legal proceedings under this legislation. Désiré Munyaneza, a 39-year old native from the south of Rwanda, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for crimes committed in 1994 in Butare, a region in southern Rwanda. Arrested in Toronto, where he was living, Munyaneza appeared before a court sitting in Montreal.


universal jurisdiction