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A Syrian refugee walks among severely damaged buildings in downtown Homs, Syria, on June 3, 2014. (Photo: Flickr/Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue)
09 March 2017 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

International law experts, officials and NGO’s met in The Hague Thursday to help set up an new United Nations body to gather evidence of war crimes in Syria to ensure possible prosecution at a later date. 

The new body called the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria is “to serve as a hub for gathering evidence for all crimes in Syria”, said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders who hosted the meeting of over 150 professionals.

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Wreckage recovery of flight MH17 November 2014 (Photo: Dutch Ministry of Defence/ Dutch Safety Board)
06 February 2017 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Ukraine and Russia will face off before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from March 6 to 9 over so-called provisional measures against Russia to “prevent further aggravation or extension of the disputes between the parties” requested by Ukraine. Among the measures demanded by Kiev is that Russia cracks down on border security to prevent acts of terrorism financing, including the supply of weapons to pro-Russian militias.  

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People watching the opening of Dominic Ongwen's trial in Lukodi, the site of the largest single massacre by the LRA which features in the charges against Ongwen (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
19 January 2017 by Stephanie van den Berg

This week the trial of Dominic Ongwen [IJT-196] resumed in The Hague with the first witnesses testifying before the ICC. So far it is the prosecution setting up its case with expert witnesses on Ugandan history and the emergence of the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA) and army officials on how the radio intercepts of LRA communication worked.

IJT spoke with Ledio Cakaj, a researcher who has spent the last eight years interviewing hundreds of former LRA members, fighters, abductees and abductees-turned-fighters like Ongwen to understand how the LRA functions. He is also the author of the book “When the Walking Defeats You: One man's journey as Joseph Kony's bodyguard” which came out late last year. We asked Cakaj his views on the Ongwen case and the upcoming trial of Thomas Kwoyelo [IJT-192], another former LRA commander, in Uganda itself. Are these trials justice being done or were Kwoyelo and Ongwen just convenient defendants?

 

 

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Judges hearing the appeal of Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chamber (Photo: Twitter/@chambresafrica)
12 January 2017 by Thierry Cruvellier and IJT

This week the appeal of former Chadian president Hissène Habré started before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar. Habré was convicted in May last year of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture and sentenced to life in prison. The appeal has been mainly legal challenges from the defence and questions about the courts decisions on reparations. The sessions are being broadcast live but in the court in Dakar the public gallery has been largely empty and Habré himself has not attended the hearings.

From the IJT archives here's Thierry Cruvellier's 2016 story about how the Habré case can be a model as an alternative to international tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic together in an undated image (Photo: Flickr/ICTY)
22 December 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg

The closing arguments in the case against former Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic finished up last week. The 1992-95 war in Bosnia ended over twenty years ago and Mladic's is the last trial for the tribunal which has seen interest in its trials waning, is this case too little, too late or did the tribunal save the best for last?

Justice Tribune spoke to Iva Vukusic about the significance of the case and the closing arguments of the parties. Vukusic is former journalist who also worked in the prosecutions office of the Bosnian state court's war crimes chambers and is now a PhD candidate at Utrecht University where she focuses on paramilitarism during the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.

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former coup leader general Amadou Haya Sanogo arrives for his trial in Mali on November 30, 2016 (Photo: Twitter/@Justice_Mali)
15 December 2016 by Abdoulaye Guindo in Mali

During December 2016, the Malian authorities put on trial former coup leader General Amadou Haya Sanogo along with 17 other military men for their roles in kidnapping and killing 21 elite Malian soldiers who had been accused of leading a counter-coup against Sanago and his followers.

Abdoulaye Guindo, a journalist with Malian daily online Proces-Verbal, has been covering justice efforts in Mali for many years. But this trial was different from any other he has covered.

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Dominic Ongwen at the start of his ICC trial (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
06 December 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

The first day of the trial of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen did not exactly go as planned for ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Whereas usually the opening of a case gives a podium to the prosecutor who can make sweeping statements about the responsibility of the accused for the atrocities they are charged with, in this case the Ongwen trial started with the defendant and his defence strategy squarely in the spotlight.

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Gambia election
02 December 2016 by Janet H. Anderson

There’s wild jubilation in Banjul the Gambia’s capital, after a tense 36 hours of vote-counting combined with a complete internet and messaging black-out for “security reasons”, with the news that the head of the country’s independent election commission Momor Njie has declared the 22-year rule of president Yahya Jammeh over.

Jammeh was attempting to head for a fifth term in power, and had been reported as saying he was “proud to be a dictator” and that Allah would keep him in power for a billion years.

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ICC premises (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
15 November 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg

To prepare for the upcoming Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court we have teamed up with several ICC observers to create a series of podcasts about the issues that will be on the agenda, both officially and unofficially during the yearly gathering of the court's member states. Find our talk with Alix Vuillemin of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court here. On the issue of African withdrawals from the court we spoke to Dov Jacobs, assistant professor, ICC defence counsel and blogger. That podcast is here

On the first day of the ASP we met with Liz Evenson of Human Rights Watch to go over how the court and the prosecutors select cases to investigate and take to trial and the possible impact of Russia's announcement that is was withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute. Click here to hear what she had to say.

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14 November 2016 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

When state representatives and a huge host of justice NGO’s gather on Wednesday in The Hague – along with International Criminal Court staff themselves – for a week of debate about the court and setting its direction for the next year, there’ll be one major topic: the withdrawal from the court by three African countries. Burundi, South Africa and the Gambia have all announced their decisions within that last month. But the meeting itself will be about far more than that and will throw up several interesting stories for ICC-watchers.

 

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