Alfred Yekatom, the first person to be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the Court’s investigation into crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2012, made an initial appearance before the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II on November 23. [ICC Press Release: Alfred; FIDH] Mr. Yekatom is alleged to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity between December 2013 and August 2014 in the context of the CAR’s ongoing conflict between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka armed groups. [ICC Press Release: Yekatom] Yekatom is accused of having commanded an anti-balaka group that carried out killings, torture, forced displacement of Muslim civilians and looting and destruction of Muslim homes and places of worship, in western CAR. CAR authorities delivered Yekatom to the ICC on November 17 in compliance with the ICC’s November 11 warrant for his arrest. [ICC Press Release: Situation] On April 30, 2019, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations against him and, if so, to transfer his case to the Trial Chamber. [ICC Press Release: Yekatom]
Category Archives: armed conflict
In the month of May, several universal and regional bodies will be in session to assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through interactive dialogues, the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, and the review of individual complaints. Four United Nations treaty bodies will meet throughout May to engage with States regarding their treaty obligations related to torture, racial discrimination, forced disappearances, and children’s rights. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will also be in session and will conduct interactive dialogues with representatives from 14 States. Ten UN special procedures will conduct country visits focusing on human rights defenders, contemporary forms of racism, indigenous peoples, sale and sexual exploitation of children, effects of foreign debt, countering terrorism, housing, migrants, health, and torture. Three working groups will hold sessions on enforced disappearances, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and private military and security companies.
Regionally, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) will be in session. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will also be in session, and will hold public hearings during those sessions. Finally, the European Committee of Social Rights will be in session, and the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear one case related to State obligations during an armed conflict.
The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court, the IACHR, and IACtHR, may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, and the Inter-American Commission’s website or Vimeo, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
In February 2018, several universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, interactive dialogues, and hearings on individual complaints. Four United Nations treaty bodies will be holding sessions throughout February on issues related to children’s rights, prevention of torture, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the rights of women. The UN Human Rights Council and several of its working groups will also be in session to review communications as well as thematic and country-specific reports. Two UN special rapporteurs will carry out country visits, and two special procedures working groups will hold private sessions on the topics of forced disappearances, and business and human rights.
Regionally, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will be in session, and will hold public hearings during those sessions. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear arguments in one case on the alleged violation of due process rights during domestic criminal proceedings, including the right to a fair trial, the right to adequate preparation of a defense, and the right to examine a witness.
The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court, Inter-American Commission, and Inter-American Court may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, the Inter-American Commission’s website, and Vimeo, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has issued judgments in its final two cases ahead of the tribunal’s scheduled closure in December. On November 22, 2017, the ICTY – the ad hoc tribunal established by the United Nations to address war crimes committed after 1991 in the territory of the former Yugoslavia – convicted and sentenced Ratko Mladić, also known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity, and other war crimes. [ICTY Press Release: Mladić; HRW] In the wake of his conviction, the international human rights community has shown strong support for the Mladić decision, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein hailing the judgment as a momentous conviction and describing Mladić as the “epitome of evil.” [OHCHR Press Release] On November 29, 2017, the ICTY issued a judgment on appeal in the case Prosecutor v. Prlić et al., which will be the Tribunal’s final decision. [ICTY Press Release: Prlić et al.] The Appeals Chamber upheld the sentences of the six individuals, who remain convicted of crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims. [ICTY Press Release: Prlić et al.] The ICTY, which has its seat in The Hague, Netherlands, will formally close on December 31, 2017 after 24 years of operation and concluding proceedings for 161 accused. [ICTY Press Release: Prlić et al.] See ICTY, Key Figures of the Cases. Read more
On August 17, 2017, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a Reparations Order in the case of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who in September 2016, upon pleading guilty to the destruction of 10 religious and historic sites in Timbuktu, Mali, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. [ICC Press Release; IJRC] In its Reparations Order, Trial Chamber VIII of the ICC found Al Mahdi liable for 2.7 million euros (or approximately 3.18 million USD) in both individual and collective reparations for the community affected by the 2012 attacks, which occurred in the context of Mali’s internal armed conflict. [ICC Press Release] The Court, emphasizing the cultural and sentimental value of the destroyed property, ordered reparations for three categories of harm: damage to the targeted buildings, resulting economic loss, and moral harm. [ICC Press Release] The reparations are designed to rehabilitate the attacked sites, address the community’s financial losses, and potentially fund symbolic measures, such as memorials, to serve as public recognition of the harms incurred by the Timbuktu community. [ICC Press Release] Given Al Mahdi’s indigence, the Court encourages the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), an agency that will implement the order, to supplement the reparations to the extent possible. [ICC Press Release; Guardian] Read more
- In Kenya, five people have been killed since Raila Odinga, an opposition leader, declared the recent presidential election fraudulent. [Al Jazeera]
- On Thursday, authorities in Turkey issued 35 detention warrants for journalists and other individuals connected to Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of involvement in the attempted coup last year. [Washington Post]
- On Sunday, Russia passed a law with increased restrictions on virtual private networks (VPNs), reducing user anonymity. [Guardian]
Violence & Humanitarian Crises
- On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch reported that Israel’s transfer of Palestinians in Jerusalem out of their homes may amount to war crimes. [Al Jazeera]
- On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council linked conflict to “devastating humanitarian consequences,” like threats of famine, in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria. [Washington Post]
- This week, police forces in India launched a hotline dedicated to preventing honor killings for couples who feel threatened by their families. [Reuters]
Activities of Supranational Entities
- On Wednesday, several United Nations entities concluded in a joint statement that the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been obstructed by continued vulnerability and exclusion. [UN News Centre]
- On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council strengthened sanctions against North Korea, imposing a full ban on the export of coal, iron, and iron ore, among other limitations. [UN News Centre]
- Last week, the European Court of Human Rights stopped Russia’s deportation of Khudoberdy Nurmatov, a reporter who fears he would be tortured if he returned to Uzbekistan. [Washington Post]
Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers
- On Wednesday, a boat arrived at Zahara de los Atunes, Spain transporting 40 migrants. [Washington Post]
- This week, the International Organization for Migration reported that nearly 300 migrants were thrown into the sea from boats near the coast of Yemen. [UN News Centre]
- This week, North Korea announced a plan to launch four intermediate-range missiles to land near the United States territory of Guam. [Guardian]
- On Thursday, China called for the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops that China says have been increasing along the China, India, Bhutan border. [Al Jazeera]
Violence & Humanitarian Crises
- On Wednesday, several international aid organizations in the Central African Republic halted operations due to violence between armed groups and the targeting of aid workers. [Reuters]
- On Monday, suicide attacks targeted two camps for internally displaced persons in Nigeria resulting in the deaths of at least eight people. [UN News Centre]
- On Monday, at least 24 people were killed when a suicide bomber hit a minibus in Kabul, Afghanistan; the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. [Washington Post]
- On Monday, an attack claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group targeted police in Lahore, Pakistan and killed at least 25 people. [Al Jazeera]
Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers
- On Thursday, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, proposed a plan to process asylum requests in Libya. [Reuters]
- On Sunday, ten migrants died and 29 were hospitalized in San Antonio, Texas after being smuggled into the United States and riding in the back of a hot truck. [Reuters]
- This week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on a pilot program to register undocumented Afghan refugees in Pakistan, which may provide legal status to a million people. [UN News Centre]
Activities of Regional & Universal Bodies
- On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights announced the appointment of three international experts on the situation of the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [OHCHR Press Release]
- This week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization launched new guidelines regarding the protection of national forest resources and implementing monitoring. [UN News Centre]
- Last week, the African Union Commission consulted with South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity on the establishment of a Hybrid Court for South Sudan, which would have jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. [AU Press Release]
- On Wednesday, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, announced his intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military. [New York Times]
- On Monday, the president of Poland vetoed two measures that would have limited the independence of the judiciary in the country. [Washington Post]
- On Sunday, an estimated 3,000 protesters demonstrated in Moscow, Russia against restrictive policies that impact citizens’ use of the internet. [Moscow Times]
- On Friday, the president of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, signed legislation legalizing gay marriage in Germany; the law goes into effect this fall. [Washington Post]
- This week Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations called on the Government of Canada to address online hate speech directed at Canada’s indigenous populations. [Guardian]
On July 17, 2017, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its mid-year report on the situation of civilians in Afghanistan, revealing that the level of civilian casualties remains high. [UNAMA Press Release] UNAMA confirmed a total of 5,243 civilian casualties (1,662 deaths and 3,581 injured) from January 1 to June 30, 2017, which represents a decrease of less than one percent from the same period in 2016, but reported an increase in deaths. See UNAMA, Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Mid-Year Report 2017 (2017), at 3. The number of women and children killed and injured has increased this year, despite a decline in women and children casualties in 2016. [UNAMA Press Release] Civilian casualties in the first half of the year were primarily the result of anti-government forces’ use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs, in civilian-populated areas. See UNAMA, Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Mid-Year Report 2017, at 3–4. Medical facilities and schools continue to be targeted, impeding Afghans’ access to health care and education. See id. at 13, 17–19.
In consideration of its findings, UNAMA recommends that anti-government forces stop targeting civilians, that government forces stop using weapons such as mortars and rockets that can have devastating effects in civilian areas, and that international militaries support and train Afghanistan’s national army, among other recommendations. [UNAMA Press Release] In a statement recognizing the high rates of death and injury recorded in the report, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that the statistics on casualties do not depict the full extent of the loss and suffering, such as psychological trauma and displacement. [OHCHR Press Release] Afghanistan is a State party to the Rome Statute, Geneva Conventions, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and, therefore, the State must refrain from targeting civilians during non-international armed conflict and respect and protect the right to life.
In its decision of July 6, 2017, a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) held that South Africa violated its obligations under the Rome Statute by failing to comply with an ICC request to arrest and turn over to ICC custody Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on multiple counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in relation to the conflcit in Darfur. [ICC Press Release] Al-Bashir was in South Africa for a meeting of the African Union from June 13–15, 2015. [ICC Press Release] Despite its conclusion, the Court elected not to refer South Africa’s non-compliance to either the Assembly of States Parties – the legislative body of the ICC – or the United Nations Security Council, citing the fact that South African courts have already disposed of the matter. [ICC Press Release] The referrals, the Court said, are unnecessary to obtain cooperation from South Africa. [ICC Press Release] This decision could have implications for al-Bashir and others wanted by the ICC as they decide whether and where to travel. [New York Times] Since the issuance of his first arrest warrant in 2009, al-Bashir has managed to travel internationally to Asia and within Africa, but has strategically avoided the United States and Western European countries where he faces a greater risk of arrest. [New York Times] Read more
- Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident who previously won the Nobel Peace Prize, died from cancer on Thursday. [New York Times]
- On Wednesday, protesters in Zimbabwe demonstrated in favor of fair elections but were met with tear gas and water cannons. [Al Jazeera]
- Last weekend, tens of thousands of protesters in Istanbul, Turkey demonstrated against the state of emergency that has been ongoing since July 2016. [Washington Post]
- The President of Colombia granted amnesty this week to an additional 3,600 Farc members, following the completion of the Farc’s disarmament last month. [BBC]
- A court in Kenya last week ruled that the Dubai-based company set to print ballots for the presidential race in Kenya could not do so due to the company’s ties to the current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. [BBC]
- Nineteen of the 20 States represented at the recently concluded G20 summit reiterated their commitment to the Paris climate agreement while taking note of the decision of the United States not to follow the agreement. [Guardian]
- An iceberg that is 5,800 square kilometers broke off from an ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula this week. [Guardian]
Activities of Human Rights Bodies & Experts
- A recently published declaration from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on human rights defenders recommends expanding protections for defenders in the region. [IJRC]
- Several United Nations independent experts expressed concern this week over the power shortages in Gaza, stating that the reduced access to power has led to water shortages, reduced availability of health services, and increased food insecurity. [OHCHR Press Release]