International Legal News
Weekly update: 03 – 09 November 2020
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 03 – 09 November 2020.
The Guernica Group will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak for consideration.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) – 30 October 2020
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled on 10 November 2020 in the Ayyash et al case. The Prosecution, Defence and the Legal Representatives of the Victims have filed written submissions on sentencing. The Legal Representatives of the Victims requested the hearing and the opportunity to make oral submissions and allow victims to participate in the proceedings and present their views. The Trial Chamber granted this request, noting that it is consistent with the interests of justice to allow the participating victims to present their views.
Nagorno-Karabakh – 02 November 2020
On 02 November 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, expressed concerns over the continuing indiscriminate attacks in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. In particular, Ms. Bachelet expressed serious concerns regarding artillery strikes against populated areas, the killing of civilians, the use of cluster munitions by both parties in civilian areas, and widespread displacement. She indicated that these acts may amount to war crimes. The Human Rights Commissioner appealed to all parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Sudan – 02 November 2020
On 02 November 2020, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II, decided to postpone to confirmation hearing in Abd al-Rahman case to February 2021. The case was formerly known as the Ali Kushayb case. Abd al-Rahman is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur in March 2004. He surrendered himself to the ICC on 09 June 2020, and the confirmation of charges hearing was scheduled for 07 December 2020.
Central African Republic – 03 November 2020
The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the ICC requested that the Presidency designate an Alternate Judge in the Yekatom and Ngaïssona case submitting that it would be a justified and prudent way to insulate the trial from the ability to undertake a late substitution or replacement of a judge die to the COVID-19 pandemic should an incumbent judge of Trial Chamber V fall seriously ill or otherwise be unable to attend what are expected to be lengthy proceedings for any extended period of time. OTP submitted that Article 74 discretion allowed an Alternate Judge to be appointed and that the failure to designate such a judge at the start of the trial are serious and would risk delay in the proceedings, as no provision allows for continuation in the absence of any member of the Trial Chamber.
Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) – 04 November 2020
On 04 November 2020, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) of the KSC arrested Jakup Krasniqi and transferred him to the Detention Facilities of the KSC in The Hague.
On 24 April 2020, the SPO filed an indictment against Mr Krasniqi for the war crimes of illegal or arbitrary arrest and detention, cruel treatment, torture, and murder, and the crimes against humanity of persecution, imprisonment, other inhumane acts, torture, murder and enforced disappearance of persons. The SPO alleged that Mr Krasniqi committed these crimes while he served in various capacities in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), including as a member of the KLA Political Directorate, during the war in Kosovo between March 1998 and September 1999.
Venezuela - 04 November 2020
On 04 November 2020, the Prosecutor of the ICC, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, met with a high level delegation from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (“Venezuela”), which included the Attorney General, Mr Tarek William Saab, and the Venezuelan Ombudsperson, Mr Alfredo Ruiz, at the Seat of the Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.
The meeting offered an opportunity for the Office to exchange with the delegation of Venezuela on a number of aspects relating to the preliminary examination process and on the status of the two separate preliminary examinations conducted by the Office in relation to Venezuela (“Venezuela I” and “Venezuela II”), initiated in February 2018 and February 2020 respectively.
Kosovo - 05 November 2020
On 05 November 2020, Hashim Thaçi resigned as President of Kosovo to face war crimes and crimes against humanity charges against him at the KSC in The Hague. In his resignation announcement, Mr Thaçi stated that he was resigning “to protect the integrity of the presidency of Kosovo.” Later that same day, he was transferred to the Detention Facilities of the KSC.
Greece - 05 November 2020
In the case of Balaskas v. Greece the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of freedom of expression.
The case concerned a journalist’s complaint about his criminal conviction following an article he had written criticising the headmaster of a local high school for posting the view on his personal blog that the massive student uprising of 1973 was “the ultimate lie.” In his article the journalist, writing for the Lesbos daily newspaper Empros, had referred to the headmaster as “a Neo-Nazi,” and “theoretician of the entity Golden Dawn.”
Kenya - 06 November 2020
On 06 November 2020, the initial appearance of Paul Gicheru in The Prosecutor v. Paul Gicheru and Philip Kokoech Bett case took place at the ICC before Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou of Pre-Trial Chamber A. Mr Gicheru appeared via video-link from the ICC Detention Centre.
During the initial appearance, Mr Gicheru represented himself and confirmed that he signed a waiver for legal assistance, limited to this appearance. Mr Gicheru was also informed of the charges against him, which include offenses against the administration of justice in the Kenya Situation, specifically corruptly influencing witnesses. Mr Gicheru pleased not guilty.
United States/China – 09 November 2020
China, along with Russia and Mexico, is holding off on sending a message of congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden, saying the outcome of the vote is yet to be determined.
China says it has taken note of Joe Biden’s declaration of victory in the US presidential election but is holding off on sending any message of congratulations. Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on 09 November 2020 that the result of the election would be determined under US laws and procedures, and Beijing would follow international practices in extending its sentiments.