International Criminal Law – A month in review – February 2017

8 March 2017

Kosovo Specialist Chambers

On 7 February the EU announced the roster of judges who will work at the Special Kosovo Court in The Hague. The President of the Court Ekaterina Trendafilova, stated that the next stage was to convene the judges to establish the rules of procedure and evidence of the KSC. For news on this story click here.


On 13 February a submission was made to the ICC, asking them to examine the use of offshore camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus over the last decade. It cited the “long-term detention in inhumane conditions, often including physical and sexual abuse of adults and children,” and asked the court to open an investigation into “crimes against humanity committed by individuals and corporate actors.” To access this news on this story click here. See also our blog  here.

Bosnia Herzegovina

On 18 February Serbia voiced its concern regarding Bosnia’s decision to appeal the 2007 ICJ Bosnia v Serbia judgement. This judgment found that the events at Srebrenica amounted to genocide, and that while Serbia had breached international law in relation to the genocide, it was not guilty. For news on this story click here.


On 9 February President Adama Barrow confirmed that Gambia was reversing its decision to withdraw from the ICC. The decision to withdraw was made by former President Jammeh, who fled Gambia in January 2017 after international pressure forced him to accept the election outcome. For news on this story see our blog here.   


On 7 February a Syrian national was arrested for allegedly carrying out war crimes as a member of Isis. He is alleged to have been guarding a checkpoint to avoid people fleeing the area, where he raped a woman as she tried to leave with her children. A spokesperson for the federal prosecutor stated that the attack amounted to a war crime since the woman was under the protection of international humanitarian law. For news on this story clock here.

On 16 February Germany issued an international arrest warrant against an ISIS leader who allegedly committed war crimes and genocide against the Yezidi minority in August 2014. They identified the ISIS leader through interviews with Yezidi victims in Germany. For news on this story click here.


On 13 February the President Kashim Thaci announced plans to establish a Truth Commission relating to the 1998-1999 conflict in order to reconcile the Albanian majority and Serb minority populations. For news on this article click here.


On 9 February  mandates were extended for two commissions tasked with investigating crimes committed during the Nepalese civil war that ended in 2006. They are extended for a further year. To date no cases have been investigated. For news on this story click here.

South Africa

A high court judge instructed the government of South Africa to revoke its notice of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. The court stated that it was unconstitutional to make this decision without consulting parliament first. For news on this story click here and see our blog here.


On 2 February it was reported that a criminal complaint had been filed in Spain by the sister of a Syrian man alleged to have been tortured to death in a detention centre in Damascus in 2013. Nine members of the Syrian government’s security and intelligence forces are accused of crimes including arbitrary detention, forced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial execution. The complainant is a Spanish national. For more on this story click here.

Sri Lanka

On 8 February Prime Minister Mangala Samaraweera stated that an extension would be sought at the UN Human Rights Session in Geneva in order to investigate war crimes allegations relating to the civil war that ended in 2009. For news on this story click here.

On 26 February, President Meithripala Sirisena stated that no foreign judges would be used in the judicial mechanisms used to try war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict. For more on this story click here.


On 16 February a Syrian opposition fighter Haisam Sakhanh, was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes. He was found guilty of killing seven captured soldiers, and appeared in videos showing this. For news on this story click here.


On 7 February Amnesty International published a report on secret executions taking place in Saydnaya Prison. It alleged that between 2011 and 2015 as many as 13,000 individuals, many of them opponents of President Assad, were killed. For the full report click here.

The UN announced on 17 February that it is setting up a new unit to prepare cases that could lead to the prosecution by states or the ICC of those responsible for “the worst international crimes… primarily war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide” in Syria. For news on this story click here.


On 14 February, a UN deadline to release Aydin Sefa Akay (a judge of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals) passed, potentially putting Turkey in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010).  The judge was detained in September after the attempted Coup. The judge is involved in the appeal of Rwandan politician Augustin Ngirabatware for his conviction of genocide and other crimes, which has been stalled as a consequence of Judge Akay’s detention. For news on this story click here.


Ukraine filed a case against the Russian Federation before the ICJ, accusing it of intervening militarily in Ukraine, committing financial acts of terrorism and violating the human rights of Ukraine citizens through the March 2014 referendum. To read an analysis of the case click here.

On 17 February the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that all sides in the Ukrainian conflict were using beatings, forced nudity and other abuses to extract confessions from victims, acts that may amount to war crimes. There are 31 documented cases of conflict-related sexual violence, mostly committed in detention. For news on this story click here.

United Kingdom

On 7 February a Judicial Review hearing began over the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The application was brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, who claim that the indiscriminate airstrikes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen means that there is significant risk that British arms are being used in activities that breach international humanitarian law. For news on this story click here.

On 10 February UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (IHAT) will be closing and that 90% of misconduct cases involving British troops in Afghanistan will be dropped. For news on this story click here.

On 17 February the High Court reserved judgement in the case of the so-called Hooded Men, who alleged they were subjected to torture in Northern Ireland which had been sanctioned by the British state. The claim aims to secure an independent investigation into their treatment. In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights held that the Hooded Men suffered inhumane and degrading treatment, but not torture. For news on this story click here


Co-authored by Sophia Kerridge, Paralegal in the Criminal Litigation team.

For further information, about the Criminal Law team's work relating to International Criminal Law here.

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