COVID-19 - Criminal justice at the coalface
Argentina’s Supreme Court has faced criticism following the application of the “2x1” law to the sentence of Luis Muiña for his conviction of crimes against humanity committed in 1977. The 1994 law, repealed in 2001, allows each day served to count as two days, in certain circumstances. The law was applied following “the most favourable law” principle, however two dissenting judges and human rights groups have argued that it goes against Argentina’s international obligations.
On 11 May 2017 a 27 year old asylum seeker was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Innsbruck. He was found guilty of shooting dead injured government soldiers while fighting as part of a rebel group in Syria. This is believed to be the first war crimes case to be tried in Austria. For news on this story please click here.
The state court in Bosnia sentenced Branka Sekaric to an eight month suspended sentence for revealing the identity of a protected witness on social media. The witness was testifying at the trial of her husband, Dragan Sekaric, who was sentenced for 17 years in prison for war crimes committed in Visegrad in 1992. For news on this story please click here.
On 30 May the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report stating that acts of killing, rape, mutilation, pillage and torture committed by government and other armed groups between 2003 and 2015 may constitute crimes against humanity. The objective of the report is to help authorities identify cases to prosecute under the Special Criminal Court, a court which is yet to become operational in the Central African Republic. For news on this story please click here.
On 22 May 2017 German prosecutors announced that they were trying a Syrian national named as Ibrahim Al F. for war crimes. He is alleged to be the leader of a militia group linked to the Free Syrian Army and was personally involved in the torture of at least two civilians. Charges were brought after he was recognised by one of his alleged victims who was also in Germany. For news on this story please click here.
On 12 May 2017 Kosovo’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal by the Special Prosecution against the acquittals of former KLA commander Fatmir Limaj and nine others for war crimes dating from 1999. It was alleged that they were involved in the detention and torture of Albanian and Serb civilians at a detention centre in Kosovo. The prosecution had originally relied on a single witness who committed suicide while in the protective custody of EULEX in Germany. For news on this story please click here.
On 8 May 2017 Fatou Bensouda told the United National Security Council that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor was considering investigating crimes committed against migrants attempting to transit through Libya, particular human trafficking.
She also reported that the pre-trial Chamber of the ICC found there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Internal Security Agency, led by Mr Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, along with other military, intelligence and security agencies, detained apparent opponents to the Gaddafi regime. The arrest warrant for Al-Tuhamy has been unsealed, and state parties have been urged to facilitate his arrest.
For news on these stories please click here.
On 15 May 2017, three French NGOs submitted a criminal complaint against the Russian Republic of Chechnya, in particular Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and other state officials for a “wave of persecution” against gay people amounting to genocide, including the establishment of alleged torture camps. Chechen officials deny there any gay people in Chechnya. For news on this story please click here.
On 17 May, Wenceslas Twagirayezy, a Danish national of Rwandan origin, was arrested in Denmark in relation to extradition proceedings for his alleged involvement in a massacre in 1994 at a Rwandan church and university. For news on this story please click here and here.
On 15 May 2017 Serbia elected Snezana Stanojkovic to be their new War Crimes Prosecutor after the position lay vacant since December 2015. She was elected by the parliament on a platform of ending impunity for crimes against Serbs. For news on this story please click here.
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