Crimes Against Humanity – Part I: Is an attack by a state or organization against members of its own armed forces an attack directed against a civilian population amounting to a crime against humanity?

Part I 

A few months ago, 19 April 2016 to be exact, Michael Bohlander, the International Co-Investigating Judge for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”) issued a call for submissions by the Office of the Co-Prosecutors (“OCP”), the Defence in Cases 003 and 004, and qualified amici curiae.  Querying whether there was a lacuna in defining who may form a “civilian population” for the purpose of crimes against humanity, Judge Bohlander asked:

whether, under customary international law applicable between 1975 and 1979 [the temporal jurisdiction of the ECCC], an attack by a state or organisation against members of its own armed forces may amount to an attack directed at a civilian population.1Case of MEAS Muth, 003/07-09-2009-ECCC/OCIJ, Call for Submissions by the Parties in Cases 003 and 004 and Call for Amicus Curiae Briefs, 19 April 2016, D191 (“Call for Submissions”), para. 3.

Continue reading “Crimes Against Humanity – Part I: Is an attack by a state or organization against members of its own armed forces an attack directed against a civilian population amounting to a crime against humanity?”

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Ahmed al Faqi al Mahdi’s trial or slow change of plea hearing at the ICC?

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi

On 22 August 2016, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi entered a guilty plea before the Trial Chamber for destruction of cultural monuments in the UNESCO world heritage site in Timbuktu, Mali.1Prosecutor v. Al Mahdi, ICC-01/12-01/15-T, Video Recording of the Admission of Guilt, 22 August 2016, available at https://www.icc-cpi.int/mali/al-mahdi. Despite having admitted to the crimes charged, the case proceeded to a two-day trial.  The judgement and sentence are expected by 27 September 2016.2Prosecutor v. Al Mahdi, ICC-01/12-01/15-T-6-ENG, Transcript of the Trial Hearing, 24 August 2016, available at https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/record.aspx?docNo=ICC-01/12-01/15-T-6-ENG.

Interesting as it may be to debate the merits of going after the likes of Al Mahdi and the significance of this case (see e.g., Mark Kersten in Justice in Conflict (2 posts) or Owen Bowcott’s article in The Guardian), I am interested in the trial. Or is it a trial? After all, Al Mahdi pled guilty, acknowledged the factual matrix in the charging document as accurately reflecting his conduct, and voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently (understandingly) waived guaranteed fair trial rights, in particular the rights to be presumed innocent, against self-incrimination, and to have the prosecution prove each charge against him beyond a reasonable doubt.

So what is there to try?  Why put Al Mahdi through the crucible of having to retell that which presumably he has already told the Prosecutor or force him to effectively prove his guilt (having entered a guilty plea, there is a presumption that Al Mahdi is guilty) for the crimes for which he has already accepted responsibility and for which he is willing to bear the consequences? Continue reading “Ahmed al Faqi al Mahdi’s trial or slow change of plea hearing at the ICC?”

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ECCC Prosecutorial Awakening is No Profile in Courage

One has a moral obligation to take responsibility for one’s actions, and that includes one’s words and silence, yes, one’s silence …

Roberto Bolaño, By Night in Chile

A couple of weeks ago I posted a commentary that appeared in the Cambodia Daily concerning Henri Locard’s remarks while being examined by International Co-Lawyer for Accused Khieu Samphan, Ms. Anta Guisse, and his out-of-court remarks about the defence in general, which also appeared in the Cambodia Daily.

Locard’s out-of-court remarks prompted the Nuon Chea Defence to file a submission requesting a. that the press article that reported on Locard’s remarks be placed on the case file, and b. for the Trial Chamber to disregard Locard’s testimony because, having prejudged Nuon Chea’s guilt, Locard’s testimony was “not impartial or neutral and therefore fails to meet the criteria required to be considered expert evidence.”   The Co-Prosecutors responded.1Case of NUON Chea, 002/19-09-2007-ECCC/TC, Co-Prosecutors’ Response to Nuon Chea’s Rule 87(4) Request to Admit into Evidence a Document an Article Concerning Henri Locard (2-TCE-90), 16 August 2016. Hence this post.

The Co-Prosecutors have no objections to the press article being included in the case file. What other position could they take?  Hardly a bold manifestation of fairness.

The Co-Prosecutors did however object to the Nuon Chea Defence’s characterization of Locard and his testimony.  Despite Locard’s in-court and out-of-court remarks, the Co-Prosecutors find him to be an erudite, objective and credible expert witness.  Predictable.  Although, what else could they be expected to say?  It takes a particularly honest and moral sense of a prosecutor’s higher duty to justice to step out of the adversarial boots and cease vouching for a demonstrably defective witness. Continue reading “ECCC Prosecutorial Awakening is No Profile in Courage”

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The ADC’s Continuing Relevance: MICT’s Rules Committee Practice Direction

logo ADC 2004.jpg-for-web-normalThe Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, commonly referred to as the ADC-ICTY, is the association of defence counsel formally recognized by the ICTY. As part of the completion strategy of both the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was established for both these courts. Trials, appeals, and post-conviction relief have been under the MICT since 1 July 2012 for the ICTR and 1 July 2013 for the ICTY, as ongoing matters are winding down.

The ADC-ICTY remains the only professional association recognized as the official and exclusive association of any of the past and present international and internationalized courts or tribunals. In October 2002, Rule 44 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) was amended to make membership in an association of defence counsel compulsory,1ICTY Press Release ‘Judges’ Plenary Session Adopt Reforms Concerning Defense Counsel Teams’ (19 July 2002) http://www.icty.org/sid/8083. firmly establishing the ADC-ICTY as the sole professional association dedicated to the interests of all defence counsel – and by extension their staff – practicing at the ICTY.

The original draft of the MICT RPE did not include this requirement, but after the ADC-ICTY requested an amendment, the final version of the Rules included the requirement of compulsory membership of an association of defence counsel in Rule 42. With the MICT coming into existence, the ADC-ICTY was selected to continue in its capacity as the association for counsel practicing before the MICT. The ADC-ICTY was initially provisionally recognized in December 2012 and has been functioning as the de facto Association for the MICT. This recognition was confirmed on 24 August 2015.2MICT-12-01/25-08-2015/(5-3), Decision Recognizing the ADC-ICTY as an Association of Defence Counsel Practicing at the Mechanism, 24 August 2015. Other budding associations at international or internationalized courts and tribunals would do well to emulate the lessons learned by the ADC-ICTY over the past 14 years.

Now my point for indulging in this post. Continue reading “The ADC’s Continuing Relevance: MICT’s Rules Committee Practice Direction”

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Amnesty Part IV: The Case Against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Before the ICC

In the previous post I examined the principle of ne bis in idem / double jeopardy, setting out the general characteristics, underlying rationale, exceptions to the principle, and its transnational applications.

This series on Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and the ICC was prompted by the press conference organized by Gaddafi’s lawyers calling for the ICC to dismiss the crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) charges against Gaddafi for which he has been indicted. Continue reading “Amnesty Part IV: The Case Against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Before the ICC”

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Judges called to task for failure to defend the defence

On 2 August 2016, a prosecution expert lashed out at the Defence while being cross-examined at the ECCC.  The judges of the trial chamber sat silent.  In an opinion piece published 8 August 2016 in The Cambodia Daily, Michael G. Karnavas takes the judges to task for their complicit passivity.


Apathy Signals Open Season on Defense Lawyers in Case 002

BY

On August 2, 2016, Henri Locard, testifying as an “expert” in Case 002, lashed out at Khieu Samphan’s lawyer, Anta Guisse, claiming to have been put under “cold torture” the previous day when examined—“Historian Accuses Tribunal Lawyers Of ‘Cold Torture,’” (August 3).

The reference to cold torture, for those who have not followed the trial, is about one of the methods employed by Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, at S-21, or Tuol Sleng, in extracting confessions. Mr. Locard then went on to say that if Ms. Guisse continued to apply cold torture, after three days maybe he would gift his persona to Angkar, implying that the questioning was a form of re-education to conform his thinking to that of the Democratic Kampuchea regime. Continue reading “Judges called to task for failure to defend the defence”

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Amnesty Part III: Ne Bis in Idem in International Criminal Law

In my previous post in this series I discussed some general points on amnesties and pardons, and examined the validity of domestic amnesties for jus cogens crimes with reference to some international examples of this issue in practice.

In this post I will examine the principle of ne bis in idem, or, as it is known in common law systems, double jeopardy.1“The Right to be Protected from Double Jeopardy. This right is designed to prevent the state from repeatedly subjecting a person to prosecution for offenses arising out of the same event until the desired results are achieved. It derives from a sense of fairness, and can be analogized to the civil law concept of res judicata. The non-common law countries refer to it as non bis in idem.” M. Cherif Bassiouni, Human Rights in the Context of Criminal Justice: Identifying International Procedural Protections and Equivalent Protections in National Constitutions, 3 Duke J. Comp. & Int’l L. 235, 288 (1993). This principle prevents prosecution by a subsequent court of an individual for the same offense (and sometimes the same conduct, facts or cause of action) for which that individual was already finally convicted or acquitted. In the United States (“US”), it is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which states: “nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”

To start with, I will set out some general characteristics, underlying rationale, and exceptions to this principle. I will then discuss the question of whether the ne bis in idem principle has transnational application. I will conclude with a checklist to consider when determining the applicability of the ne bis in idem principle to bar prosecution. Continue reading “Amnesty Part III: Ne Bis in Idem in International Criminal Law”

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Amnesties and Pardons in International Criminal Law – Part II

Amnesty is defined as complete and lasting forgetfulness of wrongs and offences previously committed. Therefore, when an amnesty is given, since all deeds are consigned to perpetual oblivion and everlasting silence, no one can be accused or punished for acts before committed.1CHRISTIAN WOLFF, JUS GENTIUM METHODO SCIENTIFICA PERTRACTATUM Vol. 2, para. 989 (transl. by and Joseph H. Drake, Oxford 1995).

In my previous post I briefly recounted the background and recent developments in the case against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi at the ICC, and how these recent developments relate to the issues of amnesties, pardons, and ne bis in idem. I was prompted by recent news reports that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was pardoned and released from prison after being convicted and sentenced to death, and his legal teams’ press conference and statements that the ICC should dismiss the case against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi because he was pardoned and because of double jeopardy. Continue reading “Amnesties and Pardons in International Criminal Law – Part II”

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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and the ICC: is the purported “amnesty” (or pardon) and “double jeopardy” a game-changer?

On 26 February 2011, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to refer the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011 to the ICC Prosecutor to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on civilians by forces under the control of those responsible. After conducting a preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor concluded on 3 March 2011 that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction have been committed in Libya, and decided to open an investigation. Continue reading “Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and the ICC: is the purported “amnesty” (or pardon) and “double jeopardy” a game-changer?”

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Cambodia Daily publishes Karnavas rebuttal to defence of US Senate’s ECCC interference

On 6 July 16 The Cambodia Daily published a commentary by Michael G. Karnavas, entitled Inducing Case 003 Outcome: US Purse Strings Wielded as a Whip.  Heather Ryan, a consultant to the Open Society Justice Initiative, responded in a commentary, Tribunal Is Tainted by Political Interference, but Not From US, published on 12 July 16.  Mr. Karnavas replied in the following commentary, Consultant’s Analysis of US Senate Bill Cherry-Picks Facts, published on 13 July 16.


Consultant’s Analysis of US Senate Bill Cherry-Picks Facts

BY MICHAEL KARNAVAS | JULY 13, 2016

In an op-ed published on Tuesday—“Tribunal Is Tainted by Political Interference, but Not From U.S.”—Heather Ryan, a consultant to the Open Society Justice Initiative, responded to my commentary concerning U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee bill S.3117, wherein I asserted that the Senate is effectively engaging in political interference, impliedly calling on the co-investigating judges to indict my client, Meas Muth. Continue reading “Cambodia Daily publishes Karnavas rebuttal to defence of US Senate’s ECCC interference”

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