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International Legal News

Weekly update: 27 October – 02 November 2020

The following media round up of international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 27 October – 02 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.

Central African Republic – 21 October 2020

On 21 October 2020, two international investigating judges were appointed to the Special Criminal Tribunal in the Central African Republic (CAR). Both judges, Stefan Waespi and Elena Catenazzi, were seconded by Switzerland.

The Special Court was established in 2015 with the mandate to try grave crimes committed during the armed conflict in CAR since 2003. While the Court is part of the CAR’s court system, it is staffed with national and international judges and prosecutors. The Court began its investigations in May 2018 after the CAR parliament adopted its rules of procedure and evidence.

International Criminal Court (ICC) – 23 October 2020

On 23 October 2020, a group of 38 non-governmental organisations wrote a joint open letter to the State Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the process surrounding the election of the next ICC Prosecutor. The NGOs called for further transparency within the process, expressing their concerns about the possible extension of the shortlist of candidates, alluding that this represents a deviation from the Terms of Reference for the election of the Prosecutor that was adopted by the Bureau in April. They also emphasized the need for further vetting of all candidates to make sure that they meet the requirement of high moral character.

Turkey - 27 October 2020

In the case of Kiliçdaroglu v. Turkey the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of freedom of expression.

The case concerned a civil judgment ordering Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, Chairman of the main opposition party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi – CHP), to pay compensation for tarnishing the reputation of the then Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on account of remarks made by him in two speeches delivered in 2012 on the parliamentary estate.

Azerbaijan/Armenia - 28 October 2020

The European Court of Human Rights has received a request for interim measures lodged by Azerbaijan against Armenia concerning the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani Government have requested the Court to indicate a number of measures to the Armenian Government under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) – 29 October 2020

Salih Mustafa, a former Kosovo Liberation Army (“KLA”) commander pleaded not guilty to four counts at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. He stands accused of arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture, and murder of civilians being held at a compound in Zllash during the Kosovo war in 1999 as part of a joint criminal enterprise. Mustafa was the first former KLA member arrested by the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. Hashim Thaci, the President of Kosovo, and Kadri Veseli, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, are awaiting confirmation of charges by the Specialist Chambers. The KSC was established to try crimes committed from 1998 to 2000, during and after the war in Kosovo. They are part of Kosovo’s domestic judicial system but located in the Netherlands and staffed by internationals.

Mali - 29 October 2020

On 29 October 2020, Trial Chamber X of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision in the case of The Prosecutor v. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, rejecting the Defence’s application for leave to appeal the Chamber’s decision in which it dismissed the Defence’s request to terminate the proceedings.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)/Belgium – 29 October 2020

The European Court of Human Rights declared the application in the case of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) v. Belgium inadmissible.

In this case the DRC complained about the reasoning given in judgments of the Belgian courts concerning the limitation period for the civil action it had lodged in a dispute about the liquidation of a mining company incorporated under Zairean law in which it was a shareholder.

The Court held that under the Convention only High Contracting Parties, private persons, groups of individuals or non-governmental organisations were entitled to bring a case before it. As the DRC did not fall into any of those categories, the Convention did not allow it to bring a case before the Court.

Darfur (Sudan) - 02 November 2020

On 02 November 2020, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to postpone the commencement of the confirmation hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman to Monday 22 February 2021. The hearing was initially scheduled to take place on 07 December 2020.

Having considered the parties’ submissions and arguments and taken into account the overall fairness and expeditiousness of the proceedings, the rights of the suspect, the protection of victims, witnesses and other persons at risk, and the circumstances of the case, in view of ensuring the safety and overall security of victims and witnesses, the Chamber considered it appropriate to postpone the confirmation of charges hearing to 22 February 2021. The Chamber also set a number of deadlines for the disclosure of evidence by the Prosecutor.

Kenya – 02 November 2020

Mr Paul Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of The Netherlands pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mr Gicheru, a lawyer formerly based in Kenya, is suspected of offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.

The Court, through the Registry services, submitted a cooperation request to the Dutch authorities for the arrest and surrender of Mr Gicheru to the Court upon completion of the necessary national arrest proceedings.

Nagorno-Karabakh – 02 November 2020

On 02 November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, expressed alarm at continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, in contravention of international humanitarian law, and warned they may amount to war crimes.

“Since the conflict reignited in September with the terrible consequences we are now seeing, there have been repeated calls, including by myself, for the parties to take all feasible steps to avoid, or at the very least minimize, the loss of civilian life and damage to civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals – as well as to distinguish civilians from combatants, and civilian objects from military objectives,” Bachelet said.

“Instead, homes have been destroyed, street reduced to rubble, and people forced to flee or seek safety in basements,” she added.


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