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International Legal News

Weekly update: 15 – 20 December 2020 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 15 – 20 December 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.

Mali – 07 December 2020

On 07 December 2020, Ammar Al Baluchi’s Defence Counsel, made a request for leave to file an amicus curiae in the Al Hassan case before the International Criminal Court. The Al Hassan trial opened in July 2020 at the ICC, and see the defendant facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Mali in 2012 and 2013.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan has announced that four soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in war crimes during the recent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. They are accused of defiling the bodies of Armenian soldiers, inhumanely mistreating Armenian troops, and defacing gravestones. The Prosecutor’s office released a statement describing the acts as illegal and regrettable, and warned that anyone else suspected of war crimes would face similar legal action.

On 14 December 2020, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, published her annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities, undertaken by her Office between 6 December 2019 to 14 December 2020. The report details the progress made to date in the Court’s preliminary examinations, including four which have recently been completed – those in relation to the situation in Palestine, Iraq/UK, Ukraine and Nigeria. Moreover, the report notes that the Office started two new preliminary examinations after State Party referrals from Venezuelan and Bolivian governments. The report also highlights, inter alia, that the Office has continued to make progress in assessing the situations in Colombia, Guinea, and the Philippines.

The Prosecutor of the ICC rejected calls to investigate China for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uighur community. The Prosecutor concluded that it had no jurisdiction over the case, as China is not a state party to the Rome Statute. In addition, the Prosecutor stated “there was no basis to proceed” with regard to the argument of forced deportations occurring from two ICC member states.

The Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced Mark Weinberg QC has been appointed as the Special Investigator for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The appointment follows findings by Justice Paul Brereton that saw there was credible evidence indicating that Australian special forces may have committed 39 murders. Weinberg currently sits on the Victorian Supreme Court.

The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that in 2020 the Government of Sierra Leone made its first ever voluntary contribution of €3,000 to the TFV. This recognition of the TFV by the Government of Sierra Leone illustrates its commitment to making reparative justice a reality for victim-survivors of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC. International Criminal Court (ICC) – 18 December 2020

H.H. Judge Joanna Korner CMG QC has been elected as the United Kingdom candidate to serve as a judge of the International Criminal Court, for the term 2021 – 2030. Upon election, Judge Korner stated: “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been elected as an International Criminal Court judge. My thanks to the State Parties who supported my campaign. I will work with colleagues to promote a fair and efficient Court, fight against impunity and, crucially, help victims achieve justice.”

On 18 December 2020, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to postpone the commencement of the confirmation hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman to Monday 24 May 2021. The hearing had been scheduled to commence on 22 February 2021. Central African Republic – 18 December 2020

On 27 December 2020, the people of the Central African Republic will elect their President and3 their representatives at the National Assembly.

In the course of the investigations, the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC has been conducting since 2014, she has witnessed first-hand the Central African’s people’s committed efforts in the pursuit of sustainable peace in the country, including during her most recent visit to Bangui. She has been closely following developments in the country and has made a statement stating her concern over “public reports and information about increased tensions and the potential of escalating violence ahead of the upcoming elections.”

Ms. Bensouda therefore called for calm and restraint from all parties, armed groups, political actors and their supporters.

Months after a huge explosion in Beirut’s port, the investigation has become mired in politics as powerful forces band together to block efforts to hold leaders accountable. More than four months later, not a single official has accepted responsibility for the blast or publicly explained how a stockpile of explosive material was left unsecured in the Beirut port for six years. In fact, powerful politicians are working to block the judge in charge of the investigation from questioning senior officials, much less holding them to account.


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