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FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 10 - Issue 14
September 21, 2015

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Editor in Chief
Alexis Krivoshik

Managing Editors
Kate Mozynski
Aaron Kearney

Senior Technical Editor
R. Tadd Pinkston

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is a bi-weekly e-newsletter that compiles official documents and articles from major news sources detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world. To subscribe, please email warcrimeswatch@pilpg.org and type "subscribe" in the subject line.

Opinions expressed in the articles herein represent the views of their authors and are not necessarily those of the War Crimes Prosecution Watch staff, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law or Public International Law & Policy Group.

Contents

WCPW ICC / Africa

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Central African Republic & Uganda Darfur, Sudan Kenya Libya Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

AFRICA

Nigeria

Mali

Chad

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Iraq

Syria

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Central African Republic & Uganda

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents - Cases: Central African Republic
ICC Public Documents - Situation in Uganda

New allegation of sexual exploitation received by UN mission in Central African Republic
UN News Centre
September 15, 2015

A new allegation of sexual exploitation in the Central African Republic (CAR) was received today by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, reportedly committed by one of its civilian staff last Saturday.

The latest allegation follows 15 other possible cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by personnel of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) that are currently under investigation.

“MINUSCA has informed the country’s authorities of this allegation,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters. “The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services has immediately taken steps to investigate this case, consistent with the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.”

He also reiterated that MINUSCA condemns in the strongest possible terms any instance of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel in CAR.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MINUSCA, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, has discussed this new case with both the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous.

“[Mr. Onanga-Anyanga] reiterates his personal and institutional commitment to ensure that the rights and dignity of victims are protected, an investigation is carried out swiftly, and that justice is done,” Mr. Dujarric added.

Also from CAR, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Aurélien Agbénonci, today said he is alarmed by the recent eviction of 114 people from the Saint Jean Gabaladja displacement site in the capital, Bangui.

According to the UN, they have been temporarily moved to Benzvi displacement site, where they have been provided with support to resettle.

“The Humanitarian Coordinator says he was concerned the evictions could signal the start of a wave of forced movements, with nine displacement sites hosting 2,700 people currently under threat of eviction,” Mr. Dujarric noted.

“He said that any movement of displaced populations must be based on a voluntary decision by the concerned people, ensuring best safety conditions and [respecting] the dignity of people affected, following the rules and principles of international humanitarian law and the Kampala Convention.”

There are 31 displacement sites in Bangui alone hosting over 27,300 people, and the UN estimates that some 368,000 people are also internally displaced.

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Darfur, Sudan

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents - Situation in Darfur, Sudan

S. Africa must Explain Failure to Arrest Bashir: Warcrimes Court
Yahoo News
September 7, 2015

The International Criminal Court is asking South Africa to explain its failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June, despite an international arrest warrant on genocide and war crimes charges.

In a court order seen on Monday, the Hague-based ICC's judges are asking Pretoria to submit "by no later than October 5 their views on the events" of Bashir's attendance at an African Union (AU) summit.

The order referred in particular to Pretoria's "failure to arrest and surrender" Bashir, a three-judge bench said.

Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region, jetted into South Africa in mid-June to attend the summit.

He flew out from a military base two days later unperturbed, even though South Africa as an ICC member was required to arrest him and a local judge had barred his departure.

Pretoria argues that because Bashir was attending an AU summit he had immunity from prosecution.

The ICC's judges, after hearing South Africa's submission, can decide whether to take the matter to the court's Assembly of State Parties or the UN Security Council.

Failure to arrest Bashir, who continues to travel around Africa, has met with condemnation by rights groups and governments including the United States.

However, many members of the AU have accused the ICC of targeting only African leaders, and point out that the US and other major powers such as Russia and China have refused to place themselves under the ICC's jurisdiction.

South Africa has threatened that "as a last resort" it may withdraw from the ICC because of the dispute over Bashir.

Report Details New Atrocities in Darfur by Sudanese Force
The New York Times
By Rick Gladstone
September 9, 2015

A Sudanese government counterinsurgency force has carried out two campaigns of killings and mass rape in the Darfur region since early 2014, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday in a report that evoked the atrocities committed there by the feared janjaweed militia a decade ago.

The 88-page report, based on interviews with 212 victims and witnesses, describes in detail the accusations against the Sudanese unit, known as the Rapid Support Forces, and says they amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Darfur, the rebellious region in western Sudan, became known in the mid-2000s for systematic killings, rape, forced relocations and other crimes committed against mainly non-Arab tribes by government forces and their nomadic militia allies, known as the janjaweed.

As many as 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003, according to United Nations estimates, and 2.5 million people have been uprooted in what is widely considered a modern-day genocide.

The worst of the mass killings appears to have eased. But the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir — who has been indicted in connection with Darfur atrocities, including on charges of genocide, by the International Criminal Court — has escalated attacks against the insurgency there in recent years.

Mr. Bashir’s government has also severely constrained how and where a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as Unamid, can operate, limiting its ability to investigate abuses and protect civilians.

Daniel Bekele, Human Rights Watch’s executive director for Africa, said the report documented how the Rapid Support Forces, in two campaigns since February 2014, had “killed, raped and tortured civilians in scores of villages in an organized, deliberate and systematic way.”

According to the report, “Many civilians were killed by the R.S.F. when they refused to leave their homes or give up their livestock, or when they tried to stop R.S.F. fighters from raping them or members of their family.”

In one attack, carried out in January in the town of Golo, the report quotes witnesses as saying that they saw killings, rapes, widespread beatings and looting, including the rape of women in the town hospital.

The report also quotes defectors from the Rapid Support Forces and affiliated government units who say commanders ordered them to commit these crimes.

Human Rights Watch called on the Sudanese government to disband the force and prosecute those responsible. It also called for strengthened efforts by the United Nations to prevent such attacks.

Mr. Bashir’s hostility toward United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Darfur is well known — he has long pressed for Unamid to leave.

He has also repeatedly flaunted his defiance of the International Criminal Court’s warrants, although he has been forced to abruptly alter his travel plans from time to time to avoid possible arrest.

He fled an African Union meeting in South Africa in June as judicial authorities there were weighing whether the warrants should be honored. The International Criminal Court criticized South Africa for a delay that essentially allowed Mr. Bashir to escape.

On Friday, the court formally requested that South Africa explain by Oct. 5 why it had failed to arrest Mr. Bashir.

There have also been reports in recent weeks that Mr. Bashir might try to attend the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York this month. But diplomats have said such a visit is highly unlikely.

Sudan's Security Forces Killed, Raped and Burned Civilians Alive, says Rights group
The Guardian
By Clar Ni Chonghaile
September 9, 2015

Sudanese security forces gang-raped women in hospital, shot and burned civilians alive, and committed other appalling acts of torture during two military campaigns in Darfur, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday, urging international peacekeepers to do more to stop the atrocities.

In a new report – the latest detailing repeated horrors in Darfur – HRW quoted women who were gang-raped, and defectors from the government’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), one of whom described his commanders as “men without mercy”.

The RSF, which is under the command of the Sudanese national intelligence and security services, carried out its first counterinsurgency campaign, Operation Decisive Summer, in south and north Darfur between late February and early May last year, HRW said. A second campaign was launched around Jebel Marra between January this year and the start of the rainy season in June.

As well as murdering and torturing villagers, RSF destroyed wells, food stores and infrastructure, HRW said. The attacks around Jebel Marra in mountainous central Darfur have forced about 130,000 people to seek shelter in remote, desolate areas, where they risk death from hunger and lack of medical care.

A January attack on Golo was “emblematic of RSF atrocities”, the report said: scores of women were raped in the town’s hospital, other women were raped in front of community members, while some who resisted were killed.

“They [the soldiers] separated women and men. They raped some women and they made the men carry stones from place to place as punishment … Some [of the women] were raped in the hospital … I saw seven raped with my own eyes,” a 42-year-old woman told the report’s authors.

HRW interviewed 151 victims and witnesses, who had fled to Chad and South Sudan, as well as contacting people in Darfur by telephone. Among those it spoke to were 21 people who had been in Golo when it was attacked.

“They killed my father. My father was defending us so that we would not be raped and he was beaten to death … After they killed my father, they raped the three of us. Me and my two sisters … After they raped us they stole everything,” said a young woman from Golo.

A 26-year-old teacher, identified by the pseudonym Hassan, told how two Sudanese Antonov aircraft bombed his village near Golo before a government militia attacked. The soldiers tortured him, beat his grandmother, and raped his three sisters.

“They took them one by one out of the house [to another hut]. After they raped them, they burned them [alive]. I could hear the screaming. I could see the fire,” he said.

The systematic use of rape was underscored in the testimony of one Sudanese army defector, describing the orders he received after capturing a town.

“The commander told us that these are rebels or rebel supporters and the women are their harem. You go there and you rape them and kill them,” he told HRW.

Another RSF defector described how he killed a woman after trying to rape her.

“Personally I did attempt to rape one of the women and she hit me. And I lost my composure and I shot her … She is dead … I am deeply sorry. But you must understand that this was not my endeavour, I was under the command of men with no mercy. I wish I could turn back the time,” said the 19-year-old.

HRW said the hybrid African Union-UN peacekeeping mission, Unamid, was “hamstrung in its performance and in the implementation of its core mandate to protect civilians”. It urged the force, which was set up in 2007, to demand access to Jebel Marra.

Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has already been indicted by the international criminal court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and two arrest warrants have been issued for him. However, the unpopular court has little support in Africa, where politicians accuse it of only targeting the continent’s leaders.

In June, Bashir flew to South Africa to take part in an African Union summit. He was allowed to leave the country in defiance of a court order that he must remain, and despite calls from the UN, the EU and the US that he be detained.

Last Friday, the ICC said it had given South Africa until 5 October to explain why it did not arrest Bashir at that time.

As many as 300,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict since 2003 while roughly 2.7 million have been displaced, according to the UN.

HRW said the RSF is reportedly better equipped than other paramilitary and militia groups. When the RSF was deployed to Darfur in February last year, it reportedly consisted of between 5,000 and 6,000 troops with 600-750 vehicles. The force is believed to have grown since then, and receives support in the air and on the ground from the Sudanese Armed Forces and other government-backed militia, including the notorious Janjaweed.

“The RSF has killed, raped and tortured civilians in scores of villages in an organised, deliberate, and systematic way,” said Daniel Bekele, HRW’s Africa director. He called on the Sudanese government to disarm the force and investigate and prosecute commanders and officials.

HRW warned that action was needed before another brutal campaign was started.

“The security council and the African Union have been sitting on their hands while Sudanese government forces have carried out two campaigns targeting Darfur’s civilians,” Bekele said. “They need to ensure that civilians get adequate protection before a third campaign gets under way.”

ICC asks South Africa to Explain Failure to Arrest Sudan President
JURIST
By Matt Belenky
September 9, 2015

The International Criminal Court [official website] has requested [order, PDF] that South Africa provide an explanation for the country's failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile]. As an ICC member, South Africa was required to arrest Bashir on his two-day stay in the country during a mid-June summit. Bashir is sought by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur and other crimes against humanity. After hearing South Africa's submission in a three-judge panel, the ICC judges can choose whether they want to bring the matter to the court's Assembly of State Parties or the UN Security Council [official websites]. Although the US, Russia and China have rejected attempts at placing themselves under the ICC's jurisdiction, rights groups and government organizations in the US have critiqued South Africa's failed attempts at arrest. South Africa has until October 5 to respond.

The ICC investigation into the situation in Darfur has seen little progress since 2009. In June a judge for South Africa's high court issued an order [JURIST report] barring Bashir, who has an international warrant out for his arrest, from leaving the country, but it had no effect. In March the ICC requested assistance [JURIST report] from the Security Council in affecting the arrest of Bashir. In asking the Council to take "necessary measures" to force Sudan to comply with the ICC investigation, the court noted that without such assistance, the Council's decision to request investigation into al-Bashir in 2005 would "never achieve its ultimate goal." In February African leaders urged [JURIST report] the ICC to drop cases Bashir and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto or suspend the charges until African concerns are considered by the court. Last December Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council that her office was dropping further investigation [JURIST report] into the situation in Darfur.

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Kenya

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents - Situation in the Republic of Kenya

Situation in Kenya: ICC Judges Unseal an Arrest Warrant Against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett
ICC/CPI
September 10, 2015

On 10 September 2015, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unsealed an arrest warrant against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett, initially issued on 10 March 2015 for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses.

The Pre-Trial Chamber II found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Philip Kipkoech Bett, also known as “Kipseng’erya”, hailing from and residing in Kenya, and Paul Gicheru, a lawyer based in Kenya, are criminally responsible for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing Prosecution witnesses.

Based on the Prosecutor’s evidence, the Chamber found that it was necessary to arrest the two suspects to ensure their appearance before the Court, to ensure that they do not obstruct or endanger the investigation or court proceedings and to prevent the further exercise of corrupt influence on the witnesses of the Court.

In its decision of 10 March 2015, the Chamber found that the ICC should exercise its jurisdiction on this case, considering that based on the available information before the Chamber, an effective national prosecution was unlikely to take place in the particular circumstances of the present case, and with view to the size and extent of organisation of the alleged criminal effort to corruptly influence witnesses of the Court as well as the related concerns for witness protection.

Pre-Trial Chamber II decided today to make the arrest warrant public on the basis of the information provided by the Prosecutor, that Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett were arrested on 30 July 2015 by the Kenyan police in Nairobi, Kenya, in execution of the ICC’s request for arrest and surrender, and were presented before a Judge of the High Court of Kenya in accordance with Kenyan law. Since the arrest has taken place and since Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett were made aware of the ICC’s warrant of arrest, the confidentiality of the document was no longer justified.

ICC Allows Ruto, Sang to Appeal Use of Recanted Evidence
All Africa
By Judie Kaberia
September 10, 2015

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber on Thursday allowed Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang to appeal a decision that allowed ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to use statements of recanting witnesses.

The judges concluded that the defence teams raised appealable issues that require an interpretation of the Appeals Chamber decision to avoid adverse effects on the case.

They based their explanation on several issues which included the possibility of the prior recorded statements affecting the outcome of the trial.

“Noting the scope and content of the prior recorded testimonies, the chamber is of the view that the prior recorded testimonies, if relied upon, objectively may be expected to have a significant impact on the outcome of the trial.”

According to the judges, there was a high possibility that statements of the four witnesses would affect the outcome of the trial in view that they were not expert witnesses.

If the decision issued was found to be in error later, the judges explained that the prior recorded statements would not be relied upon when determining the outcome of the trial.

“If the Appeals Chamber during proceedings pursuant to Article 81of the Statute, if applicable, were to find the impugned decision to be in error it could lead to the admitted prior recorded testimonies being declared inadmissible.”

In allowing the defence teams to appeal the decision, it was further noted that there would be interference with the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings.

“The chamber agrees with the defence that the identified issues relate to incriminatory evidence that has been admitted into the record and which could significantly impact the length of the proceedings,” they stated.

The defence teams requested for leave to appeal the decision in which Bensouda wanted prior recorded statements of five witnesses who recanted to be admitted as evidence.

The lawyers argued that the amendment passed during the 12th Session of the Assembly of State Parties in 2013 was not to be applied retrospectively.

They also complained that it would infringe on the rights of the accused since there would be no opportunity to cross-examined statements made by the five witnesses.

Of concern serious concern was the credibility and reliability of recorded statements which the defence teams have contested several times since the ICC case commenced.

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Libya

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents - Situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Zuma blames European bombing for Libyan refugee crisis
Times Live
September 15, 2015

President Jacob Zuma has outlined South Africa's foreign policy positions on several international issues‚ pledging to continue "our relentless work to achieve the reform of the United Nations (UN)‚ especially of the security council" at the next session of the world body.

Zuma said Europe had to accept responsibility for the refugee crisis it was currently experienced.

"The bombarding of Libya and the killing of its leader opened the floodgates for serious tensions and conflict."

The flood of refugees from Africa "was triggered by the undermining of the security situation".

"The consistent‚ systematic bombing of Nato forces undermined security and caused the conflict that continues in Libya and the neighbouring countries.

"They don't want to accept the refugees. They caused it‚" he said.

Addressing diplomats in Pretoria‚ he called for the recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

"Developing countries will also advocate for the reform of the United Nations system to make it more responsive to the interests and needs of the majority of its members."

Zuma said Africa‚ "a continent with more than one billion people which is not represented in the United Nations security council as a permanent member"‚ needed better representation on the body.

"The world that is supposed to be just cannot have more than a billion people not represented at a decision-making level."

Turning to "some outstanding peace and security issues"‚ Zuma said‚ "There can be no lasting peace in the Middle East for as long as Palestinians are denied their inalienable right to a land of their own."

He described the recent UN decision to allow the Palestinian flag to fly outside its headquarters as a "great victory".

Palestinians needed their own country "existing side-by-side and at peace with Israel" and "with east Jerusalem as its capital".

Zuma said South Africa urged all parties to the Israel/Palestine conflict "to return to negotiations".

Zuma outlined several steps that needed to be taken to bring an end to the conflict including that "all Palestinian parties and groupings need to form a cohesive collective solidarity front" and that Israel needed to stop "the unacceptable blockade of Gaza".

"Israel's settlement programme‚ including in East Jerusalem‚ must be stopped‚" he said.

Turning to the conflict in Western Sahara‚ he said‚ "The time has come for the United Nations to determine a date for the holding of a self-determination referendum for the people of Western Sahara - the last colony in Africa."

Zuma said there had been "positive developments" including "the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States".

"We reiterate our call for the immediate repeal of all legislation that retains the embargo against Cuba."

South Africa was "extremely concerned" about the conflict in South Sudan. He commended all parties to the conflict for signing "the compromise agreement" which laid the basis for a transitional authority.

'Death to espionage': ISIS jihadis brutally murder a baker after accusing him of spying on behalf of the regime in war-torn Libya
Daily Mail
By John Hall
September 15, 2015

Jihadis fighting for the Islamic State in Libya have filmed themselves brutally murdering a Tunisian baker after accusing him of spying on behalf of the terror group's enemies.

Sickening video footage shared on social media showed masked militants interviewing the 39-year-old man before dragging him out into the street and shooting him in the back of the head.

The man is understood to have owned a bakery in the city of Benghazi, which is on the front line in fierce fighting between the Libyan and ISIS-affiliated terrorists, as well as militants loyal to other Islamist groups in the war-torn country.

The identity of the victim has to be revealed but ISIS themselves claimed he was a 39-year-old man on Tunisian origin who owned a small bakers in the city of Benghazi.

The jihadis accused him of spying on the terror group's activities in the city and secretly reporting back to soldiers loyal to the Libyan regime who used that information to stage targeted attacks.

The horrific video of the man's so-called execution begins with him being interviewed in a dark room while wearing an orange jumpsuit - the now notorious hallmark of ISIS' gruesome executions videos.

The next sequence shows him being led out into a public square by a group of armed men who force him down on his knees.

One of the jihadis reads the charges against him, ending his rant with a cry of 'death to espionage'.

Another masked militant then steps forward and shoots the victim several times in the back of the head as the group should 'Allahu Akbar' - an Islamic phrase meaning God is the greatest.

The man was said to be a 39-year-old baker living in Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolution that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi and plunged the country into chaos that continues to the present.

Libya currently has two rival governments and several armed groups vying for control of the country and its oil wealth, and Islamist extremists have exploited the turmoil to establish a foothold.

Two Tunisian journalists, Sofiene Churab and Nadhir Ktari, disappeared in Libya a year ago.

ISIS announced in January that it had executed them, but the foreign ministry in Tunis recently said it had 'irrefutable proof' they are still alive.

Today's sickening video comes just days after the Libyan branch of ISIS appeared to announce the election of a mysterious new leader, Abul-Mughirah al-Qahtani.

In the latest issue of the terror group's propaganda magazine Dabiq, Qahtani is referred to as ISIS' 'delegated leader for the Libyan State'.

The statement effectively suggests that Qahtani has replaced either one of both of the two men previously identified as the de facto head of the organisation in the North Africa: Libyan national Hassan al-Karami and Bahraini cleric Turki bin Mubarak al-Ben Ali.

However there is significant confusion over the issue, with Business Insider quoting one expert as saying that Qahtani, should he actually exist, is a completely new name to jihadi watchers in the country, adding that it raises the question of whether the militant runs ISIS' Libyan branch remotely.

While ISIS militants are carrying out savage murders in Libya, their cohorts in war torn Syria are taking part in equally brutal murders.

Gruesome new images released today show the terror group executing two blindfolded men in front of a baying group of supporters in the Damascus suburb of Al-Hajar al-Aswad.

There was little evidence of why the men were killed, but ISIS has been pushing deeper and deeper into the Syrian capital in recent weeks,

But while the militants are wreaking havoc in the vast swathes of territory under their control in North Africa and the Middle East, Iraqi security services managed to capture at least 12 men suspected of being members of the terror group.

The detained men were seen being lined up against a wall amid the rubble of a partially destroyed building in the frontline city of Kirkuk.

With plastic bags over their heads and their arms bound behind their backs, the accused men appeared exhausted after being captured during running battles for control of the city.

In one image an Iraqi army soldier wearing full military clothing is seen placing a bag on the head of a bearded jihadi, who wears casual clothing and open-toe sandals.

Libya: 2 Indians kidnapped in Tripoli; Isis Hand Suspected
International Business Times
By Sachin Jose
September 16, 2015

Two Indian nationals have been abducted in Libya capital Tripoli, according to the latest reports.

"Our Mission in Tripoli is making further inquiry for confirmation of the incident. The matter has been taken up at diplomatic level," ANI quoted MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup as saying.

The two Indians have been identified as Pravash Ranjan Samal from Odisha and Ramamurthy Kosanam from Andhra Pradesh. The duo has apparently been detained from Ibn-e-Sina in Sirte, which under the control of the Islamic State militants, reports said.

The Islamic State is suspected to be behind the kidnapping, according to some reports.

He added that the foreign ministry is making efforts to ensure well-being and to secure early release of the two Indians. The issue has been taken up at the diplomatic level.

Last month, four Indian from a Sirte university had been abducted by Islamic State militants in Libya. Later, two of them were released, while the others are still under Isis captivity.

Libya: Killing of Gaddafi leaders 'would be murder' amid rumours of planned summary execution
International Business Times
By Callum Paton
September 16, 2015

The killing of Gaddafi-era leaders, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Abdullah Senussi and Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, sentenced to death for war crimes during the country's 2011 revolution, would be murder, one of the men's defence lawyers has said amid rumours of summary execution.

Libya's Ministry of Justice and Interior Ministry were forced to quash the rumours ahead of an appeal by the eight former regime figures before the country's Supreme Court in Tripoli. The Justice Ministry said in a statement that news reports to the contrary were incorrect, Libyan news agency LANA reported.

Karim Khan QC, the lead defence lawyer for Mahmoudi, Muammar Gaddafi's former prime minister, said any such executions would be the responsibility of authorities in Tripoli.

"They can execute everybody and will it amount to murder," he told IBTimes UK from the Hague. "Those in charge will be on clear notice that they have an international responsibility for a regime of apparent torture and murder and there will be no running away from it."

Before being sentenced to death for his role in the crackdown on protesters during the Libyan revolution, Mahmoudi described to judges the torture he had suffered at the hands of his captors in Tripoli's Hadba prison.

Videos have emerged reportedly showing security officials threatening Colonel Gaddafi's son, Saadi, during interrogations in Tripoli. In one video, Saadi is tied down and his soles are beaten. Men are heard screaming while being tortured in the next room.

Khan described the conditions the 30 defendants were being held in as a "regime of terror" that he felt "should give anyone who believes in due process and human rights cause for concern".

Human rights groups have been deeply critical of the proceedings against the former regime officials in Libya. Human Rights Watch called the sentencing of Mahmoudi alongside Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, spy chief Senussi and former prime minister Abuzaid Dorda as "flawed" and "undermined by serious due process violations".

Khan described a court process riven with injustices, with defence lawyers unable to rely on the independence of the judiciary in Libya, or call witnesses or evidence. The British QC explained he was routinely denied access to his own client, meeting him only once in Tunsia before a dubious, backdoor extradition.

"This is constant running sore that will not heal unless the rule of law is given some regard," he said and explained that unless justice was seen to be done, the execution of Gaddafi-era figures could deepen divisions in the already fractured North African nation.

Baghdadi and the other Gaddafi-era officials are expected to appeal their sentences before the Supreme Court in the coming weeks but the process has already been dogged by delays and inconsistencies. Khan is hopeful that he and his team will be granted access to their client in Tripoli in preparation the appeal but he admits "anything is possible".

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Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents - Situation in the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire

Hague judges deny release for former Ivory Coast president Gbagbo
Reuters
By Yoruk Bahceli
September 8, 2015

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a request for the temporary release of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo weeks before the start of his trial.

Gbagbo, 70, is accused of plunging his country into civil war rather than relinquishing power after losing a presidential run-off election in 2010. His trial is due to begin Nov. 10.

He has been detained in The Hague since November 2011, after being arrested in April of that year in Ivory Coast.

In Tuesday's ruling, the ninth review of his detention by the court, a panel of three judges rejected all grounds of appeal lodged by Gbagbo's lawyers against a lower court's decisions to extend his custody.

It said that the trial chamber had properly weighed the reasons to extend his detention, including possible flight risk.

“The appeals chamber found that it was not unreasonable for the trial chamber to find the existence of Mr. Gbagbo’s support network posed a risk to abscond or obstruct investigation," it said.

In June, judges confirmed four counts of crimes against humanity against Gbagbo for post-election violence in which around 3,000 people were killed.

The court has also ordered Ivory Coast to hand over Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady, to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

But Ivory Coast has declined, and in March Mrs. Gbagbo was given a 20-year sentence by a domestic court for crimes against humanity.

The ICC, established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes globally, has faced strong opposition in Africa, which has been the focus of all its investigations to date.

Cote d’Ivoire: Opinion – Three Concerns Ahead of Côte d’Ivoire Poll
All Africa
By Alexis Adele
September 10, 2015

Five years after Côte d'Ivoire's disputed presidential election threw the country into turmoil and left more than 3,000 dead, its people are set to go to the polls again. Could we see similar unrest this October or will the West African nation turn the page and move forward?

Former president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to quit when declared the loser of the 2010 election to Alassane Ouattara, is now in The Hague charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with crimes against humanity.

Côte d'Ivoire's economy is booming and Ouattara has gained popularity. Gbagbo - seen as the only viable challenger - is unable to run.

There is every chance the vote will pass off peacefully, but this doesn't mean all has been forgiven between the two camps.

The Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was supposed to forge unity and resolve long-standing political and ethnic divisions, is one of the country's most unpopular institutions and Ouattara is accused by some of presiding over "victor's justice."

With less than three months to go until the election, human rights experts and political analysts identify three key areas of concern:

Political prisoners

The detention of as many as 700 political prisoners remains a deeply divisive issue. Supporters of Gbagbo demand their release, buthis opponents say justice must be served.

"The current government is not willing to create the conditions for a peaceful society," Dahi Nestor, president of the pro-Gbagbo opposition's National Youth Coalition for Change, told IRIN. "It continues to keep innocent people in prison. This is an attack on democracy. A normal country cannot go to elections with hundreds of political prisoners in its jails."

Ouattara and his government maintain that those imprisoned were not arrested because of their political affiliation but because they broke the law. "We want reconciliation," the president said, "but we do not want a lawless country."

Selective justice?

The sentencing in March of former first lady Simone Gbagbo and two co-accused to 20 years in prison for "undermining state security" - and of some 65 others supporters of her husband to shorter terms -was confirmation to opponents of Ouattara of a lop-sided justice process.

Both sides were accused of civilian massacres in 2010-2011 and yet only those allied to the former president have been convicted of any crimes.

"Unfortunately, we will not have this equal justice before the next election, because the more we advance towards this deadline, the more that resources and attention are diverted to the polls," Barthélémy Touré, a political analyst in Abidjan, told IRIN.

Too scared to return

Côte d'Ivoire's constitution says no citizen can be forced into exile, but nearly 50,000 Ivoirians, including political and military exiles who fled to Liberia, Ghana, Togo and other countries during the 2010-2011 crisis, still cannot - or will not - return home, according to the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR.

Despite pleas from Ouattara for them to come back, many say they fear ending up in jail or being persecuted if they do.

Franck Kouakou Tanoh, a member of the Young Patriots - a pro-Gbagbo youth movement - has been exiled in Ghana since April 2011. "It is not the urge to return that we lack," he told IRIN by phone, adding that he just don't believe assurances that they will be treated fairly.

The opposition is also demanding the return of its leaders, including Gbagbo and former head of the Young Patriots Charles Blé Goudé, who is also awaiting trial by the ICC. The opposition says it plans to boycott the October elections if its demands aren't met.

Bisa Williams, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who visited Côte d'Ivoire earlier this month to discuss the electoral preparations, urged all parties to remain involved in the process despite their differences.

"Certainly, Ivoirians have had a difficult time these last four years," she said. "But I have a feeling this negative energy is gone and that there will no longer be this big divide between people. It is true that there will always be disputes, but hopefully not any that will destroy the country."

Peter Kouame Adjoumani, president of the Ivoirian League of Human Rights, noted some progress but still had big concerns.

"There are important issues that have not been resolved and could explode the situation," he told IRIN.

One dead in protests over re-election bid of Ivory Coast president
Reuters
By Joe Bavier
September 11, 2015

At least one person was killed and others were injured during protests in Ivory Coast over the validation of incumbent President Alassane Ouattara's candidacy for an October election, a Red Cross worker said on Friday.

The vote in the world's top cocoa grower is meant to draw a line under years of political turmoil and solidify a rapid economic revival that is turning the heads of foreign investors.

Demonstrations broke out in the commercial capital Abidjan and in the country's western cocoa growing regions on Thursday, a day after the constitutional court cleared 10 candidates, including Ouattara, to take part in the election.

The protests were called by a new opposition bloc, the National Coalition for Change (CNC), some of whose members come from a faction of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo's party who do not accept Ouattara's right to run over nationality issues.

"There was fighting between different groups among the population yesterday, and there was one death in a village near Bayota on the road from Gagnoa to Sinfra," the Red Cross official, based in the western town of Gagnoa, told Reuters.

There were also an unknown number of people wounded during the violence, he said, asking not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press. There was no immediate police comment on the disturbances.

Protesters also burned a bus in Abidjan's Yopougon neighbourhood before being dispersed by police firing tear gas.

"The demonstrators are responding to our call. This is to protest against the validation of Mr Ouattara's candidacy," said Boubakar Kone, spokesman for a hardline faction of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party that has joined the CNC.

Ivory Coast is emerging from a decade-long political crisis that ended with a 2011 civil war sparked by Gbagbo's refusal to accept Ouattara's victory in a 2010 run-off election.

Ouattara's exclusion from previous elections due to what his rivals claimed were doubts over his nationality was among the central causes of the years of turmoil.

Gbagbo, now in The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, hails from Ivory Coast's cocoa-rich west. Kone said the demonstrations would continue on Friday.

Ivory Coast: Opposition coalition says government arrested demonstrators following clashes
U.S. News & World Report
By Isidore Kouadio
September 15, 2015

An opposition coalition on Tuesday accused Ivory Coast's government of detaining 16 of its supporters for participating in demonstrations last week opposing President Alassane Ouattara's candidacy in the upcoming presidential vote.

Those detained include a founding member of the National Coalition for Change, David Samba, who was taken into custody Sunday afternoon by plainclothes officers at his home, said coalition spokesman Cesar Etou.

The arrests could raise tensions ahead of next month's election, Etou warned. "We are moving away from the peaceful elections we want if the government reacts like this," he said.

The government hopes the poll will go smoothly and prove Ivory Coast has moved on from a 2010-11 postelection conflict that claimed more than 3,000 lives.

Last Thursday, the coalition called for protests to contest Ouattara's candidacy for the Oct. 25 vote. The demonstrations degenerated into clashes in several parts of the country, including the home regions of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone.

Two people were killed in Laurent Gbagbo's home region of Gagnoa last week, said Etou, although officials have not confirmed the deaths.

Gbagbo's refusal to cede office after losing the 2010 runoff vote to Ouattara sparked the five-month conflict that followed. He is currently awaiting trial on four counts of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, while Simone Gbagbo received a 20-year-sentence in Ivory Coast earlier this year for her role in the conflict.

Officials could not be reached to confirm the arrests Tuesday. But during a public appearance on Monday Ouattara said those who organized the protests should not "hide."

"When you manipulate young people to protest and disturb public order, you must take responsibility and not hide after," Ouattara said.

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AFRICA

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

Official Website of the ICTR

Nigeria

Nigeria president: Government in talks with extremists over kidnapped schoolgirls
Star Tribune
By Tom Odula
September 16, 2015

LAGOS, Nigeria - The Nigerian government is talking to the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram to try to get the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, the president said.

The government is talking to Boko Haram members and it is trying to make sure they are genuine leaders, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a tweet late Tuesday quoting President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari is in France on a three-day state tour.

Military from Nigeria and Chad freed hundreds of hostages from Boko Haram captivity earlier this year but none of those rescued were from the 219 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok.

Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremist group has used dozens of girls and women in recent suicide bombings in Nigeria and neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, raising fears they are kidnap victims.

Buhari predicted in July that Boko Haram would be defeated in 18 months or less. But he conceded that Nigerian authorities lack intelligence about the girls still missing after the mass kidnapping from the northern town of Chibok - an act that stirred international outrage and a campaign to "Bring Back Our Girls" that reached as far as the White House.

Buhari said his government is open to freeing detained militants in exchange for the girls' freedom.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since Buhari was elected in March with a pledge to annihilate Boko Haram, whose 6-year uprising has killed around 20,000 people. At least 2.1 million people have been driven from their homes, some across borders.

Earlier this year, troops from Chad and Nigeria drove the extremists out of some 25 towns held for months by Boko Haram which had declared an Islamic caliphate aligned with the Islamic State group. The insurgents have returned to hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings.

In Cameroon, a new report says that more than 380 people have been killed by Boko Haram in the north, and the military's response has left dozens more dead.

Amnesty International said Wednesday that the extremists have committed war crimes "and caused untold fear and suffering to the civilian population."

In the last two months alone, more than 70 people have been killed in a series of suicide bombings. A 13-year-old girl is among those who have been used to carry out the attacks.

Amnesty's report also said that the government's efforts to quash Boko Haram have led to dozens of deaths, and many more young men remain missing.

Nigeria: UN rights expert condemns 'heinous' attack against displaced persons' camp
UN News Centre
September 16, 2015

A "heinous" attack against a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yola, north-eastern Nigeria, where some 32,000 people have found refuge, was strongly condemned today by an independent United Nations human rights expert.

"IDPs are amongst the most vulnerable persons and according to international human rights and humanitarian law they must be protected against any direct and indiscriminate attacks or other acts of violence against them or their camps or settlements," Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, said in a news release.

On 11 September, at least seven people were killed and 14 others injured, including four officials from the National Emergency Management Agency, after the Malkohi IDP camp in Yola, in Adamawa state, was the target of a suicide bombing.

According to the news release, no party has so far claimed responsibility for the bombing, the first attack of its kind since the escalation of the crisis in northern Nigeria.

The expert stressed that those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice. While appreciating the Government's condemnation of the attack, he called for increased security measures where necessary to ensure the protection and human rights of IDPs.

Furthermore, in light of the screening of IDPs by security agencies, Mr. Beyani cautioned that "any security measures must not infringe on IDPs' human rights, including their freedom of movement and family unity," while noting that the vast majority of IDPs are "innocent victims" and their camps must retain their civilian character.

The expert also expressed his concern about recent attacks against IDP returnees in the state of Taraba. Over 2.1 million persons have been forced to flee their homes in north-eastern Nigeria since the intensification of Boko Haram's violent insurgency and the declaration of the State of Emergency in May 2013.

"Food insecurity has been worsening combined with the lack of education, safe drinking water and health services," Mr. Beyani warned, calling for an increase in humanitarian assistance to IDPs and communities hosting them in northern Nigeria.

He added that humanitarian organizations are doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances, but funding shortfalls and insecurity are preventing them from reaching all those in need.

Gunmen kill at least 5 in central Nigeria
News24
September 17, 2015

Gunmen killed at least five people in a mainly-Christian village in Nigeria's restive Plateau state, police said on Thursday after the latest violence between nomadic herdsmen and farmers.

"We received a report that unknown gunmen invaded Kadunung village around 13:00 and in the process about five people were killed and several houses burnt," state police spokesman Emmanuel Abuh told AFP.

Local media put the death toll higher, saying 18 people were killed while up to 150 houses were razed.

Abuh said the motive for the attack on the mainly-Christian and farming village was unknown but an investigation had been launched.

"The place is now calm as our personnel have deployed to maintain law and order. No arrest has been made," he added.

Plateau state falls on the dividing line between Nigeria's mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north and has witnessed sporadic ethnic and religious tensions for decades.

The largely agrarian Christian communities in the state maintain the Muslim Fulani herdsmen are engaged in a prolonged battle to gobble up land from the areas of so-called indigenous people.

Fulani leaders counter their people face discrimination as "foreigners" in Plateau and are deprived of basic rights, including access to land, education and political office, despite having lived in the area for generations.

Tensions frequently boil over, with more than 10 000 people killed in the state since the turn of the century, according to groups tracking the violence.

Kidnapped Nigerian Muslim leader regains freedom
Premium Times
By Jaafar Jaafar
September 17, 2015

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Adam Idoko, has regained freedom after spending a week in the hands of kidnappers.

Mr. Idoko, who is also the Chief Imam of Central Mosque of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was kidnapped last Thursday at Ogurite town of Igboeze-North Local Government Area of Enugu State, while attending a meeting.

Credible sources on Tuesday told PREMIUM TIMES that the abductors of the scholar demanded payment of N20 million ransom for his release.

Confirming the release of the cleric to PREMIUM TIMES, the Sec­retary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Ishaq Oloyede said Mr. Idoko was released Thursday morning.

Mr. Idoko, who was released about an hour ago in Enugu, was immediately taken to a hospital.

Asked whether ransom was paid to secure his release, Mr. Oloyode denied comment on the matter.

"At this time, what is important is his release," he said briefly.

The Public Relations Officer of the Enugu Police Command, Amaraizu Ebere, told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday that they were committed to freeing the cleric from the abductors, and that they had made significant headway in the investigation.

Several calls made to the police spokesman's mobile lines, seeking confirmation on the payment of ransom, were not answered.

Nigeria's Boko Haram crisis: Half a million children 'flee in five months'
BBC
September 18, 2015

Half a million children have fled attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram over the past five months, the UN children's agency says.

Unicef says this brings the total number of displaced children in Nigeria and neighbouring countries to 1.4m.

Tens of thousands are suffering from acute malnutrition and some of their camps have been affected by cholera.

Boko Haram attacks have spiked after it was driven out of territory it held by a regional military offensive.

"In northern Nigeria alone, nearly 1.2m children - over half of them under five years old - have been forced to flee their homes," Unicef said in a statement.

Another 265,000 children have been uprooted in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, it said.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says getting help to these remote, insecure areas is extremely difficult.

And although the army has freed the last few towns still under some form of Boko Haram control, many internally-displaced people remain reluctant to return home.

Since being pushed out of territory, militants have reverted to guerrilla tactics, raiding villages for supplies and bombing targets such as places of worship, markets and bus stations.

Unicef is treating malnourished children and providing clean water. It is also helping tens of thousands of children continue their education.

But the organisation says it has received only a third of the $50m (£32m) it needs for its work in the Lake Chad region, creating a shortfall in measles vaccinations and other aid.

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Chad

War crimes complaint filed against Chad leader Deby
Business Insider
By Coumba Sylla
September 3, 2015

Dakar (AFP) - War crimes accusations have been filed against Chad's President Idriss Deby, a Senegalese court which is already trying ex-Chadian dictator Hissene Habre said Thursday.

Deby, who overthrew Habre in 1990, has been accused of "genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture, at the initiative of some victims", lawyer Mbaye Jacques Ndiaye told radio station RFI.

The tribunal confirmed a case against Deby had been filed on Wednesday at the special African tribunal but would not comment further.

Legal experts said the court's founding statute appeared to bar it from taking any action against the president.

The complaint relates to the period directly before Deby rose to power in December 1990, according to RFI.

The plaintiffs, who are Chadians, accuse him of having tortured and executed prisoners of war when he was a rebel commander, according to Ndiaye, who was not available to comment to AFP.

"President Deby personally committed wrongdoing -- acts of torture. He personally killed individuals. These are people who were tortured, who were executed, burned alive and thrown to wild animals," the lawyer told RFI.

He was unable to give the number of victims involved in the action, but said two were in Senegal while others were abroad.

French lawyers for Deby denounced " a fantastical complaint," adding that it was aimed at "undermining the image" of the president.

The court's statute allows for the "person or persons most responsible" for abuses committed during Habre's years in power to be prosecuted, but in reality it has no mandate to pursue Deby, said Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch.

"According to the statute of chambers, a prosecution cannot be set in motion except by the public prosecutor and, in addition, the investigation phase is over," Brody, a lawyer who has been working with the victims of Habre's regime since 1999, told AFP.

"The investigation chamber was dissolved. This complaint could not trigger further investigations."

- 'Africa judging Africa' -

Habre -- backed during his presidency by France and the United States as a bulwark against Libya's then leader Moamer Kadhafi -- is on trial over actions under his regime from 1982 until he was ousted in 1990.

The 72-year-old is due to resume the landmark hearings next week for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during his blood-soaked reign.

Rights groups say 40,000 Chadians were killed under a regime of brutal repression of opponents and rival ethnic groups Habre perceived as a threat to his grip on the Sahel nation.

He refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the Dakar prosecution, the first time a despot from one African country has been called to account in another.

The court, known as the Extraordinary African Chambers, has appointed three attorneys to defend him after he refused legal representation.

It adjourned in July to give the lawyers time to prepare the defence.

After he was overthrown Habre fled to Senegal, where he was arrested in June 2013 and has since been in custody.

Delayed for years, the ongoing trial sets an historic precedent as previously African leaders accused of atrocities were tried in international courts.

Many Africans distrust the International Criminal Court in the Hague, accusing it of chiefly targeting Africans for prosecution.

"This is Africa judging Africa," Senegal's Justice Minister Sikidi Kaba said of Habre's case.

The Extraordinary African Chambers -- set up under an agreement between Dakar and the African Union - indicted Habre in July 2013 and investigators spent 19 months interviewing some 2,500 witnesses.

Around 100 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial, out of some 4,000 people who have been registered as victims in the case.

Defiant ex-dictator dragged into war crimes trial
CBS News
September 7, 2015

DAKAR, Senegal -- Security officers dragged former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre into the courtroom Monday after he refused to take part in his trial on war crimes charges, and some of his supporters had to be removed after they charged to the front of the court.

Habre, 72, who is being tried here in Senegal as part of a special court designed to hold African leaders accountable on the continent, has denounced his trial as being politically motivated and has refused to participate.

On Monday, it took four security guards at one point to hold him down. He tried to thrash about as witnesses' names and a summation of the charges against him were read aloud. At one point, Habre began humming in his seat though he calmed down after about 20 minutes.

The former Chadian leader lived comfortably for more than two decades in exile in Senegal's capital until he was arrested in 2013 and ordered to go before a special court. His government is accused of being responsible for some 40,000 deaths during his eight-year rule which ended in 1990, according to a truth commission report.

He faces charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture, and could be imprisoned for up to 40 years if convicted.

The trial re-started on Monday after a suspension in July to allow the Senegalese lawyers appointed for Habre to prepare his defense after he refused representation.

On July 20, the first day of his trial, he cried out in court: "This is not a trial, this is a masquerade!" raising his fist as he was lifted and taken out of the courtroom by security guards. He refused to return that day.

Ex-Chad dictator on trial for war crimes says he will win case after accusations, charges read
Fox News
September 8, 2015

DAKAR, Senegal – The former dictator of Chad, Hissene Habre, says he will win in his war crimes trial.

The ex-leader on Tuesday made the declaration in court after the judges finished reading out all of the charges and accusations against him. As he was taken from the courtroom in Dakar, Senegal, Habre raised two fingers in a victory sign and cried out "The plot will fail and we will win."

Habre is being tried in a special court established by Senegal and the African Union to try him on accusations of being responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people during his 1982-1990 rule. It is the first time one African country is trying the former leader of another for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Experts will begin testifying Wednesday.

Chad: The Trial of 'Our Sonofabitch' in Africa
All Africa
By Andrew Stroehlein
September 9, 2015

Dakar — They're working on the hotel pool, which only reminds me of the mass atrocities we're all here for.

The trial of former Chadian president Hissène Habré on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes started Monday. Or, more accurately, "restarted," because at the formal beginning of the trial in July, the accused caused a commotion, and his lawyers failed to appear, forcing the judges to appoint him lawyers, who were then given 45 days to study the case.

The extra six-and-a-half weeks was but a blip in the 25 years the victims of abuses in Habre's Chad have been waiting for justice - those who survived his rule (1982-90), anyway. It's alleged that perhaps as many as 40,000 did not, having succumbed to torture, inhuman conditions of imprisonment and summary executions.

Some of those survivors are here at the steamy seaside hotel, along with activists, lawyers, experts and journalists all somehow involved in or covering the high-profile case. The air is sticky and humid; the atmosphere is a strange combination of relief and expectation.

It's a mix because, after two and a half decades of countless contortions in various legal jurisdictions and deliberate diversions due to west African politics, the victims will finally face their tormentor in a court of law. Being tried at the ad hoc Extraordinary African Chambers, part of the Senegalese legal system but supported financially and diplomatically by a number of countries, Habré will have to answer for some of the most appalling criminal acts imaginable.

The extreme nature of some of the crimes is matched only by the extreme obscurity they now seem to have internationally, at least in the Anglophone world. This is somewhat strange, given that Habré was the West's quintessential "our man in Africa." Backed by Paris and Washington to counter Libya's Gadaffi, Habré's security forces were trained and armed by an unlikely coalition that included Israel and Saudi Arabia.

That gives the case wide resonance for international affairs today. It's a lesson for world leaders who would continue to play "our sonofabitch" politics without any concern for the fundamental human rights of those living under despotic rule. Think, for example, of Washington's current courting of the brutal Uzbek dictator, Islam Karimov, for logistics support in Afghanistan and now in the fight against Islamic State, or ISIL, despite the Karimov government's systematic torture and the Andijan Massacre of 2005.

Or consider Western support today for Egypt's Sisi, despite his role in the Raba'a Massacre and the jailing of journalists. Or Azerbaijan ... Or Ethiopia ... Or... it's a long list.

The point is, the truth of such governments is eventually revealed, sometimes justice is done, and it makes for very uncomfortable reading in the West. The photos of Habré at the White House with President Reagan take on a completely different hue when the prosecution in an internationally supported court accuses an African leader brought to power by the CIA of overseeing systematic atrocities.

The Habré case will also have important reverberations on international justice. It's the first trial to proceed in Africa of one country's courts prosecuting international crimes committed in another country.

There's a tense debate in and around Africa about the even-handedness of the International Criminal Court, which, some say, has disproportionately prosecuted African perpetrators. If this national court, based on universal jurisdiction, works and delivers the justice it promises, then "Africans trying Africans for grave crimes in Africa" may become a trend.

African victims in Habré's Chad faced unbelievable horrors. The files of his own political police, the Documentation and Security Directorate, are damning. Papers found by some of my Human Rights Watch colleagues, for example, contain the names of 1,208 people who were killed or died in detention, and 12,321 victims of torture, arbitrary detention, or other human rights violations. And that's just a small piece of the overall picture.

Along with arbitrary arrests and political killings, the documents reveal an apparatus of terror that was particularly cruel, even sadistic. They included the infamous "arabatchar" binding of prisoners -- a kind of hog-tying of limbs behind the back for long periods; forced intake of water; inserting the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle into the victim's mouth; burning the most sensitive parts of the body with hot objects; as well as electric shocks, beatings, whippings, rape, and extraction of fingernails.

But Habré's torturers in many cases knew just how much their victims could take and stopped just before they died. It may be that the appalling conditions of detention killed more people than anything.

Most of the victims Human Rights Watch researchers spoke with tell us they don't even know how they survived the starvation, lack of space, overcrowding, lack of medical attention, extreme heat, and insects, compounded as there were by lack of contact with the outside world and an atmosphere of constant fear created by enforced disappearances, summary executions, and the daily deaths of detainees. In addition, corpses were not always cleared out of cells or the prison, but instead often left on the cell floor for days after.

Which brings us back to the empty pool.

One particularly infamous prison was known as the "Piscine," because it was set up in a former in-ground swimming pool, which families of French soldiers had used during the colonial period. Dozens of detainees were jammed into cells that measured just a few square meters, even in the unbearable heat of summer. Guards at the Piscine would often wait until several people had died before clearing the decaying corpses out of their cells.

For many Chadians, the Piscine has come to symbolize the terror of the Habré era and the terrible conditions to which prisoners were subjected.

For me now as well, because as I read through the materials in preparation for the case, I can't help but look over at the empty hotel pool and let dark imagination slip in. It will be a long time until I can look at an empty swimming pool again without recalling the horrors associated with this case.

40,000 dead under Chad's Habre an underestimate, trial told
Yahoo News
September 15, 2015

Dakar (AFP) - The number of Chadians killed under the brutal regime of ex-dictator Hissene Habre far exceeded the frequently-quoted estimate of 40,000, his trial in Senegal for atrocities heard on Tuesday.

Habre hears atrocities case outlined as trial resumes AFP

Ex-minister tells Habre trial of dictator's 'absolute tribal power' AFP

War crimes complaint filed against Chad leader Deby AFP

Former Chadian leader carried into Senegal court for trial Reuters

The 73-year-old, who fled to Dakar after being deposed in 1990, is being prosecuted in his adoptive country for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during eight years of repression.

Mahamat Hassan Akabar, president of a commission into atrocities committed under Habre's regime, explained how investigators had arrived at the figure, adding that it was probably a vast underestimate.

"Habre ruled for 2,920 days with, on average, 13 deaths (daily)," Akabar told the African Extraordinary Chambers in Dakar, citing witness testimony and documents, saying this would make 37,960 deaths.

"The commission rounded up to 40,000 to account for deaths in the provinces. We have not included summary executions that were happening every night," he added.

He said the commission "had neither the time nor the means" to investigate every alleged killing.

"The conviction, beyond any reasonable doubt, is that this is a bare minimum figure. The investigations represent only 10 percent of what occurred," he said.

"Ninety-eight percent of the results of these investigations were obtained in N'Djamena and its surroundings," Akabar told the tribunal.

Once dubbed "Africa's Pinochet", Habre has been in custody in Senegal since his arrest in June 2013 at the home he shared in a plush neighbourhood of Dakar with his wife and children.

His trial heard last week how Chad's Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), described as "the eyes and the ears of the president", meted out a variety of abusive and often deadly punishments to detainees.

Akabar said the bodies of those who died in Habre's notorious prisons were not handed over to their families.

"Bodies were buried in sacks of rice and millet. Others were buried with their clothes," he said.

"Those who didn't live in Chad during this period struggle to understand what happened. Among all this disaster, the change people hoped for never came."

During his impassioned evidence, Akabar appeared at times to lose his cool and was scolded by Burkinabe tribunal president Gberdao Gustave Kam to "speak without hate, and remain measured".

Habre doesn't recognise the authority of the African Union-mandated court and has refused to cooperate with his trial.

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Mali

Africa: Time to Support African Rights Court
All Africa
By Mboneko Munyage
September 12, 2015

Charity starts at home, they say, except in East Africa where only two of the five-member East African Community (EAC) states have both signed the Protocol setting up the Arusha based African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (AfCHPR) and deposited a Declaration enabling it to be assessed by individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The matter somehow irks the Court's President, Justice Augustino Ramadhani, who is from Tanzania, the seat of the Court. Luckily, it is only his country and Rwanda that have ratified the Protocol and deposited a Declaration to make the court a truly organ of the people of Africa when their rights are violated and feel dissatisfied by the way their grievances were handled by national jurisdictions.

"I feel ashamed sometimes to see that EA countries have not made a Declaration when the Court is in their vicinity," Justice Ramadhani is quoted to have told a delegation from Kenya's International Peace-Keeping Training Centre (IPTC) and the National Steering Committee (NSC) recently. The other EAC member states are Kenya, Uganda and Burundi.

The frustration that Justice Ramadhani feels is understandable. So far, only 29 of the 54 member countries of the African Union (AU) have ratified the Court's Protocol. Yet, it is the same African countries, who complain that the International Criminal Court (ICC) based at The Hague targets unfairly African leaders for cases of violation of human rights.

Indeed, such complaints would have been avoided if people had universal recourse to a court set up by African countries themselves. For, it cannot be said that Africa doesn't have an unenviable record of human rights violations. The question is: What is there for African leaders to fear if not the threat to the impunity in most countries? African leaders have to appreciate the fact that the continent cannot develop carrying heavy baggage of human rights violations at the same time.

Secondly, where impunity reigns, the rest of the world cannot simply standby and watch un-bestirred. For Africa to be respected and join the global community of nations, it must show and demonstrate uncompromising protection of the sanctity of life, which is what human rights are all about.

Furthermore, it doesn't paint a very good picture that nearly half of the AU member states have not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights that established the AfCHPR 11 years ago and almost 30 years after the Charter itself came into effect on October 21, 1986, which is observed as "African Human Rights Day!"

It mocks common sense for Africa to celebrate annually "African Human Rights Day" whereas in actual fact, governments would rather have it parried away. But, there is great hope for optimism. First and foremost is the fact that Africa already does have an instrument for human rights, The African Charter for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). There shall be no going back.

The Court on the other hand, was established to make judgements on AU member states for compliance to the tenets of the ACHPR. It can be rightly argued therefore that without a truly vibrant AfCHPR, the ACHPR can remain just a good piece of paper with very noble but non unenforceable values. Now, that is not acceptable.

With roughly two months before observance of the next African Human Rights Day on October 21, let each of my readers turn into an activist and lobby their governments to ratify the Protocol to the ACHPR that established the AfCHPR and deposit a Declaration.

It is unacceptable that only Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivore, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania,Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia have ratified the Protocol 11 years after.

The people should to treat human rights as their most pressing agenda and nudge their governments along. The author believes that could help solve a lot of Africa's dilemmas, including the seemingly unending wars in many trouble spots including DR Congo, South Sudan and the Darfur region

Gunmen Kill Military Police Officer in Central Mali
ABC News
September 14, 2015

Mali's government says a military police officer was shot dead in an attack on a security post in the center of the country.

A statement issued late Sunday said the gunmen opened fire Saturday evening on the post in Ouenkoro, in the central Mopti region near the Burkina Faso border. It said another officer was injured and that a local government office and two cars were burned.

The statement did not speculate as to who was behind the attack. Mali's security forces have regularly been targeted by Islamic extremists.

Mali's northern half fell to Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A French-led military intervention drove them out of major towns, but north and central Mali remain insecure.

Mali Militias Withdraw From Key Town But Expand Northwards- U.N.
Reuters
By Emma Farge and Souleymane Ag Anara
September 15, 2015

Mali's pro-government militias have withdrawn from the flashpoint town of Anefis but are pushing northwards to another settlement, the United Nations mission (MINUSMA) said on Tuesday.

Mediators are struggling to make armed groups in Mali's desert north abide by the terms of a U.N.-backed June peace deal which seeks to turn the page on decades of Tuareg rebellions since independence from France in 1960.

The departure of the Platform coalition from Anefis comes after weeks of pressure from Western donors, MINUSMA and even from the Malian government following a series of clashes there last month that killed at least 20 people.

"MINUSMA congratulates itself on the retreat yesterday of members of Platform from Anefis and its surroundings," MINUSMA said in a statement. "However, MINUSMA is extremely concerned about the northerly movement of Platform towards Aguelhok."

It added that the Tuareg separatist alliance known as Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) were also moving into new territory and urged both sides to revert to June positions.

Security sources say that the battle for positions among the groups led by rival Tuareg leaders is motivated partly by competition for desert trafficking corridors for both cocaine and legal goods like food and cigarettes.

Expansion may also benefit armed groups if the peace deal proceeds as key army posts and development funding are expected to be distributed to local communities.

Medhi Ag Almoubareck, spokesman for Platform's largest group GATIA, said troops were heading towards the town of Aguelhok to visit family members. He said they had been instructed not to touch the CMA stronghold of Kidal, a move likely to trigger a major riposte from separatists.

CMA spokesman Attaye Ag Mohamed said they did not yet have confirmation of the departure of Platform troops from Anefis and condemned their spread further north.

Militia Withdraws From Contested Northern Mali Town
News 24
September 16, 2015

The United Nations mission in Mali says a government-allied militia has left a northern town it occupied last month following clashes with Tuareg separatists.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the UN mission said elements of the Platform militia coalition had withdrawn from Anefis two weeks after they first said they would. But the mission said it was concerned that some Platform elements had been observed moving even farther north toward Aguel'hoc, another separatist stronghold.

The presence of the militia in Anefis was seen as a threat to a June peace accord, and the UN called for militia fighters to return to the positions they occupied when the peace deal was signed.

Northern Mali fell to Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists in 2012, triggering a French-led military intervention.

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EUROPE

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

Official Website [English translation]

Indictment in Milan Komad Confirmed
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
September 8, 2015

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed, on August 31, 2015, an indictment charging the accused Milan Komad with the commission of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians in violation of Article 173(1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH), as read with Article 180(1) of the same Code.

The Indictment alleged that, at the wartime in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the armed conflict between the Army of BiH and the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, subsequently the Republika Srpska Army, as a member of the military unit 7158 Višegrad of the Republika Srpska Army, in the place of Kosovo Polje, Višegrad municipality, the accused Milan Komad committed murder, that is, deprived a Bosniak civilian of his life.

Indictment in Radivoja Soldo Confirmed
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
September 10, 2015

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed, on September 1, 2015, an indictment charging the accused Radivoja Soldo with the commission of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians in violation of Article 142 of the Criminal Code of the Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (CC SFRJ).

The Indictment alleged that at the wartime in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the armed conflict between the Army of BiH and the Republika Srpska Army, in the territory of Konjic municipality, as a member of the Army of the Republika Srpska, the accused Radivoja Soldo ulawfully detained and forced other person in sexual intercourse (rape) and into forced labor, and thereby intentionally inflicted great suffering, or violence to life and person.

Prosecution Motion for Custody Refused and Prohibiting Measures Imposed on Suspects in the Case v. Zoran Bogdanović et al.
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
September 10, 2015

Deciding upon a motion of the Prosecutor's Office of BiH to order the Suspects Zoran Bogdanović, Milan Đokić, Ljubiša Ikić and Branislav Trišić into custody, the Court rendered the Decision refusing the Motion for custody and ordering the following prohibiting measures:

· Ban on leaving the place of residence (house arrest - along with the obligation of the relevant Police Station to conduct random controls of the Suspects once a day);

· Travel ban (including a temporary seizure of travel documents and ban on issuing new ones, as well as the ban on use of ID to cross the state border of Bosnia and Herzegovina);

· Ban on meeting with witnesses in this criminal case, and contacting and approaching to up to 100 meters and contactng co-suspects and potential accomplices and accessories.

The imposed prohibiting measures may last as long as they are needed, or until a new decision of the Court, while a review of justification of the prohibiting measures shall be carried out on a bimonthly basis.

If the Suspects violate any of the imposed prohibiting measures, they may be ordered into custody.

Zoran Bogdanović, Milan Đokić, Ljubiša Ikić and Branislav Trišić are suspected of the criminal offense of Crimes against Humanity in violation of Article 172(1)(h) as read with sub-paragraphs (f) and (k) of the CC of BIH, and Milan Đokić and Ljubiša Ikić by actions under Count VI 1,2,i 3. of the criminal offense Crimes against Humanity in violation of Article 172(1) (h) as read with sub-paragraph (a) of the CPC of BIH, all in conjunction with Article 29 and 180(1) of the CC of BIH.

Dževad Dulić is Acquitted of the Charges for War Crimes against Civilians
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
September 11, 2015

Following the completion of the main trial before the Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down the Verdict under which the Accused Dževad Dulić is acquitted of the charges for War Crimes against Civilians in violation of Article 173 (1)(e) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina as read with Article 180(1) of the said Code.

The Accused Dževad Dulić is acquitted of the charges that he, in the capacity as a member of 510 Bosnian Liberation Brigade, 5th Corps of the Army of BIH, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the armed conflict between the members of the 5th Corps of the Army of BIH and members of the National Defense of the Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia, in the evening on an underdetermined date in December 1993, raped the witness S-1 in the village of Beganovići, municipality of Cazin.

Pursuant to Article 189(1) of the CPC of BIH, the Accused is acquitted of the obligation to reimburse the costs of the proceedings and they will be covered by the budgetary funds of the Court of BIH.

*****

A person shall be considered innocent of a crime until guilt has been established by a final Verdict. (Article 3 of the CPC BiH)

A First Instance Panel makes a decision on the basis of the evidence which was presented at the trial by the Prosecution and the Defence. The First Instance Panel pronounces its Verdict based on the evidence at trial which must be established beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a guilty Verdict to occur.

This Verdict is not final. This Verdict may be appealed and an Appeal shall be reviewed by the Appellate Division of the Court. An Appeal may contain new evidence if the parties to the proceedings and the defence prove that they were not able to present it during the First Instance Proceedings.

Respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence is an integral part of the right to a fair trial. It is recommended that commentary on a First Instance Panel's Decision not occur until a final Decision is issued. Opinions and information relating to an ongoing criminal proceeding should only be communicated or disseminated when it does not prejudice the presumption of innocence of the Suspect or the Accused. (Appendix to Recommendation Rec (2993)13 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of July 10, 2003)

Should there be commentary on the Decision, it is recommended to obtain any needed additional information from the authorized spokesperson of the Court. It is further recommended that any commentary also include the opinions of knowledgeable legal scholars and practitioners.

Indictment Confirmed in the Case v. Naser Orić et al.
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
September 14, 2015

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed on September 9, 2015 the Indictment under which the Accused Naser Orić and Sabahudin Muhić are charged with the criminal offense of War Crimes against Prisoners of War in violation of Article 144 of the Criminal Code of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Indictment alleges that the Accused Naser Orić, as a Commander of the Srebrenica Territorial Defense Headquarters and Commander of Joint Armed Forces of the Sub-Region Srebrenica and Sabahudin Muhić, as a member of the Srebrenica Territorial Defense armed forces, during the war and armed conflict between the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Army of Republika Srpska in the period from May to December 1992, in the territory of villages of Zalazje, Lolići and Kunjerac, municipality of Srebrenica and Bratunac, committed the criminal offense of war crimes against three prisoners of war causing their death.

Prosecution Motion for Custody Refused and Prohibiting Measures Imposed on Suspect Sekula Babić
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
September 15, 2015

Deciding upon a motion of the Prosecutor's Office of BiH to order the Suspect Sekula Babić into custody, the Court rendered the Decision dated September 11, 2015 refusing as unfounded the Motion for custody and ordering the following prohibiting measures:

· Ban on leaving the place of residence (house arrest - along with the obligation of the relevant Police Station to conduct random controls of the Suspects twice a week);

· Travel ban (including a temporary seizure of travel documents and ban on issuing new ones, as well as the ban on use of ID to cross the state border of Bosnia and Herzegovina);

· Ban on meeting with witnesses and accomplices in this criminal case, and contacting and approaching witnesses and accomplices to up to 50 meters and contacting other persons with any information on this case.

The imposed prohibiting measures may last as long as they are needed, or until a new decision of the Court, while a review of justification of the prohibiting measures shall be carried out on a bimonthly basis.

If the Suspect violates any of the imposed prohibiting measures, he may be ordered into custody.

Sekula Babić is suspected of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians in violation of Article 173(1)(c) and (f) as read with Article 29 and Article 180(1) of the CC of BIH.

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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Official Website of the ICTY

Mladic's Wartime Driver Backs Up Alibi
Institute For War & Peace Reporting
By Daniella Peled
September 4, 2015

Witness tells court that accused was in the Serbian capital in the days after Srebrenica fell.

A wartime driver for former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic this week told judges that he was with the defendant in Serbia's capital Belgrade at a time coinciding with the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995.

Mladjen Kenjic's testimony supports Mladic's alibi for his whereabouts in the days after Bosnian Serb forces captured Srebrenica, at a time when Bosniak men and boys were being killed. A married couple, Biljana and Zarko Stojkovic, recently testified that Mladic acted as best man at their wedding in Belgrade on July 16.

Kenjic's wife Bosiljka also confirmed these details when she appeared before the tribunal.

The Bosnian Serb army, of which Mladic was commander, completed its takeover of Srebrenica on July 11, 2005. The eastern Bosnian town had been declared a "safe area" in 1993 and a United Nations peacekeeping battalion assigned to protect it. Despite this special status, the Srebrenica enclave was seized by Serb forces, and over the course of several days after July 11, more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered. Mladic stands accused of genocide and other crimes relating to the massacre.

The prosecution does not dispute that Mladic travelled to Belgrade on July 14, but argues that he maintained contact with officers in his general staff, returning to the theatre of war on the evening of July 16.

Kenjic said he drove Mladic to Belgrade on July 14 for a number of appointments, including the wedding and a meeting with Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. He then drove him back to Bosnian Serb Army headquarters near Han Pijesak on July 17. According to the witness, there was no telephone or any other communication device in the vehicle.

Prosecutor Peter McCloskey asked the witness the route via which he had driven Mladic to Belgrade. On a map, Kenjic identified the road as running via Zvornik to Belgrade.

"Were you aware at the time that, on the 13th and 14th of July, large numbers of Muslim soldiers and civilians were fleeing the Serb enclave and had crossed that road, and were still in the woods all around that area where you're driving?" the lawyer asked him.

"No, I didn't know that," the witness replied.

McCloskey asked whether, as they drove through Nova Kasaba, they had seen "any large pits" being dug at the side of the road.

"No," the witness replied.

Continuing to track the route they had taken, the lawyer asked whether after they arrived in Konjevic Polje they had heard anything about "hundreds and hundreds of dead and dying Muslims at the Kravice warehouse at that time?"

"No," the witness replied.

Asked whether they had driven northwards by the Jadar river, Kenjic said the name sounded familiar but that he did not know where it was.

"You didn't hear about the executions of 16 people right near the road that you'd driven by that happened the day before, on the banks of the Jadar river?"

"No, no," he replied.

McCloskey then asked whether, when they drove by the Zvornik Brigade headquarters in Karakaj on the afternoon of July 14, Kenjic knew "that within about eight km to the east of Karakaj was a place called Orahovac where about 1,000 prisoners were in a school and were in the process of being murdered. Did you hear any information about that when you were in Karakaj in the afternoon of July 14?"

The witness said he had not heard anything.

McCloskey then asked him whether he had heard about any of the thousands of prisoners detained in places including Petkovici and Pilice as he was driving through that area.

"No," he said.

Turning to the events of July 16, when Mladic attended the Belgrade wedding, McCloskey asked the witness what time he had taken the general home to change and attend his next function.

"Around six pm in the afternoon," the witness replied.

The lawyer then read from a statement which Kenjic gave to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in 2012 in which he said, "I drove him home afterwards in the afternoon, I don't know what time it was, it might have been three or four o'clock, as long as the lunch ceremony lasted. I don't know how long it lasted."

"You told the OTP three to four o clock. Now that you're testifying here, you're saying six o'clock, maybe five o'clock, so you have been influenced between the time you told the OTP three or four o'clock and now," McCloskey said. "You've been influenced, haven't you? Your recollection has been influenced in some way."

The witness denied this.

The prosecution contends that Mladic returned to the enclave later that same evening in a helicopter flown by his pilot Dusan Maran.

McCloskey asked the witness whether he knew of Maran, the general's main helicopter pilot during the war.

"[Mladic] called him Dule, didn't he, a classic nickname for Dusan," the lawyer asked.

"Possibly," the witness said.

McCloskey turned to an intercept recorded on July 16 at eight am between Mladic and a man who is addressed as Dule.

"And Dule says, 'It's Dule, and Mladic says, "I'll see you tonight Dule', and Dule says, 'Fine' and Mladic says 'Bye'. So you were with General Mladic for some time on July 16 including in the evening in Belgrade. Are you aware of General Mladic meeting anyone named Dule the night of July 16 in Belgrade?" he asked.

"No," Kenjic said.

The lawyer asked Kenjic whether he had ever travelled with Mladic in a helicopter.

The witness said he had not.

McCloskey then turned to testimony given by another wartime driver for Mladic, who recalled travelling with the general in a helicopter as part of his job. This other driver, the lawyer continued, "acknowledges that he travelled several times with Mladic in a helicopter. How so that you say that you never travelled with him by helicopter?"

"Never, really never," Kenjic replied. "If you understood what I said, really never."

Srebrenica Massacre: Eight Charged in Serbia's First Court Ruling
BBC News
September 10, 2015

War crimes prosecutors in Serbia have charged eight people over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.

They are accused of killing hundreds of Bosnian men and boys in a single day at a warehouse near Srebrenica.

It is the first time a Serbian court has charged anyone over the massacre of 8,000 people by Bosnian Serb forces.

The authorities in Bosnia and an international court in the Hague have carried out all previous prosecutions.

The men charged on Thursday belonged to a special Bosnian-Serb police unit that was operating in the eastern village of Kravica when the killings took place just over 20 years ago.

'The butcher'

They herded the mainly Muslim victims into a warehouse where they were killed with machine guns and grenades in an assault that lasted all night, the prosecutor's statement said.

Those charged included the unit's commander, Nedeljko Milidragovic, also known as Nedjo the Butcher, who was accused of giving the order for the killings and saying that "nobody should get out alive".

Mr Milidragovic is already facing genocide charges in Bosnia but has been able to live freely in Serbia because of the lack of an extradition treaty, says the BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade.

But this changed in March when he and the seven other suspects were arrested as a result of co-operation between the war crimes court in Belgrade and its counterpart in Sarajevo, our correspondent adds.

Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said the charges were a "message that there will be no impunity for war crimes and that the victims will not be forgotten".

The eight men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years if found guilty.

Fourteen people have been convicted at the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague in relation to the Srebrenica killings.

Former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are both on trial at The Hague, accused of crimes relating to the massacre.

The ICTY and the International Court of Justice have called the events genocide.

The Srebrenica massacre came amid the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia into independent states in the 1990s.

Serbia backed Bosnian Serb forces fighting the Muslim-led Bosnian government during the conflict.

In July 1995, in what was supposed to have been a UN safe haven, Bosnian Serb forces took control of Srebrenica. They rounded up and killed about 8,000 men and boys and buried them in mass graves.

Mladic Witness Casts Doubt on Markale Attack
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
By Daniella Peled
September 14, 2015

Investigator wrote in his diary that media reports of Bosnian Serb responsibility were "propaganda".

A former United Nations official told the trial of Ratko Mladic last week that it was "impossible" to ascertain which army fired the shell that hit the Markale market in February 1994.

Prosecutors contend that a mortar shell which killed 66 civilians and wounded 140 on February 5, 1994 in a crowded market in central Sarajevo was fired from a Bosnian Serb army position outside the city. The incident is often called the first Markale attack, to distinguish it from a similar one in August 1995, which killed some 40 people and injured around 75.

Defence witness John Russell, who was tasked with carrying out a crater analysis at the site, wrote in his journal on the night of the attack that he believed the Bosnian government army fired the shell. The UN investigation to which he contributed was unable to determine which side was responsible.

The 44-month siege of Sarajevo, which features prominently in the indictment against Mladic and includes the 1994 Markale attack, left nearly 12,000 people dead and many more injured. As wartime head of the Bosnian Serb army, Mladic is charged with crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible population transfer which "contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory".

Russell, who at the time was serving as an assistant to Sergio de Mello, head of the UN civilian mission in Sarajevo, has previously appeared at the Hague tribunal as a defence witness for former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic.

Last week, defence counsel Dragan Ivetic took the witness through his statement in which the Canadian described arriving on the scene in Markale to determine the direction from which the mortar round had been fired.

He had only carried out crater analyses four times before the Markale incident, having received training for this at a two-day UN course in Knin.

Russell said his conclusions were based on the sharp trajectory the shell had taken over high buildings near the market before impact.

He said that as while examining the crater, "I kept on looking up and up until I came to the top of quite a high building, and I found it quite interesting that only one round had been fired and that it had to be at a steep angle to clear that building to where it landed".

Ivetic noted that "you talk of hearing on CNN, on the evening of February 5, 1994, that the Bosnians Serbs had shelled the market. Do you know if anyone on the UN side had made such a determination by that date?"

"To the best of my knowledge, no," Russell replied.

Reading from the statement, Ivetic said Russell believed the CNN report "'was the result of propaganda, and from then on it would be widely believed that the Bosnian Serbs had fired the shell, regardless of the true facts'.

"Whose propaganda did you have in mind?" the lawyer asked.

"Whoever had the most to gain from the particular comment," Russell replied, going on to assert that reporters had been "in a hurry" to identify the source of the attack.

"The UN had not yet passed on the information they had received on the crater analysis to make it official, but the news media was saying something and I don't know where they got it," Russell said. "So that's all I'm saying, based on that, to the best of my knowledge at that time; that evening the reports of the crater analysis from all of us were in the hands of the UN chain of command and had not been released to the public."

The defence then turned to the diary Russell had kept as part of his UN duties. Ivetic read out an extract from an entry on February 5, 1994, in which Russell wrote, "I was at the site to do a quick crater analysis, and although I agree with the direction I disagree with the distance, believing that the BiH [Bosnian government forces] shot at themselves. Many here don't want to think of this, as there are a lot of casualties, but I think otherwise".

The witness stressed that this was his "personal opinion" and that his official report had concluded that it was impossible to determine who fired the round.

"I could not, in my investigation, say who did it," he explained. "In my personal opinion when I was at the site and I looked at the angle of descent… in my own opinion that that round came from a shorter range than a longer range."

"In the years since, has anything happened to change your conclusion?" Ivetic asked.

"My position has not changed from the position in my report," Russell answered.

In his cross-examination, prosecuting lawyer Adam Weber went through a number of UN military observer situation reports for the period preceding the Markale massacre. These reports recorded the casualties on both sides as well as the fire coming in and out of respective territories.

"Based on the sit-reps we just looked at, there were a total of 5,536 impacts on the Bosnian side between 19-24 December. So this is in fact disproportionate shelling, correct?" the lawyer asked.

The witness agreed that it was.

Weber asked him whether he was "aware of the impact on the civilian population of Sarajevo" and that at the time of the Markale attack, "civilians were still dying on a daily basis".

"That is correct," Russell said, adding, "There were dangers in travelling across open areas of roads from both shelling and snipers. There was an effect on people trying to get food and water, and any general movement around the city."

Weber turned to a meeting which de Mello held with Karadzic the day before the Markale attack in which the UN chief emphasised his staff's objectivity in reporting incidents of fire. Karadzic had himself acknowledged this, Weber added.

"You would agree, there was objective information provided to the international press," he said.

Russell agreed.

Weber turned to the sit-rep for February 5, 1994, the day of the Markale attack.

"UN MOs [military observers] confirmed 55 mixed impacts coming into Bosnian areas and zero outgoing rounds. My question is, the UN MOs observed no rounds being fired by Bosnian forces on this day, right?"

"If that's what the UN observers observed, yes," Russell replied.

[back to contents]

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

Srebrenica Massacre: Eight Charged in Serbia's First Court Ruling
BBC News
September 10, 2015

War crimes prosecutors in Serbia have charged eight people over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.

They are accused of killing hundreds of Bosnian men and boys in a single day at a warehouse near Srebrenica.

It is the first time a Serbian court has charged anyone over the massacre of 8,000 people by Bosnian Serb forces.

The authorities in Bosnia and an international court in the Hague have carried out all previous prosecutions.

The men charged on Thursday belonged to a special Bosnian-Serb police unit that was operating in the eastern village of Kravica when the killings took place just over 20 years ago.

'The butcher'

They herded the mainly Muslim victims into a warehouse where they were killed with machine guns and grenades in an assault that lasted all night, the prosecutor's statement said.

Those charged included the unit's commander, Nedeljko Milidragovic, also known as Nedjo the Butcher, who was accused of giving the order for the killings and saying that "nobody should get out alive".

Mr Milidragovic is already facing genocide charges in Bosnia but has been able to live freely in Serbia because of the lack of an extradition treaty, says the BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade.

But this changed in March when he and the seven other suspects were arrested as a result of co-operation between the war crimes court in Belgrade and its counterpart in Sarajevo, our correspondent adds.

Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said the charges were a "message that there will be no impunity for war crimes and that the victims will not be forgotten".

The eight men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years if found guilty.

Fourteen people have been convicted at the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague in relation to the Srebrenica killings.

Former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are both on trial at The Hague, accused of crimes relating to the massacre.

The ICTY and the International Court of Justice have called the events genocide.

The Srebrenica massacre came amid the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia into independent states in the 1990s.

Serbia backed Bosnian Serb forces fighting the Muslim-led Bosnian government during the conflict.

In July 1995, in what was supposed to have been a UN safe haven, Bosnian Serb forces took control of Srebrenica. They rounded up and killed about 8,000 men and boys and buried them in mass graves.

Bosnia Confirms Indictment of Srebrenica Commander Oric
Balkan Transnational Justice
By Denis Dzidic
September 10, 2015

The Bosnian prosecution told BIRN on Thursday that the state-level court has confirmed the indictment charging Oric with killing three Bosnian Serb prisoners of war in the villages of Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac in 1992.

"All the counts of the indictment have been confirmed," said the Bosnian prosecution spokesperson Boris Grubesic.

Oric was arrested in June this year on the French-Swiss border at the request of the Serbian prosecution, which wanted to charge him with involvement in war crimes. But he was ultimately extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina, not to Serbia.

He has already been acquitted of war crimes against Serbs in the Srebrenica area by the Hague Tribunal, when the UN-backed court ruled that he did not have control over the Bosnian Army which committed the crimes.

His lawyer Vasvija Vidovic, who defended him in The Hague, told BIRN that she had received the confirmed indictment and will soon file objections.

"We have the possibility of filing objections to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague and we can also file them under the local criminal code. We will definitely do that," Vidovic said, insisting that Oric cannot stand trial twice for the same crimes.

Oric has not been remanded in custody, but is banned from travelling.

Bosniak and Bosnian Serb politicians have criticised the indictment for diferent reasons.

Srebrenica's Bosniak mayor Camil Durakovic has called it "a political document against a hero of Srebrenica" aimed at showing that the state court was not biased against Serb war victims.

But Stasa Kosarac, a Serb lawmaker in the Bosnian parliament, said that Oric should have been charged with more deaths. "No one in Republika Srpska, in particular the families of war victims, can be satisfied with the scope of the indictment," he said.

It has also been alleged that the indictment is a politically-motivated reaction to a planned referendum questioning the powers of the state-level judiciary over Bosnia's Serb-led entity Republika Srpska.

The state court on Thursday also confirmed the indictment of Sabahudin Muhic for the same alleged crimes as Oric.

Serbia Charges Ex-Policemen with Srebrenica Killings
Balkan Transnational Justice
By Marija Ristic
September 10, 2015

Eight former members of a police special brigade from Bosnia's Serb-led entity Repubika Srpska were indicted on Thursday for committing a war crime against civilians in an agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica near Srebrenica on July 14, 1995.

Nedeljko Milidragovic, Aleksa Golijanin, Milivoje Batinica, Aleksandar Dacevic, Bora Miletic, Jovan Petrovic, Dragomir Parovic and Vidosav Vasic are accused of organising and participating in the shooting of more than 100 civilians in the warehouse.

The eight men were arrested in March in Serbia and have been in custody since then.

So far more than 1,300 civilians who were massacred in the warehouse in Kravica in July 1995 have been identified - Bosniak prisoners captured after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces. Their bodies were found in several mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Bosnian prosecution previously launched genocide indictments against Milidragovic and Golijanin, but couldn't arrest them because they have been living in Serbia since the war in Bosnia ended in 1995.

After Serbia and Bosnia signed a protocol on cooperation in war crimes in 2013, evidence from the Bosnian prosecution was transferred to Belgrade.

The Bosnian prosecution praised its Serbian counterpart in a statement issued on Thursday, saying the indictment was the result of joint work on war crimes prosecutions.

According to the charges filed by the Bosnian prosecution, Milidragovic, a former commander of a squad from the Bosnian Serb police special brigade's Jahorina Training Centre, and Golijanin, a former deputy commander of a Jahorina Training Centre squad, committed genocide against Bosniaks from Srebrenica between July 10 and July 19, 1995.

However, the Serbian prosecution said it couldn't prove the genocide charges laid by the Bosnian prosecutors and instead charged the men with committing a war crime.

More than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed after Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-protected 'safe zone' of Srebrenica - a crime which has been classified by international court verdicts as genocide.

This is the first case to be prosecuted in Serbia related to the 1995 massacres.

Bosnian Army Soldier Acquitted of Wartime Rape
Balkan Transnational Justice
By Denis Dzidic
September 11, 2015

Dulic, a former soldier with the Bosnian Army's Fifth Corps, was acquitted on Friday of raping the woman in Beganovici village near Cazin in December 1993.

The woman's husband, according to the indictment, was a member of the National Defence force of the Western Bosnia Autonomous Region, a self-proclaimed Bosniak statelet which existed between 1993 and 1995 and fought against the Bosnian Army.

According to presiding judge Mediha Pasic, the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dulic was even present in Beganovici village.

"Through an analysis of all the evidence, the chamber concluded that the defendant was a member of the 501st brigade [of the Fifth Corps], and not the 510th, as is stated in the charges. The evidence also does not point to a conclusion that Dulic was ever in Beganovici in December 1993 where the crime took place," said Pasic.

According to the judge, the statement given by the victim, who testified as a protected witness codenamed S1, was contradictory and did not lead to the clear conclusion that Dulic committed the rape.

"The chamber is certain beyond all doubt that the victim suffered a brutal and inhumane rape by two unknown soldiers, but the statement of witness S1 contains a series of inconsistencies about her conclusion that the defendant is one of the soldiers who raped her," said the judge.

The victim was also unclear about when she learned the name of the defendant, and because of this, her statement "does not represent a logical foundation on which a conviction could be based", Pasic added.

"Unlike S1's statement, defence witnesses said that the defendant never drank alcohol and never misbehaved," she said.

The verdict can be appealed.

BiH Court Upholds Naser Oric Indictment
InSerbia News
By Tanjug
September 11, 2015

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on Thursday upheld an indictment against Naser Oric, the former commander of the 28th division of the (Muslim) Army of BiH in the Srebrenica area who is charged with war crimes against Serb prisoners.

The Court of BiH upheld all counts of the indictment against Oric and his comrade Sabahudin Muhic, Boris Grubesic, spokesman for the BiH Prosecutor's Office, told Radio Television of Republika Srpska.

Oric and Muhic are charged with the murder of three Serb prisoners in the Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac villages in the Srebrenica area in 1992.

The crimes in the Serb villages were not included in the indictment in the proceedings against Oric before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which cleared him of any wrongdoing in 2008, reasoning that he had no control over the Army of BiH, which committed the crimes.

The Serbian prosecutor's office, which has conducted an investigation into crimes committed by Muslim forces in the Podrinje region, is suspecting Oric and three of his other comrades of destruction of Serb villages, torture and murders of civilians and execution of nine prisoners.

According to testimonies in the investigation, Oric ordered the "Condors" - a Muslim unit in Srebrenica - to "cleanse" Zalazje and other Serb villages in the municipality.

One of the witnesses described how a group led by Oric killed several Serb civilian prisoners with knives, while Oric used his own knife to gouge out the eyes of Srebrenica judge Slobodan Ilic and subsequently kill him.

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MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)

Official Website of the Extraordinary Chambers
Official Website of the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT)
Cambodia Tribunal Monitor

Cambodia War Crimes Court Hears Evidence in Genocide Case
VOA
By Robert Carmichaek
September 7, 2015

The U.N.-backed war crimes court trying the two surviving leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime heard its first day of evidence on Monday on the charge of genocide.

The tribunal last year found Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, the two former leaders, guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a ruling that both men have appealed.

Monday's hearing marks the presentation of evidence in the prosecution's effort to prove the much more difficult charge of genocide – the first time in the court's nine-year history that it is hearing testimony on that alleged crime.

But the charge of genocide does not refer to the mass killings of ordinary Cambodians, the ethnic Khmer who constitute the majority of the country's population during the Khmer Rouge's brutal 1975-79 rule, and who comprised the majority of its victims.

Minority groups

Instead it relates specifically to the regime's actions against two minority groups: ethnic Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese.

Lars Olsen, the tribunal's legal officer, said, "The reason the genocide charges are limited to these two groups is basically because the legal definition of genocide is different from what many people would regard as genocide."

Simply put, Olsen said, genocide refers to having the intention to eliminate in part, or in full, a group of people based on their race, religion, ethnicity or nationality.

"Clearly in this context of Cambodia where the majority of the Cambodians who were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime were killed by Cambodians with the same ethnicity, simply the traditional legal definition of genocide would not include these kinds of acts," he said.

The Khmer Rouge's persecution of ethnic Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese, the prosecution said, does fit that definition, and on Monday the tribunal heard testimony from It Sen, a 63-year-old Cham farmer.

Religion, customs banned

Sen told the court that after the Khmer Rouge took control of his area in eastern Cambodia in 1973, they barred residents from practicing their religion and customs – even their language – on pain of death.

"Only the Khmer language was allowed to speak at that time," Sen said during his testimony. "We could speak Cham but, you know, in a secret way – not loudly. If they happened to hear us speaking Cham language we would be taken away and killed."

The Khmer Rouge's persecution of the Cham Muslims, a distinct ethnic group with their own customs and religion, has been well documented. The Khmer Rouge regarded the Cham as enemies, and dealt brutally with them.

Large numbers of Cham Muslims, were murdered. In one district, the Khmer Rouge arrested and killed every Cham villager.

In 1975, Pol Pot told cadres to force Cham Muslims to raise pigs and eat pork, and said those who refused must be killed.

The Khmer Rouge destroyed and desecrated mosques, burned Korans and sacred texts, and executed Cham leaders.

Most Cham who were not killed were dispersed, forcibly married into other communities, and barred on pain of death from practicing all aspects of their culture.

Cham population

By the time Pol Pot's regime was overthrown in early 1979, it is thought that one-third of the pre-regime Cham population, which numbered about 300,000, were dead.

Sen, who was ordered out of his village in 1975, was one of the few from his village to survive. His wife and child did not.

During his testimony, he spoke of witnessing a daylong massacre of his fellow Chams, dozens of whom were roped together at a time, the rope attached to a boat, and the prisoners dragged into the center of the river.

Sen managed to escape the house in which he was being held, and swam downstream to safety.

The prosecution contends that what happened to Sen and his fellow Chams constitutes genocide, as were the actions taken by the Khmer Rouge against Cambodia's ethnic Vietnamese minority – which also included mass deportations and killings. By 1979, Cambodia's ethnic Vietnamese population had been nearly eliminated.

More witnesses are scheduled to testify in the coming weeks. This second mini-trial of the two surviving leaders is likely to last into 2016.

Defense Accuses Tribunal of Ignoring Hun Sen Evidence
The Cambodia Daily
By George Wright
September 9, 2015

Victor Koppe, a defense counsel for Nuon Chea, on Tuesday accused the Khmer Rouge tribunal of avoiding evidence that could incriminate Prime Minister Hun Sen in crimes related to the alleged genocide of Cham Muslims.

During the second day of hearings concerning genocide charges in Case 002, the lawyer for the regime's Brother Number Two—who is on trial alongside Khieu Samphan—blasted the Trial Chamber after he was prevented from questioning witness It Sen over claims made in a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that links the prime minister to the violent suppression of a Cham uprising in Kompong Cham province in 1975.

In "30 Years of Hun Sen: Violence, Repression, and Corruption in Cambodia," released in January, the rights group cites evidence that Batallion 55 in the East Zone's Sector 21—of which Mr. Hun Sen was a deputy commander—was actively involved in the massacre of Cham people on Koh Phal island in the Mekong River after a violent rebellion by the Muslim minority in 1975.

After the witness claimed he was unaware of the battalion, Mr. Koppe asked him directly about Mr. Hun Sen.

"I shall give you the name of one of its commanding officers and then I will ask you whether you know of his name: Hun Sen, the present prime minister—do you know him?" Mr. Koppe asked.

The witness said that he did.

The defense lawyer then asked whether Mr. Hun Sen was involved in the Koh Phal crackdown, prompting assistant prosecutor Dale Lysak to object, saying the HRW report had not been submitted as evidence. Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne informed Mr. Koppe that the Trial Chamber had already ruled that the document was not admissible.

Mr. Koppe argued that the document was legitimate, based on his belief that it was penned by prominent Khmer Rouge academic Stephen Heder. Mr. Heder's name does not appear on the report. "The actual source is someone who is considered an expert for this court…and who is someone who was involved in the investigation for a long time and I have knowledge that Steve Heder is the author of this report," Mr. Koppe said.

After the Trial Chamber upheld Mr. Lysak's objection, the Dutch lawyer—who was warned to "correct his behavior" by tribunal President Nil Nonn last week—took aim at the court again.

"What's happening here is an attempt to avoid evidence which may incriminate government members as perpetrators of the actual genocide, if there were any in 1975," he said.

"The defense is perfectly entitled to find out what happened in [19]75 and whether [current CPP Senator] Ouk Bunchhoeun and Hun Sen were involved in the killings."

In the afternoon, the court heard from civil party Sos Ponyamin, who was himself involved in a Cham rebellion against the Khmer Rouge in Svay Kleang village, two weeks after the Koh Phal uprising and following the discovery of plans to arrest 80 Cham people.

"We knew we would be killed anyway…but we did not have any choice but opting for a revolt, so that's what we did," he said.

Khmer Rouge death camp 'held killing competitions'
Arab News
By Agence France Presse
September 15, 2015

PHNOM PENH: Guards at a Khmer Rouge cadres held competitions to see how many prisoners they could murder in an hour, a court heard Monday, the latest harrowing testimony at the trial of two top regime leaders.

"Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 89, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 84, are on trial at a UN-backed court in Cambodia for the killing of ethnic Vietnamese and Muslim minorities, and for the regime's use of forced marriage and rape.

The pair have already been jailed at a previous trial for their pivotal role in a regime responsible for the death of up to two million Cambodians from 1975-1979.

Their first trial focused on the forced evacuation of Cambodians from Phnom Penh into rural labor camps and murders at an execution site.

Throughout the Khmer Rouge's brief but brutal time in power an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Cham Muslims and 20,000 Vietnamese were murdered by the regime.

Before these charges were filed, the mistreatment of the two minority groups was rarely discussed.

Witness Sen Srun, called to testify about the sufferings of Cambodia's Muslim minorities, told the court that thousands of people, including hundreds of Chams, were detained and murdered at Wat Au Trakuon, a pagoda which was turned into a detention center by the Khmer Rouge.

The witness estimated that up to 20,000 were killed at Wat Au Trakuon in the northeastern province of Kampong Cham.

Sen Srun added that Cham and Khmer women were often stripped naked and raped before they were killed. "It was widespread," Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia which researches the Khmer Rouge atrocities, told AFP.

He said "brainwashed" Khmer Rouge cadres often killed for promotion.

Last week the court heard how Cham Muslims were forced to eat pork and banned from speaking their language while copies of the Qur'an were "collected from houses and burned" by Khmer Rouge cadres.

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Iraq

Grotian Moment: The International War Crimes Trial Blog

Kurdistan Regional Government Applauds Bipartisan Legislation Recognizing Genocide Against Minorities in Iraq
PR Newswire
September 15, 2015

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) applauds and fully supports a bipartisan initiative in the United States Congress denouncing the persecution and genocide of Yezidis, Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.

The Iraqi minorities are in the midst of a genocide against their people, culture and heritage, and the first step to address these crimes is formal recognition of the atrocities in order to facilitate humanitarian aid, protection and faster refugee processing for these most vulnerable communities. To this end, the Congressional co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and the co-chairs of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ), introduced a resolution (H. Con. Res. 75) denouncing the atrocities as "war crimes," "crimes against humanity" and "genocide."

Iraq is witnessing the systematic killing of minorities and the crimes committed by ISIS include torture, murder and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Yezidis, Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks and others. These ethnic and religious minorities constitute an integral part of Iraq's cultural fabric and their persecution is in clear violation of national and international laws and treaties.

Unfortunately, the Kurds are no strangers to genocide, having experienced the systemic persecution of Kurdish communities in Iraq beginning in the 1960s. At the hands of Saddam Hussein, including during the Anfal campaign in the 1980s that included chemical weapons attacks at Halabja and other towns, hundreds of thousands of Kurds perished or disappeared, and families were torn apart.

During this latest genocide in Iraq, Kurdistan has served as an example of religious freedom, tolerance and justice, and it remains important now as ever, to send the world a message of support for international conventions and human rights. Critically, H. Con. Res. 75 recognizes Kurdistan as a safe haven for Iraqi minorities fleeing the violence of ISIS.

KRG representative to the United States, the honorable Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, said "The people and government of the Kurdistan region have welcomed with open arms and are currently caring for approximately 1.8 million refugees and displaced people who have fled violence in Iraq and Syria. The KRG will continue to work with the Congress to achieve formal recognition of this genocide by the US government in order to help those in need, prevent further atrocities and punish those responsible."

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Syria

Satellite Images Confirm Major Temple Destroyed in Syria's Palmyra
The Rakyat Post
September 2, 2015

Satellite images have confirmed the destruction of the Temple of Bel, which was one of the best preserved Roman-era sites in the Syrian city of Palmyra, a United Nations agency said, after activists said the hardline Islamic State group had targeted it.

A comparison of before and after images shows the damage to the temple at the Unesco World Heritage site, the Geneva-based United Nations Institute for Training and Research (Unitar) said.

"We can confirm the destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity," the agency said in an email.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and other activists said on Sunday that Islamic State had destroyed part of the more than 2,000-year-old temple, one of Palmyra's most important monuments.

This came a week after the militants blew up another smaller site in the central desert city.

Palmyra was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, according to cultural agency Unesco, which has described it as the crossroads of several civilisations. Its main colonnaded street is 1km long and forms the monumental axis of the city.

The head of Unesco said in a statement the destruction of what it described "as one of the most important first century religious monuments in the Middle East," was an "intolerable crime against civilisation".

"The power of culture is greater than that of all forms of extremism and nothing can stop it," director-general Irina Bokova said.

"Whoever saw Palmyra remains forever marked by the memory of the city which embodies the dignity of the entire Syrian people and humanity's loftiest aspirations," she added.

Information on events inside Palmyra has been patchy since the militants seized it from government forces in May. Activists said the fighters are closely monitoring communications inside the city.

Islamic State has declared a caliphate in territory it holds across Syria and Iraq and has destroyed other monuments it said are pagan and sacrilegious. Unesco has called such acts war crimes and said Islamic State seeks to wipe out evidence of Syria's diverse heritage.

Before the capture of the city, Syrian officials said they had moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations.

Last month Islamic State beheaded the guardian of Palmyra's ruins, Khaled al-Asaad, an 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who had looked after the site for more than four decades, according to Syria's antiquities chief.

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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Minneapolis Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL
U.S. Department of Justice
September 09, 2015

Hanad Mustofe Musse, 19, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with at least eight other individuals to travel to Syria in an effort to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Musse was initially charged by criminal complaint on April 20, 2015, and was subsequently indicted on May 19, 2015. Musse pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis of the District of Minnesota.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota made the announcement.

"Hanad Mustofe Musse conspired to provide material support to ISIL and attempted to travel to Syria to join their ranks overseas," said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. "The National Security Division's highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations."

"The facts set forth in Mr. Musse's guilty plea underscore the length and breadth of this criminal conspiracy," said U.S. Attorney Luger. "This defendant made multiple attempts to leave Minnesota to join ISIL—criminal prosecution was the best remaining option to stop him and potentially save his life. Twin Cities' youth continue to be the targets of an intense recruiting campaign by ISIL. Fighting back is the shared responsibility of a wide cross-section of Minnesotans—parents, religious leaders, teachers, community leaders and law enforcement. We must continue to work together to end the cycle of recruiting."

As the defendant admitted in his guilty plea, between March and June 2014, Musse became aware of individuals in the United States and abroad who had traveled or desired to travel overseas to join ISIL. Musse joined this group of aspiring travelers with the understanding that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorism and terrorist activity. The defendant participated in several meetings throughout 2014 in which he and his co-conspirators discussed traveling to Syria to join ISIL, including how they would pay for such travel, what routes they could take from Minnesota to Syria to best elude law enforcement and the feasibility of using fraudulent travel documents to travel to Syria.

Musse also admitted in his plea that by June 2014, he knew that co-conspirator Abdi Nur had successfully traveled to Syria and that co-conspirator Abdullahi Yusuf had attempted to travel to Syria but had been stopped by law enforcement at the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, International Airport. Nevertheless, Musse continued to make preparations to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Between Oct. 20, 2014, and Nov. 6, 2014, Musse made five cash withdrawals from his federal financial aid account totaling $2,400. He deposited those funds in a personal checking account that he opened on Nov. 3, 2014. Musse later used those funds to purchase a bus ticket from Minneapolis to New York City.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, on Nov. 6, 2014, Musse and co-conspirators Mohamed Farah, Hamza Ahmed and Zacharia Abdurahman purchased bus tickets from Minneapolis to New York City, where they met at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). While at JFK, Musse purchased a round-trip ticket to Athens, Greece, which he planned to use as a transit point from which to travel to Syria. Musse knew that Abdurahman purchased a ticket on the same flight for the same purpose. After being prevented by federal agents from boarding his flight, Musse lied to the agents about the true nature of his travel.

The defendant admitted in his guilty plea that after their failed November 2014 attempt to fly overseas, Musse and co-conspirators Mohamed Farah, Abdurahman and Ahmed met to discuss and coordinate false responses to anticipated law enforcement questions in an effort to conceal their intention to travel to Syria to join ISIL.

Musse admitted in his guilty plea that he continued to meet with his co-conspirators throughout the winter and spring of 2015 to discuss and plan another attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIL. As a result of some of those meetings, Musse willingly agreed to participate in a scheme to obtain false passports, travel from Minnesota to Mexico and fly overseas to join ISIL using those false passports. On April 6, 2015, Musse provided a passport photo of himself to a co-conspirator for the purpose of creating a fake passport. Unbeknownst to the defendant, the individual was a cooperating human source (CHS). When Musse's family learned of his plan to travel, Musse requested the return of the photograph from the CHS. However, Musse admits that he did not withdraw from the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL when he sought return of the passport photo. Rather, Musse was attempting to preserve the viability of his and his co-conspirators' future travel to Syria.

This case is being investigated by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and John F. Docherty of the District of Minnesota, with assistance provided by the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.

German Charged With Islamic State Membership
The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
September 9, 2015

German prosecutors say they have charged a 25-year-old German man with membership in a terrorist organization over allegations he joined the Islamic State group in Syria.

The federal prosecutor's office said Wednesday that the suspect, identified only as Nils D. in line with German privacy regulations, traveled to Syria around October 2013 to join the group.

They say he received firearms and explosives training and, from April to November 2014, was tasked with tracking down deserters.

He's also alleged to have provided the organization up to 9,000 euros ($10,060).

He returned to Germany in November 2014 and was arrested Jan. 10 in the Duesseldorf area. He has been in custody since.

Authorities say there's no evidence he was planning attacks in Germany.

Fort Lee Man, 21, Conspired To Provide Material Support To Islamic State of Iraq and ISIL
The Bergen Dispatch
By Paul Nichols
September 9, 2015

A Bergen County, New Jersey, man admitted today that he conspired to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, and Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI's Newark Division announced.

Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to provide services and personnel to ISIL. He remains detained without bail.

"The crimes Samuel Topaz admitted today threatened the safety of Americans here and abroad," U.S. Attorney Fishman said. "Our efforts to cut off the flow of fighters and resources to known terrorist organizations will not stop with his guilty plea. We have charges pending against his conspirators and remain vigilant against these terrorist operations."

"Samuel Rahamin Topaz conspired to provide material support to ISIL and sought to travel overseas with others to fight on behalf of the designated foreign terrorist organization," Assistant Attorney General Carlin said. "Counterterrorism is the National Security Division's highest priority, and we remain committed to stemming the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bringing to justice those who attempt to provide material support to terrorists."

"Samuel Topaz admitted to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) today in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey," Special Agent in Charge Frankel said. "Now Topaz will face up to 20 years in prison rather than take up arms overseas. Disrupting recruitment efforts by terrorist organizations and preventing acts of terror remains the FBI's number one priority, and due to the unflagging efforts of the Newark FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force this threat was eliminated. I ask the citizens of New Jersey to remain vigilant and contact the FBI if they see or hear something suspicious."

According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:

Topaz admitted that prior to his arrest by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force on June 17, 2015, he planned to travel overseas to join ISIL and had saved up money for that purpose. Topaz discussed plans to join ISIL with Nader Saadeh, Alaa Saadeh, and Munther Omar Saleh, and admitted that at various times each of them indicated that they wanted to join ISIL. Topaz also admitted they all watched ISIL-related videos, some of which depicted the execution of non-Muslims and individuals regarded as apostates from Islam.

On May 5, 2015, Nader Saadeh departed the United States with plans to travel overseas to join ISIL as part of the conspiracy, according to Topaz's statements in court today. Topaz further admitted that he and others planned to travel overseas separately, meet up with Nader Saadeh, and then travel together to join ISIL. After Nader Saadeh left the United States, Topaz met with Munther Omar Saleh and contacted Alaa Saadeh to discuss those plans.

Topaz admitted knowing that ISIL was a designated terrorist organization and was taking over territory overseas, expelling non-Muslims from their homes, and executing individuals who did not obey ISIL's commands. The count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18, 2015.

Topaz' alleged conspirators are being prosecuted and are currently in federal custody. Nader Saadeh and Alaa Saadeh have been charged in separate criminal complaints brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey with conspiring to provide material support to ISIL, among other charges. Munther Omar Saleh has been indicted on terrorism-related charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. The charges and allegations against them are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Frankel in Newark, and the JTTF, with the investigation leading to today's guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys L. Judson Welle, Dennis C. Carletta, and Francisco J. Navarro of the U.S. Attorney's Office National Security Unit in Newark, with assistance the assistance of Trial Attorney Robert Sander of the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.

The United States of ISIS: More Popular Than Al Qaeda Ever Was
The Daily Beast
By Katie Zavadski
September 11, 2015

Fourteen years after the war on terror began, the Islamic State has drawn more Americans to its cause than its predecessor.

In April, a 16-year-old in South Carolina was charged with illegal weapons possession in family court, but this was no routine gun case. Prosecutors claimed the Syrian-American teen planned to shoot up a U.S. Army base for ISIS. He and an older man allegedly planned to move to Syria and continue fighting for ISIS there.

Police said they found an ISIS flag in the teen's room during a search. Because South Carolina doesn't have its own terrorism statute, the state charged him with possession of a firearm by a minor. He pleaded out and is in juvenile detention, where he might remain until age 21.

This overlooked case is one of more than 66 against Americans for making common cause with ISIS since the beginning of 2014. For all the talk of al Qaeda "sleeper cells" after the 9/11 attacks, the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS has drawn far more people to its cause inside the U.S. and from a broad swath of the Muslim population.

"The typical American recruit is anything but typical," Seamus Hughes of George Washington University's Program on Extremism told The Daily Beast. "They run a spectrum between loners online to hardened fighters."

The majority of the ISIS cases, involving several dozen people, allege they planned to join the caliphate in the Middle East. Half of the total cases involved FBI informants and agents, which has opened the U.S. government to criticism of inflating the ISIS threat through entrapment.

Several cases include women who sought to marry someone in ISIS. Others stand accused of providing material support—money, guns, or sending other people—to ISIS. A few were busted for essentially saying online that they supported ISIS. At least seven people are accused of plotting terrorist attacks at home.

Here are the five groups the accused American supporters of ISIS fit into:

THE LONE WOLVES

ISIS plans to establish a caliphate, starting in the Middle East. That, though, hasn't stopped American enthusiasts from planning attacks inside the U.S. for ISIS.

Last May two Arizona men tried to attack a "Draw Muhammad" contest in Garland, Texas, but were killed by two cops parked near the back entrance. Their attack was publicized by an ISIS propagandist on Twitter, who claimed it as the group's first attack inside America. Another man was charged in relation to it months later. Just weeks later in Boston, another man was killed by police as he allegedly planned to behead "boys in blue." Two other men were later charged in the plot.

Two cousins from Illinois made contact with undercover FBI agents in their alleged effort to join ISIS. Hasan and Jonas Edmonds were allegedly planning to move to Syria with the latter's family, but got delayed. "Honestly, we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did," Hasan allegedly told the undercover agent, referencing the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Prosecutors allege that Hasan, an Illinois National Guardsman, gave Jonas detailed instructions on how to carry out an attack at a National Guard training center. They had a very detailed number of expected casualties: 120. Hasan is said to have provided information on what the rooms looked like and when to attack. He even offered to take the undercover agent an itemized list of potential victims, based on rank, in what seems like the most concrete of alleged plots foiled.

A group of other men in New York and New Jersey were arrested just before Independence Day. Officials said some of them had been seen casing New York City landmarks, looking for an easy target. At least one of them told his parents he would go to Syria or they could "watch me kill non-Muslims here."

One of them, Fareed Mumuni, 21, was also accused of trying to stab an FBI agent who came to his home on Staten Island. Body armor shielded the agent from serious injuries.

THE BRIDES

Ten of the 66 accused are women. Most wanted to marry men of ISIS.

Shannon Maureen Conley, a Colorado teen who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization, was smitten with a Tunisian man whom she planned to join in Syria. Portrayed by her attorneys and the media as an awkward misfit, she found her calling among fellow ISIS enthusiasts online who convinced the nurse's aide that her skills could be useful on the battlefield. Conley was arrested before boarding a plane bound for Turkey, from where she would've crossed into Syria.

Conley would have found her life severely limited, which makes the allure of ISIS to American women a little puzzling. Dress codes in the caliphate dictate women be fully covered. Women are largely limited to being wives and stay-at-home mothers. Rape is omnipresent. A few elite wives, however, are known to be be integral to day-to-day operations of the caliphate, acting as advisers and overseeing sex slaves.

Some American women accused of supporting ISIS were not content to play housewife, however.

The FBI alleges Asia Siddique and Noelle Velentzas of New York tried to become amateur bomb-makers who would blow up landmarks in the city—roles they never would have been allowed to hold under ISIS rule.

"Why we can't be some real bad bitches?" Velentzas allegedly said after pulling a knife from her bra.

While Jaelyn Young allegedly made plans to run off and join ISIS with her fiancé, a Mississippi imam's son, she wasn't following him either.

"I'm the one who made the contacts," Young allegedly boasted to the FBI. "I'm the one who made the plans."

THE FINANCIERS

Wannabe jihadists don't have to move to Syria to help ISIS, however. Nor do they need to launch attacks here at home. Money and supplies work, too.

A group of six Bosnians, two of them U.S. citizens, were charged in February in the largest ISIS-financing bust. Authorities accused them of sending money and weapons to militants overseas, namely another Bosnian-American who was not charged in the indictment.

Among the items they are alleged to have sent to ISIS: money, U.S. military uniforms, combat boots, and accessories for firearms. The materials were allegedly sent to intermediaries who then transferred them to the Bosnian-American inside Syria.

Using Facebook chat transcripts and records of wire transfer service transactions, authorities claimed the group had transferred thousands of dollars while referring to ISIS members as "ours" in chats.

In New York, Abror Habibov and Dilkhayot Kasimov allegedly helped two other men raise funds to go fight in Syria. The complaints allege that Kasimov even delivered funds to one of the men when he was at the airport - just before authorities stopped him from boarding his flight.

THE FANBOYS

While some people allegedly provided material support to ISIS in the form of money or goods, others were arrested and charged for voicing their support on social media, where ISIS does most of its recruiting.

Heather Elizabeth Coffman's cover photo on Facebook said "We Are All ISIS," according to prosecutors, and she said her job was "jihad for Allah's sake." The FBI said she lied about these statements when it asked Coffman about them. She pleaded guilty to making a false statement about a terrorism investigation and was sentenced to 54 months in prison.

Muhanad Badawi, a California man, was accused of conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State by allegedly giving his credit card to a friend who bought a plane ticket with it. Prosecutors used Badawi and his friend's alleged pro-ISIS tweets to establish a link between them and ISIS.

THE TERRORIST ARMY RECRUITS

Through social media, the Islamic State has recruited dozens of would-be fighters from America to join the cause in Syria and Iraq.

Nicholas Teausant, a convert from California, was among those whose criminal complaint alleges a long history of threats about how he would help ISIS and what he would do to make his way to Syria. FBI informants said he vowed to kill his mother if she stood in his way. In particularly cruel moments, he allegedly acknowledged that just tying her up would allow him to escape, but then clarified that execution would give him more satisfaction.

In Buffalo, a father of grown children was arrested for allegedly plotting to go join ISIS, and recruiting others to come with him. Arafat Nagi, 44, allegedly pledged allegiance to the caliph, and an FBI informant made plans with him to "elicit information" about going to Syria.

While three Americans believed to be in Syria have been charged, dozens more have not—sometimes identified only when relatives are informed of their deaths in battle with other groups. At least two presumed Americans killed in battle have not yet been publicly identified, despite photos circulating on the Web. They went by the noms de guerre Abu Abdullah al Amriki and Abu Dawoud al Amriki.

The only American soldiers killed so far in the ISIS war were the ones fighting for ISIS. They will not likely be the last.

Brother of San Diego ISIS Fighter Charged With Lying to FBI
The New York Times
By The Associated Press
September 14, 2015

A San Diego man was charged Monday with lying to the FBI during an investigation into his brother, who is believed to be the first American jihadist killed in Syria while fighting for the Islamic State

Marchello McCain, 33, is accused in an indictment of providing false information about his brother's travel to Syria and how he financed the trip, federal prosecutors said.

McCain already faces gun possession charges. His lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.

The brother, Douglas McCain, 33, was reportedly killed a year ago while fighting with the Islamic State, the extremist group trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad. Douglas McCain traveled to Syria to follow his basketball buddy from Minneapolis into the terrorism fight.

Douglas McCain, who last lived in San Diego, once said in a Twitter feed that embracing Islam was the best thing he'd ever done. He was following Islamic State group fighters on Twitter, but it's unclear what prompted him to join the fight.

US teen arrested for allegedly 'plotting Isil-inspired attack on Pope Francis'
The Telegraph
By David Lawler
September 15, 2015

A teenage boy was arrested last month in Philadelphia for allegedly plotting an Isil-inspired attack on a "foreign dignitary".

The target of the attack has now reportedly been identified as Pope Francis, who will visit Philadelphia next week as part of a tour of the US.

The FBI said last month that the 15-year-old boy had used social media to attempt to coordinate at attack on a "high-profile event".

Separately, Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said authorities had "disrupted one particular case" of threats against Pope Francis.

Mr McCaul and the FBI were referring to the same plot, according to a report from ABC News. "The minor was inspired by [Isil] and sought to conduct a detailed homeland attack which included multiple attackers, firearms, and multiple explosives, targeting a foreign dignitary at a high-profile event," the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said in a joint intelligence bulletin in August.

"The minor obtained explosives instructions and further disseminated these instructions through social media," the bulletin said.

Pope Francis's largest public appearances during his US visit will come in Philadelphia, where he will address an estimated two million people during two outdoor events. The attack plans were in early stages and the FBI did not believe they constituted any imminent threat. Law enforcement officials have made assurances that there are no specific and credible threats concerning Pope Francis's visit.

The teen was charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist activity, and also with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organisation, namely Isil.

The chief of police in New York has warned that Pope Francis's presence there will constitute "the largest security challenge the department and the city will ever face". Pope Francis's first US stop will be in Washington, where he will arrive next Tuesday. He will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House and address the US Congress. He will travel to New York two days later, where he will address the United Nations general assembly and give a mass at Madison Square Garden.

Philadelphia will be his third and final stop.

California Resident Pleads Guilty To Providing Material Support To ISIL
Newsroom America
September 15, 2015

Adam Dandach, 21, of Orange, California, has pleaded guilty to a two-count second superseding information charging him with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and making a false statement in a passport application. According to court documents, on July 1, 2014, Dandach purchased a ticket to fly from Santa Ana, California, to Istanbul.

The FBI intercepted Dandach at the John Wayne International Airport the following day.

Dandach told FBI special agents that his ultimate destination was Syria and that he intended to pledge allegiance to ISIL's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He explained that he wished to live under the control of ISIL and intended to undergo weapons training.

Dandach also admitted that he made a false statement in a passport application, namely that he had lost his previous passport. In fact, a family member had taken Dandach's passport from him during the previous year when he expressed an interest in traveling to Syria.

Dandach faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years for making a false statement in a passport application.

Third accused ISIS recruit expected to plead guilty
Minnesota Public Radio
By Mukhtar Ibrahim
September 16, 2015

A Minnesota man accused of allegedly conspiring to join the terrorist group ISIS is expected to plead guilty Thursday, according to a federal court filing.

Zacharia Abdurahman, 20, was arrested April 19 at his home in Columbia Heights. He was charged with conspiracy and attempting to provide material support to ISIS. He is being held at the Sherburne County Jail.

Abdurahman will be the third man to plead guilty in the federal investigation into eight Minnesota men arrested on charges of trying to enlist with the brutal terrorist group.

Hanad Musse, 19, one of six men arrested on a single day in April, pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to support ISIS. Abdullahi Yusuf, 19, pleaded to a similar charge in February and is now cooperating with the government.

In November 2014, Abdurahman, Musse, Mohamed Farah and Hamza Ahmed were stopped at a New York City airport as they allegedly tried to catch planes that would help them get to Syria. A 2013 graduate of Heritage Academy of Science and Technology, Abdurahman was studying information technology at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, according to his mother. He also participated in an intensive, yearlong internship on computer systems with Hennepin County.

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Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Official Website of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon
In Focus: Special Tribunal for Lebanon (UN)

STL Verdict for Journalists' Case Due Sept. 18
The Daily Star
September 5, 2015

Contempt Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Nicola Lettieri scheduled for Sept. 18 the judgment in the controversial case against Al-Jadeed s.a.l. and journalist Karma al-Khayat. The public hearing will commence at 9:30 a.m. CET and will be broadcast live.

The case began in April, and stems from a series of broadcasts aired by Al-Jadeed television station in 2012 entitled "The Witnesses of the International Tribunal," which revealed information about the alleged confidential witnesses at the STL. The tribunal has maintained that the broadcasts were a concerted effort to undermine the public's confidence in the court. Khayat and Al-Jadeed both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

If found guilty, the two parties could face up to seven years in jail and fined 100,000 euros ($111,456) Khayat is the deputy news editor of Al-Jadeed.

Khayat has said appropriate measures were taken to protect the identities of the alleged witnesses, and the public had a right to know about leaks coming from the court.

The amicus prosecutor and the defense counsel delivered closing remarks in June.

The prosecutor asked that the TV station be fined a maximum of 6 million euros and that Khayat be imprisoned for two years and fined 200,000 euros.

Karim Khan, who was defending Khayat and Al-Jadeed against corruption and obstruction charges, insisted that the amicus prosecutor had failed to prove that his clients had intentionally set out to undermine the tribunal when it aired and posted online the series in August 2012.

Retailer of Red Network Numbers Begins STL Testimony
The Daily Star
By Alexis Lai
September 9, 2015

The owner of the Tripoli mobile shop that sold the eight mobile phone numbers comprising the alleged red network involved in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri began testifying to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Monday.

The witness, publicly identified as PRH 553 under protective measures secured by the prosecution, opened a small mobile phone shop in Tripoli in 1999, selling prepaid SIM cards, recharge cards, mobile handsets, and accessories on wholesale and retail basis.

Testifying via video link from Beirut, the owner, whose voice and image was scrambled in the public broadcast, explained that another protected witness, PRH 568, was his shop manager and sole employee. This man had much more experience in the mobile phone industry, leading the owner to delegate to him extensive responsibility, including the majority of supplier dealings.

From late 2004 to early 2005, the key period in contention, the shop purchased Alfa and mtc prepaid SIM cards from various distributors, including Power Group, whose owner took the stand last week. Regarding his wholesale business, the shop owner testified he sold products to 23 local shops during that period. He cited his dominant market position to offering lower wholesale prices, made possible through bulk buying discounts secured from his distributors.

While the shop owner claimed he did not keep any wholesale or retail business records, the prosecution used documents from his distributors and customers to implicate him in the procurement of the eight prepaid mobile phone lines in the red network, one of which allegedly belonged to defendant Salim Ayyash.

The prosecution noted that the eight numbers corresponded to serial codes belonging to a batch of Alfa prepaid SIM cards listed on a Power Group delivery note dated Dec. 24, 2004. The note showed the order was placed by the shop manager and received by the owner. The end user application forms for the eight numbers were all dated Jan. 12, 2005.

The owner testified it was uncommon for customers of prepaid SIM cards to fill out application forms, and the eight in question were completed by the shop. The serial number, purchase information and signature were in his handwriting, although he said he did not know who had filled in the phone and serial numbers. The Jan. 12 date may or may not reflect the actual date of purchase, but he confirmed the eight forms had all been filled in on the same date.

The owner repeatedly insisted it was difficult to recall the turnover time between the receipt and final sale of SIM cards, only saying the holiday season was busy.

He also testified it was extremely rare for prepaid SIM customers to provide proper identification – a Lebanese ID card – typically leaving him to attach a copy of another person's ID to be able to send a complete form to the distributor for a $3 rebate. The distributor, in turn, would forward them to Alfa or mtc, also for a fee per complete form. At the time, distributors and service providers did not object to the use of false IDs, he said.

In the remaining half hour, Guenael Mettraux, a lawyer for defendant Assad Sabra, began his cross-examination. The witness had testified to the prosecution that had he known the true identities of the customers of the eight numbers, he would avoid the nearly three years he subsequently served in jail for falsifying personal information and withholding information. But Mettraux alleged the witness admitted to investigative magistrate Elias Eid in 2005 that he knew their identities.

Witness 553 is scheduled to continue his testimony until Thursday.

Database Administrator Testifies at STL
The Daily Star
By Ned Whalley
September 15, 2015

Database administrator Spartak Mkrtchyan testified before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Monday, shedding light on how the prosecution transformed years of call data records into a usable resource for their investigation.

Mkrtchyan, who has worked for the U.N., was asked by prosecution counsel Fabia Wong to detail the services he provided for the Office of the Prosecutor, which involved converting records turned over by network providers into databases which could be queried by investigators.

Mkrtchyan spent much of the session explaining the process by which the raw network records data was transferred into what is known as a structured query language database. He detailed how his office was presented with massive text files by network providers, which contained information on incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, including their duration, location, and a host of other information.

Based on the information, Mkrtchyan testified that he and his assistant used software called data transformation packages to translate the text files into a secure, structured repository that they had built practically from scratch.

In the database's final form, investigators for the OTP could use stored procedures to search for calls made and received by different phones over any specified timeframe.

Mkrtchyan refused to be drawn into further discussion of the data, to the frustration of Trial Chamber President Judge David Re, and at times refused to elaborate even on the significance of values in tables he had constructed. He portrayed himself solely as facilitating the conversion of the raw information he received into a uniform, collated format that could be utilized by others.

STL Defense Questions Witness Over Call Records
The Daily Star
By Ned Whalley
September 16, 2015

Database administrator Spartak Mkrtchyan testified for another day before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday, as both he and the expert witness hired to audit his work had the relevancy of their efforts brought into question.

Defense counselors repeatedly challenged the provenance of call data records, which Mkrtchyan had spent years compiling into a searchable database for the Office of the Prosecutor. The conversion of the records into what is termed a Structured Query Language database allowed investigators to efficiently examine billions of call logs.

Call data records are a crucial component of the prosecution's case against the five defendants – all members of Hezbollah – who are being tried in absentia for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Valentine's Day 2005. The prosecution has spent considerable time elucidating technical evidence to the judges, contending that the defendants could be identified and their movements traced by the cellphones used to orchestrate bombing.

But as defense counselors emphasized, and Mkrtchyan readily conceded, he had not received call data records directly from the telecommunications networks. The logs were turned over to the tribunal by Lebanese authorities, and transferred to him by the prosecution's Evidence Management Unit. Questioning the integrity of this chain of custody, the defense sought to cast the data as potentially having been compromised before Mkrtchyan even received it, circumventing testimony on the accuracy and security of his database.

Mkrtchyan was steadfast in asserting that such manipulation fell beyond the scope of his work. "My job was only to upload the data."

The defense cast similar aspersions on the value of testimony provided by the next witness, Prof. Peter Sommers, an expert in digital evidence and the storage of communications data hired by the OTP to audit Mkrtchyan's work. His primary submission was a written audit of the database. Sommers testified that he was "very impressed with quality of the work," adding, "The conclusion I came to was that a very thorough job had been done."

Under cross-examination, the defense again raised the prospect of manipulation. "In the past it was relatively easy to change the hardware identity of the phone – it could be done with relatively simple equipment," Sommers said.

Though not as reticent as Mkrtchyan, Sommers also made clear that the scope of his audit was limited to the database itself, and that he had been instructed to make certain assumptions about the provenance of the records when evaluating it.

He understood that he had been retained for "quality assurance."

"If there was extensive manipulation before they reached The Hague, that was not my remit."

Sommers was also asked about the contemporary performance of Lebanese cellular, and whether calls might not show up on the records, or otherwise be recorded or sited incorrectly by the networks themselves. It was contended that such errors or omissions would be unnoticeable in Mkrtchyan's database.

Though professing no direct knowledge of Lebanon or the state of its cellular infrastructure in 2005, Sommers echoed other expert cell site witnesses, maintaining that networks have a "constant preoccupation with quality of service," and "have a solid business reason for collecting that information accurately."

But in his testimony he also acknowledged the limits of the technology on which so much of the prosecution's case is founded.

"Mobile phone evidence, geo-location evidence only takes you so far. You have to look at the reconstruction of events to see if it makes sense."

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Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

One ICT to be Deactivated as Number of War Crimes Dwindle
BDNews 24
September 4, 2015

The law secretary told the press about the initiative on Thursday.

"A proposal has been prepared to keep one of the two International Crimes Tribunals (ICT) in operation. The other will be kept in abeyance.

"It will not be dismantled, however. It can be reactivated the moment the government wants," he said.

If the proposal was accepted, a notification could be issued around Monday.

The ICT was constituted in 2010 to try war criminals of 1971 with Justice Nizamul Huq as the chairman and Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and retired district judge AKM Zaheer Ahmed as its members.

The second tribunal was formed on Mar 23, 2012 with Justice ATM Fazle Kabir as chairman after three more members were inducted into ICT-1.

The two other members of the three-member ICT-1 were Justice Obaidul Hassan and tribunal registrar Mohammad Shahinur Islam. Justice Anwarul Haque replaced Justice Fazle Kabir in ICT-1.

That year Justice Jahangir Hossain of the Supreme Court's High Court Division replaced Zaheer Ahmed after he resigned on health grounds.

Justice Fazle Kabir was brought back as the chairman of ICT-1 after Justice Nizamul Huq quit in the face of a controversy over his alleged conversation with a person on Skype.

After Justice Kabir's retirement, Justice M Enayetur Rahim took over as the chairman of ICT-1. Its other two members at present are Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Anwarul Haq.

Justice Obaidul Hassan is the current chairman of ICT-2. The other two members are Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Shahinur Islam.

Tribunal Takes Cognisance of War Crimes Charges Against Former JP MP Shakhawat Hossain, 8 Others
BDNews 24
September 9, 2015

The ICT-1 led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim, however, acquitted three others off the charges brought by the prosecutions on Tuesday.

The eight others, who will be prosecuted, are Md Billal Hossain Biswas, Md Ibrahim Hossain, Sheikh Md Mojibur Rahman, MA Aziz Sardar, Abdul Aziz Sardar, Kazi Ohidul Islam, Md Lutfur Morhal and Md Abdul Khalek.

JP leader Shakhawat Hossain and Billal Biswas are in jail now.

"The court has set Sep 30 for the next day for hearing and ordered arrest of the seven absconding," Prosecutor Rezia Sultana told reporters.

She said that the court acquitted three—Md Akram Hossain, Azihar Morhal and Moshiur Rahman—for insufficient prima facie evidence to back the charges.

Of them, Hossain and Morhal are in jail while Rahman is absconding.

The prosecution's investigation wing started probing against the 12 persons in February 2012. The investigation report was filed to the tribunal in June this year.

Shakhawat Hossain, who is the religious affairs secretary of JP, had been a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

He was elected MP from Jessore-6 from the Jamaat in 1991, but left the party before the term and joined the BNP.

Hossain, who is better known as Maulana Shakhawat, has often switched political parties.

He was even in the LDP and the PDP. But during the 2014 national election, he got JP's nomination from Jessore-6, but did not win the polls.

The charges

Abduction, confinement, torture and rape of a woman at Keshabpur Upazila's Boga Village.

Abduction, torture and murder of Chandtulya Gazi and his son Atiyar of Keshabpur Upazila's Chingra Village.

Abduction and torture of Md Nuruddin Morhal of Keshabpur Upazila's Chingra Village.

Abduction, torture and murder of Abdul Malek Sardar of Keshabpur Upazila's Hijaldanga Village.

Abduction, torture and murder of Miron Sheikh of of Keshabpur Upazila's Mahadebpur Village; arson and looting several houses of the village.

Supreme Court Starts Hearing Nizami's Appeal Against War Crimes Verdict
BDNews 24
September 9, 2015

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam started by reading out the charges to the four-member appeals bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Wednesday.

The other members of bench are Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Hasan Foez Siddique.

This is the sixth appeal against a war crimes verdict to be heard by the apex court.

On Oct 29 last year, the International Crimes Tribunal-1, chaired by Justice M Enayetur Rahim sentenced him to hang till death, nearly a year after the case was wrapped up.

The tribunal said in its unanimous verdict that eight of the 16 charges levelled against him had been proven.

The charges included spearheading the execution of intellectuals, mass killing, rape and loot during the nine months of bloodshed in 1971.

The 71-year-old, already carrying a death sentence in the 10-truck arms haul case, headed a militia group, which carried out a systematic campaign of torture and execution of pro-liberation elements during the 1971 war.

Nizami moved the Appellate Division on Nov 23 against the verdict.

He cited 168 reasons for letting him walk free in the 6,252-page appeal that include supporting documents.

The top appeals court on Sep 13, 2013 upheld the death verdict of Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary General Abdul Quader Mollah. He was executed on Dec 12 that year.

A year later, the apex court commuted Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee's punishment from death penalty to spending the rest of his life in prison.

However, a review of the order is pending since a copy of the full verdict is yet to be published.

On Nov 3, 2013, the court upheld the war crime tribunal's verdict for Jamaat's Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and he was hanged on Apr 11, 2014.

On Jun 16, the Appellate Division upheld the death sentence handed to Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mojaheed. However, his execution is awaiting publication of the full verdict.

The court also upheld the death sentence of BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury on July 29.

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Piracy

Hijack Feared as Malaysian Ship with Indian Crew Goes Missing in South China Sea
NDTV
September 10, 2015

A cargo ship missing for a week with 14 crew members, including Indians, is feared to have been hijacked in the piracy-prone South China Sea, prompting Malaysian maritime authorities to launch a search today.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said a commercial vessel had reportedly spotted the missing ship about 23 nautical miles west of Miri yesterday evening and had notified the owners of the vessel MV Sah Lian.

"The ship was reported to have a damaged gearbox and propeller crankshaft," MMEA officials said.

"This morning the owner informed us and we quickly deployed our vessel," they said.

The owners of the Malaysian-registered vessel lost contact with it on September 3 while it travelled along the Malaysian state of Sarawak with a crew of 14, including Indians.

"We believe this ship has been hijacked and taken out of Malaysian waters. We believe it could be in Indonesian waters near the Natuna islands," said First Admiral Ismaili Bujang Pit, the state's coast guard chief.

The MV Sah Lian was said to be carrying a mixed cargo including iron products, piping and food from Kuching to the town of Limbang.

Southeast Asian waters are the world's most piracy-prone, according to London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

In June, a Malaysian tanker was hijacked in the South China Sea. A week after the hijacking, eight suspected Indonesian pirates were arrested on a Vietnamese island after apparently fleeing the tanker in a lifeboat.

Maritime Security: a Common Approach
IHS Maritime 360
Titus Zheng
September 14, 2015

The greatest deterrence to armed robbery and piracy in the waters of the Southeast Asia may not be deploying multibillion dollar warships or having massive joint navy patrols up and down the regional shipping channels.

It may lie instead in introducing a simple unified code of law and order, a common judicial system that is set out to prosecute sea robbers and pirates who are caught by the different maritime authorities scattered throughout the Southeast Asia region.

Southeast Asia is unique in terms of maritime geography as it is really a vast archipelago, with its myriad waters divided among various sovereign states that share close borders.

These divided territorial waters prove to be a good hunting ground for sea robbers and pirates, as they can commit a crime in one part of the sea, then slip away to a new area under a completely different jurisdiction that favours them.

Adding to this confusion, the maritime enforcement authorities themselves are sometimes reluctant to pursue sea robbers and pirates out of their own national waters, fearing they might be trespassing into another sovereignty's waters is they do.

Such hesitation can often mean the perpetrators get off scot-free, prompting more daring raids in the future. Thus, the whole vicious cycle continues, with maritime law enforcement always on the back pedal, playing catch-up in a perpetual hide-and-seek game.

This paradox was highlighted in the recent fuel-siphoning incident of Malaysia-flagged vessel Orkim Harmony in June 2015. Initially, the tanker was off Malaysia when it went missing off the radar.

Later, the tanker was located by an Australian patrol aircraft; the crew were then rescued by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

Eight alleged perpetrators who had fled the tanker in its rescue boat were subsequently arrested by the Vietnam Coast Guard, while the Indonesian authorities managed to recover a tug boat, suspected of being used for the fuel siphoning. Finally, in August 2015 the Indonesian authorities arrested the alleged mastermind behind the hijacking.

From this incident, we can see that maritime crime is often cross-border in nature, leading to questions about where and under which country's judicial system the perpetrators should be prosecuted - where the crime occurred, or where the alleged perpetrators were arrested?

Logically speaking, there should be one set of rules and regulations to deal with such offenders that applies across the region, rather than legal action occurring just in the country where they happen to be arrested. However, that will take a collective effort by Southeast Asian countries to agree a regional legal framework to bring standardised charges against cross-border maritime offenders.

ICC Commercial Crime Services: Global Reporting Mechanism Required to Curtail Piracy
Hellenic Shipping News
ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB)
September 16, 2015

In the shadow of alarming global statistics showing a continual increase in the number of piracy and armed robbery attacks against merchant ships, an international gathering of key maritime stakeholders discussed the major risks in a changing threat environment.

These discussions took place at the IMB International Meeting on Global Piracy, Armed Robbery and Maritime Security on 14 and 15 September in Kuala Lumpur, where more than 200 delegates from 30 countries assembled. Reflecting the cooperation between civil and governmental entities, the meeting was organised by the ICC International Maritime Bureau was co-hosted by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Interpol and the Royal Malaysian Police.95

The keynote speech delivered by the Malaysian Deputy Home Minister commented on the resurgence of piracy and armed robbery in South East Asia, stressing the importance of maritime domain to Malaysia and the need for cooperation with neighbours in the region in order to apprehend the kingpins behind the piracy activity.

The Inspector General of the Royal Malaysian Police gave a review of the issues in respect of the collection of evidence and international conventions affecting the law enforcement perspective of piracy and armed robbery investigations further stated that it will be useful to conduct a detailed review of the laws and conventions affecting the prosecution of pirates, with a view towards incorporating UNCLOS into Malaysian domestic law in order to ensure that criminals can be prosecuted.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) highlighted examples of recent successes, including the arrest and prosecution of the SUN BIRDIE gang and arrest of the ORKIM HARMONY hijackers.

The industry keynote pointed to the key challenges facing the shipping industry which, in addition to piracy, includes mass illegal migrations, the scale of which overwhelms the capacity of all stakeholders. This view was also shared by the Royal Malaysian Police, who identified human smuggling in the maritime domain as posing new concerns.

To improve this situation participants considered how a common worldwide information sharing framework could possibly expedite the receipt and distribution of critical details needed to enable naval and law enforcement forces to respond quickly enough to protect seafarers and arrest the perpetrators.

Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB said: "Information sharing and coordinated action between concerned coastal states is crucial in responding to this threat. However, the proliferation of reporting centres in some regions could create a degree of confusion that can leave seafarers and ships unnecessarily at risk."

Industry highlighted a number of actions taken to support international effort to suppress maritime crime and to protect their seafarers. Further development of the Best Management Practice and a standardisation of global reporting is high on their agenda.

"For crimes at sea, rapid response is crucial if there is to be any possibility of prosecuting the pirates," added Mukundan. "The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre plays a crucial role liaising between merchant ships and coastal authorities and navies, and is prepared to further enhance the effectiveness of these joint efforts." Industry suggested this important role could be broadened offering an opportunity for the IMB to play a leading role.

The international gathering of maritime security experts representing governments, law enforcement agencies, navies, international organisations the shipping industry and seafarers' unions also considered the threats created by organised crime, human smuggling and acts of terrorism. Beyond the reporting and response issues, the meeting also addressed other areas of concern such as the impact on seafarers and their families, post-incident protection of evidence, and the regional differences in the pirates' strategies of attack.

Other developments which were considered included the use of armed guards and whether or not they fit into comprehensive response measures in different high risk areas, the more co-ordinated use of naval vessels in anti piracy operations, the challenges faced by law enforcement in arresting and prosecuting pirates and armed robbers, and the targeting of product oil cargoes on board vulnerable vessel.

Participants agreed that the meeting brought about a better understanding of the priorities, capabilities and limitations of both the industry and response agencies, and set the stage to enable each to better support the other in their respective tasks.

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Gender-Based Violence

Sudanese Forces Committed Mass Rape; Women Attacked in Hospitals: HRW
The Globe and Mail
Cara Anna
September 9, 2015

Human Rights Watch is accusing the Sudanese military of another mass rape in Darfur.

Members of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces raped at least 60 women in the country's troubled western region, after taking over the town of Golo in January, according to a new report by the rights group released Wednesday. It says many women were attacked in a hospital where people had taken shelter.

"Many of the women were gang raped, often in front of community members who were forced to watch," the report says. "Some of those who resisted were killed. The naked bodies of many dead women were later discovered in the streets; other women were burned alive."

Human Rights Watch interviewed 23 people who were in the village or neighbouring villages at the time.

"My father was defending us so that we would not be raped and he was beaten to death," resident Nur al-Huda said in the report. "After they killed my father they raped the three of us. Me and my two sisters."

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch reported on the mass rape in October of at least 221 women and girls in the village of Tabit. The attack added to the growing friction between the U.N., which has not been allowed to investigate, and Sudan, which has said its own investigation found not "a single case of rape."

The new report also describes a range of killing, looting and torture of civilians by the Rapid Support Forces during two major counterinsurgency campaigns over the past two years in Darfur, where it deployed last year.

Sudan's vast western region of Darfur dissolved into violence among rebel groups in 2003. More than 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The U.N. says nearly half a million were displaced last year alone, the most in a decade.

A U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force of 17,000-plus troops and police has a mandate to deter violence, among other duties, but its presence is increasingly fragile after President Omar al-Bashir last year called for an exit strategy. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes for atrocities linked to the Darfur fighting.

Human Rights Watch says it met this month with Sudan's incoming U.N. ambassador, Omer Dahab Fadl Mohemed, about the new report's findings. Sudanese officials in Khartoum and at the country's U.N. mission did not respond to a request for comment.

The report is based on interviews with 151 people who fled to Chad and 61 people in Darfur. The interviews included five defectors from Sudanese forces who said they saw rapes and other violence by follow soldiers.

Human Rights Watch is calling on Sudan to disband the Rapid Support Forces and hold perpetrators accountable. The group also calls on the peacekeeping mission, called UNAMID, to better protect civilians.

"Although UNAMID's mandate includes reporting on human rights abuses, the mission has failed to release any detailed documentation about abuses against civilians during either of the RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns," the report says. There was no immediate U.N. comment on the report.

Human Rights Watch also wants the U.N. Security Council to demand immediate unrestricted access for the mission throughout Darfur.

Convert or Die: ISIS Chief's Former Slave Says He Beat Her, Raped U.S. Hostage
CNN
Atika Shubert and Bharati Naik, with Bryony Jones
September 11, 2015

When ISIS came for Zeinat and her family, they ran, terrified, for the safety of the mountains. They had heard the horror stories and knew only too well what might happen to them if they stayed in their home.

But they were too late; stranded at the foot of Iraq's Mount Sinjar by the huge crowds of refugees struggling uphill, they were easy pickings when fighters arrived.

Separated first from her father, and then from her sisters, she was forced -- like thousands of Yazidi women -- into slavery, treated as the property of the so-called "Islamic State."

Zeinat, though, wasn't working for ordinary rank-and-file ISIS militants; instead she was handpicked to serve terror boss Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his family and friends.

Speaking exclusively to CNN, Zeinat (not her real name), 16, has told of how al-Baghdadi beat and mistreated her. She also says he raped American hostage Kayla Mueller, who was held captive by the group after being taken hostage in 2013.

"He treated us so badly," she says, her beautiful, expressive blue eyes peering out fearfully from behind a rust-red tasseled headscarf as she relates her harrowing ordeal at the hands of one of the world's most wanted men.

"He would always tell us: Forget your father and your brothers. We have killed them. And we have married off your mothers and sisters. Forget them."

Selected by the terrorist leader -- though she did not know who he was at the time -- at a slave market in "a white palace ... between the mountain and the sea," Zeinat and eight other girls were taken to his home in Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS' territory.

As soon as she arrived, she says, she was made to watch a video showing ISIS fighters beheading a Westerner and threatened with the same fate unless she agreed to abandon her Yazidi faith.

"There was a journalist, an American journalist, and there was a man dressed all in black," she remembers. "He killed the journalist. He beheaded him."

Zeinat's description matches widely circulated ISIS videos of the killings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and other Western hostages.

Deadly ultimatum

"(Al-Baghdadi) showed us this on the laptop, and they said to me, 'If you don't convert to Islam, this will happen to you -- we will behead all of you,'" she recalls.

"'You have two choices,' they said. 'Convert to Islam. Or die like this.'"

The Yazidis, a small Iraqi minority who believe in a single god who created the Earth and left it in the care of a peacock angel, have been subjected to large-scale persecution by ISIS, which accuses them of devil worship.

ISIS militants have kidnapped, raped, tortured and massacred thousands of Yazidis; the United Nations has accused ISIS of committing genocide against them.

Al-Baghdadi and his family were constantly moving from one home to another, one town to the next, Zeinat says; the day after she arrived, an airstrike destroyed the house next door, forcing the entire household to pack up and move on.

Zeinat says she was beaten by al-Baghdadi, who insisted she and the other women "belonged" to ISIS, and taunted by his three wives and six children while cooking and cleaning for them.

In the face of such brutal abuse, she became determined to run away. On one occasion, she and others managed to steal the keys to the house they were being held in.

"We got the key and unlocked the door. We ran and ran ... we saw a house just outside Aleppo ... and there was an Arab woman. She said, 'Come in, come in. I will help you and bring you to Iraq.' ... She said ... she would help us, but then she called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi."

She says ISIS militants -- and al-Baghdadi himself -- took retribution.

"They beat us all over our bodies," she recalls. "We were completely black from the beating. They beat us with everything: cables, belts and wooden sticks.

"(Al-Baghdadi) hit me (with a) garden hose and (a) belt. Then he slapped my face and my nose bled," she says, touching her left cheek to indicate where the blows fell.

Zeinat's arm was dislocated, she says: "Even now, when I carry something I still feel pain." Her friend suffered a broken bone in her face.

Brutal beating

"Al-Baghdadi told us, 'We beat you because you ran away from us. We chose you to convert to our religion. We chose you. You belong to the Islamic State.'"

The former slave says she did not realize at the time who her captor was, only discovering his true identity once she had escaped: "I was so scared again, and very upset. I can't imagine he was the leader of ISIS. I was so frightened. He could have killed me."

Zeinat says that while in ISIS captivity she became close to U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller: "She was a friend, she was like a sister to me."

Zeinat says the pair met in a "jail" in Raqqa, where she was held as part of her punishment for trying to run away from al-Baghdadi's household.

"The first time I entered the room, I saw Kayla. I thought she was Yazidi, so I spoke in Kurdish to her. She told me, 'I don't understand,' so I spoke to her in Arabic. ... I told her I am a Yazidi girl from Sinjar and I was captured by Daesh (ISIS).'

"After that we stayed together and became like sisters."

They were kept together at the jail for several weeks, Zeinat says.

"There was so little room (in the cell), and it was dark, with no power. It was summer and it was so hot," she says, explaining they were given bread and cheese in the morning, and rice or macaroni at night, "Just a little bit, and we were starving."

Later, Zeinat says, they were moved to a house belonging to Abu Sayyaf, a high-ranking ISIS fighter who U.S. officials say was in charge of ISIS's substantial oil revenues.

Mueller, she says, confided that she had been raped by al-Baghdadi.

"When Kayla came back to us (after being taken to see al-Baghdadi), we asked her, 'Why are you crying?' And Kayla told us al-Baghdadi said: 'I am going to marry you by force and you are going to be my wife. If you refuse, I will kill you.'

"Kayla told me specifically ... 'Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raped me.' (She said he raped her) four times."

The humanitarian worker, who was captured in northern Syria in 2013, is believed to have been killed in February of this year.

Plea to U.S. captive

Zeinat says she tried desperately to persuade Mueller to run away, but to no avail.

"When I heard what Kayla told me, I wanted to escape. I told Kayla to escape with me, but Kayla refused. She told me about the American journalist who was beheaded, and she said, 'If I escape, they will behead me.'"

"The first time I told her I would escape, she said, 'Don't run away. If they catch you, they will surely kill you.'

"But I told her, 'No. I saw what Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did to you. I saw how you suffered. I saw how much pain you were in. I will escape whatever way I can.'"

ISIS claims the Quran justifies taking non-Muslim women and girls captive, and permits their rape; Zeinat says al-Baghdadi threatened her and others that they too would be forced to submit to sex with him.

"Al-Baghdadi told us, 'I did this to Kayla. And what I did to Kayla, I will do to you. On Friday. On Friday it will be your time.'"

Zeinat says the reclusive ISIS leader treated Mueller as "his wife," forcing her to wear a traditional veil covering her face.

"Al-Baghdadi married her ... she was his wife. He did not allow his friend Abu Sayyaf to see her face. Always she had to wear the niqab."

She said al-Baghdadi presented the American with a watch as a sign of his ownership of her: "It was a normal watch, but it was so expensive. ... He also gifted his other wives the same kind of watch."

U.S. officials are understood to have spoken to several girls who were held captive with Mueller, and the information they gave has been shared with her family.

A spokesman for the U.S. Consulate General in Irbil, Iraq, said, "It's our policy not to comment on ongoing investigations."

The former slave has also been able to offer tantalizing clues to the way the man at the helm of ISIS operates.

The ISIS leader was a late riser, she says, routinely getting up at 10 a.m. and not going to sleep until midnight. He would stay in his room for three or four hours of the day.

"Sometimes, he would talk to us ... but then we wouldn't see him for days. We didn't know where he had gone."

Fear of mobile phones

Al-Baghdadi, she says, looks just as he did in the most recent known photograph of him, taken at a Mosul mosque, "but he doesn't wear these (traditional Muslim) clothes. He wears ordinary, normal clothes. And not this watch, another watch."

The terror boss shunned mobile phones, she says, convinced that coalition fighters would be able to track him through their signals.

"He had good connections to all of his commanders. ... But I don't know how he communicated with them," she says.

"He did not use a telephone. He was afraid that the aircraft would know his location."

Instead she says she believes he communicated with his commanders by word of mouth, using trusted confidants to pass messages on.

For Zeinat, though, "there were no kind words," no respite from the cruelty she suffered, and she remained determined to escape. Finally, she spotted an opportunity.

"There was one window in our room," she says. "It was a little broken. We kept pushing it and pushing it until there was a small space," just large enough for her and a friend to crawl out of.

In the dead of night, she says, they ran -- and kept on running.

"We didn't know where we were going. We just prayed to God. Prayed for God to help us, to end our suffering. We didn't know where to go, we had no plan ... we just ran in any direction."

Shot at by ISIS fighters at one point, they crawled, ran, hid and walked for hours, eventually reaching a small village.

"We saw all the houses had no electricity, there was no power except for one house," she remembers. "I told (my friend), 'We are going to go to that house and ask for help. ... ISIS always turns off the electricity because of air strikes, (so) we should choose that house.'

Motorbike ride to safety

"We went there and we told the family, 'We are Yazidi girls who have escaped ISIS. We want to go back home and we want you to help us, if you can.'"

The man and his cousin rode them to safety on the back of two motorbikes.

"We wore black niqabs that covered our faces and we rode behind them on the back seat," she explains. "They drove us ... through the fields and back streets, to avoid all the checkpoints."

They made it out safely, and Zeinat was later happily reunited with her mother and some of her siblings, but three of her sisters remain in the hands of ISIS, and their fate is unknown; her father is missing, presumed dead.

Having survived her ordeal, which she believes lasted about two and a half months, Zeinat now wants to put it behind her -- she hopes to move overseas and train as a teacher.

She also hopes the information she has provided to the authorities will help lead coalition forces to him: "I hope they kill him," she says. "Soon."

"He murdered people. He forced people to convert. He raped girls. He killed families, separating mothers from their children," she says.

"I want the world to know how evil he is."

Inside Congo's Rape Crisis
International Business Times
Morgan Winsor
September 15, 2015

Congolese doctor Alain Mukwege has witnessed horrific injuries from sexual violence while working at his father's world-renowned Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where some 40,000 rape victims in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been treated since 1999. But there was one patient in particular, a teenager he called Julie, whom he said he would never forget. When rebels raided Julie's village in eastern Congo, she was stripped of her clothes, tied to a tree and sexually abused. Months later, the rebels returned and raped her with a gun. They inserted the metal barrel between her legs and pulled the trigger.

"They shot her and then they left her for dead," said Mukwege, who graduated from medical school at Université Evangélique en Afrique in Bukavu in 2010.

Julie was one of hundreds of thousands of women who have been brutally raped over the past two decades in mineral-rich eastern Congo as army soldiers, foreign-backed rebels and homegrown militias fight for power and control over some of the world's largest deposits of gold, copper, diamonds and tin. The perpetrators are rarely punished and the Congolese government seems to lack the political will and force to stop them. But a trial against a Congolese warlord is offering new hope for some victims and their advocates. The first witness began testifying Tuesday in the trial of former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, who has been accused by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, pillage and persecution.

The trial is shedding light on the longtime suffering of scores of women and girls in the Central African country that has been described as the rape capital of the world, human rights leaders said. "I hope this is the first of many," Mukwege said during a telephone interview. "Some of these rebel leaders think they are above justice and are untouchable. But if someone like Bosco Ntaganda faces judgment, that will send a strong message. They have to know that justice will take place one day."

'Rape Really Is A Weapon'

Sexual violence is typically used to humiliate and intimidate a victim. But in the eastern Congo, it has been used as a combat strategy to further political and military gains. All sides of the conflict have been accused of attacking communities in close proximity to mines and other resources. Rape is used as a tool of terror, often targeted at women to break down the family structure and gain access to nearby resources.

"Women are what tie these communities together. They take care of the children, they cook the food, they keep everything together," said Holly Dranginis, policy analyst at Enough Project, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that aims to end genocide and crimes against humanity. "To attack them is really to attack everyone."

Girls and women, from infant to elderly, are often gang-raped or raped with sticks, weapons or other objects. Their family members are sometimes forced to partake in the sexual violence. Then the men are usually killed and the children are enslaved or abducted into the ranks as child soldiers. The village is devastated, families displaced and the battered women are left behind, often with mutilated genitals, unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.

"It's incredibly effective," said Dranginis, who splits her time between Washington and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "It's become clear that the rape really is a weapon."

War Funded By Gold, Marked By Rape

Since Tutsi rebels in Rwanda overthrew the Hutu regime and ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide, more than 2 million Hutus are believed to have fled the tiny, landlocked country into neighboring Congo in fear of retaliation by the new Tutsi-led government. Among them were many militiamen who quickly allied themselves with then-Congolese President Joseph Mobutu, who had been friendly with Rwanda's genocidal Hutu regime, and began attacking the ethnic Tutsi population in eastern Congo close to the border with Rwanda. Meanwhile, Rwanda's Tutsi government backed rival armed groups to fight both the Hutu militias and the Congolese army.

The Tutsi militias and their Ugandan-backed allies eventually defeated Mobutu's government in 1997 and installed Laurent Kabila as Congo's president, but they failed to expel the Hutu armies. By August 1998, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country the size of Western Europe with porous borders and rich mineral deposits, had plunged into the deadliest conflict since World War II and sucked in the armies of at least five neighboring countries. The Second Congo War and its aftermath killed more than 5 million people and displaced millions of others, according to BBC News.

The war officially ended in 2003, but reports of mass killings, rapes and other crimes committed by rebels and government forces have continued unabated in the east, where much of the region remains under control of armed groups who have attempted to fill a security vacuum and gain control of the land's gold mines and other resources to fund their operations. Local authorities seem unwilling or incapable of collecting evidence needed for prosecution and many victims never report the crimes because they fear stigma and retaliation.

"The crisis, in my mind, has not at all gotten better," Dranginis said during a telephone interview. "The level of brutality is as bad or worse as it's ever been in terms of how far the perpetrators are taking these crimes. It just seems totally unexplainable and incredibly stifling in terms of anyone's ability to have any faith."

Alain Mukwege was a teenager when his father, Denis Mukwege, started Panzi Hospital in two houses on a corn farm, performing surgery and delivering babies in the eastern city of Bukavu. Following the Rwandan genocide, however, his father saw a shift in the type of patients seeking treatment in 1996. What began as a small hospital soon expanded into a treatment center specializing in sexual violence due to an unprecedented influx of rape victims. Mukwege, now 33, recalled seeing infants for the first time whose genitals had been maimed from rape -- atrocities once unheard-of in eastern Congo that have become more common in recent years.

"It was things that we didn't see before. Growing up, I never heard about rape," he said. "When this happens to a baby who still has her life ahead of her but has been taken away the opportunity to be a mom and doesn't know what's happened to her, it's the most difficult thing imaginable."

Tracking the number of sexual violence victims has been another challenge in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where electricity shortages are common and hospitals often don't have electronic record-keeping methods. Staff at Panzi Hospital, which does not charge patients, sometimes must perform surgeries in darkness amid power outages.

Janis Miller, a Ph.D.-level nurse practitioner and an associate professor at the University of Michigan's School of Nursing, is helping to improve Panzi Hospital's research capabilities and produce data. "I saw that they were being asked for numbers over and over again. That's really difficult to do in a place that has no electronic record keeping," Miller said during a telephone interview. "I saw the potential to be forgotten, for the women to be forgotten, for the work these dedicated people were doing to be forgotten because it could not be readily translated into reports."

'The Terminator' Trial

Underlying tensions have remained between Congo and Rwanda since the deadly spillover effects of the Rwandan genocide. The Congolese government repeatedly has accused its neighbor of backing Tutsi armed groups to attack the Hutus in Congo and "protecting" the rebel leaders wanted for war crimes - a claim Rwanda has fiercely denied. Among these groups is the M23, which was formed in 2012 by Ntaganda and mutinied soldiers from the Congolese army. International human rights groups said Ntaganda's M23 fighters have committed widespread war crimes.

Born in Rwanda and raised in Congo, Ntaganda launched his military career alongside Tutsi rebels who seized control of Rwanda in 1994. He then joined a political and militia group in the Democratic Republic of Congo called the Union of Congolese Patriots and became its chief of military operations under the group's political leader, Thomas Lubanga, who was convicted of war crimes in 2012.

Ntaganda, dubbed "The Terminator," fought in wars and armed conflicts on Congolese land for years, during which Union of Congolese Patriots fighters under his command allegedly murdered, raped and persecuted innocent villagers and recruited child soldiers in the northeastern Ituri region of Congo near the border with Uganda in 2002 and 2003. Ntaganda was wanted for war crimes and evaded international authorities for seven years until surrendering to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2014, according to Reuters.

The International Criminal Court trial against Ntaganda, which opened Sept. 2, has been hailed as a major step in the fight against sexual violence and impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ntaganda's trial could lead to the prosecution of other high-ranking rebel commanders and even government officials, who may have had a hand in the decades of mass murders, rapes and raids. Tackling impunity in Congo's military leadership also could stir political change ahead of the November 2016 presidential election, in which Kabila is ineligible to stand, and could herald the country's first ever peaceful transfer of power, experts said.

"All we need are accountable leaders. All we need is restructuring the army and the police. All we need is an efficient justice system -- no more corruption, no more impunity," said Mukwege, currently a visiting scholar and research associate at the University of Michigan's School of Nursing. "And the country can actually benefit from its natural resources."

Ntaganda's attorneys have sought to portray the notorious rebel leader as a "professional soldier" who tried to save civilians from other militias during the power vacuum. The attorneys also argued that the court must consider the political and social context during Congo's brutal conflict.

During the hearing before the Hague-based court, Ntaganda, 42, watched the proceedings impassively as an attorney for victims described how girls as young as 12 were raped and forced to serve as "wives" of senior commanders or provide sexual favors to soldiers in Ntaganda's Union of Congolese Patriots, which was formed toward the end of the Second Congo War and was one of six rebel groups that emerged in the resource-rich Ituri region during the conflict there.

Sarah Pellet, a lawyer representing 297 former child soldiers, told the three-judge panel that one 13-year-old said getting pregnant with the child of a senior official was a "relief" from having to be sexually available to fighters every day. "They are victims of rape and sexual violence and some of them gave birth to other victims - children who will never know their fathers and who are a constant reminder of the reprehensible acts inflicted on their mothers," Pellet said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Congolese Resilience

After raping and shooting her, the rebels thought Julie was dead. But locals discovered Julie barely alive and brought her to Panzi Hospital, where she underwent multiple surgeries for countless hours. Although the surgery saved Julie's life, she is not able to have children due to the trauma and she has a rectovaginal fistula, which causes her to continually leak urine and feces.

But Julie, now in her late 20s, still smiles and laughs each day. She owns a small business and works with other survivors of sexual violence in a recovery program in Bukavu, Mukwege said.

"When you see her, you will not believe what she's been through because she's probably the most energizing person you will ever meet," he said. "You need to hear her talk about it to actually believe it. She is, as my father says, the true hero."

Sexual Torture, Use of Child Soldiers Among War Crimes by LTTE, Sri Lankan Forces: UN Report
International Business Times
Mugdha Variyar
September 16, 2015

A United Nations report on human rights violations and war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the decade-long civil war has highlighted horrific crimes that occurred in the country, including rape and sexual torture, waterboarding and forceful recruitment of children.

"Our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said on Wednesday, Colombo Gazette reported.

According to the United Nations, more than 80,000 people were killed during the civil war between 2002 and 2011 in Sri Lanka. That included Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese civilians, while tens of thousands of people disappeared during the decade.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) carried out scores of suicide bombings and executions until they were defeated by the Sri Lankan forces in 2009.

The government forces also unleashed horrific forms of torture on civilians. According to the report, the troops used tactics like sexual torture and waterboarding for interrogation and suspension of victims using pulleys.

Children were snatched forcefully from houses and schools and recruited by the LTTE as child soldiers, the report says. Many of the children were under 15 years of age.

The UN body has now called for the creation of a special court comprising international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators to look into the war crimes in Sri Lanka.

"The report reveals violations that are among the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole," Hussein said.

Australian FGM Court Case: Girl, 11, Describes 'Silver Tool' Used on Her
The Guardian
Bridie Jabour
September 16, 2015

A girl who allegedly underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) in Australia has described seeing a woman holding a "silver tool" that looked "a bit like a scissor" on the day it allegedly happened.

However, in conversations with her father about two years after the event he insisted she had not been cut.

The girl, known as C1, was seven years old and is one of two alleged victims in the first FGM trial in Australia. The second alleged victim is her younger sister, known as C2. The prosecution claims the FGM took place between 2010 and 2012.

Now aged 11, C1 gave evidence via video link in the NSW supreme court on Wednesday after watching a recording of her police interview in 2012, which was shown to the court.

In the interview C1 said she lay on a bed in a house in Wollongong while the procedure took place and imagined she was a princess in a garden.

Asked by the crown prosecutor, Nanette Williams, if she remember the day, C1 responded "briefly". Asked if she remembered seeing the woman accused of carrying out the FGM, known as KM in court, C1 said, "I think so, yes."

When asked what she saw in KM's hands that day, she said, "It was like a silver tool.

"It looked a bit like a scissor. It had sort of a pointed, roundish, stick sort of thing and then two finger holes, I think, I'm not sure."

C1 drew a picture of what she saw which was tendered as evidence.

Police bugged the phones and cars of the girl's family in 2012 and in a recording played to the court the father insists to C1 that she was not cut.

"No we do not cut, we cannot cut. Nothing was cut of yours, we don't do the cut. We can't cut it here," he said in the car on the afternoon of her police interview.

C1 said to her father that she had seen scissors and "they do something with scissors".

He responded: "Not with scissors, they do forceps. Forceps is used for cleaning purposes to check up."

The defence have previously said the girls were touched on the genitals with forceps, but not cut.

In the cross examination of C1 Stuart Bouveng, the barrister for KM, asked if she knew what a cut, a pinch and scratched. He then asked her what she felt that day lying on the bed in Woollongon when the FGM allegedly took place.

"It was short, didn't last long, it was like a pinching or a cutting, I'm not sure," she said.

C1 said she did not feel pain afterward when she had a shower. She also said that when her eyes were closed and she was imagining she was a princess in a garden "I felt something touch it [her genitals] and then a bit of pain and then a bit of a weird sort of feeling."

When asked by the crown why she had used the word pinching for the first time to describe the feeling, C1 responded "It's because I don't really think it was a pinching it just felt a bit like it".

"Because I'm not completely sure it was a cut although most likely it was cut, I remember a sort of pinching, I don't really know though," she said.

Her mother, A2, is facing trial alongside KM, and showed no reaction as she watched her daughter give evidence. When she watched the police interview of her daughter, she covered her face with her hands at times and looked towards the ground.

C1 also told of the day her younger sister allegedly underwent FGM, although she was not present in the room. She watched television downstairs in their western Sydney home.

In the police interview she said her sister did not talk about what happened to her.

"Because she knew already it happened to me," C1 said in the 2012 interview. "Eventually she forgot about it."

Asked if she could explain what happens during the procedure C1 grew quiet and said, after a pause: "Not very much because I'm not used to talking about it because my mum tells me not to go around telling everyone that much."

A high-ranking clergy in the Dawoodi Bohra Shia Muslim community, Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, is also standing trial, accused of helping KM and A2 after the fact.

The defence has previously said the girls' genitals were not mutilated and instead they took part in a ceremony which was "secret women's business".

The trial continues.

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UN Reports

UN: War Crimes May Have Been Committed During Sri Lanka Civil War
The Jurist
Brittany Felder
September 16, 2015

A UN report released Wednesday found that war crimes may have been committed during the Sri Lankan civil war. The report, which was delayed, stressed that it was a human rights investigation and not a criminal investigation, making it harder for the analysis to be a legal analysis as there were many constraints on resources. However, the investigators "attempted to identify the patterns of persistent and large scale violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that occurred" in an effort to use evidence of systemic violations to show that war crimes may have been committed. The report first provided foundational background about the civil war and then informational background about the legal framework that would be used if there were to be a criminal prosecution. It detailed extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence, and enforced disappearances among other unlawful acts. In a statement about the report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein urged the creation of a hybrid special court that would bring together international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators. He believes that this is an "essential step towards justice."

The report comes amid mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan government from human rights groups and the international community to investigate and prosecute abuses during the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Last year former US ambassador Stephen Rapp called on Sri Lanka to investigate rights abuses by security forces during the civil war. In 2013 UK Prime Minister David Cameron demanded that the Sri Lankan government conduct its own investigation into war crime allegations. Earlier that year former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Sri Lanka to improve its human rights record.

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NGO Reports

Men with No Mercy: Rapid Support Forces Attacks against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan
Human Rights Watch
September 9, 2015

"[The government soldiers] confiscated our belongings. They took our livestock. They beat the men. And then they raped us. They raped us in a group. Some women were raped by 8 or 10 men. Seventeen women were raped together. All of us were raped. Even the underage girls were raped."

- Mahassan , 38, resident of the Golo area, July 2015

"I am deeply sorry. But you must understand that this was not my endeavor, I was under the command of men with no mercy. I wish I could turn back the time."

- Ibrahim, 19, Sudanese military defector who admitted killing a young woman, July 2015

The Rapid Support Forces (al-Quwat al-Da'm al-Sari' in Arabic, or RSF) is a Sudanese government force under the command of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). The RSF was created in mid-2013 to militarily defeat rebel-armed groups throughout Sudan.

The RSF led two counterinsurgency campaigns in the long-embattled region of Darfur in 2014 and 2015 in which its forces repeatedly attacked villages, burned and looted homes, beating, raping and executing villagers. The RSF received support in the air and on the ground from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and other government-backed militia groups, including a variety of proxy militias, commonly known as Janjaweed.

The first campaign named "Operation Decisive Summer" took place primarily in South Darfur and North Darfur between late February and early May 2014. The second, "Operation Decisive Summer II," took place primarily in and around Jebel Marra, the mountainous region located primarily in Central Darfur, between early January 2015 and the onset of the rainy season in June 2015.

Based on research conducted between May 2014 and July 2015, this report describes serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law perpetrated by the RSF and other Sudanese government forces during the two RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns in Darfur. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 151 survivors and witnesses of abuses in Darfur who fled Sudan to Chad and South Sudan, 16 who were interviewed inside Darfur, and an additional 45 victims and witnesses in Darfur by telephone.

Human Rights Watch found that the RSF committed a wide range of horrific abuses, including the forced displacement of entire communities; the destruction of wells, food stores and other infrastructure necessary for sustaining life in a harsh desert environment; and the plunder of the collective wealth of families, such as livestock. Among the most egregious abuses against civilians were torture, extrajudicial killings and mass rapes.

Many civilians were killed by the RSF when they refused to leave their homes or give up their livestock, or when they tried to stop RSF fighters from raping them or members of their family.

The RSF violations of international humanitarian law amount to war crimes. The mass rape and killings and other abuses appear part of widespread and systematic attacks on civilian populations that may constitute crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are serious offenses, including murder, torture and rape, committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population. As Human Rights Watch research has found, the RSF committed rape in numerous towns and villages over an extended period of time, making them widespread. First-hand accounts of orders from commanders to commit crimes and the RSF's repeated use of abusive practices indicate that they were systematic.

The attack on the town of Golo, in central Jebel Marra, was emblematic of RSF atrocities. The Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) rebel faction had contested control of Golo at various times since the Darfur conflict began in 2003, but during the past year the town had been firmly under government control.

On January 24 and 25, 2015 the RSF took over the town, burning buildings and looting. Human Rights Watch interviewed 21 people who had been in Golo and neighboring villages at the time. Nearly everyone interviewed said that they witnessed killings, rape, and widespread beating and looting.

Nur al-Huda, a young woman from Golo, told Human Rights Watch that she was in her compound with her father and sisters when the RSF attacked: "They killed my father. My father was defending us so that we would not be raped and he was beaten to death. … After they killed my father they raped the three of us. Me and my two sisters. … After they raped us they stole everything."

During the three weeks after they attacked Golo, the RSF continued to rape scores of women and girls in the town and many more in the neighboring village of Bardani. Many of the women were gang raped, often in front of community members who were forced to watch. Those who resisted were killed. The naked bodies of many dead women were later discovered in the streets; other women were burned alive. The survivors of the Golo mass rape have not had access to medical or psychosocial services.

Many survivors of RSF attacks fled to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in government-controlled territory or the hills and mountains outside of government-controlled areas. Those who fled to IDP camps are almost entirely dependent on the international community for a modicum of protection and subsistence; survivors who fled to the hills, primarily in Jebel Marra and East Jebel Marra, are often unable to return to their farms with no access to desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Both groups remain vulnerable to further abuse.

The United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has received reports that as many as 130,000 people remain displaced in areas out of the reach of humanitarian agencies. Lacking adequate food, shelter, and medical care, and unable to return to their homes or their farms, there is a risk that they could face death from starvation, illness, or exposure to the elements. RSF attacks were often carried out in areas that had been controlled or contested by two of the most significant rebel factions, including the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM) in 2014 and the SLA/AW faction in 2015. However, the overwhelming majority of the abuses reported to Human Rights Watch were committed by RSF or other government forces in villages and towns where rebels were reportedly never present or had left prior to the attacks. Some RSF attacks even occurred in towns or villages that were entirely under government control.

Human Rights Watch also spoke with five defectors from Sudanese government forces: two RSF members, two SAF soldiers, and one Border Guard. Four of the defectors participated in attacks in Jebel Marra or East Jebel Marra. All five defected to the rebels after having participated in RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns, during which time they witnessed serious abuses by soldiers. Four of the five said commanding officers ordered their units to carry out atrocities against civilians. One admitted to committing serious crimes himself.

The numerous abuses documented in this report demonstrate the continuing need for an effective and rapidly responsive international force that can help protect civilian populations in Darfur from attack. The abuses also demonstrate that the current African-Union-United-Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UNAMID, has been hamstrung in its performance and in the implementation of its core mandate to protect civilians.

The UN and AU should focus on how to urgently improve and bolster UNAMID's ability to protect civilians from attacks, including the kinds of attacks they have suffered during the RSF-led campaigns, and to effectively investigate and expose abuses without endangering victims and witnesses.

Although UNAMID's mandate includes reporting on human rights abuses, the mission has failed to release any detailed documentation about abuses against civilians during either of the RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns. Several reports of the UN secretary-general to the UN Security Council have referred to attacks by the RSF causing civilian displacement; however, there has been no indication of magnitude of the other serious abuses, such as sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, and burning of villages.

Human Rights Watch calls on the UN Security Council, the AU Peace and Security Council, and UNAMID to take concrete steps to protect civilians in Darfur from further abuse, including sanctioning individuals responsible for attacks on civilians, to expand and ensure access to humanitarian assistance for victims, including medical and psychosocial care for victims of sexual violence and other forms of trauma, and to press for cooperation with the International Criminal Court's investigation and prosecution of grave international crimes in Darfur.

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WORTH READING

The Problem of Purpose in International Criminal Law
By Patrick Keenan
September 4, 2015

International criminal tribunals have become an important part of the landscape of post-conflict reconstruction. Despite their widespread acceptance, scholars and advocates have struggled to articulate a clear purpose for international criminal law. What good is international criminal law? What can it accomplish? What is its purpose? There exists no consensus among scholars and advocates about the purposes of international criminal law, and this lack of clarity affects how the tribunals operate and can undermine their effectiveness. This article fills that gap by first sorting through the competing theories about what the purposes of international criminal law might be. The article then identifies three objectives that are consistent with the institutional capacity of international criminal tribunals and consistent with the history and doctrine of international criminal law, and shows how these purposes can be implemented in practice. I argue that there are three policy objectives that international criminal tribunals should attempt to achieve, and I show how these objectives are or can be achieved in practice. First, international criminal tribunals should target those widespread harms that affect many individuals as a way to ensure a full accounting of the atrocities. In practical terms, this means that prosecutors would focus on systematic crimes - those with many perpetrators and victims - rather than building cases against a very small number of politically-powerful individuals. Second, international criminal tribunals should target those crimes that caused the greatest stigma to victims as a way to use the authority of the tribunal to condemn as wrongful conduct that occurred during the conflict. Prosecutors can select cases that carry the greatest social stigma as a way to validate the experience of victims - to stamp conduct as wrongful and illegal even if that conduct was widespread during the conflict. In practice this would mean prosecuting a range of cases about sexual violence as a way to condemn as wrongful behavior that was widespread during the conflict. Third, prosecutors should pursue the interests of victims by using the law to develop as much information as possible about the conflict, and the harms that came to the victims.

War Torts: Accountability for Autonomous Weapons
By Rebecca Crootof
September 10, 2015

Unlike conventional weapons or remotely-operated drones, autonomous weapons can independently select and engage targets. As a result, they may take actions that look like war crimes - the sinking of a cruise ship, the destruction of a village, the downing of a passenger jet - without anyone acting intentionally or recklessly. Absent such willful action, no one can be held criminally liable under existing law.

In reaction to this accountability gap, some insist that autonomous weapon systems must be banned altogether; others are confident that international humanitarian law will evolve to address the issue. But a complete ban is unlikely to be effective, and the legal patches suggested thus far threaten to undermine the legal regimes, humanitarian protections, and accountability mechanisms they are intended to augment.

International criminal law is grounded in individual liability, which aims to evaluate who is guilty for willful and blameworthy actions. What is needed here, however, is a complementary legal regime that creates liability for unintended injurious wrongs. Although largely ignored in international law, tort law was specifically designed to solve this exact problem. Just as the Industrial Revolution fostered the development of modern tort law, autonomous weapon systems may result in the recognition of international "war torts."

Ten Types of Israeli and Palestinian Violations of the Laws of War and the ICC
By Jordan J. Paust
September 12, 2015

This article will address international law that is relevant to longstanding and politically contentious issues regarding four types of conduct that Israel has been found to have authorized or facilitated in territories that Israel occupied after the 1967 war. The article will also address six types of manifest violations of the laws of war by Palestinians since mid-June 2014. In particular, the focus in Part II will be on what laws of war are applicable to use of collective punishment, deportation of civilians, infusion of one's own nationals into occupied territory, and annexation of occupied territory. The focus in Part III will be on what laws of war are applicable to unlawful confinement, hostage-taking, murder, attacks on civilians, attacks on civilian objects, and use of indiscriminate methods and means of attack. In 2015, these issues were among those raised by Palestine before the International Criminal Court (ICC), although it is not certain that the ICC will assume jurisdiction after the conclusion of a preliminary investigation opened by the Prosecutor in January 2015. Part IV will address two other matters concerning ICC jurisdiction - certain preconditions to jurisdiction and possible deferrals to domestic jurisdiction.

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War Crimes Prosecution Watch Staff

International Criminal Court

Central African Republic &Uganda
Eden Oxley, Senior Editor
Jacob Lipp, Associate Editor

Darfur, Sudan
Eden Oxley, Senior Editor
Candice Gage, Associate Editor

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Brendon Saslow, Senior Editor
Jordan O'Connell, Associate Editor

Kenya
Brendon Saslow, Senior Editor
Jessica Joyce, Associate Editor

Libya
Kevin Vogel, Senior Editor
Susan Kaczma, Associate Editor

Ivory Coast
Kevin Vogel, Senior Editor
Michael Silverstein, Associate Editor

Africa

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Amber Lewis, Senior Editor
Mindy Garland, Associate Editor

Mali
Erin James, Senior Editor
Mia Garcia, Associate Editor

Chad
Erin James, Senior Editor
Jessica Weil, Associate Editor

Nigeria
Kevin Vogel, Senior Editor
Mindy Garland, Associate Editor

Europe

Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, War Crimes Section
Julia Miller, Senior Editor
Emily Sherwood , Associate Editor

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Amber Lewis, Senior Editor
Nicole Triola , Associate Editor

Domestic Prosecutions in the Former Yugoslavia
Sheila Fowler, Senior Editor
Estefania Seijas, Associate Editor

Middle East and Asia

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Nathan Nasrallah, Senior Editor
Joshua Kirschner, Associate Editor

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Erin James, Senior Editor
Sarah Conway, Associate Editor

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Stephanie Ripma, Senior Editor
Shanleigh Kennedy, Associate Editor

Iraqi & Syria
Dustin Narcisse, Senior Editor
Gaylen Banes, Associate Editor

Bangladesh
Rory Safir, Senior Editor
Joshua Kirschner, Associate Editor

War Crimes Investigations in Burma
Nathan Nasrallah, Senior Editor
Aliza Lopez Baker, Associate Editor

North and South America

United States
Joseph Walsh, Senior Editor
Roberta Harter, Associate Editor

South & Central America
Hunter Knight, Senior Editor
Amar Dzaferovic, Associate Editor

Topics

Terrorism
Julia Liston, Senior Editor
Katelyn Pierce, Associate Editor

Piracy
Estafania Seijas, Senior Editor
Stephanie Ripma, Associate Editor

Gender-Based Violence
Sarah Stula, Senior Editor
Menxue Xie, Associate Editor

Reports

UN Reports
Rory Safir, Senior Editor
Victoria Sarant, Associate Editor

NGO Reports
Julia Miller, Senior Editor
Victoria Sarant , Associate Editor

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

R. Mitch Wilcosky Senior Editor
Kristina Porzio, Associate Editor

Commentary and Perspectives

Fadi Assaf, Senior Editor
Santiago Reich, Associate Editor

Worth Reading

Joseph Walsh, Senior Editor
Judd Cohen, Associate Editor

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