International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Expert Witness Says Kenyan Government Failed to Protect Victims of Sexual Violence

A landmark class action case against the Kenyan government is unfolding in the Nairobi High Court. Sexual violence survivors and Kenyan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) acting on behalf of all victims of sexual violence committed in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan presidential election brought a case against the government alleging numerous violations of the Kenyan constitution for the government’s failures to protect them, to investigate and punish the perpetrators, and to provide reparations.

At the most recent hearing, the petitioners’ lead expert witness testified about these failures. The witness, Patricia Nyaundi, is a Kenyan women’s rights leader, a former member of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), and the secretary of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. She argued … Continue Reading

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Start Date for Ntaganda’s ICC Trial to be Known Soon

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have called for a status conference to set the date for the commencement of the trial of Bosco Ntaganda, the former deputy chief of staff of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

The order is in accordance with Article 132 of the court’s rules, which states that promptly after it is constituted, the trial chamber shall hold a status conference in order to set the date of the trial. Trial Chamber IV consisting of Judges Robert Fremr (presiding), Kuniko Ozaki, and Geoffrey Henderson was constituted by the court’s presidency on July 18 to try Mr. Ntaganda for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The crimes, including murder, attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, … Continue Reading

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Judge Rejects Ntaganda’s Bid to Appeal Confirmed Charges

Bosco Ntaganda’s application to appeal at least eight of the 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity confirmed against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been rejected.

In a July 4, 2014 decision, pre-trial judge Ekaterina Trendafilova ruled that Mr. Ntaganda’s argument that relying on indirect evidence, anonymous witness statements, or statements of deceased witnesses to confirm certain charges was erroneous, and accordingly constituted an appealable issue, was “misleading.”

In a June 16 application, Mr. Ntaganda’s defense lawyer Marc Desalliers sought leave to appeal the confirmation decision on grounds that the defense could not challenge evidence, including that from anonymous testimonies, hearsay, and deceased witnesses. According to Mr. Desalliers, pre-trial judges relied “exclusively on evidence that the Defense … Continue Reading

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As International Community Stands Aside, Serious Crimes in Darfur Continue

As the international community fails to bring Sudanese leaders to justice for alleged past atrocities in Darfur, serious crimes against Darfuris continue. Although the conflict in the region has faded from news headlines (and thus the international community’s agenda), reports indicate that the first half of 2014 brought death and destruction comparable to that at the height of the genocide in the region. Ongoing fighting, tensions, and insecurity surrounding the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the Sudanese government-affiliated militia, have driven hostilities and violence throughout North and South Darfur, with spillover effects to neighboring regions. This violence continues to force many Darfuri citizens to leave their villages in search of greater security. Since the beginning of 2014, nearly 300,000 Darfuris have … Continue Reading

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Justice Delayed is Still Justice

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) issued the first trial judgment today in a series of legal proceedings relating to the two surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The case pertained to events beginning in 1975 and the accused, now both in their 80s, have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

I worked as a legal officer analyzing the evidence and the legal charges filed against the accused in 2009. Even then, I wasn’t sure if this day would come. The advanced age of the defendants could have led to the premature conclusion of the entire proceedings, which occurred when the case was closed against a former co-accused, Ieng Sary who died in 2013, and his … Continue Reading

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Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan Found Guilty of Crimes against Humanity

New York (August 7, 2014)—Today’s conviction for crimes against humanity of the two most senior surviving leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime marks a historic milestone both for international justice, and for Cambodia’s effort to confront its violent past.

Judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) sentenced both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to life imprisonment, after a trial focused on atrocities committed during the evacuation of Cambodian cities and town in 1975, and the executions of civil servants and military officers from the defeated regime.

Nuon Chea was the second most senior leader in the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979; Khieu Samphan served both as foreign minister and as head of state.

The … Continue Reading

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Judge Orders Prosecutor to Provide Details of Payments to Witnesses in Bemba Trial

The single pre-trial judge handling the witness tampering case against Jean-Pierre Bemba and four others has directed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to provide details of all reimbursements that were made to prosecution witnesses in Mr. Bemba’s ongoing war crimes trial.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser directed prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to provide this information to the chamber by August 4, 2014. The order followed a request by lawyers for Mr. Aimé Kilolo-Musamba – the former lead counsel for Mr. Bemba, who is now one of five individuals accused of bribing witnesses and presenting forged testimony before the ICC.

On June 27, 2014, Mr. Kilolo’s lawyers asked the judge to order the prosecutor to provide to them information they said was critical to his … Continue Reading

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Judges Order Kenyan Government to Provide Kenyatta Records to Prosecution

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered the Kenyan government to provide the prosecution with eight categories of records relating to President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta unless there is a Kenyan law stopping it from doing so.

Trial Chamber V(b) made this decision on Tuesday after Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai challenged Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request. Muigai’s view is the request is a “fishing expedition” because it is neither specific nor relevant nor necessary to the case against Kenyatta.

The Kenyan president faces five counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential poll in Kenya. Kenyatta was not a candidate in that election as he was supporting the incumbent at the time, Mwai … Continue Reading

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Witness Protection and Outreach Cited as Areas in Need of Improvement

International Criminal Court (ICC) Registrar Herman von Hebel agreed to speak with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2014. In the second part of the interview he addresses the witness protection issues at the ICC and what is being done to improve outreach.

TR: In the past year, a large amount of attention has also been drawn to the problems in the court’s witness protection regime. What steps have been taken to address this? Specifically, can you address the Kenya situation where there seem to be the most amount of problems?

HvH: The Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) is one of the most crucial sections of the Registry. Without witnesses – witnesses who are convinced that they can testify without … Continue Reading

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ICC Registrar Discusses Restructuring and Need for Larger Budget

International Criminal Court (ICC) Registrar Herman von Hebel agreed to speak with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2014. In the first part of the interview he discusses the Registry’s restructuring project, how to improve communications, and what it is like working with states parties.

Taegin Reisman (TR): You have undertaken a restructuring exercise, known as the ReVision Project, within the Registry. How long is this process expected to last, and based on what has been done so far, has there been more efficiency in the Registry’s practices?

Herman von Hebel (HvH): The entire project is expected to last about a year and a half. We got started on the first of January this year. I recognize not everyone at … Continue Reading

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