International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

ICC Appeals Chamber Upholds Ngudjolo’s Acquittal

Today, the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its judgment in the appeal lodged by the prosecution against the acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. In December 2012, Trial Chamber II acquitted Ngudjolo of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during an attack on the village of Bogoro in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A majority of the five-judge panel confirmed the acquittal. Two judges dissented.

The prosecutor had put forward three grounds of appeals, namely:

That the trial chamber erred in law in its application of the “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” standard of proof;
That the trial chamber erred in law because it failed to consider all the evidence and facts in making its decision; and
That … Continue Reading

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Guatemala Transitional Justice Update: Court to Consider Rios Montt Amnesty and Interpol Seeks the Arrest of Police Official for 1991 Political Assassination


An appellate court has now been constituted to issue a ruling on whether Rios Montt can benefit from an amnesty issued by his successor.
Interpol issued an international arrest warrant against Lucas Martinez, a former police official suspected of taking part in the 1991 killing of José Mérida, who was assassinated after testifying about state involvement in the 1990 killing of anthropologist Myrna Mack.
Guatemala’s Supreme Court announced the creation of another high-risk court to deal with sensitive cases.
An executive commission continues analyzing whether the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) should extend beyond September, including through hearing representations by CICIG as well as academic, civil society, and private actors.

Appellate Court Judges Will Decide on Rios Montt Amnesty

On January 29, the … Continue Reading

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Judges Order Witness 727 to Testify via Video Link in Ruto and Sang Trial

Trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have issued a subpoena for Witness 727 to testify via video link, starting March 23, in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Trial Chamber V(a) on Tuesday ordered the Registry to transmit the summons it has issued, and other documents, to the country where Witness 727 is residing. The chamber asked the Registry to report to it by March 6 on the progress in the arrangements for Witness 727 to testify before the ICC.

The chamber made Tuesday’s unanimous decision after considering an application the prosecution made on December 17, 2014 for the summons to be issued. Before making its decision the chamber also considered written … Continue Reading


Guatemala Transitional Justice Update: Reports of Second Rios Montt Prosecution and Efforts to Criminally Prosecute Judges

In recent news related to transitional justice in Guatemala, there have been reports that the Constitutional Court cleared a hurdle to allow former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt to face genocide charges in a second case, which is related to the 1982 massacre of the village of Dos Erres, even though prosecutors intend only to prosecute him for homicide. A lawyer for recently convicted police official Pedro Garcia Arredondo also sought to bring criminal charges against the three judges who convicted his client for his role in the Spanish embassy fire. Meanwhile, a presidential commission considers whether to support the continuation of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), due to finish its fourth term in September.

Reports Around Second Criminal Prosecution Against … Continue Reading

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Second ICC Trial Looming for Bemba

A second trial for Jean Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is now imminent after the court’s Presidency named judges to try the Congolese opposition leader and his four associates. Trial Chamber VII was constituted after a pre-trial judge rejected their bid to appeal the confirmation of charges decision.

Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji will preside over the trial of the five individuals accused of corruptly influencing witnesses that testified in Mr. Bemba’s trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the ICC. The other judges that make up the chamber are Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr.

Last November, the pre-trial chamber found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Bemba, his two former lawyers Aimé Kilolo Musamba … Continue Reading

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Victim Participation Decision in the Ntaganda Case: How Does the System Compare to Previous Experiences?

On February 6, 2015, Trial Chamber VI at the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision on victim participation at the trial stage in the Bosco Ntaganda case (February 6 decision). During pre-trial proceedings, 1,120 victims participated, specifically in relation to the confirmation of charges. The February 6 decision considers the process for victims to apply to participate in the Ntaganda trial proceedings and how the court will treat those applications.

The system for victims to apply to participate in proceedings before the ICC (application system or application process) has been under review. In decisions issued since April 2012, various chambers introduced changes to the application system in specific cases. The application process had been burdensome on the chambers, the parties, … Continue Reading

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Judges Issue New Procedure for Admitting Victims in Ntaganda Trial

In new guidelines issued by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges for admission of victims to participate in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda, the court’s Registry shall assess individual applications to determine those who qualify as victims.

In a February 6, 2015 decision, the chamber considered that assessment of every application by judges was “neither appropriate nor necessary.” Rather, designating the Registry to assess the applications based on specific guidelines was the “most efficient and appropriate way.”

The judges noted that in other ongoing trials before the ICC, the Registry often makes similar assessments, including filtering out incomplete applications and making detailed reports on the merits of applications to inform judges’ assessments.

In reaching its determination, the chamber considered “the large number of victims … Continue Reading

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The Case of Dominic Ongwen: Possible Considerations for In Situ Proceedings

On January 26, 2015, the Uganda situation once again came into the International Criminal Court (ICC) spotlight when Dominic Ongwen, one of the wanted Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commanders appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II at the seat of the ICC in The Hague, the Netherlands. Prior to this, Ongwen’s case had been inactive for nearly ten years.

As an ardent follower of transitional justice developments in Uganda, watching Ongwen take the stand in The Hague left me with mixed feelings. While on the one hand, I understand the practical need for his trial to be conducted by the ICC given the numerous domestic challenges that Uganda faces in the trial of serious crimes, on the other hand, the history and branding … Continue Reading


Ugandan Victims Raise Concerns in Relation to the Ongwen Case

On January 26, 2015, Dominic Ongwen made his first appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC), after reportedly surrendering to troops in the Central African Republic (CAR). Ongwen had been subject to an ICC arrest warrant since 2005 for his role as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

On the same day, the Legal Representatives of Victims who have been participating in the case submitted a filing (January 26 filing) to communicate their clients’ views and concerns following Ongwen’s appearance and the start of his judicial proceedings. As a matter of background, it is relevant to recall that victims had been accepted to participate in the case against Ongwen and his co-accused LRA leaders Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, and Okot … Continue Reading

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Appeals Judgment on the Acquittal of Ngudjolo to be Announced February 24

Today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the appeal judgment on the acquittal of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui will be delivered on Tuesday, February 24. Trial Chamber II acquitted Ngudjolo of all charges on December 18, 2012 after they severed his trial from co-accused Germain Katanga.

Ngudjolo was charged with seven counts of war crimes (using children under the age of fifteen to take active part in hostilities, directing an attack against civilians, willful killing, destruction of property, pillaging, sexual slavery, and rape) and three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape, and sexual slavery) allegedly committed during an attack on the village of Bogoro in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on February 24, 2003.

The … Continue Reading

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