International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Court Ratifies Historic Sepur Zarco Sexual Violence Judgment

The High Risk Appellate Court upheld the historic Sepur Zarco judgment this week after unanimously rejecting the three appeals presented by the defense counsel of the two military officials convicted last February in the case. The judges read the summary of the ruling in an open session on Wednesday afternoon.

High Risk Tribunal A, presided over by Judge Yassmín Barrios, handed down the judgment on February 26, 2016. The trial court found Lieutenant Colonel Esteelmer Reyes Girón, former commander of Sepur Zarco military base, and former military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asig, guilty of all charges, sentencing them to 120 and 240 years respectively.

The court sentenced both officials to 30 years in prison for crimes against humanity against 14 women who were … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Testimony Enters Fourth Week as Court Goes on Recess

On Friday, the testimony of former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) entered its fourth week. It was also the last day of hearings before the court goes into summer recess.

On June 14, Ntaganda took the stand to testify in his defense at the ICC. He has since recounted his involvement in various rebel groups, which he said was motivated by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and inspired by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. Ntaganda told judges that he left his post in Rwanda’s national army to participate in groups that were fighting to liberate the Democratic Republic of Congo from the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.

Ntaganda explained that the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), in … Continue Reading

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To Detain or Not to Detain: A Human Rights Approach to Custody in Criminal Law

Earlier this week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber unanimously reversed a March 10, 2017 decision of Trial Chamber I on the detention of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo. Although Gbagbo will remain in prison at the ICC detention facility, the Appeals Chamber has tasked the trial chamber with conducting a new review to decide if the former head of state’s continued detention is warranted.

Gbagbo, 72, is charged with crimes against humanity following post-election violence in 2010 and 2011, which allegedly led to the killing of around 3,000 people. He has been on trial at the ICC, alongside his former youth minister Charles Blé Goudé, since January 28, 2016.

Previously, Gbagbo’s defense had requested his urgent release in 2014 in … Continue Reading

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ICC Appeals Chamber Reverses Decision on Laurent Gbagbo’s Detention; Orders New Review

On Wednesday, July 19, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) reversed Trial Chamber I’s ruling that former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo should remain in custody and ordered a new review in regards to whether he should be released. Gbagbo, who is 72 years old, has been in court custody since November 30, 2011 on four counts of crimes against humanity. He has sought interim release multiple times while in ICC custody, but the trial chamber has denied previous requests in part due to an alleged pro-Gbagbo movement that could help him escape, making him a flight risk.

The Impugned Decision

The trial chamber ruled in its March 2017 decision that circumstances had not changed enough to warrant Gbagbo’s … Continue Reading

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Réactions de la population d’une localité de l’Ituri sur le procès de Bosco Ntaganda

Cet article a été préparé par notre partenaire Radio Canal Révélation, une station radio basée à Bunia, en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), dans le cadre d’un projet de radio interactive pour la justice et la paix qui favorise la mise en débat des questions touchant à la justice en RDC. Les vues de la population relayées dans cet article sont celles des personnes interviewées et ne représentent pas forcément les vues de tous les membres de la communauté ni celles des victimes.

Les habitants de Lopa, quartier général de Bosco Ntaganda, dans la province de l’Ituri en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), réclament les enquêtes de la CPI et les réparations aux victimes des suites de sa présence dans leur … Continue Reading

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International Justice Day in Uganda Focuses on Ongwen’s Trial as Community Members Quiz ICC Officials at a Town Hall Meeting

July 17 is globally recognized as the “World Day for International Justice,” also referred to as the “Day of International Criminal Justice” or “International Justice Day.” The day is commemorated around the world as part of an effort to recognize the emerging system of international criminal justice and to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Since the ICC intervened in the Ugandan situation 13 years ago, International Justice Day in Uganda has revolved around activities of the court.  With the trial of Dominic Ongwen currently ongoing before the ICC, it is not surprising that this year’s commemoration focused the Ongwen case.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Denies Executing Insubordinate Rebel Fighters in Congo

On Wednesday, former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda denied shooting dead a rebel fighter of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia for allegedly refusing to participate in combat operations. While giving testimony in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ntaganda also rejected prosecution claims the militia in which he was a top commander shot dead fighters who were caught while attempting to desert.

“Is the information that you shot an individual who was 24 years old because he refused to participate in an operation true or not true?” asked prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson.

“I never executed any soldier from the UPC. I never killed a soldier who allegedly refused to go to the front,” replied Ntaganda.

Samson’s question was … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda nie avoir exécuté des combattants rebelles réfractaires au Congo

Mercredi, l’ancien commandant rebelle congolais Bosco Ntaganda a nié avoir abattu un combattant rebelle de l’Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) pour avoir refusé de participer à des opérations de combat. Alors qu’il apportait un témoignage pour sa propre défense devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), M. Ntaganda a également rejeté les affirmations de l’accusation selon lesquelles la milice au sein de laquelle il occupait des fonctions de commandant de haut rang avait abattu des combattants qui avaient été surpris alors qu’ils tentaient de déserter.

« Est-ce que l’information selon laquelle vous auriez abattu une personne de 24 ans parce qu’elle aurait refusé de participer à une opération est exacte ? », a demandé le substitut du procureur Nicole Samson.

« Je n’ai jamais exécuté aucun soldat de l’UPC. … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda nie avoir été le chef militaire de la milice de l’UPC

Dans la suite de son témoignage apporté devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), Bosco Ntaganda a nié les affirmations de l’accusation selon lesquelles il était de facto le chef militaire de la milice dénommée Union des patriotes congolais (UPC).

Lors du contre-interrogatoire mené par l’accusation, M. Ntaganda a déclaré qu’en 2002 et 2003, il était subordonné au chef d’état-major de l’UPC, Floribert Kisembo. Il a ajouté qu’il était également subordonné à Thomas Lubanga qui était le chef politique du groupe.

« Vous court-circuitiez M. Kisembo lorsque vous donniez des ordres et répondiez aux commandants. Est-ce exact ? », a demandé le substitut du procureur Nicole Samson.

« Si je les court-circuitais, alors notre armée aurait été détruite », a indiqué M. Ntaganda, qui exerçait les fonctions de chef d’état-major de l’UPC.

Lundi, … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Denies Being Military Leader of UPC Militia

In his continuing testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bosco Ntaganda has denied claims by the prosecution that he was the de facto military leader of the militia known as the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).

Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Ntaganda stated that during 2002 and 2003, he remained subordinate to the UPC’s chief of general staff, Floribert Kisembo. He added that he was also subordinate to Thomas Lubanga who was the group’s political leader.

“You bypassed Kisembo when giving orders and responding to commanders. Is that right?” asked prosecution lawyer Nicole Samson.

“If I short-circuited him, then our army would be destroyed,” said Ntaganda, who served as deputy chief of general staff in the UPC.

On Monday, Samson presented communication logs … Continue Reading

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