International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Key Issues in Bemba’s Appeal Hearing Against ICC Conviction

Did former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) militia have an organizational policy to attack civilians? And did the nature and scope of the attacks warrant their classification as crimes against humanity? These are among the key issues that will be addressed during an oral hearing in Bemba’s appeal against conviction for crimes committed 15 years ago. The hearing is scheduled to begin on January 9 and will last up to five days.

In March 2016, Trial Chamber III at the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Bemba – the former head of the MLC – of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in failing to punish or deter his troops who committed … Continue Reading

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Mass Burial Takes Place of Ixil Victims of the Guatemalan Armed Conflict

As the genocide trial continues to unfold before High Risk Court “B” in Guatemala, a mass burial of 172 Maya Ixil victims of the armed conflict took place in the village of Santa Avelina, San Juan Cotzal, Quiché, in the heart of the Maya Ixil region of Guatemala. Human rights lawyers have confirmed to International Justice Monitor that at least one of the survivors from Santa Avelina is a witness in the ongoing cases against Efraín Ríos Montt and Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.

The victims were from Santa Avelina, one of the “model villages” created by the Guatemalan army during the internal armed conflict to control the population it suspected of working with the guerrillas. One survivor, José Ceto, told El Periódico … Continue Reading

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Judge Orders Prosecution Experts to Testify on Ongwen’s Mental Health

The issue of Dominic Ongwen’s mental health while he was a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has become a matter Trial Chamber IX will have to assess when the judges weigh the evidence presented during Ongwen’s trial.

This follows the order Single Judge of Trial Chamber IX, Bertram Schmitt, issued allowing three prosecution mental health experts to testify at the end of the prosecution case. Judge Schmitt made his November 16 decision after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested Witnesses P-445, P-446, and P-447 be allowed to testify.

Bensouda made her October 24 request after the issue of Ongwen’s mental fitness to stand trial was addressed in December last year, and related matters arose earlier this year. She also made the … Continue Reading

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Lubanga’s Financial Liability for Reparations Set at US$ 10 Million

Today, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges issued a decision setting the amount of Thomas Lubanga’s financial liability for reparations to victims of his crimes at US$ 10 million.

This liability is the highest judges at the court have placed on an individual – 10 times that of former Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga’s, which was set at US$ 1 million. Malian national Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, who was convicted for attacking religious and historical monuments, was issued a reparations liability of €2.7 million (US$ 3.18 million).

In a ruling delivered this morning, judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (Presiding), Olga Herrera Carbuccia, and Péter Kovács noted that the scope of a convicted person’s liability is proportionate to the harm caused and, among other things, … Continue Reading

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Witness Asks ICC to Help Children Born to LRA Abductees

A woman who had a child while she was an abductee of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist children born to LRA abductees or made orphan by conflict in northern Uganda.

Witness P-006 told the court the LRA abducted her when she was 16 or 17 years old during the October 10, 2003 attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people (IDP). She said she was later made a “wife” to an LRA fighter and had a child while in captivity. Witness P-006 said since escaping the group she has found it difficult to provide for her child.

She testified on November 30 in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. … Continue Reading

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La responsabilité financière de M. Lubanga fixée à 10 millions de dollars US

Aujourd’hui, les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont rendu une décision fixant le montant de la responsabilité financière de M. Lubanga pour les réparations aux victimes de ses crimes à 10 millions de dollars US.

Cette responsabilité est la plus élevée que les juges de la Cour aient attribué à une personne, soit 10 fois celle de l’ancien chef rebelle congolais Germain Katanga, qui avait été fixée à 1 million de dollars US.
Le citoyen malien Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, qui a été condamné pour avoir attaqué des monuments historiques et religieux, s’est vu attribué une responsabilité de réparation de 2,7 millions d’euros (soit 3,18 millions de dollars US).

Dans une décision rendue ce matin, les juges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (juge président), Olga Herrera Carbuccia et Péter … Continue Reading

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Victims Testify in Genocide Retrial of Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez

Petrona Raymundo Brito was eight years old in October 1982, when the army arrived in her village in the Ixil region of Quiché in northwestern Guatemala. “When they arrived they burned our belongings, they burned our crops, and they killed our animals,” she told the court that is hearing genocide charges against former military intelligence chief Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez. She also testified in closed-door proceedings against former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who is being prosecuted separately from Rodríguez Sánchez.

“They killed many people. My uncle and my aunt died there. They also killed my brother-in-law Jacinto Chen,” stated Raymundo Brito. Because of the army massacres, she said, “we fled to the mountains. Helicopters filled with soldiers passed overhead. They shot at … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Survivors of LRA Attack on Abok Still Have Nightmares

A leader of the Abok camp for internally displaced people (IDP) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that some survivors of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the camp 13 years ago still have nightmares about that attack.

Cyprian Ayoo told the court Abok was attacked around eight at night on June 8, 2004, and the attack continued for up to three hours during which time he heard three exchanges of gunfire and saw the homes of camp residents being set on fire. Ayoo said some of the residents who were abducted returned the following day after Ugandan government soldiers pursued the LRA.

“Were they [survivors of the Abok attack] fearful of another attack happening?” asked Megan Hirst, a lawyer representing … Continue Reading

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DNA Expert Says Tests Show Ongwen is the Father of 11 Children

The question of whether Dominic Ongwen fathered 12 children during his time with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was the subject of the November 27 hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ate Kloosterman, a DNA expert, told the court he conducted two separate tests on samples from 12 children and Dominic Ongwen to determine the paternity of the children. He said the results showed that 11 of them are most likely Ongwen’s children. Kloosterman said the tests showed the probability of this to be 99.9 percent.

The question of paternity in the trial of Ongwen, a former LRA commander, may be relevant because Ongwen has been charged with two counts of forced pregnancy as a war crime and as a crime … Continue Reading

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Judges to Pronounce Lubanga’s Financial Liability for Reparations

This Friday, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges will declare the financial liability that former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga will bear in reparation to victims of his crimes. In the only case at the court in which judges have made such a ruling, they determined that former militia leader Germain Katanga – also Congolese – bears a financial liability of US$ 1 million.

Lubanga, the first person tried by the ICC, was convicted in March 2012 of the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years and using them in armed conflict in Congo’s Ituri district during 2002 and 2003, and he was handed a 14-year prison term. In December 2014, the ICC Appeals Chamber, by … Continue Reading

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