In Global Justice news this week: Recanted witness testimony inadmissible in ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua Sang; ICC Trust Fund for Victims to report on reparations; Al-Bashir case before South African court; UN concerned about new violence in Darfur; Colombia’s transitional justice plan facing challenges; alarm grows over grave crimes in Syria and much more.
International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges have reversed a decision allowing the recanted testimony of several prosecution witnesses to be admitted as evidence in the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua Sang, accused of orchestrating crimes against humanity in Kenya’s 2007-08 post-election violence. The ICC prosecutor alleged that five witnesses were intimidated to withdraw and sought to have their original testimonies accepted as evidence under an amendment to Rule 68 of the Court’s Rules and Procedures of Evidence adopted by the ICC’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), on 28 November 2013.
In their unanimous decision on 12 February 2016, judges said that the Trial Chamber had erred in allowing the prosecution to introduce the testimony as the rule was adopted after the opening of the trial on 10 September 2013. They upheld the defense appeal that the rule should not have been applied retroactively as it is to the detriment of the accused. Presiding Judge Piotr Hofmanski stressed that the chamber’s decision was based solely on the ICC statute and rules prohibiting non-retroactivity, noting that the history of the ASP’s drafting of the rule on the admission of prior recorded testimony does not reveal that it cannot be applied to pending cases.
International Criminal Court investigations
Democratic Republic of Congo: Both the prosecution and the defense trial of the Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda faced difficulties related to witness testimony this week. ICC judges have asked the DRC government for information on domestic proceedings being brought against a recently released ICC convict Germain Katanga. ICC judges have ordered the Trust Fund for Victims to provide more information on how victims in the case against the ICC’s first convict Thomas Lubanga case before the end of the year.
Darfur: The UN expressed concern about growing numbers of displaced persons fleeing violence. Meanwhile, two additional human rights organizations have joined the case in the Supreme Court of Appeal against South Africa for not arresting ICC fugitive Omar Al-Bashir last June.
Côte d’Ivoire: Four prosecution witness identities were revealed in the trial of former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo this week, for which judge Tarfusser apologized. The ICC said an investigation is underway into the matter. Courtroom sketcher Aloys Oosterwijk made a graphic reportage of the second day of Gbagbo trial.
ICC preliminary examinations
Colombia: Colombia faces several challenges regarding the security sector when setting its system of transitional justice.
Nigeria: Recent attacks by Boko Haram’s militants reportedly caused the deaths of at least 85 people and thousands to flee.
Georgia: Considerations on the first ICC investigation outside of Africa.
Ukraine: Human Right Watch released a report alleging deliberate attacks and military use of schools in the conflict in Ukraine.
Palestine: Palestinian Human Rights Organizations submitted communications to the ICC on war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in August 2014.
Around the world
Alarm grows in Syria as the UN labeled the worsening human rights situation as “grotesque.”
Human rights experts encouraged Malawi to stay a member of the ICC.
The Office of the Prosecutor is monitoring reports of escalating violence in Djibouti.
The Institute for Security Studies is working to strengthen justice mechanisms in Africa through the training of judges, prosecutors and police.
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