Mr. Karim Asad Ahmad Khan Appointed Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL (Da’esh) accountable
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Mr. Karim Asad Ahmad Khan of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as the Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team, which was established pursuant to Security Council resolution 2379 (2017), to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL (Da’esh) accountable by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group ISIL (Da’esh) in Iraq.
Mr. Khan is the first Head of the Investigative Team. He is a barrister and Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with more than 25 years of professional experience as an international criminal law and human rights lawyer. Mr. Khan has extensive experience in acting as prosecutor, victim’s counsel and defence lawyer in domestic and international criminal tribunals, including, but not limited to, the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Mr. Khan holds an LLB (Hons) in law from King’s College, University of London, and various other degrees and qualifications. Mr. Khan has studied and lectured on Islamic law and has published extensively in the area of international criminal justice and human rights.
Published on the UN News Center on May 31, 2018
THE PROSECUTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, FATOU BENSOUDA, REQUESTS JUDICIAL AUTHORISATION TO COMMENCE AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE SITUATION IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN.
The Situation in Afghanistan has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since 2006. After a comprehensive and careful scrutiny of the information available to the Office, applying the applicable Rome Statute legal criteria, the Prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation of the Situation in Afghanistan.
As required by the Statute, the Prosecutor has, therefore, requested authorisation from Pre-Trial Chamber III, for an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period from 1 May 2003, as well as other alleged crimes linked to the armed conflict in Afghanistan and committed on the territory of other States Parties to the Statute, since 1 July 2002. The Court does not have jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in the context of the Situation in Afghanistan before these cut-off dates.
As a result of its examination, the Office of the Prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the following categories of crimes within the Court's jurisdiction have occurred:
The Office has carefully assessed available information on any relevant, genuine national proceedings in relation to the conduct of these identified groups. In light of the gravity of the acts committed - the details of which are outlined in the Request - and the absence of relevant national proceedings against those who appear to be most responsible for the most serious crimes within this Situation, the Prosecutor considers that the potential cases that she has identified and that would arise from an investigation in this Situation, would be admissible pursuant to article 53(1)(b) of the Statute.
Furthermore, the Office has determined that there are no substantial reasons to believe that the opening of an investigation would not serve the interests of justice, taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of victims.
Today, as per the applicable rules, the Prosecutor also notified victims or their legal representatives, of her intention to request authorisation to initiate an investigation in the Situation in Afghanistan informing them that they have until 31 January 2018 to submit representations to the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III on her Request.
If the Pre-Trial Chamber authorises the Prosecutor to begin an investigation, as mandated by the Rome Statute, the Office's sole objective will be to independently, impartially and objectively investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan.
Based on the evidence collected by the Office during the course of an investigation, if authorised, the Prosecutor can request ICC Judges to issue either summons to appear or arrest warrants, against those, as a rule, believed to be most responsible, no matter who the perpetrator, for alleged atrocity crimes committed in connection with the Situation in Afghanistan.
Published on the ICC on November 20, 2017.
BY YONAH JEREMY BOB
Human Rights Watch demanded on Monday that its investigators be allowed into Gaza if Israel wants the International Criminal Court to take its own war-crimes investigations seriously.
HRW, in a 47-page report, accuses Israel of preventing its researchers from accessing Gaza and says Egypt has prevented HRW visits to the coastal territory since 2008.
Israel has not yet responded to the report but has said it investigates allegations made against its soldiers and has long accused HRW of unfair bias against Israel.
Recently, Israel has taken a more aggressive stance toward some human-rights NGOs, barring some activists from entering Israel and accusing them of involvement in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign and general efforts to delegitimize Israel.
“The travel restrictions call into question the Israeli military authorities’ claim to rely on human-rights organizations as an important source of information for their criminal investigations into potential serious crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza war,” the report said.
The report “documents how Israel systematically bars human-rights workers from traveling into and out of Gaza, even where the Israeli security services make no security claims against them as individuals. Egypt is also imposing severe travel restrictions on its border with Gaza.”
Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch said the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s office should take note of the restrictions in the context of its ongoing preliminary examination of the Palestine situation.
“If Israel wants the ICC prosecutor to take seriously its argument that its criminal investigations are adequate, a good first step would be to allow human-rights researchers to bring relevant information to light,” Bashi said. “Impeding the work of human-rights groups raises questions not just about the willingness of Israel’s military authorities to conduct genuine investigations, but also their ability to do so.”
HRW acknowledged that Hamas also has had a role in restricting access to and from Gaza, noting that, on March 26, the Hamas authorities in Gaza significantly tightened restrictions on passage between Gaza and Israel following the assassination of a senior member of its military wing, which Hamas blames on Israel.
“Hamas says it wants to stop the killers from fleeing Gaza. The Hamas authorities are blocking nearly all travel out of Gaza, unless it is for medical care or to visit relatives in Israeli prisons,” the report said, adding: “Palestinian authorities are not known to have investigated any alleged serious crimes committed in or from Gaza, such as the firing of rockets by militant groups in Gaza toward Israeli civilian areas.”
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories responded to the report, by stating that it “coordinates over 1,000 crossing daily for trade and business purposes, medical treatment, academic studies abroad, participation in conventions and advanced studies and more. The numbers speak for themselves, and you can see in 2016 over 310,139 crossings were listed through Erez Crossing from Gaza to Israel and vice versa,” said COGAT.
Further, COGAT said, “all requests are thoroughly examined by the Coordination and Liaison Administration to the Gaza Strip (CLA) and security officials. We coordinate the crossing of many humanrights organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, The Global Doctors Organization and many more on a regular basis.”
The Military Advocate General’s office (MAG) responded to the report, saying it attributes “great importance” to its “extensive and daily dialogue” with human-rights organizations, whose reporting, it said, provides important input into its decisions about whether to open a criminal investigation or how to obtain a fuller picture in existing investigations.
MAG also criticized documentation by human-rights organizations as suffering from “methodological, factual and legal flaws” and, in some cases, “a clear bias.”
It called the travel restrictions issued against human-rights workers as “unavoidable … due to weighty security and political considerations,” HRW said.
The report called on Israel to “end the generalized travel ban and allow access to and from Gaza for all Palestinians, subject only to individual security screening and physical inspection... Until the travel ban is canceled, the authorities should add human-rights workers to those eligible for travel permits.”
“Egypt should also facilitate travel for human-rights workers via its border, and the Hamas authorities should protect human-rights workers from retribution,” the report said.
Published on The Jerusalem Post on April 3, 2017.
A court in Ivory Coast has acquitted the former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges linked to her role in a 2011 civil war that killed about 3,000 people, state television announced on Tuesday.
Judge Kouadio Bouatchi said a jury unanimously voted to free Gbagbo. The prosecution had asked for a life sentence, saying she had participated on a committee that organised abuses against supporters of her husband’s opponent after the 2010 election.
More than 3,000 people were killed after the former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to the current president, Alassane Ouattara.
The trial, the west African country’s first for crimes against humanity, was held in an Ivorian court after the government rejected her extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
“We are happy. Since the start of the trial we proclaimed her innocence. The prosecution’s case against her was empty,” Gbagbo’s lawyer, Mathurin Dirabou, told Reuters after the verdict was announced.
Tuesday’s acquittal was a surprise for many. Simone Gbagbo did not attend the trial in protest and was not present for the verdict.
“I’m disappointed and sad for the victims today. Only international justice can fight against impunity, it seems. We can no longer trust Ivorian justice,” said Issiaka Diaby, president of the association for victims of the crisis.
Simone Gbagbo had already been tried and convicted in March 2015 of offences against the state and sentenced to 20 years in prison, a jail term that was upheld on appeal this month.
Prosecutors in her war crimes trial alleged she was part of a small group of party officials from Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) that planned violence against supporters of Ouattara to stop him taking power.
Her husband, Laurent, is standing trial before the ICC on similar charges connected to the brief conflict.
Published on The Guardian's website on March 28, 2017.
The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites may amount to war crimes, a new resolution adopted by the UN Security Council says. Officials have warned of "cultural cleansing" in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution strengthening the protection of global cultural heritage sites threatened by conflicts, saying perpetrators could be prosecuted for war crimes.
The resolution urges nations to increase efforts to preserve historic monuments and sites in conflict zones. The onset of the 21st century witnessed attacks against global heritage sites increase significantly, including the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan and Timbuktu's ancient shrines in Mali.
Previous efforts by the Council to safeguard cultural heritage focused on the illicit trafficking of looted cultural relics to fund terrorist activities in Iraq and Syria, where the "Islamic State" militant group destroyed UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Roman ruins at Palmyra.
However, Friday's resolution called for further international cooperation in investigations and prosecutions of individuals and groups committing attacks against cultural heritage sites, monuments and relics.
The resolution affirmed that "directing unlawful attacks against sites and buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, or historic monuments may constitute, under certain circumstances and pursuant to international law, a war crime and that perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to justice."
UNESCO Director Irina Bokova described the resolution as "historic," saying it reflected the "recognition of the importance of cultural heritage for peace and security."
"Heritage is identity - it is belonging," Bokova told the Council after the resolution passed. "The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime - it has become a tactic of war, in a global strategy of cultural cleansing."
The resolution comes after the International Criminal Court in The Hague last year sentenced a Malian jihadist for the destruction of shrines and a mosque in the fabled city of Timbuktu.
On Monday, several countries, including France and Saudi Arabia, pledged $75.5 million for the protection of cultural heritage sites threatened by conflicts and terrorist attacks.
At the donor conference held in the Louvre museum in Paris, French President Francois Hollande said the destruction of cultural heritage added to the persecution of populations in conflict zones in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
"[It's] the same objective: to break what was there before in order to kill hope afterwards, to eradicate human and cultural diversity," he said, vowing to raise $100 million for the protection of heritage sites by 2019.
This article was published on DW's website on March 25, 2017.
The International Criminal Court Friday ordered 297 victims of ex-Congolese warlord Germain Katanga to each be paid "a symbolic" $250 in damages for a brutal 2003 attack on their village, in the tribunal's first such award.
Awarding both individual and collective damages, the court also found that Katanga was liable for one million dollars of the total damages estimated at $3.7 million (3.4 million euros).
Katanga was sentenced by the ICC to 12 years in jail in 2014, after being convicted on five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the February 2003 ethnic attack on Bogoro village in Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He was accused of supplying weapons to his militia in the attack in which some 200 people were shot and hacked to death with machetes.
"The chamber has assessed the scope of the prejudice to 297 victims as $3,752,620. The chamber sets the amount to be contributed by Mr Katanga towards the reparations as one million dollars," said presiding judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut.
He recognised however that Katanga, currently imprisoned in Kinshasa where he is on trial on other charges arising out of the unrest in the Ituri region, was penniless or "indigent" and had no home or possessions.
The court acknowledged that the "symbolic amount of $250 to each victim of Mr Katanga ... does not make up for the totality of the crime," Perrin de Brichambaut said.
However it "can grant some measure of autonomy to the victims by making it possible for them to engage in some kind of activity... and make relevant decisions pertaining to their current needs."
Friday's order for reparations is a landmark step for the tribunal, set up in 2002 to prosecute the world's worst crimes, and marks the first time that monetary values have been placed on the harm caused by such crimes.
The court asked the Trust Fund for Victims, set up under the tribunal's founding guidelines to support victims, to consider using its resources to pay for the reparations and to come up with a plan for the court by late June.
Legal representatives for the victims had assessed the damage caused by the attack at $16.4 million in a filing to the court last year.
Katanga was watching Friday's order from his prison in Kinshasa, while five victims representing the group followed in the village of Bunia with their lawyers.
This article was published on The New Indian Express on March 24, 2017.
Le Sénat colombien a approuvé lundi 13 mars une réforme constitutionnelle créant un système judiciaire spécial pour juger les crimes de guerre commis pendant le conflit qui a opposé la guérilla des Farc aux gouvernements colombiens successifs pendant plus de cinquante ans. C'est un élément clé de l'accord de paix négocié entre le gouvernement et la guérilla des Farc et signé en novembre dernier.
La réforme instaure un dispositif appelé « Système intégral de justice, de vérité, de réparation et de non-répétition » qui s’articule en trois volets : une Commission pour la vérité, une Unité pour la recherche des personnes considérées comme disparues pendant le conflit entre les Farc et les forces gouvernementales, et une Juridiction spéciale pour la paix (JEP).
Tous peuvent être jugés: rebelles, soldats ou paramilitaires
Selon le texte, la JEP administrera la justice de manière « transitoire et autonome » concernant les actions commises avant le 1er décembre 2016 dans le cadre du conflit armé par les guérilleros qui se sont conformés à l'accord de paix et ont déposé les armes, par des agents de l'Etat colombien et par des civils. La justice spéciale sera compétente pour juger notamment les crimes contre l'humanité commis lors des 52 années du conflit, quel qu'en soit l'auteur: un rebelle, un soldat officiel ou un paramilitaire.
L'accord de paix comportait aussi une loi d'amnistie, approuvée en décembre par les députés et les sénateurs, mais dont sont exclus les auteurs de crimes contre l'humanité, lesquels seront soumis à la JEP. Les sentences pourront aller de deux jusqu'à 20 ans de prison pour ceux qui seront condamnés et refuseront de reconnaître leurs actes. La JEP pourra condamner les justiciables à des peines alternatives à la prison à condition qu'ils disent toute la vérité sur les faits qui leur sont reprochés.
This article was published on RFI's website on March 14, 2017.
By Stephanie Nebehay
A new body is being set up at the United Nations in Geneva to prepare prosecutions of war crimes committed in Syria, U.N. officials and diplomats said on Thursday.
The General Assembly voted to establish the mechanism in December and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to name a judge or prosecutor as its head this month.
"We expect to start very, very shortly with just a handful of people," a U.N. human rights official told Reuters.
The team will "analyze information, organize and prepare files on the worst abuses that amount to international crimes - primarily war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide - and identify those responsible", she said.
While it would not be able to prosecute itself, the idea is to prepare files for future prosecution that states or the International Criminal Court in The Hague could use.
The focus on prosecutions means evidence collected since 2011 by a U.N. Commission of Inquiry may be sharpened into legal action.
The COI has issued 20 reports accusing the Assad government, rebel forces and Islamic State of mass killings, rapes, disappearances and recruiting child soldiers.
It too lacks a prosecutorial mandate, but has denounced a state policy amounting to "extermination", and has compiled a confidential list of suspects on all sides, kept in a safe.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International said last week the Syrian government executed up to 13,000 prisoners in mass hangings and carried out systematic torture at a military jail. Syria denied the report, calling "devoid of truth".
A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a former Syrian opposition fighter who now lives in Sweden to life in prison for war crimes.
A U.N. report in January put the start-up budget for the new team at $4-6 million. So far $1.8 million has been donated, the U.N. official said. Funding is voluntary, posing a major challenge.
The United Nations aims to recruit 40-60 experts in investigations, prosecutions, the military, and forensics, diplomats said.
"It's a very important step. It will not only allow court cases but also help us preserve evidence if there are cases in the future," a senior Western diplomat said.
Legal experts and activists welcomed the initiative.
"The focus is on collecting evidence and building criminal cases before the trail goes cold," said Andrew Clapham, professor of international law at Geneva's Graduate Institute.
Jeremie Smith of the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies said the United Nations must lay the groundwork for prosecutions ahead of any "exodus" of perpetrators when the war ends.
"This is the only way to make sure criminals don't get away by fleeing the scene of the crime."
The new team will seek to establish command responsibility.
"This is mass collection of information on all sides with a view to prosecution in the future by the ICC (International Criminal Court), national courts or in some completely new international tribunal that would be created," Clapham said.
Many national courts could pursue suspects using its dossiers, he said. States that have joined the ICC could bring cases to the Hague court, without referral by the Security Council.
This article was published on Reuters' website on February 16, 2017.