Posts Tagged ‘Transitional Justice’

Demjanjuk Nazi Trial Begins Today

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

The trial of Ohio-resident John Demjanjuk on charges of being an accessory as a Nazi guard in the murder of 27,900 people in the Nazi death camp Sobibor in 1943 started today. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to 15 yearsthat he is extremely unlikely to fulfill. (Read here, here, here). In the early 1980s, Demjanjuk was accused of being the notorious guard “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp. He was deported to Israel in 1986 and sentenced to death in 1988, but the Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1993 after finding reasonable doubt that he was the guard in question. In 2002, the U.S. Justice Department charged Demjanjuk with being a guard at Sobibor and revoked his citizenship for lying about his Nazi past in order to gain citizenship. He was extradited to Germany in May after new evidence allowed the current charges to be brought. He cannot be tried under US law. Read more…

Karadžić trial update: UK lawyer appointed as standby counsel

November 25, 2009 2 comments

The ICTY said yesterday that Radovan Karadžić cannot appeal against the court’s decision to appoint to him legal counsel (Full decision here) after he boycotted proceedings. Judges ordered earlier this month that legal counsel be appointed to Karadžić and adjourned his trial until March 2010 to give new defence lawyers time to prepare. On November 20, the  ICTY named Richard Harvey QC, a lawyer with experience in The Hague representing war crimes suspects from Kosovo and the Bloody Sunday Inquiry to represent Radovan Karadžić if the former Bosnian Serb leader continues to boycott his trial when it resumes in next year. The ruling on November 5 to appoint counsel allows for Karadžić to continue representing himself, but he will have to work with an appointed lawyer. If he continues to boycott the trial, then Karadžić will forfeit his right to self-representation and the appointed lawyer will take over. The Registrar’s Office has stated that representatives of the Registrar’s Office met with Karadžic “…in order for him ‘to express his preference concerning the list of attorneys made by the Registrar. Although the indictee asked the Registrar to let him have an opportunity to meet the attorneys whose names are included in the list, in order for him to be able to say which of them he prefers, (…) after he had met them, the indictee did not say what his preference would be.’” Karadžić’s trial was adjourned just days after it began last month when the defendant refused to show up in court, saying he needed ten additional months to prepare his defence.

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Iraq Inquiry Begins but Questions Remain

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

In the UK, the Iraq Inquiry (also referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry) into the 2003-present Iraq war began hearing evidence yesterday. On the first day of proceedings (24 November), Sir Peter Ricketts, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in 2001 told the inquiry that containment policy in 2001, which included sanctions, was “failing”. He also said that they were aware in around February 2001 that White House officials were discussing “regime change” in Iraq, but that it was not UK policy until after September 11, 2001. Sir William Patey, the former head of the Foreign Office’s Middle East Department was asked if containment policy “could have continued like that until such time as [Hussein] departed?” to which Patey replied “Possibly”.

The Inquiry was announced on 15 June 2009 by the Prime Minister. It is an inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors with broad terms of reference to consider the UK’s involvement in Iraq from mid-2001 to July 2009. It will cover the run-up to the conflict, the subsequent military action and its aftermath with the purpose to establish the way decisions were made, to determine what happened and to identify lessons to ensure that in a similar situation in future, the UK government is equipped to respond in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country. 

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Karadzic genocide trial resumes in his absence

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

The familiar adage that justice delayed is justice denied will get a few more outings after the trial of Radovan Karadzic (case IT-95-5/18 ) predictably hit the buffers once more. Mr Karadzic is standing trial as the highest political and military authority in the ethnic splinter state of Republika Srpska in Bosnia Herzegovina during some of the Bosnian War. Prosecutors accuse him of either ordering, encouraging or failing to prevent crimes, including the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, when Bosnian Serb forces murdered about 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim males, and the three-year shelling of Sarajevo, which killed more than 10,000. The trial started yesterday and was due to start with the opening prosecution statement, spread out over two days. Karadzic, was also to be given two days to make an opening statement. Yesterday, presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon adjourned proceedings after less than half an hour after Mr Karadzic’s refused to appear. Karadzic Read more…

High Court Rules Dublin Archdiocese Abuse Report be Partially Published

October 15, 2009 1 comment

fourcourtsThe flow of information and inquiry on institutional abuses in the church continues to change from a trickle to a torrent after Mr Justice Paul Gilligan in the High Court ruled that most of the report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation into the handling by the Catholic Church authorities of child sex abuse allegations against priests in the diocese may be published. The report was compiled followed an investigation by the Commission into how clerical child sex abuse allegations involving a sample of 46 priests were handled by Catholic Church authorities in Dublin between January 1st, 1975, and April 30th, 2004. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern referred the report on the Attorney General’s advice it to the High Court to seek direction because some of the individuals concerned are facing or may face criminal proceedings (Under section 38 of the Commission of Investigation Act 2004, the Minister for Justice must seek directions from the High Court if it is felt publication of a commission report might prejudice criminal proceedings, pending or in progress). Mr Justice Gilligan ruled that chapter 19 of the report or any references to the subject matter of Chapter 19 can not be published until the court directs. Significantly, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said his “personal preference would be for the report to come out quickly and in its integrity because, reading it in its integrity, the question emerges better”. The difference between Archbishop Martin and his predecessor Cardinal Desmond Connell on these issues could not be greater. While prevarication, obfuscation and denial were the default positions of the latter, Martin has followed in a trend visible in other similar powerful state or quasi-state centres of abuse like armies and secret police services in liberalising societies in realising the justice and psychosocial healing that can flow from such inquiries. It is regrettable that other dioceses have not been as pro-active on the issue. The victim’s group One in Four have urged full publication of the report in due course.

Evidence Concluded in First Khmer Rouge Trial

September 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Cambodia Khmer RougeThe Khmer Rouge tribunal in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Thursday concluded the hearing of evidence in the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, after 72 days of substantive hearings. He is best known for heading the Khmer Rouge special branch and running the infamous Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison camp in Phnom Penh. On July 31, 2007, Duch was formally charged with crimes against humanity and detained by the hybrid tribunal. He was prosecuted by international co prosecutors William Smith and Anees Ahmed and charged “of personally overseeing the systematic torture of more than 15,000 prisoners.” In his final testimony, Duch accepted responsibility for his role in overseeing the prison and asked for forgiveness from the families of the victims, gestures he has made several times during the trial. He also told the court that he was ready to accept heavy punishment for his actions. He has denied personally killing or torturing the S-21 prisoners, and said he felt compelled by fear for his own life to follow the orders of senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

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Sinn Féin in a Quandary Over Compensation for HR Abuses

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment

MARTIN-MC-GUINNESSThe new departure in securing accountability for human rights abuses in Northern Ireland examined here last week continues apace after DUP Assembly member Jeffrey Donaldson very cleverly put the cat amongst the pigeons in the North by making it clear that Republicans will be asked to back IRA victims’ compensation case against Libya during the first session of the Northern Ireland Assembly today. Members of the NI Assembly are to debate the issue of compensation from Libya for IRA victims. The DUP motion, introduced by both Donaldson and Nigel Dodds, calls on the UK government to put pressure on Libya to provide compensation.

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Amnesty Ireland Reject Impunity in Timor Leste

September 3, 2009 3 comments

ETAs we approach the tenth anniversary of Timor Leste’s tumultuous vote for independence from Indonesia after twenty-six years of brutal repression, both the Irish Times and the executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland have made well-intentioned but essentially misguided demand for an international tribunal for Timor Leste to punish crimes committed by Indonesia (“Timor Leste accused of forsaking justice for sake of reconciliation”, August 28) . While the failure of the international community to press for a full international tribunal in 1999 was both regrettable and counter-productive, two democratically elected and representative governments of the sort Timor activists fought so long to establish have decided to eschew the metaphysical benefits of justice (and what punishment can ever be proportionate to what happened?) to maintain good relations with an Indonesian behemoth that dwarves it in size and power and on which it remains financially dependent. In so doing, they have been amply assisted by the international community, keen to bolster Indonesia’s fragile but ever-stronger democracy and unwilling to alienate a key ally in the Global War on Terror. The Dili government is far from alone in choosing the guaranteed benefits of reconciliation over the quixotic pursuit of justice through inefficient and slow international tribunals, even if there were a possibility that the UN would undergo the expense and trouble of pursuing justice in so marginal a location. The choice to abjure accountability is one that has been made in countless Latin American, Eastern European and African transitions, for better or worse.

Given the chronic instability noted in the piece (widespread unrest in 2006 and attempted assassinations of the President and Prime Minister in 2008) and the precarious nature of the Timorese urban and rural economies, one must understand this policy decision to maintain necessary trading relations and to keep Indonesia itself stable over calls for an international tribunal. In reality, the violence in 2006 and attempted assassinations in 2008 have little relation to the Indonesia issue or the divisions of the occupation and instead represent the awkward beginnings of a democratic, rights-respecting polity in a desperately poor state. As such, it behoves Ireland to respect the will of Timor Leste’s elected representatives, distasteful as impunity may seem to us and no doubt to the Timorese themselves. While the executive director of Amnesty in Ireland, says Ireland should “use its influence to demand an international criminal tribunal to secure justice for the Timorese people”, we should only do so if this is reflects the clear will of the Timorese population who remain ore concerned with more prosaic matters like feeding themselves, finding employment and developing a sustainable economy. Ireland’s own extravagant clemency towards IRA criminality in the interests of reconciliation should at least suggest we might more profitably inspect the plank in our own eyes than the speck of sawdust in Dili’s. Finally, one can only echo the opinion expressed by the Amnesty that in view of our own economic difficulties it would be regrettable if Ireland’s laudable legacy of aid and assistance was damaged by expedient cuts in the aid budget.