BY SALLEH BUANG – 5 MAY 2016 @ 11:01 AM
Recent United Nations agency reports coming out of Aleppo, Syria, make for extremely distressful reading. According to one released on Feb 8 entitled “Out of sight, out of mind: Deaths in detention”, we are told that detainees held by the Syrian government have been killed on a massive scale.
Bluntly calling it a “state policy of extermination of the civilian population”, investigators of a UN commission of inquiry had called upon the Security Council to impose “targeted sanctions” on individuals (high-ranking officials) responsible for, or complicit in, such crimes against humanity.
The report was based on interviews with 621 survivors and witnesses, as well as documented evidence gathered by a team of investigators led by International Commission of Inquiry for Syria chairman Paulo Pinheiro, who said: “Prison officials, their superiors throughout the hierarchy, high-ranking officials in military hospitals and the military police corps, as well as the government, are aware that deaths on a massive scale are occurring.”
According to an Amnesty International report in May last year, Syrian forces have been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Aleppo, killing more than 11,000 civilians since 2012 by relentlessly dropping barrel bombs on the civilian population.
Barrel bombs are crudely constructed destructive weapons made of oil drums, barrels, fuel tanks or gas cylinders packed with explosives, fuel and metal fragments, and dropped from helicopters.
The Amnesty report said: “Such systematic attack on the civilian population, when carried out as part of government policy as appears to have been the case in Aleppo, would also constitute a crime against humanity.”
However, in an interview last year, President Bashar al-Assad had stated categorically that barrel bombs had never been used by his forces. From January 2014 to March last year, more than 3,000 civilians in Aleppo province were killed in barrel bomb attacks. Over that 14-month period, at least 14 public markets, 12 transport hubs, 23 mosques, 17 hospitals and medical centres, and three schools were targeted by the Syrian regime.
Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Programme, expressed sorrow at the lack of concern by the international community towards the bloodshed in Aleppo. He said the people of Aleppo felt abandoned and had lost all hope for the future. “More than a year ago, the UN passed a resolution calling for an end to human rights abuses, specifically barrel bomb attacks, promising there would be consequences if the government failed to comply. “Today, the international community has turned its back on Aleppo’s civilians in a cold-hearted display of indifference to an escalating human tragedy,” he said.
Aleppo was once a thriving commercial centre, its history going back to 5000 BC. In modern times, it became Syria’s largest city and the country’s industrial and financial centre. In 2005, just over a decade ago, its population had increased to 2.3 million. Unfortunately, in July 2012, the city turned into a major battleground when rebel fighters launched an offensive to oust government forces and gain control over northern Syria.
However, the rebel victory is not decisive and Aleppo remains divided into opposition and loyalist-controlled sectors, with some parts changing hands on a daily basis. The rebel forces control the east, while the government controls the west. For the last four years, Aleppo has became a bloody battleground between the Assad regime and the Islamic State — both trying to gain control. The UN had called the continued fighting in Aleppo as a “monstrous disregard” for civilian lives.
According to a recent United Nations Children’s Fund report, at least two million Syrian children have dropped out of school because of the war. The BBC described them as the “lost generation”. Barrel bombs, airstrikes and continuous fighting have caused millions of Syrians to flee the country, seeking refuge in Lebanon, Turkey and Western Europe. This is still happening today, with no indication when the violence will end. Exactly a week ago, last Thursday , there was another bloodbath when at least 50 people were killed in a series of airstrikes, including an attack on a hospital.
Jan Egeland, chairman of the UN humanitarian task force for Syria, said there had been a “catastrophic deterioration in Aleppo over the last 24 to 48 hours”. For Mohammed Alloush, the Syrian opposition negotiator in the Geneva peace talks, last week’s airstrikes became the latest war crimes of the Assad government. Syria’s state-run SANA news agency denied that government planes were responsible for the assault, and Russia’s Defence Ministry issued a statement saying it had not carried out the airstrikes.
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said the world should be ashamed of the devastating human toll in the senseless fighting in Syria, where many people (who survive the airstrikes) continue to face appalling desolation, hunger and starvation. German news magazine Der Spiegel described Aleppo as a “nightmare worse than Sarajevo”.
In the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation intervened. The Dayton Accords soon followed and peace was finally restored. In Aleppo, there is no sign of peace coming any time soon. A new round of UN-backed peace talks has been scheduled to start in Geneva, Switzerland, next Tuesday. Can this revived “peace process” bring peace to Aleppo? Over the last four years, some 270,000 of its people have been killed and millions displaced. How many more will have to die before peace is restored in Aleppo?
Salleh Buang formerly served in the Attorney-General’s Chambers before leaving for practice, the corporate sector, and then, the academia
LAST week was remarkable. First there was what the Washington Post (March 23) headlined as “Sophisticated bombings in Brussels alarm intel officials.”
This was somewhat overshadowed by the long-awaited sentencing of Radovan Karadzic, the “Butcher of Bosnia”, convicted of murdering over 7,000 people and other crimes against humanity committed some 10 years ago in Bosnia.
A special UN court in The Hague ruled him accountable for the Srebrenica atrocities where the genocide of Bosnian Muslim men and boys were planned and executed.
According to Amnesty International it was “the most serious crime under international law carried out on European soil since the Second World War” by Europeans.
One notch below that of the Nazis.
Yet Karadzic arrogantly predicted: “My expectations are the same (as they always were). I know what I wanted, what I did, even what I dreamed of, and there is no reasonable court that would convict me.”
He was dead wrong! After a long trial over eight years, he was proven guilty of 10 of the 11 charges against him, including extermination, persecution, forcible transfer, terror and hostage taking in a UN “safe area” meekly manned by the Dutch peacemakers.
War criminals must not be allowed to strive on their exaggerated sense of self-adulation with the world keeping their eyes selectively shut.
The Criminalise War Club-Tun Suffian Foundation held the 1st International Symposium “Coalition of Younger Generation Say ‘No’ To War” in Putrajaya last week. It was well attended by young Japanese and Malaysians actively interacting with each other.
The timing could not have been better.
Approved by the Ministry of Education on Oct 19, 2012, the first Criminalise War Club was established by students of Kolej Tunku Kurshiah, a year later on April 11.
This was followed by Cempaka International School on Sept 25, and Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah on June 20, 2014.
The aim is to build a community led by the younger generation with the full knowledge, awareness and understanding of the effects of war, especially on women and children.
It strives to forge understanding and a sense of responsibility among the students to oppose wars and armed conflicts, to inculcate high moral values that war is a crime against humanity and global peace, to inspire compliance of school regulations and the laws of the nation, to formulate guidance to encourage students to carry out activities to promote peace and humanity, and to create a student community ready to accept its responsibility towards religion, people and the nation.
It is backed by the Criminalise War Clubs Charter that was oficially launched and endorsed on Nov 20, 2012 at Dewan Tun Dr Ismail, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur.
The event saw a presentation by a Nagasaki bomb survivor, Sumiteru Taniguchi, who related the tragic experiences that he went through on Aug 9, 1945, three days after the first bombing in Hiroshima.
Over 200,000 people were killed in both atrocities. Karadzic’s horrendous crimes clearly pale in comparison.
Taniguchi on the 70th anniversary of the event last year had warned the Japanese prime minister that changes to the country’s pacifist constitution would lead Japan “back to the wartime period”.
This he reiterated saying it goes against the wishes of the survivors and it jeopardises the long-standing movement for nuclear abolition that is actively supported on many fronts.
He should know because his life is left literally scarred. He was thrown from his bicycle while delivering letters as a postman.
Being within a kilometre from the epicentre of the five-tonne plutonium bomb explosion, detonated 500 metres above him, his back was spilt apart.
Then he was just 16. Now frail at 87, his body is criss-crossed with deep scars. Since then he has not been able to fully straighten his left arm, while three of his ribs have rotted away following the attack and still press against his lungs, creating an unnaturally sunken chest.
To reduce the constant pain and irritation, his wife has to apply “moisturising cream” on his scars every morning. Still his resolve to work with the Nagasaki survivors’ group that he leads in the struggle against nuclear proliferation remains unabated.
The question that comes to mind is that if Karadzic, who “exterminated” some 7,000 civilians, could be charged and convicted by an international tribunal, should not the same force of international law apply to events that took the lives of tens of thousands of innocent victims in the most inhumane way.
Even though it is a posthumous gesture, it firmly anchors the case that wars and warmongers have no place in today’s civilised society as wars become a daily occurrence.
To effect this it is imperative to ultimately remove the “deadly playground” globally by criminalising all forms of war and its proponents.
With some four decades of experience in education locally and internationally, the writer believes that “another world is possible”.
Posted on 29 March 2016 – 08:04pm
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Criminalise War Club (CWC) – Tun Suffian Foundation (TSF) 1st International Symposium “Coalition of Younger Generation Say ‘No’ To War”
Criminalise War Club (CWC) – Tun Suffian Foundation (TSF) 1st International Symposium “Coalition of Younger Generation Say ‘No’ To War”
Date : Saturday, 26 March 2016
Vanue : Perdana Leadership Foundation Auditorium, Precinct 8, Putrajaya, Malaysia.
Time : 9 am – 6 pm
Welcome Address by YABhg Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali,
Founder/ Chairperson of Criminalise War Club
Keynote Address by YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad,
Founder/Chairperson of Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War
Live streaming video by Ustream
Live streaming video by Ustream
Live streaming video by Ustream
On behalf of everyone in KLFCW we extend our deepest condolences to the family of Allahyarham Hj Shamsul. May Allah SWT bless his soul and keep him in the company of the Faithful.
Decision puts ICC closest ever to intervening in Israeli-Arab conflict.
In a shocking 2-1 decission, the International Criminal Court on Thursday ordered its chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to consider opening a full criminal investigation into war crimes allegations against IDF personnel relating to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, just seven months after she had closed the file.
Using harsh language, the ICC told Bensouda she should have considered more seriously the possibility that the deaths of those killed by the IDF in the incident were “systematic or resulted from a deliberate plan or policy to attack, kill or injure civilians.”
The decision puts the ICC the closest it has ever been to intervening directly in the Israeli-Arab conflict and places the court in the position of potentially being harsher on Israel than Bensouda, who herself has been criticized by Israel for recognizing a State of Palestine.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the decision. “At a time when, in Syria, [President Bashar] Assad slaughters hundreds of thousands of his own people, Iran sends hundreds to death, and Hamas uses children as human shields in Gaza, the court has chosen to deal with Israel for cynical political reasons,” Netanyahu said.
“In the face of this hypocrisy, our soldiers will continue to guard us from the front and we will defend them in the international arena,” he added.
The IDF acted “in self-defense in stopping an attempt to break a blockade established in accordance with international law,” as confirmed by a report sponsored by the UN secretary- general and by a quasi-independent Israeli commission with international observers, the prime minister said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that “Israel harshly rejects” the ICC ruling and that “Israel had acted in self-defense and in line with international law.”
“It is not clear why the court stubbornly persists in directing resources to superfluous work relating to complaints with cynical political motivations, instead of working on issues for which it was established,” such as mass killings, he continued, concluding that he ultimately expected that the prosecutor’s decision to close the file would be upheld.
Bensouda very well may close the file again, but the court’s order means there is a very serious chance Israelis will face a full criminal investigation – something that has not yet occurred even regarding the 2014 Gaza war, Operation Protective Edge.
Until Thursday’s decision, most thought the flotilla incident and the lawfare surrounding it were in the past.
In the 2010 incident, a group of human rights activists and a smaller group of IHH activists (which the quasi-government Turkel Commission Report identified as affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood) boarded several ships to try to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
While Israel commandeered and stopped most of the ships without incident, when Israel Navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, IHH activists attacked them, leading to some commandos being wounded and, eventually, 10 deaths on the IHH side.
Turkey and many others in the international community accused Israel of war crimes, but it was cleared by the Turkel Commission and the UN-sponsored Palmer Report, which validated some of Israel’s narrative of fighting in self-defense or said there was not sufficient evidence to pursue Israel for war crimes, even as the Palmer Report said some of the IDF’s force was excessive.
The Comoros Islands filed a complaint against the IDF and some Israeli leaders in May 2013, with scholarly briefs coming in on both sides from a variety of sources since. Many viewed the Comoros Islands as undertaking the issue on behalf of various IHH-Turkish contacts due to the law firm which filed the complaint.
The ICC’s reasoning on Thursday was also harsh with regard to Israel and more general legal issues.
Regarding the Gaza blockade, the court appeared to suggest that the fact that the IDF’s action maintained the blockade and controlled the passing of humanitarian supplies by land somehow added to the gravity of potential war crimes by the IDF. Next, the majority put heavy emphasis on alleged inhuman treatment, torture and cover- up of war crimes by the IDF in how it handled Mavi Marmara passengers after they were detained.
The court said it had wide latitude to order a prosecutor to reopen an examination and that Bensouda’s discretionary authority did not require substantial deference from the judges.
The two judges in the majority were presiding Judge Joyce Aluoch of Kenya and Judge Cuno Tarfusser of Italy.
Judge Peter Kovacs of Hungary dissented, rejecting the majority ICC decision on several grounds.
First, he said, the majority had not been sufficiently deferential to Bensouda’s wide discretion as prosecutor to decide when to open and close investigations.
Next, Kovacs criticized the majority for mixing allegations of inhuman treatment of flotilla passengers after they were detained with alleged war crimes of murder during the IDF’s taking control of the Mavi Marmara.
Effectively, Kovacs said the majority was taking upon itself to add new alleged war crimes into the mix for analyzing how grave the incident was, instead of reviewing the existing alleged war crimes.
Ultimately, Kovacs found that the killing of 10 passengers in the flotilla incident was not grave enough for the ICC to get involved, especially when compared with a parallel situation such as in Kenya where 1,220 people were killed by Islamists, in six of eight Kenyan provinces.
Crucially, Kovacs added that even if the prosecutor had made a mistake in defining the case as not grave enough, he wrote that the IDF had issued warnings to the ship to turn around and acted in the face of “violent resistance” from passengers.
In November 2014, Bensouda rejected the Comoros Islands’ war crimes complaints and request to open a full investigation against Israeli soldiers and leaders regarding the incident.
The Foreign Ministry response to the overall decision at the time was: “Israel takes positive note of the decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to close the Preliminary Examination into the Flotilla (Mavi Marmara).”
However, despite rejecting the Comoros Islands’ complaints, the ICC prosecutor’s decision had included a number of statements against Israel’s position in terms of possible war crimes having been committed and referring to Israel as a conquering power.
Bensouda said than that, despite her decision, if the case had gone forward, “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes” were committed by Israel during the incident.
Noting Israel’s view that its withdrawal from Gaza freed it from any argument of legally occupying the Strip, Bensouda wrote: “However, the prevalent view within the international community is that Israel remains an occupying power in Gaza despite the 2005 disengagement.”
The Foreign Ministry responded at the time saying “It should be emphasized that the examination conducted was preliminary only, and the prosecutor decided to close the file without seeing a need to address the issue of resort to self-defense by IDF soldiers who were confronted, as mentioned in the report, by violence from IHH activists in the context of a flotilla which the prosecutor considered as not constituting a humanitarian mission.”
TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD
PROF GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
PROF EMERITUS DATUK DR SHAD SALEEM FARUQI
ADMIRAL (R) VISHNU BHAGWAT
TAN SRI RAZALI ISMAIL
DENIS J HALLIDAY
HANS-C VON SPONECK
TUN DR SITI HASMAH
TAN SRI MUHYIDDIN YASSIN
DATO’ SRI ANIFAH AMAN
LARISSA JANE CADD DETMOLD
PROF DR YUSHIHARU KIM
PROF DR PIERMAURO CATARINELLA
PUTERI FATEH ARINA MERICAN
AIMAN SYAKIR ABDUL HARIS
LOW CHUEN LEIK
KLFCW FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – INTERNATIONAL FORUM 2015
BY ROSS ADKIN, 27 February 2015 | Reuters
(Reuters) – Nepal’s Supreme Court has rejected the possibility of amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights abuses during a decade-long civil war, in a victory for human rights activists and victims’ groups.
For years, Nepal has been grappling with how to bring justice to victims of humans rights abuses committed during the conflict between Maoist rebels and the security forces.
More than 17,000 people were killed, 1,300 people disappeared, and thousands were displaced during the war that ended in 2006.
“The court has struck down the amnesty provision from the law and said the consent of the victims is necessary for any reconciliation,” Supreme Court official Baburam Dahal told Reuters on Friday.
The government said it would honor the court’s decision.
Government forces and Maoist rebels were both accused of war-time abuses, including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, rape and torture.
A law passed last year to set up reconciliation commissions that could grant amnesty to those responsible for grave human rights violations was widely condemned as a move to protect alleged perpetrators, many of whom still occupy positions of influence in the military and political parties.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench issued the order late on Thursday to a courtroom filled with victims of the war and their families, in response to a petition filed by more than 200 victims challenging the discretionary powers given to the commissions.
Dinesh Tripathi, a lawyer representing victims, said the ruling a “landmark” decision.
“It is a serious blow to political parties who wanted the commissions to work according to their convenience,” Tripathi said.
Victims of the conflict also welcomed the decision.
“We have demanded time and again that there must be the victim’s consent for reconciliation,” said Suman Adhikari of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform group.
A 2006 peace deal between the rebels and the government included a commitment to investigate abuses within six months of the war’s end. But attempts by successive governments to set up truth and reconciliation panels failed due to political infighting.
Last year, the ruling alliance and the Maoist opposition party passed compromise legislation that set up two investigative panels, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances, and allowed them to grant amnesty in cases involving grave violations of rights.
The legislation was widely condemned by international human rights groups. London-based Amnesty International said the law “further entrenched” impunity in Nepal in a report this week.
(Additonal reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Krista Mahr and Robert Birsel)
WASHINGTON — Immigration officials are moving to deport at least 150 Bosnians living in the United States who they believe took part in war crimes and “ethnic cleansing” during the bitter conflict that raged in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
In all, officials have identified about 300 immigrants who they believe concealed their involvement in wartime atrocities when they came to the United States as part of a wave of Bosnian war refugees fleeing the violence there. With more records fromBosnia becoming available, the officials said the number of suspects could eventually top 600.
“The more we dig, the more documents we find,” said Michael MacQueen, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement historian who has led many investigations in the agency’s war crimes section. The accused immigrants, many of them former soldiers from Bosnia, include a soccer coach in Virginia, a metal worker in Ohio and four hotel casino workers in Las Vegas.
The effort to identify suspects included an appeal broadcast to Bosnians around the world in February, urging witnesses to come forward with any information about war crimes. Bosnians should be confident that “justice can be served in the United States despite the fact that many years have gone by and that the conduct occurred overseas, far away,” Kathleen O’Connor, a human rights prosecutor at the Justice Department, said in a message translated into Bosnian on the government-financed Voice of America network.
Evidence developed by immigration officials indicates that perhaps as many as half of the 300 Bosnian suspects in the United States may have played a part in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II: the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces executed some 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men.
“The idea that the people who did all this damage in Bosnia should have a free pass and a new shot at life is just obscene to me,” said Mr. MacQueen, who investigated Nazi suspects in the United States before turning his focus to the Bosnian war.
But the investigations have proven enormously complicated, sometimes dogged by years of delays and legal battles. Funding for the war crimes center at the immigration agency has been cut, officials said, and with just $65,000 last fiscal year for expenses like travel and translating, Mr. MacQueen routinely borrows a friend’s apartment when he travels to the Balkans to interview witnesses, he said. Officials say they do not have enough funding to chase every lead.
“The money absolutely makes a difference,” said Mark Furtado, a senior official at the agency.
Lawyers for some suspects fighting war crimes charges say federal officials have gone too far in linking longtime residents of the United States, some of them now American citizens, to crimes committed two decades ago in a foreign war zone.
“It’s guilt by association,” said Thomas M. Hoidal, a lawyer in Phoenix who represented two of a group of 12 Bosnian Serbs in Arizona now facing deportation over charges of war crimes.
Since the immigration agency opened its war crimes section in 2008, it has investigated immigrants linked to atrocities in conflicts in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Rwanda and other global hot spots. But no conflict has generated as much attention from American investigators as the Bosnian war, which killed more than 100,000 people and displaced two million others from 1992 to 1995 after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Amid widespread lawlessness, all of the warring factions that fought in Bosnia — Serbs, Croats and Muslims — carried out brutal, ethnic-fueled attacks on civilians. But the Bosnian Serb forces, backed and supplied by the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, were implicated in far more bloodletting than any other group as they sought a Serb-dominated Bosnian state.
In 2004, the United Nations declared the slaughter at Srebrenica, near an enclave protected by the United Nations, an official act of genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has convicted nearly 80 people, with verdicts upheld in January against five Bosnian Serb military officials.
But many offenders were able to get away.
When more than 120,000 Bosnian refugees began applying for American visas in the mid-1990s, they were required to disclose military service or other allegiances that might have suggested involvement in war crimes. But the system relied largely on the honesty of the applicants, and there was little effort to verify their statements.
The effort to identify Bosnian war crimes suspects arose almost by happenstance.
It began with an arrest in Boston more than a decade ago. A series of tips, along with a book by a Boston Globe reporter, led federal agents in Massachusetts in 2004 to a construction worker named Marko Boskic, a Bosnian Serb accused of carrying out executions in the Srebrenica region. He was convicted of concealing his army service, then sent back to Bosnia and sentenced to 10 years in prison for crimes against humanity.
Immigration officials said the case showed that former soldiers and mercenaries implicated in Bosnian war crimes had been living openly, with little scrutiny or fear of exposure.
“All of these people really came into the United States under the radar,” said Lara J. Nettelfield, a scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London, who has written extensively on Bosnian war crimes. “There really wasn’t much attention given to this problem for years.”
For Bosnian Muslims, in particular, it has been painful to see suspected offenders living side by side with war refugees in the United States, said Hamdija Custovic, a Bosnian immigrant who leads the Congress of North American Bosniaks.
“There’s been a lot of covering up of what happened in Bosnia, and a lot of these people who were involved are still walking around,” Mr. Custovic said. “Whatever has been done to find these people is not enough. It’s tragic.”
Relying on a trove of Bosnian war crimes files and military rosters, federal officials have built cases against immigrants from New York to Oregon. In Kentucky, Azra Basic, a Croatian woman who was a guard at a military detention center, has been jailed and faces extradition on charges that she tortured some Serb prisoners and made them drink gasoline and human blood. And in Vermont, a Bosnian Muslim named Edin Sakoc was found guilty by a federal jury in January of lying to immigration officials about his role in a rape, two murders and an arson targeting Bosnian Serbs in 1992.
The efforts to deport most of the suspects have come in over 100 immigration proceedings that have not been made public.
In a case in eastern Ohio, a federal grand jury in December indicted an Akron foundry worker named Slobodan Mutic, a Bosnian Serb, on what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill charge of being in the United States on fraudulent immigration papers. The indictment did not mention that Mr. Mutic was the subject of a lengthy war crimes investigation.
In fact, Mr. Mutic was among nine Bosnian immigrants to the United States identified by Croatian officials as a suspect in war crimes committed in what is now Croatia, according to a classified 2008 State Department memo made public by WikiLeaks. Federal investigators are examining Mr. Mutic’s ties to the killings of a Croatian couple and other ethnic-driven violence during the Bosnian conflict, people with knowledge of the case said. His lawyer declined to comment on the case.
With a stepped-up focus on Bosnia since the arrest of Mr. Boskic in Boston, immigration officials say a total of 64 Balkan immigrants with ties to war crimes have left the United States after being expelled through legal proceedings or fleeing while under investigation. While most of the cases involve Bosnian Serbs, officials have also taken action against Bosnian Muslims and Croats who they believe participated in attacks against Serbs — a reflection, officials say, of their willingness to pursue Bosnian offenders of all types.
But building enough evidence to deport someone suspected of war crimes is not easy.
Bosnian military records, for example, indicate that Milan Trisic, a North Carolina truck driver, served in a Bosnian Serb military unit that was at Srebrenica at the time of the killings and in a unit implicated in a campaign of ethnic-targeted killings three years earlier.
In a phone interview, Mr. Trisic said the F.B.I. had approached him several years ago and that, along with his son Sladjan, he had agreed to meet with an agent to explain that he had not been involved in any atrocities. He said he had driven a truck in the war, not served in the military.
“It’s just talk,” his son said. “There’s no proof. They’re trying to blame him for something in the war. He wasn’t involved in any of that.”
Mr. Trisic has not been charged, but the investigation appears to be continuing. The F.B.I. declined to comment.
Nowhere are the difficulties more apparent than in Phoenix, which has a large Bosnian population and more war crimes investigations than anywhere else.
Twelve Bosnian Serbs who live in the area face deportation over war crimes, some at Srebrenica, in a long-running investigation. In a series of orders in 2013 that were not made public, an Arizona immigration judge found enough evidence to make the men eligible for deportation because they had concealed their service in the Bosnian Serb army, according to Christopher Brelje, a lawyer who represented them.
But because of backlogs in immigration courts, a second phase needed to determine whether they will actually be deported is not scheduled until 2019.
For the dozen Bosnians, the delay means a reprieve in confronting crimes they insist they did not commit.
“These aren’t war criminals,” said Mr. Brelje, who also represents four Bosnian Serbs in Las Vegas facing deportation.
Mr. Brelje said that while some of his Phoenix clients had been stationed with Serb forces in towns not far from Srebrenica, they had been “grunts in the trenches” securing perimeter positions, not executing Muslims.
Immigration officials “are painting too broad a brush,” he said. “They got excited and said, ‘Bad things happened over there; let’s punish some people.’ But these guys didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, opens a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine
Press Release : 16/01/2015
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, opens a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine
Today, Friday, 16 January 2015, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.
The Prosecutor’s decision follows the Government of Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015 and its declaration of 1 January 2015, lodged under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute – the Court’s founding treaty – accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed “in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.”
Upon receipt of a referral or a valid declaration made pursuant to article 12(3) of the Statute, the Prosecutor, in accordance with Regulation 25(1)(c) of the Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor, and as a matter of policy and practice, opens a preliminary examination of the situation at hand. Accordingly, the Prosecutor has opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. The Office will conduct its analysis in full independence and impartiality.
A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute. Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination. The Office gives due consideration to all submissions and views conveyed to the Office during the course of a preliminary examination, strictly guided by the requirements of the Rome Statute in the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate.
There are no timelines provided in the Rome Statute for a decision on a preliminary examination. Depending on the facts and circumstances of each situation, the Office will decide whether to continue to collect information to establish a sufficient factual and legal basis to render a determination; initiate an investigation, subject to judicial review as appropriate; or decline to initiate an investigation.
Background and legal analysis
The Office previously conducted a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine upon receipt of a purported article 12(3) declaration lodged by the Palestinian National Authority on 22 January 2009. The Office carefully considered all legal arguments submitted to it and, after thorough analysis and public consultations, concluded in April 2012 that Palestine’s status at the United Nations (UN) as an “observer entity” was determinative, since entry into the Rome Statute system is through the UN Secretary-General (UNSG), who acts as treaty depositary. The Palestinian Authority’s “observer entity”, as opposed to “non-member State” status at the UN, at the time meant that it could not sign or ratify the Statute. As Palestine could not join the Rome Statute at that time, the Office concluded that it could also not lodge an article 12(3) declaration bringing itself within the ambit of the treaty either, as it had sought to do.
On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 67/19 granting Palestine “non-member observer State” status in the UN with a majority of 138 votes in favour, 9 votes against and 41 abstentions. The Office examined the legal implications of this development for its own purposes and concluded, on the basis of its previous extensive analysis of and consultations on the issues, that, while the change in status did not retroactively validate the previously invalid 2009 declaration lodged without the necessary standing, Palestine would be able to accept the jurisdiction of the Court from 29 November 2012 onward, pursuant to articles 12 and 125 of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute is open to accession by “all States,” with the UNSG acting as depositary of instruments of accession.
On 2 January 2015, Palestine deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute with the UNSG. As outlined in the Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General as Depositary of Multilateral Treaties, “the Secretary-General, in discharging his functions as a depositary of a convention with an ‘all States’ clause, will follow the practice of the [General] Assembly in implementing such a clause […].” The practice of the UNGA “is to be found in unequivocal indications from the Assembly that it considers a particular entity to be a State.” In accordance with this practice and specifically UNGA Resolution 67/19, on 6 January 2015, the UNSG, acting in his capacity as depositary, accepted Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute, and Palestine became the 123rd State Party to the ICC. It was welcomed as such by the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.
Likewise, on 7 January 2015, the Registrar of the ICC informed President Abbas of his acceptance of the article 12(3) declaration lodged by the Government of Palestine on 1 January 2015 and that the declaration had been transmitted to the Prosecutor for her consideration.
The Office considers that, since Palestine was granted observer State status in the UN by the UNGA, it must be considered a “State” for the purposes of accession to the Rome Statute (in accordance with the “all States” formula). Additionally, as the Office has previously stated publicly, the term “State” employed in article 12(3) of the Rome Statute should be interpreted in the same manner as the term “State” used in article 12(1). Thus, a State that may accede to the Rome Statute may also lodge a declaration validly under article 12(3).
For the Office, the focus of the inquiry into Palestine’s ability to accede to the Rome Statute has consistently been the question of Palestine’s status in the UN, given the UNSG’s role as treaty depositary of the Statute. The UNGA Resolution 67/19 is therefore determinative of Palestine’s ability to accede to the Statute pursuant to article 125, and equally, its ability to lodge an article 12(3) declaration.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office of the Prosecutor has opened investigations in nine situations: Uganda; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur (Sudan); Central African Republic; Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria and Ukraine.
Declaration lodged by Palestine pursuant to article 12(3) of the Rome Statute | 1 January 2015.
OTP Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations | November 2013.
For further information, please contact: OTPNewsDesk@icc-cpi.int
Source: Office of the Prosecutor
Source Link : International Criminal Court Webpage