Category Archives: international human rights

Kosovo to Create Special War Crimes Court but Faces Challenges

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Photographs of some of those still missing after the Kosovo War in front of a government building in Serbia and Montenegro
Credit: UN Photo/Afrim Hajrullahu

On August 3, 2015 the Kosovo Parliament passed the “Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office,” a constitutional amendment that will establish a special war crimes court to prosecute former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas for crimes committed during and after the Kosovo War between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000. The court will operate under Kosovo law and prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and organ harvesting, among others. The court is likely to be based in the Netherlands because of concerns regarding judicial corruption and the lack of a robust witness protection program in Kosovo. As part of the vote that took place, the Kosovo Parliament also passed a law providing legal aid for KLA defendants. If the Netherlands agrees to host the court, discussions in the upcoming months must take place between Kosovo, the Netherlands, and the European Union regarding logistics, including the court’s budget, judges and prosecutors, and location, as well as sentencing and witness protection issues. [Balkan Insight: Major Challenges Ahead; Human Rights Watch; Reuters]

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Committee Against Torture Reviews States’ Records of Iraq, Slovakia, and Switzerland

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Claudio Grossman, the Chair of the Committee Against Torture
Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The Committee Against Torture (CAT) is currently holding its 55th Session in Geneva, which began on July 27 and will continue through August 14. According to the Committee’s agenda, CAT is considering the State reports of Iraq, Slovakia, and Switzerland. During the session, the Committee will meet with representatives from each State regarding the State’s report to CAT. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs). The Committee will then issue concluding observations for each State, including its recommendations and concerns about each State’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture).

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ECtHR: Italy’s Failure to Recognize Same-Sex Relationships Violates Privacy Rights

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The European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Cherry X

On July 21, 2015, in Oliari and Others v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the State violated the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) by failing to ensure that a legal framework recognizing and protecting same-sex unions was available. See ECtHR, Oliari and Others v. Italy, nos. 18766/11 and 336030/11, Judgment of 21 July 2015. The case was brought by three same-sex couples whose relationships were not recognized under Italian law, which does not allow for the possibility of marriage or any other type of civil union for homosexual couples. The Court, in deciding that Italian laws failed “to provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship,” also noted the increasing international and domestic support for legal recognition of same-sex couples. For example, the Court stated that Council of Europe Member States are increasingly putting into place legislation that legally recognizes same-sex couples. Similarly, the Italian Constitutional Court has repeatedly called for protection and recognition of same-sex couples. [ECtHR Press Release]

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ICC Pre-Trial Chamber Asks Prosecutor to Reconsider Decision to Not Investigate Gaza Incident

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The International Criminal Court, The Hague
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In a decision dated July 16, 2015, Pre-Trial Chamber 1 (PTC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) granted the request by Comoros to review ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to not investigate the interception of a humanitarian aid flotilla by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which resulted in ten deaths and numerous injuries on May 31, 2010. In her decision dated November 6, 2014, the ICC Prosecutor had concluded that there was no “reasonable basis” for the ICC to continue with an investigation of this incident. See ICC-01/13-6-AnxA, Article 53(1) Report, 6 November 2014, para. 28. Subsequently, the PTC, upon review of the request submitted by Comoros, decided that the ICC Prosecutor had committed “material errors” in her assessment and on this basis, asked that the Prosecutor reconsider the decision to not initiate an investigation. See ICC-01/13-34, Decision on the request of the Union of the Comoros to review the Prosecutor’s decision not to initiate an investigation, 16 July 2015, paras. 49-50.

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