President Obama Welcomes New U.S. Citizens with Inspiring Challenge

As noted in prior posts, the final step for someone to become a naturalized U.S. citizen is to attend a ceremony in which the individual takes an oath of allegiance to the United States of America and officially is declared to be a U.S. citizen. This is after such an individual meets the requirements of U.S. law through submission of an application with various aspects of personal information and an interview for vetting that information.[1]

Such a ceremony took place on December 15, 2015, at Washington, D.C.’s Rotunda of the National Archives Museum, where the original Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are permanently displayed. December 15 also was the 224th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

Obama

new citizens

 

 

 

 

On this occasion President Barack Obama provided inspiring words to welcome 31 new U.S. citizens. Above are photographs of the President giving his speech and of some of the new citizens. Here is what Obama said.[2]

“To my fellow Americans, our newest citizens. You are men and women from more than 25 countries, from Brazil to Uganda, from Iraq to the Philippines.  You may come from teeming cities or rural villages.  You don’t look alike.  You don’t worship the same way.  But here, surrounded by the very documents whose values bind us together as one people, you’ve raised your hand and sworn a sacred oath.  I’m proud to be among the first to greet you as “my fellow Americans.”

“What a remarkable journey all of you have made.  And as of today, your story is forever woven into the larger story of this nation. . . . [Y]ou still have a demanding and rewarding task ahead of you — and that is the hard work of active citizenship.  You have rights and you have responsibilities.”

“Just about every nation in the world, to some extent, admits immigrants.  But there’s something unique about America.  We don’t simply welcome new immigrants, we don’t simply welcome new arrivals — we are born of immigrants.  That is who we are.  Immigration is our origin story.  And for more than two centuries, it’s remained at the core of our national character; it’s our oldest tradition.  It’s who we are.  It’s part of what makes us exceptional.”

“[U]nless your family is Native American, one of the first Americans, all of our families come from someplace else.  The first refugees were the Pilgrims themselves — fleeing religious persecution, crossing the stormy Atlantic to reach a new world where they might live and pray freely.  Eight signers of the Declaration of Independence were immigrants.  And in those first decades after independence, English, German, and Scottish immigrants came over, huddled on creaky ships, seeking what Thomas Paine called ‘asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty.’”

“Down through the decades, Irish Catholics fleeing hunger, Italians fleeing poverty filled up our cities, rolled up their sleeves, built America.  Chinese laborers jammed in steerage under the decks of steamships, making their way to California to build the Central Pacific Railroad that would transform the West — and our nation.  Wave after wave of men, women, and children — from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, from Asia and Africa — poured into Ellis Island, or Angel Island, their trunks bursting with their most cherished possessions — maybe a photograph of the family they left behind, a family Bible, or a Torah, or a Koran.  A bag in one hand, maybe a child in the other, standing for hours in long lines.  New York and cities across America were transformed into a sort of global fashion show.  You had Dutch lace caps and the North African fezzes, stodgy tweed suits and colorful Caribbean dresses.”

“And perhaps, like some of you, these new arrivals might have had some moments of doubt, wondering if they had made a mistake in leaving everything and everyone they ever knew behind.  So life in America was not always easy.  It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants.  Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves.  There was discrimination and hardship and poverty.  But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them.  And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”

“Just as so many have come here in search of a dream, others sought shelter from nightmares.  Survivors of the Holocaust.  Soviet Refuseniks.  Refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.  Iraqis and Afghans fleeing war.  Mexicans, Cubans, Iranians leaving behind deadly revolutions.  Central American teenagers running from gang violence.  The Lost Boys of Sudan escaping civil war.  They’re people like Fulbert Florent Akoula from the Republic of Congo, who was granted asylum when his family was threatened by political violence.  And today, Fulbert is here, a proud American.”

“We can never say it often or loudly enough:  Immigrants and refugees revitalize and renew America.  Immigrants like you are more likely to start your own business.  Many of the Fortune 500 companies in this country were founded by immigrants or their children.  Many of the tech startups in Silicon Valley have at least one immigrant founder.”

“Immigrants are the teachers who inspire our children, and they’re the doctors who keep us healthy.  They’re the engineers who design our skylines, and the artists and the entertainers who touch our hearts.  Immigrants are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen who protect us, often risking their lives for an America that isn’t even their own yet.  As an Iraqi, Mohammed Ibrahim Al Naib was the target of death threats for working with American forces.  He stood by his American comrades, and came to the U.S. as a refugee.  And today, we stand by him.  And we are proud to welcome Mohammed as a citizen of the country that he already helped to defend.”

“We celebrate this history, this heritage, as an immigrant nation.  And we are strong enough to acknowledge, as painful as it may be, that we haven’t always lived up to our own ideals.  We haven’t always lived up to these documents.”

From the start, Africans were brought here in chains against their will, and then toiled under the whip.  They also built America.  A century ago, New York City shops displayed those signs, “No Irish Need Apply.”  Catholics were targeted, their loyalty questioned — so much so that as recently as the 1950s and ‘60s, when JFK . . . [ran for office], he had to convince people that his allegiance wasn’t primarily to the Pope.”

“Chinese immigrants faced persecution and vicious stereotypes, and were, for a time, even banned from entering America.  During World War II, German and Italian residents were detained, and in one of the darkest chapters in our history, Japanese immigrants and even Japanese-American citizens were forced from their homes and imprisoned in camps.  We succumbed to fear.  We betrayed not only our fellow Americans, but our deepest values.  We betrayed these documents.  It’s happened before.”

“And the biggest irony of course is that those who betrayed these values were themselves the children of immigrants.  How quickly we forget.  One generation passes, two generation passes, and suddenly we don’t remember where we came from.  And we suggest that somehow there is ‘us’ and there is ‘them,’ not remembering we used to be ‘them.’”

“On days like today, we need to resolve never to repeat mistakes like that again.  We must resolve to always speak out against hatred and bigotry in all of its forms — whether taunts against the child of an immigrant farm worker or threats against a Muslim shopkeeper.  We are Americans.  Standing up for each other is what the values enshrined in the documents in this room compels us to do -– especially when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s not convenient.  That’s when it counts.  That’s when it matters — not when things are easy, but when things are hard.”

“The truth is, being an American is hard.  Being part of a democratic government is hard.  Being a citizen is hard.  It is a challenge.  It’s supposed to be.  There’s no respite from our ideals.  All of us are called to live up to our expectations for ourselves — not just when it’s convenient, but when it’s inconvenient.  When it’s tough.  When we’re afraid.  The tension throughout our history between welcoming or rejecting the stranger, it’s about more than just immigration.  It’s about the meaning of America, what kind of country do we want to be.  It’s about the capacity of each generation to honor the creed as old as our founding:  “E Pluribus Unum” — that out of many, we are one.”

“Scripture tells us, ‘For we are strangers before you, and sojourners, as were all our fathers.’ In the Mexican immigrant today, we see the Catholic immigrant of a century ago.  In the Syrian seeking refuge today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II.  In these new Americans, we see our own American stories — our parents, our grandparents, our aunts, our uncles, our cousins who packed up what they could and scraped together what they had.  And their paperwork wasn’t always in order.  And they set out for a place that was more than just a piece of land, but an idea.”

“America:  A place where we can be a part of something bigger.  A place where we can contribute our talents and fulfill our ambitions and secure new opportunity for ourselves and for others.  A place where we can retain pride in our heritage, but where we recognize that we have a common creed, a loyalty to these documents, a loyalty to our democracy; where we can criticize our government, but understand that we love it; where we agree to live together even when we don’t agree with each other; where we work through the democratic process, and not through violence or sectarianism to resolve disputes; where we live side by side as neighbors; and where our children know themselves to be a part of this nation, no longer strangers, but the bedrock of this nation, the essence of this nation.”

“More than 60 years ago, at a ceremony like this one, Senator John F. Kennedy said, ‘No form of government requires more of its citizens than does the American democracy.’  Our system of self-government depends on ordinary citizens doing the hard, frustrating but always essential work of citizenship — of being informed.  Of understanding that the government isn’t some distant thing, but is you.  Of speaking out when something is not right.  Of helping fellow citizens when they need a hand.  Of coming together to shape our country’s course.”

And that work gives purpose to every generation.  It belongs to me.  It belongs to the judge.  It belongs to you.  It belongs to you, all of us, as citizens.  To follow our laws, yes, but also to engage with your communities and to speak up for what you believe in.  And to vote — to not only exercise the rights that are now yours, but to stand up for the rights of others.

“Birtukan Gudeya is here [today] from Ethiopia.  She said, ‘The joy of being an American is the joy of freedom and opportunity.  We have been handed a work in progress, one that can evolve for the good of all Americans.’”

“That is what makes America great — not just the words on these founding documents, as precious and valuable as they are, but the progress that they’ve inspired.  If you ever wonder whether America is big enough to hold multitudes, strong enough to withstand the forces of change, brave enough to live up to our ideals even in times of trial, then look to the generations of ordinary citizens who have proven again and again that we are worthy of that.”

“That’s our great inheritance — what ordinary people have done to build this country and make these words live.  And it’s our generation’s task to follow their example in this journey — to keep building an America where no matter who we are or what we look like, or who we love or what we believe, we can make of our lives what we will.”

“You will not and should not forget your history and your past.  That adds to the richness of American life.  But you are now American.  You’ve got obligations as citizens.  And I’m absolutely confident you will meet them.  You’ll set a good example for all of us, because you know how precious this thing is.  It’s not something to take for granted.  It’s something to cherish and to fight for.”

“Thank you.  May God bless you.  May God bless the United States of America.”

And I say, thank you, Mr. President, for a necessary and inspiring message to us all. It echoes some of the points recently made by Minneapolis clergy that were discussed in a recent post.

=========================================================

[1] Minnesota Welcomes New Citizens (June 8, 2015); Naturalized U.S. Citizens: Important Contributors to U.S. Culture and Economy (June 7, 2015).

[2] White House, Remarks by the President at Naturalization Ceremony (Dec. 15, 2015); National Archives, Press Release: President Obama to Deliver Keynote Address at National Archives Naturalization Ceremony on December 15 (Dec.11, 2015); Harris & Goodstein, Obama Counters Anti-Muslim Talk by Welcoming New Citizens, N.Y. Times (Dec. 15, 2015).

 

 

 

Are International Criminal Tribunals Successful?

Michael Ignatieff, a former Harvard professor and expert on international human rights and a former leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, in a recent issue of The New York Review of Books expressed a gloomy view of the post-World War II development of international criminal tribunals.

The actions of the U.S. and other great powers have contributed to his negativity. He says, “America is exceptional in combining standard great-power realism with extravagant idealism about the country’s redemptive role in creating international order. . . . [The] US has promoted universal legal norms and the institutions to enforce them, while seeking by hook or by crook to exempt American citizens, especially soldiers, from their actual application. From Nuremberg onward, no country has invested more in the development of international jurisdiction for atrocity crimes and no country has worked harder to make sure that the law it seeks for others does not apply to itself.”

This negative assessment is buttressed by the new memoir by David Scheffer (All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals). Scheffer, who was one of the leading U.S. diplomats involved in the negotiations that created these tribunals, recounts the U.S. resistance to (i) providing U.S. intelligence information to the ICTY; (ii) seeking to arrest the most egregious defendants for the ICTY; and (III) having U.S. citizens, especially soldiers, being subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  A review of this book is the nominal subject of this essay by Ignatieff.

Scheffer’s post-mortem on his frustrations as the lead U.S. diplomat at the Rome Conference that produced the Rome Statute for the ICC is especially instructive on why the U.S. voted against that treaty at the conclusion of the conference and more generally on the U.S. process for negotiating and ratifying multilateral treaties.

According to Scheffer, there were four main reasons for the inability of the U.S. to advance its positions at the Rome Conference and its eventual vote against the treaty at the conference’s conclusion. U.S. military officials failed to know and understand other nations’ perspectives on the ICC and to explain to other nations the role of the U.S. military after the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless the U.S. military’s opposition to the ICC dictated the terms of the unsuccessful U.S. negotiating positions at the conference. In addition, the U.S. government was unable to make timely policy decisions on key issues being negotiated for the treaty. Thirdly, there are always distractions and other matters clamoring for the attention of the President and his top advisors; for President Clinton and the Rome Conference it was the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Finally, Republican Senators Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Rod Grams of Minnesota, who were vehemently opposed to the idea of an ICC, attended the Rome Conference to make their views known to other governments.

Scheffer also provides important background information on two developments after the Rome Conference that remind us that there are important issues for a treaty like the Rome Statute after its terms have been adopted. First, he successfully pressed for significant U.S. participation in the drafting of the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Elements of Crimes that helped to alleviate some of the U.S. concerns regarding due process at the new court. Second, Scheffer also was successful in lobbying for the U.S.’ signing the Rome Statute before the end of 2000 (the last possible date for a state’s signing the treaty), which he did on behalf of the U.S. at the U.N. headquarters in New York City on December 31st (a very wintery Sunday New Year’s Eve Day). He, however, was not pleased with some of the details of President Clinton’s signing statement that said the treaty had “significant flaws” and that he would not be submitting the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent. The latter point, says Scheffer, was unnecessary since the Clinton presidency was almost over and since it usually takes years to prepare a treaty for submission to the Senate.

Ignatieff’s negative assessment of the U.S. split personality on this subject is also supported by the fact that the U.S. has been actively involved in the post-1945 negotiation of treaties that establish or codify international human rights norms, but has not ratified 16 such treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the U.S. has subjected its ratification of 10 of 16 such treaties to reservations, declarations and understandings that attempt to limit the application of such treaties to the U.S. (David Weissbrodt, Joan Fitzpatrick & Frank Newman, International Human Rights: Law, Policy and Process at 136-66 (3d ed. 2001).)

We have seen this phenomenon in a prior post‘s examination of the U.S. ratification of the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and by another post’s noting that Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions has been languishing in the U.S. Senate for 25 years with no action on presidential requests for advice and consent to U.S. ratification of that treaty. Other posts examined the policies toward the ICC in the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama Administrations.

According to Ignatieff, the development of mechanisms of international criminal justice “was supposed to rescue the possibility of universal justice from the revenge frenzies, political compromises, and local partialities of national justice.”  This has not been the case, however, in his opinion, because “international justice turns out to be as much the prisoner of international politics as national justice is of national politics. Indeed, given the stakes, international justice may be more partial, that is, more politicized, than national justice.”

Therefore, he wonders if the creation of the international criminal tribunals—Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and the ICC —has been worth the effort and costs. From 1993 through 2009, he says, these tribunals collectively cost their donors $3.43 billion, but only 131 convictions were obtained.

In the next breath, however, Ignatieff seems to say that the tribunals have been worth all the trouble. He says that no one now is dying from atrocity crimes in Bosnia, or in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, or Rwanda, which have had special international criminal tribunals.  “Justice—imperfect, partial, expensive—has been done and even been seen to be done. In these places, murderous rages have subsided. Some have reconciled. States have achieved stability. People are moving on. One of the reasons for this may be that in some cases justice was done.”

Although I share Ignatieff’s view of the imperfections of the mechanisms of international criminal justice and of U.S. (and other great powers’) resistance to application of such institutions or norms to themselves, I do not agree with his more pessimistic assessment of the development of international criminal tribunals.

First, he pulls the number of convictions at 131 from a table of results (as of December 31, 2010) in the Scheffer book without mentioning or considering these tribunals’ other results according to that table . Nor does Ignatieff attempt to update the table.

Let me first update that table and then discuss the overall results of these tribunals. My examination on April 1, 2012, of the websites for these tribunals revealed the following results with respect to individuals who have been charged with crimes by said tribunals:

Tribunal Pre-Trail Trial Convicted (includes pending appeals) Withdrawn/Dismissed/Acquitted/

Deceased

Referred to Nat’l Court At Large TOTAL
ICTY 2 16   81 49 13   0 161
ICTR 1   3   62 14   3   9   92
Special Ct.-Sierra Leone 0   1     8   2   0   1   12
Extra Chambers Cambodia 5   4     1   0   0   0   10
ICC 7   3     1   6   0 11   28
TOTAL 15 27 153 71 16 21 303

According to this table, Ignatieff understates the convictions by 22, but more importantly he ignores the 16 who have been referred to national courts, the 42 who are still in pre-trial or trial proceedings and the 21 who are still fugitives. Thus, there eventually may be additional convictions for the crimes that have been charged. Moreover, these courts are not machines to produce convictions; they are intended to provide due process guarantees to those charged with crimes, and the 71 individuals who have had charges withdrawn or dismissed or who have been acquitted or who have died before their trials could be completed suggest that these courts have been operating fairly.

Second, Ignatieff ignores the fact that the existence and operation of these tribunals have given incentives and programs to various countries to improve their judicial systems so that eventually they can try individuals for the crimes within the jurisdiction of these international courts. Indeed, 16 of the individuals who have been charged with crimes by these tribunals have had their cases transferred to national court systems. As previously noted, the ICC’s Rome Statute has provisions incorporating the principle of complementarity whereby the ICC defers to national prosecutions by competent national judicial systems.

Third, Ignatieff also ignores the fact that these tribunals have been important in developing a more elaborate international law regarding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and their precedents can be and are being used by other courts and agencies involved in cases or other proceedings regarding international human rights.

Fourth, Ignatieff fails to acknowledge that these tribunals are only one part of a complex, interactive global struggle against impunity for the worst crimes of concern to the international community. Various posts already have discussed many of these pieces to the puzzle, and a prior post summarized this interactive network

Finally, in my opinion, these tribunals have been successful for the foregoing reasons. The peoples of the world through their nation-state governments have been struggling to climb out of the pits of depravity of World War II by creating or codifying international norms or human rights and by constructing mechanisms to protect individuals that are beyond the control of their own national governments while such governments still have sovereignty over most aspects of their lives. This is an inherently difficult process, and many compromises are necessary in order to make any progress. But the story is not finished. Further developments, I am confident, will occur.

International Criminal Justice: Other International Criminal Tribunals

We already have seen that the imposition of criminal sanctions (imprisonment) is one way that we the People of the world seek to enforce international human rights norms.[1]

We also have explored some of the institutions that do this. The International Criminal Court is a permanent body that was created by a separate treaty (the Rome Statute for the ICC) and that encourages and gives precedence to national criminal prosecutions under the principle of complementarity.[2] The U.N. Security Council has created two ad hoc and limited-life courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3]

There also are at least four other special institutions that are authorized to impose such criminal sanctions. They are sometimes called “hybrid tribunals” because they have judges from the concerned country plus international judges.

1. East Timor Serious Crimes Panel

In 1998 the residents of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. In response pro-Indonesian militias launched a brutal campaign of property destruction and human rights abuses. Soon thereafter a U.N. military force entered the territory and restored order, and the U.N. set up the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor.[4]

 

East Timor Serious Crimes Panel

In 2000 this Administration established a court system that included a Serious Crime Panel, which had jurisdiction over war crimes; crimes against humanity; murder; sexual offenses; and torture. The initial Panel had two international judges and one East Timorese judge. It was located in East Timor. [5]

By the end of May 2005 the Special Panel had completed more than 55 trials. Most involved relatively low-level defendants; 84 were convicted and 3 acquitted. The work of the Special Panel was cut short by a U.N. decision to end its missions to Timor-Leste.[6]

 

 

 

2. The Special Court for Sierra Leone

 

 

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established pursuant to an agreement, dated January 16, 2002, between the Government of that country and the United Nations and the annexed Statute for the Special Court. It has 10 judges; five appointed by the U.N. and five by the Government of Sierra Leone.[7]

The Special Court has jurisdiction over “persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996, including those leaders who, in committing such crimes, have threatened the establishment of and implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone.” The Court’s Statute specifies the following crimes as within its jurisdiction: crimes against humanity; violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; certain other serious violations of international humanitarian law; and certain crimes under Sierra Leonean law.[8]

 

Sierra Leone Special Court

The Special Court, sitting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has completed trials and appeals of (a) three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC); (b) two members of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF); and (c) three former leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Two other individuals who were indicted by the Special Court have died, and their indictments, therefore, were dismissed. Another indictee is at large, and the status of one of the 13 indictees is unknown.[9]

The last of the Special Court’s cases is against former Liberian President Charles Taylor. He was indicted in March 2003 on 17 counts, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual slavery and mutilation. In May 2004, before Taylor was in custody, the Special Court rejected his motion to dismiss the charges on the ground of head-of-state immunity; the court said that it was an international tribunal from which there was no immunity. [10]

In August 2003 Taylor resigned as President of Liberia and went into exile in Nigeria where he remained until March 2006 when Nigeria transferred him to Liberia. In Liberia U.N. military forces arrested him and took him to the Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone to stand trial. Soon thereafter because of security concerns the Special Court asked the Netherlands to accept his transfer to The Hague for trial by the Special Court; the Netherlands agreed to do so after the U.K. agreed to provide a prison for Taylor if he were convicted.[11]

The Taylor trial started in June 2007; the defense phase of the case ended in November 2010; and closing arguments were held in March 2011. The decision of the Special Court is pending.[12]

3. Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

 

ECCC logo

In 2001 the Cambodian National Assembly passed a law to create the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (Extraordinary Chambers or ECCC). This is a court to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979. In June 2003 Cambodia and the U.N. reached an agreement detailing how the U.N. will assist and participate in the Extraordinary Chambers.[13]

The ECCC has 12 judges; seven are selected by Cambodia; the other five, by the U.N. The ECCC has jurisdiction over (a) “the crime of genocide as defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;” (b) “crimes against humanity as defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;” (c) “grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions;”and (d) such other crimes as defined in Chapter II of the Cambodian Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers as promulgated on 10 August 2001.”[14]  The last category includes homicide, torture, religious persecution, destruction of cultural property during armed conflict and crimes against internationally protected persons.[15]

The ECCC has only four cases on its docket.[16]

The first case was against Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch), the former Chairman of the Khmer Rouge Security Center in Phnom Penh. After eight months of trial, the Trial Chamber in July 2010 found him guilty of two charges. First was crimes against humanity (persecution on political grounds) (subsuming the crimes against human extermination [encompassing murder], enslavement, imprisonment, torture [including one instance of rape], and other inhumane acts). Second was grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, namely: – willful killing, – torture and inhumane treatment, – willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,                 – willfully depriving a prisoner of war or civilian of the rights of fair and regular trial, and -unlawful confinement of a civilian.[17]

The Trial Chamber sentenced Duch to 30 years of imprisonment (after reducing the initial sentence of 35 years). The judgment has been appealed to the Supreme Court of the ECCC.

The second case before the ECCC is against four defendants on charges of crimes against humanity; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949; genocide; homicide; torture; and religious persecution. The trial commenced in late June 2011. Almost immediately one of the defendants left the courtroom and is participating by video.[18]

In September 2009, the Prosecutors requested the investigating judges to initiate an investigation of five additional suspected persons. This request was divided into what is known as Case files 003 and 004.

  • In April 2011 Case 003 the investigating judges rejected the request; an appeal has been filed from this denial.
  • Case 004, however, is still open. In August 2011 the investigating judges issued an unusual press release saying that they had not notified the public of the crime sites in this case because there were “serious doubts whether the suspects are ‘most responsible’ according to the jurisdictional requirement” and that If the Court had no jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to identify these sites. However, since there was an increasing amount of speculative and wrong information being published, the investigating judges identified 30 sites in different regions of the country that were involved in this case.[19]

The Cambodian government has opposed the opening of cases 3 and 4, and the ECCC’s rejection of Case 3 and anticipated rejection of Case 4 have generated a lot of controversy.[20]

4.  Special Tribunal for Lebanon

 

In December 2005, the Government of the Republic of Lebanon requested the U.N. to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those allegedly responsible for the February 2005 attack in Beirut resulting in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons. Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1664 (2006), the U.N. and the Lebanese Republic negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Pursuant to that agreement, another Security Council resolution (No. 1757(2007)) and the Statute of the Special Tribunal, the Special Tribunal entered into force in June 2007.[21]

For considerations of justice and fairness, as well as security and administrative efficiency, the seat of the Special Tribunal is located at The Hague (Netherlands).[22]

The mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 attack resulting in the death of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction could be extended beyond that attack if the Tribunal finds that other attacks in Lebanon between October 2004 and December 12, 2005, are connected in accordance with the principles of criminal justice and are of a nature and gravity similar to the attack of 14 February 2005.[23]

The Special Tribunal has 9 judges all appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General; three are Lebanese; the other six are from other countries. They are divided into Pre-Trial, Trial and Appeals Chambers.[24]

On June 30, 2011, the Special Tribunal indicted four men, all members of Hezbollah, for the assassination of Hariri. Hezbollah has contended that the Tribunal is a sham and manipulated by the U.S. and Israel. Now the challenge is to serve the warrants and arrest the four defendants.[25]

On August 19, 2011, the Tribunal announced that it would investigate three other attacks that, it said, were related to the attack that killed Hariri. They were an unsuccessful assassination attempt on a former Lebanese telecom minister (Hamadeh) in 2004; the attack and wounding of a former deputy prime minister and defense minister (al-Murr) in 2005; and the killing of a former Communist Party chief and critic of Syria (Hawi) in 2005.[26]

Conclusion

These four special tribunals along with the ICTR and ICTY demonstrate that the U.N. has reacted creatively to situations where nation states need assistance in holding accountable perpetrators of the worst crimes of concern to the international community.

In three instances (East Timor, Sierra Leone and Cambodia) the special tribunals were placed in the country where the crimes occurred, and their proceedings were conducted in the languages of those countries. This helps to bring immediacy to the trials for the affected communities.

When security is a problem for such trials in the affected countries (Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Lebanon), on the other hand, the tribunals have been placed in a respected international center for such institutions (The Hague). The same was true for a specific trial (Charles Taylor) by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


[1] Post: International Criminal Justice: Introduction (April 26, 2011).

[2] Post: International Criminal Court: Introduction (April 28, 2011). Other posts relating to the ICC may be found by going to the “tag cloud” in the upper right portion of the blog and double clicking on “International Criminal Court.”

[3]  See Post: International Criminal Justice: Winding Down Two Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunals (June 18, 2011). Other posts relating to the ICTR and the ICTY may be found by going to the “tag cloud” in the upper right portion of the blog and double clicking on “International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda” and “International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.” See also David Weissbrodt, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, Joan Fitzpatrick & Frank Newman, International Human Rights: Law, Policy and Process at 519-22, 536-40(4th ed. 2009)(ICTR)[“Weissbrodt”]; id. at 513-19, 533-36, 540-42 (ICTY).

[4]  Weissbrodt at 548-50.

[5]  Id.

[6] [Timor-Leste] Judicial System Monitoring Programme, http://www.jsmp.minihub.org; War Crimes Studies Center, East Timor Special Panels for Serious Crimes Documents, http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~warcrime/ET-special-panels-docs.htm.

[7] Agreement between the U.N. and Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (Jan. 16, 2002), http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=CLk1rMQtCHg%3d&tabid=176. See also Weissbrodt at 543-47.

[8] Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=uClnd1MJeEw%3d&tabid=176.

[9] The Special Court for Sierra Leone, http://www.sc-sl.org/HOME/tabid/53/Default.aspx.

[10]  Id.; Weissbrodt at 545-46.

[11]  Id.

[12] See n.3 supra.

[13]  ECCC, Introduction to the ECCC, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/about-eccc/introduction; Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia concerning the prosecution under cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of democratic kampuchea, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/documents/legal/agreement-between-united-nations-and-royal-government-cambodia-concerning-prosecutio.  See also Weissbrodt at 476-81, 547-48. See generally Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, http://www.cambodiatribunal.org (news, information and commentaries on Extraordinary Chambers).

[14] Id.

[15] Cambodian Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/sites/default/files/legal-documents/KR_Law_as_amended_27_Oct_2004_Eng.pdf.

[17]  Id.; Giry, Cambodia’s Perfect War Criminal, N.Y. Rev. Books (June 26, 2011); Assoc. Press, Cambodia: Khmer Rouge War Criminal Appeals Sentence, N.Y. Times (March 28, 2011).

[18]  Mydans, Ex-Khmer Rouge Leaders Go on Trial in Cambodia, N.Y. Times (June 26, 2011); Mydans, Khmer Rouge Leader Leaves Court, in Sign of Legal Wrangling to Come, N.Y. Times (June 27, 2011).

[19]  Id.; ECCC, Appeal by the International Co-Prosecutor Against the Rejection of Investigative Requests in Case File 003 (Aug. 19, 2011), http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/blog/2011/08/appeal-international-co-prosecutor-against-rejection-investigative-requests-case-file; ECCC, Press Release by the Co-Investigating Judges Regarding Civil Parties in Case 004 (Aug. 8, 2011), http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/blog/2011/08/press-release-co-investigating-judges-regarding-civil-parties-case-004.

[20]  Assoc. Press, Cambodia Rebuffs U.N. Chief on Khmer Rouge Trials, W.S.J. (Oct. 27, 2010); Miller, KRT judge talks court controversies, Phnom Penh Post (Aug. 18, 2011).

[21]  Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Mandate and Jurisdiction, http://www.stl-tsl.org/section/AbouttheSTL.

[22]  Id.

[23]  Id.

[24]  Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Chambers, http://www.stl-tsl.org/sid/26.

[25]  E.g., Bakri, Tribunal Names 4 in ’05 Killing of Lebanese Leader, N.Y. Times (June 30, 2011); Bakri, Indictment in Hariri Assassination Is Published, N.Y. Times (Aug. 17, 2011); Crane & Del Ponte, Justice for Hariri’s killers requires the world’s support, Wash. Post (Aug. 16, 2011).

[26] Reuters, U.N.’s Lebanon Court to Probe Three Hariri-Linked Attacks, N.Y. Times (Aug. 19, 2011).