News archive 2017
Lubanga’s child soldiers’ harm recognized and to be repaired15 December 2017
On 15 December 2017, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court delivered its decision on reparations in the Lubanga case, unanimously setting the amount of collective reparations to which Mr. Lubanga is liable to the total sum of USD 10,000,000 of which USD 3,400,000 is allocated to the 425 recognized victims and USD 6,600,000 to other potential eligible victims. A summary of the decision –which is drawn up in French- will soon be published on our website.
Imminent: decision on Reparations in Lubanga case10 December 2017
On 15 December 2017 at 10:00, Trial Chamber II of International Criminal Court will deliver its decision in the Lubanga case, setting the amount of reparations for which Mr. Lubanga is liable. The hearing will be held in the presence of the Legal Representatives of the victims, the Office of Public Counsel for the Victims, the Defense, and the Trust Fund for Victims. A video link will be established between the Makala Prison in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where Mr Lubanga is imprisoned in order to allow him to attend the delivery of the decision.
More detailled information on the Lubanga case can be found here, under the header 'Cases before International Courts'.
U.S. judicial system denies Yemenite victims of US drone strike relief30 November 2017
Mr. Faisal bin Ali Jaber and others are Yemenite nationals who lost their relatives in a so called "signature drone strike" on August 29, 2012 in the village of Khashamir, Yemen. Following this incident, they initiated a lawsuit against the US before the U.S. District Court of Colombia, claiming that the drone bombing infringed both domestic and international law. The District Court decided hat the political question doctrine prevented it from passing judgment, a decision that the relatives appealed. Similarly, the Court of Appeal concluded that the case presents a nonjusticiable political question, dismissing the case. As a last resort, the relatives turned to the U.S. Supreme Court. But also here, they were left without a remedy for their losses. On 27 November 2017 the Supreme Court released a list of cases that it declined to hear, the case of Faisal bin Ali Jaber and others being on it. More about this case in the Drones section of our Reparations Legal Database.
Victims of alleged Serbian war crimes turn to ECtHR too late says ECtHR19 October 2017
Victims of alleged Serbian war crimes turn to ECtHR too late says ECtHR
On 19 October 2017 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided by majority that the relatives of men who died in or in the way to Serbian detention camps in 1995 had left it too late to lodge their complaint about the Serbian failure to investigate these deaths and declared the case inadmissible.
1995 Victims were either murdered or died as a result of torture and lack of medical assistance during their transportation to the camps or while interned in them.
September 2011 – July 2014 On behalf of the victims’ relatives, the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) lodges a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of Serbia (OWCP) against more than fifty individuals for alleged war crimes, and subsequently appeals the OWCP’s refusal to bring criminal proceedings. In July 2014 the Constitutional Court rejects the appeal for formal procedural reasons.
2014 HLC files two applications with the ECtHR against Serbia; one for the failure to investigate cases of torture of detainees and one for failure to investigate cases of deaths of detainees. In conformity with Article 35 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the applications where filed after domestic remedies had been exhausted and timely, within the six month time limit.
October 2016 ECtHR decides that the complaint about the failure to investigate cases of torture of the detained victims, was submitted too late.
19 October 1017 The ECtHR finds that the application to adjudicate the alleged failure to investigate the deaths of the detained victims falls outside six month limit of Article 35 (1) (4) of ECHR and declares the case inadmissible.
The Court considers that the fact that no official investigation took place in Serbia in the aftermath of the events, following the ratification date or the OWCP’s creation, while the deaths in question occurred in the presence of State authorities, should have made clear to the applicants that the Serbian authorities had no intention to effectively investigate the alleged crimes. The Court finds that applicants should have been aware that the OWCP approached the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as an internal armed conflict in which Serbia did not participate. As a result, the OWCP refused to investigate the crimes that took place in the territory of Serbia during the war in BiH, as it did not consider them as war crimes. So when the applicants submitted the criminal complaint to the OWCP in 2011, they should have realized that this move would be ineffective since there was no realistic prospect of an effective investigation being provided in the future by the OWCP.
This given, the Court concludes that the relatives should have realized that domestic proceedings would lead nowhere and thus should have lodged their application to the ECHR sooner. With this decision, the Court transferred the responsibility for the inactivity of war crimes prosecutions from the state to the victims themselves.
UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria in Amsterdam17 October 2017
On 25 October representatives of the UN Commission of Inquiry visited the University of Amsterdam to discuss the Commission's work. The event was organized by the Syria Legal Network and the Nuhanovic Foundation in cooperation with the War Reparations Centre of the University of Amsterdam. For details and invitation: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nuhanovic Foundation member of EFAD25 September 2017
The Nuhanovic Foundation has been accepted as member of the European Forum on Armed Drones. See for EFAD’s Call to Action.
Dutch State appeals to the Supreme Court in Srebrenica case19 September 2017
The Dutch State has announced to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands against the judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal in the Srebrenica case, issued last June. The Court of Appeal ruled that the Dutch State is liable to the extent of 30% of the damages suffered by 350 muslim men resulting from their unlawful ‘evacuation’ from the Dutch Compound in Srebrenica, leading to their death.
When deciding the case, the Dutch Supreme Court is required by law to base its deliberations on the facts as established by the lower court and can, apart from taking formal decisions (e.g. inadmissability of the case) decide to either dismiss the appeal, rendering the Appeal Court’s judgment final and binding ór quash the Appeals Court’s judgment. In the latter situation, the case is usually referred back to a Court of Appeal in order to review the case, in whole or in part, again. The Supreme Court only passes final judgment if no significant questions of fact remain to be decided.
Dutch Advocate requests information about Dutch involvement in Iraq airstrikes, on behalf of civilian victims13 August 2017
Lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld has requested the Dutch Ministry of Defense for detailed information concerning Dutch involvement, as a member of the international coalition in Iraq, in airstikes on a convoy that left civilian casualties. She is acting on behalf of two victims seeking to know who bears responsibility for their injuy. It is known that the Dutch military was involved in airstrike operations in Iraq in the relevant week, but information is not publicy available about the precise nature of that involvement. The Nuhanovic Foundation supports the request on behalf of the victims and contributes to the costs of the proceedings.
Conference on Access to Justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Turkey recognizes change of direction necessary in pursuit of accountability6 July 2017
The conference on Access to Justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Turkey (7-8 July at the Hague Institute for Global Justice) brought together more than 90 lawyers, academics and international experts from Kurdistan, Turkey and Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway. Accountability for international crimes committed by or behalf of the Turkish state was the central topic of the two day conference. Participants discussed the need to analyze the situation in southeast Turkey from an international crimes and an humanitarian law perspective instead of within the paradigm of human rights violations, as has mostly been the case so far. The Human Rights framework is now thought to be inadequate to the task of describing the facts on the ground in Turkish Kurdistan since 2015, or of developing an effective legal response to the crimes. The conference discussed recent initiatives in several EU countries - as well as in Turkey itself - to start criminal proceedings before national courts, against representatives of the Turkish state. It was decided to form an international legal network to follow up on these initiatives and to better support the work of the colleagues in Turkey. The organizers of the conference, the Nuhanovic Foundation, Maf-dad and the University of Amsterdam’s War Reparations Centre will follow up on all further developments arising from the conference.
Photo: Dr. Frederiek de Vlaming (far right) with guest panelists at the conference, 7 July 2017.
P.S. For security reasons photo’s of our colleagues from Turkey cannot be displaced.
Reparations to be paid by Dutch State to families of evacuated Srebrenica Bosniaks26 June 2017
On 27 June 2017 The Court of Appeal in Den Haag awarded reparations to family members, known as the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’, of 350 Bosniak men and boys who were evacuated from the UN/Dutchbat compound on 13 July 1995. The Court found that the Dutch battalion responsible for their protection should have offered the male refugees the choice not to leave the compound, given that, by 13 July, the Dutch had become aware that there was a grave risk that male refugees would be subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment or to summary execution. The Court considered that allowing the men to have remained inside the compound could not have guaranteed their safety, but would have given them at least a better chance of surviving. The Court estimated this chance at 30%, and found that, by its omission, Dutchbat (and thus the State of the Netherlands) had robbed the male refugees of that 30% chance. The Court ordered that the State should pay compensation to the extent of 30% of the damages suffered. For more details, see our summary in the Bosnia cases section of this site.of 350 Bosniak men, men and boys who were evacuated from the UN/Dutchbat compound on 13 July 1995. The Court found that the Dutch battalion responsible for their protection should have offered the male refugees the choice not to leave the compound, given that, by 13 July, the Dutch had become aware that there was a grave risk that male refugees would be subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment or to summary execution. The Court considered that allowing the men to have remained inside the compound could not have guaranteed their safety, but would have given them at least a better chance of surviving. The Court estimated this chance at 30%, and found that, by its omission, Dutchbat (and thus the State of the Netherlands) had robbed the male refugees of that 30% chance. The Court ordered that the State should pay compensation to the extent of 30% of the damages suffered. For more details, see our summary in the Bosnia cases section of this site.
Photo: Claimants in Mothers of Srebrenica case arriving at the Appeals Court Tuesday 27 June 2017, Remko de Waal/ANP
Nuhanovic Foundation sponsors civil claim against Israeli military for deadly Gaza attacks21 June 2017
In June Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld sent a ‘notice of liability’ to the Chief Commander of the Israeli defense forces. It is the first ever civil claim against the Israeli army for killing civilians during its attacks on Gaza in 2014. Zegveld represents a relative of the diseased who lost six members of his family including two children. The applicant is a resident in The Netherlands. Via this link you can read a column discussing the background to the case, published in the Dutch newspaper NRC.
See also https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/adri-nieuwhof/israeli-generals-sued-dutch-court-killing-gaza-family
New! Amsterdam University Fund awards grant to Syria Legal Network and UvA students7 June 2017
Amsterdam University Fund has awarded a research grant to the Syria Legal Network and UvA students for a research project on the classification of the conflict in Syria and accountability for war crimes.
Information Frederiek de Vlaming
Upcoming conference on Access to justice for victims of international crimes in Turkey7 June 2017
Upcoming conference on Access to justice for victims of international crimes in Turkey 7-8 July 2017
Two-day conference on violations of international humanitarian law and international crimes in Turkey (2015-2017) and access to justice for victims. Invitations only. Information Frederiek de Vlaming.
Final Report of the IPT 1965: Findings and Documents of the IPT 196528 May 2017
This is the Final Report of the Judges who participated in the hearings held in the Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague, Netherlands from 10 to13 November 2015. Before the hearings, the judges received the Indictment and Prosecution Brief, as well as extensive background documentary material in the form of a Research Report of over six hundred pages.
During the four days of hearings, the judges heard the oral submissions of the prosecutors, as well as the testimony and responses to questions of more than 20 witnesses (some of whom testified with their identities protected under pseudonyms and/or behind screens). The judges also received several hundred pages of documents, tendered as evidence. The prosecution presented its case as nine counts, alleging the commission of the following crimes against humanity: (1) Murder, (2) Enslavement, (3) Imprisonment, (4) Torture, (5) Sexual Violence, (6) Persecution, (7) Enforced Disappearance, (8) Hate Propaganda and (9) Complicity of Other States.
Following the hearings, the judges examined the evidence and supporting material further, in their preparation of this Report. Helen Jarvis and John Gittings prepared and edited the Report, assisted by Shadi Sadr, Mireille Fanon-Mendes France and Zak Yacoob. Judge Yacoob provided a legal overview of the text. The Report amplifies and provides reasoned justification for the Judges’ Concluding Statement, delivered during the final session of the hearings on 13 November 2015 (see A3 below). It begins by addressing the overarching question of responsibility for the mass murders and other crimes; it then focuses on the counts presented by the Prosecution and in an amicus curiae Brief submitted to the Tribunal; and concludes with a series of findings and recommendations.
It is regrettable that the State of Indonesia did not accept the invitation to participate in the hearings or make submissions to the Tribunal. The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, also did not accept the invitation extended by the Tribunal. The judges welcomed the willingness of individual members of Indonesian National Human Rights Commission, Komnas HAM, and the National Commission on Violence Against Women, Komnas Perempuan, to brief the Tribunal.
Prosecuting Syrian war crimes before European courts28 May 2017
Lecture by Wolfgang Kaleck
director of the ECCHR
May 29 2017
5 – 7 pm
Law Faculty University of Amsterdam
Wolfgang Kaleck founded the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with other internationally renowned lawyers in Berlin in 2007. ECCHR is an independent organization that works with lawyers and groups around the world to take legal proceedings against state and non-state actors for their roles in crimes against international law.
Since there is little prospect of accountability at the international level, Syrians are looking at the principle of Universal Jurisdiction as a tool for third states to prosecute perpetrators of international crimes committed in Syria. Prosecutors in Germany, France, Sweden, Netherlands and Spain and other EU countries are currently monitoring, investigating and prosecuting crimes that have been committed since the conflict erupted in 2011. ECCHR has been investigating crimes committed by all parties in the Syrian conflict since 2012. Together with torture survivors and human rights activists the organization submitted the first criminal complaint against six high-level officials of the Syrian Military Intelligence Service to the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in March 2017.
Focus of the lecture is ECCHR’s strategic considerations and the potential effects and impact. The presentation was followed by a discussion with Syrian and Dutch lawyers, academics, NGO’s, and students/staff of the Law Faculty and anyone interested in the topic.
Nuhanovic Foundation and UvA War Reparations Centre develop two new legal databases on Syria and Drones20 April 2017
Nuhanovic Foundation has expanded its reparations legal database with two most topical issues: Syria and Drones. Here, you can find up to date information on reparations for victims of both the Syrian Conflict and (covert U.S.) drone strikes. The information embedded in these new databases - put together by students in international humanitarian law of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and by interns of the Nuhanovic Foundation and the War Reparations Centre of the UvA - is clustered in 5 categories: legal instruments, reports, academic articles, case law and books.
The legal labyrinth of the Syrian conflict - Lecture18 April 2017
Lecture by Terry Gill, Professor of Military Law at the University of Amsterdam.
Professor Terry Gill is the author of ‘Classifying the conflict in Syria’, on the classification of the conflict and its consequences (International Law Studies, US Naval War College, Volume 92, 2016).
The lecture was followed by the launching of the Syria Legal Database, an up to date collection of reports and academic articles on legal analysis of the Syrian conflict, put together by UvA students international humanitarian law and interns of the Nuhanovic Foundation, the War Reparations Centre.
Moderator: dr. Frederiek de Vlaming, director of the Nuhanovic Foundation and War Reparations Centre.
English spoken, Arabic translation available
Room C 2.23
Oudemanhuispoort 4-6 | 1012 CN Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 525 3361
Round Table Strategic Human Rights Litigation - Symposium16 February 2017
During a two-day conference on 17 and 18 February Prof. Duffy (Leiden University) presented her report on the impact of strategic human rights litigation (SHRL) and the potential and limitations of the role of the courts in effecting human rights change. Questions that were analysed included: how should we understand ‘strategic’ litigation and what impact - positive or negative - has that litigation had, and what factors have influenced this? What are some of the challenges that arise in practice in protecting and promoting human rights through litigation? What strategies have enhanced the effectiveness of SHRL as a tool for legal, social or political change?
The event was organized by the War Reparations Centre of UvA and the Nuhanovic Foundation, in cooperation with Professor Helen Duffy.
Prof. Helen Duffy is Professor of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights at Leiden University. She also runs Human Rights in Practice, an international practice based in the Hague that specializes in strategic litigation before regional and international human rights courts and bodies. Her report is due in October 2017.
More about the speaker
The event was closed. Organizers: Frederiek de Vlaming (F.deVlaming@uva.nl) and Nienke van der Have (N.vanderHave@uva.nl).
Location: Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam