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Legal news from Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sri Lanka report says military did not target civilians
Jaimie Cremeans on December 17, 2011 12:35 PM ET

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[JURIST] Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission [official website] released a report [text, PDF] Friday concluding that Sri Lanka's military did not intentionally attack civilians following the country's civil war. The LLRC was created by the Sri Lankan government in 2010 to investigate 2009 events in which civilians were killed. In compiling the report, the LLRC invited representatives of the public and got the majority of its information from the general public. It concluded that the events did not seem to be intentional attacks by Sri Lanka Security Forces against civilians who were injured or killed but still recommended possible punishment for misconduct and compensation to those injured in specific situations. It also stressed the importance of realizing the political actions that brought about the conflict in the first place:
The process of reconciliation requires a full acknowledgement of the tragedy of the conflict and a collective act of contrition by the political leaders and civil society, of both Sinhala and Tamil communities. The conflict could have been avoided had the southern political leaders of the two main political parties acted in the national interest and forged a consensus between them to offer an acceptable solution to the Tamil people. The Tamil political leaders were equally responsible for this conflict which could have been avoided had the Tamil leaders refrained from promoting an armed campaign towards secession.
It also recommended a National Day be appointed to "express solidarity and empathy with all victims of the tragic conflict."

In November, the Sri Lankan government announced it would begin investigating the number of casualties [JURIST report] from its 26-year civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [JURIST news archive]. This came after allegations of war crimes [JURIST report] by the UN and others following the conclusion of the civil war [Guardian report] in 2009.

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ICC declines to confirm charges against Rwanda rebel leader
Katherine Getty on December 17, 2011 11:44 AM ET

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[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] ruled Friday that Callixte Mbarushimana [ICC materials] should be released because there is not enough evidence [decision, PDF; press release] to charge him. Mbarushimana was allegedly tied to the murder, rape and torture of Congolese villagers by Hutu militia in 2009. He was accused of being the Executive Secretary of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] since 2007. The Pre-Trial Chamber found that evidence presented during the preliminary hearing in September was not strong enough to send the case to trial. The prosecution appealed [petition, PDF] the decision Friday:
In order to prevent irreparable prejudice to the Prosecution, it is requested that the Pre-trial Chamber stays its order on release until such time as it has ruled on the Prosecution's application for leave to appeal or, if leave is granted, until the Appeals Chamber rules on the request for suspensive effect. The Prosecution reminds the Pre-Trial Chamber that according to its own findings, endorsed by the Appeals Chamber, Callixte Mbarushimana, if released, has the means to interfere with the investigation, to commit crimes, and to abscond, with the financial support of the FDLR's international network.
The ICC is expected to rule on the appeal soon.

Mbarushimana was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] at The Hague by a French court in 2010. In 2008 he was arrested [JURIST report] in Germany trying flee to Russia. In 2005, the UN asked France [JURIST report] to bring charges against Mbarushimana, who was living with refugee status in the country. At the time the former prosecutor for the ICC said that it did not file charges because there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

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