Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
The Centre is an independent academic institution monitoring human rights developments both domestically and worldwide, issuing a monthly Bulletin, as well as organizing conferences.
The term “crime of aggression” in international law determines, with a certain degree of simplification, the individual criminal responsibility of a person (for example a head of state) for ordering an armed attack against a foreign state. Including this crime in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague has been discussed for many years and in December 2017, the final decision was adopted that the crime of aggression would be included in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court on the 17 July 2018, twenty years after the signing of its founding treaty – the Rome Statute.
In line with the changes, the judges amended the Regulations of the Court, which entered into force on 15 November 2018.
Next to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, aggression became the fourth crime that the Court will be able to deal with. What does its legal regulation look like and for what kind of cases can we expect it to be used in reality?
President Donald Trump invoked his national security power denying migrants asylum who enter the country illegally. Although Trump feels “we need people in our country but they have to come in legally,” the question must be asked how does this policy stand in regard to asylum law?
The point of the policy
Officials stated that the goal of the executive order was to bring asylum seekers into the country through legal measures at official border crossings and the policy more or less closes the door on asylum when migrants enter illegally. This is being done in an effort to secure national interest. One of the problems with this policy is the sheer number of border crossings, with many asylum seekers being informed at the crossings they must return another day to make their claim and sometimes requiring them to return to their home country in order to make their claim. This policy came to be in part due to the refugee caravan currently moving throughout Central America and Mexico towards the U.S. border, some of who have begun illegally crossing the border and subsequently been arrested.
When an international criminal tribunal in The Hague is mentioned, the majority of people think about the International Criminal Court. However, three other such courts are functioning in The Hague, one of them being the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. And as it applies national law, it is a very unique international tribunal. Why was it established? In what ways does it differ from the other tribunals? The answers are brought by its President, Judge Ivana Hrdličková.
Madame President, as she is called at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, was a judge in the Czech Republic in both civil and criminal cases who, at the same time, focused her academic interests on Islamic law and human rights. She also served as an expert on the Council of Europe on money laundering and terrorist financing matters at the so-called Moneyval. She was appointed a judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2012 and became its President in 2015. In February 2018 she was re-elected for a third term of eighteen months.
The November Bulletin opens with an exceptional contribution - following the interviews with the Presidents of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the so-called Kosovo Chambers, we bring an interview with another President of a judicial institution based in The Hague. Judge Theodor Meron is a real guru of international criminal justice who presided for many years over the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Currently he presides over the tribunal that replaced it.
Additionally, the Czech representatives in the Venice Commission, Kateřina Šimáčková and Veronika Bílková, discuss the outcomes of the October session of the commission. It mainly concerned a reform of judiciary in Romania but also counter-terrorist measures in Moldova.
Taking effect on August 1, 2018, Denmark has joined a list of countries that has enacted bans on wearing face coverings in public, joining other countries that have certain limitations on face veils in public such as France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria and Austria.
What is the “Burqa Ban?”
Briefly, the most common body coverings worn by Islamic women are the hijab, the niqab and the burqa. The hijab is most common as it simply refers to covering up in general, and many times refers to headscarves worn by women. The niqab, which is a more concealing traditional Islamic wear describes a face veil, which leaves the area surrounding the eyes clear. Finally, a burqa is an Islamic veil covering the entire face and body. The burqa is quite rare in Western societies and is practiced the least.
Chechnya is an autonomous republic of Russia, located in the North Caucasus, near the Caspian Sea, in southern Russia. With a reported (though disputed) population of around 1.3 million people, the Chechen Republic is also, arguably, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a homosexual.
The crisis was first made aware to the public on April 1, 2017 in the newspaper, “Novaya Gazeta.” The paper reported that numerous men between the ages of 16 and 50 had simply disappeared. The paper continues to specify the men were arrested for their practice of, or suspicion of, “non-traditional sexual orientation”.
The October Bulletin opens with an exclusive interview with the President of the relatively new court in The Hague. Judge Ekaterina Trendafilová presides over the so-called Kosovo tribunal (Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office). What crimes will this institution, located in the world’s judicial capital, focus on?
Additionally, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is being discussed, which was awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad as an appreciation for their long-term activities against the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Furthermore, there are a number of articles regarding current human rights developments. These articles are divided into the following four categories: International Criminal Justice; European System of Human Rights Protection; International Politics, Business and Human Rights; and the Czech Republic and Human Rights.