The International Criminal Court, seated in The Hague, prosecutes perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. A Czech judge and leading expert on criminal law, Robert Fremr, is one of its 18 judges. What does this role encompass? What are Judge Fremr’s views on the Court’s current problems?
The interview was published in May 2017, in Czech, now we also present it in English.
Robert Fremr spent his whole career life focusing on criminal law. During his work as a judge, he worked on a number of courts and in 2004 he was appointed to serve at the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. Apart from this, Judge Fremr taught criminal law at university and between the years 2006-2008 and 2010-2012 he served as ad litem judge at the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This international experience helped his candidacy for the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he has worked as a judge since March 2012.
Professor Manfred Nowak is a widely respected human rights expert who in 2007 started to promote a reform of the UN human rights treaty bodies that would contain the establishment of the so-called World Court of Human Rights. How does he perceive this idea today?
The interview was published in March 2016, in Czech, now we also present it in English.
The UN human rights treaty bodies are control mechanisms that monitor the respect for a number of human rights treaties at the universal level (e.g. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). However, the functioning of the treaty bodies is in the long-term, quite inefficient and therefore, Manfred Nowak suggests that in the future these committees (e.g. the Human Rights Committee) should focus mainly on reviewing state reports.
The Absher App is an application launched by the Interior Ministry of the Saudi government in 2015. Some focus on how the app reduces bureaucracy while others emphasis the ability of the app to allow men to track the location of women. Since its release it has generated minimal public discussion, however, the debate has been increasing.
In order to fully understand and appreciate the significance of this App, one must first be familiar with the “guardianship laws” existent in Saudi Arabia. Very briefly, guardianship laws grant certain rights to a “guardian” of a woman. Every woman in Saudi Arabia, no matter how old she is, has a male guardian. This could be her father, husband, brother or son. This male guardian must give her permission to obtain passports, undergo various medical procedures and get married. Opponents to guardianship laws believe these laws give women a status similar to minors.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Judge Tomka, born in Banská Bystrica, has been a Member of the Court since 2003; Vice-President of the Court from 2009 to 2012; and the President of the Court from 2012 to 2015.
In contentious cases, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settles legal disputes that are submitted to it by States. The Court can only address a dispute when the States in question have recognised its jurisdiction. No State can therefore be a party to proceedings unless it has consented thereto.
The Uighurs are an ethnic minority coming from the Xinjiang province in Northwestern China. The province is officially an autonomous region however, remains under control of the central government. Furthermore, there are many instances of human rights violations in relation to the Uighurs.
Who are the Uighurs?
The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority in Central Asia. The majority of this ethnic group, over 10 million people, lives in China and the Xinjiang province, but over 300,000 live in the surrounding countries of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Furthermore, there have been communities established further abroad in places such as Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Russia and the United States.
For years Professor Meron served as a judge and the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Nowadays, he presides over the tribunal that took its residual functions. What are the cases the new tribunal deals with? And how does he feel about the development of international criminal justice?
Professor Theodor Meron was born in 1930 in Poland, grew up in Israel and later moved to the US. He studied law in Jerusalem, Oxford and Harvard, and become one of the most respected scholars in international law. After the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he served as a judge and the President of ICTY. When these tribunals were about to close, he became the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT or Mechanism) that took over the residual functions of both the former tribunals.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (KSC) is a new hybrid criminal tribunal that combines elements of both international and national law. Although being formally part of the judiciary of Kosovo, it has a seat in The Hague. Why was it established?
From 2011 onwards, the European Union strongly supported the establishment of a new hybrid tribunal that could investigate particular crimes that were allegedly committed or commenced on the territory of Kosovo.
After more than a year of preparations the court plans to move from provisional premises into its final building where the future proceedings should take place. The President of the KSC, Ekaterina Trendafilova, was very kind and shared her experiences and views with the Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.