On 30 May 2016, a groundbreaking ruling from the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese courts convicted Former Chadian Dictator Hissène Habré of crimes against humanity (rape, sexual slavery, kidnapping and ordering the killings 40,000 people) and sentenced him to life in prison. Habré fled to Senegal in 1990 after being overthrown and was first indicted by a Senegalese judge in 2000. His trial was stalled several times over the years but significant progress was made when Macky Sall became Senegal’s President in 2012 and the International Court of Justice ordered the prosecution or extradition of the former dictator.
Read more from the BBC and Human Rights Watch.
Professor Leila Sadat recently spoke to BBC Legal Affairs Correspondent, Joshua Rozenberg, in his Law in Action segment on crimes against humanity. In this segment, Rozenberg explores the origins of international criminal law, particularly the difference between “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.” Other featured guests include Special Rapporteur for Crimes Against Humanity, Professor Sean Murphy, and Professor Philippe Sands who gives an historical overview of the two lawyers who introduced these two concepts, Raphael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht.
Listen to the 30 minute segment here.
On 16 February 2016, several leading non-governmental organizations submitted a letter to Special Rapporteur Professor Sean Murphy in support of the current work of the International Law Commission on crimes against humanity. The letter underscored the importance of certain key provisions for the ILC’s consideration as the Commission prepares to meet in summer 2016 to discuss the Second Report on the draft articles for a global convention on crimes against humanity. Read the Letter from the NGOs.
In November 2015, the UN General Assembly’s Legal Committee (also known as the Sixth Committee) in New York discussed the need for a global convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. Thirty-seven countries specifically addressed the proposed draft articles presented in the Report by International Law Commission Special Rapporteur on Crimes Against Humanity, Professor Sean Murphy, largely in support of international collaboration. more
Simultaneously, Members of the International Law Commission, international and national legal experts in international criminal law, and members of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative’s Steering Committee also met in Nuremberg, Germany for a Workshop on the Drafting of a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity. Discussions at the two-day workshop will inform the next draft report by Professor Murphy, and presumably the views of the Commission next summer when it reconvenes. more
On April 20, 2015, Prof. Leila Sadat gave a presentation regarding the need for a new global treaty on crimes against humanity at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. In attendance were students, administrators, faculty, deans and members of Portugal’s Supreme Court. In particular, the presentation was attended by the President of the Portuguese Supreme Court, Justice António Henriques Gaspar, Justice Maria dos Prazeres Beleza, also from the Supreme Court of Justice and the Portugal’s Attorney General Joana Marques Vidal. Prominent members of the Academy were also present, including the Dean of the Lisbon School of Law of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Professor Jorge Pereira da Silva, Professor Germano Marques da Silva, a former Dean of Lisbon School of Law and a Criminal Law Professor, Professor Luís Barreto Xavier, the Dean of Católica Global School of Law and Professor Gonçalo Matias, Director of Católica Global’s Transnational Law Program, and special adviser to Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva.
There was a robust discussion about the need for and technical aspects of a possible new treaty on crimes against humanity. Students from Católica Global Law School have undertaken to prepare a Portuguese translation of the Proposed International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity, under the direction of Professor Gonçalo Matias. A Portuguese translation will make the number of languages the treaty is available in eight; English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German and Chinese translations can be read here .
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) will reintroduce Crimes Against Humanity (CAH) legislation in Congress. Referring to the lack of such legislation as a “legal loophole,” he explained that “[d]espite longstanding U.S. support for the prosecution of crimes against humanity committed in World War II … in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere … there is no U.S. law prohibiting crimes against humanity.” Senator Durbin’s initiative to reintroduce CAH legislation coincides with the recently formed ABA Working Group on CAH, of which Professor Leila Sadat, Director of the Harris Institute, is an inaugural member.
To read more and to watch Senator Durban’s speech, visit: http://bit.ly/1Hc0nxb