Despite human rights being one of the major pillars of the United Nations and on the international agenda, we are witnessing a wave of autocrats, populists and human rights abusers gaining headlines – from extrajudicial killing to war crimes. It is clear that widespread impunity and the sheer volume in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law violations are causes for alarming stress on the international legal order.
The world is facing many social and political challenges causing uncertainty, unrest and conflict. Atrocities committed during times of war and human rights infringements have caused catastrophic anguish and pain to many civilians’ lives and freedom.
At Stoke White, we believe that those who are guilty of these crimes must be held accountable. As a specialist International Law firm, we are committed to upholding the rights of the many people who have suffered across the world and prosecuting those responsible for international war crimes. Our International Law team have a wealth of experience presenting to both national and international courts, including ground-breaking cases working with NGOs and advocacy groups, often against regimes that commit war crimes.
At Stoke White, we believe in upholding the rule of law, even in conflict zones. The Laws of War is a vital framework for governance of parties to an armed conflict. In a time when civilians and those without a combat function are constantly targeted, torture rampant and rape used as a stratagem of war, this jurisprudence is high time for application.
Our firm has a history of submitting cases against perpetrators of war crimes violations. Stoke White is primarily concerned with the abuses concerning civilians and non-combatants. We meet with victims, gather evidence and draft complaints in preparation to submit them to the relevant international body.
Our International Law department has a strong history of submitting cases involving heads of state, governments and individuals. We also partner with NGOs and other stakeholders in several countries working for the same objective.
On behalf of state and individual victims and organisations, we have ongoing universal jurisdiction applications, as well as applications at the International Criminal Court (ICC). At national level, we have several noteworthy cases in progress, which push the boundaries of national and international law.
We make applications to the Human Rights Council regarding the prevention of torture, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
Our services to clients in this area include:
Advice and litigation
Universal jurisdiction applications, issuing arrest warrants
Investigations into the war crimes and crimes against humanity
Evidence and intelligence-gathering
Applications to the United Nations Human Rights Council, African Union, and International Criminal Court (ICC)
Work with the UN special rapporteur, investigators and independent personnel
Collaboration with other parties for the furtherance of human rights law
In 2019 Stoke White submitted a complaint with evidence to the SO15 unit of the UK’s Metropolitan Police in London and the US Department of Justice on behalf of family members of people who died at the Sana’a funeral attack in Yemen, carried out by Saudi-UAE coalition forces on 8th October 2016.
In the attack, 137 civilians were killed including children. As many as 695 other civilians were severely injured. The attack on the funeral was planned and carried out by government and military officials from the Saudi-UAE led coalition. Under the Principal of Universal Jurisdiction, Stoke White submitted a list of suspects to the UK’s Metropolitan Police and US’s Department of Justice, following an investigation on the attack.
2010 saw the Gaza Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid, along with hundreds of civilians, illegally attacked by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in international waters. The attack, which killed 10 innocent humanitarian volunteers on board the Mavi Marmara vessel whilst injuring many others, attracted widespread international criticism.
Stoke White has been on a relentless mission to seek justice through national and international legal systems on behalf of the victims and their families. The international legal process commenced in May 2013 at the ICC. Following the decision of the ICC Prosecutor in November 2014 to not to open an investigation into alleged IDF war crimes, an application for Review was made to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber. This application resulted in our favour.
The legal process was unnecessarily prolonged by the Prosecutor’s further appeals and received criticism from the ICC judges. Whilst the legal process continued, at the request of the ICC, our legal team made submissions in an oral hearing. The hearing was a significant and historical occasion for our case and the history of the ICC.
Our legal team was present at the ICC on September 2019, in which the Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecutor was in error. The ICC subsequently ordered the Prosecutor to make a decision whether to investigate any alleged crime by December 2019. This was another landmark decision in favour of the victims, and the first of its kind in the history of the ICC.
The hearing was broadcast live on the ICC website and attracted media attention from around the world. The Appeal’s Chambers decision was another victory for the victims who have long been waiting for delivery of justice and accountability from the perpetrators for crimes committed almost a decade ago. The legal process continues, and our team will continue to strive until justice is delivered for the victims.
Stoke White undertook to investigate ongoing crimes committed by the Syrian regime and its agents. The firm contacted victims based in camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, as well as citizens in European Union member states. The firm took detailed statements, investigated the alleged crimes, collected evidence, and in 2019, in a move widely covered by the media, filed a criminal case against the Syrian regime and its agents in the International Criminal Court.
In submitting the case to the chief prosecutor on behalf of 28 Syrian refugees, Stoke White filed the first ever lawsuit against the Syrian government to demand justice for 1,189 victims of abuse. We continue to gather evidence from victims in order to bring cases for rape, torture, the use of chemical weapons and other crimes to the attention of the ICC.