The Hawaiian Journal of Law and Politics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

The Hawaiian Journal of Law and Politics (HJLP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa just published its third volume. Itʻs last edition, volume 2, was published back in the summer of 2006. The journal is published by the Hawaiian Society of Law and Politics (HSLP) which is a student organization at the university comprised of students, faculty and staff at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

HSLP was founded as a registered independent organization under Co-curricular Activities, Programs, and Services at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in October 30, 2003. In 2014, the organization had disbanded, only to be revived in the Spring of 2021 with an all-new membership.

Volume 3 of the HJLP has three original articles and reprints of articles and chapters that were authored by alumni of HSLP. These alumni all have Ph.D. degrees. Of the original articles, Dr. Kalawai‘a Moore is the Editor of HJLP and is the author of the “Editorʻs Notes,” and the article “American Hegemonic Discourse in Hawai‘i: Rhetorical Strategies in Support of American Control Over Hawai‘i.” Dr. Keanu Sai is the author of “Setting the Record Straight on Hawaiian Indigeneity.” And Dr. Umi Perkins is the author of “Negotiating Native Tenant Rights.”

Authors of the reprint of articles and chapters include Dr. Keao NeSmith who is the author of “Tūtūtʻs Hawaiian and the Emergence of a Neo Hawaiian Language.” Dr. Sydney Iaukea is the author of “The Queen and I: a Story of Dispossessions and Reconnections in Hawai‘i.” And Dr. Lorenz Gonschor is the author of “The Subtleties of a Map and a Painting.”

Professor Niklaus Schweizer is the author of a book review of the “Royal Commission of Inquiry: Investigating War Crimes and Human Rights Violations Committed in the Hawaiian Kingdom.”

Dr. Keanu Sai is the author of “The Royal Commission of Inquiry.” Professor William Schabas is the author of the “Legal Opinion on War Crimes Related to the United States Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom since 17 January 1893.” And Professor Federico Lenzerini is the author of the “Legal Opinion on the Authority of the Council of Regency of the Hawaiian Kingdom.”

It is recommended to first read Dr. Kalawaiʻa’s “Editor’s Note” where he explains the hiatus of the HJLP since 2006 and why this volume is dedicated to the late Professor Kanalu Young who served as the faculty advisor for HSLP. Followed by Dr. Sai’s article “Setting the Record Straight on Hawaiian Indigeneity,” Dr. Kalawai’s article “American Hegemonic Discourse,” and Dr. Perkins’ article “Negotiating Native Tenant Rights.”

Dr. Keanu Sai to Present on the Hawaiian Kingdom, United States and International Law on April 8

Dr. Keanu Sai will be covering in his presentation some of the subjects in his latest article “Setting the Record Straight on Hawaiian Indigeneity” that was recently published in volume 3 of the Hawaiian Journal of Law and Politics at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Dr. Sai asked that everyone read the article before his presentation on April 8, 2021.

7:30pm Indian Standard Time (IST) is:

10:00am Eastern Time

7:00am Pacific Time

4:00am Hawai‘i Time

Dr. Sai’s presentation will be via Zoom:

Zoom Linkhttps://zoom.us/j/93879471109
Password: JGU

U.S. Explicitly Recognizes the Continued Existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom and its restored government

Explicit Recognition by the United States of America of the Continued Existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom and its government—the Council of Regency

HONOLULU, 5 April 2021 — On 15 March 2021, Dr. David Keanu Sai, Chairman of the Council of Regency, and Mrs. Kau‘i Sai-Dudoit, Minister of Finance, was notified that the “Securities Commission of the State of Hawaii is about to commence an enforcement action against [them] based upon the sale of unregistered Kingdom of Hawaii Exchequer Bonds, in violation of HRS § 485A-301.” In § 485A-201(2) of the statute it states that bonds issued “by a foreign government with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations” are exempt.

The State of Hawai‘i has taken the dubious position that the Council of Regency is not a government and that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist. This position, however, runs counter to the United States explicit recognition of the continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom, as a State, and its government—the Council of Regency, when arbitral proceedings were instituted at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on 8 November 1999 in Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom. This explicit recognition by the United States has serious consequences for the State of Hawai‘i because it triggered the Supremacy Clause under federal law, where “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The United States Supreme Court, in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., stated that the rule of the Supremacy Clause holds “in the case of international compacts and agreements [when it forms] the very fact that complete power over international affairs is in the National Government and is not and cannot be subject to any curtailment or interference on the part of the several States.”

Attached to this press release is a Preliminary Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry that explains not only the United States explicit recognition of the Council of Regency and the continued existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom, but also by the explicit recognition by the other treaty partners of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Supremacy Clause has rendered the State of Hawai‘i incapacitated because under international law, congressional acts, which includes the 1959 Statehood Act, have no effect in the territory of a foreign State unless it has the consent by the government of that State. There is no consent from the Hawaiian government since 1893 that would allow American municipal laws to have any effect within the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This was precisely the dispute between Larsen and the Council of Regency. As the PCA stated:

Lance Paul Larsen, a resident of Hawaii, brought a claim against the Hawaiian Kingdom by its Council of Regency (“Hawaiian Kingdom”) on the grounds that the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is in continual violation of: (a) its 1849 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with the United States of America, as well as the principles of international law laid down in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969 and (b) the principles of international comity, for allowing the unlawful imposition of American municipal laws over the claimant’s person within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

American municipal laws include the constitution and laws of the State of Hawai‘i. Under international criminal law, the unlawful imposition of American municipal laws within the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom constitutes the war crime of usurpation of sovereignty. War crimes have no statute of limitation and a person who commits a war crime can be prosecuted even after 50 years from the time the war crime was committed. Under international law, war criminals are subjected to be prosecuted by all States when they enter the State’s territory even though the crimes were committed outside of their territories. Finland and Switzerland are currently prosecuting war criminals for crimes committed in Liberia.

The only way for the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties to continue to govern is in accordance with international humanitarian law and the law of occupation. From a domestic standpoint, the Supremacy Clause renders the existence of the State of Hawai‘i unconstitutional and void because its existence is in conflict with treaties that the United States has ratified, which includes the 1849 Hawaiian-American Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation. To continue to govern would be to transform themselves into an occupying government within the limits and what is allowed under international law.

In a letter of correspondence from Dr. Sai, as Head of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), to State of Hawai‘i Attorney General Clare E. Connors, dated 2 June 2020, the Attorney General was notified that:

I am not aware whether you were informed of three meetings I had in 2015 with Mike McCartney, former chief of staff for Governor David Ige, at his office in the Executive Chambers regarding the subject of war crimes and the American occupation. This prompted a report I submitted to him that summarized what we discussed in those three meetings and how the State of Hawai‘i has a duty, under international humanitarian law, to transform itself into a Military government by virtue of Article V, section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i. United States practice for Military government is covered in United States Army and Navy FM 27-5, and occupation of an occupied State is covered in FM 27-10. The Adjutant General, MG Kenneth Hara, should be aware of these regulations and the function of a Military government.

These are not normal times but you are the legal advisor to the Governor, and due to the severity of the situation under international criminal law and the material elements of mens rea and actus reus, I respectfully implore you to carefully review the information I have provided you and to advise the office of the Governor accordingly. Under international humanitarian law, decisions on this matter are not with the federal government nor is it with its military here in the islands, but solely on the shoulders of the State of Hawai‘i as it is the entity in effective control of Hawaiian territory thereby triggering the law of occupation. I should also note that the governmental infrastructure of the State of Hawai‘i is that of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The only change was in name, e.g. the Department of Land and Natural Resources is the Ministry of the Interior. All that was changed in 1893 was the Queen and her cabinet, and the top law enforcement of the kingdom, being forcibly replaced by insurgents calling themselves the Executive and Advisory Councils.

Both the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) have called upon the State of Hawai‘i to transform itself into an occupying government. In its letter to Governor David Ige of 10 November 2020, the NLG stated:

We urge you, Governor Ige, to proclaim the transformation of the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties into an occupying government pursuant to the Council of Regency’s proclamation of June 3, 2019, in order to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This would include carrying into effect the Council of Regency’s proclamation of October 10, 2014 that bring the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the nineteenth century up to date. We further urge you and other officials of the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties to familiarize yourselves with the contents of the recent eBook published by the RCI and its reports that comprehensively explains the current situation of the Hawaiian Islands and the impact that international humanitarian law and human rights law have on the State of Hawai‘i and its inhabitants.”

In its resolution of 7 February 2021, the “IADL fully supports the NLG’s November 10, 2020 letter to State of Hawai‘i Governor David Ige urging him to ‘proclaim the transformation of the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties into an occupying government pursuant to the Council of Regency’s proclamation of June 3, 2019, in order to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This would include carrying into effect the Council of Regency’s proclamation of October 10, 2104 that bring the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the nineteenth century up to date.”

The NLG letter and the IADL resolution are attached to this press release.

The actions taken by the State of Hawai‘i against government officials of the Hawaiian Kingdom also constitutes a violation of Article 54 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states, “The Occupying Power may not alter the status of public officials…in the occupied territories, or in any way apply sanctions to or take any measures of coercion or discrimination against the them.” The Fourth Geneva Convention was ratified by the United States Senate on 6 July 1955 and came into force on 2 February 1956. As such, the Fourth Geneva Convention comes under the Supremacy Clause.

In light of the awareness of the occupation by the leadership of the State of Hawai‘i, these allegations against the Hawaiian government officials constitute malicious intent. As pointed out by Professor Lenzerini, under the rules of international law, “the working relationship between the Regency and the administration of the occupying State would have the form of a cooperative relationship aimed at guaranteeing the realization of the rights and interests of the civilian population and the correct administration of the occupied territory.” This unwarranted attack is a violation of the law of occupation, and as a proxy for the United States, it also constitutes an international wrongful act.

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IADL Resolution on the US Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom

The following resolution was adopted by the IADL Council, in virtual session, on 7 February 2021:

IADL RESOLUTION CALLING UPON THE UNITED STATES TO IMMEDIATELY COMPLY WITH INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW IN ITS PROLONGED OCCUPATION OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS—THE HAWAIIAN KINGDOM

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) is a non-governmental organization of human rights lawyers founded in 1946, with member associations throughout the world and with consultative status in ECOSOC. IADL is dedicated to upholding international law and promoting the tenets of the UN Charter in furtherance of peace and justice.

The IADL strongly condemns the January 1893 invasion of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States and its subsequent unlawful and prolonged occupation to date, a clear violation of customary international law at the time, which is currently set out in Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations prohibiting the use of force. The IADL has always been a proponent of the rule of law and a State’s obligation to comply with international humanitarian law, which includes the law of occupation.

In 2001, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, stated “in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States, including by exchanges of diplomatic or consular representatives and the conclusion of treaties.” [1] The Hawaiian Kingdom currently has treaties with Austria, Belgium, Bremen, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hamburg, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. [2] The Hawaiian Kingdom also became a member of the Universal Postal Union on January 1, 1882.

After completing an investigation into the United States role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government on January 17, 1893, President Cleveland apprised the Congress of his findings and conclusions. In his message to the Congress, he stated, “And so it happened that on the 16th day of January, 1893, between four and five o’clock in the afternoon, a detachment of marines from the United States steamer Boston, with two pieces of artillery, landed at Honolulu. The men, upwards of 160 in all, were supplied with haversacks and canteens, and were accompanied by a hospital corps with stretchers and medical supplies. This military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war.” [3] The President concluded, that “the military occupation of Honolulu by the United States on the day mentioned was wholly without justification, either as an occupation by consent or as an occupation necessitated by dangers threatening American life and property.” [4]

This invasion coerced Queen Lili‘uokalani, executive monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, to conditionally surrender to the superior power of the United States military, where she stated, “Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” The President acknowledged that by “an act of war…the Government of a…friendly and confiding people has been overthrown.” [5]

Through executive mediation between the Queen and the new U.S. Minister to the Hawaiian Islands, Albert Willis, that lasted from November 13, 1893 through December 18, 1893, an agreement of peace was reached. [6] According to the executive agreement, by exchange of notes, the President committed to restoring the Queen as the constitutional sovereign, and the Queen agreed, after being restored, to grant a full pardon to the insurgents. Political wrangling in the Congress, however, blocked President Cleveland from carrying out his obligation of restoration of the Queen.

Five years later, at the height of the Spanish-American War, President Cleveland’s successor, William McKinley, signed a congressional joint resolution of annexation on July 7, 1898, unilaterally seizing the Hawaiian Islands for military purposes. In the Lotus case, the Permanent Court of International Justice stated that “the first and foremost restriction imposed by international law upon a State is that…it may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another State.” [7]

This rule of international law was acknowledged by the Supreme Court in United States v. Curtiss-Wright, Corp. (1936), when the court stated, “Neither the Constitution nor the laws passed in pursuance of it have any force in foreign territory unless in respect of our own citizens, and operations of the nation in such territory must be governed by treaties, international understandings and compacts, and the principles of international law.” [8] In 1988, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded, it is “unclear which constitutional power Congress exercised when it acquired Hawaii by joint resolution.” [9]

Under international law, “a disguised annexation aimed at destroying the independence of the occupied State, represents a clear violation of the rule preserving the continuity of the occupied State.” [10]

Despite the limitations of United States legislation, the Congress went ahead and enacted the Territorial Act (1900) changing the name of the governmental infrastructure to the Territory of Hawai‘i. [11] Fifty-nine years later, the Congress changed the name of the Territory of Hawai‘i to the State of Hawai‘i in 1959 under the Statehood Act. [12] The governmental infrastructure of the Hawaiian Kingdom continued as the governmental infrastructure of the State of Hawai‘i.

On February 25, 2018, United Nations Independent Expert, Dr. Alfred M. deZayas, in his communication with members of the State of Hawai‘i Judiciary wrote, “I have come to understand that the lawful political status of the Hawaiian Islands is that of a sovereign nation-state in continuity; but a nation-state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and a fraudulent annexation. As such, international laws (the Hague and Geneva Conventions) require that governance and legal matters within the occupied territory of the Hawaiian Islands must be administered by the application of the laws of the occupied state (in this case, the Hawaiian Kingdom), not the laws of the occupier (the United States).” [13]

The IADL fully supports the National Lawyers Guild’s 2019 resolution that “calls upon the United States of America immediately to begin to comply with international humanitarian law in its prolonged and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.” [14] Together with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG):

  • IADL strongly condemns the prolonged and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • IADL also condemns the unlawful presence and maintenance of the United States Indo-Pacific Command with its 118 military sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
  • IADL calls for the United States to immediately comply with international humanitarian law and begin to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom as the occupied State.
  • IADL calls on the legal and human rights community to view the United States presence in the Hawaiian Islands through the prism of international law and to roundly condemn it as an illegal occupation under international law.
  • IADL supports the Hawaiian Council of Regency, who represented the Hawaiian Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its efforts to seek resolution in accordance with international law as well as its strategy to have the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties comply with international humanitarian law as the administration of the Occupying State.
  • IADL calls on all United Nations member States and non-member States to not recognize as lawful a situation created by a serious violation of international law, and to not render aid or assistance in maintaining the unlawful situation. As an internationally wrongful act, all States shall cooperate to ensure the United States complies with international humanitarian law and consequently bring to an end the unlawful occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.

The IADL recognizes that the United States’ violations of international humanitarian law have led to the commission of war crimes and human rights violations in the Hawaiian Islands. The IADL also recognizes that the civilian population in the Hawaiian Islands are “protected persons” and their rights during a belligerent occupation are vested in the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and the 1977 Additional Protocol.

For the restoration of international law and the tenets of the UN Charter, the IADL calls upon the United States to immediately comply with international humanitarian law and the law of occupation in its prolonged and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.

The IADL fully supports the NLG’s November 10, 2020 letter to State of Hawai‘i Governor David Ige urging him to “proclaim the transformation of the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties into an occupying government pursuant to the Council of Regency’s proclamation of June 3, 2019, in order to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This would include carrying into effect the Council of Regency’s proclamation of October 10, 2014 that bring the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the nineteenth century up to date.” [15]

IADL reiterates that supporting the tenets of the UN Charter also means that member States must comply with the Articles of State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts (2001). [16] The U.S. violation of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s sovereignty and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law for over a century is an internationally wrongful act. As such, member States have an obligation to not “recognize as lawful a situation created by a serious breach…nor render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation,” [17] and member States “shall cooperate to bring to an end through lawful means any serious breach [by a member State of an obligation arising under a peremptory norm of general international law].” [18]

To download a copy of the IADL resolution go to this link.

[1] Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 Int’l L. Reports 566, 581 (2001). Case description for the Larsen case online at https://pca-cpa.org/en/cases/35/.

[2] International Treaties between the Hawaiian Kingdom and other Powers (online at https://hawaiiankingdom.org/treaties.shtml).

[3] President Cleveland’s Message to the Congress 451 (December 18, 1893) (online at https://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/Cleveland’s_Message_(12.18.1893).pdf).

[4] Id., 452.

[5] Id., 456.

[6] Executive Agreement, by exchange of notes, between President Cleveland and Queen Lili‘uokalani (December 18, 1893) (online at https://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/EA_2(HI%20Claim).pdf).

[7] Lotus, PCIJ Series A, No. 10, 18 (1927).

[8] United States v. Curtiss-Wright, Corp., 299 U.S. 304, 318 (1936)

[9] Douglas W. Kmiec, “Legal Issues Raised by Proposed Presidential Proclamation To Extend the Territorial Sea,” 12 Op. O.L.C. 238, 252 (1988) (online at https://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/1988_Opinion_OLC.pdf).

[10] Krystyna Marek, Identity and Continuity of State in Public International Law 110 (2nd ed., 1968).

[11] An Act To provide a government for the Territory of Hawaii, 31 Stat. 141 (1900).

[12] An Act To provide for the admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union, 73 Stat. 4 (1959).

[13] Letter from U.N. Independent Expert Dr. deZayas to Members of the Judiciary of the State of Hawai‘i (25 Feb. 2018) (online at https://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/Dr_deZayas_Memo_2_25_2018.pdf).

[14] NLG Calls Upon US to Immediately Comply with International Humanitarian Law in its Illegal Occupation of the Hawaiian Islands (January 13, 2020) (online at https://www.nlg.org/nlg-calls-upon-us-to-immediately-comply-with-international-humanitarian-law-in-its-illegal-occupation-of-the-hawaiian-islands/).

[15] NLG letter urges implementation on international law in U.S.-occupied Hawaiian Kingdom (2020) (online at https://nlginternational.org/2020/11/nlg-letter-urges-implementation-of-international-law-in-u-s-occupied-hawaiian-kingdom/).

[16] United Nations, Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (2001) (online at https://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft_articles/9_6_2001.pdf).

[17] Id., Article 41(2).

[18] Id., Article 41(1).

Dr. Keanu Sai to Present on the American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom in India and Ethiopia by Webinar April 8, 2021

About the Centre for International Legal Studies

Jindal Global Law School’s Centre for International Legal Studies is committed to the study of emerging areas of interest in public international law. Its mandate is to undertake collaborative research within JGU and also with other national and international entities in various areas of international law. The Centre designs training courses, lectures, seminars, conferences, and symposia for students and professionals working in the field and advises national and international public bodies on matters of interpretation and application of international law.

About Jindal Global Law School

Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), the flagship faculty for O.P. Jindal Global (Institution of Eminence Deemed To Be University), is an ambitious entrant into the Indian, and indeed the global—academic scene. The model is simple. Faculty with outstanding academic qualifications have been assembled, given world class facilities, extensive academic freedom, and embedded—in many cases re-embedded—into the Indian academic fabric. The result is an institution for research and scholarship that exists at a unique set of crossroads for almost any research issue. JGLS combines perspectives unique to the Global North as well as to the Global South, applies the potential for global collaboration towards local application, has the ability to disseminate Indian legal and policy research to a global audience, enjoys the in-house expertise to engage in seamless comparative law review, to bridge jurisdictional divides, and to draw upon a global set of faculty contacts to coordinate scholars and scholarship.

About Addis Ababa University International Humanitarian Law Clinic

The Addis Ababa University International Humanitarian Law Clinic offers a venue for the learning, research, debate and awareness raising of International Humanitarian Law. Only a few months after its establishment, the AAU IHL Clinic has become an important emerging voice in International Humanitarian Law, posting articles by Students, Scholars and IHL practitioners. Our blog is attracting readers from all over the world. Our articles range from theoretical issues of IHL to practical situations of armed conflicts. The AAU IHL Clinic encourages learners to pursue and develop legal research, analytical thinking, legal analysis and problem-solving skills through practical applications of legal rules and principles to real-world situations. It is a platform where students develop their skills in writing, publishing, presentation and correspondence. It is also a venue for scholars and practitioners to write about and present on issues they deem relevant to the proper enforcement of IHL rules. Through projects chosen by the Clinic and our partners, students will get a unique experience in IHL, within the classroom and beyond.

Dr. Keanu Sai will present on “The Hawaiian Kingdom, United States and International Law” on April 8 at 7:30pm (India Time), which is 9am (US Eastern Time) and 4am (Hawai‘i Time). To register here for the event.

Lessons for Hawai‘i: Historic War Crimes Trial Opens in Switzerland and Finland

GENEVA (Reuters)—The trial of a former Liberian commander accused of rape, pillage, assassinations, and an act of cannibalism opens in Switzerland this week.

The trial of Alieu Kosiah, who denies the charges, is one of just a handful of cases brought before international courts in relation to the West African country’s 1989-2003 conflict, which killed nearly a quarter of a million people, often at the hands of child soldiers.

He is accused of war crimes listed as “recruitment and use of a child soldier, forced transportation, looting, cruel treatment of civilians, attempted murder, murder (directly or by order), desecration of a corpse and rape”.

It is Switzerland’s first war crimes trial to be heard outside a military court.

“This is historic for Switzerland and Liberia,” said Alain Werner, a Swiss lawyer at Geneva-based NGO Civitas Maxima which filed the complaint on behalf of victims.

The NGO was researching war crimes with a Liberian partner when they discovered a rebel commander was living near Lake Geneva. Kosiah was arrested in 2014 and Switzerland filed an indictment against him in 2019.

The case involves dozens of witnesses, thousands of pages of testimony and has been complicated, according to the Swiss Attorney general’s office, by a lack of official Liberian cooperation. The trial is set to open on Thursday at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona.

Kosiah, 45, says he wants to clear his name. Some of the charges are attributed to troops under his command.

“According to Mr. Alieu Kosiah, one of the big problems with this case is he had not yet arrived in Lofa (county) at the time of the crimes he supposedly committed there,” his lawyer Dimitri Gianoli told Reuters.

“What counts for (him) is to be able to officially re-establish his honour by making himself heard openly and clearly,” he said. “(He) has always been very clear on his whereabouts in Liberia and the court filings include testimonies collected in Switzerland that confirm it.”

Unlike neighbour Sierra Leone which had its own civil war in the 1990s, Liberian perpetrators have never faced prosecution at home despite a recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to create a war crimes court.

Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor was sentenced in 2012 for war crimes in Sierra Leone, but was never convicted for Liberian acts.

Others arrested in Europe have yet to appear in court.

Former warlords retain positions of power in Liberia and witnesses have been reluctant to come forward amid threats.

“This trial gives hope to victims, to the survivors, and gives voice to the dead,” said Hassan Bility who collected evidence for the case and was himself tortured in the conflict.

Human Rights Watch’s Elise Keppler said she hoped the trial would serve as a “wake-up call” for Liberia.

The court will hear Kosiah next week.

Liberian plaintiffs cannot attend due to COVID restrictions and will instead testify in 2021. Kosiah faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years.

HELSINKI (AP) — A trial has started in Finland for a Sierra Leone man charged with committing serious war crimes, including several murders, and crimes against humanity during Liberia’s bloody second civil war from 1999 through 2003.

Gibril Massaquoi, who has been living in Finland for more than 10 years, is alleged by Finnish prosecutors to have held a leading position in the Revolutionary United Front, a rebel army in Sierra Leone that was involved in the Liberian civil war in West Africa.

The mask-wearing Massaquoi, known to have used the alias “Angel Gabriel,” was present at the Pirkanmaa District Court in the southern Finnish city of Tampere where the main handling of the case started Wednesday. Finnish media reported the 51-year-old defendant didn’t say anything at the court.

Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence — which is usually around 14 years in Finland — for Massaquoi, who has denied all charges. Those charges include his alleged direct or indirect participation in rapes, murders, cannibalism and using child soldiers during the conflict in Liberia.

Massaquoi was arrested in March last year by Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation in Tampere, a main industrial and university city, where according to Finnish media reports he held a job and had a family with children.

Massaquoi is allegedly the first non-Liberian to be held accountable in connection with Liberia’s brutal first and second civil wars, which are estimated to have killed at least 500,000 people. He ended up in Finland under a witness relocation scheme.

Later this month, the Finnish court, in a rare move, will temporarily relocate to Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone to hear testimony from dozens of witnesses on the alleged atrocities carried out by Massaquoi himself or by others on his orders.

A verdict in the case is expected next fall.

PROSECUTING WAR CRIMINALS UNDER UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION

Both Switzerland and Finland are State parties to the International Criminal Court Rome Statute. 123 countries are States Parties to the Rome Statute. 33 are African States, 19 are Asia-Pacific States, 18 are from Eastern Europe, 28 are from Latin American and Caribbean States, and 25 are from Western European and other States.

In the preamble of the Rome State, it states “that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation.” This provision is called complementarity jurisdiction, where the State parties are obligated to first use their institutions and courts to prosecute war crimes instead of the International Criminal Court.

If the alleged war criminal is not a citizen of a State party and that the war crime occurred outside of its territory, the State party can exercise universal jurisdiction to prosecute. All of the State parties to the Rome Statute have the ability to exercise universal jurisdiction, which Switzerland and Finland are doing.

This is significant regarding the war crimes that have been and are currently be committed in the Hawaiian Islands that the Royal Commission of Inquiry is investigating. If Hawai‘i’s alleged war criminals find themselves, whether as a resident or in transit, in the territory of one of the 123 countries who are State parties to the Rome Statute, they may find themselves in a similar situation as Kosiah in Switzerland or Massaquoi in Findland.

Dr. Keanu Sai to Present to Maui County Council on Title Insurance in light of Hawai‘iʻs Legal Status under International Law

The Committee meeting can be viewed live on Maui television Akaku Channel 53 or you can view online at Maui County Agendas. In the County’s agenda webpage go to Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee meeting January 19, 2021, and click the “video” link.

Reminder! Please register: January 9, IADL/NLG Webinar: War Crimes and the U.S. Occupation of Hawai‘i with Dr. Keanu Sai and Professor Federico Lenzerini

From the National Lawyers Guild International Committee:

Dear all NLG International Committee members and friends,

We invite you to join this important webinar below, organized by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the National Lawyers Guild International Committee (U.S.). Please join us and do not hesitate to reach out with any questions! Please do share this invitation with your colleagues, comrades and friends.

January 9, IADL/NLG Webinar: War Crimes and the U.S. Occupation of Hawai‘i with Dr. Keanu Sai and Professor Federico Lenzerini

Saturday, January 9, 2021
10am – 1pm Hawai‘i/12 – 3pm Pacific/3 – 6pm Eastern (8 – 11pm UTC, 9 pm – 12 midnight central Europe)
Register to join over Zoom: https://bit.ly/hawaiioccupation
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/3519049134808762

As strange as it may seem, Hawai‘i, a recognized sovereign and independent State since the nineteenth century, has been under a prolonged military occupation by the United States for the past 127 years that has led to the commission of war crimes and human rights violations of unimaginable proportions. In 2019, the Hawaiian Council of Regency proclaimed the establishment of the Royal Commission of Inquiry whose mandate is to investigate the commission of these war crimes and human rights violations in order to hold to account war criminals in accordance with international humanitarian law. Join us for a discussion on this important subject and the movement to ensure that the United States complies with the international law of occupation.

Dr. Keanu Sai is a lecturer at the University of Hawai‘i and serves as Hawaiian Minister of the Interior, Minister of Foreign Affairs ad interim, and Head of the Royal Commission of Inquiry. He also served as Agent for the Council of Regency at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague, Netherlands, in Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, PCA case no. 1999-01. Dr. Sai received his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in political science specializing in international relations and public law from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

Professor Federico Lenzerini is a professor of international law at the University of Siena, Italy, Department of Political and International Sciences. He is also a Professor at the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights of the St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami, U.S., and Professor of the Tulane-Siena Summer School on International Law, Cultural Heritage and the Arts. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Italian Yearbook of International Law, of the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review and of the Cultural Heritage Law and Policy series. Professor Lenzerini received his Doctor of Law degree from the University of Siena, Italy, and his Ph.D. degree in international law from the University of Bari, Italy.

This webinar is organized by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Dr. Keanu Sai to Present to Maui County Council Land Use Committee on Thursday, December 17, on Title Insurance in Hawai‘i

After Fidelity National Title Insurance Company withdrew from providing an overview of title insurance to the Maui County Council’s Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee scheduled for December 17, 2020, the Committee’s chairwoman, Tamara Paltin, invited Dr. Keanu Sai to present an overview of title insurance as it applies to Hawai‘i.

Dr. Sai accepted the invitation. His presentation to the Committee will stem from the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s Preliminary Report on Legal Status of Land Titles throughout the Realm (June 16, 2020), and its Supplemental Report on Title Insurance (October 28, 2020). Dr. Sai is the Head of the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

The meeting will start at 9am, Thursday, December 17, 2020. The meeting of the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee will be online. The Committee meeting can be viewed live on Maui television Akaku Channel 53 or you can view online at Maui County Agendas. In the County’s agenda webpage go to Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee meeting December 17, 2020, and click the “video” link.

National Holiday – Independence Day (November 28)

November 28th is the most important national holiday in the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is the day Great Britain and France formally recognized the Hawaiian Islands as an “independent state” in 1843, and has since been celebrated as “Independence Day,” which in the Hawaiian language is “La Ku‘oko‘a.” Here follows the story of this momentous event from the Hawaiian Kingdom Board of Education history textbook titled “A Brief History of the Hawaiian People” published in 1891.

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George Simpson
Haalilio

The First Embassy to Foreign Powers—In February, 1842, Sir George Simpson and Dr. McLaughlin, governors in the service of the Hudson Bay Company, arrived at Honolulu on business, and became interested in the native people and their government. After a candid examination of the controversies existing between their own countrymen and the Hawaiian Government, they became convinced that the latter had been unjustly accused. Sir George offered to loan the government ten thousand pounds in cash, and advised the king to send commissioners to the United States and Europe with full power to negotiate new treaties, and to obtain a guarantee of the independence of the kingdom.

Accordingly Sir George Simpson, Haalilio, the king’s secretary, and Mr. Richards were appointed joint ministers-plenipotentiary to the three powers on the 8th of April, 1842.

William Richards

Mr. Richards also received full power of attorney for the king. Sir George left for Alaska, whence he traveled through Siberia, arriving in England in November. Messrs. Richards and Haalilio sailed July 8th, 1842, in a chartered schooner for Mazatlan, on their way to the United States*

*Their business was kept a profound secret at the time.

Proceedings of the British Consul—As soon as these facts became known, Mr. Charlton followed the embassy in order to defeat its object. He left suddenly on September 26th, 1842, for London via Mexico, sending back a threatening letter to the king, in which he informed him that he had appointed Mr. Alexander Simpson as acting-consul of Great Britain. As this individual, who was a relative of Sir George, was an avowed advocate of the annexation of the islands to Great Britain, and had insulted and threatened the governor of Oahu, the king declined to recognize him as British consul. Meanwhile Mr. Charlton laid his grievances before Lord George Paulet commanding the British frigate “Carysfort,” at Mazatlan, Mexico. Mr. Simpson also sent dispatches to the coast in November, representing that the property and persons of his countrymen were in danger, which introduced Rear-Admiral Thomas to order the “Carysfort” to Honolulu to inquire into the matter.

Daniel Webster

Recognition by the United States—Messres. Richards and Haalilio arrived in Washington early in December, and had several interviews with Daniel Webster, the Secretary of State, from whom they received an official letter December 19th, 1842, which recognized the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and declared, “as the sense of the government of the United States, that the government of the Sandwich Islands ought to be respected; that no power ought to take possession of the islands, either as a conquest or for the purpose of the colonization; and that no power ought to seek for any undue control over the existing government, or any exclusive privileges or preferences in matters of commerce.” *

*The same sentiments were expressed in President Tyler’s message to Congress of December 30th, and in the Report of the Committee on Foreign Relations, written by John Quincy Adams.

Aberdeen

Success of the Embassy in Europe—The king’s envoys proceeded to London, where they had been preceded by the Sir George Simpson, and had an interview with the Earl of Aberdeen, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on the 22d of February, 1843.

Lord Aberdeen at first declined to receive them as ministers from an independent state, or to negotiate a treaty, alleging that the king did not govern, but that he was “exclusively under the influence of Americans to the detriment of British interests,” and would not admit that the government of the United States had yet fully recognized the independence of the islands.

Sir George and Mr. Richards did not, however, lose heart, but went on to Brussels March 8th, by a previous arrangement made with Mr. Brinsmade. While there, they had an interview with Leopold I., king of the Belgians, who received them with great courtesy, and promised to use his influence to obtain the recognition of Hawaiian independence. This influence was great, both from his eminent personal qualities and from his close relationship to the royal families of England and France.

Encouraged by this pledge, the envoys proceeded to Paris, where, on the 17th, M. Guizot, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, received them in the kindest manner, and at once engaged, in behalf of France, to recognize the independence of the islands. He made the same statement to Lord Cowley, the British ambassador, on the 19th, and thus cleared the way for the embassy in England.

They immediately returned to London, where Sir George had a long interview with Lord Aberdeen on the 25th, in which he explained the actual state of affairs at the islands, and received an assurance that Mr. Charlton would be removed. On the 1st of April, 1843, the Earl of Aberdeen formally replied to the king’s commissioners, declaring that “Her Majesty’s Government are willing and have determined to recognize the independence of the Sandwich Islands under their present sovereign,” but insisting on the perfect equality of all foreigners in the islands before the law, and adding that grave complaints had been received from British subjects of undue rigor exercised toward them, and improper partiality toward others in the administration of justice. Sir George Simpson left for Canada April 3d, 1843.

Recognition of the Independence of the Islands—Lord Aberdeen, on the 13th of June, assured the Hawaiian envoys that “Her Majesty’s government had no intention to retain possession of the Sandwich Islands,” and a similar declaration was made to the governments of France and the United States.

At length, on the 28th of November, 1843, the two governments of France and England united in a joint declaration to the effect that “Her Majesty, the queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His Majesty, the king of the French, taking into consideration the existence in the Sandwich Islands of a government capable of providing for the regularity of its relations with foreign nations have thought it right to engage reciprocally to consider the Sandwich Islands as an independent state, and never to take possession, either directly or under the title of a protectorate, or under any other form, of any part of the territory of which they are composed…”

John C Calhoun

This was the final act by which the Hawaiian Kingdom was admitted within the pale of civilized nations. Finding that nothing more could be accomplished for the present in Paris, Messrs. Richards and Haalilio returned to the United States in the spring of 1844. On the 6th of July they received a dispatch from Mr. J.C. Calhoun, the Secretary of State, informing them that the President regarded the statement of Mr. Webster and the appointment of a commissioner “as a full recognition on the part of the United States of the independence of the Hawaiian Government.”