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The archives of the JusticeInfo.net website have been available through our search tool since 2015. These archives are a real memory bank of Transitional Justice and reconciliation processes. They cover nearly 100 countries, focussing on, for example, the activities of special courts like the ICC, ICTY and ICTR, and Truth Commissions like the Truth and Dignity Commission in Tunisia. The dispatches of the Hirondelle News Agency, which covered the work of the ICTR from its start in 1997 to its closure in 2015, are included in the search tool.

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    Nepal: "I have been naming the people responsible for my...
    19.10.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The conflicting parties’ alliance (Nepali Congress and Maoist Centre) to share power in the government has destroyed the norms of justice and the agenda set by the Peoples’ Movement. They abused their authority without addressing conflict survivors’ key demands for truth and social justice. When the top level leaders from both sides of the conflict built an alliance with security forces to forget about past abuses, compromising standards for their mutual benefit and position, the hope for fair trials and justice has become a distance one for ordinary citizens. Instead of creating hope for the future, the political forces built a strong alliance with the security forces who were directly involved in the most egregious human...

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    Myanmar: Karen rebels urge nonviolent solution to Rakhine...
    18.10.17
    Sean Gleeson, Frontier

    One of Myanmar’s leading non-state armed groups has urged the government to find a “politically dignified and nonviolent” resolution to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, warning that failure to do so could jeopardise the government’s peace process. On Sunday, the second anniversary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the Karen National Union released a statement reaffirming its commitment to ending Myanmar’s decades-long history of civil conflict through political dialogue. However, it went on to criticise the northern Rakhine security crackdown that began in August, noting the parallels between events there and counterinsurgency campaigns conducted by the military elsewhere in Myanmar. “The handling of the crisis in...

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    ICC scandal: Who is watching the sheriff?
    18.10.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    A consortium of media known as the European Investigative Collaboration (EIC), of which French investigative website Mediapart is a member, has revealed certain facts that are embarrassing to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Court has opened an internal investigation and suspended two members of staff, but the scandal focuses on former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. Apart from the questions about individual responsibility, the main issue raised by these revelations is ICC governance. Indeed, how should the ICC Prosecutor, the Court’s “sheriff”, be watched over? When Luis Moreno Ocampo arrived in The Hague in 2003, he carried hopes for independent and ambitious international justice. On paper, Ocampo seemed ideal, and...

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    Is the United States Ready for a Truth-Telling Process?
    18.10.17
    ICTJ

    Fania Davis thinks the time has come for a truth-telling process about racial injustice in the United States. A noted activist and the founding director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), Davis has confronted systematic racism for decades, working from Birmingham, Alabama to the Bay Area and beyond. But she noticed renewed grassroots momentum to explore the legacy of slavery in the aftermath a white police officer killing Michael Brown, a black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri three years ago. “I see Ferguson as kind of a marker,” she said at a conference at Kean University this summer. “We have seen this bubbling up of truth-telling since Ferguson, and it was those young people who stayed in the street, who...

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    Elections in Africa: democratic rituals matter even though...
    18.10.17
    André Guichaoua

    The multi-party systems established in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia in the early 1990s have endured despite electoral violence. But democratic hopes have been dashed or perverted throughout the rest of the region. The governments built on the ruins of the civil wars in Angola, Burundi, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and Rwanda have all relied on armed political groups to stay in power. From June 2015 to August 2017 an uninterrupted series of general elections took place in Central and East Africa. Those in Burundi (2015) and the DRC (initially set for 2016) were expected to be the most problematic. In both the incumbent presidents were seeking to extend their mandates beyond a second term. In...

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    Is judicial wrangling fuelling Kenya's election turmoil?
    18.10.17
    Aileen Kimutai, Nairobi

    Kenya's annulled presidential elections have thrown the country into the worst political crisis since the 2008 post-election violence which saw over 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Tension is high as the scheduled October 26 re-run approaches. "Kenya has had a very tough year so far and the going looks as if it will get tougher," says Robert Shaw, a public policy and economic analyst in Nairobi. "The country is dangerously polarized and fatigued, which is a lethal cocktail. There is an increasing number of antagonistic and inflammatory comments by some leaders that risk taking us back to the dark and awful days of the 2007/2008 post-election violence." He says a lot of what has been achieved in the seven...

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    Criminal justice a rare commodity in Central African...
    18.10.17
    AFP

    At Bouar appeal court, presiding judge Aime Pascal Delimo twiddles his thumbs, surveys his empty office and then, with a sigh, closes his door to leave early. Delimo wields jurisdiction over territory in western Central African Republic (CAR) that is the size of Austria. Violent crime here is chronic. But he has no work. In one of the world's poorest countries, the criminal justice system in Bouar and many other of CAR's provincial towns has quite simply broken down. "Normally we would be finishing at 3:30 pm, but given the pace of the court, I leave in the early afternoon, around 2:00 pm," Delimo says. "It's been four years I've been here and no criminal cases have been heard." He tries about 15 cases every year, all civil...

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    Week in Review: Human rights activist awarded as dictators...
    15.10.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    As we saw this week, transitional justice still appears far from countries such as Togo, Egypt and Burundi, whose people are still struggling under authoritarian regimes disrespectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In Togo, there is an open crisis between the dictatorial Gnassingbé dynasty that has been in power for more than 50 years and the population who aspire to democracy and rule of law. “In this small West African country, the factors for rebellion are being put in place,” writes our Lomé correspondent Maxime Domegni. “On the streets, the young people no longer hide their will to confront the authorities head-on. The Togolese people feel that they are at a turning point. The churches have lent their support to the...

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    Rwanda: The gruesome plight of children during the Tutsi...
    11.10.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) launched on October 4 an online exhibition giving insight on how children were affected by the Rwandan genocide and conflicts in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The exhibition, entitled “Children in Conflict – Evidence from the Archives of the International Criminal Tribunals”, shows that children were often deliberately targeted for sexual violence, torture, persecution, forcible transfer, murder and extermination. To know more about how children were affected in Rwanda, JusticeInfo’s Kigali correspondent spoke to Valérie Mukabayire, president of the Association of Genocide Widows (AVEGA –Agahozo) JusticeInfo: Approximately how many children were killed during the 1994...

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    Persecuted Egyptian activist wins human rights award
    11.10.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    Egyptian Mohamed Zaree on Tuesday received in Geneva the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. The award honours his commitment despite personal risk. It also serves as a protest against the Egyptian President, whose repressive tactics know no bounds according to the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), of which Zaree is Egypt Country Director.   Mohamed Zaree was unable to travel to Geneva to receive the Martin Ennals Award because of a travel ban as he faces judicial investigations and the prospect of a possible 30-year prison sentence. His “crime” is a ceaseless commitment to the freedoms considered by the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a threat to State security.  “During his...

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    Courts in Myanmar ‘unequipped’ to administer justice, says...
    10.10.17
    Sean Gleeson, Frontier

    A new report has delivered a damning indictment of Myanmar’s judicial system, detailing judges sleeping through during testimony, defendants coerced into pleading guilty and most cases going to trial before legal counsel was organised for the accused. The report, published this month by the London-based legal support group Justice Base, was the culmination of more than 150 trial observations across four years in Yangon Region’s township and district courtrooms. Local legal professionals, employed by Justice Base as observers for the "Monitoring in Myanmar" report, documented rampant corruption in court administration, a culture of deference to police witnesses and judges, intervention in proceedings by other officials, and routine...

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    Week in Review: Scandal at the ICC, questions on Burundi...
    08.10.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    The International Criminal Court is rocked by a huge scandal implicating its first Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, while the Central African Republic pursues its difficult quest for justice and the suffering continues of Burundi’s people, being used as a rampart by a regime that sees threats everywhere. Eight international media, members of the European Investigative Collaboration (EIC), have conducted a six-month investigation into the secrets of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which makes serious allegations against its first Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo. As JusticeInfo editorial advisor Pierre Hazan writes, the investigation found that “in 2011 the International Criminal Court asked for Côte d’Ivoire’s ex-president...

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    Scandal rocks International Criminal Court
    08.10.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    An enormous scandal has hit the International Criminal Court (ICC). After six months of investigations, eight international media of the European Investigative Collaboration (EIC) have produced findings that seriously undermine the ICC’s credibility and image of impartiality. They examined 40,000 confidential documents – diplomatic cables, banking documents and correspondence – obtained by French investigate website Mediapart. These documents throw for the first time a raw light on the political games of States around international justice and the dubious morality of Luis Moreno Ocampo, who was the ICC’s first Prosecutor from 2003 to 2012. Current ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, clearly embarrassed, issued a statement in which she...

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    “Embattled Burundi government using impoverished people as...
    04.10.17
    JusticeInfo.net

    In Burundi, repression has been directed at all democrats in the country since 2015, even if there has been some ethnic targeting, according to French sociologist and African Great Lakes specialist André Guichaoua. He says the core hardliners of embattled President Nkurunziza’s government are still trying to use the country’s “impoverished and pressurized population” as a rampart against perceived foreign threats. JusticeInfo spoke to André Guichaoua:   JusticeInfo: What is your assessment of the current human rights situation in Burundi? Is there still a risk of genocide as some observers were saying last year? Guichaoua: It is very difficult to assess the risk in a region that is regularly hit by widespread massacres. But...

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    Liberian war victims to testify in US “Jungle Jabbah” case
    03.10.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    The trial has begun in the United States of Liberian national Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”), a Pennsylvania resident suspected of war crimes. The former ULIMO rebel commander is charged with two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury. Now that the jury has been selected, war crimes victims from Liberia are expected to start testifying before the Pennsylvania court. Alain Werner, a lawyer and co-founder of Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima, has been working for many years to help Liberian war victims get justice, and his organization is following this case closely. He spoke to JusticeInfo from Geneva: JusticeInfo: Why has Jabbateh been charged with perjury and fraud, rather than war crimes? Alain Werner: As...

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    Syria : “These are the Crimes we are Fleeing”
    03.10.17
    HRW

    Over the last six years the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of an estimated 475,000 people as of July 2017, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. All sides to the conflict have committed serious crimes under international law amid a climate of impunity. A range of groups have actively documented violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Syria. In late 2016, the United Nations General Assembly also created a mechanism tasked with analyzing and collecting evidence of serious crimes committed in Syria suitable for use in future proceedings before any court or tribunal that may have a mandate over these crimes. But for the most part, the wealth of information and materials available has not helped to...

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    Week in Review: Transitional justice under pressure in...
    01.10.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    The difficulties of transitional justice were illustrated this week in countries as diverse as Tunisia, Burundi, Myanmar and Nepal. In Tunisia,  a JusticeInfo investigation showed how abuses by the President of the Truth and Dignity Commission, Sihem Bensedrine, has herself weakened an already weak and vulnerable institution. Bensedrine, nicknamed Araïssa (the boss) is accused of “squandering public funds and recruiting staff in an anarchic and opaque way, so as to set up a parallel administration totally subservient to her orders”, writes our correspondent Olfa Belhassine. Sihem Bensedrine claims there is a “plot” against the Commission and the transitional justice process in Tunisia, but four Commissioners have resigned in protest...

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    Outrage at Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis is “exaggerated”,...
    01.10.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    The crisis that has been taking place in Myanmar since August – an attack by Muslim rebels, bloody clampdown by the army and flight to Bangladesh of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya people – has provoked outrage across the world and denial from Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Syi, who is the country’s de facto leader. But Matthias Huber, a Swiss expert on Myanmar, says the world is being too hard on Suu Kyi. The United Nations announced on Wednesday it was preparing a humanitarian aid plan in case all the Rohingyas of Myanmar (also known as Burma) flee to Bangladesh to escape the violence. Meanwhile Myanmar decided to allow humanitarian organizations into Rakhine state, the scene of violence since August that has caused...

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    NGOs denounce 'crimes against humanity' in Myanmar
    29.09.17
    AFP

    Nearly 90 non-governmental organizations have denounced "crimes against humanity" committed by authorities in Myanmar against the Muslim Rohingya minority and called on the international community to take action. Half a million Rohingya have crushed into camps in Bangladesh in just over a month, fleeing a military campaign in Myanmar and communal violence. "As more evidence emerges, it is clear that the atrocities committed by Myanmar state security forces amount to crimes against humanity," a joint statement from the groups said. The 88 NGOs, which included Amnesty International and the AFL-CIO called on UN member states to take "urgent action" to address the crisis. "In particular, we call on all states to immediately...

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    Rwanda: Post-Election Political Crackdown
    29.09.17
    HRW

    (Nairobi, September 29, 2017) – Rwandan authorities have arrested, forcibly disappeared, and threatened political opponents since the August 2017 presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today. The incumbent, Paul Kagame, won the election with a reported 98.79 percent of the vote. Those targeted include a would-be independent presidential candidate, Diane Rwigara, and her family members and supporters, and several leaders and members of the Forces démocratiques unifiées (FDU)-Inkingi opposition party. “The Rwandan government’s crackdown shows that it is unwilling to tolerate criticism or accept a role for opposition parties, and it sends a chilling message to those who would dare challenge the status quo,” said Ida...

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    African vote throws UN Burundi abuse probe into question
    28.09.17
    AFP

    The UN rights council voted Thursday to send experts to help authorities in crisis-wracked Burundi to investigate violations, casting doubt on whether an independent international probe would be allowed to continue. The resolution, presented this week by a group of African countries, was controversial since it came on top of a far stronger text previously tabled by the European Union, the United States and Canada. That resolution, which will be voted on on Friday, calls for the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which has accused the country's government of crimes against humanity -- including executions, torture and rape -- to continue its work. The African text, which passed with 23 votes in favour, 14 opposed and nine...

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    C. Africa president says genocide talk 'not justified'
    27.09.17
    AFP

    The president of the Central African Republic pushed back Wednesday against UN warnings of looming genocide in his country, saying the complex crisis could not be reduced to religious and ethnic strife. "We think that to talk about genocide at this stage is going too far... it is not justified," President Faustin-Archange Touadera told reporters in Geneva after addressing the Human Rights Council. He was asked about comments from the recently departed United Nations humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien, who said renewed clashes in the country had "the early warnings signs of genocide". Touadera countered that the factors fuelling the violence varied significantly in different places, with cases where people were fighting...

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    In Nepal Transitional justice in crisis
    27.09.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    How can Truth Commissions function properly in a place like Nepal where alleged perpetrators set the agenda and control the commissioners in a situation of continuing insecurity where both victims and witnesses cannot speak out openly? The situation now, 11 years since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), is more complex and dangerous than the end of conflict in 2006. Security forces (both Nepal Army and Nepal Police) are becoming more powerful, and have almost destroyed evidence about past violations held in government offices. They intervene in every process, including blocking the proposed amendment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) act, with a focus on opposing criminalizing enforced disappearances....

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    Guinea: 8 Years Later, Justice for Massacre Needed (NGO)
    27.09.17
    HRW

    (Conakry) – Guinea should move ahead to deliver justice, truth, and reparation for the grave crimes committed on September 28, 2009, at a Conakry stadium, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Association of Victims, Parents and Friends of the September 28 Massacre said today in advance of the massacre’s eighth anniversary. On that day, security forces massacred more than 150 peaceful protesters, and more than 100 women were raped. Hundreds of injuries and widespread looting were also documented. An investigation into the crimes by a panel of Guinean investigating judges, opened in February 2010, has yet to be completed – eight years after the crimes were committed. “The judges investigating the September 28, 2009...

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    Questions and answers on Israeli settlements
    26.09.17
    AFP

    A Palestinian gunman opened fire at an entrance to the Israeli settlement of Har Adar in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, killing three security personnel and wounding another. Here are some key questions and answers on Israeli settlements: - What are settlements? - Settlements are Israeli villages, towns and even cities built on territory Israel seized during the Six-Day War of 1967. Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank, along with 2.6 million Palestinians. A further 200,000 Israelis live in annexed east Jerusalem, along with at least 300,000 Palestinians, who want to make the sector the capital of their future state. Israel also seized part of the Golan Heights from Syria and the Gaza...

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    Women’s Victimization in Transitional Justice and their...
    25.09.17
    Yi-Li Lee

    Women, even though they were main victims of Taiwan’s authoritarian regime, have been largely absent from the transitional justice mechanisms after Taiwan successfully transformed into a democracy. Following the discussion of women’s victimization in times of political oppression and the negative impacts of women’s absence in Taiwan’s current transitional justice process, this essay argues that the recent incorporation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women provides a gender-sensitive legal framework for female victims to overcome the social and institutional obstacles that they have faced in transitional justice issues. Women’s Victimization During the Authoritarian Regime Taiwan was...

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    Week in Review: When failure to tackle impunity hinders...
    24.09.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The exodus and massacre of Rohingyas, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, marked the week in transitional justice. French President Emmanuel Macron said this was “genocide”, while the UN Secretary General called it ethnic cleansing. But according to Myanmar’s de facto leader, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, this is a “huge iceberg of misinformation”. Everything indicates, however, that some 400,000 Rohingyas, i.e. nearly half of this community living in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine or Arakan, have fled their country pursued by the army, and that hundreds have been shot dead or died as their houses were torched by the military. Human Rights Watch on Friday published satellite photos showing the army’s scorched...

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    Myanmar: Satellite Imagery Shows Mass Destruction
    22.09.17
    HRW

    (New York) – New analysis of satellite imagery from Burma’s Rakhine State shows the near total destruction of 214 villages, Human Rights Watch said today. World leaders meeting at the United Nations should urgently adopt a General Assembly resolution condemning the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing, while the UN Security Council should impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo. The detailed satellite images, made possible due to a clearing of monsoon cloud on September 16, 2017, reveal destruction from burning much greater than previously known. They show the destruction of tens of thousands of homes across Maungdaw and Rathedaung Townships, part of the Burmese security forces’ campaign of ethnic cleansing that has forced...

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    Are Myanmar's Rohingya facing genocide or ethnic cleansing?
    21.09.17
    AFP

    Muslim Rohingya fleeing their homes in Myanmar are facing "ethnic cleansing" but whether they are victims of genocide remains unclear, international justice experts told AFP. About 422,000 refugees from the stateless Muslim minority have fled Myanmar's westernmost Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August 25, alleging torture and rape by Myanmar troops and Buddhist militias. Their plight has sparked UN accusations of military-led ethnic cleansing, but French President Emmanuel Macron has said the attacks amount to genocide. - What is the difference between genocide and ethnic cleansing? - "These are closely related terms and indeed, sometimes the means by which genocide is committed will be the same as those by which ethnic...

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    The persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya goes back to...
    21.09.17
    Engy Abdelkader, JD, LL.M.

    Some 420,000 Rohingya Muslims, a religious and ethnic minority community in Myanmar, have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August this year. The United Nations has called the Rohingya the world’s most persecuted minority group and described the atrocities by Myanmar’s authorities as “ethnic cleansing,” whereby one group removes another ethnic or religious community through violence.But the persecution of the Rohingya is not new. My research on the Rohingya Muslim experience in Myanmar shows that this pattern of persecution goes back to 1948 – the year when the country achieved independence from their British colonizers. Here is their brief history. The legacy of colonialism The British ruled Myanmar (then Burma) for over a...

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    Central African Republic: 12 peace plans in 10 years and...
    20.09.17
    Pierre Hazan

    In the last ten years, the Central African Republic has had a dozen peace plans. None have ever been implemented. Here we look back and analyse this serial failure, as people close to armed groups are admitted into government. This move by the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, “in the name of national reconciliation” comes as UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned there are “early warning signs of genocide in the Central African Republic”. Is the Central African Republic (CAR) a serial killer of peace plans? From the 2007 Sirte accord concluded under the late “Mediator and Guide of the Great Libyan Revolution” Muammar Gaddafi to the two agreements reached in recent months – one in Rome in June intiated by Vatican diplomacy...

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    The Rakhine crisis in Myanmar and the government’s options
    19.09.17
    Sithu Aung Myint, Frontier

    The Myanmar government’s policy options for troubled Rakhine state are a choice between an army strategy focused on the 1982 Citizenship Law or implementing recommendations in the final report by the Annan commission. The coordinated attacks by extremists on 30 police posts and a Tatmadaw (army) camp in northern Rakhine in the early hours of August 25 came as no surprise to many political observers and conflict analysts. The attacks, which initially claimed the lives of 10 policemen, a soldier and two government officials, and also left dozens of extremists dead, followed a disturbing rise in tensions in northern Rakhine. The escalation was expected because the Rakhine problem was not being handled with the right policy. The...

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    French, Rwandan presidents hold rare meeting amid tense...
    19.09.17
    AFP

    Rwandan President Paul Kagame has met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in New York for rare talks, Kigali said Tuesday, as diplomatic ties remain icy over the 1994 genocide. Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide of some 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists, angering Paris and straining relations. The Rwandan presidency said in a statement on Twitter that Kagame and Macron on Monday discussed "collaboration on issues of mutual interest including peace (and) security in Africa", on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Ties between Kigali and Paris had been on the mend until 2014 when Kagame repeated accusations that French soldiers were both accomplices and "actors"...

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    Week in Review: How words count in transitional justice
    18.09.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Transitional justice is also a question of words, like genocide or ethnic cleansing, resonant with bloody memories of Rwanda or the Balkans. Short of words to describe the massacre of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s army, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres nevertheless recognized this week that it amounted to “ethnic cleansing”. "When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?" Guterres answered when questioned on his choice of words. But for the country’s de facto leader, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, this is a “huge iceberg of misinformation”. Suu Kyi, who is more than ever the hostage of the army, defended the action of Myanmar’s military.  More than...

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    Carla Del Ponte blasts impunity in farewell speech
    18.09.17
    AFP

    Outgoing Syria war crimes investigator Carla Del Ponte said on Monday she had quit her post out of frustration over "total impunity", in a fiery farewell speech. Del Ponte, an accomplished war crimes prosecutor, announced last month that she was leaving the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria, a UN-backed panel that has collected evidence of alleged atrocities committed in the country since the outbreak of civil war in 2011. "I resign to put an end to my frustration," Del Ponte told the Human Rights Council, after the COI presented its latest report. "Seven years of crimes in Syria and total impunity. That is not acceptable". Del Ponte, a Swiss national, worked on the international tribunals that prosecuted war crimes,...

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    A movie takes on taboos of Lebanon's civil war
    14.09.17
    AFP

    Nearly three decades after it ended, Lebanon's civil war returned to haunt Beirut this week at a screening of the film "The Insult," which forcefully explores the taboos of the conflict. The movie opened to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, earning accolades for its French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri and a Volpi Cup for Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha. The advance screening on Tuesday was overshadowed somewhat by Doueiri's brief detention for filming in 2012 in Israel despite Lebanese legislation banning citizens from visiting the Jewish state. But viewers still packed multiple halls Tuesday night to watch the film at a cinema in central Beirut, which was ravaged by the bitter 1975-1990 war that divided Lebanon's...

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    UN council calls for 'immediate steps' to end ethnic...
    13.09.17
    AFP

    The UN Security Council on Wednesday broke its weeks-long silence on the crisis in Myanmar and called for an end to the violence as UN chief Antonio Guterres said the military campaign amounted to ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. Following a closed-door meeting, the 15-member council including China, a supporter of Myanmar's former ruling junta, expressed concern about excessive force during security operations in Rakhine state and called for "immediate steps" to end the violence. It was the first time the council agreed on a united response to the crisis sparked by a military crackdown that followed attacks by Rohingya militants late last month. Some 380,000 Rohingya have fled across the border into neighboring...

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    In Myanmar, former child soldier punished for speaking out
    13.09.17
    Hein Ko So, Frontier

    In Myanmar, the recent arrest of a man who gave an interview about his past as a child soldier has brought the issue to a wider audience ­but also raised fears about the military’s commitment to ending underage recruitment. Ko Aung Ko Htwe’s taste of freedom was brief. Barely a month after completing a 10-year prison sentence, he was re-arrested on August 18 and remanded the following day in Insein Prison. His alleged crime was speaking about his experience as a child soldier to the media. The interview prompted an officer from Yangon Region Command to file a complaint directly to Dagon Seikkan Township Court under section 505(b) of the Penal Code, which applies to an act with “intent to cause … fear or alarm to the public”. If...

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    ‘That guy should be killed’: Escaping a mob in Maungdaw,...
    12.09.17
    Mratt Kyaw Thu, Frontier

    Hostility greeted three journalists who made a clandestine trip to Maungdaw, in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state, late last month after the security operation had began against those behind the August 25 attacks. When 10 journalists with domestic and international media organisations, including Frontier, arrived at Buthidaung jetty by river ferry from Sittwe on August 28 in the hope of travelling to Maungdaw, special branch police were everywhere. We’d taken the ferry with Border Guard Police escorting a consignment of yellow packages wrapped tightly with yellow tape. No one we asked knew what the parcels contained. Problems began soon after we left for Maungdaw. We were stopped by BGP at the 6-mile checkpoint outside Buthidaung....

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    UN genocide warning in Central African Republic reflects...
    12.09.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    When should one warn of genocide? Was the UN right to raise the alarm in recent days about a genocidal pattern in the Central African Republic? Is there not a risk that invoking the “crime of crimes” too quickly could devalue the term “genocide” and reduce its power to raise the alarm? In August, United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien warned the UN Security Council that there were “early signs of a genocide” in the Central African Republic (CAR). He was criticized by nearly all experts on the country for being overly alarmist. “Genocide is a precise concept,” explained Didier Niewiadowski, jurist and former advisor to the French embassy in Bangui, in an interview with JusticeInfo. “Is there currently a plan to systematically...

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    Colombia's FARC rebels need a leader
    12.09.17
    Fabio Andres Diaz

    Ever since Colombia signed its fragile, contested peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in November 2016, the big question has been: What will this no-longer-armed insurgency do next? On Aug. 28, the FARC made its official reply. In its first congress since disarmament, the Marxist guerrilla group unveiled Colombia’s newest political party: the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común, or Commoners’ Alternative Revolutionary Force. “The new party will be built with many voices and diverse ideas,” announced Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the FARC’s top commander, via Twitter. In keeping their well-known acronym but setting aside the violence, the FARC seems to be embracing the opportunities and...

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    Saudi-led strikes against children 'war crimes' in Yeman :...
    12.09.17
    AFP

    A series of Saudi-led coalition air strikes which killed 26 children in Yemen in June amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. "The attacks, which struck four family homes and a grocery, in one case killing 14 members of the same family, caused indiscriminate loss of civilian life in violation of the laws of war. Such attacks carried out deliberately or recklessly are war crimes," the New York-based HRW said. Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Iran-backed Huthi rebels forced him into exile. HRW is urging the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is currently in session, to return the coalition to...

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    Week in Review: Transitional justice challenges in...
    11.09.17
    François Sergent

    The transitional justice week was marked by the publication of a new report on Burundi by the UN Human Rights Council. This report is even more damning than the previous one with regard to this small country in the Great Lakes region facing a bloody government clampdown since the 2015 re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza which is widely seen as unconstitutional.   In an exclusive interview with JusticeInfo, UN rapporteur Fatsah Ouguergouz explains: “Since our last statement in June, we have seen the continuation of violations which are taking place in a more secretive way than in 2015 and 2016. This situation is ongoing. There is no sign of a positive development in this domain.” The human rights crisis in Burundi has...

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    Assad may win war but will preside over a ruined Syria
    11.09.17
    AFP

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad appears to be winning the war against those who sought his overthrow, but he will preside over a ruined country with an economy in tatters. "Assad remains in charge of most of the population and most of the important territory, and I expect him to continue to rule most of Syria," said Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation think-tank. "The war goes on, but in the larger strategic sense he has defeated those who sought to depose him," Lund told AFP. The writing is on the wall even in the halls of the United Nations, where special envoy Staffan de Mistura last week bluntly urged Assad's opponents to be more pragmatic. "Will the opposition be able to be unified and realistic...

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    Unchecked Abuses by the Malian Army, according to HRW
    08.09.17
    HRW

     Mali and Burkina Faso military operations to counter the growing presence of Islamist armed groups in central Mali have resulted in serious human rights violations. Since late 2016, Malian forces have committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests against men accused of supporting Islamist armed groups, while a June 2017 cross-border operation by Burkinabe forces left two suspects dead. Human Rights Watch documented three common graves believed to contain the remains of at least 14 men executed after being detained by Malian soldiers since December. On several occasions, Malian forces severely beat, burned, and threatened dozens of men accused of supporting the Islamist armed groups....

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    Kosovo's 'Rambo', Serbia's arch-antagonist, set to be PM
    07.09.17
    AFP

    A hero at home but considered a war criminal by Belgrade, Ramush Haradinaj is set to become Kosovo's prime minister just a few months after fighting against extradition to Serbia. If parliament approves his appointment as expected, this controversial former insurgent -- nicknamed "Rambo" by his comrades -- will have the job of relaunching crucial negotiations with his Serbian adversaries. The talks to "normalise" relations between Belgrade and Pristina, brokered by the European Union, have come to a standstill in recent months. Haradinaj has opposed the dialogue, calling for Belgrade to recognise Kosovo's independence before negotiations proceed. And Belgrade could hardly think worse of the new PM-designate, whom it wants to...

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    Recap of Syrian chemical weapons attacks since 2011
    06.09.17
    AFP

    United Nations war crimes investigators said Wednesday they have evidence showing the Syrian regime carried out an April sarin gas attack in Idlib province that killed dozens of people. The attack was the latest in a string of chemical strikes since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Here is a recap. - Damascus threatens to use chemical weapons - July 23, 2012: The Syrian government acknowledges for the first time that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in the event of military operations by Western countries, but not against its own population. The following month, then US president Barack Obama says the use or even movement of such weapons would be a "red line" for his administration. - Sarin gas...

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    Kenya’s Supreme Court has given an impossible deadline for...
    06.09.17
    Dominic Burbidge

    The Kenyan Supreme Court has found that the August 8 presidential election result is invalid. It blames the electoral commission, not the declared winner, Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya’s leading newspaper praises the decision as a step towards the rule of law, but I am less sure about what this means for the ability of the political establishment to stick to the terms of the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court has given the country 60 days to hold fresh elections. The time period is in accordance with section 140 (3) of the Constitution, but the court failed to tell the public exactly what the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had done wrong. This leaves Kenya with a compromised commission rerunning an...

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    The Kenyan supreme court decision may polarize the...
    05.09.17
    AiIeen Kimutai

    It has been hailed as a benchmark the Kenyan Supreme Court ruling that nullified the August 8 presidential election results while ordering for a re-run within 60 days. The August 11 election declaration gave  the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta 54.27 per cent of the votes against the 44.74 per cent for his rival Raila Odinga of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA). However NASA disputed the results, alleging "hacking"  of the electoral board database and  massive rigging in favour of the ruling Jubilee party. In the landmark ruling, four Supreme Court judges accepted that  the  Kenyan Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had "failed, neglected or refused to conduct the elections in a manner and the dictates of the...

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    Burundi government remains intransigent, says UN
    04.09.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    Despite numerous mediation attempts, Burundi’s government and President do not intend to talk to the opposition, and repression is continuing. The authorities are showing the same intransigence with regard to the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which has not been able to go to the country or hold talks with Bujumbura. Fatsah Ouguergouz, president of the Commission, gives this worrying assessment ahead of the final report which he is due to present to the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in mid-September. How hard it is to give up power, even when the Constitution demands it and clinging on brings bloody repression. This is the situation personified by Burundi’s President  Pierre Nkurunziza, as Human Rights...

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    Week in Review: A victory for rule of law in Africa?
    03.09.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The highlight of  the week was undoubtedly Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Kenya to invalidate the August 8 presidential election, a first in Africa. Kenya’s media hailed the decision which, as said by daily newspaper The Star, "will reverberate for years to come in Kenya and around the continent". This is all the more so since President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta has accepted the decision, even if he launched a sharp verbal attack on the Court.   Representatives of opposition parties in Africa have also hailed the decision, including in Zimbabwe, Guinea and Mali. “The decision of the Kenyan Supreme Court is a historic act, and it is also a strong sign of democratic culture taking root in Africa,” said Guinean civil society...

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    Africa takes heart in Kenya election ruling
    03.09.17
    Nicolas Delaunay (AFP)

     Opposition leaders across Africa, long frustrated in their campaigns to topple firmly entrenched leaders, are hailing the shock overturn of last month's presidential vote in Kenya, calling it an example for their own countries to emulate. "If it happened in Kenya, it can happen in Zimbabwe as well," Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters at a rally on Saturday.Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has made three failed attempts at the Zimbabwean presidency, losing all of them to President Robert Mugabe, who has kept an iron grip on the country since 1980.Elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by violence, intimidation and charges of electoral fraud....

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    To Prevent Enforced Disappearances, Rethink the Justice...
    31.08.17
    David Tolbert

    Nearly every city and village in Syria has a story to tell about enforced disappearances: civilians being snatched off the streets or from their homes by the police, Syrian military or an armed group, never to be heard from again. The victims are usually tortured, killed or enslaved. Their families are left haunted, not knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead. Today, we are seeing an alarming rise in the incidence of enforced disappearances around the world, particularly in a number of the “Arab Spring” states, such as Syria, Egypt and Yemen, where reaction has triumphed over hope for a rights-based future. In Syria, we are witnessing a catastrophe the consequences of which will be felt for generations to come....

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    UN says Venezuela policies designed to 'instil fear'
    30.08.17
    AFP

    The widespread rights abuses committed against protestors in Venezuela indicate that the country has implemented a policy of repression aimed at instilling fear in the population, the UN said Wednesday. A fresh UN report warned that the rights situation in Venezuela was at "grave risk" of unravelling further as the authorities continue to systematically and brutally repress demonstrators, and urged international action. The extent of the violations "points to the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instil fear in the population to curb demonstrations at the cost of Venezuelans' rights and freedoms," the report from the UN human rights office said. "The generalised and systematic use of excessive force during...

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    Agony of Afghanistan’s Enforced Disappearances, according...
    30.08.17
    Patricia Gossman

    As the world marks International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, learning the fate of the tens of thousands of Afghans who have been victims of enforced disappearance over the past four decades seems ever more remote. For their family members, that failure is like a wound that has never healed. Four years ago, Mohammad Rahim’s family finally held funeral services for him – 34 years after Afghanistan’s secret police took him away, never to be seen again.   The ceremony took place after Rahim’s name finally appeared on a “death list” of people detained and ordered executed in 1978-79. The list is the only official confirmation of the victims’ fate the families have ever received. Five thousand names are on it – a fraction of...

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    18,500 Rohingya cross into Bangladesh since fresh Myanmar...
    30.08.17
    AFP

    At least 18,500 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh in the last six days since renewed fighting broke out between militants and the army in neighbouring Myanmar, the International Organization for Migration said Wednesday. "As of last night, 18,500 people have come across," from Myanmar's Rakhine State, Chris Lom, the IOM's Asia-Pacific spokesman, told AFP. Lom said exact figures were difficult to obtain because many of those who have made it into Bangladesh might not register with local authorities. Bangladesh, which already hosts some 400,000 Rohingya who have fled Myanmar over the years, has vowed to block new arrivals and has deported some of those it has caught trying to make the crossing. "We also know there are people...

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    Lawyer who felled Habré to pursue Gambian Yahya Jammeh
    30.08.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Human rights lawyer Reed Brody became known for working with the victims of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Haitian ex-dictator Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier. More recently, Brody was counsel for victims of former Chadian dictator, Hissène Habré, who, after an interminable struggle, was sentenced by a special African court in Senegal to life in prison. Now, returning to Human Rights Watch after a  one-year absence, Brody is lending his support to the victims of Gambia’s ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh.  Jammeh ruled with an iron fist for 22 years before stepping down under popular pressure on January 21, 2017 after losing elections. During his rule, when he clamped down fiercely on all dissenting voices, he declared that he was a...

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    Charlottesville is part of our nation’s moral reckoning
    29.08.17
    Derek W. Black

    The number and exuberance of white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville sent emotional tremors through the nation. Some worried that this was the beginning of an expanding movement that would hearken us back to darker times. And many felt that President Donald Trump’s comments only made matters worse. The president’s implied moral equivalency between racist elements and counterprotesters emboldened the former: David Duke, a white nationalist leader and former KKK grand wizard, thanked the president for his “honesty” and willingness to “condemn the leftist terrorists.” As a civil rights scholar, however, this naked display of racism does not dampen my expectations for racial justice. We have been here before. In the...

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    Pre-Meditated Madness, the International Criminal Court,...
    29.08.17
    Mark Kersten

    Attention among observers and scholars of international criminal justice has increasingly focused on what happens before the International Criminal Court (ICC) intervenes in a situation and issues arrest warrants for perpetrators of international crimes. Prior to the ICC opening an official investigation, the Office of the Prosecutor must conduct a so-called “preliminary examination” to determine whether a full-out intervention is justified. Despite growing scrutiny, the practices encompassed within the preliminary examination stage of ICC interventions remain under-examined and under-theorized. In this context, I drafted a paper last year, one that I hope will be published soon, entitled “Casting a Larger Shadow – Pre-Meditated...

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    Disappeared in Nepal : The survivors'unanswered questions
    29.08.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Every year, as part of the global movement against enforced disappearances, we commemorate the International Day Against Enforced Disappearance. On this day, we, raise up the voices of families affected by enforced disappearance, express solidarity with the struggle for justice worldwide, and remember our beloved family members who were forcibly taken away from their communities and never seen again.  From 1996-2006, Nepal endured a civil war in which hundreds of citizens were forcibly disappeared by state forces and the Maoist rebels. It is a human tragedy to live in a state of ambiguity. When my father was forcibly detained and disappeared in 2001, never to be heard from again, my family tragedy destroyed my whole universe....

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    ICC should give victims free choice of lawyers, says Human...
    28.08.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In a new report, Human Rights Watch argues that victims should have free choice of lawyer to represent them at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The report, published on August 29, is entitled "Who will stand for us? Victims' legal representatives at the ICC in the Ongwen case and beyond".  “Over time, the court has tended to give less weight to the views of victims when it comes to decisions about who will represent them before the ICC,“ says Human Rights Watch. In its report published on August 29, the human rights organization urges the judges and Registry to harmonize together the procedures and give victims more possibility to choose freely who will represent them. The report analyses in detail the procedure for...

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    Ukraine: Unbearable uncertainty for families of the missing
    28.08.17
    ICRC

    For more than three years, eastern Ukraine has suffered conflict. Amid the world’s many other humanitarian crises, in Syria, or in Yemen for example, it can be easy to forget Ukraine. But the UN estimates that 10,000 people have lost their lives here since 2014. Thousands of families are grieving, and many, like Yuliia and Olha, have been condemned to wait for years to find out exactly what happened to their loved ones. “These are our fathers,” says Yuliia, taking a framed photograph off the shelf. “This one is Olha’s father, Serhii Uzakov, and this one here is my father, Volodymyr Bondarenko.” The two men disappeared almost three years ago. “It was November 27th 2014,” remembers Yuliia. “A group of armed men broke into our...

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    Week in Review: Disunity over the past
    25.08.17
    François Sergent JusticeInfo.net

    Looking again at a divided past is part of transitional justice. How can a country, an institution come to terms with the memory of a past which still divides people? Sylvie Wuhrmann, director of the Fondation de l’Hermitage art gallery in Lausanne, Switzerland, puts it rather elegantly: “We should not punish the works of art because of their past. A museum is not a court but a place of remembrance.” The gallery is currently showing the exceptional art collection of Bürhle, a naturalized Swiss who made money selling canons to the Nazis. In an article published by our partner The Conversation, professor Jean-Michel Saussois says this exhibition is “also a lesson in history and sociology, leading us to reflect on this patron of the...

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    Annan 's Commission calls on Myanmar to end Rohingya...
    24.08.17
    AFP

    Myanmar must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship for its Rohingya minority if it wants to avoid fuelling extremism and bring peace to Rakhine state, a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan said Thursday. Rights groups hailed the report as a milestone for the persecuted Rohingya community because the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has previously vowed to abide by its findings. The western state, one of the country's poorest, has long been a sectarian tinderbox and mainly Buddhist Myanmar has faced growing international condemnation for its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya there. Annan was appointed by Suu Kyi to head a year-long commission tasked with healing long-simmering divisions between the Rohingya and...

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    UN aid chief warns of signs of genocide in Central African...
    23.08.17
    AFP

    United Nations aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council Tuesday there are early signs of genocide in the violence-plagued Central African Republic, according to diplomats. O'Brien made his remarks in a closed-door meeting -- which was not on the official council agenda and was called for by France -- following his recent visit to the country, one of the diplomats told AFP. The aid chief's warning echoed what he said earlier this month, when he told a UN meeting "the early warning signs of genocide are there" and urged more troops and police to bolster the UN peacekeeping mission in the strife-torn country. The United Nations maintains some 12,500 troops and police on the ground to help protect civilians and support...

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    Post-Charlottesville: Should we write off the past?
    22.08.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The French revolutionaries dreamed of writing off the past. But it is not so easy to throw the legacy of time past into the dustbin of history when it directly affects the present and future. This is the drama that played out recently in Charlottesville.  Through the fate of General Lee’s statue, what was at stake in Charlottesville was not what happened in the War of Secession (1861-1865), but rather the way Americans see themselves at a crucial turning point. For the first time, Americans citizens are contemplating the fact that in two decades Whites will be in the minority in the US. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2042, Hispanics will make up 30% of the population, Afro-Americans 15% and Asians 9%. Removing the statue of...

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    Week in Review: Focus on reparations
    21.08.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    The week in transitional justice was marked by the International Criminal Court’s decision on reparations to be paid following the 2012 destruction of mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali.  The sum awarded ( 2.7 million Euros) is symbolic and the convict Ahmed Al Mahdi is indigent. But the International Criminal Court (ICC) intends to stress through this decision how serious is destruction of cultural and religious monuments, for victims and for the whole international community. During his trial a year ago, Al Mahdi was found guilty of supervising attacks on nine mausoleums in the “city of 333 saints” during the occupation of northern Mali by Jihadists, as well as on the main gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque, which according to legend would...

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    Malian Jihadist ordered to pay 2.7 million Euros in...
    18.08.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down on Thursday August 17 their reparations order for the victims of Ahmed Al Mahdi. Al Mahdi, who has been convicted by the Court, pleaded guilty to war crimes for the destruction of nine mausoleums and the main gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu during the occupation of northern Mali in 2012 by Jihadists of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) and Ansar Eddine.  As well as telling of the crimes committed in Timbuktu in 2012, Al-Mahdi’s case before the ICC was especially about punishing those who destroy cultural heritage.  During his trial a year ago, he admitted to supervising attacks on mausoleums in the “city of 333 saints” and the main gate of the Sidi Yahia...

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    Rwanda: Presidential Elections in a context of very...
    18.08.17
    HRW

    (Nairobi) – Presidential elections in Rwanda on August 4, 2017, took place in a context of very limited free speech or open political space, Human Rights Watch said today, as President Paul Kagame is sworn in for a seven-year term. Human Rights Watch released a chronology of violations of the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly in Rwanda between the country’s December 2015 referendum – allowing the president to run for a third term – and the election, which Kagame won with a reported 98.79 percent of the vote. “Kagame’s landslide win came as no surprise in a context in which Rwandans who have dared raise their voices or challenge the status quo have been arrested, forcibly disappeared, or killed,...

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    ICC issues arrest warrant for Libyan strongman ally
    16.08.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    On Tuesday August 15, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a new arrest warrant for crimes committed in Libya. Mahmoud al- Werfalli, an ally of Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar, is suspected of war crimes for murders committed in 2016 and 2017 in Benghazi region, northeast Libya. The alleged crimes were committed between 2016 and July 2017. Al-Werfalli is said to have murdered and ordered the murders of 33 prisoners who were civilians and disarmed combatants. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda deemed that he should be brought to justice for “his direct participation in seven separate rounds of executions, in which a total of 33 people were murdered in cold blood”. The arrest warrant cites several videos, filmed and posted...

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    Women's struggle in Myanmar is not a myth
    16.08.17
    Khin Chan Myae Maung, Frontier

    The argument that gender inequality is not an issue in Myanmar is simply not borne out by the facts on the ground.Women’s rights is not a topic that needs a long-winded introduction; it has been a fight that has been taken up by millions across the globe in the hope of achieving basic human rights for women - young and old, born or chosen - everywhere. Despite the protests and movements made in the name of women rights, in this day and age there are still those who believe our struggle is not real. The issue of a lack of gender equality is by no means a myth – as was argued by the author of an article published in Tea Circle, “The myth Myanmar can afford to ditch” – here in Myanmar or elsewhere in the world. Regardless of whether a...

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    Tunisia adopts pioneering law on violence against women
    15.08.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    On July 26, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a law to fight violence against women, becoming the first Arab country to do so. This was the culmination of a long struggle by feminists, lasting more than 20 years. MPs present in parliament that evening unanimously approved the new Organic Law on Elimination of Violence against Women. The law’s adoption stirred emotions among most women MPs (72 out of a total 217), who launched cries of joy in parliament. Tunisia thus becomes the first Arab country and the 19th in the world to adopt legislation on fighting violence against women.  The new law is in application of the Constitution, whose Article 46 says that “the State must take all necessary measures to eradicate violence against...

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    ICC to award damages for jihadist Timbuktu destruction
    14.08.17
    AFP

    War crimes judges will Thursday hand down a landmark ruling on reparations for the razing of Timbuktu's fabled shrines, but the victims' fund which is to implement the order warned it will not be easy. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was jailed for nine years in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to directing attacks on the UNESCO world heritage site during the jihadist takeover of northern Mali in 2012. Judges ruled last September that Mahdi "supervised the destruction and gave instructions to the attackers" who used pickaxes and bulldozers to hack apart some of the city's most ancient landmarks. Last month the judges announced they will hand down a decision on compensation for victims who suffered from the destruction of the ancient city's...

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    South Africa and al-Bashir: pragmatism at the ICC
    13.08.17
    Matt Killingsworth, University of Tasmania

      Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir returned to Khartoum, after evading possible arrest in South Africa in 2015. EPA/Marwan Ali   The International Criminal Court (ICC) has finally handed down it’s highly anticipated judgment on South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. In a somewhat surprising decision, the court’s pre-trial chamber ruled that South Africa had failed to comply with its obligations as a signatory to the Rome Statute. But ICC judges stopped short of taking tougher action, choosing not to refer South Africa to either the Assembly of State Parties or the United Nations Security Council. Some have argued that the decision “may do the ICC more harm than good as far as being taken...

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    Week in Review: The high price of impunity in Syria and CAR
    11.08.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week was marked by the resignation of Swiss war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from the UN commission investigating crimes in Syria. “This commission does absolutely nothing," explained Del Ponte, accusing UN Security Council members of “not wanting to establish justice”. Russia, ally of Damascus has ever since the commission’s creation six years ago vetoed referring Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Damascus has never authorized the Commission, which has produced numerous reports, to go to Syria. “Believe me, I have never seen such horrible crimes as are being committed in Syria,” added Del Ponte, who has also worked on Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. Her resignation, announced by Swiss media on the...

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    “Risk of Central African Republic exploding has never been...
    10.08.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Dozens of people have been killed in recent weeks of fighting between armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), as a UN official warned of possible genocide. In this interview Didier Niewiadowski, jurist and former advisor to the French embassy in Bangui, gives his view of the situation in that troubled country. He agrees with the UN that “the risk of a national explosion has never been so high”, but says he does not at this stage see early warning signs of genocide.  Do you agree with UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien that there are early warning signs of genocide in the Central African Republic? Genocide is a precise concept. Is there currently a plan to systematically eliminate an...

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    Deadly C. Africa clashes raise genocide fears
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Witness reports of killings in the Central African Republic, some targeting aid workers, piled up Tuesday as the UN said it saw "early signs of a genocide" in the conflict-wracked nation. At least 60 people have been killed in recent weeks in fighting between armed groups in Ngaoundaye and Batangafo in the north, Kaga-Bandoro in the centre and Alindao and Gambo to the south, witnesses have told AFP. The fighting is largely between groups on opposing sides of the brutal conflict between Muslim and Christian militias that broke out in CAR in 2013 after President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka. Groups on both sides are now fighting for control of natural resources...

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    UN sees early warning signs of genocide in C. Africa
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Renewed clashes in the Central African Republic are early warning signs of genocide, the UN aid chief said Monday, calling for more troops and police to beef up the UN peacekeeping mission in the strife-torn country. Some 180,000 people have been driven from their homes this year, bringing the total number of displaced in the Central African Republic to well over half a million, said Stephen O'Brien. "The early warning signs of genocide are there," O'Brien told a UN meeting following his recent trip to the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We must act now, not pare down the UN's effort, and pray we don't live to regret it." O'Brien said it was time to authorize an increase in troops and police...

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    Syria and the lessons to be learned from Carla Del Ponte’s...
    08.08.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Criminals like to commit their crimes in the dark. It is on this assumption that justice must be seen to be done if it is to help prevent crime. And so metaphorically, good triumphs over evil and light over darkness. In international public life this conviction has often produced a will to expose publicly the atrocities committed by war criminals, so as to shame them and dissuade others from associating with them. This "naming and shaming" approach was the reason United Nations Commissions of Inquiry were set up and is the preferred method of human rights organizations, convinced that reminding people of civilized norms and the laws of war will lead warring parties to commit less atrocities. However, this "naming and shaming" has...

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    Kenya: five things to know
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Kenya, which was holding elections on Tuesday a decade after deadly post-poll violence, is one of east Africa's leading economies with a crucial tourism sector based on safaris and tropical beaches. - Post-election violence - Kenya was a British colony until independence on December 12, 1963. Jomo Kenyatta, the country's first president, died in office in August 1978, to be succeeded by Daniel arap Moi. In late 1991 Moi abandoned the single party system under international pressure and won presidential elections in 1992 and 1997. Moi was replaced by Mwai Kibaki in late 2002 and the main opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) won the legislative elections the same year. Kibaki went on to win re-election in late 2007...

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    HRW says Israel stripping Palestinians of Jerusalem...
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Human Rights Watch said Tuesday Israel had stripped nearly 15,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem of their right to live in the city since 1967 and warned that it could be a "war crime." "Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians," Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director, said in a report. Israel occupied east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War in a move never recognised by the international community. The more than 300,000 Palestinians there have permanent residency status but are not Israeli nationals. While east Jerusalem residents are allowed to apply for citizenship, most do not as they view it as recognition of Israeli...

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    Week in Review: DR Congo, Tunisia, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire
    07.08.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In this week’s transitional justice review, a rebel leader wanted for crimes against humanity is handed over to the authorities in Kinshasa, civil society in Côte d’Ivoire calls for support to victims raped during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, and a look at Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission half way through its public hearings. Rebel leader Sheka Ntabo Ntaberi had been under an arrest warrant from the Congolese authorities since January 2011, accused of crimes against humanity and committing with his militia mass rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On August 4, he was handed over to the authorities in Kinshasa, after surrendering to the UN mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) on July 26 and being held in Goma,...

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    A Noble Dream: The Tenacious Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala
    07.08.17
    Marcie Mersky (ICTJ)

    Bring General Ríos Montt and other high-ranking members of the military to trial in the Guatemalan courts for genocide? In 1999 it was a noble dream for justice for the thousands of Mayan victims of the country’s civil war, and for the entire country, but one with little apparent possibility of ever coming true. The UN-backed Guatemalan truth commission where I worked, the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), had just released its findings that state forces had committed genocide in at least three regions of the country. The report vindicated human rights defenders and hundreds of Mayan communities who had for years denounced the wholesale slaughter of indigenous peoples and the razing of their villages during the early...

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    Veteran prosecutor to quit UN Syria probe that 'does...
    06.08.17
    AFP

    Veteran former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is on a UN commission probing rights abuses in Syria, has said she intends to resign because the body "does absolutely nothing". "I am frustrated, I give up," she told the Swiss newspaper Blick in an interview published on Sunday. "I have written my letter of resignation and will send it in the next few days". Del Ponte, a 70-year-old Swiss national who came to prominence investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, has been part of the four-member UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria since September 2012. The commission has been tasked with investigating human rights violations and war crimes in Syria since shortly after the conflict erupted in March 2011...

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    Doubts and Division in Guinea, as President hints at third...
    02.08.17
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

    The possibility of a third term for President Alpha Condé is dividing Guinea. Condé himself has made same indications that he wants to run again, but has refused to make an official pronouncement. His supporters are not hiding the fact that they want to change the Constitution. The opposition, supported by some civil society, is preparing for battle and brandishing threats. “Let’s stop having a dogmatic view of whether one, two or three mandates is best,” Condé said during a visit to France in April. “It’s not up to external powers to decide, it depends on each country and the will of its people.” This declaration has fueled suspicion in the country. Many observers think that since this declaration there is no more doubt Condé...

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    Guilt and denial at Tunisia’s Truth Commission hearings
    31.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission launched its public hearings on November 17, 2016 to shed light on nearly 60 years of human rights abuses. With 10 of the 20 planned hearings now having taken place, we look at the Commission’s half-way record. In Tunisia, the hearings’ official launch in a luxury club belonging to former First Lady Leyla Trabelsi Ben Ali sought to prove wrong the accusations of Commission inertia by leaders of Nida Tounes, current President Beji Caied Essebsi’s party, whilst most local media and politico-financial circles remained loyal to former president Ben Ali. Before launching its public hearings, the Truth Commission had received 62,000 victim files, heard over 11,000 victims across the country behind...

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    Week in Review: The thorny issue of reparations
    30.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    There is no justice without reparations. That is all the more true when it comes to international crimes. But the mechanisms of reparation are still problematic, whether at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or in national transitional justice systems like in Côte d’Ivoire. More than three years ago, the ICC sentenced former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga to 12 years in jail for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes linked to the February 24, 2003 massacre in the village of Bogoro, in Ituri. On March 24, 2017, the judges evaluated at 3.75 million dollars (3.2M €) the physical, material and psychological damage done to the 297 victims recognized by the Court, and ordered Germain Katanga to pay 1 million...

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    Tunisians tell Truth Commission of stolen elections
    28.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission has already held ten of its 20 planned public hearings. The last one, on July 21, examined the issue of electoral fraud under former presidents Bourguiba and Beni Ali. Mohamed Bennour, an activist of the centre-left Democratic Socialist Movement (MDS) – founded in 1978 by Ahmed Mestiri, former minister and dissident from Bourguiba’s regime -- was victim of several violations linked to electoral fraud. In 1981 he announced his candidacy for legislative elections that the authorities announced as “pluralist” and which raised much hope among Tunisians. Benefitting from the aura of its secretary general Ahmed Mestiri and from the decline of Bourguiba’s PSD party, the new MDS candidates met with...

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    DR Congo warlord accused of crimes against humanity...
    26.07.17
    AFP

    Congolese rebel warlord Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, wanted for crimes against humanity including mass rape, surrendered to UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday. Sheka was arrested in Mutongo, in the country's North Kivu region by UN peacekeepers and was "transferred to Goma," the regional capital, his spokeswoman told AFP. The UN's peacekeeping mission in DR Congo MONUSCO said in a statement that Sheka handed himself in "in full awareness of the fact that he is wanted by the government... to stand trial for alleged crimes". Authorities issued the warrant for Sheka's arrest in 2011 after an attack in which the militia under his command and two other groups allegedly raped nearly 400 people in 13 villages...

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    Nepal’s Transitional Justice mechanism "a road to nowhere"
    24.07.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The existing transitional justice (TJ) system in Nepal fails to open avenues for social justice as it is envisioned and demanded at the local level. Rather, the current system promotes a gap between the mainstream (i.e. the State) and the margins (i.e. the victims). Such a gap has brought about a polarized line of thinking in which the voices of the margins have been further marginalized and hijacked by the powerful. The State’s mechanisms and the so-called civil society groups, backed by donors, cannot provide a satisfactory solution to the truth-seeking and justice debate or provide real empowerment to people on the margins. A true political commitment is required to move forward.  A faulty system has fueled anger and...

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    Palestinian civil society urges the ICC to act
    24.07.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Lawyers representing 448 named victims and 42 Palestinian civil society organizations have presented to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a thick file of complaints against Israeli settlement, its blockade of Gaza and the war of summer 2014. They are urging the Prosecutor to speed up proceedings and asking her to open an investigation.  “This is the first time the people have turned to the Court,” said French lawyer Gilles Devers as he emerged from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on July 19 after filing the complaint  on behalf of Palestinian victims and civil society groups. The list of complainants includes a wide cross-section of Palestinian civil society, including trade unions – of pharmacists,...

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    Week in Review: International Justice becomes reality,...
    23.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    The week just ended began with an anniversary: International Justice Day. Despite criticism  -- both founded and unfounded – and numerous challenges still to be met, international criminal justice will go down in the history of Humanity as one of the most notable revolutions of the last century. This week’s hearings, decisions and legal challenges are testimony to this. For example, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo appeared Wednesday before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hear a decision on his request for conditional release from prison. The ICC Appeals Chamber judges ordered their colleagues in the trial court to re-examine Gbagbo’s request, taking account notably of the time he has spent in preventive...

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    ICC judges ordered to review freeing I.Coast ex-leader...
    19.07.17
    AFP

    Judges must review whether to release the ageing former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo for the rest of his crimes against humanity trial, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. Gbagbo, the first ex-head of state to be tried by the International Criminal Court, won his appeal against a March decision which ordered him to be held in a UN detention centre until the end of the legal process. Five appeals court judges found the trial judges had "erred" on several points by refusing the 72-year-old an interim release, including failing to consider his age and state of health. The trial chamber should also "have considered the duration of time Mr Gbagbo has spent in detention... and whether Mr. Gbagbo's detention continues to be...

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    Constitutional row divides pre-election Mali
    19.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In Mali, the opposition and part of civil society are up in arms against a government plan to revise the Constitution. Opponents of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta accuse him of having concocted the new text to ensure he is re-elected in polls due next year. For the past month, the Malian opposition and authorities have been in a stand-off. Each side is baring its teeth. The cause is a proposed revision of the current Constitution, which has been in place since February 1992. The government of President Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta (IBK) says the constitutional revision is part of implementing the peace accord signed in Bamako in May and June 2015 after long, tough negotiations in Algiers. The deal with the Coordination of Azawad...

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    Thai smuggling crackdown leaves Myanmar's Rohingya in limbo
    19.07.17
    Hla-Hla HTAY,AFP

    Five years have passed since Hla Hla Sein was forced into a displacement camp in western Myanmar for Rohingya Muslims, where disease and deprivation are rife and armed guards patrol a barbed-wire perimeter.  But after a crackdown on the international smuggling routes that once offered a dangerous -- but viable -- escape route, she now sees no way out.  "We have no idea how many years we will have to live like this," the 40-year-old widow told AFP inside the tiny bamboo hut she shares with her son, tugging nervously at her purple headscarf.  "Our lives are worse than animals... we are human only in name." Deadly sectarian riots in 2012 drove more than 120,000 Rohingya into the camps in Rakhine State, where they live in...

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    Myanmar villagers tell of abuses during crackdown in Rakhine
    18.07.17
    Oliver Slow, Frontier

    Residents of villages in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State have told reporters of accounts of human rights abuses by security forces during clearance operations conducted in the aftermath of the October 9 attack on police outposts in the beleaguered region. The accounts, told to reporters from local and foreign media outlets who were in the region as part of a government-sponsored trip, included accusations of extrajudicial killing, arson and arbitrary arrest. The government and military have repeatedly denied that such incidents took place. In Kyar Gaung Taung village, Maungdaw Township, Lalmuti, 23, pointed to a small pile of ashes where she said she found her father’s charred remains after security forces torched the family home...

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    Tunisia plans amnesty for corrupt public employees
    18.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunisia

    With many of its articles removed, Tunisia’s law on “economic reconciliation” looks likely to be adopted by parliament in the coming days. But the text is still imperfect and remains controversial.  Two years ago, on July 14, 2015, President Beji Caied Essebsi presented to the cabinet his proposed law on “Special measures concerning reconciliation in the the economic and financial field”. This Bill was submitted to parliament shortly afterwards, but has continued to raise protest, not only in parliament but also on the streets and amongst national and international organizations. One of the fiercest civil society opponents has been Manich Msamah (“I will not forgive”), a group of young people who have organized dozens of...

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    Week in Review: justice versus peace 
    17.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    As the world celebrates International Justice Day this July 17, the peace versus justice debate continues in Uganda, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and many other countries. On the one hand is the legitimate desire for justice of victims, often scarred forever in their bodies and minds by the crimes inflicted on them. On the other hand  is the necessity for governments to rebuild torn and divided societies. JusticeInfo this week looked again at this ongoing dilemma. The most emblematic case in Africa is Uganda and the terrible Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), whose top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). As JusticeInfo’s editorial advisor Pierre Hazan reminds us, an amnesty...

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    International Justice Day: From dreams to challenges
    14.07.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    In the 19th century international justice, which is being celebrated this July 17 (The Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted in Rome on July 17, 1998), was a utopian dream. But at the end of the 20th century it became a reality, first with the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda, then with the launch in 2002 of the International Criminal Court. But this passage from dream to reality has been a shock, which we are only just starting to evaluate.   Societies’ thirst for justice cannot be extinguished. In Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and dozens of conflicts around the world, there is a terrible litany of war crimes, echoed by the need of victimized populations for dignity and recognition....

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    S.African 'political' murderer in parole limbo
    13.07.17
    AFP

    Inside South Africa's maximum security Groenpunt prison, hawk-eyed guards stroll between rows of wooden benches, watching inmates closely as they meet visitors. Among the notorious jail's residents is 51-year-old triple murderer Percy Chepape, an anti-apartheid fighter serving a 60-year sentence for his "politically motivated" crimes committed in the chaos that followed liberation in 1994. The former underground operative of an armed group linked to the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) has been behind bars for 20 years, convicted of a deadly armed robbery on a benefits office in a remote town in the country's north. He claims the aim of the June 1997 heist, which was carried out with seven accomplices, was to raise funds to buy...

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    Myanmar slammed over visa refusal to UN Rohingya probe
    12.07.17
    AFP

    Aung San Suu Kyi's government in Myanmar risks getting bracketed with "pariah states" like North Korea and Syria over its refusal to grant visas to a UN team investigating the plight of Rohingya Muslims, activists said Wednesday. The civilian government of the Nobel peace laureate said on June 30 that the three investigators designated by the UN's Human Rights Council were not welcome, insisting it was conducting its own probe into alleged atrocities against the minority group. That refusal amounts to "a slap in the face to victims who suffered grave human rights violations by Myanmar's state security forces", John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Does Aung San Suu Kyi's government really...

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    Togo “purification” leaves bitter taste for many
    11.07.17
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    In Togo, the transitional justice process put in place by the authorities seems to be dividing people more than it is reconciling them. And it was amid controversy that the High Commission for Reconciliation and National Unity (HCRRUN) organized so-called “purification” ceremonies in the country from July 3 to 9. A week of so-called purification in Togo ended on Sunday July 9 with a Christian service in the capital Lomé attended by the Prime Minister, members of the government, national institutions and the High Commission for Reconciliation and National Unity (HCRRUN). As on preceding days when traditional and Muslim communities also organized rites, prayers were said for the reconciliation process launched in the country in...

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    Rodrigo Duterte’s first year: a human rights disaster the...
    11.07.17
    Tom Smith

    Rodrigo Duterte’s first year as president of the Philippines should never be forgotten – for all the wrong reasons. For those directly affected by his brutal and lawless “war on drugs”, which has claimed the lives of thousands of people, the only hope is for an end to the suffering. But in the absence of a clear international declaration against Duterte’s disastrous regime, that hope is in vain. The sad fact is that much of the suffering Duterte is inflicting was entirely predictable. The Philippines’ human rights institutions are fragile, and Duterte came to office with a well-known record as a mayor who sanctioned death squads to dole out vigilante justice in his city. But the international community failed to respond to his...

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    Uganda’s amnesty law and the peace/justice dilemma
    10.07.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A new amnesty law for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters has been before the Ugandan parliament has since 2015. It would put an end to the existing ambiguity between the general amnesty law of 2000, which is currently in force, and Uganda’s International Crimes Chamber. But the debate has not yet been settled: is it better to amnesty the perpetrators of terrible crimes in the name of peace, or prosecute them under criminal law in the hope of advancing reconciliation? This is a deep dilemma. Since 1986, the LRA has kidnapped tens of thousands of boys and girls. It has turned them into pitiless child soldiers, drugged them and made them into killer robots and sex slaves. To weaken the LRA, the Ugandan government adopted a general...

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    Week in Review: Impunity in Mexico, disappointment in...
    10.07.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Transitional justice can take different forms. This week several international and national NGOs called in The Hague for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes in Mexico. They accuse State authorities of “colluding” with drug cartels to commit murder, torture and enforced disappearances, especially in the northern state of Coahuila between 2009 and 2016. Organized crime, they say has become crimes against humanity and therefore falls within the ICC’s jurisdiction. The Mexico situation has been on the ICC Prosecutor’s desk for a while. It is one of the secret preliminary examinations, consisting of complaints received by the Court that are still being studied. "From 2009, the whole chain of state security...

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    ICC blames South Africa and UN for failure to arrest...
    07.07.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have deemed that South Africa flouted its duties to the Court when it failed to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. But the judges also blamed the UN Security Council for inaction on Bashir, who has still not been arrested despite two ICC arrest warrants issued against him in 2009 and 2010. They also confirmed that there is no immunity for Heads of State who are wanted by the Court, an issue which is at the heart of its standoff with the African Union. Not surprisingly, ICC judges on July 6 ruled that South Africa failed in its obligation to arrest Bashir in June 2015, and thus obstructed the Court in the pursuit of its functions. The Sudanese President, who is under two ICC...

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    Togo purges its violent past with voodoo ceremonies
    06.07.17
    AFP

    The voodoo follower stood bare-chested with beads around his neck in the centre of the public square in Bè, a working class district of Togo's capital, Lome. A dozen priests surrounded him as he made incantations, threw soil and water, and gave an offering to the gods. In the silence, a ram and a cockerel were burnt alive. "It's over, human blood must not flow again on the land of our ancestors after the purification ceremony for the country," the follower said. Twenty priestesses, naked from the waist up, sang and danced before spraying the watching crowd with water "blessed" by the divinities from voodoo convents. "A lot of ceremonies have taken place in convents. The country is now purified," said a follower of the thunder god...

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    “If the ICC fails in Georgia, it will be the same in...
    05.07.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Lawyer Nika Jeiranashvili has been based in The Hague for the Open Society for nearly a year monitoring progress of the Georgia case before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In January 2016, ICC judges authorized the opening of an investigation into crimes committed during the lightning Russo-Georgian war of summer 2008. But the Open Society lawyer thinks the ICC lacks a strategy and has not yet realized all the challenges it faces. Nika Jeiranashvili Justice Info: You have criticized the ICC Registry for lack of strategy on Georgia and the fact that the Court still does not have an office in Georgia 18 months after investigations were opened. Can you explain? Nika Jeiranashvili: One of the biggest problems is that there...

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    Central African Republic: Civilians Targeted in War
    05.07.17
    Human Rights Watch

    Armed groups in the Central African Republic have killed civilians with wholesale impunity, spurring more violence in the war-torn country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 92-page report, “Killing Without Consequence: War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic,” presents a comprehensive account of war crimes committed in three central provinces since late 2014, including more than 560 civilian deaths and the destruction of more than 4,200 homes. The crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Special Criminal Court (SCC), a new judicial body that, when operational, will investigate and prosecute grave human...

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    Burundi becoming a 'violent dictatorship': report
    04.07.17
    AFP

    Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza and his ruling party have moved the country toward violent dictatorship, rights groups said Tuesday in a report that slams the international community for inaction. A "purge" of ethnic Tutsis from the army, a crackdown on opposition and media and a bid to change the constitution to allow unlimited presidential terms are signs of an "increasingly violent dictatorial regime", it said. The tiny central African state was plunged into political crisis in April 2015 when Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term which he went on to win. At least 500 people have been killed in ensuing violence, according to the UN -- although rights groups put the figure at over 1,000 -- and more...

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    Where to now for the UN in Myanmar?
    03.07.17
    Frontier

    The lack of a unified message from the UN has weakened its influence on the Myanmar government in the Rakhine conflict.The battle within the United Nations country team over the direction of its work on human rights, particularly in Rakhine State, was one of the worst kept secrets in Myanmar. It was a bitter struggle between two sides that both believed their approach was the most effective to tackle the myriad challenges. The UN is far from monolithic; its various agencies, by the nature of their work and leadership, have different operating philosophies. In Myanmar, the battle lines went something like this: One faction favoured a less combative approach that was more sympathetic to the challenges the government faced; the other...

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    Geneva conference on Kosovo: a judicial and a humanitarian...
    03.07.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor

    In contexts of political violence, one of the worst forms of psychological torture is not to know what happened to loved ones. And it gets worse with time. Has that person been taken by the army or an armed group? Have they been assassinated? Will they ever be found alive, or at least their remains, if victim of an extrajudicial killing? “For the past 18 years, every day that goes by is agony for us,” wrote the families of Serb and Kosovar disappeared people in a joint appeal on June 21. Under pressure from them, a UN roundtable was held in Geneva last Thursday and Friday with all the parties, to try to clarify the fate of 1,658 people who disappeared in Kosovo between 1998 and 2000 in a context of political violence before, during...

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    Central African Special Court: Don’t forget victims, say...
    03.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    The Prosecutor of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic (CAR), Colonel Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, and five Central African judges for the Court were sworn in on Friday June 30 Bangui. This ceremony marks the start of work for this Court, charged with trying those most responsible for serious crimes committed in the CAR since 2003. In an interview with JusticeInfo.Net, Florent Geel, Head of Africa Bureau at the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urges Prosecutor Muntazini Mukimapa “not to limit his action to a few insignificant players” and not to forget the victims.  For FIDH, what is the significance of this swearing in of the Special Prosecutor in the CAR? The swearing in of the...

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    Film festival reflects state of Myanmar transition
    29.06.17
    Sing Lee, Frontier

    Myanmar's fifth Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival was an insight into how far the country has progressed in its political transition, with some liberalizatation but a film on conflict in Rakhine state still banned.  Four years can seem a long time. In 2013, the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival was launched amid an uncertain political transition. The term “human rights” had until very recently been taboo; the country’s prisons still housed scores, if not hundreds, of political inmates. For organisers and participants, the fifth incarnation of the festival, held from June 14 to 19 at Waziya Cinema and Junction City JCGV Cinema, was an indication of how far the country has come, and how far...

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    French bank BNP accused of “complicity” in Rwanda genocide
    29.06.17
    JusticeInfo.Net

    Three non-governmental organizations on Thursday filed a lawsuit against French bank BNP Paribas for “complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”, they announced. Anti-corruption group Sherpa, the Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda (CPCR) and Ibuka France accuse BNP Paribas of having knowingly enabled the former Rwandan government to buy arms in the midst of the genocide and in violation of a United Nations arms embargo. According to their press release, the three NGOs accuse the French bank of transferring “1.3 million dollars held by its client the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) to the Swiss account of a South African arms dealer”, Willem Tertius Ehlers, in June 1994. They allege that this South African...

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    Myanmar journalists face jail for meeting rebel group
    28.06.17
    Nyan Hlaing Lynn, Frontier

    NAY PYI TAW — Three journalists detained by Myanmar's military in northern Shan State have been transferred into police custody in Hsipaw and formally charged with Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act, Frontier has been told. Ko Lawi Weng of The Irrawaddy, also known as Thein Zaw, along with DVB reporters Ko Aye Naing and Ko Pyae Bone Aung, will appear before a judge in Hsipaw on July 11 after being arrested on suspicion of meeting members of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in Namhsan Township, near the Chinese border. If convicted, the trio face a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment. “At the moment, they are being held in Hsipaw prison and have been charged with 17(1),” Police Lieutenant Aung Gyi of the...

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    Families of 1,658 Kosovo disappeared still searching for...
    28.06.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    A two-day conference this week in Geneva aims to relaunch the process of identifying 1,658 people who disappeared during the war in Kosovo (1998-1999). On the eve of the conference, families of Serb and Kosovar victims together urged local and international authorities to rise above obstacles and lack of political will. “We the mothers, fathers, spouses, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons and other relatives of the disappeared (…) will not rest until the fate of the last missing person has been clarified,” says the joint appeal signed on June 21 by Serb and Albanian families of people who disappeared in the Kosovo war (1998-1999). “For 18 years, each day has been agony for every one of us.” They are calling once again for the...

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    Illegal natural resource trade “fuelling” grave human...
    28.06.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Is there a link between illegal trafficking and so-called “international” crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes? That is not always the case, but the looting of natural resources sometimes gives armed groups the means to commit grave human rights abuses. Emmanuelle Marchand,  senior legal counsel to NGO Civitas Maxima, urges international criminal justice to pay more attention to organized crimes that could in some cases be categorized as “international” crimes. She explains in this interview with JusticeInfo.  Are there current situations in Africa where organized cross-border trafficking is fuelling international crimes, or vice versa? Unfortunately there are many examples, since illegal trade in natural...

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    “No peace for the CAR while armed groups hold balance of...
    24.06.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Thierry Vircoulon, a researcher at the French International Relations Institute (IFRI), lectures on security issues in Africa. In an interview with JusticeInfo.Net, he is pessimistic about the chances that a ceasefire for the Central African Republic (CAR) signed in Rome on June 19 will be implemented. He says there is no chance of a lasting peace deal so long as armed groups continue to hold sway on the ground. On June 20, only a few hours after the accord was signed, clashes between militia groups left up to a hundred people dead in Bria, in central CAR. Thierry Vircoulon, researcher at the French International Relations Institute (IFRI) What do you think are the chances that the latest CAR peace accord signed in Rome under the...

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    S.Africa confronts apartheid-era custody deaths by police
    24.06.17
    AFP

    The brutal death of anti-apartheid campaigner Ahmed Timol was allowed to go quietly unsolved in the interests of South Africa's democratic reconciliation. But now more than 45 years after he fell from a 10th-floor window at a notorious regime security building and died, Timol's case is being re-examined following a campaign to expose the truth led by his family. Timol, a 30-year-old activist with the then-banned South African Communist Party (SACP), was arrested in Johannesburg on the night of October 22, 1971. After being held in detention for five days, he was declared dead following his plunge from the blue-and-grey police headquarters onto the pavement below. Following an investigation by authorities at the time, the...

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    Top Khmer Rouge leader denies genocide at close of...
    23.06.17
    AFP

    One of the top surviving leaders of Cambodia's ruthless Khmer Rouge regime on Friday denied genocide charges and rejected the label of "murderer" in forceful closing remarks at a lengthy UN-backed trial. The Khmer Rouge's former head of state, 85-year-old Khieu Samphan, spoke angrily to the Phnom Penh chamber trying him and another senior leader, 90-year-old Nuon Chea, for the regime's killing of ethnic Vietnamese and Muslim minorities, forced marriage and rape. The men are the two most senior living members of the radical Maoist group that seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and carried out some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Up to two million people are believed to have been killed by the time the Khmer Rouge...

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    USA : Addressing Our Tortured History, One Monument at a...
    23.06.17
    David Tolbert

    The recent remarks of Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordering the removal of monuments honoring confederate leaders from New Orleans stands out as an important moment of moral clarity and civic courage for our country. The question is, how do we build on the success of the “take ‘em down” movement to tackle the deep, ongoing history of racial violence in the United States. We also need to see many more leaders on the local, state and national levels addressing the past truthfully, apologizing for the multitude of abuses committed against people of color and correcting our twisted historical narrative. Such efforts are particularly important at this moment when revisionism is on the rise in our country, with our leaders ignoring, dodging...

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    Mosul minaret destruction 'deepens wounds' of Iraqis: UNESCO
    22.06.17
    AFP

    The destruction by jihadists of Mosul's leaning minaret "deepens the wounds" in war-torn Iraq, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said Thursday. Calling in a statement for "immediate and strengthened international mobilisation," the head of the UN's cultural agency said: "This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy." She pledged UNESCO's "renewed solidarity and readiness to support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage whenever possible." The 12th-century minaret blown up along with the Nuri mosque on Wednesday was one of Iraq's most recognisable monuments, sometimes referred to as its Tower of Pisa. Work begun by UNESCO to safeguard the minaret in 2012 "had to...

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    Government cynicism and the transitional justice dream in...
    21.06.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    What a revealing new development in terms of government attitudes towards international justice: Twenty years ago, it was a source of immense hope, but now it has been reduced to begging from the public to fund the International Mechanism for Syria that was nevertheless set up by the UN General Assembly to gather evidence on serious crimes committed during the Syrian war.    The recent article by our Hague correspondent Stéphanie Maupas sharply reflects the troubled state of international justice and transitional justice more widely. Transitional justice was conceived in the 1990s and integrated into the vision of the time, when the US was the only Superpower and people dreamed of societies moving towards a democratic model rooted...

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    Guatemala: How the Sepur Zarco Women lifted impunity for...
    21.06.17
    Laura Cools & Brisna Caxaj, Impunity Watch

    “The verdict has been obtained, justice has been achieved; sadness is no longer”, states Demecia Yat, President of the Jalok U Collective, which gathers survivors of sexual violence and armed conflict from Sepur Zarco and surrounding communities. During the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996), in the military base of Sepur Zarco, 15 indigenous q’eqchi’ women were forced to clean the soldiers’ clothes, cook, and serve them without pay, while being subjected to physical and sexual abuse for months or sometimes years on end, receiving anti-contraceptive pills and injections to prevent pregnancies. This week, on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we gain...

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    Civil society calls for Syria justice funding as UN drags...
    20.06.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    An organization supporting Syrian civil society has launched a call for funding to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria. This Mechanism, approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2016, is supposed to centralize evidence gathered over the last seven years of war and prepare potential war crimes cases for any future tribunal. The UN Secretary General is expected to announce shortly the name of the person to head this Mechanism, but its funding is still not certain. Is justice for Syria too costly for UN Member States? The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2016, is to function with voluntary contributions from...

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    UN court to review genocide conviction against a former...
    20.06.17
    AFP

    A UN tribunal has agreed to review its appeals judgement against a former Rwandan minister found guilty of genocide crimes, a case blocked for months by the detention of one of the court's top judges. In a statement released Monday the UN's Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals said in a rare legal move it would review its ruling convicting Augustin Ngirabatware for his role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed. Ngirabatware, planning minister at the time of the genocide, was found guilty of inciting, aiding and encouraging militiamen in his home district of Nyamyumba in northwestern Rwanda to kill their Tutsi neighbours. He was sentenced in 2012 to 35 years in jail, but this was...

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    The challenge of forging a new army in Myanmar
    20.06.17
    Sithu Aung Myint, Frontier

    One of the greatest challenges of the peace process in Myanmar will be to decide what kind of national army ("Tatmadaw") will be most compatible with the people’s aspirations for a future democratic federal Union. During the second 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference that ended on May 29, delegates discussed 45 topics under four headings dealing with politics, the economy, the social sector and land and the environment. Agreement was reached on 37 topics and in an official statement, the six-day event was described as a success. Frankly speaking, the statement was not complete because it omitted to mention the failure of the conference to reach agreement on a fifth heading on national security that was limited to one...

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    “Terminator” tells ICC he tried to help civilians in Congo
    19.06.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Former Congolese militiaman Bosco Ntaganda has been testifying in his own defence since June 14 before the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2002 and 2003, when he was second in command of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia. The Prosecution says his military campaign caused the deaths of some 60,000 people. But Ntaganda told the court he protected civilians. Ntaganda is trying to paint a rather romantic self-portrait. “I am not guilty of anything,” he told the ICC judges on the second day of his testimony. “I am not a criminal, I am a revolutionary.” The ex-deputy military commander of the UPC is...

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    How Equatorial Guinea Turned Corruption into an Art Form
    19.06.17
    Human Rights Watch

    For the past two decades, Equatorial Guinea has been one of Africa’s largest oil producers and on paper, it is a middle-income economy. Yet instead of spending the country’s oil riches on improving life for ordinary Equatorial Guineans, the government has squandered its enormous wealth on questionable infrastructure projects – highways to nowhere, empty 5-star hotels – where corruption is rife. A new Human Rights Watch report has found that a combination of gross mismanagement and high-level corruption has left the country’s health and education sectors on their knees, and among the worst on the continent. And as Researcher Sarah Saadoun tells Stephanie Hancock, with oil production in the country already in decline, the government...

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    Nepal: Transitional uncertainty
    19.06.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Over the past two decades, Nepal has suffered greatly, seeing minimal progress on social transformation, transitional justice, criminal accountability, and access to justice. The cyclical nature of Nepali politics and lack of progress has placed the transformative agenda squarely in the hands of few elites who have full control of the state apparatus. The return of Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister (the 25th in the past 27 years, after 1990s Peoples movement) clearly shows the instability of the Nepali state. On June 6th, 2017, Sher Bahadur Deuba was elected Prime Minister of Nepal for the fourth time. Deuba is President of the Nepali Congress, and has served as the Prime Minister of Nepal three times, from September 1995 to...

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    Gabon probes threats to leader before ICC visit
    17.06.17
    AFP

    Gabon authorities said Saturday that they were investigating threats by a critic of President Ali Bongo, including an ultimatum to step down before the arrival of an International Criminal Court team next week. The threats included a warning that government buildings had been set with explosives, and came as armed men stormed the offices of several media outlets on Friday demanding the broadcast of an audio and video message urging Gabonese citizens to revolt. The ultimatum was made by Roland Desire Aba'a Minko, a supporter of opposition leader Jean Ping, who was narrowly defeated by Bongo in presidential elections last year. The ICC team is set to arrive for a two-day visit Tuesday for a preliminary investigation of claims of...

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    UN says Burundi still torturing and killing opponents
    15.06.17
    AFP

    Burundi security forces and government-allied militia are continuing to torture and kill opponents, UN investigators said Thursday, allegations denied by the government. The investigators from the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Burundi have been denied entry to the country said there was a "feeling of deep and widespread fear" in more than 470 testimonies gathered from people who had fled to neighbouring countries. "Today we can say that our initial fears concerning the scope and gravity of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015 have been confirmed," the investigators said in a briefing to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. Burundi's government angrily rejected the allegations. "We do not...

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    Kosovo proposes Truth Commission, as leaders suspected of...
    14.06.17
    JusticeInfo.net

    Following elections in Kosovo on Sunday June 11, Ramush Haradinaj is the favourite to be next Prime Minister. Although acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, he is still accused of war crimes by Belgrade. Last January he was arrested at Bâle-Mulhouse airport on a request from Serbia and imprisoned in France. French judicial authorities subsequently released him, without extraditing him to Belgrade. These elections no doubt signal a period of political instability in Kosovo. A coalition of parties that grew from the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) won the most votes (34.6%), but without winning a majority in parliament. Hard on the heels of this so-called “war wing” is the nationalist Left...

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    Rwanda genocide shaped me, Congolese ex-rebel Terminator...
    14.06.17
    AFP

    A former Congolese rebel commander told war crimes judges Wednesday the "horrific events" he saw during Rwanda's 1994 genocide shaped him to vow to do everything he could to prevent "it happening again". Almost two years after his trial opened, Bosco Ntaganda took the stand for the first time expected to talk about events in 2002 and 2003, when his rebel forces rampaged through neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo's gold-rich Ituri province, murdering and raping civilians and plundering their possessions. Instead, the man once dubbed "The Terminator" told the International Criminal Court about his time as a young soldier in the Ugandan-backed Rwandan army during that country's genocide in which some 800,000 people, mainly...

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    ICC calls for 'immediate arrest' of Kadhafi son
    14.06.17
    AFP

    The International Criminal Court chief's prosecutor on Wednesday called for the "immediate arrest and surrender" of Moamer Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, who was reportedly set free by a militia in Libya. An arrest warrant issued by the Hague-based ICC in 2011 "remains valid and Libya is obliged to immediately arrest and surrender" the late dictator's son "regardless of any purported amnesty law in Libya," Fatou Bensouda said. Kadhafi's second son and heir-apparent was said to have been released on Friday by a militia that controls the town of Zintan in western Libya. The group, which had held Seif al-Islam for more than five years, said he had been set free under an amnesty law promulgated by a parliament based in the country's...

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    At UN event, Russia fights back against "fake news"...
    14.06.17
    AFP

    Russia fought back Wednesday against what it called "fake news" surrounding the battle for Aleppo, hosting a UN event with a video appearance by the boy whose blood-streaked face became a symbol of the conflict. The August 2016 footage of the young Omran Daqneesh, shell-shocked and covered in dust while sitting in an ambulance after an air strike, made headlines around the world. The United States described him as "the real face" of the Syrian civil war. He looked dramatically different on Wednesday when he was featured in a Human Rights Council side event hosted by the Russian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Russian ambassador Alexey Borodavkin said Wednesday's event was designed "to tell the truth about the events...

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    Long road to justice for Tunisian torture victim in...
    14.06.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    In 2004, Abdennacer Naït-Liman filed a complaint in Geneva to obtain reparations for torture suffered in the Tunisian Interior Ministry in 1992. However, it was in vain. Now the case of this Tunisian exiled in Switzerland is before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the highest court of appeal on the continent. Depending on the outcome, this case could open a new path for torture victims in countries of asylum. “We are opening doors in the hope that victims of international crimes like torture and war crimes can have other recourse than criminal trials,” said Philip Grant, director of the NGO Trial International, a few days before leaving for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. On...

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    DRCongo 'Terminator' to tell judges 'he's a human being'
    13.06.17
    AFP

    Bosco Ntaganda will give a full account of his role as a Congolese rebel commander in 2002-03 when he takes the stand at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, his lawyer has said. Almost two years after his trial opened, the man once dubbed "The Terminator" will take the stand to recall events in 2002 and 2003, when his rebel forces rampaged through the vast central African country's gold-rich Ituri province, murdering and raping civilians and plundering their possessions. "Mr Ntaganda will describe everything he did in the conflict. Step-by-step and day-by-day and give a full description," his lawyer Stephane Bourgon said. "What Mr Ntaganda wishes to establish by testifying is to explain exactly who he is and to...

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    Kenya : Wachira Waheire meets his torturer 20 years later
    13.06.17
    International Center for Transitional Justice

    Wachira Waheire strode into Nairobi’s Sankara Hotel, made his way to the café attached to its lobby and scanned the room carefully. He was meeting someone he had not seen in 20 years, but as he sifted through the faces in the café he was confident all he needed was a glimpse and he would recognize his guest. “You don’t forget your torturers,” he says. “These memories are so vivid it’s like they just happened.” Wachira is something of a professional interviewer of torturers: as a Human Rights Officer at Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) from 2010 to 2012, it was one of his responsibilities to collect testimonies from victims and perpetrators of state violence in Kenya. As a survivor well-familiar with...

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    Kosovo elections with war crimes court and international...
    11.06.17
    AFP

    Kosovo voted Sunday for a new parliament that will have to navigate tense relations with Serbia, endemic corruption and possible war crimes indictments for some of its leaders. The early general election is only the third since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, but it "might be the hardest to predict," according to Florian Bieber, professor of Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria. A month after the last government lost a confidence vote, the battle for a new prime minister pitches an ex-guerrilla commander against a former student protest leader and an economist likened to French President Emmanuel Macron. The polls, monitored by a European Union mission, closed at 1700 GMT across...

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    Make migrant trafficking crime against humanity: police...
    08.06.17
    AFP

    European police and naval chiefs on Thursday called for migrant trafficking of the kind currently taking place in Libya to be declared a crime against humanity. At talks in Rome, senior figures in the fight against the deadly trade said such a move would both draw attention to the gravity of the crimes they are trying to stop and make it easier to do so. "Migrant trafficking as it takes place in Libya should be considered an international crime, a crime against humanity," said Admiral Enrico Credendino, the head of a European naval force charged with combating trafficking in the Mediterranean. Europol's Robert Crepinko said it was time to redefine the nature of traffickers' actions to better reflect their tragic impact. "More...

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    Bosnia's glorification of war criminals 'unacceptable':...
    07.06.17
    AFP

    Bosnian nationalists are making "unacceptable provocations" by glorifying convicted war criminals and denying crimes from the 1992-1995 war, the UN prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia said Wednesday. Serge Brammertz urged the Security Council to address the denial of war crimes in Bosnia during a meeting on the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The prosecutor criticized a recent decision of Bosnian Serb education officials to ban textbooks that teach students about the Srebrenica genocide and the siege of Sarajevo. "These facts are taught in classrooms around the world, but not in the country where the crimes were committed," Brammertz told the council. On Thursday, a Croat singer...

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    Spanish Left demands return to universal jurisdiction
    07.06.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    Is the concept of universal jurisdiction, in which Spanish judges used to lead the way, about to come back in Spain? A Bill to this effect is in the parliamentary works, even if it is blocked for the moment by the party in power, the Popular Party. Some voices within Podemos, the third largest political force in the lower house of parliament, have in recent weeks been demanding that Spain become once again a country where justice has “no limits and no borders”. This was the recent call of Miguel Urban, one of the co-founders of Podemos, on Publico-TV. In April, renowned Spanish jurist Carlos Castresana expressed regret that “with regard to universal jurisdiction our country is now completely out of the game”. Castresana is former...

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    Will the ICC take up crimes against migrants in Libya? 
    06.06.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Amid the chaos in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in April denounced a veritable “slave market” where migrants are being sold for forced labour or sexual exploitation. But will the ICC investigate? A few weeks later, after a surprise visit to Libya, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he was “shocked to discover the difficult conditions in which refugees and migrants live”, and denounced the “terrible” conditions in refugee centres in Libya. The two organizations launched a humanitarian programme for the 600,000 migrants, refugees and displaced people in Libya. NGOs such as Médecins sans frontières, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have for months been denouncing the crimes...

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    Week in Review: Challenges of confronting the past in CAR...
    06.06.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Once again the Central African Republic (CAR) dominated transitional justice news this week. The UN published a damning report on human rights violations in the country, while the Prosecutor of the CAR’s Special Criminal Court, a Congolese military jurist, made his first visit to Bangui to prepare his task. According to the UN report, Colonel Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa’s task is huge. The UN report documents 620 of grave human rights violations committed in the CAR between 2003 and 2015. They include sexual violence, acts of torture in detention centres, extrajudicial executions, violence of an ethnic or religious nature, recruitment of child soldiers, attacks on aid workers and UN peacekeepers.  The UN report concludes that a...

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    Central African Special Court needs public strategy, says UN
    02.06.17
    JusticeInfo.Net

    In a report published this week in Bangui, the United Nations documents 620 cases of grave human rights violations committed in the Central African Republic from 2003 to 2015. They include sexual violence, acts of torture in detention centres, extrajudicial executions, violence of an ethnic or religious nature, recruitment of child soldiers, attacks on aid workers and UN peacekeepers. The report’s authors make a series of recommendations, notably to the Prosecutor of the Special Criminal Court (SCC), a hybrid court being set up within the CAR’s judicial system to bring to justice those most responsible for serious crimes committed in the country since January 1, 2003. Given the enormity of its task, the large number of crimes...

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    Will Switzerland dare to prosecute two African leaders the...
    02.06.17
    Julia Crawford

    Human rights NGOs hope Switzerland has the political will to prosecute former Gambian minister Ousman Sonko and former Liberian rebel leader Alieu Kosiah. Sonko is suspected of crimes against humanity while Kosiah is charged with committing war crimes.   The NGOs TRIAL and Civitas Maxima see both cases as important tests for Switzerland’s use of an international legal tool known as “universal jurisdiction”. Ousman Sonko, a former long-time interior minister of Gambia, was arrested in Bern in January this year, on allegations of torture filed by the Swiss branch of TRIAL International. The allegations against Sonko now include crimes against humanity, and his case has been referred to the federal authorities. But the first case...

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