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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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    Myanmar lacks discussion on post-conflict justice, says...
    29.03.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.net

    In Myanmar, the start of a democratic transition in 2010 and the arrival in power of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in early 2016 raised much hope. But the military still holds considerable power. Conflicts in the country are continuing and even escalating. The army is accused of gross human rights abuses, notably against the minority Rohingya population in Rakhine State, and the UN has pledged an international  fact-finding mission, from which the government has distanced itself. So what are the current hopes for peace and justice in Myanmar? JusticeInfo spoke to Doctor Ashley South, a research professor at Chiang Mai University, Thailand (home to many refugees from Myanmar) and an expert on ethnic politics...

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    Côte d’Ivoire: Simone Gbagbo Acquitted After Flawed War...
    29.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    First Lady’s Acquittal Highlights ICC Process As Critical Path for Victims. (Nairobi) – The acquittal in Côte d’Ivoire of former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo for crimes against humanity based on a process marred by fair trial concerns and a critical lack of evidence shows the importance of the International Criminal Court’s case against her, Human Rights Watch said today. Gbagbo was on trial for serious human rights violations during the bloody post-election crisis, which stemmed from Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power to President Alassane Ouattara following the November 2010 presidential elections. The crisis degenerated into political violence and eventually a resumption of armed conflict. Between December 2010 and...

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    I.Coast ex-first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of crimes...
    28.03.17
    AFP

    An Ivory Coast jury on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity during the 2010-11 post-election crisis in a stunning verdict after the prosecution had sought to jail her for life. "A majority of the jury declared Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes of which she has been accused, pronounced her acquittal and ordered that she be immediately freed if she is not being held for other reasons," said the head of the country's top criminal court, judge Kouadjo Boiqui. Once dubbed Ivory Coast's "Iron Lady," Gbagbo, who was not in court Tuesday, is already serving a 20-year sentence for "endangering state security." The prosecution in summing up its case against the 67-year-old wife of...

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    Tunisia : Men and Boys Are Victims Of Sexual Violence, Too
    28.03.17
    Kelli Muddell, Director of the ICTJ's Gender Justice Program and Sibley Hawkins, ICTJ Program Officer

    Something unusual happened on the first day of the public hearings being held by Tunisia’s national Truth and Dignity Commission. Sami Brahim came forward to give personal testimony of having survived sexual violence in prison during the Ben Ali regime. Mr. Brahim told the hundreds of Tunisians listening in the room, and thousands more following live on TV and the Internet, about his arrest as a student in the 1990s and his experience of abuse and torture while in jail: "All the prisoners were stripped, the young and the elderly. For an entire week, everyone was kept naked. Why? What was our crime? What was our punishment?" His testimony helped bring to light an issue considered too sensitive in most cultures to speak about,...

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    Universal jurisdiction gains ground from Pinochet to Syria
    27.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Universal jurisdiction is making slow but steady progress as a tool against impunity, and not only in Europe. This is according to a report published on Monday March 27 by five human rights organizations. Forty-seven people suspected of crimes committed in another country were tried before national courts in 2016, according to the report, entitled Make Way for Justice. This marks slow but steady progress for the principle of universal jurisdiction, which is being used more widely, including outside the European Union. “Despite constant attacks, universal jurisdiction continues to be a significant tool in the fight against impunity,” says Philip Grant, director of the Swiss NGO TRIAL International. “For victims, it is often the only...

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    Week in Review: Focus on victims at the International...
    27.03.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    Reparations are one of the four pillars of transitional justice (along with truth, justice and the guarantee of non-repetition), and this week the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered for the first time that some small individual compensation be given to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ICC judges decided that 297 direct victims of a 2003 massacre in a Congolese village should each get a “symbolic” 250 dollars. The judges also decided that convicted Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, who was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity during the attack on that village, should pay one million dollars in reparations for the physical, mental and material...

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    ICC grants first individual reparations to victims
    24.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided on March 24 that victims of crimes committed by convicted Congolese  militiaman Germain Katanga will get both individual and collective reparations. This is the first time that the Court has awarded individual reparations. The 297 direct victims of Germain Katanga’s crimes will each receive just over 230 Euros. “This symbolic amount does not aim to compensate all the harm done,” said Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut during the March 24 hearing, but will provide some “relief” to the victims. They should also benefit from collective reparations focused on support to education, housing, work and psychological support. Katanga, former commander of the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Force (FRPI)...

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    Justice for victims at heart of ICC credibility, says Open...
    23.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) is to decide on March 24 what reparations to grant victims of former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, whom it sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for crimes against humanity. To date, the Court has handed down only one incomplete decision on reparations for victims in the case of another Congolese, Thomas Lubanga. Mariana Pena, legal advisor to the Open Society in The Hague, talked to JusticeInfo.net about the role of victims at the ICC. Mariana Pena, legal adviser to Open Society    JusticeInfo.net: How do you assess victim participation in the ICC trials? Mariana Pena: In the beginning in 2002, the Court feared that masses of victims would come to participate in the trials, so it...

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    HRW : War Crimes in Libya as Benghazi Residents Flee
    22.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    Libyan National Army (LNA) forces may have committed war crimes, including killing and beating civilians, and summarily executing and desecrating bodies of opposition fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi on and around March 18, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The army forces allegedly intercepted civilians trying to flee a besieged neighborhood, some accompanied by opposition fighters, and the whereabouts of some civilians are unknown. Khalifa Hiftar, the commander of the LNA forces in eastern Libya, should order a full and transparent investigation into recent alleged crimes by forces under his command, including attacks on civilians, alleged summary executions, and the mutilation and desecration of corpses, and hold...

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    Hannah Arendt or the power of ordinary people facing...
    22.03.17
    Kathleen B. Jones, San Diego State University

      In the weeks since the election of President Donald J. Trump, sales of George Orwell’s “1984” have skyrocketed. But so have those of a lesser-known title, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” by a German Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt. “The Origins of Totalitarianism” discusses the rise of the totalitarian movements of Nazism and Stalinism to power in the 20th century. Arendt explained that such movements depended on the unconditional loyalty of the masses of “slumbering majorities,” who felt dissatisfied and abandoned by a system they perceived to be “fraudulent” and corrupt. These masses sprang to the support of a leader who made them feel they had a place in the world by belonging to a movement. I am a scholar...

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    ICC jails ex-Congo VP for bribing witnesses
    22.03.17
    AFP

    Judges on Wednesday sentenced former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to a year in jail and fined him 300,000 euros for bribing witnesses during his war crimes trial in an unprecedented case before the International Criminal Court. "The chamber imposes on you an additional 12 months, one year, imprisonment," presiding judge Bertram Schmitt told Bemba, adding a "substantial fine" was necessary "to discourage this kind of behaviour". Prosecutors had asked for eight years for Bemba, who is already serving 18 years after being convicted of war crimes by his marauding troops, who he sent into the Central African Republic in 2002 to 2003 to put down a coup against the then president. Found guilty last year of bribery, the...

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    ICC poised to make first awards to war crimes' victims
    22.03.17
    AFP

    Judges at the International Criminal Court may Friday award the tribunal's first monetary sums to victims of war crimes, with lawyers estimating some $16.4 million in damages were caused by a 2003 attack on a Congolese village. Friday's order for reparations for 304 victims of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga is set to be a landmark step for the world's only permanent war crimes court. "Reparations should place the victim in a situation as close as possible to that before the crime was committed," Fidel Nsita Luvengika, the legal representative for victims, argued in a 2016 filing to the court in The Hague. Katanga was sentenced by the ICC to 12 years in jail in 2014, after being convicted on five charges of war crimes...

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    Genocide in Rwanda : Former aide of ex-Rwandan President...
    21.03.17
    JusticeInfo

    Frankfurt (Germany) – A close aide of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, who had been detained in Germany since July 2016 on allegations of involvement in the 1994 genocide, was released on Monday, JusticeInfo has learned.  Enoch Ruhigira, the last head of presidential staff under Habyarimana, was arrested during a stopover in Frankfurt on July 20 last year, on the basis of a Rwandan arrest warrant. The arrest warrant was based on accusations deemed unfounded by New Zealand, where Ruhigira has citizenship, and Belgium, where he had resided.   “He was released on Monday March 20 with no reasons given,” a source close to the case told JusticeInfo. “At the moment he is still in Germany and expected to return to New...

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    Kenya: will technology deliver a free election ?
    21.03.17
    John Walubengo

    Elections present a milestone beyond which countries either strengthen their democratic credentials or become failed states. Often states fail when there are either perceived or blatant election malpractices. This in turn can lead to prolonged civil unrest.   Numerous cases exist across the continent. But I will use the Kenyan case to illustrate how election processes can be compromised, and then brought back from the brink with the use of technology.   Following the election in 2007 Kenya erupted into two months of unprecedented conflict. People were unhappy with the outcome which saw Mwai Kibaki of the incumbent Party of National Unity being declared the winner ahead of Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement. Many...

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    Rakhine camps must close, says Myanmar's Annan Advisory...
    20.03.17
    Su Myat Mon, Frontier

    The office of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar has accepted the recommendations of an advisory panel led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which also call for the perpetrators of human rights violations to be “held to account”. YANGON — The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State says the government needs a comprehensive plan to close displacement camps as part of any solution toward the festering communal tensions in Myanmar’s west. Releasing its interim report on Thursday, the commission noted that efforts to return or relocate the more than 120,000 people living in IDP camps had “shown little progress” since 2012, and a strategy to close the camps with clear timelines was necessary. The report identified 335...

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    Pope begs God's forgiveness for Church sins in Rwanda...
    20.03.17
    AFP

    Pope Francis on Monday begged for God's forgiveness for "the sins and failings of the Church and its members" implicated in the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed around 800,000 people. The pontiff "conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi," the Vatican said in a statement after a meeting between Francis and the Rwanda President Paul Kagame. "He implored anew God's forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission," it said. Francis's pardon plea followed a request from Rwanda in November for the church to apologise for...

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    Week in Review: Steps towards justice for a forgotten...
    20.03.17
    François Sergent

    Transitional justice this week caught up with the colonial German army’s genocide of Herero and Nama people in Namibia in 1904, seen as the first genocide in history. A New York judge accepted a complaint filed by descendants of Hereros and Namas massacred by the German colonial army. Although this crime has never been brought to trial and has been lumped together with colonial wars, it nevertheless meets the criteria of genocide defined by American jurist Raphael Lemkin in 1944 for the Shoah and later recognized by the UN. And Nambia intends to file a case against Germany for 30 billion dollars in compensation, according to official documents seen by The Namibian and AFP. The Namibian authorities have recruited lawyers to file a...

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    ICC : Namibia demands $30 bln for German genocide of...
    17.03.17
    AFP

    Namibia is to launch a 30-billion-dollar (28-billion-euro) lawsuit against Germany over genocide committed during colonial rule, when tens of thousands of people were killed, according to documents seen by AFP on Friday. The Namibian government has previously avoided demanding financial compensation, but it changed its stance as two indigenous groups filed a class-action suit in New York against Germany. Legal documents provided to AFP and The Namibian newspaper show that the government has engaged lawyers in London to pursue a case of violation of human rights and a "consequent apology and reparations process." Over 65,000 people are believed to have been killed when colonial Germany massacred Namibian tribes such as the...

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    Nepal : for an alternative route to resist global...
    15.03.17
    Ram Bhandari

    “When I see the role of NGOs, human rights groups and politics, I think transitional justice is rather an experimental laboratory of various actors, where suffering families’ continue to wait for justice and gain nothing from the false process of political reconciliation and instrumentalisation of interest groups who dominate the victim’s needs and realities in the ground.” says Bhagiram Chaudhary, the district-based victim’s advocate who has been speaking for fellow victims in the Nepal’s countryside for many years.   10 years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA – signed in 2006), the situation of conflict victims continues to worsen and the hope for justice has become complex. The security institutions...

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    HRW: Ensure Independent Investigation into Kasese...
    15.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    (Nairobi, March 15, 2017) – Killings by Ugandan military and police during joint operations in Kasese, western Uganda on November 26-27, 2016, warrant an independent, impartial fact-finding mission with international expertise, Human Rights Watch said today. On the bloodiest day, scores of people, including children, were killed during a military assault on the palace compound of the region’s cultural institution.   Police spokespeople reported the death toll over the two days as 87, including 16 police. Human Rights Watch found the actual number to be much higher – at least 55 people, including at least 14 police, killed on November 26, and more than 100, including at least 15 children, during the attack on the palace compound...

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    A Foundation of Lies: "Relatives for Justice" Unpacks the...
    15.03.17
    ICTJ

      On February 12th, 1989, sledgehammers smashed through Pat Finucane’s front door in north Belfast. Paramilitaries stormed his family home and found the 39-year-old human rights lawyer eating Sunday dinner with his wife and three children. They shot him 14 times and fled. Nearly 30 years after Finucane’s killing, questions persist. Who commissioned the murder? Was the British government involved in some capacity? And when will justice for victims finally be served?     Mark Thompson These are the questions Mark Thompson grapples with every day. Thompson is one of the co-founders and CEO of Relatives for Justice (RfJ), a Belfast-based organization that demands truth, accountability and...

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    Myanmar needs international inquiry on Rohingya abuses by...
    14.03.17
    Thomas Kean (Frontier Myanmar)

    As the Human Rights Council session in Geneva gets underway, Thomas Kean of our partner Frontier speaks to UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee about her call for a commission of inquiry into alleged abuses in Rakhine State, notably against the Muslim Rohingya minority.  Why have you recommended the creation of a commission of inquiry? Throughout the duration of my mandate, I have been flagging serious human rights concerns pertaining to the situation of the Rohingya and other minority communities in Rakhine State. However, the call for the commission of inquiry became imperative with the persistent allegations of grave human rights violations in Rakhine State in the aftermath of the October 9 attacks last...

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    Opinion : Sudan’s New Image Can’t Disguise Harsh Reality
    14.03.17
    Jehanne Henry (Human Rights Watch)

    Last week, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir released 193 Darfuri rebel fighters from prison, some of whom had been there for nine years. He also waived the death penalty against 66 others.  Days earlier, a Khartoum court released three civil society activists after ten months in detention. These developments, lauded by onlookers, burnish Sudan’s image at a time when al-Bashir – wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged atrocities in Darfur – has been improving diplomatic alliances with the Gulf, Europe, and the US. In January, the US eased economic sanctions against Sudan, and the EU has earmarked major funds to Sudan for migration control.But these prisoner releases are a standard piece in al-Bashir’s political...

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    Colombia to set up special war crimes courts
    14.03.17
    AFP

    Colombia's senate late Monday approved a constitutional reform to set up special war crimes courts, a key component of the historic peace agreement with FARC guerrillas that ended five decades of war. The court system will be made up of three sections: a truth commission, a unit to search for missing people, and a temporary, autonomous body to try crimes committed during the armed conflict before December 1, 2016. Establishing the courts was the backbone of the peace deal Bogota reached in November with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels. President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize in October for his efforts to end his country's 53-year conflict, which has drawn in numerous leftist rebel groups,...

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    Week in Review: Three African women in transitional justice
    13.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    “When I think – about the world, politics, freedom, literature, and so on – I do not feel like a woman at all,” wrote French philosopher Belinda Cannone. Her reflection is especially good to remember around International Women’s Day. This week we reported on three African women on different sides of justice and reconciliation.  In the Central African Republic (CAR), former Seleka rebel fighter Martine Bangue told Radio Ndeke Luka in Bangui how she had exchanged weapons for a mason’s trowel. Asked why she chose that profession, she replied: “I chose it because I wanted to be autonomous, to take care of myself. Also because many houses were destroyed in this country. And it is by working that you can support your children’s...

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    Tensions stoked up in the Balkans
    12.03.17
    AFP

    The devastating wars in the Balkans ended almost two decades ago but tensions have spiked throughout the region, where a battle for influence is playing out between Russia and the West. Here are the key issues at stake: - Montenegro's NATO accession - Montenegro's veteran leader Milo Djukanovic has officially transferred power to his successor Dusko Markovic, but the goal remains the same: to join NATO this year. The pro-Western path is, however, disputed -- and even triggered violent protests in 2015 in the small country of 620,000 people, who are predominantly Orthodox Slavs. Djukanovic accused Moscow of being behind the anti-NATO rallies and the demands for a referendum on the issue. Many fear that demonstrations could...

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    Creation of a syrian war crimes database
    09.03.17
    AFP

    Dutch officials on Thursday urged nations to boost efforts to create a database of alleged war crimes in Syria, using evidence smuggled abroad by refugees and investigators. "We already have millions of pages and gigabytes of evidence," Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told a conference gathering more than 150 experts, diplomats, rights activists and international lawyers. "And millions more are waiting -- hidden in suitcases and banana crates, buried in caves and pits," he said, voicing the hope that "we can use that evidence to build airtight cases against those guilty of the worst crimes imaginable." The UN General Assembly agreed in December to set up an investigative mechanism to gather evidence on war crimes in Syria,...

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    The rise and fall of Ivorian ex-First Lady Simone Gbagbo
    09.03.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    For many of her admirers, Simone Gbagbo, whose trial resumed in her absence Tuesday before an Abidjan court, remains the “Iron Lady”, even behind bars. But for her detractors, she is the “Bloodstained Lady”. Côte d’Ivoire’s former First Lady was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in jail for endangering State security and is now on trial again for crimes against humanity. The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo is undoubtedly one of the leading female figures of contemporary Ivorian history. Although visibly marked by jail, this fervent Evangelist, 67, refuses to give in. Like her husband, currently on trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC), she never misses an opportunity to restate her determination to fight the French...

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    Ukraine accuses Russia of terrorism at the International...
    08.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Ukraine and Russia are this week facing off against each other before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Kiev accuses Moscow of violating two international Conventions, one on funding terrorism and one on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. It is asking the Court for urgent measures. Ukraine wants the ICJ to order Moscow to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine immediately and also stop violating the rights of ethnic Tatars in Crimea. It is asking the Court to do this urgently, before making any pronouncement on the substance of the case, which could take years.  “All we want is a return to stability and calm,” declared Ukraine’s foreign minister Olena Zerkel, who called the current...

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    South Africa revokes decision to leave ICC: UN
    08.03.17
    AFP

    South Africa has formally revoked its controversial decision to leave the International Criminal Court following last month's High Court ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional. Notice of Pretoria's decision to end the withdrawal process was posted on the UN's treaty website this week, although it does not necessarily spell the end of its bid to leave the Hague-based court. South Africa had in October announced it would withdraw from the UN court which was set up to try the world's worst crimes following a dispute sparked by its refusal to arrest visiting Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Bashir over alleged war crimes, but South African authorities refused to detain him, saying he...

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    ICC Prosecutor at a turning point
    07.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been in her post since June 16, 2012, and is now half way through her mandate. In four and a half years she has opened two new cases -- Mali and Georgia -- and issued an arrest warrant against Malian Jihadist Ahmed Al Mahdi for war crimes. Too little action to date, say observers, but she has numerous cases in the pipeline, notably against the Russians, British, Americans and Israelis. People wait impatiently for her expected opening of an Afghanistan case involving torture by US forces. They see it as a test and possibly a turning point for the ICC and international justice. Here we look at Bensouda’s record half way through her mandate. One step back, two steps...

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    Week in Review: Tunisia’s difficult transition, no justice...
    06.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In Tunisia, a lawyer is fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis use. The issue might seem marginal in comparison with war crimes and crimes against humanity. But for him, imprisonment of mostly young cannabis users under a law of the former Ben Ali regime, is proof that the country’s democratic transition still has a long way to go.  Lawyer Ghazi Mrabet is fighting to scrap “Law 52”, and he is not alone. Both Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and President Beji Caied Essebsi also say they want the law revoked. “This lawyer and human rights activist is now urging a presidential pardon for all those in prison under Law 52 and a general amnesty for all those convicted since 1992, so as to end the social stigmatization that affects...

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    Sri Lanka’s victims demand justice, while government plays...
    03.03.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.net

    Sri Lanka’s government this week asked the UN Human Rights Council for more time to fulfil its promises under a 2015 Resolution on justice for civil war victims. The international community welcomed the surprise election of President Maithripala Sirisena in early 2015 and his promises of justice and reconciliation, but a new report from international jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP) says the government has done little and is acting in bad faith. The civil war, pitting majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and east, left at least 40,000 people dead, 280,000 displaced and 65,000 disappeared. The final stage of the war in 2009 was particularly brutal, with...

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    Syria regime, rebels committed war crimes in Aleppo: UN...
    01.03.17
    AFP

    All Syrian sides that fought in the battle for Aleppo committed war crimes and the deal to evacuate civilians following the rebel defeat was a "crime of forced displacement', a UN probe said Wednesday. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria documented violations including chemical attacks and civilian executions perpetrated during the Damascus regime's five-month siege of eastern Aleppo, which had been a key opposition stronghold. From July 21, 2016 to December 22, when government troops recaptured the city, the Syrian air force and its Russian ally "conducted daily air strikes" on Aleppo, the COI said. There is conclusive evidence that Syrian aircraft dropped "toxic industrial chemicals, including chlorine", but...

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    Dealing with hate: Can America's truth and reconciliation...
    01.03.17
    Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University

    Recent vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia illustrates the all too real problem of hate crime faced by many communities in the United States. Just this February, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that for the second year in a row the number of hate groups in the United States has been growing – up from 892 in 2015 to 900 in 2017. The report also found since the election of President Donald Trump there has been a sharp increase in hate crime incidents. These incidents beg the question: How can such racial divisions be healed? I study U.S.-based truth commissions and the field of transitional justice. Transitional justice refers to judicial and nonjudicial measures implemented by countries to redress...

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    Week in review: Court blow for South Africa and challenges...
    27.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The transitional justice week was marked notably by a South African court’s decision that the country’s notification of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional. This is at least a victory for the rule of law.  The decision of the High Court in Pretoria is based on procedure and does not stop the government from going ahead with ICC withdrawal, according to Hugo van der Merwe, Research Director at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Cape Town, who spoke to JusticeInfo. It nevertheless forces the government to go through Parliament and conduct a debate on its decision. “That at least opens up the space for more public participation and civil society input into the...

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    “UN and African Union should act together to end impunity...
    25.02.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In the Central African Republic (CAR), President Touadera’s February 14 nomination of a Prosecutor for the Special Criminal Court* is an important step, but should not raise unrealistic hopes, according to jurist Didier Niewiadowski, a former adviser to the French embassy in Bangui. He says the presence in Touadera’s government of people close to former president François Bozizé, and the current de facto partition of the country will make Congolese Prosecutor Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa’s task difficult.  JusticeInfo: Can a Special Criminal Court, which is unlikely to issue its first indictments for months, really dissuade serious crimes, which are sharply on the rise in the recent days? Didier Niewiadowski: The Congolese colonel...

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    Court ruling against ICC withdrawal an “embarrassment” for...
    24.02.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    This week, the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, ruled that the government’s notification to the UN last October of its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional. South Africa’s announcement of withdrawal had sparked fears of an “Afrexit” from the ICC, given similar announcements by Burundi and Gambia and strong objections to the International Criminal Court by the African Union. It also followed a spat with the ICC over South Africa’s 2015 failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, who is under two ICC arrest warrants for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. So what is the significance of the Pretoria court ruling for South Africa, the African Union and the ICC? JusticeInfo...

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    In Myanmar, "transition has to be built on the voices of...
    23.02.17
    Arnaud Dubus

    From 2009 to 2015, Matthew Mullen, a lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies of Mahidol University, in Thailand, tracked the diverse and complex pathways through which political change came to Myanmar. Instead of focusing only on the well-known picture of a highly vocal opposition movement confronting an entrenched military regime, he paid attention to more discreet endeavors which were going on in the local communities, where a myriad of small organizations and individuals were working for change, not in a directly confrontational way, but through a wide array of tactics, from everyday resistance to engagement and from avoidance to manipulation. These subtle ways of weakening an autocratic regime through...

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    S.African court rules against govt plan to pull out of ICC
    22.02.17
    Susan NJANJI AFP

    A South African court on Wednesday ruled the government's plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was "unconstitutional and invalid", providing a boost to the embattled Hague-based institution.The ICC has been rocked by threats of withdrawal in recent months, with complaints focusing on its alleged bias against Africa.South Africa announced in October it had lodged its decision to pull out with the United Nations, following a dispute over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visiting the country in 2015.South African authorities refused to arrest Bashir despite him facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes, saying he had immunity as a head of state. "The cabinet decision to deliver the notice of...

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    Challenges of the new Special Court for the CAR
    21.02.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial adviser and associate professor at the University of Neuchâtel

    A Special Criminal Court to deal with war crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) is now being set up. On February 14, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra appointed as Prosecutor of this Special Court Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, a military prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the coming weeks, national and international judges for the court are also expected to be appointed, and will then need to get down to work to make operational this semi-international tribunal, whose  mandate is to try suspected perpetrators of the most serious crimes committed in the CAR since 2003. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which has also been asked to investigate, will have priority to try war criminals, should the two...

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    South Sudan: five things to know
    21.02.17
    AFP

    South Sudan, where the government on Monday declared famine in some parts of the country, is mired in an economic crisis due to a devastating civil war.Independent since 2011, the world's newest country was engulfed by civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.The conflict has left tens of thousands dead and more than three million displaced.Five things to know about the African nation:- Economy in ruins -Oil production -- from which South Sudan gained 98 percent of its revenues on its independence five-and-a-half years ago -- has plummeted by more than half and the country is struggling to halt rampant inflation.Juba, which upon independence inherited...

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    Lessons from The Gambia to end the impasse in South Sudan
    20.02.17
    The Conversation

    Not for the first time, South Sudan appears on the International Crisis Group watch list of the world’s most volatile conflicts to watch. This is on top of climbing to second on Transparency International’s index of the most corrupt countries. The world’s newest nation is bedevilled by multiple conflicts and faced with major challenges to establish peace and stability. The most recent UN mission report warns of a conflict that’s reached “worrying proportions”. South Sudan is in the fourth year of open conflict sparked in December 2013 by the falling out between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar. Fighting between forces loyal to both parties and bouts of ethnic fighting are expected to displace...

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    Week in Review: CAR and Gambia take positive steps on...
    20.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week Africa and Africans showed that transitional justice, so often criticized on that continent, can complement national justice.  The Central African Republic (CAR) finally appointed a Prosecutor for its future Special Criminal Court, a mixed tribunal to be composed of national and international judges. This is the first step in a long transitional justice process, in a country divided and ravaged by conflict. CAR’s President Touadéra has appointed a Congolese jurist and military man, Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa (also author of an article by JusticeInfo.net on complementarity between the International Criminal Court and the justice system in his country). The new court has a mandate to conduct investigations and trials on...

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    Central African Special Court gets Congolese Prosecutor
    17.02.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    On February 14, Central African Republic (CAR) president Faustin-Archange Touadéra signed a decree appointing the Prosecutor of the country’s Special Criminal Court (SCC). The appointment of jurist and military man Colonel Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, a military prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is an important step towards the setting up of the SCC, which has a mandate to try suspected perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed in the CAR since 2003. But the Prosecutor’s task will be difficult in a country where more than half the territory is still in the hands of armed groups who continue to commit crimes against the civilian population. The law to create a Special Criminal Court within the CAR...

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    Nepal: the Transitional Justice Commissions and Victims’...
    16.02.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Transitional justice has been a stated priority throughout Nepal’s peace process following the end of the ‘People’s War’ in 2006, but it took nearly 10 years before the two truth commissions (Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC and Commission for Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons CIEDP) investigating war-era crimes were established. While these processes have enjoyed nominal support, the Nepali government never prioritized transitional justice in its national agenda, and the Commissions have not been prevented from fulfilling their mandates. The stalled transitional justice process has eroded trust between victims advocacy groups and the two Commissions. While the Commissions were set to end earlier this month,...

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    Preparing for the next peace conference in Myanmar
    16.02.17
    HEIN KO SOE & OLIVER SLOW FRONTIER

    Plans are underway to hold the next Union Peace Conference at the end of this month, but the government and non-signatories of a 2015 peace agreement cannot agree how to tackle the thorny issue of how to bring peace to Myanmar. February 12 marks 70 years since independence hero Bogyoke Aung San met with Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders in the Shan State town of Panglong and signed an agreement that would grant their territories full autonomy within 10 years. But the pact was never fulfilled. Shortly after achieving independence in January 1948, the country plunged into a decades-long civil war that remains active today. In 2011 the quasi-civilian government led by former president U Thein Sein embarked on a fresh approach to the...

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    After 15 years, ICC States still debating crime of...
    15.02.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In 2017, member States of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are supposed to promulgate the Kampala amendments to the Court’s Statute, giving the ICC a green light to prosecute those most responsible for crimes of “aggression”.  But what seemed to be a formality now looks again like a subject of debate.  France and the UK in particular are playing for time. The issue will be raised at the ICC Assembly of States Parties in December this year, but jurists fear that some states will try to postpone activation of the crime indefinitely.  This is a crime concerning leaders, their ministers and army chiefs. On paper, the ICC has a mandate to try perpetrators of “aggression”. But when its founding Treaty was signed in Rome in July...

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    Barrow appoints Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice
    15.02.17
    AFP

    President Adama Barrow appointed a Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, ending a series of controversial foreign appointments to the position by former leader Yahya Jammeh. Hassan Bubacar Jallow has served in the appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and as a prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Barrow's government had vowed to implement a "Gambianisation" of the justice system after Jammeh named several chief justices from Pakistan and Nigeria. Foreign judges were regularly accused of kowtowing to the regime because their contracts could be easily terminated, and some were hired to hear a single case only. "Twenty-two years of...

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    Week in Review:Judicial complaint in Spain against Syrian...
    13.02.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Is a first trial in Europe against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad likely? It looks more so after Spanish state prosecutor Javier Zaragoza officially registered a complaint filed by a woman of dual Syrian and Spanish nationality. She accuses members of the Syrian security services of having tortured her brother to death near Damascus. “This is the first time that allegations have been made to a court of `acts of State terrorism` by the current Syrian administration,” writes François Musseau, JusticeInfo’s correspondent in Madrid. Leading prosecution evidence in this case comes from a former member of the Syrian intelligence agencies codenamed “Caesar” who managed to smuggle out of his country nearly 55,000...

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    Can the African Union save South Sudan?
    10.02.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Two years after independence in 2011, South Sudan descended into a war which continues to rage, with analysts fearing a possible genocide. In January alone, more than 52,000 South Sudanese fled to Uganda as continued fighting risks creating a situation of mass atrocities, the UN's special adviser on genocide prevention Adama Dieng said this week. In a recent article in the New York Times, Mahmood Mamdani, Professor of government at Columbia University (US) and director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala (Uganda) put forward a radical proposal. Saying South Sudan is “a failed transition”, he suggests “a second transition”, led this time by the African Union. JusticeInfo spoke to Mahmood Mamdani.   What do you...

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    New challenges for transitional justice on the path to peace
    10.02.17
    Pierre Hazan

    “The times are they are a-changing”, Bob Dylan used to sing. The winner of the 2016 Nobel prize for literature was surely not thinking about transitional justice when he wrote those lines back in the 1960s. Yet times are also changing for transitional justice, which has become a key component of peace accords. But with new objectives come new challenges, and they are considerable. Transitional justice was developed during the late 1980sand the following decade in the wave of optimism that followed the end of the Cold War. Defence budgets were falling, political and economic liberalism seemed here to stay, a bestseller predicted “the end of history” and the United States was the only superpower. Transitional justice embodied the...

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    Spanish court receives complaint for “State terrorism” in...
    09.02.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    French and German judicial authorities have recently been seized of cases against the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria, which was again denounced this week for allegedly hanging thousands of opponents. But the National Audience in Madrid, Spain’s highest court with jurisdiction in matters of international law and terrorism, is ahead of the game. Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza has recently received a criminal complaint from a woman with dual Spanish and Syrian nationality. In 2014, the Spanish government restricted the country’s ability to act on “universal jurisdiction”, in which Spain had led the way. Now, in order for the courts to act, any case against a third country must involve a Spanish citizen. The lady in question, who cannot...

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    ICC : Why Withdrawing from the Rome Statute Undermines...
    07.02.17
    Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide

    July 2017 marks 15 years since the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court came into force. Many years of painstaking and protracted regional and international diplomacy preceded its adoption in order to secure consensus on the importance of creating a permanent international criminal court that could try the most serious crimes - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.   The process that led to the coming into force of the Statute in July 2002 was the shortest in the history of treaty ratification processes, signaling not only the commitment of the international community to challenging impunity, but also a solid reaffirmation that when humanity decides to come together with a common cause, even...

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    Gambia: Will justice one day catch up with Yahya Jammeh?
    06.02.17
    Maxime DOMEGNI, regional correspondent

    It was under threat of a military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that Yahya Jammeh, President of Gambia for 22 years, finally decided to cede power to the winner of the December 1, 2016 election. Jammeh, who is now in Equatorial Guinea, is counting on the protection of his host country to avoid accountability for the many crimes and human rights abuses committed under his regime. As he went into exile on the night of Saturday January 21, Yahya Jammeh left behind him a wounded nation whose scars will take time to heal. Under the regime of the man who told Jeune Afrique magazine last May that he was proud to be a dictator, it was impossible to know the truth about the accusations of serious...

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    Week in Review: Africa and the International Criminal...
    06.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    Once again this week, Africa and its relations with the International Criminal Court were in the spotlight.  During the African Union summit this week, AU leaders recommended a mass withdrawal of African States from the International Criminal Court. But this declaration, coming after announcements by South Africa, The Gambia and Burundi that they are withdrawing from the Court, hides deep divisions within the AU, explains a Human Rights Watch analyst. Important countries like Senegal and Nigeria reiterated their support for the ICC, along with Cape Verde, Zambia, Tunisia and Malawi. New Gambian President Adama Barrow has also said he wants to reverse the decision by his predecessor Yahya Jammeh to pull out of the ICC. “This...

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    Israel settler law angers world powers but Trump
    03.02.17
    AFP

    Israel faced mounting international criticism Tuesday over a new law allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts, but the United States remained notably silent. The United Nations, Britain, France and Israel's neighbour Jordan were among those coming out against the legislation passed in parliament late Monday. "This bill is in contravention of international law and will have far reaching legal consequences for Israel," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. The law legalises dozens of wildcat outposts and thousands of settler homes in the occupied West Bank, and prompted a Palestinian call for the international community to punish Israel. Pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs...

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    Syrian prisons: accusations of torture and executions
    03.02.17
    AFP

    The Syrian regime, accused by Amnesty International of large-scale hangings, had already been criticised for torture and summary executions in its prisons and intelligence services headquarters. Amnesty said on Tuesday as many as 13,000 people were hanged in five years at the notorious Saydnaya military-run prison near Damascus, accusing the regime of a "policy of extermination". Here are some of the accusations that have been made against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. - 'Torture archipelago' - On July 3, 2012, US-based rights group Human Rights Watch said Syria was holding tens of thousands of detainees in a "torture archipelago". It documented 27 detention facilities across Syria it said were used to...

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    Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar : UN
    03.02.17
    AFP

    Myanmar's military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims has likely killed hundreds of people, with children slaughtered and women raped in a campaign that may amount to ethnic cleansing, the UN said Friday. A report from the United Nations Human Rights office, based on interviews with 204 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, also found it was "very likely" that crimes against humanity had been committed in Myanmar, echoing previous UN accusations. The so-called "area clearance operations" launched by the military in northwest Rakhine state on October 10 "have likely resulted in several hundred deaths", the report said. Rohingya refugees recounted gruesome violations allegedly perpetrated by members of Myanmar's security services or...

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    AU's 'ICC Withdrawal Strategy' Less than Meets the Eye
    02.02.17
    Elise Keppler HRW

    The African Union made headlines Tuesday for purportedly agreeing to mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. The reality is more complex. The decision by AU member states welcomes the announced withdrawals by South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia, adopts the “ICC withdrawal strategy,” and calls for member states to consider implementing its recommendations. This is based on text we have seen that, while labeled a draft, reflects the final text, sources close to the negotiations said. But there was vocal opposition by ministers to withdrawal at last week’s AU summit. The Nigerian foreign minister said that the ICC has “an important role to play in holding leaders accountable,” and that “Nigeria is not the only voice...

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    Muslim lawyer's murder an "attack on rule of law and...
    01.02.17
    KYAW PHONE KYAW, HEIN KO SOE & HTUN KHAING | FRONTIER

    U KO NI will be remembered for having made a major contribution to Myanmar’s transition towards genuine democracy, friends, family and colleagues told Frontier in the wake of his tragic death. He was shot dead while waiting outside the terminal of Yangon International Airport on January 29, after returning from Indonesia. He was 63. One of the most important acts of his long legal and political career came early last year, when he played a decisive role in establishing the State Counsellor position for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, according to U Win Htein, a senior member of the National League for Democracy. The role of State Counsellor, created through a bill of parliament in April 2016, meant that Aung San Suu Kyi could...

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    Congo : The Challenges of the First Implementation of the...
    31.01.17
    Kirsten J. Fisher, Ph.D.

    On 14 March 2012, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga) was found guilty before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the war crime of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15, and using them to participate actively in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This was the first conviction for the ICC and an important step in the international condemnation of the use of child soldiers. With this conviction came a sentence of 14 years in prison for Lubanga and the hope of justice for his victims – children as young as 11 who were forced to fight and die, brutalise, be sex slaves, or conduct other tasks in support of the rebel group. Justice for these former child soldiers (FCS) was to come in two...

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    Burma Loses a Key Voice for Tolerance
    31.01.17
    Human Rights Watch

    The murder of U Ko Ni, a longtime rights and democracy activist, respected constitutional lawyer, and legal advisor for the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, is a grave loss for Burma and for all those who seek to promote tolerance and respect for human rights in the country. As one of the few remaining Muslims with the stature to influence the NLD’s policies, he was a voice of reason amid a rising tide of intolerance.  On Sunday afternoon, U Ko Ni was shot dead outside Rangoon airport while holding his grandson in his arms. He had just returned from accompanying a government minister on an official trip to Indonesia to discuss ways to overcome inter-religious differences. The alleged gunman was arrested while...

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    Week in Review: Tests for international justice in...
    30.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The arrest of a former Gambian Interior Minister in Switzerland this week is a test of the reach and limits of international justice, as is the earlier arrest in France of an ex-Prime Minister of Kosovo. Ousman Sonko, who is being held in Berne for suspected “crimes against humanity” was Interior Minister for 10 years under Gambia’s brutal and capricious former dictator Yahya Jammeh. He was arrested under pressure from Swiss NGO Trial International which filed a criminal case against him for torture. “As Interior Minister of The Gambia from 2006 to 2016, Sonko was head of the police and he was also in charge of detention facilities,” explained Bénédict De Moerloose, head of the Criminal Law and Investigation division at TRIAL...

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    French arrest of former Kosovo PM is a “test for Europe”
    30.01.17
    Franck Petit, JusticeInfo.net

    The name of Ramush Haradinaj is again on the lips of European diplomats. This former nightclub bouncer was head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the war with Serbia in 1998. Emerging victorious from the war, he was seen as a hero of the resistance and an ally of the international community that wanted a stable Kosovo. He was also tried and twice acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). But on January 4, 2017, he was arrested at Bâle-Mulhouse airport in France, on the basis of an arrest warrant from Serbia, which wants him extradited. Europe is holding its breath as it awaits an upcoming decision by the Appeals Court of Colmar.  Paris claims the case is “not political and does not...

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    Central African suspects of international crimes in...
    29.01.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In a January 11 report on the Central African Republic (CAR), Amnesty International says several people suspected of international crimes are still circulating freely. According to the report entitled The long wait for justice: Accountability in Central African Republic,  attempts to bring these suspects to account have been thwarted by lack of resources on the part of the CAR authorities and the United Nations mission in the country (MINUSCA). JusticeInfo talked to Balkissa Ide Siddo, Central Africa Researcher at Amnesty International.  Your organization talks in the report of people circulating freely who are suspected of committing international crimes in the CAR. Can you name some of them? In 2014, Amnesty International...

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    Arrest of Gambian ex-minister in Switzerland an “important...
    26.01.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Just days after long-time Gambian President Yahya Jammeh went into exile following electoral defeat and the threat of regional military intervention, his former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko has been arrested in Switzerland. This comes after Geneva-based NGO TRIAL International filed a criminal complaint to the authorities in Berne, where Sanko had applied for asylum. Sonko was Interior Minister from 2006 until he was dismissed by Jammeh in September 2016. So what are the allegations against him? JusticeInfo spoke to Bénédict De Moerloose, head of the Criminal Law and Investigation division at TRIAL International:   Bénédict De Moerloose: As Interior Minister of The Gambia from 2006 to 2016, Sonko was head of the police and he was...

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    Burma: Don’t Prosecute Peaceful Speech
    25.01.17
    Human Rights Watch

    (Rangoon) – Burma’s government should act to end the prosecution of peaceful critics in violation of their right to free speech, Human Rights Watch said today. The National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government should seek to amend or repeal laws that criminalize nonviolent speech. Burma’s donors should press the government to end prosecutions for peaceful expression and to release all those detained in violation of their basic rights. Burma’s government should act to end the prosecution of peaceful critics in violation of their right to free speech. “Though Burma’s new government includes more than 100 former political prisoners, it has done little to eliminate the laws used to prosecute peaceful expression,” said Brad...

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    Afghanistan orders arrest of vice-president's guards in...
    24.01.17
    AFP

    Afghanistan's attorney general has ordered the arrest of nine bodyguards of Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum for sexually abusing and torturing a rival, an official said Tuesday. Dostum, a former warlord who has a catalogue of war crimes to his name, has been accused of abducting Ahmad Ishchi in November last year during a traditional game of Buzkashi, or polo using an animal carcass, in the northern province of Jowzjan. Dostum allegedly kept Ishchi hostage in his private compound for five days, where he was said to have been tortured and sodomised. The country's attorney general launched an investigation into the allegations after local media said Ishchi underwent a medical examination at the US air base at Bagram north of...

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    Gao attack highlights fragility of Mali peace process
    23.01.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, with Mamadou Ben Chérif Diabaté and Studio Tamani in Bamako

    The target of January 18’s terrorist attack in Gao, northern Mali, was highly symbolic: a camp housing members of the Malian armed forces and various armed groups who used to fight each other. The attack left dozens dead in this pilot camp where former enemies were learning to live and work together to implement the Algiers peace accord. It is a tough blow for Mali’s already fragile peace process. According to the UN, application of the agreement signed 18 months ago is complicated by the lack of trust that persists between the parties. Some 60 people were killed in the attack, according to Bamako, and 77 according to the French army. The toll is heavy, but that is not all. Islamist group Al Mourabitoune, which claimed the January...

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    Dear President Trump: let me share some home truths about...
    23.01.17
    Gilbert M. Khadiagala, University of the Witwatersrand

      Africa has occupied a more or less constantly insignificant position in both Republican and Democratic administrations in the US since the 1960s. Studies of US-Africa policies have tended to depict Republican administrations as “globalist” – more likely to look at Africa as part of a bigger picture than as its own unique geopolitical space. Democrats, meanwhile, are perceived “Africanists” who have close sympathies to African interests. But these distinctions are deceptive. Some Republican administrations, such as that of George W. Bush, paid more attention to African issues such as HIV/AIDS than, for instance, Bill Clinton’s Democratic administration did. There were great expectations that Africa would feature prominently...

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    Week in Review: Does extrajudicial killing of “terrorists”...
    23.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The timing may be just a coincidence. But the coincidence this week of a former Guatemalan minister’s trial in Spain for summary executions of eight gang leaders and questions on the legality of French and American targeted killings of alleged Islamic State terrorists raises a real issue. How can you defend people who are indefensible in the name of a justice system that they neither respect nor practise? The question is as old as democracy itself, and has always been on the minds of the lawyers who defend “public enemies”. The trial in Spain of Carlos Roberto Vielmann, 60, a former Interior Minister of Guatemala from the country’s élite, is exemplary. Vielmann thought he could escape the judicial authorities in his country by going...

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    Act on CAR Special Court to halt “staggering impunity”,...
    20.01.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Nearly a year after elected institutions were installed in the Central African Republic (CAR), armed groups continue to sow death in the country, despite relative stabilization of the capital, Bangui. Seleka and Antibalaka militia, no doubt encouraged by the total impunity they have so far enjoyed, do not seem ready to put down their weapons. In two separate reports, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for the rapid setting up of the Special Criminal Court provided for in a law of 2015.  “Sectarian violence and attacks on civilians continued in central and western regions of the country,” says Human Rights Watch in its 2017 World Report, “most notably in the Ouaka, Nana-Grébizi, and Ouham-Pendé provinces where...

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    Spanish justice catches up with Guatemalan ex-minister
    18.01.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Roberto Vielmann, 60, has gone on trial in Spain for the assassination of eight detainees in 2006. The trial before Spain’s highest court for cases of terrorism, genocide and crimes against humanity is expected to last two months. Vielmann could face a sentence of 160 years’ imprisonment (20 for each assassination) and payment of 300,000 Euros compensation to victims’ relatives. Vielmann obtained Spanish citizenship in 2010 and has dual nationality. Since the beginning of the trial, he has denied the allegations against him.  “I have nothing to do with the suspected executions of the prisoners in question,” he told the court. “I have had personal and professional success all my life, I have...

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    Switzerland drops war crimes case against ex-Algerian...
    18.01.17
    AFP

    Switzerland said Wednesday that it had no grounds to charge former Algerian defence minister Khaled Nezzar with war crimes, the latest twist in a controversial five-year-old case. The Swiss attorney general's office (OAG) said it could not move forward with a trial because there was no conclusive evidence of a "conflict" in Algeria during the period in question, leaving a key condition for prosecution unfulfilled. Nezzar was in office from 1990 to 1994 when the military was battling an Islamist opposition in a bloody civil war. Algerian troops were accused of committing grave abuses during the fighting, including torture and summary executions. Nezzar was arrested in Switzerland in October 2011 following a complaint filed by...

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    Turkey jails a UN judge
    18.01.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    For four months, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has been trying to obtain the release of one of its judges, Judge Aydin Sefa Akay, who was  detained in Turkish government purges. The judge, who was appointed by the UN, has diplomatic immunity. Turkish authorities were summoned to The Hague for a hearing on January 17 but failed to attend. It was with apparent indifference that Ankara met the summons of the MICT, the UN body charged with handling residual matters of the ad hoc tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Turkish authorities, who had been summoned to explain why Aydin Sefa Akay has been detained since September 21, did not show up.  Judge Akay, a former diplomat, is among some 41,000...

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    Serbia and Kosovo declare war of words
    18.01.17
    AFP

    A propagandist train, a rising wall and the ghosts of the late 1990s conflict: Serbia and Kosovo are engaged in a disturbing war of symbols and words, unprecedented in recent years. "Kosovo is Serbia" said a message in 20 languages on the side of a train, painted in the colours of the Serbian flag, which left Belgrade on Saturday, destined for northern Kosovo. The move was lambasted as a "deliberate provocation" by Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci, who suggested it was part of a plan to annex the Serb-populated north of his country. "Serbia counts on the assistance of Russia," said Thaci. A former Serbian province with a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, a decade after...

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    Targeted State killings abroad as a new form of war
    17.01.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Since September 11, 2001, the strategy of targeted killings has become more and more widespread internationally, in the name of the War on Terror. But the question of their legality is controversial. The widening of targets is turning this tactic into a specific way of waging war. Almost immediately after Al Qaeda attacked American soil on September 11, 2001, the United States promised it would hit its enemies wherever they were in the name of the “war” on terror. Paris did the same thing in Mali in 2013, still as part of the fight against armed Jihadists. Then, after the November 23, 2015 attacks in Paris and Saint Denis, France drew up its own list of “high value targets”, as investigative journalist Vincent Nouzille reveals in...

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    Week in Review: Can we agree on History?
    16.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The way that history is written emerged as a focus of the transitional justice week, be it in Tunisia, Palestine, Israel or Rwanda. Transitional justice is not just about judicial mechanisms, trials and convictions. Reconciliation also requires acceptance of a common history of a divided past. Rwanda is perhaps the only country emerging from genocide where victims and killers have found themselves living together (again). Our Rwanda correspondent Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro reported from Gisenyi and the so-called “Red Commune”, which was the site of massacres in 1994. It was called red after the blood of the victims who were made to believe they were being taken to see the Mayor of Gisenyi. Our correspondent met family members of...

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    One man’s struggle for a Palestinian museum in Israel
    16.01.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Said Abu Shakra is a man of convictions and rarely hesitates to realize them. One of his goals is that visitors coming from Tel Aviv do not stop on the road to Haifa just to get some hummus, but that they get lost in the town of Umm-el-Fahem before arriving at his art gallery. He hopes they will ask their way in the winding streets of this town populated by 50,000 Arabs and so overcome their apprehension of being in hostile territory, even if this municipality is officially part of Israel. Said Abu Shakra explains how the fact of getting lost can be a way for Jews and Arab Israelis to meet each other. “Jewish Israelis are afraid to come here,” he says. “If they get lost, they have to ask for help, to talk to people, and so a...

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    Rwanda’s “Red Commune”, a killing field of the genocide
    12.01.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda

    At the time of the 1994 genocide, Gisenyi prefecture in northwest Rwanda was, like other prefectures, divided into communes. But the “Red Commune” does not appear on administrative maps of the time. It is not in fact an administrative entity but a cemetery where Tutsis were brought in 1994 to be killed and thrown into mass graves, or buried alive.  Seen from afar this place looks today like a big patch of waste ground. It covers some three hectares. Despite the overgrown grass, you can see as you approach the headstones that have been erected on some graves. According to the epitaphs, the dead identified here were buried before the 1994 genocide. This is the Ruliba cemetery, at the foot of Mount Rubavu, in the former commune of the...

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    Rewriting Tunisia’s history to preserve dissident memories
    10.01.17
    Olfa Belhassine

    A third survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer research body aims for reform of Tunisia’s history teaching manuals. History and memory are a central concern of victims in Tunisia, according to a survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer. There is a persistent feeling that the authorities have forgotten or are even deliberately denying historical events related to dissidence that have taken place in the contemporary period. Six years after the revolution, only small changes have been made to history textbooks in schools. The Transitional Justice Barometer is a social science research mechanism bringing together national researchers of the Tunis-based Kawakibi Centre for Democratic Transitions and international...

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    Chad's Habre: desert warlord turned brutal tyrant
    09.01.17
    AFP

    A desert warfare specialist, Chad's Hissene Habre seized power in 1982 and quickly embraced the role of ruthless dictator, with brutal atrocities the hallmark of his eight-year reign of terror. Often dressed in combat fatigues that complemented his "desert fighter" nickname, Habre fled to Senegal after he was ousted by Chad's current President Idriss Deby in 1990. On Monday his court-appointed lawyers began an appeal seeking to overturn his life sentence for war crimes, crimes against humanity and a litany of other charges handed down in May last year. In July, Habre was further ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule, as well as to their...

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    Myanmar: Warrior for peace reflects on troubled times
    09.01.17
    MRATT KYAW THU

    U AUNG Naing Oo spent years in the jungle fighting the government before he become a warrior for peace on the staff of the Myanmar Peace Center after it was established by President U Thein Sein in October 2012. After the 1988 national uprising, he fled to the border with thousands of other students, joining the newly formed All Burma Students’ Democratic Front to wage armed struggle against the military regime. He spent 11 years on the Thai border and joined the MPC as a senior member of its peace dialogue program after returning to Myanmar in 2012. The 24 years he spent in exile included studying conflict resolution at the Harvard Kennedy School. Aung Naing Oo, 51, left the Yangon-based MPC after it was abolished in May by...

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    Week in Review: Spotlight on genocide
    09.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In this first week of the year, we were reminded of a “genocide” that has been largely forgotten, even if historians consider it the first such mass crime of the 20th century. This is the genocide of Hereros and Namas in Namibia between 1904 and 1908 by soldiers of the Second Reich when Namibia was a German colony. While Germany has said it is ready to recognize its responsibility, descendants of the decimated Namibian communities concerned filed a class action suit before a court in New York demanding reparations. The term genocide, which was officially recognized in 1948, did not exist at the beginning of the 20th century, but the troops commanded by Lotha von Trotha certainly massacred Herero and Nama communities, exterminating...

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    Ex-Chad leader Habre to appeal war crimes conviction
    09.01.17
    AFP

    Chad's former president Hissene Habre was to begin an appeal Monday against his life sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity after his conviction was hailed as a landmark for Africa. The Extraordinary African Chambers, a body created by Senegal and the African Union, sentenced Habre in May to life behind bars, an unprecedented ruling that was seen as a blow to the impunity long enjoyed by repressive rulers. In July, Habre was further ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule, as well as to their relatives. The 74-year-old has refused to recognise the court's authority but his court-appointed lawyers requested an appeal on his...

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    Transitional Justice in Nepal : Road to Justice or...
    06.01.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    In February 2017, Nepal’s transitional justice commissions will finish their two year mandate. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission for the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), were established in February 2015 eight years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed ending the 10 year ‘Peoples War’. The TRC and CIEDP were given a two year mandate to deal with the past human rights violations of armed conflict (1996-2006). The TRC and CIEDP were mandated with the investigation of conflict era cases. They are also mandated to recommend that the Government of Nepal provide reparations to conflict victims, prosecute the guilty and create an environment for a peaceful future....

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    Germany set to atone for genocide in Namibia
    05.01.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A century after losing its South-West Africa colony, now Namibia, Germany is debating how to close one of the darkest chapters of its colonial period: the extermination of over 80% of Hereros, which was the first genocide of the 20th century. Anyone going to the Namibian capital Windhoek a few decades ago would find themselves on Kaiser Avenue or Heinrich Goeringstrasse, another of the city’s main streets named after the first High Commissioner who headed this German colony from 1885 to 1900. Namibia gained independence in 1990, but one of the darkest parts of German colonial history has remained little known to the public at large, even if familiar to historians and of course the survivors’ descendants. Between 1904 and 1908,...

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    Scars haunt Colombian rebels as they disarm
    05.01.17
    Raul ARBOLEDA / Diego ESCUDERO (AFP)

    Jair's missing right leg reminds him of many things: the heavy price he paid for fighting in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the pain he inflicted on others. The 25-year-old guerrilla came of age in the FARC, which he believed was fighting to create a more just Colombia. Now, the Marxist rebels are gathering in disarmament camps after reaching a peace deal to end the half-century conflict. Preparing to disarm has given Jair a chance to think about how the violence has shaped his life. Six years ago, he was pursuing an enemy soldier in the country's northwest when he stepped on a land mine. Blown through the air, he landed 15 meters (yards) away, covered in blood and wearing nothing but his underwear, even though...

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    Report on Truth Commissions and Corporate Complicity
    04.01.17
    Leigh A Payne

    When the Brazilian National Truth Commission (CNV) began in 2012, its decision to investigate not only the crimes of state agents but also corporate complicity in the dictatorship’s repressive apparatus seemed like an innovative direction for transitional justice in general and truth commissions in particular. Transitional justice in general, and truth commissions in particular, had not yet explicitly included recognition of the direct and indirect violations by non-state business actors in dictatorships and armed conflict. Recent research conducted at the University of Oxford reveals, however, that Brazil’s efforts were not as unique as they at first appeared. The Oxford study has examined where truth commissions have included...

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    Deal reached to end DRCongo political crisis
    01.01.17
    Bienvenu-Marie BAKUMANYA, AFP

    The government and opposition parties in the DR Congo on Saturday clinched a hard-won deal over President Joseph Kabila's fate, ending a political crisis that sparked months of deadly unrest. Under the terms of the deal, Kabila will stay until the "end of 2017" but a transition council will be established, headed by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. In addition, a prime minister will be named from the opposition ranks. The talks were launched by the Roman Catholic Church to ward off violence as Kabila's second and final mandate ended on December 20 with no sign of him stepping down and no election in sight. The final deal was signed after 13 hours of negotiation on Saturday and only after several last-minute hitches...

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    How Power-Sharing Impedes Transitional Justice: Comparing...
    31.12.16
    Leona Hollasch

    In many African countries, as well as Latin American ones (e.g. Colombia) power-sharing is often seen as the peace negotiators’ instrument of choice for conflict resolution. This tendency, however, often places those responsible for past human rights violations in powerful government positions. Transitional justice measures are then introduced under these difficult circumstances. Kenya's and Zimbabwe's experiences demonstrate the devastating effects that power-sharing can have on processes of transitional justice.  Power-sharing can freeze the status-quo, leaving transitional justice vulnerable to neglect and manipulation. Many practitioners in the field of conflict management believe in the transformative capacities of...

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    Lawmakers in Colombia pass FARC amnesty law
    29.12.16
    AFP

    Colombia's Congress on Wednesday passed a law granting amnesty to Marxist FARC rebels as part of the country's peace deal, a development the government hailed as "historic." "Thanks to the Congress which in a historic vote approved the amnesty law, first step toward consolidating peace," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter. The measure grants special legal treatment, amnesty and pardons to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) accused of political and related crimes. The Senate passed the bill 69-0, after the House of Representatives approved it 121-0. "We welcome the approval of the Amnesty Law, this is another step in the long road to bringing peace to Colombians," FARC chief Rodrigo...

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    Who's behind the massacres in Congo's Beni region?
    27.12.16
    Marc Jourdier, AFP

    The official explanation for a two-year wave of massacres in a restive corner of DR Congo centres on a shadowy rebel group accused of having ties to the global jihadist underground. But some basic details about the alleged killers of more than 700 victims -- the latest over the Christmas weekend -- haven't quite convinced observers and experts.  The truth, they say, is more complicated and may lead all the way to the halls of power in the vast, mineral-rich and chronically unstable central African nation.  UN experts, referring to the claimed jihadist links in past reports, have simply stated: "There is no proof of this allegation." But that has not stopped the Democratic Republic of Congo's leadership and the UN...

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    Rwandan State takes charge of genocide memorials
    23.12.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, Kigali

    Maintaining and protecting sites where lie the victims is key to preserving the memory of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. Under a law passed in May this year, that responsibility falls to the Rwandan State, which has also asked UNESCO to register some sites as world cultural heritage.  With its flowering hedge, the genocide memorial cemetery in Nyamure looks more like a traditional Rwandan enclosure. From a distance, you would hardly think that in these 50 square metres scattered with flowers lie the remains of more than 20,000 Tutsis massacred on this hill near the border with Burundi. Almost as soon as the genocide ended, the dead needed to be buried, often in haste, in family or church properties, or on hillsides like...

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    Journey through a battle zone in Myanmar
    20.12.16
    Mratt Kyaw Thu, Frontier Myanmar

    Fear, rumours and the sound of fighting accompanied Frontier on a precarious journey through the battle zone in Myanmar’s northeastern Shan State. The disruption and fear created when an alliance of ethnic armed groups went on the attack in northeastern Shan State last month was clearly evident during a journey through the battle zone.The fighting began on November 20 when the Alliance of the Northern Brotherhood launched coordinated attacks on government and other targets, disrupting traffic on the main highway to Muse, a busy trading town on the border with China. The alliance, linking the Kachin Independence Army, Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, said it launched the...

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    From Berlin to Aleppo: the need to redefine transitional...
    19.12.16
    Pierre Hazan

    According to Google, it takes 35 hours to drive by car the 3,397.4 kilometres from Berlin to Aleppo. Metaphorically, the distance is infinitely longer between these two symbolic cities. Twenty-seven years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War and gave new impetus to international law. The term transitional justice was about to be invented to reflect the energy of this new wave of democratization that was developing in Europe, Latin America and Africa. Today, from the ruins of tortured Aleppo, we need to rethink transitional justice. In the 1990s, the optimism of the immediate post-Cold War period fired a determined vision of moral progress through liberal democracy, in a world dominated by the American...

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    Gabon’s election rivals continue battle before the ICC
    19.12.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    On December 15, the lawyer for Jean Ping, recent candidate in Gabon’s elections, filed a complaint to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing the Gabonese authorities of crimes against humanity. This comes after the Prosecutor opened a preliminary examination at the end of September at the request of the government.  This is the saga of Ali Bongo versus Jean Ping. The two candidates in Gabon’s August 2016 elections have decided to prolong their battle through the ICC. Bongo’s proclaimed victory, contested in the streets by supporters of Ping, resulted in violence, the exact toll of which is not clear. On December 12, European Union observers said there had been “anomalies” which cast doubt on “the final...

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    Week in Review: New technology and old hopes for...
    19.12.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Can a smartphone and an App hold war criminals accountable? Eyewitness, an App developed by the International Bar Association (IBA), is trying to help combat impunity with this new technological tool, said to be reliable, free and accurate. The aim is to document suspected war crimes witnessed by victims or others, through photos and videos. Wendy Bett, director of eyeWitness, explained in an interview with JusticeInfo the advantages of this project.  “Images taken with the eyeWitness app include a verifiable GPS time, date and location,” she says. “All come from a registered instance of the app. Each image includes a unique numeric code which can be checked to show that the image has not been altered. Users can safely store an...

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    Early release for two well-known Rwandan genocide convicts
    16.12.16
    JusticeInfo.Net

    Historian Ferdinand Nahimana and Father Emmanuel Rukundo, who are among the most well-known convicts of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), could not have asked for more. They will start 2017 as free men. In two separate decisions of December 5, published Wednesday on the website of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Judge Theodor Meron approved their request for early release.  Ferdinand Nahimana and Father Emmanuel Rukundo, who were sentenced to 30 and 23 years respectively, have been held in Koulikoro, Mali, under an agreement between the UN and West African countries. “While the crimes of which Nahimana was convicted are very grave, the fact that Nahimana already completed...

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    Hopes for justice in Mali after start of coup-leader’s trial
    16.12.16
    Mamadou Ben Chérif Diabaté in Bamako

    In Mali, civil society hopes the trial of the 2012 coup leader Amadou Haya Sanogo which opened on November 30 will pave the way for independent justice and an end to impunity. Sanogo and and 17 others are accused in connection with the massacre of 21 “Red Berets” who attempted a counter-coup after Sanogo seized power from President Amadou Toumani Touré in 2012. The trial is highly symbolic, even if it will not get properly under way until next year.  At the time of the coup on March 22, 2012, Amadou Haya Sanogo had only the rank of Captain in an army where there were many more senior officers. After the coup, he took power at the head of a military junta. But not everyone in the army supported the coup. Members of the élite Red...

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    Two months on, renewed humanitarian access call in...
    15.12.16
    Oliver Slow

    YANGON — The United Nations has reiterated a call for access to northern Rakhine State, where it says 130,000 people have been cut off from regular aid shipments for more than two months. The government has banned most access to Maungdaw Township for journalists and aid workers while security forces undertake “clearance operations” in the area. The operation was launched after Muslim militants launched attacks on three Border Guard Police outposts on November 9, killing nine officers. The response by security forces has led to accusations of extrajudicial killings, mass rape and the torching of houses, all of which have been vigorously denied by the government and the military. In a statement released on December 9, Mr Pierre...

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    ICC calls S. Africa and UN to explain lack of cooperation...
    14.12.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    South Africa has been summoned to appear before the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 7, 2017, over its failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al Bashir in June 2015. The United Nations has also been called to this unprecedented hearing, in which judges are to decide if Pretoria’s refusal to arrest Bashir was a breach of its obligations to the Court and, if so, whether the violation should be referred to the Assembly of States Parties (ICC member states) and UN Security Council. This summons, decided by the judges, opens a new chapter in relations between the ICC and South Africa, and also in the case of Bashir. ICC arrest warrants for the Sudanese President, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity...

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    EyeWitness: When a smartphone could hold war criminals...
    13.12.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, correspondent in Geneva

    EyeWitness won the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) Prize for Innovation in Global Security last month in Geneva. eyeWitness provides human rights defenders, journalists, and ordinary citizens with a mobile app to capture verifiable video and photos of  international atrocity crimes to be used as evidence in investigations or trials. The use of footage as evidence of crimes against humanity or war crimes is not unknown to international criminal courts. For instance, the NGO Human Rights Watch compiled footage of the stadium massacre in Guinea in order to support the ongoing investigation. But if some footage has proved to be useful in courts, the accessibility of social media has rendered their use and selection...

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    Will Kenya withdraw from the ICC?
    13.12.16
    Dr Thomas Obel Hansen, Lecturer of Law, Transitional Justice Institute/ Ulster University Law School, Belfast, UK.

    Whereas a Kenyan withdrawal from the ICC is a real possibility, Nairobi may be tempted to instead use the threat of a withdrawal to push its agenda on the ICC.  Since Burundi announced in October that it had decided to withdraw from the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) founding treaty, the Rome Statute, commentators have been busy speculating whether – and, if so, which – other African State Parties would be next. Few had predicted that South Africa would be the first to go ahead, in fact beating Burundi to the finish line by providing the UN Secretary General with the formal notification that is required under Article 127 of the Statute as the first State ever. There has since been no shortage of predictions that many...

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    Burkina Faso still awaiting justice for Sankara and Zongo...
    12.12.16
    Gaël Cogné in Ouagadougou

    December 13 marks 18 years since the assassination of journalist Norbert Zongo in Burkina Faso. Civil society organizations are organizing commemorations.  But the Zongo family is not alone in demanding justice. Those close to former president Thomas Sankara, killed 29 years ago, are also waiting for justice, but without much hope, since the leading suspect, ex-president Blaise Compaoré, still has long reach even if he was chased from power two years ago by a popular uprising.  Hopes of justice in the two cases were kindled after the uprising at the end of October 2014 that ousted Blaise Compaoré, who had been in power for 27 years. Popular anger was stirred when he tried to change the Constitution to secure himself yet another term...

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    Week in Review: Landmark trials and landmark struggles for...
    12.12.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    Transitional justice, the focus of our website, is still a little understood concept, according to Kora Andrieu, an expert in the field. “The problem with transitional justice, he says, is that the term can be taken to mean that it is justice which is in transition, whereas the idea is rather justice applied to the special context of democratic transitions.” And so this week, whether before the courts of Israel or France, transitional justice continued trying to forge its identity. The Israeli case is emblematic. Settlers on Palestinian land and their allies in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) are trying to change the law to legalize outposts (which are illegal under Israeli law as well as international law), especially with regard...

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    African “withdrawals” from the ICC produce a new twist…
    09.12.16
    Pierre Hazan

    At the end of October, three African countries announced with fanfare that they were leaving the International Criminal Court (ICC). They slammed it for lack of legitimacy, unjustified attacks against Africans and neo-colonialism. But it is intriguing to note the developments in these three countries (Burundi, South Africa and Gambia) a few weeks later. There may yet be some strange twists to the story, including Gambia’s likely imminent return to the ICC.  The world is decidedly unpredictable. That is certainly what Yahya Jammeh, the autocrat who ruled The Gambia for 22 years and warned the opposition they would find themselves “six feet under”, must be telling himself. Assured by his sycophants of his popularity with his people,...

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    “The UN Security Council should do more to protect the...
    08.12.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, Geneva

    The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng has made various worrying statements this month of November. A few days ago, he has warned about the ethnic violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) and reminded the government its responsibility to protect. He has insisted on this responsibility when assessing the situation of Rohingya in Myanmar or of civilians in Iraq. On November 17th, he issued a statement on South Sudan, this time clearly stressing ‘a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines, with the potential for genocide.’ Lately ‘the obligation [for the international community] to prevent ethnic cleansing’ has been raised by UN experts. The NGO The Global Centre for the Responsibility to...

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    Ugandan child soldier turned "war criminal" on trial at ICC
    07.12.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The trial of Ugandan Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier turned commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), started at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday December 6. Ongwen is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in northern Uganda between 2002 and 2005. Seated in the box for the accused, Dominique Ongwen scribbled in the pages of his notebook as a court Registry official read out one by one the 70 charges against him. As the 58th one was read out, his lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo rested his head against the back of his seat, whilst Ongwen studied carefully the few lines he had written. The day before, his lawyers had tried to get the case postponed, arguing that their client was not...

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    UN prosecutors urge life term for 'Butcher of Bosnia'
    07.12.16
    AFP

    Prosecutors urged UN judges on Wednesday to jail Ratko Mladic for life, accusing the former Serb commander of a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing to create a Greater Serbia in the 1990s Balkans wars. "It would be... an insult to the victims, living and dead, and an affront to justice to impose any sentence other than the most severe available one: a life sentence," prosecutor Alan Tieger told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "The time has come for General Mladic to be held accountable for those crimes against each of his victims and the communities he destroyed." Once dubbed "the Butcher of Bosnia", Mladic, 74, has denied 11 charges including two of genocide, as well as war crimes and crimes...

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    Nepal : NGOs became neo-liberal business
    07.12.16
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On December 10th the World will celebrate universal human rights day. The occasion will be recognized in Nepal, but unfortunately democratization and human rights have become more buzzword than practice. The policies that have been implemented since the end of the People’s War have done more to protect powerful interests and hide the truth in the name of human rights than ensure those rights for the economically and politically marginalized. Instead human rights serve as an agent of global capitalism that produces capitalist agents to intervene and destroy the peoples rights movement. It is seen that the human rights movement is becoming a part of problem because of its universalistic character with little localism and...

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    Israel moves to “legalize” all West Bank settlements
    06.12.16
    Aude Marcovitch, correspondent in Jerusalem

    Next to Route 60, a road that crosses the length of the West Bank, to the northeast of Ramallah lies the Israeli settlement of Ofra. If you go through this place peopled by some 3,000 inhabitants, a ribbon of tarmac climbs up a nearby hill. From there you have a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. It is there that a group of radical young Israelis who say they want to “live in a community on our Biblical land”, settled in 1996. This is the outpost of Amona, which now has 40 families living there. It is the biggest “outpost” (unauthorized settlement) in the West Bank and is now at the heart of a battle between the Israeli judicial authorities, the government and the Palestinian owners of the land. Eli Grinberg, a father...

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    French Court Confirms Genocide Conviction of Former...
    06.12.16
    Human Rights Watch

    A French court on Saturday confirmed the 25-year prison sentence of Pascal Simbikangwa for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity. Simbikangwa was a former intelligence chief in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide, and was close to former president Juvénal Habyarimana. Human Rights Watch documented the genocide, including the involvement of Simbikangwa, in detail and has monitored trials of genocide suspects in Rwanda and abroad. Orchestrated by ethnic Hutu political and military extremists, the genocide in Rwanda claimed around 800.000 lives and was exceptional in its brutality, meticulous organization, and the speed with which the killings were carried out. In March 2014, a criminal court in Paris had...

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    Kony’s killers – are child soldiers accountable when they...
    06.12.16
    Samuel Okiror

    The trial of Dominic Ongwen, a senior member of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army, opens on Tuesday before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Many horrors will be recounted, but the case also throws up deep ethical questions: is a child, brutalised and turned into a killer, fully responsible for his or her actions? If the abuses of government forces aren’t also being investigated, at what point does it become victor’s justice? Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Ongwen became a protégé of rebel leader Joseph Kony and was forced to witness and carry out acts of extreme violence. He will be appearing before Trial Chamber IX to answer 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They include allegations of...

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    Nuanced Memory in Rwanda and Uganda : Responsibilities of...
    06.12.16
    Samantha Lakin (M.A.)

    The international community has established memorialization as a key transitional justice mechanism that holds symbolic value for societies recovering from conflict. As such, memorial efforts can help victims feel a sense of validation by the post-conflict community by recognizing and symbolically redressing the harms they suffered (Hamber et al. 2010). According to a key report about violence in Northern Uganda published by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), “memorials are intended to preserve memories of people or events. Many are designed to promote a specific political or spiritual narrative, though individual experiences of them will vary.” Symbolic justice efforts are often overlooked in transitional...

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    French court confirms Rwandan’s 25-year sentence for...
    05.12.16
    Franck Petit, Bobigny, France (special envoy)

    A French court on Saturday confirmed a 25-year prison sentence on Pascal Simbikangwa, the first Rwandan to be tried for genocide in France. Simbikangwa, 57, has been detained in Fresnes, near Paris, since 2009. He was found guilty of participating in genocide and crimes against humanity in Kigali between April and July 1994. Simbikangwa, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in the 1980s, has always denied all the charges. After two trials and nearly three years, the appeals court in Bobigny (Paris area) reached the same conclusions as the lower court in Paris on former intelligence agent Simbikangwa’s role in the 1994 genocide, during which many Tutsis were killed on roadblocks. “Pascal Simbikangwa gave arms and...

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    ICC: First Lord’s Resistance Army Trial Begins
    05.12.16
    Human Rights Watch

    (Brussels) – The opening of the International Criminal Court trial of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander is an important new chapter in holding the rebel group accountable for its brutal crimes in northern Uganda, Human Rights Watch said today. The trial of Dominic Ongwen, who was abducted as a child and later became a senior LRA commander, will begin on December 6, 2016, in The Hague. The charges will be read, followed by opening statements from the prosecution and lawyers who represent several thousand victims involved in the case. The trial will then adjourn until January 16, 2017, when the prosecution will begin to present its evidence. “The ICC trial of Dominic Ongwen is a significant first on justice for LRA...

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    Week in Review: A difficult path to truth and remembrance
    05.12.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    This week showed some of the different faces of transitional justice. In Colombia, a new peace accord was finally ratified, whilst Tunisia continued public hearings of former regime victims, and debate continued in Rwanda over the role of the Catholic Church in the 1994 genocide. After signing the Colombian peace accord, President Juan Manuel Santos and the main rebel movement FARC now have six months to implement it. Justice and impunity are central issues in the process.  “The revised accord details the way transitional justice is to work,” explains JusticeInfo’s Bogota correspondent Christine Renaudat. “The text stresses that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, to be set up under the agreement, will have full means to...

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    ICTY to hear closing arguments in Mladic case
    04.12.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The trial of former Bosnian Serb military boss Ratko Mladic is coming to an end before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Prosecutor’s closing arguments are due to start on Monday December 5, followed by those of the defence. Mladic, who has been on trial for more than four years, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “I chose Mladic,” former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic told a session of the Bosnian Serb parliament, the transcript of which is recorded by the ICTY. In 1992, Karadzic had to choose from amongst rising army officers in Belgrade the person to head the Bosnian Serb army (VRS). Twenty...

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    Kigali deems Catholic Church genocide apology “inadequate”
    30.11.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    In a pastoral letter read out on November 20 in most Rwandan churches, the bishops of nine dioceses in the country asked forgiveness for all “people of the Church and Christians” implicated in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The nine prelates nevertheless stress that the Church “did not send anyone” to commit genocide. The Rwandan government called the statement “profoundly inadequate”, and urged an apology from the Vatican.  “Given the scale of the crimes, there is ample justification for an apology from the Vatican,” says a Rwandan government statement. “As they apologise on behalf of a few unnamed individuals, the bishops appear to take the extraordinary step of exonerating the Catholic Church as a whole for any culpability in...

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    ‘Death opens the eyes of the living’
    30.11.16
    Marcela Aguila Rubín

    Secret mass graves in Mexico, daily bombings and a mounting death toll in Syria, 30,000 “disappeared” people in Argentina. What does the fight for truth and justice mean in terrible contexts like these where impunity persists? A Swiss research project hopes to provide an answer. “What does ‘right to the truth’ actually mean when criminal proceedings are not possible due to amnesty laws, state denial, systematic disappearances of bodies or the deaths of those responsible?” ponders Sévane Garibian, a law professor at Geneva and Neuchâtel universities.She is leading a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation entitled “The Right to Truth, Truth(s) through Rights: Mass Crimes Impunity and Transitional Justice”....

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    Mali: ‘Red Berets’ Trial Marks Progress in Tackling Impunity
    30.11.16
    Human Rights Watch

    (Dakar) – The trial of the leader of the 2012 coup in Mali, Gen. Amadou Haya Sanogo, and 17 co-defendants, including other members of the Malian army, is set to begin on November 30, 2016, in the southern Malian town of Sikasso. The defendants are accused of the 2012 abduction and killing of 21 elite “Red Berets,” who were detained and forcibly disappeared between April 30 and May 1, 2012, after being accused of involvement in an April 30 counter-coup against Sanogo and his loyalists. The following statement is from Corinne Dufka, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch: “The trial of General Sanogo and his co-defendants represents clear progress in tackling the culture of impunity in Mali. For far too long, men like...

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    Rwanda to probe French officials' genocide role
    30.11.16
    AFP

    Rwanda on Tuesday opened a formal probe into 20 French officials suspected of playing a role in the 1994 genocide, in a move likely to further sour diplomatic ties with France. 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 inquiry, for now, is focused on 20 individuals whom, according to information gathered so far, are required by the prosecution authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them," said prosecutor general Richard Muhumuza in a statement. This will enable prosecutors to decide "whether the concerned individuals should be formally charged or not". Muhumuza said the...

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    Rebuilding history? Debate rages over lost Afghan Buddhas
    30.11.16
    AFP

    For centuries they stood, two monumental ancient statues of Buddha carved into the cliffs of Bamiyan, loved and revered by generations of Afghans -- only to be pulverised by the Taliban in an act of cultural genocide. It felt like the loss of family for many who live and tend their crops nearby -- but some 15 years on they are hopeful these awe-inspiring relics can be reconstructed. But experts are divided on the value of rebuilding the artefacts, with some insisting it is more important to preserve the remains of the entire crumbling site. Archaeologists and restorers, mostly Afghan, German, Japanese and French, working in the Bamiyan Valley in central Afghanistan will meet from December 1-3 in Munich, Germany. There they...

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    Peace and justice for Colombia?
    29.11.16
    Christine Renaudat, correspondent in Bogota,

    In Colombia, FARC rebels and the government last week signed a revised peace deal to end half a decade of civil war. But the opposition says changes are only cosmetic, and it is not clear how justice will be applied to certain sections of the army. “Unanimity is not possible”, chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle had already warned. The peace agreement, narrowly rejected by voters on October 2 and signed in revised form on November 24, continues to divide Colombians. After studying its 310 pages, the opposition gave its verdict. The changes, according to opposition leader and former president Alvaro Uribe, are just cosmetic. “The government is trying to fool the public,” he said. Uribe’s supporters criticize the...

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    Week in Review: Looking back in Nepal and Bosnia, ICC...
    28.11.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    It was once again a week of contrasts for transitional justice, notably in Cambodia, The Hague, South Sudan, Bosnia and Nepal, reflecting how paths to national reconciliation and their difficulties differ from country to country. Towards the end of the week, Colombia also got a revised, still controversial peace deal, which will this time be put to parliament, rather than directly to the people. Nepal, which has been marking 10 years since the end of a cruel civil war and is sometimes seen as a model, continues to struggle on the path to peace, writes Ram Kumar Bhandari, founder of an association for the disappeared whose own father was “disappeared”. According to him, the transitional justice process has been manipulated by a...

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    Myanmar pursuing 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya: UN official
    25.11.16
    Sam JAHAN / and Caroline HENSHAW in YANGON

    Myanmar is engaged in "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims, a UN official has said, as reports emerged Friday of troops shooting at villagers as they tried to flee. Thousands of desperate Rohingya have flooded over the border into Bangladesh in the last few days, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and the systematic killing of their stateless ethnic group.The violence has forced up to 30,000 Rohingya to abandon their homes in Myanmar, desperate to leave after soldiers poured into the strip of land in western Rakhine state where they live.Dhaka says thousands more are massed on the border, but has refused urgent international appeals to let them in, instead calling on Myanmar to do more to stop people...

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    Transitional justice failing in Nepal 10 years after peace...
    23.11.16
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Nepal is this week marking the 10th anniversary of its comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that ended the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006) and shaped a peaceful orientation towards a new democratic Nepal. But the legacy of violent conflict remains unaddressed and the transitional justice process is on the verge of collapse without delivering positive results. Nepal's politics is top-down and unrepresentative, with no accountability or responsibility to the people. The culture of impunity is deeply-rooted within a political culture that allows the interests of rulers at the centre to forget about the country’s violent past. Efforts to address transitional justice have reached a stalemate, with no progressive action taken...

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    UN struggles to act as South Sudan conflict continues
    23.11.16
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    After a long debate last week, the United Nations Security Council failed to agree on action in the face of continuing massive abuses against civilians in South Sudan. A proposal supported by Washington and its Western allies on an arms embargo was blocked by Russia. The UN’s advisor on genocide prevention Adama Dieng had nevertheless warned during the debates that there was a risk of genocide in the world’s youngest nation. Only two years after its independence, South Sudan plunged into a bloody civil war in 2013 between supporters of President Salva Kiir and those of his former Vice-President Riek Machar, who is now in exile.  Returning from a visit to South Sudan, Adama Dieng told the UN Security Council on November 17 that...

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    Burundi, a Country of Fear and Violence, says human rights...
    23.11.16
    Bénédicte Jeannerod

    For the past year and a half, the Burundian government has brutally crushed any form of dissent. Since the crisis  triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a controversial third term  began, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands arbitrarily imprisoned. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is one of Burundi’s most prominent human rights activists and founder of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH). In 2015, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, believed to have been by Burundi’s intelligence services. Pierre Claver, who now lives in Belgium, is the 2016 recipient of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism. Human Rights Watch’s Benedicte Jeannerod...

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    Court upholds life sentences for Khmer Rouge leaders
    23.11.16
    AFP

    Cambodia's UN-backed court upheld life sentences for two top former Khmer Rouge leaders on Wednesday for crimes against humanity, in a verdict welcomed by survivors of the brutal regime. "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 90, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 85, were the first top leaders to be jailed in 2014 from a regime responsible for the deaths of up to two million Cambodians from 1975-1979. They appealed their convictions, accusing the court of a string of errors and the judges of failing to remain impartial due to their personal experiences under the regime. In a lengthy ruling on Wednesday after months of hearings, the bench upheld the bulk of the convictions and the jail terms, but accepted some legal errors had been...

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    ICC to probe Libya migrant trafficking
    22.11.16
    AFP

    Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court will probe the trafficking of migrants out of Libya to see if there is evidence of war crimes, the chief prosecutor told AFP Tuesday. With the situation in Libya "deteriorating," Fatou Bensouda said "my office is planning to make Libya a priority in investigations" in the coming year. "One of the areas I intend to look into is the issue of the migrants, and the fact that we see hundreds of thousands of migrants being trafficked across from Libya, coming into Europe," she said. She was speaking in an interview with AFP in the ICC's new permanent home on the outskirts of The Hague, just as Italy was on the verge of a record number of migrant arrivals for the year. Asked if such...

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    Bosnia: "Compensation empowers war crimes survivors", says...
    22.11.16
    Basma Elmahdy

    Bringing justice to female survivors of wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a main concern in the field of international justice. “Over 20 years after the end of the conflict, wartime victims are still paying a high price for the harm they suffered”, says Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović, a senior legal adviser at Trial International organization.  Whilst a three and a half year war was ended by the Dayton peace agreement in 1995, sexual violence victims feel neglected by the lack of effective enforcement of compensation awards. Swiss NGO TRIAL International, based in Geneva since 2012, has just released a report on this, entitled "Compensating survivors in criminal proceedings : perspectives from the field".  In the...

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    ICC African protest continues but does not spread
    21.11.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    At the opening of the International Criminal Court’s 15th Assembly of States Parties on November 16, protest against the Court by some African countries continued but did not, for the moment, spread. The withdrawal announcements in mid-October  of Burundi, South Africa and Gambia – who say they will not change their decision – is being used by others as a warning to the ICC. On the first day of the talks, Russia announced it was withdrawing its signature from the Rome Treaty (founding document of the Court), further adding to an already tense atmosphere.             Even if the African protesters have accepted the dialogue offered, they are far from letting the ICC off the hook. “There is a status quo and lots of frustration,”...

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    Week in Review: Tears for Tunisia and the ICC, money for...
    21.11.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The first public hearings of victims started this week in Tunisia while the International Criminal Court (ICC), holding its annual Assembly of States Parties, suffered criticism and a new symbolic departure – that of Russia, which has signed the Treaty of Rome (founding treaty of the ICC) but not ratified it.  “Public hearings of Tunisian victims of dictatorship over more than 50 years (1955-2013) started on Thursday at the Club Elyssa, property of the former First Lady,” writes JusticeInfo’s Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhassine. “Seven victims of grave human rights abuses, selected by the Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD), gave testimonies that were both dignified and poignant. The testimonies were broadcast live on national...

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    Anger and tears as Tunisians relive torture years
    18.11.16
    AFP

    As anger erupted and the tears began to flow, four hours of testimony on live television by abuse victims shone a rare spotlight on the crimes of Tunisia's dark dictatorship years. In a plain white room inside a night club once owned by a dictator's entourage, victims of torture and abuse joined bereaved relatives to deliver an unprecedented account of the violence and intimidation Tunisians endured over decades of despotic rule. "We will not be silent," said Ourida Kadoussi, whose son was killed by security forces during the 2011 uprising against the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "We want justice for our martyrs." Kaddousi's witness statement is one of tens of thousands gathered by the Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD),...

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    Moscow Holds International Justice in Contempt, says HRW

    Yesterday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin issued an order to notify the United Nations that Russia was withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute, the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia never ratified the statute and was not a member of the ICC, so its withdrawal has no practical impact. But the move has symbolic significance, driving home again Russia’s contempt for international efforts to enforce human rights.  The timing was no accident. The day before, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, in its annual report, characterized the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s occupation of Crimea as international armed conflicts to which Russia is a party. The laws of international armed conflict...

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    “Donors should have been firmer” before meeting on Central...
    17.11.16
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    A donor conference for the Central African Republic is taking place Thursday November 17 in Brussels, with participants including the country’s new president Faustin-Archange Touadéra. His record after nearly a year in office is disappointing, especially with regard to fighting impunity and corruption, which are at the root of the country’s three-year crisis. In an interview with JusticeInfo, jurist and former cultural advisor to the French embassy in Bangui Didier Niewiadowski urges donors to make sure their funding is not misspent.  Does the  Touadera government have a record to reassure the donors ? He does not have good advisors, and the government was cobbled together under the influence of presidential advisors turned...

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    Central African Republic: Support the Special Criminal Court
    17.11.16
    Human Rights Watch

    (Brussels) – Donor countries meeting in Brussels on November 17, 2016, should support the Central African Republic’s Special Criminal Court, 17 Central African and international human rights non-governmental organizations said in a declaration today. The donors should provide technical, financial, and political support for the court and its mandate to end impunity for crimes under international law, the groups said. On November 17, 2016, the European Union will host a conference in Brussels to discuss funding priorities for the Central African Republic. In June 2015, the Central African Republic’s government adopted a law to create the court to pave the way to justice for victims, but the court has yet to become operational. “The...

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    Africa should help untie ICC hands, not pull out, says...
    16.11.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    Cameroonian Hugo Moudiki Jombwe is a specialist in international criminal law and currently head of mission in Rwanda for Belgian NGO RCN (Réseau des Citoyens/Citizens Network) Justice and Democracy. In an interview with JusticeInfo, he slams the decision of certain African States to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He thinks Africa should rather fight for the ICC’s ability to investigate freely wherever crimes within its jurisdiction are committed, without anybody being able to impose a veto. Justiceinfo: When the ICC prosecutes people who have been defeated or political opponents, African Heads of State say nothing. But when it starts to go after sitting presidents, there is outrage. Don’t you think that African...

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    ASP 15: Five Recommendations to Strengthen the...
    16.11.16
    FIDH

    (The Hague) On the occasion of the 15th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the ICC Statute, which takes place in the Hague from 16 to 24 November 2016, FIDH presents its position paper with five recommendations to the States Parties. This session will take place after South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have taken steps to withdraw from the ICC Statute. These withdrawals, as well as other concerns expressed by some African States, will be without doubt intensively discussed at this session. These actions seek to damage the highest level of accountability for the most grave crimes of concern to the international community. At the same time, many African States Parties have recently made statements affirming their...

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    ICC: Defend Core Principles, says HRW

    Member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) should protect the court’s ability to fully and fairly provide justice for the worst international crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Recent withdrawals from the court by three African countries raise concerns that ICC members will offer concessions on the court’s core principles at their annual meeting from November 16 to 24, 2016, in a misguided effort to deter other countries from leaving the court. In October and November, the governments of Burundi, Gambia, and South Africa withdrew from the ICC treaty, the Rome Statute. The withdrawals take place amid a backlash within some African countries against the ICC, emanating from Sudan and Kenya. Leaders of both countries...

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    Afghan and US crimes top ICC Prosecutor’s report on...
    15.11.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has just released an annual report on her preliminary examinations. For the moment , Fatou Bensouda has not announced that she is opening any new investigation or closing any case, but she is expected to announce a decision “in the very near future” with regard to preliminary examinations under way on Afghanistan and the Gaza flotilla. The report, published on the eve of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, also describes progress in the eight other situations under examination: Gabon, Burundi, Palestine, Ukraine, Iraq, Guinea, Nigeria and Colombia.  The big advance in preliminary examinations concerns Afghanistan. The Prosecutor is expected to decide “in the very near future”...

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    Nation-to-Nation Reconciliation in Canada
    14.11.16
    Michele Krech

    For over a century, Indigenous children in Canada were separated from their families, communities and cultures to attend government-funded, church-run residential schools, in a concerted effort to assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society.  The long history and ongoing legacy of the Indian Residential School System (IRSS) went largely unacknowledged until a formal truth-seeking process was undertaken by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) between 2009 and 2015. While the Commission’s formal truth-seeking process is now complete, the journey towards its ultimate objective – “nation-to-nation” reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians – has only just begun. Between 1867 and 1998,...

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    This week in review: from Donald Trump to Libya, Tunisia...
    13.11.16
    Pierre Hazan

      The week was marked by a big event, likely to have big consequences: the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. What will be the attitude of the next US administration, which takes office on January 20, on human rights? What will be its position on torture, the closure of Guantanamo or the International Criminal Court (ICC)? During his two terms, President Barack Obama took a resolutely opposite stance from the Bush administration on all these issues and expressed firm commitment to multilateralism. Will Donald Trump choose the path of isolationism, and a return to the policies of Bush? “Is he a threat to international law?” asks Frédéric Burnand, correspondent for our partner Swissinfo. He stresses...

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    ICC Prosecutor sets Libya priority, including Gaddafi...
    11.11.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    On November 9, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) went to the UN Security Council to present her 12th report on the situation in Libya. Fatou Bensouda says she plans to make Libya one of her priorities in 2017. She spoke of new arrest warrants against former members of the Gaddafi regime and the possible opening of an investigation into crimes committed by Jihadist groups.  Bensouda told the Security Council that she plans to issue new arrest warrants “as soon as practicable” and requested cooperation from States and the UN Security Council – which referred the Libya situation to the ICC at the beginning of the revolution in that country – in arresting the future suspects. As of June 2011, the ICC issued three...

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    Tunisia still waiting to get Ben Ali clan funds back from...
    10.11.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, correspondent in Geneva

    More than five years after the Tunisian revolution, 43 million Swiss francs from the corrupt system of former dictator Ben Ali remain blocked in Switzerland.  In April 2014, Tunisia thought it would be able to recover 35 million placed in the Swiss branch of HSBC bank by Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of the dictator, after the Swiss authorities decided the money could be transferred to the new authorities in Tunis. Bizarrely, Tunisia has never made any moves to get back the other 8 million, which belongs to other members of the Trabelsi-Ben Ali clan. However, the Swiss federal tribunal decided in 2014 in favour of the brother-in-law, who argued that his right to be heard on the origin of the funds (legal, according to him) was...

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    Tunisia is losing its dreams of justice, warns expert
    09.11.16
    Olfa Belhassine, Tunis correspondent

    Wahid Ferchichi is a professor of public law, expert in transitional justice and researcher at the Centre Kawakibi for democratic transitions, an independent research body on developments in Tunisia since the political upheavals of January 2011. After the fall of Ben Ali, he was amongst the first to demand transitional justice (TJ) in Tunisia. Three years after the passing of an organic law on TJ and nearly two years after the setting up of the Truth and Dignity Commission, his recent address to the national congress on transitional justice* reflects his disillusion with a process called for enthusiastically by civil society five years ago. Here he talks to JusticeInfo.  JusticeInfo: Why, in the presentation you made to the...

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    US: Trump Should Govern With Respect for Rights

    (Washington, DC) – United States President-elect Donald Trump should abandon campaign rhetoric that seemed to reject many of the United States’ core human rights obligations and put rights at the heart of his administration’s domestic and foreign policy agendas, Human Rights Watch said today. Official results gave Trump the necessary electoral college votes to win.  “Now that he has secured victory, President-elect Trump should move from the headline-grabbing rhetoric of hatred and govern with respect for all who live in the United States,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “He found a path to the White House through a campaign marked by misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, but that’s not a route to...

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    Two years after their uprising, people of Burkina Faso...
    08.11.16
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    At the end of October 2014, mass demonstrations spread like wildfire through the towns of Burkina Faso. They were in protest at a planned change to the Constitution aimed at allowing President Blaise Compaoré to run for a fifth term. Faced with the unprecedented determination of the people, Compaoré finally stepped down after 27 years in power, leaving some 30 protesters shot dead at the hands his security forces. Two years later, several local organizations are calling for justice, not only for the “heroes” of the 2014 uprising but also victims of the resistance to the September 2015 attempted coup against the transition institutions.  To mark the 2014 uprising, five days of commemorations were organized in Burkina Faso, some of...

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    Is “ecocide” the new crime against humanity?
    07.11.16
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    On December 7, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 was 45,000 km from Earth. The three astronauts had the sun behind them and were heading for the Moon, where they were going to land. It was then they took the first photo of our planet. Earth looks like a blue marble that children play with. And so the first image of Earth was called the Blue Marble. This iconic photo marks a turning point in the development of our ecological awareness. For the first time, the Earth appeared at the same time unique, beautiful, fragile and vulnerable, a tiny point in the infinite universe. Awareness has grown slowly but gradually of the need to protect it, and so also to protect life, against the damage caused by mankind.  The link between environmental...

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    Week in review: French forces leave the CAR, and some...
    07.11.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    Africa remained at the centre of transitional justice news this week. November 1 marked the departure of French forces from the Central African Republic, three years after the start of their mission to protect civilians. But the CAR is still far from stable. The transition remains bumpy and the security situation has worsened, both in the capital Bangui and in the rest of the country. As JusticeInfo’s deputy editor for Africa Ephrem Rugiririza writes: “Even if some were accused of sexually abusing young Central Africans, the French soldiers were the only deterrent force against the armed groups that are currently spreading terror in the country. Since the Central African armed forces (FACA) are still not operational, it is now the...

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    No giving up, says Swiss NGO, after blood diamonds trial...
    06.11.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, correspondent in Geneva

    There will be no “blood diamonds” trial of Michel Desaedeleer, the first person to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in blood diamond trading that fuelled civil war and serious human rights abuses in Sierra Leone. Desaedeleer, 64, died in a Belgian prison in September this year. But Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima, which fought to help bring the case, says it will continue the fight “for justice in the name of forgotten victims of international crimes”. Desaedeleer, who had both Belgian and American nationality, was arrested in Malaga, Spain, in August 2015 on allegations that he had committed the war crimes of inhuman and degrading treatment and pillage, as well as the crime against...

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    Rights groups urge access to Myanmar's northern Rakhine...

    The government in Myanmar is coming under pressure from human rights groups to open northern Rakhine State to independent observers so they can investigate claims of abuses by the security forces. HUMAN RIGHTS groups have urged the government to allow independent observers into communities affected by violence in northern Rakhine State, where there have been reports of widespread abuses. The reports began emerging after militants attacked three Border Guard Police posts on October 9, leaving nine officers dead, and the security forces responded with operation that involved “clearing” exercises and resulted in the region being closed to aid agencies and journalists. There have been accusations, denied by the government, that the...

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    Africa Speaks Out Against ICC Withdrawal

    The recent decisions by South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) are generating wide attention and speculation about a mass exodus from the court by African countries.  But think it’s clear where Africa stands on the ICC? Think again. A growing number of African governments have spoken out over the past week against withdrawal: Côte d’Ivoire’s president, Alassane Ouattara, said in a local radio interview on November 1 that his country does not intend to leave the ICC. Nigeria gave a strong statement in support of the ICC to the United Nations General Assembly on October 31, affirming “Nigeria’s continuous commitment to support and cooperate with the court.” Senegal, at the UN General...

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    Is Tunisia ready to listen to victims?
    03.11.16
    Olfa Belhassine, Tunis correspondent

    After several postponements, Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, which was officially set up on June 9, 2014, will finally hold its first public hearings of victims this November 18. This key moment in the Tunisian transitional justice process nevertheless faces three major risks.  The November 18 event will be broadcast with a slight delay by Tunisian television stations. It is the Commission that will give the green light to the channels that want to broadcast it. The victims and witnesses, after being coached by the Commission’s teams, will talk about the various violations they suffered, with their faces shown publicly. Their words and truths will help lift part of the veil over Tunisia’s history and stimulate a debate...

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    Building an alternative to the ICC’s slippery slope

    The International Criminal Court was already on a slippery slope long before last month’s decision by three African countries to withdraw. It will be a long, hard slog, but it is imperative to build an alternative approach to the court, one that truly serves the interests of citizens. The promise of the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, was two-fold. First was that of a single, global court to address individual criminal responsibility at the highest possible levels for crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. Second, implicit in the call “never again”, was the idea that ending impunity would serve as a deterrent. The realisation of that two-fold promise, almost a decade and a half after the Rome Statute’s entry...

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    I.Coast constitutional referendum passes, opponents cry foul
    02.11.16
    AFP

    An opposition-boycotted referendum to change Ivory Coast's constitution has easily passed, electoral officials said Tuesday, but opponents swiftly dismissed the vote as fraudulent. President Alassane Ouattara said the changes were necessary to help end years of instability linked to disputes over national identity while critics labelled the vote an attempt to line up a successor for when his term ends in 2020. The "Yes" camp won 93 percent of votes cast in Sunday's constitutional referendum, but most eligible voters stayed at home, following the opposition call to boycott, with the official turnout rate put at just over 42 percent. An opposition leader quickly dismissed the official results as "fake". The package, put to the...

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    What prospects for peace in Colombia after the referendum?
    01.11.16
    Julia Crawford, Justice Info

    The world was expecting an end to half a century of conflict in Colombia, but on October 2 the Colombian people voted “no” to a peace accord signed on September 26 by President Juan Manual Santos and the leader of the Marxist Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). Colombian jurist Maria Teresa Garrido, who now lives in Switzerland, thinks there is still hope for peace, given the expressed determination of the peace signatories and the fact that the accord was rejected by only a narrow margin (50.2% against and 49.8% in favour). The agreement provides for transitional justice mechanisms, including a Special Court to try perpetrators of the worst crimes and reduced sentences for those who confess. JusticeInfo: Why do you think...

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