Archives


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.

Start
End
 (Reset)
    A "stirring documentary about ethnic cleansing on...
    24.05.17
    AFP

    Barbet Schroeder spent months with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin at the height of his power, when corpses would wash up every morning on the shores of Lake Victoria and Kampala was rife with rumours that he was eating his opponents. But in his decades of documenting evil, the veteran Swiss filmmaker says he has never been as scared by anyone as he was by a Burmese Buddhist monk named Wirathu. "I am afraid to call him Wirathu because even his name scares me," the highly acclaimed director told AFP. "I just call him W." "The Venerable W", his chilling portrait of the monk who has been accused of preaching hate and inciting attacks on Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority, has been hailed by critics at the Cannes film festival as a...

    Read more
    Nepal : Politicisation of the supreme court and its impact...
    23.05.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The first women chief justice of the Supreme Court, Shushila Karki, was an independent and strong chief justice who was against the political influence or unwanted interference in judiciary. She has challenged the powerholders through judicial process openly such as declared chief of Commission on Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Nepal anti-corruption body, Lokman Singh Karki an incompetent in her verdict, who was appointed by then government in a ‘political consensus’. On 30 April, Justice Karki made a verdict to prosecute three former Chiefs of Nepal police on corruption charges. Justice Karki also issued a warrant arrest to the former Maoist parliamentarian Balkrishna Dhungel after government’s protection. The ruling...

    Read more
    “In CAR, the Touadera regime has totally lost credibility...
    22.05.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Recent developments in the Central African Republic (CAR), where more than a hundred civilians and some half a dozen UN peacekeepers were killed this week in new violence, look like warning signs of political rebellion in a context of impunity and government inertia, according to jurist Didier Niewiadowski, former advisor to the French embassy in the CAR. His analysis is uncompromising.  This former French diplomat thinks the CAR, with its leaders “out of touch with the country’s realities” risks looking like the Democratic Republic of Congo or Somalia as it was. In this interview, he talks to JusticeInfo.net. This violence looks different from what we have seen before. What do you think is different? Since the one-year anniversary...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Transitional justice is “an art not a...
    22.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In an excellent new book, our colleagues at American NGO ICTJ recognize that transitional justice is “an art, not a science”. The International Center for Transitional Justice, a specialist in the field, says that “part of the art is in understanding the context (of the country concerned), including the opposition to justice”.  ICTJ could have been talking about the Central African Republic (CAR), which was hit by new attacks this week. Unprecedented violence directed mainly at the United Nations force (MINUSCA) left dozens of people dead in Bangassou in the south of the country. “The nature of the CAR’s crisis has changed,” explained French jurist Didier Niewiadowski in an interview with JusticeInfo’s Ephrem Rugiririza. “More and...

    Read more
    New ICTJ book promotes tailored approach to transitional...
    19.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    “Justice Mosaics” is the almost poetic title of a welcome new book on transitional justice by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an American NGO that is specialist in the field. This 400-page book, which can be downloaded for free, is subtitled “How context shapes transitional justice in fractured societies”. The idea behind the work, co-edited by ICTJ Research Director Roger Duthie and Vice-President Paul Seils, is to show how transitional justice needs to adapt to local contexts. “We often say that transitional justice is an art, not a science,” say the editors. “Part of the art is in understanding the context, including the opposition to justice, weighing the pursuit of dignity and rule of law against the...

    Read more
    Two charged for 2004 murder of Gambian journalist Hydara
    19.05.17
    AFP

    Two fugitive former army officers have been indicted over the 2004 murder of prominent Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara, judicial sources said. The court in Banjul also separately issued an arrest warrant for ex-interior minister Ousman Sonko over the death of former intelligence chief Daba Marenah. Hydara, 65, an outspoken critic of then president Yahya Jammeh, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in his car on the outskirts of Banjul in December 2004. He was the editor and co-founder of the independent newspaper The Point and a one-time Gambia correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP). Jammeh, whose regime was accused of numerous human rights violations, went into exile at the end of January after more than 22 years in...

    Read more
    Chiquita “contributed” to Colombian paramilitary crimes,...
    18.05.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Human rights organizations are asking the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include managers of Chiquita Brands International Inc. in her preliminary examination on Colombia. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard University and Colombian NGO Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo  (CAJAR) accuse the multinational of having “contributed” to crimes against humanity committed by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group. They say that from 1997 to 2004, the world leading banana producer helped fund the AUC in full awareness of the crimes it was committing.  The complaint filed this Thursday May 18 to the office of ICC...

    Read more
    Which court for which crimes in the Central African...
    17.05.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The Central African Republic (CAR) is still torn by militia violence and is struggling to rebuild after the 2012-2014 civil war, which left some 5,000 people dead and turned nearly 900, 000 Central Africans into refugees and displaced people. In a country where the government controls only a small part of the territory, justice is trying to find a way forward. The Special Criminal Court, created in 2015, now has its Prosecutor and several judges, while the International Criminal Court has since 2014 been investigating crimes committed during the CAR civil war. “The attack against peacekeepers of MINUSCA (UN mission in the country) constitutes serious crimes,” declared Central African President  Faustin Archange Touadera after the...

    Read more
    Week in Review: CAR appoints Special Court judges as...
    15.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The transitional justice week was again dominated by the Central African Republic (CAR), where there is a recurring debate on “impunity” for the parties to the country’s conflict – in the name of peace and reconciliation for some, but to the detriment of justice.  The issue is all the more poignant in a week when the CAR, divided and still at war in much of the country, marked the second anniversary of the Bangui National Forum, of which the aim was national reconciliation. President Touadera, elected a year ago, has started setting up the Special Criminal Court, a hybrid court with Central African and international staff that is to try the innumerable war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the country. The first judges...

    Read more
    Gambia's 'broken' justice system struggles with victims' ire
    12.05.17
    AFP

    Gambians want swift justice for the crimes of fallen dictator Yahya Jammeh's regime but the new government faces an uphill battle to jail the most prolific abusers. Silenced for 22 years, victims shot or tortured by Jammeh's security services are now speaking out, along with families whose loved ones have been pulled from recently found unmarked graves. But the cash-strapped government refuses to put anyone else in the dock, burnt by a high-profile, politically charged case this year that has run into procedural and systemic problems. "In terms of prosecutions, we are not at that stage yet," Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told AFP in his dimly-lit office in central Banjul, reams of paperwork covering his desk. An...

    Read more
    New Kosovo Court Pledges to Finally Prosecute Ex-Guerrillas
    10.05.17
    Marija Ristić

    The new special court will try to make up for the failures of several international efforts to bring former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters to justice for 1990s crimes, but witness protection, legitimacy and outreach remain key challenges ahead. After five years of negotiations, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office will finally launch its first judicial activity this year. Although based in The Hague, the Specialist Chambers (SC) is legally part of Kosovo’s judicial system, but independent from the Kosovo judiciary and staffed by internationals, while all decisions and appointments related to the court will be made by the European Union. The SC represents a new type of “hybridity” – it is a mix of...

    Read more
    Can Memorialisation Generate Public Demand for...
    09.05.17
    Gehan Gunatilleke

    Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war in the North and East of the country, along with an insurrection in the South, witnessed the death and disappearance of thousands. Despite these egregious events, the Sri Lankan state has failed to provide public spaces for memorialisation. In this context, transitional justice practitioners in Sri Lanka have advocated for state-sponsored promotion of memorialisation. Scholars and victims are, however, divided on the issue.  This article offers an alternative perspective on the importance of ‘victim-centred’ memorialisation in Sri Lanka. It argues that memorialisation of victim experiences can help generate public demand for transitional justice. Therefore, the ‘public’ benefits of...

    Read more
    Myanmar: The life of a Kachin soldier
    09.05.17
    Steve Tickner/ Frontier

    Conflict between the Myanmar army and the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continues in Kachin State, near the Chinese border. Despite recent fighting around the town of Laiza, morale remains upbeat for the KIA soldiers on the frontline – but many still dream of returning to a normal life when the guns of war eventually fall silent.  A FEW kilometres southwest of Laiza, Kachin State, a mere stone’s throw from the border with China, a group of soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army, the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation, begin their daily fitness training session in the pre-dawn gloom. Starting at 5am, in temperatures of just a few degrees Celsius, the troops conduct their training for almost two and a half...

    Read more
    High stakes in Kenya's presidential elections
    09.05.17
    Sekou Toure Otondi, University of Nairobi

    After the 2007 general election, Kenya experienced its worst politically triggered ethnic violence since independence. The violence was caused by a dispute between the two main presidential candidates – Raila Odinga and his opposition Orange Democratic Movement, and Mwai Kibaki, who was defending his seat on a Party of National Unity ticket. But this was not the first time Kenya experienced violence around a general election. Since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992 ethnic violence has repeatedly reared its ugly head around election time. Even in elections that were considered peaceful, as was the case in 2002 and 2013, the threat of politically instigated ethnic violence remained real. It’s within this...

    Read more
    Week in Review: “Dealing with the past is defining the...
    08.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The way history is remembered was a theme emerging this week not only in Tunisia and Germany but also France, in the grip of presidential elections.  Remembrance and the past were one of the numerous subjects of debate between the two second-round French presidential candidates. “The country’s 20th century history, including the Algerian War and the Second World War, brought some of the fiercest clashes between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron,” writes JusticeInfo editorial advisor Pierre Hazan. “Doesn’t France also need a Truth Commission to better deal with its colonial past?”  And Hazan explains the clash thus: “Macron and Le Pen have two different ways of seeing France.  Whatever the result of these elections, France is not...

    Read more
    Rwanda tribunal ex-convict tries to go to Burundi
    04.05.17
    JusticeInfo.net

    Captain Innocent Sagahutu is back in the “safe house” in Arusha, Tanzania, where he has been living for several years alongside others freed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). For the last three weeks or so he had been in the hands of Tanzanian security services, who accused him of trying to cross into Burundi without travel documents.  Sagahutu, an officer in the former Rwandan army, was convicted for the murder of Belgian UN peacekeepers in Kigali in April 1994 at the start of the Rwandan genocide. Captain Innocent Sagahutu was stopped on March 10 in the Tanzanian district of Ngara as he was preparing to cross the border to Burundi. What was he going to do in that country neighbouring his native region of...

    Read more
    Swiss extend detention of Gambian ex-minister
    03.05.17
    AFP

    Switzerland said Wednesday it has extended the detention of former Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko after "progress" in a crimes against humanity probe. Sonko was a top lieutenant of The Gambia's fallen dictator Yahya Jammeh, who was forced from office in January by west African powers after he refused to accept defeat in a December election. Sonko has been accused of overseeing and committing torture while heading the interior ministry from 2006 to 2016. He fled to Sweden after Jammeh sacked him in September, before arriving in Switzerland in November. Swiss authorities arrested Sonko in January and have since interviewed witnesses, seized documents and asked for additional evidence from the new Banjul government led...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Habré judgment sets an example
    01.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) Appeals Court decision of April 27 confirming a life sentence on former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity was the major event of this week in transitional justice. This verdict by the African court set up in Dakar, Senegal, by the African Union was hailed by defenders of human rights and justice both in Africa and the rest of the world. Coming more than 30 years after the crimes were committed, the judgment has taken much time. But it vindicates the persistence and determination of Chadian victims who, with the help of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and its legal adviser Reed Brody, have managed to overcome all the obstacles. It is also a validation for the...

    Read more
    Tunisia: Empowerment through the Arts
    01.05.17
    Sahar Ammar

    The sufferance marking the legacy of sixty years of dictatorship cannot be felt, touched and expressed through the sophisticated speeches of politicians and government members. It is only through the stories of victims that pain and hope can be crystalized. The bridge between the darkness of the past and the lightness of the future can be truthfully and faithfully revealed in the honest tears of a mother who wants to bury her son, in the deep breath of a prisoner for whom torture became a matter of daily routine and in the harsh guilt of someone who witnessed the persecution of his friends but who was coerced to fake the circumstances of their deaths. The paintings of the revolution on the walls   It is in their stories that...

    Read more
    Is Africa doing better than Europe on new regional...
    28.04.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The contrast could not be more glaring. Both the African Union and the European Union have created for the first time a regional criminal tribunal to try the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the result is radically different and the comparison is hardly flattering for Europe.  This Thursday, appeals judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers, sitting in Dakar, confirmed the life sentence against former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In contrast, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, set up by the European Union, is struggling to get started.    Former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty, author of an explosive report for the Council of Europe in which he in December 2010...

    Read more
    “Who will testify to Kosovo tribunal?” asks the man who...
    28.04.17
    JusticeInfo.net

    Former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty this week spoke publicly for the first time in years about his explosive December 2010 report on illegal human organ trafficking in Kosovo. He was speaking to a “Carrefour de Sarajevo” forum at Neuchâtel University, attended by a numerous public.  In his report Marty (who is also on the board of  Fondation Hirondelle, owner of JusticeInfo.net) pointed the finger at current President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, accused of being “one of the most dangerous sponsors of the Albanian criminal underworld”. The report says that the Kosovo president and his close aides “ordered, and in some cases personally oversaw a certain number of assassinations, detentions, attacks and interrogations in various regions of...

    Read more
    Habré conviction is a “tribute to the persistence of...
    27.04.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Appeals judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC), sitting in Senegal, on Thursday confirmed a life sentence on former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture committed in his country between June 1982 and December 1990, although they acquitted him of rape. For those who have followed the long saga of bringing Habré to justice, this final verdict is “a tribute to the persistence” of the victims. Philip Grant, director of Swiss NGO TRIAL International, is one of them. JusticeInfo asked him about the significance of this verdict for the victims:  Philip Grant: The Habré trial would never have taken place without the active involvement of the victims at all stages of the procedure....

    Read more
    French court refuses to extradite ex-Kosovo PM Haradinaj...
    27.04.17
    AFP

    A French court on Thursday rejected a request by Serbia to extradite former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who Belgrade accuses of committing war crimes during the 1998-1999 war in the Serbian Kosovo. Haradinaj, 48, was arrested by French police on January 4 when he flew into the Franco-Swiss airport of Basel-Mulhouse, but he is free to return home following Thursday's decision by the court in Colmar, eastern France. He told AFP in an interview this month that he is the victim of "political persecution". Haradinaj, a lawmaker and opponent of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is considered a war hero by many Kosovars. Thousands of protesters called for his release in a protest in March in Kosovo's capital...

    Read more
    Mission impossible for Kosovo war crimes court?
    26.04.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In a few days, the 19 judges of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), a European Union initiative ratified by Kosovo’s parliament in 2016, will have their own Rules of Procedure and Evidence. In theory, everything will then be ready for the first indictments against the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000. The Specialist Chambers are an integral part of Kosovo’s judicial system, but they have an international presence and they sit in The Hague, Netherlands. The President is Bulgarian, the Prosecutor is American, and none of the staff come from the region concerned. But despite these precautions, 20 years after the crimes were committed and...

    Read more
    Safe Havens, Innovations in the protection of cultural...
    26.04.17
    Polina Levina Mahnad

    A recent constellation of events appear to herald a shift in how the international community responds to threats to cultural property in armed conflict. At a time when many are calling international law into question and multilateral responses to emerging threats are losing steam, the last year has seen bold moves – from court cases, State initiatives, and action by the UN Security Council – that have recognized the importance of cultural property protection for peace and security, as well as the ability of third-party states to take on responsibility for its protection. Among these are the creation of “safe havens” for cultural property, following the example of the “Afghanistan Museum in Exile” in Switzerland. Could these...

    Read more
    Uganda's brutal Lord's Resistance Army: timeline
    25.04.17
    AFP

    Key dates in the history of Uganda's brutal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which the United States and Uganda have decided to stop hunting down, saying the rebels have been neutralised. One of Africa's longest-surviving rebel groups, the LRA has terrorised parts of central Africa for 30 years, becoming notorious for mutilations, massacres, kidnappings, and the forced enrolment of children. - January 1987: a year after the takeover of Uganda by rebel leader Yoweri Museveni, voodoo priestess Alice Auma Lakwena takes up arms to topple the new regime. Her Holy Spirit Movement is defeated at the end of 1987. - 1988: Joseph Kony, presented as Lakwena's cousin, takes over the fight at the head of what becomes the LRA. - March 1994:...

    Read more
    Joseph Kony: uncatchable, brutal rebel chief
    25.04.17
    AFP

    Brutal rebel commander Joseph Kony has sowed terror across four African nations for three decades, even evading capture by US and Ugandan soldiers who have now given up the chase. The former Catholic altar boy became one of Africa's most notorious rebels at the head of his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), combining religious mysticism with an astute guerilla mind and bloodthirsty ruthlessness. The US passed a law in 2010 to deploy around 100 special forces to work with regional armies in hunting down Kony but is now withdrawing while the rebel leader remains at large, though his power is much diminished. Kony's marauding insurgency claimed to be fighting to overthrow the Ugandan government and impose a regime based on the Bible's...

    Read more
    Chad's Hissene Habre awaits appeal verdict for war crimes
    25.04.17
    AFP

    Chad's former president Hissene Habre will Thursday hear the final decision on an appeal against a life sentence for war crimes, crimes against humanity and rape, following his landmark conviction last year. The Extraordinary African Chambers, a body created by Senegal and the African Union (AU), sentenced Habre last May to life behind bars, an unprecedented ruling seen as a blow to the impunity long enjoyed by repressive rulers. In July, the court further ruled that Habre should give up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim of abuses committed during his 1982-1990 rule, as well as to their relatives. Expected to begin at 1000 GMT on Thursday, the appeal verdict will be "definitive and irrevocable," the special court's...

    Read more
    From exile to appeal: Key dates since Habre fled Chad
    25.04.17
    AFP

    Key dates in Chad since the overthrow of former dictator Hissene Habre to his appeal against a life sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged to have occurred between 1982 and 1990: - Exile in Senegal - - Dec. 11, 1990: Habre is overthrown by rebel troops led by Idriss Deby and flees to Senegal where he gets political asylum. His regime is accused by rights groups of brutally repressing, torturing or killing opponents since 1982. - Investigation - - May 21, 1992: A Chadian commission of inquiry says Habre's regime killed more than 40,000 people, many of them political opponents and from rival ethnic groups. - Charges - - Jan. 27, 2000: Seven Chadians file suit against Habre in Dakar for crimes against...

    Read more
    Offering New Insights on Memory and Memorialization for...
    24.04.17
    Lino Owor Ogora

    From November 25, to December 9, 2016, I was privileged to join a select group of 25 participants who attended a two-week seminar on truth, justice and remembrance in Berlin, Germany. I was the only Ugandan in the group, and one of five Africans, a factor which I felt highlighted the significance of my presence there.   I arrived in Berlin on a chilly Thursday evening on November 24, 2016. I was eager to get my first glimpse of the city, given that it was my first visit to Germany. Prior to this, all I knew about Germany was what we had been taught in European history regarding the first and second world wars. In Uganda Berlin was especially famous for the Berlin Conference of 1884 that formalized the colonization of Africa. I...

    Read more
    Building justice for Syria
    24.04.17
    Radwan Ziadeh Senior Analyst Arab Center Washington D.C

    Syria became the place where the most serious war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated, even one day the former secretary general Ban Ki-Moon described of what happened in Aleppo as "synonym for hell." The challenges face the international human rights, and justice communities are vast, where the impunity became the new culture and circle of violence turned to be the only reality. The UN commission of Inquiry documented the patterns of the crimes in Syria, and concluded that there is an "everyday war crimes and crimes against Humanity."   The widespread and the brutality of such crimes requires a response from the international community beyond condemnations and statements. The last try of such complicated process...

    Read more
    Memorialization and politics in Germany, a view from Nepal
    24.04.17
    Aditya Adhikari

    “Today, the Shoah is a universal reference,” wrote the historian Tony Judt in 2008. Everywhere in the world the Holocaust has come to stand as the epitome of political evil. And in addition, the German people’s effort to atone for and repudiate their past is often held up as exemplary. The trials of war criminals in post-war Germany, the reparations provided to victims and the memorials erected in their name have become lodestars for what is called ‘transitional justice’ – the contemporary codification of norms and policies aimed at ensuring peace and justice in the aftermath of conflict. I participated in a seminar organized by the Robert Bosch Stiftung on Truth, Justice and Remembrance in late 2016. During our excursions in...

    Read more
    Transitional injustice in Nepal
    24.04.17
    Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, PhD President, INHURED International

    The Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) of 2006 ended a decade of armed conflict in Nepal between the State security forces and the CPN (Maoist). With the end of the conflict that caused more than 13,000 deaths, 1,000 disappearances, displaced hundreds of thousands of people and victimized many others through torture and other human rights violations by both sides,[1] the Peace Accord spoke of a ‘new Nepal’ promising a set of transitional mechanisms to take forward political, social and economic transformation with an acknowledgement that it is necessary to address past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. [2]   As the government introduced an Ordinance in 2013 to set up Truth and Reconciliation...

    Read more
    Truth seeking in Brazil: traps and trends
    24.04.17
    Fabio Cascardo

    Over the last years Brazil passed through an important period of reflexion regarding its authoritarian past, in a Transitional Justice process led by the National Truth Commission (CNV). The CNV was established (Law nº 12.528/2011) to investigate gross human rights violations perpetrated by the military regime from 1964 to 1988. Before the CNV, which lasted from 2012 to 2015, other important transitional justice mechanisms were created - and are still operating -, especially in the field of reparations for victims, like the Amnesty Commission, created in 2001. Although the CNV did not have judicial powers, its mandate was very broad, allowing not only the investigation of serious human rights violations, but the political...

    Read more
    Remembrance: Can Mali learn from Germany?
    24.04.17
    Arrey Ojong Eyumeneh

    Whenever there are serious and /or massive human rights violations within a community or a State, victims, their family members and eye witnesses tend to seek justice and truth about what happened to their loved ones. To ensure that that the truth is uncovered and justice takes its course in the form of prosecuting the perpetrators and offering restitution/compensation to the victims and their families, some societies have also moved a step further by introducing different remembrance projects aimed at honoring the victims, thus reminding citizens of the atrocities that happened in the past so they should not be repeated ever again. In the past decades, the state of Germany together with its citizens have manifested a mastery in...

    Read more
    Nepal : when does conflict finish for conflict survivors?
    24.04.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On April 13th, 2017 The Supreme Court of Nepal issued an arrest warrant for Balkrishna Dhungel, a Maoist leader and former parliamentarian, who was convicted of a murder that took place during the Nepal’s Armed Conflict. Supreme Court Justice Anand Mohan Bhattarai said “If the government agencies keep silent when the judiciary receive threats and intimidation from convicted perpetrators, the judges and the court will lose the credibility” in the direction to the government. Seven years ago Dhungel was sentenced to life in prison when he was then a member of first constituent assembly. The government decided to annul the conviction and dismiss the case; Maoist leaders argued such a conviction was against the spirit of the peace...

    Read more
    Rethinking customary law in Somaliland: specific...
    24.04.17
    Rakiya Omaar and Caitlin Lambert

     Somaliland does not enjoy international recognition as an independent state, but it does have what its people regard as their most precious asset : peace. After seceding from Somalia in May 1991, following a prolonged and bloody civil war, a shattered territory had to be rebuilt from scratch by people impoverished and scarred by years of exile, mainly in refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia. Despite the odds, Somaliland has established a functioning system of governance with little outside assistance while the rest of Somalia remains at war. This success is underpinned by the widespread use of customary law, or Xeer, the traditional form of justice implemented by clan elders, which Somaliland uses to resolve all manner of...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Central African Republic, Geneva, Tunisia...
    23.04.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    History resonates with time, and the crimes of the past cannot be erased from memory as if with the stroke of a pen. And so this week in the Central African Republic (CAR), courageous NGOs said no to amnesty and impunity.  According to a statement by the Network of Central African NGOs for Human Rights Promotion (RONGDH), such an amnesty has already been suggested to President Faustin-Archange Touadéra by the African Union. This is quite simply “a macabre and doomed proposal”, according to lawyer Mathias Mourouba, RONGDH deputy national coordinator, as quoted on April 18 by the Network of Central African Journalists for Human Rights. An amnesty could “turn the victims of today into the killers of tomorrow”, explains this NGO...

    Read more
    Gambia: Justice for Jammeh-Era Abuses Crucial
    21.04.17
    Human Rights Watch

    New Government Should Develop Roadmap for Prosecutions (Nairobi) – Gambia’s government should act to prosecute those responsible for grave crimes committed during the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh. Fair trials are crucial for victims and their families and for building respect for the rule of law in the country. In a March 6, 2017 letter to Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou, Human Rights Watch encouraged the new government of President Adama Barrow to develop a strategy detailing how it intends to hold to account those implicated in the arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances that were the hallmark of Jammeh’s rule. “All Gambians deserve to see justice for the terrible crimes committed...

    Read more
    International Criminal Justice Should Tackle Environmental...
    20.04.17
    International Green parties *

    The intensive exploitation of natural resources triggers serious environmental destruction locally that has serious consequences on the global ecosytem. Based on this scientific fact, the Global Greens ask to reorganize international environmental law on the model of international criminal law. In July 2010 the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a warrant of arrest against Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for three counts of genocide including ''deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction'', among which the contamination of sources and water pumps of towns and villages. During several years in the 2000s, Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people died or had to flee from their homes...

    Read more
    Turkish obstruction keeps Geneva’s Armenian genocide...
    19.04.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The irony is that Turkey, by blocking for years the construction of a memorial in Geneva to the Armenian genocide, has made this monument more alive than if it had been built, if only because of the passions it arouses.  Austrian writer and philosopher Robert Musil talked in one of his works about the paradox of building monuments. Although they are erected in the public space to be seen, they tend to disappear from conscious view and condemned to the ocean of forgetfulness. “Nothing in the world is less visible than monuments,” he wrote. “There is no doubt they are erected to be seen and draw attention. But they are at the same time `waterproofed` and people’s attention to them is like water off a duck’s back.”  Will it be the...

    Read more
    Guinea plans a Truth Commission
    18.04.17
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

    A national workshop in Conakry of government and civil society representatives has approved a Bill to set up a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Guinea. This is in line with recommendations from the Interim National Reconciliation Commission (CPRN) after five years of wide consultations. “The Commission will not have the power to try or to amnesty anyone, since trials are the responsibility of the courts,” said Prime Minister Mamadi Youla at the workshop opening in Conakry on April 12. But he assured participants that the Commission would be politically independent and respect the principles of fighting impunity in light of the country’s realities. Working over three days, participants from the public sector and civil...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Gambia searches for justice, while Mali...
    17.04.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    This week, JusticeInfo looked at the first steps being taken by judicial authorities in The Gambia to deal with the innumerable crimes committed under the long rule of Yahya Jammeh, who is now in exile. Meanwhile,  people in Mali suspect that the new government has been formed not to push the stalled peace and reconciliation process forward but to prepare the re-election in 2018 of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his political clan. New Gambian president Adama Barrow, who has vowed to make his mandate a three-year transition, has no time to lose. Three months after his investiture, his government has already opened a series of investigations into crimes committed during the 22-year autocratic rule of Yahya Jammeh, including...

    Read more
    Mali’s opposition regrets armed groups not in new government
    14.04.17
    JusticeInfo's Ephrem Rugiririza with Studio Tamani in Bamako

    On April 11, less than a week after his appointment by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Mali’s new Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga published the names of his government team. The opposition had hoped after the recent Conference of National Understanding for a widely representative government, but was disappointed. It regrets that the armed groups, necessary partners for pacification of the North, are not represented in the new government.   The new government team has 35 ministers, which is four more than the previous one. Several key portfolios, such as Finance and Foreign Affairs, have not changed hands. Among the new faces is Maouloud Ben Katra, deputy secretary general of the country’s main trade union federation, who...

    Read more
    Freedom of opinion and expression under threat in Tanzania
    13.04.17
    JusticeInfo.Net

    Is Tanzania still the “peaceful and stable country” that its residents and visitors say it is? Since the start of this year, more and more people, including from within the ranks of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution in Swahili) are denouncing attacks on people critical of President John Magufuli, elected at the end of 2015. The last straw was the abduction on the evening of April 5 in Dar es Salaam of a well-known rapper, famous for his lyrics criticizing the government. Singer Ibrahim Mussa and his three companions were taken by unidentified armed men, and only reappeared three days later, showing signs of beating and torture. The musician, known to the public under the name Roma Mkatoliki, recounted his...

    Read more
    War Justice Strategy for Kosovo Undermined by Divisions
    13.04.17
    Marija Ristic

    A Kosovo government-backed working group set up to draft a national strategy for dealing with the wartime past has been troubled by divisions, disputes and failures to deliver, a new report says. Kosovo’s Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Dealing with the Past and Reconciliation (IMWG) has been working since 2012 on developing a National Strategy on Transitional Justice - but with no public draft yet published, questions are being asked about why it has failed to live up to expectations.A group of NGOs is launching a report on Tuesday in Pristina examining the role of the IMWG, which concludes that its work was hampered by deficiencies related to leadership and management, political ownership, the representation and...

    Read more
    Judging crimes of the Jammeh era poses challenge in Gambia
    12.04.17
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    Gambia is awaiting the creation of a transitional justice mechanism promised by the new government to help heal wounds after 22 years of dictatorial rule under former president Yahya Jammeh. In the meantime, police and judiciary have opened a series of investigations into forced disappearances under the former authorities. The task is not likely to be easy, especially since there are still people close to the former regime in the administration and judiciary. According to a police official quoted by Agence France Presse, 33 files have so far been opened on forced disappearances under the regime of ex-president Jammeh. The precise number of people who disappeared during his 22-year reign is still unknown.  “There are about seven...

    Read more
    Week in Review: US strikes in Syria, while Rwanda...
    09.04.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    International justice saw a new failure this week on Syria. The UN Security Council was unable to agree a Resolution after the “chemical weapons” massacre at Khan Cheikhoun which left dozens dead and injured, including children. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it a war crime, saying that “international humanitarian law has been violated”. Nevertheless opposition from Russia, backer of the Syrian regime, and China prevented a Resolution condemning this massacre blamed on the Syrian air force. This blockage in the UN Security Council has also stopped any moves to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. We should also note that the US military intervention is outside the legal rules set by the UN. Problems at...

    Read more
    Syrian war crime brings illegal but perhaps legitimate US...
    07.04.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Syrian air force use of chemical weapons against civilians is a war crime, or even a crime against humanity. The retaliatory US missile strikes are perhaps legitimate, but certainly illegal under international law.   On Friday August 30, 2013, US President Barack Obama took one of the heaviest decisions of his mandate. He decided to abandon the “red line” that he had himself set. He would not take military action against the Syrian regime, even though it had just used chemical weapons. But new US President Donald Trump took action this Thursday, after seeing the images of dozens of dead and injured in the chemical weapons attack in Khan Cheikhoun. It is too early to tell the impact of the 59 Tomahawk missiles which hit a Syrian...

    Read more
    Rwandan genocide commemoration pays tribute to “upright”...
    06.04.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Kigali

    On Friday April 7 Rwanda will be commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in 1994. In the run-up to these commemorations genocide survivors, including a considerable number of young students, have been criss-crossing the one thousand hills of their little country bringing assistance to other, less fortunate survivors and also making gestures of recognition towards Hutus who saved their lives.  Her name is Roza Mukarurinda. This Hutu countrywoman from the village of Kinazi in southern Rwanda had neither weapons nor money at the height of the genocide in 1994. Guns could drive back the killers and money could persuade them to put off a murderous attack for several days. Roza had only her mother’s...

    Read more
    US warns of 'own action' after Syria chemical massacre
    06.04.17
    AFP

    The United States and Russia were on a collision course over Syria on Wednesday after a horrific chemical attack so shocked President Donald Trump that Washington threatened unilateral US action. At least 86 people were killed early on Tuesday in rebel-held Khan Sheikhun in northern Syria and dozens more were being treated after they were found convulsing and foaming at the mouth. After previous major chemical attacks in Syria in 2013, Trump strongly urged then-president Barack Obama not to order military intervention against Bashar al-Assad's regime. And he came to office promising both to improve ties with Assad's ally President Vladimir Putin of Russia and to focus US efforts in Syria solely on the defeat of the Islamic...

    Read more
    UN convenes Rohingya abuse investigation, but Myanmar says...
    05.04.17
    Sara Perria, IRIN

    YANGON, 4 April 2017 - The UN’s main human rights body is assembling a team to probe alleged atrocities against Myanmar’s Rohingya, even as the government appears set to deny investigators access to areas where crimes against humanity may have occurred. While the resolution sponsored on 24 March by the European Union at the UN Human Rights Council called for “ensuring full accountability for the perpetrators and justice for victims”, Myanmar has no obligation to cooperate with the fact-finding mission and has strongly signalled that it won’t. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has told IRIN it is putting together the team anyway. “It is now up to the council president, Ambassador Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli (El...

    Read more
    New Church doctrine of repentance and forgiveness gains...
    03.04.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Nyamata (eastern Rwanda)

    People in Rwanda excommunicated from the Church because of their participation in the 1994 genocide are now being allowed back to Communion in some Catholic parishes. This rehabilitation, which would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, is part of a special programme of spiritual re-education. At first, however, the priests who initiated it faced a lot of opposition, including from some in their hierarchy. Genocide survivor Claudette Mukamanzi, wearing a purple scarf that hardly hides the scar of a gash on her neck, has just embraced her “killer”, Jean-Claude Ntambara. “Ntambara,” she says, “I forgive you with all my heart, even if you killed me and decimated my loved ones!”  Twenty-three years ago she was “killed” and left...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Simone Gbagbo, Myanmar, universal...
    03.04.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    An Abidjan court’s March 28 acquittal of former Ivorian First Lady Simone Gbagbo, charged with “crimes against humanity”, was the big surprise of this week in transitional justice. Was it a judicial or a political decision? Human rights defenders and associations representing victims of the fierce repression that followed the 2010 presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire have criticized this decision. The Prosecutor had called for life imprisonment “in the name of national reconciliation”. Simone Gbagbo herself, who is already serving a 20-year sentence for “undermining State security”, boycotted this trial stained by errors and dysfunctions, according to independent observers and her lawyer, who whilst hailing this verdict denounced...

    Read more
    Can satellite imagery still prove war crimes?
    31.03.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A few years ago, satellite images were seen as a decisive technological advance that could reveal the truth about war crimes. Satellite images provided essential confirmation of atrocities in Srebrenica and Sudan. But those who violate human rights have learned from this, and are now devising counter-strategies.   When Bosnian Serb forces massacred some 8,000 Muslims in the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, photos gathered by US secret service satellites gave the lie to Bosnian Serb nationalist denials. The images of prisoners standing for execution and freshly dug ground at the sites of mass graves made it impossible to deny evidence of the biggest massacre in Europe since the Second World War. These satellite photos were the...

    Read more
    DR Congo: Bodies of Two UN Experts Found
    31.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    4 Congolese Still Missing Update March 28, 2017: The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, confirmed on March 28, 2017, that the bodies of Zaida Catalán, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an American, were found by UN peacekeepers near Bunkonde in Kasai Central province on March 27. The two members of the UN Group of Experts on Congo had been reported missing, along with their Congolese interpreter, Betu Tshintela, a motorbike driver, Isaac Kabuayi, and two unidentified motorbike drivers, on March 12, while investigating large-scale human rights violations in the region. The UN reported that efforts continue to find the team’s Congolese members. The following quote can be attributed to Ida...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
    International Criminal Justice in Africa: Examining...
    28.03.17
    Oliver Windridge Counsel at the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, Washington D.C

    In 2016 the threat of mass withdrawals from the ICC once again came into prominence. Since the turn of the year, whilst the threat remains a real concern to many observers, it has been somewhat tempered by Gambia’s and South Africa’s recent decisions not to withdraw from the ICC. However, the continued evolution of international criminal justice requires the examination of alternative international criminal justice options above and beyond the ICC, including the African Union’s very own court, the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.   Introduction   One of the most important international justice narratives of 2016 was the proposed withdrawal of African nations from the International Criminal Court (ICC), with Gambia,...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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)...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    “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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
       
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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....

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more