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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    ICC to award damages for jihadist Timbuktu destruction
    14.08.17
    AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Deadly C. Africa clashes raise genocide fears
    08.08.17
    AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Myanmar slammed over visa refusal to UN Rohingya probe
    12.07.17
    AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Togo purges its violent past with voodoo ceremonies
    06.07.17
    AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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    Burundi becoming a 'violent dictatorship': report
    04.07.17
    AFP

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

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    Where to now for the UN in Myanmar?
    03.07.17
    Frontier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Nepal: Transitional uncertainty
    19.06.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

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

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    Gabon probes threats to leader before ICC visit
    17.06.17
    AFP

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

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    UN says Burundi still torturing and killing opponents
    15.06.17
    AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    ICRC chief pleads for humanitarian access in Myanmar
    31.05.17
    Frontier Myanmar

    The International Committee of the Red Cross works to provide relief to people within conflict zones. During a recent visit to tour ICRC projects and meet Myanmar officials, committee president Peter Maurer sat down for an interview with Frontier’s Jared Downing and reporters from several other outlets. Your first visit to Myanmar was in 2013. What has been your biggest surprise, coming back this time? From a relatively small operation of the ICRC, [ICRC Myanmar] has become the second largest in Asia, among the top 20 operations of ICRC worldwide. It has now a US$34 million budget, more than 500 people in the country, 10 offices. This is good and bad news. When ICRC increases an operation, then obviously there are humanitarian...

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    Mixed results at Myanmar peace conference
    31.05.17
    NYAN HLAING LYNN & OLIVER SLOW | FRONTIER

    Myanmar's second 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference in Nay Pyi Taw last week ended with some signs of progress but also highlighted the huge challenges the country faces to finally achieve peace.It began with a good-cop, bad-cop routine: State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s optimistic speech followed by a threat from the commander-in-chief towards armed groups rejecting the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. But the outcome of the second 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference was similarly mixed – there was disagreement over the right to “secede” from the Union, but also consensus among official participants over many other points. The coming weeks are likely to see significant debate as to whether the six-day...

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    UN rights council names team to probe Myanmar abuses
    30.05.17
    AFP

    The UN rights council on Tuesday named a three-person team to probe alleged atrocities against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, a key step in an investigation already rejected by the country's government. The Geneva-based human rights council voted in March to create a Myanmar fact-finding mission, in a politically sensitive move that faced fierce resistance from the civilian-led government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The mission was ordered to "urgently" investigate abuses reportedly committed by the security forces, particularly in Rakhine state where troops have been accused of raping, torturing and murdering members of the Rohingya community. Decorated Indian lawyer and women's rights campaigner, Indira Jaising, Sri Lanka's former...

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    Will Congolese warlord tell ICC of Rwandan and Ugandan...
    29.05.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The trial of former militia leader Bosco Ntaganda resumed on May 29 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the Defence presenting its case. Ntaganda is charged with 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in 2002 and 2003. Since the start of his trial in September 2015, the Prosecutor has called 71 witnesses to the stand. Now it is the turn of the Defence, which plans to call more than 100 witnesses, including Ntaganda himself. Bosco Ntaganda has decided to testify, but there are no signs that he will make a real confession. The deputy military commander of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia is expected to take the stand at the ICC from June 14. For...

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    Week in Review: Surprise clampdown on corruption in Tunisia
    29.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Tunisia remains in the forefront of transitional justice with a surprise move this week on financial transparency. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed arrested suspected leaders of trafficking and corruption. These people are talked about in an International Crisis Group (ICG) report, “Blocked Transition: Corruption and Regionalism in Tunisia”. Tunisians, used to impunity for politicians and their clans, can hardly believe this news, explains JusticeInfo’s Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhassine. At stake is not only the past but also the present. According to ICG, all key sectors in Tunisia are riddled with corruption, notably the Interior Ministry, customs and justice. The ICG, which is based in Brussels, points the finger at “300 men...

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    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...

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    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...

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    “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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    “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...

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    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....

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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:...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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