Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Creation of a syrian war crimes database
    09.03.17
    AFP

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

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

    Ukraine and Russia are this week facing off against each other before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Kiev accuses Moscow of violating two international Conventions, one on funding terrorism and one on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. It is asking the Court for urgent measures. Ukraine wants the ICJ to order Moscow to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine immediately and also stop violating the rights of ethnic Tatars in Crimea. It is asking the Court to do this urgently, before making any pronouncement on the substance of the case,...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    French and German judicial authorities have recently been seized of cases against the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria, which was again denounced this week for allegedly hanging thousands of opponents. But the National Audience in Madrid, Spain’s highest court with jurisdiction in matters of international law and terrorism, is ahead of the game. Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza has recently received a criminal complaint from a woman with dual Spanish and Syrian nationality. In 2014, the Spanish government restricted the country’s ability to act on “universal jurisdiction”, in which Spain had led...

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    Israel settler law angers world powers but Trump
    03.02.17
    AFP

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

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    Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar : UN
    03.02.17
    AFP

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

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

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

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    Arrest of Gambian ex-minister in Switzerland an “important sign” for torture victims
    26.01.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

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

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

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

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

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

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