Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

    “No peace for the CAR while armed groups hold balance of power”
    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...

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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...

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    Guatemala: How the Sepur Zarco Women lifted impunity for sexual violence
    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...

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    Civil society calls for Syria justice funding as UN drags its feet
    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,...

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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...

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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...

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    “In CAR, the Touadera regime has totally lost credibility amongst the population"
    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...

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    New ICTJ book promotes tailored approach to transitional justice
    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....

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    Campaigners want banana firm probed over Colombia war
    18.05.17
    AFP

    Campaigners on Thursday demanded the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate executives of a US banana firm over alleged links to crimes against humanity in Colombia's civil war. The Human Rights Coalition "called on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the complicity of executives at Chiquita Brands International in crimes against humanity," it said in a statement. It said Chiquita paid a fine after admitting in 2007 having made payments to the AUC right-wing paramilitary group. The paramilitaries were one of the sides in Colombia's decades-long, multifaceted civil war, active in banana-growing areas of the country. But, according to the...

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    Which court for which crimes in the Central African Republic?
    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...

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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...

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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...

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    Is Africa doing better than Europe on new regional criminal courts?
    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...

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    “Who will testify to Kosovo tribunal?” asks the man who exposed organ trafficking
    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...

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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...

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    Week in Review: Central African Republic, Geneva, Tunisia and the environment
    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...

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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...

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    Week in Review: Gambia searches for justice, while Mali struggles with reconciliation
    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...

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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...

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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...

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