Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

    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...

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    Syria and the lessons to be learned from Carla Del Ponte’s resignation
    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...

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    DR Congo warlord accused of crimes against humanity surrenders
    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...

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

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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,...

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    Geneva conference on Kosovo: a judicial and a humanitarian approach to find the 1658 missing persons
    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...

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    Central African Special Court: Don’t forget victims, say NGOs, as Prosecutor sworn in
    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...

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    Families of 1,658 Kosovo disappeared still searching for their loved ones
    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...

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    Illegal natural resource trade “fuelling” grave human rights crimes in Africa
    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...

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    “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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