Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

    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...

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

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

    Read more
    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 not be raised at the ICC Assembly of States Parties in December this year, and jurists fear that it will be postponed indefinitely. This is a crime concerning leaders, their ministers and army chiefs. On paper, the ICC...

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

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

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

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

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    Israel settler law angers world powers but Trump
    03.02.17
    AFP

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

    Read more
    Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar : UN
    03.02.17
    AFP

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

    Read more
     
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
     
    Switzerland drops war crimes case against ex-Algerian minister
    18.01.17
    AFP

    Switzerland said Wednesday that it had no grounds to charge former Algerian defence minister Khaled Nezzar with war crimes, the latest twist in a controversial five-year-old case. The Swiss attorney general's office (OAG) said it could not move forward with a trial because there was no conclusive evidence of a "conflict" in Algeria during the period in question, leaving a key condition for prosecution unfulfilled. Nezzar was in office from 1990 to 1994 when the military was battling an Islamist opposition in a bloody civil war. Algerian troops were accused of committing grave abuses during the fighting, including torture and summary executions. Nezzar was arrested in Switzerland in...

    Read more
    Turkey jails a UN judge
    18.01.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    For four months, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has been trying to obtain the release of one of its judges, Judge Aydin Sefa Akay, who was  detained in Turkish government purges. The judge, who was appointed by the UN, has diplomatic immunity. Turkish authorities were summoned to The Hague for a hearing on January 17 but failed to attend. It was with apparent indifference that Ankara met the summons of the MICT, the UN body charged with handling residual matters of the ad hoc tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Turkish authorities, who had been...

    Read more
    Targeted State killings abroad as a new form of war
    17.01.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Since September 11, 2001, the strategy of targeted killings has become more and more widespread internationally, in the name of the War on Terror. But the question of their legality is controversial. The widening of targets is turning this tactic into a specific way of waging war. Almost immediately after Al Qaeda attacked American soil on September 11, 2001, the United States promised it would hit its enemies wherever they were in the name of the “war” on terror. Paris did the same thing in Mali in 2013, still as part of the fight against armed Jihadists. Then, after the November 23, 2015...

    Read more
    Rwanda’s “Red Commune”, a killing field of the genocide
    12.01.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda

    At the time of the 1994 genocide, Gisenyi prefecture in northwest Rwanda was, like other prefectures, divided into communes. But the “Red Commune” does not appear on administrative maps of the time. It is not in fact an administrative entity but a cemetery where Tutsis were brought in 1994 to be killed and thrown into mass graves, or buried alive.  Seen from afar this place looks today like a big patch of waste ground. It covers some three hectares. Despite the overgrown grass, you can see as you approach the headstones that have been erected on some graves. According to the epitaphs, the...

    Read more
     
    Week in Review: Spotlight on genocide
    09.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In this first week of the year, we were reminded of a “genocide” that has been largely forgotten, even if historians consider it the first such mass crime of the 20th century. This is the genocide of Hereros and Namas in Namibia between 1904 and 1908 by soldiers of the Second Reich when Namibia was a German colony. While Germany has said it is ready to recognize its responsibility, descendants of the decimated Namibian communities concerned filed a class action suit before a court in New York demanding reparations. The term genocide, which was officially recognized in 1948, did not exist...

    Read more
    Ex-Chad leader Habre to appeal war crimes conviction
    09.01.17
    AFP

    Chad's former president Hissene Habre was to begin an appeal Monday against his life sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity after his conviction was hailed as a landmark for Africa. The Extraordinary African Chambers, a body created by Senegal and the African Union, sentenced Habre in May to life behind bars, an unprecedented ruling that was seen as a blow to the impunity long enjoyed by repressive rulers. In July, Habre was further ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule, as well as to...

    Read more
    Germany set to atone for genocide in Namibia
    05.01.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A century after losing its South-West Africa colony, now Namibia, Germany is debating how to close one of the darkest chapters of its colonial period: the extermination of over 80% of Hereros, which was the first genocide of the 20th century. Anyone going to the Namibian capital Windhoek a few decades ago would find themselves on Kaiser Avenue or Heinrich Goeringstrasse, another of the city’s main streets named after the first High Commissioner who headed this German colony from 1885 to 1900. Namibia gained independence in 1990, but one of the darkest parts of German colonial history...

    Read more
    Scars haunt Colombian rebels as they disarm
    05.01.17
    Raul ARBOLEDA / Diego ESCUDERO (AFP)

    Jair's missing right leg reminds him of many things: the heavy price he paid for fighting in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the pain he inflicted on others. The 25-year-old guerrilla came of age in the FARC, which he believed was fighting to create a more just Colombia. Now, the Marxist rebels are gathering in disarmament camps after reaching a peace deal to end the half-century conflict. Preparing to disarm has given Jair a chance to think about how the violence has shaped his life. Six years ago, he was pursuing an enemy soldier in the country's northwest when he...

    Read more