Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

    Burundi: "Impunity for serious crimes remains the norm"
    19.01.18
    Human Rights Watch

    The Burundi government continued its repression of real and perceived political opponents in 2017, according to the annual report of Human Rights Watch published on January 18. This included murder, forced disappearance, torture and arbitrary arrest. In its determination to continue suppressing the population without the outside world's gaze, the regime of Pierre Nkurunziza has also declared all foreign investigators persona non grata.  The political and human rights crisis that began in Burundi in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a...

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    Living through the horrors of genocide: humanitarian workers in Rwanda
    19.01.18
    The Conversation

    They are on the frontlines of any major conflict or disaster – but how much is known about the daily experiences of humanitarian workers in these extreme situations? In their new book, Génocide et crimes de masse. L’expérience rwandaise de MSF (“Humanitarian Aid, Genocide and Mass Killings: Médecins sans frontières, the Rwandan experience, 1982-97”), Marc Le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol set out to answer some of these questions. The book is also informed by Bradol’s experience of working for Médecins Sans Frontières in Rwanda during the genocide. Here, they discuss their findings. You...

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    Will Guinea hold trial this year for 2009 stadium massacre?
    18.01.18
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

      In Guinea, investigations into the September 2009 massacre in Conakry have finally closed, seven years after the event. Announcing this on December 29, 2017, Guinean Justice Minister Cheik Sacko said the suspects have been referred for trial. On September 28, 2009 the military junta in power at the time brutally crushed a peaceful opposition protest, killing 156 people and raping more than 100 women, according to UN figures. The end of the judicial investigation seems to pave the way for a trial. A steering committee has been set up to prepare the first stages of the trial, although no...

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    This is not Myanmar’s path to peace
    18.01.18
    Frontier

    Myanmar's government runs the risk of ceding so much control to the Tatmadaw (national army) that it simply becomes irrelevant to the peace process. The next 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference is supposed to be just a few weeks away, but you wouldn’t know it from the Tatmadaw’s recent behaviour. Extrajudicial killings, disruption of peace meetings, fresh offensives: if you are trying to get people around a table, it’s a strange way to go about it. In recent weeks, we’ve had the deaths of four Karenni Army soldiers in military custody and the shootout at a Tatmadaw base that left...

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    Nepal's TJ commissions need political will, not just more time
    15.01.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On January 5, 2018, Nepal’s cabinet decided to extend the tenure of the country’s two transitional justice (TJ) bodies for another year. But this was done without consulting primary stakeholders and without evaluating the work of the commissions over the last three years. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were set up in February 2015 with an initial two- year mandate and a one-year extension to complete the assigned tasks. However, in three years both commissions failed to deliver satisfactory results. They...

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    For Muslims across Myanmar, citizenship rights a legal fiction
    11.01.18
    THOMAS MANCH | FRONTIER

    In Myanmar, members of the Muslim community are facing long delays in citizenship applications unless they acquiesce to officials’ suggestions that they be labelled “Bengali”. Ma Hnin Hlaing, a bright, young Bamar Muslim, cannot become a Myanmar citizen unless she agrees to be called “Bengali”. She finds the label offensive, but without citizenship she cannot complete the business law degree she began in 2014. If she cannot graduate she cannot become a lawyer, her chosen profession. Immigration officials insist she cannot be both Bamar and Muslim and must register as Bengali. She...

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    ICC investigations in Burundi “will be difficult but not impossible”
    11.01.18
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Kigali

    Burundi’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) became effective in October 2017, after the Court had finished its preliminary examination on crimes committed since April 2015 in that country. But Burundi’s withdrawal does not put an end to the ICC investigations.  According to Stella Ndirangu, a Kenyan human rights lawyer working with the International Commission of Jurists, the challenge now is how the Court in The Hague will conduct investigations, since Bujumbura has clearly stated that it will not cooperate. She says the task will be difficult but not...

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    As Yugoslav tribunal closes, a look back at its history
    03.01.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    In his last speech to the UN Security Council on December 6, 2017, ICTY President Carmel Agius expressed satisfaction that out of 161 persons indicted, all have been tried or have died, representing a 100% success rate, although the difficulties were many. This is all the more surprising because the first international criminal tribunal had everything against it. It was created in 1993, in the midst of war in Bosnia- Herzegovina, with no access to the former Yugoslavia, and was pushed by founding fathers who did not even want it to succeed!  The ICTY was proposed to the Security Council by...

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    How the ICTY has changed our world
    03.01.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) closed its doors on December 31, 2017, after working for 24 years, issuing 161 indictments and nearly as many judgments, hearing 4,600 witnesses over 10,800 days of trials, producing millions of pages and costing billions of dollars. Apart from the Second World War, no war has been as studied and certainly none has been the subject of judicial procedures like the one that tore the former Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s.   So the time has come for a first evaluation, and the legacy of the ICTY is clearly considerable. Its...

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    Nepal: Publish Commission Report on Terai Violence, says HRW
    21.12.17
    Human Rights Watch

     Authorities in Nepal should immediately make public the December 14, 2017 report of a special commission on the Terai violence in 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. The High-Level Inquiry Commission was established in 2016 to investigate alleged excessive and indiscriminate use of force during violent protests that left at least 45 people dead, including nine police officers. While the commission officially handed its report to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the government has not indicated next steps based on the report’s findings and its recommendations. The victims of the...

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    State agents, militia 'planned' DRC massacres: rights group
    20.12.17
    AFP

    Security forces and an army-backed militia planned massacres in an opposition stronghold in the Democratic Republic of Congo, human rights activists charged Wednesday, calling the killings "crimes against humanity". The southern Kasai region suffered "one of the worst human rights crises in the world" between March and July, the Paris-based International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) said in a report compiled with partner rights groups in the country. It includes heart-rending testimony such as that of a 27-year-old woman who described soldiers attacking her village and burning down...

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    Week in Review: DRC, Ethiopia and crime of aggression,
    16.12.17
    François Sergent and Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military court sitting in the little town of Kavumu struck a historic blow for transitional justice in a place where sexual violence and powerful people generally go unpunished. The week also saw an important verdict for Ethiopia and a move to give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over “aggression”.   “It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder,” writes...

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    Historic verdict in DRC child rape trial
    14.12.17
    Claude Sengenya in Kavumu, South Kivu province of eastern DRC

    It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder. Local politician Frédéric Batumike, head of this militia, and 11 of his co-accused were sentenced to life in jail. Two others were sentenced to one year, while six were acquitted. Their trial concerned the rape of some 40 children aged 8 months to 12 years in Kavumu, South Kivu, between 2013 and 2016. The trial lasted 17 days, during which the prosecution and...

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    Dozen DR Congo child rapists handed life sentences
    13.12.17
    AFP

    A dozen militiamen in eastern DR Congo were jailed for life Wednesday for raping about 40 children, including a baby, in what was judged a crime against humanity. The defendants were said to belong to a militia group called "Djeshi ya Yesu" -- meaning "Army of Jesus" in Swahili -- led by South Kivu provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike. The children, ranging from babies aged just eight months to a 12-year-old girl, were kidnapped and raped between 2013 and 2016. A large crowd gathered in the area before Batumike and the 11 others were convicted by the military tribunal and "sentenced...

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    In Myanmar, women targeted by human trafficking in Kachin
    11.12.17
    SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

    Women’s groups in Myanmar's Kachin State say understaffed police with inadequate resources are hampering investigations into human trafficking and contributing to a crime wave in Myitkyina, in which women are often the targets. Since the conflict between the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) and Kachin Independence Army resumed in 2011, bringing to an end a 17-year ceasefire, almost 100,000 people have been displaced.  The majority of those displaced live in camps close to Myitkyina, the state capital, and neighbouring Waingmaw. Women and children comprise more than half of the IDPs, and human...

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    Was the destruction of Old Mostar Bridge a war crime?
    11.12.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    To what extent does the destruction of an architectural masterpiece constitute a war crime if that masterpiece is also used for military purposes? What, too, if the destruction of such a monument, like the Old Mostar Bridge, causes psychological and physical harm to a civilian population now under siege? How should military objectives, damage to cultural heritage, psychological and physical harm be weighed together? That was the headache posed by the last judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).  The ICTY’s last judgment on November 29 will be...

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    Week in Review: ICC debates “crime of aggression” as Yemen suffers and Croatia denies
    09.12.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The International Criminal Court’s annual meeting of 123 member countries started this week at the United Nations in New York. This year’s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) is discussing, among other things, whether the "crime of aggression" will be added to the ICC’s jurisdiction alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This debate is not just academic and legal. The "crime of aggression" -- i.e. one country aggressing another -- divides both ICC member and non-member States, because it could mean the indictment of State leaders in cases like Russia’s war in Georgia...

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    Yemen situation worsening faster than we can respond, says ICRC chief
    07.12.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    The violent death of former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh following his implicit offer to make peace with Saudi Arabia, risks fuelling the proxy war in Yemen between Riyadh and Teheran, according to some analysts, while some now see a possible end to the conflict. Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross says the humanitarian situation continues to worsen, as ICRC President Peter Maurer explains. Last Saturday, 48 hours before he was killed by his former allies – Houthi rebels supported by Iran --, Ali Abdallah Saleh had said he was ready to "turn the page” with Saudi...

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    Possible 'elements of genocide' in Myanmar: UN rights chief
    05.12.17
    AFP

    The UN rights chief called Tuesday for a fresh international investigation into Myanmar's abuses against its Rohingya Muslim minority, warning of possible "elements of genocide". Speaking before a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the abuses against the Rohingya, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein condemned "widespread, systematic and shockingly brutal" attacks against the Rohingya, as well as decades of discrimination and persecution. An army-led crackdown has forced some 626,000 people to flee from northern Rakhine state and across the border into squalid camps in Bangladesh in...

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    Children’s drawings as evidence of war crimes
    01.12.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    “Deflagrations: Children’s drawings and adult wars”, a book published by Anamosa, recounts war in 150 children’s drawings. The book is accompanied by an exhibition until December 16 at the André Malraux médiathèque in Strasbourg. This is a beautiful book which appeals for peace. Colourless corpses, huts on fire, columns of refugees, bombing, fear and sadness. The 150 drawings put together by Zérane Girardeau tell of war through children’s eyes. The book “ Déflagrations, dessins d’enfants, guerre d’adultes”, published by Anamosa, reproduces a century of children’s drawings during war, the...

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