Frontpage

    Mission impossible for Kosovo war crimes court?
    26.04.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In a few days, the 19 judges of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), a European Union initiative ratified by Kosovo’s parliament in 2016, will have their own Rules of Procedure and Evidence. In theory, everything will then be ready for the first indictments against the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000. The Specialist Chambers are an integral part of Kosovo’s judicial system, but they have an international presence and they sit in The Hague, Netherlands. The President is Bulgarian, the Prosecutor...

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    Rethinking customary law in Somaliland: specific jurisdiction for rape to promote post-conflict development
    24.04.17
    Rakiya Omaar and Caitlin Lambert

     Somaliland does not enjoy international recognition as an independent state, but it does have what its people regard as their most precious asset : peace. After seceding from Somalia in May 1991, following a prolonged and bloody civil war, a shattered territory had to be rebuilt from scratch by people impoverished and scarred by years of exile, mainly in refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia. Despite the odds, Somaliland has established a functioning system of governance with little outside assistance while the rest of Somalia remains at war. This success is underpinned by the...

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    Turkish obstruction keeps Geneva’s Armenian genocide memorial in public eye
    19.04.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The irony is that Turkey, by blocking for years the construction of a memorial in Geneva to the Armenian genocide, has made this monument more alive than if it had been built, if only because of the passions it arouses.  Austrian writer and philosopher Robert Musil talked in one of his works about the paradox of building monuments. Although they are erected in the public space to be seen, they tend to disappear from conscious view and condemned to the ocean of forgetfulness. “Nothing in the world is less visible than monuments,” he wrote. “There is no doubt they are erected to be seen and...

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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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    Mali’s opposition regrets armed groups not in new government
    14.04.17
    JusticeInfo's Ephrem Rugiririza with Studio Tamani in Bamako

    On April 11, less than a week after his appointment by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Mali’s new Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga published the names of his government team. The opposition had hoped after the recent Conference of National Understanding for a widely representative government, but was disappointed. It regrets that the armed groups, necessary partners for pacification of the North, are not represented in the new government.   The new government team has 35 ministers, which is four more than the previous one. Several key portfolios, such as Finance and Foreign Affairs,...

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    Syrian war crime brings illegal but perhaps legitimate US strikes
    07.04.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Syrian air force use of chemical weapons against civilians is a war crime, or even a crime against humanity. The retaliatory US missile strikes are perhaps legitimate, but certainly illegal under international law.   On Friday August 30, 2013, US President Barack Obama took one of the heaviest decisions of his mandate. He decided to abandon the “red line” that he had himself set. He would not take military action against the Syrian regime, even though it had just used chemical weapons. But new US President Donald Trump took action this Thursday, after seeing the images of dozens of dead...

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    Rwandan genocide commemoration pays tribute to “upright” Hutus
    06.04.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Kigali

    On Friday April 7 Rwanda will be commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in 1994. In the run-up to these commemorations genocide survivors, including a considerable number of young students, have been criss-crossing the one thousand hills of their little country bringing assistance to other, less fortunate survivors and also making gestures of recognition towards Hutus who saved their lives.  Her name is Roza Mukarurinda. This Hutu countrywoman from the village of Kinazi in southern Rwanda had neither weapons nor money at the height of the genocide in...

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    US warns of 'own action' after Syria chemical massacre
    06.04.17
    AFP

    The United States and Russia were on a collision course over Syria on Wednesday after a horrific chemical attack so shocked President Donald Trump that Washington threatened unilateral US action. At least 86 people were killed early on Tuesday in rebel-held Khan Sheikhun in northern Syria and dozens more were being treated after they were found convulsing and foaming at the mouth. After previous major chemical attacks in Syria in 2013, Trump strongly urged then-president Barack Obama not to order military intervention against Bashar al-Assad's regime. And he came to office promising...

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    New Church doctrine of repentance and forgiveness gains ground in Rwanda
    03.04.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Nyamata (eastern Rwanda)

    People in Rwanda excommunicated from the Church because of their participation in the 1994 genocide are now being allowed back to Communion in some Catholic parishes. This rehabilitation, which would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, is part of a special programme of spiritual re-education. At first, however, the priests who initiated it faced a lot of opposition, including from some in their hierarchy. Genocide survivor Claudette Mukamanzi, wearing a purple scarf that hardly hides the scar of a gash on her neck, has just embraced her “killer”, Jean-Claude Ntambara....

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    Week in Review: Simone Gbagbo, Myanmar, universal jurisdiction and satellites
    03.04.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    An Abidjan court’s March 28 acquittal of former Ivorian First Lady Simone Gbagbo, charged with “crimes against humanity”, was the big surprise of this week in transitional justice. Was it a judicial or a political decision? Human rights defenders and associations representing victims of the fierce repression that followed the 2010 presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire have criticized this decision. The Prosecutor had called for life imprisonment “in the name of national reconciliation”. Simone Gbagbo herself, who is already serving a 20-year sentence for “undermining State security”,...

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    Can satellite imagery still prove war crimes?
    31.03.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A few years ago, satellite images were seen as a decisive technological advance that could reveal the truth about war crimes. Satellite images provided essential confirmation of atrocities in Srebrenica and Sudan. But those who violate human rights have learned from this, and are now devising counter-strategies.   When Bosnian Serb forces massacred some 8,000 Muslims in the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, photos gathered by US secret service satellites gave the lie to Bosnian Serb nationalist denials. The images of prisoners standing for execution and freshly dug ground at the sites of...

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    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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    I.Coast ex-first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of crimes against humanity
    28.03.17
    AFP

    An Ivory Coast jury on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity during the 2010-11 post-election crisis in a stunning verdict after the prosecution had sought to jail her for life. "A majority of the jury declared Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes of which she has been accused, pronounced her acquittal and ordered that she be immediately freed if she is not being held for other reasons," said the head of the country's top criminal court, judge Kouadjo Boiqui. Once dubbed Ivory Coast's "Iron Lady," Gbagbo, who was not in court Tuesday, is already...

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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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    Week in Review: Focus on victims at the International Criminal Court
    27.03.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    Reparations are one of the four pillars of transitional justice (along with truth, justice and the guarantee of non-repetition), and this week the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered for the first time that some small individual compensation be given to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ICC judges decided that 297 direct victims of a 2003 massacre in a Congolese village should each get a “symbolic” 250 dollars. The judges also decided that convicted Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, who was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for complicity in war crimes and...

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    Justice for victims at heart of ICC credibility, says Open Society
    23.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) is to decide on March 24 what reparations to grant victims of former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, whom it sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for crimes against humanity. To date, the Court has handed down only one incomplete decision on reparations for victims in the case of another Congolese, Thomas Lubanga. Mariana Pena, legal advisor to the Open Society in The Hague, talked to JusticeInfo.net about the role of victims at the ICC. Mariana Pena, legal adviser to Open Society    JusticeInfo.net: How do you assess victim participation in...

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    Genocide in Rwanda : Former aide of ex-Rwandan President Habyarimana freed in Germany
    21.03.17
    JusticeInfo

    Frankfurt (Germany) – A close aide of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, who had been detained in Germany since July 2016 on allegations of involvement in the 1994 genocide, was released on Monday, JusticeInfo has learned.  Enoch Ruhigira, the last head of presidential staff under Habyarimana, was arrested during a stopover in Frankfurt on July 20 last year, on the basis of a Rwandan arrest warrant. The arrest warrant was based on accusations deemed unfounded by New Zealand, where Ruhigira has citizenship, and Belgium, where he had resided.   “He was released on Monday March 20...

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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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