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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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    Myanmar needs international inquiry on Rohingya abuses by security forces, says UN rapporteur
    14.03.17
    Thomas Kean (Frontier Myanmar)

    As the Human Rights Council session in Geneva gets underway, Thomas Kean of our partner Frontier speaks to UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee about her call for a commission of inquiry into alleged abuses in Rakhine State, notably against the Muslim Rohingya minority.  Why have you recommended the creation of a commission of inquiry? Throughout the duration of my mandate, I have been flagging serious human rights concerns pertaining to the situation of the Rohingya and other minority communities in Rakhine State. However, the call for the commission of inquiry...

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    Week in Review: Three African women in transitional justice
    13.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    “When I think – about the world, politics, freedom, literature, and so on – I do not feel like a woman at all,” wrote French philosopher Belinda Cannone. Her reflection is especially good to remember around International Women’s Day. This week we reported on three African women on different sides of justice and reconciliation.  In the Central African Republic (CAR), former Seleka rebel fighter Martine Bangue told Radio Ndeke Luka in Bangui how she had exchanged weapons for a mason’s trowel. Asked why she chose that profession, she replied: “I chose it because I wanted to be autonomous, to...

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    The rise and fall of Ivorian ex-First Lady Simone Gbagbo
    09.03.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    For many of her admirers, Simone Gbagbo, whose trial resumed in her absence Tuesday before an Abidjan court, remains the “Iron Lady”, even behind bars. But for her detractors, she is the “Bloodstained Lady”. Côte d’Ivoire’s former First Lady was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in jail for endangering State security and is now on trial again for crimes against humanity. The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo is undoubtedly one of the leading female figures of contemporary Ivorian history. Although visibly marked by jail, this fervent Evangelist, 67, refuses to give in. Like her husband,...

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    Ukraine accuses Russia of terrorism at the International Court of Justice
    08.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Ukraine and Russia are this week facing off against each other before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Kiev accuses Moscow of violating two international Conventions, one on funding terrorism and one on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. It is asking the Court for urgent measures. Ukraine wants the ICJ to order Moscow to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine immediately and also stop violating the rights of ethnic Tatars in Crimea. It is asking the Court to do this urgently, before making any pronouncement on the substance of the case,...

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    ICC Prosecutor at a turning point
    07.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been in her post since June 16, 2012, and is now half way through her mandate. In four and a half years she has opened two new cases -- Mali and Georgia -- and issued an arrest warrant against Malian Jihadist Ahmed Al Mahdi for war crimes. Too little action to date, say observers, but she has numerous cases in the pipeline, notably against the Russians, British, Americans and Israelis. People wait impatiently for her expected opening of an Afghanistan case involving torture by US forces. They see it as a test and possibly a...

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    Sri Lanka’s victims demand justice, while government plays for time
    03.03.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.net

    Sri Lanka’s government this week asked the UN Human Rights Council for more time to fulfil its promises under a 2015 Resolution on justice for civil war victims. The international community welcomed the surprise election of President Maithripala Sirisena in early 2015 and his promises of justice and reconciliation, but a new report from international jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP) says the government has done little and is acting in bad faith. The civil war, pitting majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and...

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    Syria regime, rebels committed war crimes in Aleppo: UN probe
    01.03.17
    AFP

    All Syrian sides that fought in the battle for Aleppo committed war crimes and the deal to evacuate civilians following the rebel defeat was a "crime of forced displacement', a UN probe said Wednesday. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria documented violations including chemical attacks and civilian executions perpetrated during the Damascus regime's five-month siege of eastern Aleppo, which had been a key opposition stronghold. From July 21, 2016 to December 22, when government troops recaptured the city, the Syrian air force and its Russian ally "conducted daily air...

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    Week in review: Court blow for South Africa and challenges facing CAR’s Special Court
    27.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The transitional justice week was marked notably by a South African court’s decision that the country’s notification of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional. This is at least a victory for the rule of law.  The decision of the High Court in Pretoria is based on procedure and does not stop the government from going ahead with ICC withdrawal, according to Hugo van der Merwe, Research Director at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Cape Town, who spoke to JusticeInfo. It nevertheless forces the government to go through...

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    “UN and African Union should act together to end impunity in the CAR”
    25.02.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In the Central African Republic (CAR), President Touadera’s February 14 nomination of a Prosecutor for the Special Criminal Court* is an important step, but should not raise unrealistic hopes, according to jurist Didier Niewiadowski, a former adviser to the French embassy in Bangui. He says the presence in Touadera’s government of people close to former president François Bozizé, and the current de facto partition of the country will make Congolese Prosecutor Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa’s task difficult.  JusticeInfo: Can a Special Criminal Court, which is unlikely to issue its first...

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    Court ruling against ICC withdrawal an “embarrassment” for South Africa
    24.02.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    This week, the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, ruled that the government’s notification to the UN last October of its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional. South Africa’s announcement of withdrawal had sparked fears of an “Afrexit” from the ICC, given similar announcements by Burundi and Gambia and strong objections to the International Criminal Court by the African Union. It also followed a spat with the ICC over South Africa’s 2015 failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, who is under two ICC arrest warrants for genocide and crimes...

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    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...

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    Week in Review: CAR and Gambia take positive steps on justice
    20.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week Africa and Africans showed that transitional justice, so often criticized on that continent, can complement national justice.  The Central African Republic (CAR) finally appointed a Prosecutor for its future Special Criminal Court, a mixed tribunal to be composed of national and international judges. This is the first step in a long transitional justice process, in a country divided and ravaged by conflict. CAR’s President Touadéra has appointed a Congolese jurist and military man, Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa (also author of an article by JusticeInfo.net on complementarity...

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    Central African Special Court gets Congolese Prosecutor
    17.02.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    On February 14, Central African Republic (CAR) president Faustin-Archange Touadéra signed a decree appointing the Prosecutor of the country’s Special Criminal Court (SCC). The appointment of jurist and military man Colonel Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, a military prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is an important step towards the setting up of the SCC, which has a mandate to try suspected perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed in the CAR since 2003. But the Prosecutor’s task will be difficult in a country where more than half the territory is still in...

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    Preparing for the next peace conference in Myanmar
    16.02.17
    HEIN KO SOE & OLIVER SLOW FRONTIER

    Plans are underway to hold the next Union Peace Conference at the end of this month, but the government and non-signatories of a 2015 peace agreement cannot agree how to tackle the thorny issue of how to bring peace to Myanmar. February 12 marks 70 years since independence hero Bogyoke Aung San met with Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders in the Shan State town of Panglong and signed an agreement that would grant their territories full autonomy within 10 years. But the pact was never fulfilled. Shortly after achieving independence in January 1948, the country plunged into a decades-long...

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    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 be raised at the ICC Assembly of States Parties in December this year, but jurists fear that some states will try to postpone activation of the crime indefinitely.  This is a crime concerning leaders, their ministers...

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