Opinion

    Côte d’Ivoire: Simone Gbagbo Acquitted After Flawed War Crimes Trial
    29.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    First Lady’s Acquittal Highlights ICC Process As Critical Path for Victims. (Nairobi) – The acquittal in Côte d’Ivoire of former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo for crimes against humanity based on a process marred by fair trial concerns and a critical lack of evidence shows the importance of the International Criminal Court’s case against her, Human Rights Watch said today. Gbagbo was on trial for serious human rights violations during the bloody post-election crisis, which stemmed from Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power to President Alassane Ouattara following the November 2010...

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    HRW : War Crimes in Libya as Benghazi Residents Flee
    22.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    Libyan National Army (LNA) forces may have committed war crimes, including killing and beating civilians, and summarily executing and desecrating bodies of opposition fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi on and around March 18, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The army forces allegedly intercepted civilians trying to flee a besieged neighborhood, some accompanied by opposition fighters, and the whereabouts of some civilians are unknown. Khalifa Hiftar, the commander of the LNA forces in eastern Libya, should order a full and transparent investigation into recent alleged crimes...

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    Hannah Arendt or the power of ordinary people facing totalitarianism
    22.03.17
    Kathleen B. Jones, San Diego State University

      In the weeks since the election of President Donald J. Trump, sales of George Orwell’s “1984” have skyrocketed. But so have those of a lesser-known title, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” by a German Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt. “The Origins of Totalitarianism” discusses the rise of the totalitarian movements of Nazism and Stalinism to power in the 20th century. Arendt explained that such movements depended on the unconditional loyalty of the masses of “slumbering majorities,” who felt dissatisfied and abandoned by a system they perceived to be “fraudulent” and...

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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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    Nepal : for an alternative route to resist global transitional justice
    15.03.17
    Ram Bhandari

    “When I see the role of NGOs, human rights groups and politics, I think transitional justice is rather an experimental laboratory of various actors, where suffering families’ continue to wait for justice and gain nothing from the false process of political reconciliation and instrumentalisation of interest groups who dominate the victim’s needs and realities in the ground.” says Bhagiram Chaudhary, the district-based victim’s advocate who has been speaking for fellow victims in the Nepal’s countryside for many years.   10 years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement...

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    HRW: Ensure Independent Investigation into Kasese Killings in Uganda
    15.03.17
    Human Rights Watch

    (Nairobi, March 15, 2017) – Killings by Ugandan military and police during joint operations in Kasese, western Uganda on November 26-27, 2016, warrant an independent, impartial fact-finding mission with international expertise, Human Rights Watch said today. On the bloodiest day, scores of people, including children, were killed during a military assault on the palace compound of the region’s cultural institution.   Police spokespeople reported the death toll over the two days as 87, including 16 police. Human Rights Watch found the actual number to be much higher – at least 55 people,...

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    A Foundation of Lies: "Relatives for Justice" Unpacks the Truth about the Irish Conflict
    15.03.17
    ICTJ

      On February 12th, 1989, sledgehammers smashed through Pat Finucane’s front door in north Belfast. Paramilitaries stormed his family home and found the 39-year-old human rights lawyer eating Sunday dinner with his wife and three children. They shot him 14 times and fled. Nearly 30 years after Finucane’s killing, questions persist. Who commissioned the murder? Was the British government involved in some capacity? And when will justice for victims finally be served?     Mark Thompson These are the questions Mark Thompson grapples with every day....

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    Opinion : Sudan’s New Image Can’t Disguise Harsh Reality
    14.03.17
    Jehanne Henry (Human Rights Watch)

    Last week, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir released 193 Darfuri rebel fighters from prison, some of whom had been there for nine years. He also waived the death penalty against 66 others.  Days earlier, a Khartoum court released three civil society activists after ten months in detention. These developments, lauded by onlookers, burnish Sudan’s image at a time when al-Bashir – wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged atrocities in Darfur – has been improving diplomatic alliances with the Gulf, Europe, and the US. In January, the US eased economic sanctions against Sudan,...

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    Dealing with hate: Can America's truth and reconciliation commissions help?
    01.03.17
    Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University

    Recent vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia illustrates the all too real problem of hate crime faced by many communities in the United States. Just this February, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that for the second year in a row the number of hate groups in the United States has been growing – up from 892 in 2015 to 900 in 2017. The report also found since the election of President Donald Trump there has been a sharp increase in hate crime incidents. These incidents beg the question: How can such racial divisions be healed? I study U.S.-based truth commissions...

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    Nepal: the Transitional Justice Commissions and Victims’ Critical Engagement
    16.02.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Transitional justice has been a stated priority throughout Nepal’s peace process following the end of the ‘People’s War’ in 2006, but it took nearly 10 years before the two truth commissions (Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC and Commission for Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons CIEDP) investigating war-era crimes were established. While these processes have enjoyed nominal support, the Nepali government never prioritized transitional justice in its national agenda, and the Commissions have not been prevented from fulfilling their mandates. The stalled transitional justice process has eroded trust between victims advocacy groups and the two Commissions. While the...

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    ICC : Why Withdrawing from the Rome Statute Undermines International Justice for Everyone
    07.02.17
    Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide

    July 2017 marks 15 years since the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court came into force. Many years of painstaking and protracted regional and international diplomacy preceded its adoption in order to secure consensus on the importance of creating a permanent international criminal court that could try the most serious crimes - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.   The process that led to the coming into force of the Statute in July 2002 was the shortest in the history of treaty ratification processes, signaling not only the commitment of the...

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    AU's 'ICC Withdrawal Strategy' Less than Meets the Eye
    02.02.17
    Elise Keppler HRW

    The African Union made headlines Tuesday for purportedly agreeing to mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. The reality is more complex. The decision by AU member states welcomes the announced withdrawals by South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia, adopts the “ICC withdrawal strategy,” and calls for member states to consider implementing its recommendations. This is based on text we have seen that, while labeled a draft, reflects the final text, sources close to the negotiations said. But there was vocal opposition by ministers to withdrawal at last week’s AU summit. The...

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    Burma Loses a Key Voice for Tolerance
    31.01.17
    Human Rights Watch

    The murder of U Ko Ni, a longtime rights and democracy activist, respected constitutional lawyer, and legal advisor for the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, is a grave loss for Burma and for all those who seek to promote tolerance and respect for human rights in the country. As one of the few remaining Muslims with the stature to influence the NLD’s policies, he was a voice of reason amid a rising tide of intolerance.  On Sunday afternoon, U Ko Ni was shot dead outside Rangoon airport while holding his grandson in his arms. He had just returned from accompanying a...

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    Burma: Don’t Prosecute Peaceful Speech
    25.01.17
    Human Rights Watch

    (Rangoon) – Burma’s government should act to end the prosecution of peaceful critics in violation of their right to free speech, Human Rights Watch said today. The National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government should seek to amend or repeal laws that criminalize nonviolent speech. Burma’s donors should press the government to end prosecutions for peaceful expression and to release all those detained in violation of their basic rights. Burma’s government should act to end the prosecution of peaceful critics in violation of their right to free speech. “Though Burma’s new government includes more than 100 former political prisoners, it has done little to eliminate the laws used...

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    Dear President Trump: let me share some home truths about Africa with you
    23.01.17
    Gilbert M. Khadiagala, University of the Witwatersrand

      Africa has occupied a more or less constantly insignificant position in both Republican and Democratic administrations in the US since the 1960s. Studies of US-Africa policies have tended to depict Republican administrations as “globalist” – more likely to look at Africa as part of a bigger picture than as its own unique geopolitical space. Democrats, meanwhile, are perceived “Africanists” who have close sympathies to African interests. But these distinctions are deceptive. Some Republican administrations, such as that of George W. Bush, paid more attention to African issues such as...

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    Week in Review: Can we agree on History?
    16.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The way that history is written emerged as a focus of the transitional justice week, be it in Tunisia, Palestine, Israel or Rwanda. Transitional justice is not just about judicial mechanisms, trials and convictions. Reconciliation also requires acceptance of a common history of a divided past. Rwanda is perhaps the only country emerging from genocide where victims and killers have found themselves living together (again). Our Rwanda correspondent Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro reported from Gisenyi and the so-called “Red Commune”, which was the site of massacres in 1994. It was called red after...

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    Africa-France Summit Participants Should Stand With Victims
    13.01.17
    Elise Keppler

    The Africa-France Summit, taking place Friday and Saturday in Bamako, Mali, offers an important moment for African countries and France to stand with victims of grave international crimes by voicing their support for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Withdrawals from the ICC, announced by South Africa, Gambia, and Burundi, pose unprecedented challenges for the court in Africa and could impede access to justice for victims of heinous crimes when their own country’s courts are not an option. While the ICC is not on the official summit agenda, those attending can still find time to...

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    Transitional Justice in Nepal : Road to Justice or collapse ?
    06.01.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    In February 2017, Nepal’s transitional justice commissions will finish their two year mandate. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission for the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), were established in February 2015 eight years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed ending the 10 year ‘Peoples War’. The TRC and CIEDP were given a two year mandate to deal with the past human rights violations of armed conflict (1996-2006). The TRC and CIEDP were mandated with the investigation of conflict era cases. They are also mandated to recommend that the Government of Nepal provide reparations to conflict victims, prosecute the guilty and...

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    How Power-Sharing Impedes Transitional Justice: Comparing Kenya and Zimbabwe
    31.12.16
    Leona Hollasch

    In many African countries, as well as Latin American ones (e.g. Colombia) power-sharing is often seen as the peace negotiators’ instrument of choice for conflict resolution. This tendency, however, often places those responsible for past human rights violations in powerful government positions. Transitional justice measures are then introduced under these difficult circumstances. Kenya's and Zimbabwe's experiences demonstrate the devastating effects that power-sharing can have on processes of transitional justice.  Power-sharing can freeze the status-quo, leaving transitional justice...

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    From Berlin to Aleppo: the need to redefine transitional justice
    19.12.16
    Pierre Hazan

    According to Google, it takes 35 hours to drive by car the 3,397.4 kilometres from Berlin to Aleppo. Metaphorically, the distance is infinitely longer between these two symbolic cities. Twenty-seven years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War and gave new impetus to international law. The term transitional justice was about to be invented to reflect the energy of this new wave of democratization that was developing in Europe, Latin America and Africa. Today, from the ruins of tortured Aleppo, we need to rethink transitional justice. In the 1990s, the optimism of...

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