Opinion

    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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    Will Kenya withdraw from the ICC?
    13.12.16
    Dr Thomas Obel Hansen, Lecturer of Law, Transitional Justice Institute/ Ulster University Law School, Belfast, UK.

    Whereas a Kenyan withdrawal from the ICC is a real possibility, Nairobi may be tempted to instead use the threat of a withdrawal to push its agenda on the ICC.  Since Burundi announced in October that it had decided to withdraw from the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) founding treaty, the Rome Statute, commentators have been busy speculating whether – and, if so, which – other African State Parties would be next. Few had predicted that South Africa would be the first to go ahead, in fact beating Burundi to the finish line by providing the UN Secretary General with the formal...

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    “The UN Security Council should do more to protect the population of South Sudan.”
    08.12.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, Geneva

    The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng has made various worrying statements this month of November. A few days ago, he has warned about the ethnic violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) and reminded the government its responsibility to protect. He has insisted on this responsibility when assessing the situation of Rohingya in Myanmar or of civilians in Iraq. On November 17th, he issued a statement on South Sudan, this time clearly stressing ‘a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines, with the potential for genocide.’ Lately ‘the obligation [for...

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    Nepal : NGOs became neo-liberal business
    07.12.16
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On December 10th the World will celebrate universal human rights day. The occasion will be recognized in Nepal, but unfortunately democratization and human rights have become more buzzword than practice. The policies that have been implemented since the end of the People’s War have done more to protect powerful interests and hide the truth in the name of human rights than ensure those rights for the economically and politically marginalized. Instead human rights serve as an agent of global capitalism that produces capitalist agents to intervene and destroy the peoples rights movement. It is seen that the human rights movement is becoming a part of problem because of its universalistic...

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    French Court Confirms Genocide Conviction of Former Rwandan Intelligence Chief
    06.12.16
    Human Rights Watch

    A French court on Saturday confirmed the 25-year prison sentence of Pascal Simbikangwa for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity. Simbikangwa was a former intelligence chief in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide, and was close to former president Juvénal Habyarimana. Human Rights Watch documented the genocide, including the involvement of Simbikangwa, in detail and has monitored trials of genocide suspects in Rwanda and abroad. Orchestrated by ethnic Hutu political and military extremists, the genocide in Rwanda claimed around 800.000 lives and was exceptional in...

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    Kony’s killers – are child soldiers accountable when they become men?
    06.12.16
    Samuel Okiror

    The trial of Dominic Ongwen, a senior member of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army, opens on Tuesday before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Many horrors will be recounted, but the case also throws up deep ethical questions: is a child, brutalised and turned into a killer, fully responsible for his or her actions? If the abuses of government forces aren’t also being investigated, at what point does it become victor’s justice? Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Ongwen became a protégé of rebel leader Joseph Kony and was forced to witness and carry out acts of extreme...

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    Nuanced Memory in Rwanda and Uganda : Responsibilities of justice practitioners
    06.12.16
    Samantha Lakin (M.A.)

    The international community has established memorialization as a key transitional justice mechanism that holds symbolic value for societies recovering from conflict. As such, memorial efforts can help victims feel a sense of validation by the post-conflict community by recognizing and symbolically redressing the harms they suffered (Hamber et al. 2010). According to a key report about violence in Northern Uganda published by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), “memorials are intended to preserve memories of people or events. Many are designed to promote a specific...

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    ICC: First Lord’s Resistance Army Trial Begins
    05.12.16
    Human Rights Watch

    (Brussels) – The opening of the International Criminal Court trial of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander is an important new chapter in holding the rebel group accountable for its brutal crimes in northern Uganda, Human Rights Watch said today. The trial of Dominic Ongwen, who was abducted as a child and later became a senior LRA commander, will begin on December 6, 2016, in The Hague. The charges will be read, followed by opening statements from the prosecution and lawyers who represent several thousand victims involved in the case. The trial will then adjourn until January 16,...

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    Mali: ‘Red Berets’ Trial Marks Progress in Tackling Impunity
    30.11.16
    Human Rights Watch

    (Dakar) – The trial of the leader of the 2012 coup in Mali, Gen. Amadou Haya Sanogo, and 17 co-defendants, including other members of the Malian army, is set to begin on November 30, 2016, in the southern Malian town of Sikasso. The defendants are accused of the 2012 abduction and killing of 21 elite “Red Berets,” who were detained and forcibly disappeared between April 30 and May 1, 2012, after being accused of involvement in an April 30 counter-coup against Sanogo and his loyalists. The following statement is from Corinne Dufka, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch: “The...

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    Transitional justice failing in Nepal 10 years after peace deal
    23.11.16
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Nepal is this week marking the 10th anniversary of its comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that ended the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006) and shaped a peaceful orientation towards a new democratic Nepal. But the legacy of violent conflict remains unaddressed and the transitional justice process is on the verge of collapse without delivering positive results. Nepal's politics is top-down and unrepresentative, with no accountability or responsibility to the people. The culture of impunity is deeply-rooted within a political culture that allows the interests of rulers at the centre...

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