Africa

    Malian Jihadist ordered to pay 2.7 million Euros in reparations to Timbuktu victims
    18.08.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down on Thursday August 17 their reparations order for the victims of Ahmed Al Mahdi. Al Mahdi, who has been convicted by the Court, pleaded guilty to war crimes for the destruction of nine mausoleums and the main gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu during the occupation of northern Mali in 2012 by Jihadists of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) and Ansar Eddine.  As well as telling of the crimes committed in Timbuktu in 2012, Al-Mahdi’s case before the ICC was especially about punishing those who destroy cultural heritage. ...

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    Rwanda: Presidential Elections in a context of very limited open political space, according to HRW
    18.08.17
    HRW

    (Nairobi) – Presidential elections in Rwanda on August 4, 2017, took place in a context of very limited free speech or open political space, Human Rights Watch said today, as President Paul Kagame is sworn in for a seven-year term. Human Rights Watch released a chronology of violations of the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly in Rwanda between the country’s December 2015 referendum – allowing the president to run for a third term – and the election, which Kagame won with a reported 98.79 percent of the vote. “Kagame’s landslide win came as no surprise in a...

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    ICC issues arrest warrant for Libyan strongman ally
    16.08.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    On Tuesday August 15, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a new arrest warrant for crimes committed in Libya. Mahmoud al- Werfalli, an ally of Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar, is suspected of war crimes for murders committed in 2016 and 2017 in Benghazi region, northeast Libya. The alleged crimes were committed between 2016 and July 2017. Al-Werfalli is said to have murdered and ordered the murders of 33 prisoners who were civilians and disarmed combatants. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda deemed that he should be brought to justice for “his direct participation in seven...

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    Tunisia adopts pioneering law on violence against women
    15.08.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    On July 26, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a law to fight violence against women, becoming the first Arab country to do so. This was the culmination of a long struggle by feminists, lasting more than 20 years. MPs present in parliament that evening unanimously approved the new Organic Law on Elimination of Violence against Women. The law’s adoption stirred emotions among most women MPs (72 out of a total 217), who launched cries of joy in parliament. Tunisia thus becomes the first Arab country and the 19th in the world to adopt legislation on fighting violence against women.  The new law is...

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    ICC to award damages for jihadist Timbuktu destruction
    14.08.17
    AFP

    War crimes judges will Thursday hand down a landmark ruling on reparations for the razing of Timbuktu's fabled shrines, but the victims' fund which is to implement the order warned it will not be easy. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was jailed for nine years in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to directing attacks on the UNESCO world heritage site during the jihadist takeover of northern Mali in 2012. Judges ruled last September that Mahdi "supervised the destruction and gave instructions to the attackers" who used pickaxes and bulldozers to hack apart some of the city's most ancient...

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    “Risk of Central African Republic exploding has never been so high”
    10.08.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Dozens of people have been killed in recent weeks of fighting between armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), as a UN official warned of possible genocide. In this interview Didier Niewiadowski, jurist and former advisor to the French embassy in Bangui, gives his view of the situation in that troubled country. He agrees with the UN that “the risk of a national explosion has never been so high”, but says he does not at this stage see early warning signs of genocide.  Do you agree with UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien that there are early warning...

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    Deadly C. Africa clashes raise genocide fears
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Witness reports of killings in the Central African Republic, some targeting aid workers, piled up Tuesday as the UN said it saw "early signs of a genocide" in the conflict-wracked nation. At least 60 people have been killed in recent weeks in fighting between armed groups in Ngaoundaye and Batangafo in the north, Kaga-Bandoro in the centre and Alindao and Gambo to the south, witnesses have told AFP. The fighting is largely between groups on opposing sides of the brutal conflict between Muslim and Christian militias that broke out in CAR in 2013 after President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka. Groups on both sides are...

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    UN sees early warning signs of genocide in C. Africa
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Renewed clashes in the Central African Republic are early warning signs of genocide, the UN aid chief said Monday, calling for more troops and police to beef up the UN peacekeeping mission in the strife-torn country. Some 180,000 people have been driven from their homes this year, bringing the total number of displaced in the Central African Republic to well over half a million, said Stephen O'Brien. "The early warning signs of genocide are there," O'Brien told a UN meeting following his recent trip to the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We must act now, not pare down the UN's effort, and pray we don't live to regret it." O'Brien said it was time to...

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    Week in Review: DR Congo, Tunisia, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire
    07.08.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In this week’s transitional justice review, a rebel leader wanted for crimes against humanity is handed over to the authorities in Kinshasa, civil society in Côte d’Ivoire calls for support to victims raped during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, and a look at Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission half way through its public hearings. Rebel leader Sheka Ntabo Ntaberi had been under an arrest warrant from the Congolese authorities since January 2011, accused of crimes against humanity and committing with his militia mass rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On August 4, he...

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    Doubts and Division in Guinea, as President hints at third term
    02.08.17
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

    The possibility of a third term for President Alpha Condé is dividing Guinea. Condé himself has made same indications that he wants to run again, but has refused to make an official pronouncement. His supporters are not hiding the fact that they want to change the Constitution. The opposition, supported by some civil society, is preparing for battle and brandishing threats. “Let’s stop having a dogmatic view of whether one, two or three mandates is best,” Condé said during a visit to France in April. “It’s not up to external powers to decide, it depends on each country and the will of...

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    Guilt and denial at Tunisia’s Truth Commission hearings
    31.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission launched its public hearings on November 17, 2016 to shed light on nearly 60 years of human rights abuses. With 10 of the 20 planned hearings now having taken place, we look at the Commission’s half-way record. In Tunisia, the hearings’ official launch in a luxury club belonging to former First Lady Leyla Trabelsi Ben Ali sought to prove wrong the accusations of Commission inertia by leaders of Nida Tounes, current President Beji Caied Essebsi’s party, whilst most local media and politico-financial circles remained loyal to former president Ben Ali....

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    Week in Review: The thorny issue of reparations
    30.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    There is no justice without reparations. That is all the more true when it comes to international crimes. But the mechanisms of reparation are still problematic, whether at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or in national transitional justice systems like in Côte d’Ivoire. More than three years ago, the ICC sentenced former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga to 12 years in jail for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes linked to the February 24, 2003 massacre in the village of Bogoro, in Ituri. On March 24, 2017, the judges evaluated at 3.75 million dollars (3.2M...

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    Tunisians tell Truth Commission of stolen elections
    28.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission has already held ten of its 20 planned public hearings. The last one, on July 21, examined the issue of electoral fraud under former presidents Bourguiba and Beni Ali. Mohamed Bennour, an activist of the centre-left Democratic Socialist Movement (MDS) – founded in 1978 by Ahmed Mestiri, former minister and dissident from Bourguiba’s regime -- was victim of several violations linked to electoral fraud. In 1981 he announced his candidacy for legislative elections that the authorities announced as “pluralist” and which raised much hope among Tunisians....

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    DR Congo warlord accused of crimes against humanity surrenders
    26.07.17
    AFP

    Congolese rebel warlord Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, wanted for crimes against humanity including mass rape, surrendered to UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday. Sheka was arrested in Mutongo, in the country's North Kivu region by UN peacekeepers and was "transferred to Goma," the regional capital, his spokeswoman told AFP. The UN's peacekeeping mission in DR Congo MONUSCO said in a statement that Sheka handed himself in "in full awareness of the fact that he is wanted by the government... to stand trial for alleged crimes". Authorities issued the warrant for...

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    Week in Review: International Justice becomes reality, despite the challenges
    23.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    The week just ended began with an anniversary: International Justice Day. Despite criticism  -- both founded and unfounded – and numerous challenges still to be met, international criminal justice will go down in the history of Humanity as one of the most notable revolutions of the last century. This week’s hearings, decisions and legal challenges are testimony to this. For example, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo appeared Wednesday before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hear a decision on his request for conditional release from prison. The ICC Appeals Chamber judges...

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    ICC judges ordered to review freeing I.Coast ex-leader Gbagbo
    19.07.17
    AFP

    Judges must review whether to release the ageing former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo for the rest of his crimes against humanity trial, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. Gbagbo, the first ex-head of state to be tried by the International Criminal Court, won his appeal against a March decision which ordered him to be held in a UN detention centre until the end of the legal process. Five appeals court judges found the trial judges had "erred" on several points by refusing the 72-year-old an interim release, including failing to consider his age and state of health. The trial chamber...

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    Constitutional row divides pre-election Mali
    19.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In Mali, the opposition and part of civil society are up in arms against a government plan to revise the Constitution. Opponents of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta accuse him of having concocted the new text to ensure he is re-elected in polls due next year. For the past month, the Malian opposition and authorities have been in a stand-off. Each side is baring its teeth. The cause is a proposed revision of the current Constitution, which has been in place since February 1992. The government of President Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta (IBK) says the constitutional revision is part of implementing...

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    Tunisia plans amnesty for corrupt public employees
    18.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunisia

    With many of its articles removed, Tunisia’s law on “economic reconciliation” looks likely to be adopted by parliament in the coming days. But the text is still imperfect and remains controversial.  Two years ago, on July 14, 2015, President Beji Caied Essebsi presented to the cabinet his proposed law on “Special measures concerning reconciliation in the the economic and financial field”. This Bill was submitted to parliament shortly afterwards, but has continued to raise protest, not only in parliament but also on the streets and amongst national and international organizations. One of the...

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    Week in Review: justice versus peace 
    17.07.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    As the world celebrates International Justice Day this July 17, the peace versus justice debate continues in Uganda, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and many other countries. On the one hand is the legitimate desire for justice of victims, often scarred forever in their bodies and minds by the crimes inflicted on them. On the other hand  is the necessity for governments to rebuild torn and divided societies. JusticeInfo this week looked again at this ongoing dilemma. The most emblematic case in Africa is Uganda and the terrible Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),...

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    S.African 'political' murderer in parole limbo
    13.07.17
    AFP

    Inside South Africa's maximum security Groenpunt prison, hawk-eyed guards stroll between rows of wooden benches, watching inmates closely as they meet visitors. Among the notorious jail's residents is 51-year-old triple murderer Percy Chepape, an anti-apartheid fighter serving a 60-year sentence for his "politically motivated" crimes committed in the chaos that followed liberation in 1994. The former underground operative of an armed group linked to the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) has been behind bars for 20 years, convicted of a deadly armed robbery on a benefits office in a remote town in the country's north. He claims the aim of the June 1997 heist, which was carried out with...

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