Africa

    Liberian found guilty of war crimes-linked charges in “historic” US case
    19.10.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.net

    A court in Philadelphia on Wednesday found Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”) guilty of charges related to atrocities committed during the first Liberian civil war (1989-96). His two-week trial was the first time that Liberian war victims were able to testify in a public and fair trial, according to Swiss-based NGO Civitas Maxima, which has been monitoring the case. The jury of 12 in Philadelphia found Jabbateh guilty on two counts of fraud and two counts of perjury for lying to US officials about his background as a combatant in Liberia. Jabbateh was a commander of the ULIMO rebel group...

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    Is judicial wrangling fuelling Kenya's election turmoil?
    18.10.17
    Aileen Kimutai, Nairobi

    Kenya's annulled presidential elections have thrown the country into the worst political crisis since the 2008 post-election violence which saw over 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Tension is high as the scheduled October 26 re-run approaches. "Kenya has had a very tough year so far and the going looks as if it will get tougher," says Robert Shaw, a public policy and economic analyst in Nairobi. "The country is dangerously polarized and fatigued, which is a lethal cocktail. There is an increasing number of antagonistic and inflammatory comments by some leaders that...

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    Criminal justice a rare commodity in Central African Republic
    18.10.17
    AFP

    At Bouar appeal court, presiding judge Aime Pascal Delimo twiddles his thumbs, surveys his empty office and then, with a sigh, closes his door to leave early. Delimo wields jurisdiction over territory in western Central African Republic (CAR) that is the size of Austria. Violent crime here is chronic. But he has no work. In one of the world's poorest countries, the criminal justice system in Bouar and many other of CAR's provincial towns has quite simply broken down. "Normally we would be finishing at 3:30 pm, but given the pace of the court, I leave in the early afternoon, around 2:00 pm," Delimo says. "It's been four years I've been here and no criminal cases have been heard." He...

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    Week in Review: Human rights activist awarded as dictators cling on
    15.10.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    As we saw this week, transitional justice still appears far from countries such as Togo, Egypt and Burundi, whose people are still struggling under authoritarian regimes disrespectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In Togo, there is an open crisis between the dictatorial Gnassingbé dynasty that has been in power for more than 50 years and the population who aspire to democracy and rule of law. “In this small West African country, the factors for rebellion are being put in place,” writes our Lomé correspondent Maxime Domegni. “On the streets, the young people no longer hide their...

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    Rwanda: The gruesome plight of children during the Tutsi genocide
    11.10.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) launched on October 4 an online exhibition giving insight on how children were affected by the Rwandan genocide and conflicts in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The exhibition, entitled “Children in Conflict – Evidence from the Archives of the International Criminal Tribunals”, shows that children were often deliberately targeted for sexual violence, torture, persecution, forcible transfer, murder and extermination. To know more about how children were affected in Rwanda, JusticeInfo’s Kigali correspondent spoke to Valérie Mukabayire,...

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    “Embattled Burundi government using impoverished people as a rampart”
    04.10.17
    JusticeInfo.net

    In Burundi, repression has been directed at all democrats in the country since 2015, even if there has been some ethnic targeting, according to French sociologist and African Great Lakes specialist André Guichaoua. He says the core hardliners of embattled President Nkurunziza’s government are still trying to use the country’s “impoverished and pressurized population” as a rampart against perceived foreign threats. JusticeInfo spoke to André Guichaoua:   JusticeInfo: What is your assessment of the current human rights situation in Burundi? Is there still a risk of genocide as some observers...

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    Liberian war victims to testify in US “Jungle Jabbah” case
    03.10.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    The trial has begun in the United States of Liberian national Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”), a Pennsylvania resident suspected of war crimes. The former ULIMO rebel commander is charged with two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury. Now that the jury has been selected, war crimes victims from Liberia are expected to start testifying before the Pennsylvania court. Alain Werner, a lawyer and co-founder of Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima, has been working for many years to help Liberian war victims get justice, and his organization is following this case closely. He...

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    Week in Review: Transitional justice under pressure in Tunisia and Myanmar
    01.10.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    The difficulties of transitional justice were illustrated this week in countries as diverse as Tunisia, Burundi, Myanmar and Nepal. In Tunisia,  a JusticeInfo investigation showed how abuses by the President of the Truth and Dignity Commission, Sihem Bensedrine, has herself weakened an already weak and vulnerable institution. Bensedrine, nicknamed Araïssa (the boss) is accused of “squandering public funds and recruiting staff in an anarchic and opaque way, so as to set up a parallel administration totally subservient to her orders”, writes our correspondent Olfa Belhassine. Sihem Bensedrine...

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    Rwanda: Post-Election Political Crackdown
    29.09.17
    HRW

    (Nairobi, September 29, 2017) – Rwandan authorities have arrested, forcibly disappeared, and threatened political opponents since the August 2017 presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today. The incumbent, Paul Kagame, won the election with a reported 98.79 percent of the vote. Those targeted include a would-be independent presidential candidate, Diane Rwigara, and her family members and supporters, and several leaders and members of the Forces démocratiques unifiées (FDU)-Inkingi opposition party. “The Rwandan government’s crackdown shows that it is unwilling to tolerate...

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    African vote throws UN Burundi abuse probe into question
    28.09.17
    AFP

    The UN rights council voted Thursday to send experts to help authorities in crisis-wracked Burundi to investigate violations, casting doubt on whether an independent international probe would be allowed to continue. The resolution, presented this week by a group of African countries, was controversial since it came on top of a far stronger text previously tabled by the European Union, the United States and Canada. That resolution, which will be voted on on Friday, calls for the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which has accused the country's government of crimes against humanity -- including executions, torture and rape -- to continue its work. The African text, which passed...

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    C. Africa president says genocide talk 'not justified'
    27.09.17
    AFP

    The president of the Central African Republic pushed back Wednesday against UN warnings of looming genocide in his country, saying the complex crisis could not be reduced to religious and ethnic strife. "We think that to talk about genocide at this stage is going too far... it is not justified," President Faustin-Archange Touadera told reporters in Geneva after addressing the Human Rights Council. He was asked about comments from the recently departed United Nations humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien, who said renewed clashes in the country had "the early warnings signs of genocide". Touadera countered that the factors fuelling the violence varied significantly in different places,...

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    Guinea: 8 Years Later, Justice for Massacre Needed (NGO)
    27.09.17
    HRW

    (Conakry) – Guinea should move ahead to deliver justice, truth, and reparation for the grave crimes committed on September 28, 2009, at a Conakry stadium, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Association of Victims, Parents and Friends of the September 28 Massacre said today in advance of the massacre’s eighth anniversary. On that day, security forces massacred more than 150 peaceful protesters, and more than 100 women were raped. Hundreds of injuries and widespread looting were also documented. An investigation into the crimes by a panel of Guinean investigating judges,...

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    French, Rwandan presidents hold rare meeting amid tense diplomatic ties
    19.09.17
    AFP

    Rwandan President Paul Kagame has met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in New York for rare talks, Kigali said Tuesday, as diplomatic ties remain icy over the 1994 genocide. Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide of some 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists, angering Paris and straining relations. The Rwandan presidency said in a statement on Twitter that Kagame and Macron on Monday discussed "collaboration on issues of mutual interest including peace (and) security in Africa", on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Ties between Kigali and Paris had been on the mend until 2014 when Kagame repeated accusations that...

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    Central African Republic: 12 peace plans in 10 years and still at war
    20.09.17
    Pierre Hazan

    In the last ten years, the Central African Republic has had a dozen peace plans. None have ever been implemented. Here we look back and analyse this serial failure, as people close to armed groups are admitted into government. This move by the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, “in the name of national reconciliation” comes as UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned there are “early warning signs of genocide in the Central African Republic”. Is the Central African Republic (CAR) a serial killer of peace plans? From the 2007 Sirte accord concluded under the late “Mediator and Guide...

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    UN genocide warning in Central African Republic reflects powerlessness
    12.09.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    When should one warn of genocide? Was the UN right to raise the alarm in recent days about a genocidal pattern in the Central African Republic? Is there not a risk that invoking the “crime of crimes” too quickly could devalue the term “genocide” and reduce its power to raise the alarm? In August, United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien warned the UN Security Council that there were “early signs of a genocide” in the Central African Republic (CAR). He was criticized by nearly all experts on the country for being overly alarmist. “Genocide is a precise concept,” explained Didier...

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    Unchecked Abuses by the Malian Army, according to HRW
    08.09.17
    HRW

     Mali and Burkina Faso military operations to counter the growing presence of Islamist armed groups in central Mali have resulted in serious human rights violations. Since late 2016, Malian forces have committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests against men accused of supporting Islamist armed groups, while a June 2017 cross-border operation by Burkinabe forces left two suspects dead. Human Rights Watch documented three common graves believed to contain the remains of at least 14 men executed after being detained by Malian soldiers since...

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    Kenya’s Supreme Court has given an impossible deadline for the repeat election
    06.09.17
    Dominic Burbidge

    The Kenyan Supreme Court has found that the August 8 presidential election result is invalid. It blames the electoral commission, not the declared winner, Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya’s leading newspaper praises the decision as a step towards the rule of law, but I am less sure about what this means for the ability of the political establishment to stick to the terms of the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court has given the country 60 days to hold fresh elections. The time period is in accordance with section 140 (3) of the Constitution, but the court failed to tell the public exactly...

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    The Kenyan supreme court decision may polarize the population
    05.09.17
    AiIeen Kimutai

    It has been hailed as a benchmark the Kenyan Supreme Court ruling that nullified the August 8 presidential election results while ordering for a re-run within 60 days. The August 11 election declaration gave  the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta 54.27 per cent of the votes against the 44.74 per cent for his rival Raila Odinga of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA). However NASA disputed the results, alleging "hacking"  of the electoral board database and  massive rigging in favour of the ruling Jubilee party. In the landmark ruling, four Supreme Court judges accepted that  the  Kenyan...

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    Burundi government remains intransigent, says UN
    04.09.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    Despite numerous mediation attempts, Burundi’s government and President do not intend to talk to the opposition, and repression is continuing. The authorities are showing the same intransigence with regard to the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which has not been able to go to the country or hold talks with Bujumbura. Fatsah Ouguergouz, president of the Commission, gives this worrying assessment ahead of the final report which he is due to present to the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in mid-September. How hard it is to give up power, even when the Constitution...

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    Week in Review: A victory for rule of law in Africa?
    03.09.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The highlight of  the week was undoubtedly Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Kenya to invalidate the August 8 presidential election, a first in Africa. Kenya’s media hailed the decision which, as said by daily newspaper The Star, "will reverberate for years to come in Kenya and around the continent". This is all the more so since President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta has accepted the decision, even if he launched a sharp verbal attack on the Court.   Representatives of opposition parties in Africa have also hailed the decision, including in Zimbabwe, Guinea and Mali. “The decision of the...

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