Africa

    S.African court rules against govt plan to pull out of ICC
    22.02.17
    Susan NJANJI AFP

    A South African court on Wednesday ruled the government's plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was "unconstitutional and invalid", providing a boost to the embattled Hague-based institution.The ICC has been rocked by threats of withdrawal in recent months, with complaints focusing on its alleged bias against Africa.South Africa announced in October it had lodged its decision to pull out with the United Nations, following a dispute over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visiting the country in 2015.South African authorities refused to arrest Bashir despite him facing...

    Read more
    Challenges of the new Special Court for the CAR
    21.02.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial adviser and associate professor at the University of Neuchâtel

    A Special Criminal Court to deal with war crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) is now being set up. On February 14, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra appointed as Prosecutor of this Special Court Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, a military prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the coming weeks, national and international judges for the court are also expected to be appointed, and will then need to get down to work to make operational this semi-international tribunal, whose  mandate is to try suspected perpetrators of the most serious crimes committed in the CAR since...

    Read more
    South Sudan: five things to know
    21.02.17
    AFP

    South Sudan, where the government on Monday declared famine in some parts of the country, is mired in an economic crisis due to a devastating civil war.Independent since 2011, the world's newest country was engulfed by civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.The conflict has left tens of thousands dead and more than three million displaced.Five things to know about the African nation:- Economy in ruins -Oil production -- from which South Sudan gained 98 percent of its revenues on its independence...

    Read more
    Lessons from The Gambia to end the impasse in South Sudan
    20.02.17
    The Conversation

    Not for the first time, South Sudan appears on the International Crisis Group watch list of the world’s most volatile conflicts to watch. This is on top of climbing to second on Transparency International’s index of the most corrupt countries. The world’s newest nation is bedevilled by multiple conflicts and faced with major challenges to establish peace and stability. The most recent UN mission report warns of a conflict that’s reached “worrying proportions”. South Sudan is in the fourth year of open conflict sparked in December 2013 by the falling out between President Salva Kiir and...

    Read more
     
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    Barrow appoints Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice
    15.02.17
    AFP

    President Adama Barrow appointed a Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, ending a series of controversial foreign appointments to the position by former leader Yahya Jammeh. Hassan Bubacar Jallow has served in the appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and as a prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Barrow's government had vowed to implement a "Gambianisation" of the justice system after Jammeh named several chief justices from Pakistan and Nigeria. Foreign judges were regularly accused of kowtowing to the regime because their contracts could be easily terminated, and some were hired to hear a...

    Read more
    Can the African Union save South Sudan?
    10.02.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Two years after independence in 2011, South Sudan descended into a war which continues to rage, with analysts fearing a possible genocide. In January alone, more than 52,000 South Sudanese fled to Uganda as continued fighting risks creating a situation of mass atrocities, the UN's special adviser on genocide prevention Adama Dieng said this week. In a recent article in the New York Times, Mahmood Mamdani, Professor of government at Columbia University (US) and director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala (Uganda) put forward a radical proposal. Saying South Sudan is “a...

    Read more
     
    Gambia: Will justice one day catch up with Yahya Jammeh?
    06.02.17
    Maxime DOMEGNI, regional correspondent

    It was under threat of a military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that Yahya Jammeh, President of Gambia for 22 years, finally decided to cede power to the winner of the December 1, 2016 election. Jammeh, who is now in Equatorial Guinea, is counting on the protection of his host country to avoid accountability for the many crimes and human rights abuses committed under his regime. As he went into exile on the night of Saturday January 21, Yahya Jammeh left behind him a wounded nation whose scars will take time to heal. Under the regime of the man who...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Tests for international justice in Switzerland and France
    30.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The arrest of a former Gambian Interior Minister in Switzerland this week is a test of the reach and limits of international justice, as is the earlier arrest in France of an ex-Prime Minister of Kosovo. Ousman Sonko, who is being held in Berne for suspected “crimes against humanity” was Interior Minister for 10 years under Gambia’s brutal and capricious former dictator Yahya Jammeh. He was arrested under pressure from Swiss NGO Trial International which filed a criminal case against him for torture. “As Interior Minister of The Gambia from 2006 to 2016, Sonko was head of the police and he...

    Read more
    Congo : The Challenges of the First Implementation of the ICC's Reparations Mandate
    31.01.17
    Kirsten J. Fisher, Ph.D.

    On 14 March 2012, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga) was found guilty before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the war crime of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15, and using them to participate actively in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This was the first conviction for the ICC and an important step in the international condemnation of the use of child soldiers. With this conviction came a sentence of 14 years in prison for Lubanga and the hope of justice for his victims – children as young as 11 who were forced to fight and die,...

    Read more
    Central African suspects of international crimes in “position of power”
    29.01.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    In a January 11 report on the Central African Republic (CAR), Amnesty International says several people suspected of international crimes are still circulating freely. According to the report entitled The long wait for justice: Accountability in Central African Republic,  attempts to bring these suspects to account have been thwarted by lack of resources on the part of the CAR authorities and the United Nations mission in the country (MINUSCA). JusticeInfo talked to Balkissa Ide Siddo, Central Africa Researcher at Amnesty International.  Your organization talks in the report of people...

    Read more
     
    Arrest of Gambian ex-minister in Switzerland an “important sign” for torture victims
    26.01.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Just days after long-time Gambian President Yahya Jammeh went into exile following electoral defeat and the threat of regional military intervention, his former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko has been arrested in Switzerland. This comes after Geneva-based NGO TRIAL International filed a criminal complaint to the authorities in Berne, where Sanko had applied for asylum. Sonko was Interior Minister from 2006 until he was dismissed by Jammeh in September 2016. So what are the allegations against him? JusticeInfo spoke to Bénédict De Moerloose, head of the Criminal Law and Investigation division...

    Read more
    Gao attack highlights fragility of Mali peace process
    23.01.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, with Mamadou Ben Chérif Diabaté and Studio Tamani in Bamako

    The target of January 18’s terrorist attack in Gao, northern Mali, was highly symbolic: a camp housing members of the Malian armed forces and various armed groups who used to fight each other. The attack left dozens dead in this pilot camp where former enemies were learning to live and work together to implement the Algiers peace accord. It is a tough blow for Mali’s already fragile peace process. According to the UN, application of the agreement signed 18 months ago is complicated by the lack of trust that persists between the parties. Some 60 people were killed in the attack, according to...

    Read more
    Act on CAR Special Court to halt “staggering impunity”, say rights groups
    20.01.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Nearly a year after elected institutions were installed in the Central African Republic (CAR), armed groups continue to sow death in the country, despite relative stabilization of the capital, Bangui. Seleka and Antibalaka militia, no doubt encouraged by the total impunity they have so far enjoyed, do not seem ready to put down their weapons. In two separate reports, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for the rapid setting up of the Special Criminal Court provided for in a law of 2015.  “Sectarian violence and attacks on civilians continued in central and western regions of...

    Read more
    Switzerland drops war crimes case against ex-Algerian minister
    18.01.17
    AFP

    Switzerland said Wednesday that it had no grounds to charge former Algerian defence minister Khaled Nezzar with war crimes, the latest twist in a controversial five-year-old case. The Swiss attorney general's office (OAG) said it could not move forward with a trial because there was no conclusive evidence of a "conflict" in Algeria during the period in question, leaving a key condition for prosecution unfulfilled. Nezzar was in office from 1990 to 1994 when the military was battling an Islamist opposition in a bloody civil war. Algerian troops were accused of committing grave abuses during the fighting, including torture and summary executions. Nezzar was arrested in Switzerland in...

    Read more
     
    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...

    Read more
    Rwanda’s “Red Commune”, a killing field of the genocide
    12.01.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda

    At the time of the 1994 genocide, Gisenyi prefecture in northwest Rwanda was, like other prefectures, divided into communes. But the “Red Commune” does not appear on administrative maps of the time. It is not in fact an administrative entity but a cemetery where Tutsis were brought in 1994 to be killed and thrown into mass graves, or buried alive.  Seen from afar this place looks today like a big patch of waste ground. It covers some three hectares. Despite the overgrown grass, you can see as you approach the headstones that have been erected on some graves. According to the epitaphs, the...

    Read more
    Rewriting Tunisia’s history to preserve dissident memories
    10.01.17
    Olfa Belhassine

    A third survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer research body aims for reform of Tunisia’s history teaching manuals. History and memory are a central concern of victims in Tunisia, according to a survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer. There is a persistent feeling that the authorities have forgotten or are even deliberately denying historical events related to dissidence that have taken place in the contemporary period. Six years after the revolution, only small changes have been made to history textbooks in schools. The Transitional Justice Barometer is a social science...

    Read more
    Chad's Habre: desert warlord turned brutal tyrant
    09.01.17
    AFP

    A desert warfare specialist, Chad's Hissene Habre seized power in 1982 and quickly embraced the role of ruthless dictator, with brutal atrocities the hallmark of his eight-year reign of terror. Often dressed in combat fatigues that complemented his "desert fighter" nickname, Habre fled to Senegal after he was ousted by Chad's current President Idriss Deby in 1990. On Monday his court-appointed lawyers began an appeal seeking to overturn his life sentence for war crimes, crimes against humanity and a litany of other charges handed down in May last year. In July, Habre was further ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and...

    Read more