Africa

    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...

    Read more
    I.Coast ex-first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of crimes against humanity
    28.03.17
    AFP

    An Ivory Coast jury on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity during the 2010-11 post-election crisis in a stunning verdict after the prosecution had sought to jail her for life. "A majority of the jury declared Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes of which she has been accused, pronounced her acquittal and ordered that she be immediately freed if she is not being held for other reasons," said the head of the country's top criminal court, judge Kouadjo Boiqui. Once dubbed Ivory Coast's "Iron Lady," Gbagbo, who was not in court Tuesday, is already...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Focus on victims at the International Criminal Court
    27.03.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    Reparations are one of the four pillars of transitional justice (along with truth, justice and the guarantee of non-repetition), and this week the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered for the first time that some small individual compensation be given to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ICC judges decided that 297 direct victims of a 2003 massacre in a Congolese village should each get a “symbolic” 250 dollars. The judges also decided that convicted Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, who was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for complicity in war crimes and...

    Read more
    Tunisia : Men and Boys Are Victims Of Sexual Violence, Too
    28.03.17
    Kelli Muddell, Director of the ICTJ's Gender Justice Program and Sibley Hawkins, ICTJ Program Officer

    Something unusual happened on the first day of the public hearings being held by Tunisia’s national Truth and Dignity Commission. Sami Brahim came forward to give personal testimony of having survived sexual violence in prison during the Ben Ali regime. Mr. Brahim told the hundreds of Tunisians listening in the room, and thousands more following live on TV and the Internet, about his arrest as a student in the 1990s and his experience of abuse and torture while in jail: "All the prisoners were stripped, the young and the elderly. For an entire week, everyone was kept naked. Why? What...

    Read more
     
    ICC grants first individual reparations to victims
    24.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided on March 24 that victims of crimes committed by convicted Congolese  militiaman Germain Katanga will get both individual and collective reparations. This is the first time that the Court has awarded individual reparations. The 297 direct victims of Germain Katanga’s crimes will each receive just over 230 Euros. “This symbolic amount does not aim to compensate all the harm done,” said Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut during the March 24 hearing, but will provide some “relief” to the victims. They should also benefit from collective reparations...

    Read more
    Justice for victims at heart of ICC credibility, says Open Society
    23.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) is to decide on March 24 what reparations to grant victims of former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, whom it sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for crimes against humanity. To date, the Court has handed down only one incomplete decision on reparations for victims in the case of another Congolese, Thomas Lubanga. Mariana Pena, legal advisor to the Open Society in The Hague, talked to JusticeInfo.net about the role of victims at the ICC. Mariana Pena, legal adviser to Open Society    JusticeInfo.net: How do you assess victim participation in...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    ICC jails ex-Congo VP for bribing witnesses
    22.03.17
    AFP

    Judges on Wednesday sentenced former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to a year in jail and fined him 300,000 euros for bribing witnesses during his war crimes trial in an unprecedented case before the International Criminal Court. "The chamber imposes on you an additional 12 months, one year, imprisonment," presiding judge Bertram Schmitt told Bemba, adding a "substantial fine" was necessary "to discourage this kind of behaviour". Prosecutors had asked for eight years for Bemba, who is already serving 18 years after being convicted of war crimes by his marauding troops, who...

    Read more
     
    ICC poised to make first awards to war crimes' victims
    22.03.17
    AFP

    Judges at the International Criminal Court may Friday award the tribunal's first monetary sums to victims of war crimes, with lawyers estimating some $16.4 million in damages were caused by a 2003 attack on a Congolese village. Friday's order for reparations for 304 victims of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga is set to be a landmark step for the world's only permanent war crimes court. "Reparations should place the victim in a situation as close as possible to that before the crime was committed," Fidel Nsita Luvengika, the legal representative for victims, argued in a 2016...

    Read more
    Genocide in Rwanda : Former aide of ex-Rwandan President Habyarimana freed in Germany
    21.03.17
    JusticeInfo

    Frankfurt (Germany) – A close aide of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, who had been detained in Germany since July 2016 on allegations of involvement in the 1994 genocide, was released on Monday, JusticeInfo has learned.  Enoch Ruhigira, the last head of presidential staff under Habyarimana, was arrested during a stopover in Frankfurt on July 20 last year, on the basis of a Rwandan arrest warrant. The arrest warrant was based on accusations deemed unfounded by New Zealand, where Ruhigira has citizenship, and Belgium, where he had resided.   “He was released on Monday March 20...

    Read more
    Kenya: will technology deliver a free election ?
    21.03.17
    John Walubengo

    Elections present a milestone beyond which countries either strengthen their democratic credentials or become failed states. Often states fail when there are either perceived or blatant election malpractices. This in turn can lead to prolonged civil unrest.   Numerous cases exist across the continent. But I will use the Kenyan case to illustrate how election processes can be compromised, and then brought back from the brink with the use of technology.   Following the election in 2007 Kenya erupted into two months of unprecedented conflict. People were unhappy with the outcome which...

    Read more
    Pope begs God's forgiveness for Church sins in Rwanda genocide
    20.03.17
    AFP

    Pope Francis on Monday begged for God's forgiveness for "the sins and failings of the Church and its members" implicated in the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed around 800,000 people. The pontiff "conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi," the Vatican said in a statement after a meeting between Francis and the Rwanda President Paul Kagame. "He implored anew God's forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence,...

    Read more
     
    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...

    Read more
    ICC : Namibia demands $30 bln for German genocide of Herero people
    17.03.17
    AFP

    Namibia is to launch a 30-billion-dollar (28-billion-euro) lawsuit against Germany over genocide committed during colonial rule, when tens of thousands of people were killed, according to documents seen by AFP on Friday. The Namibian government has previously avoided demanding financial compensation, but it changed its stance as two indigenous groups filed a class-action suit in New York against Germany. Legal documents provided to AFP and The Namibian newspaper show that the government has engaged lawyers in London to pursue a case of violation of human rights and a "consequent...

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
    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,...

    Read more
     
    Week in Review: Three African women in transitional justice
    13.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    “When I think – about the world, politics, freedom, literature, and so on – I do not feel like a woman at all,” wrote French philosopher Belinda Cannone. Her reflection is especially good to remember around International Women’s Day. This week we reported on three African women on different sides of justice and reconciliation.  In the Central African Republic (CAR), former Seleka rebel fighter Martine Bangue told Radio Ndeke Luka in Bangui how she had exchanged weapons for a mason’s trowel. Asked why she chose that profession, she replied: “I chose it because I wanted to be autonomous, to...

    Read more
    The rise and fall of Ivorian ex-First Lady Simone Gbagbo
    09.03.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    For many of her admirers, Simone Gbagbo, whose trial resumed in her absence Tuesday before an Abidjan court, remains the “Iron Lady”, even behind bars. But for her detractors, she is the “Bloodstained Lady”. Côte d’Ivoire’s former First Lady was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in jail for endangering State security and is now on trial again for crimes against humanity. The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo is undoubtedly one of the leading female figures of contemporary Ivorian history. Although visibly marked by jail, this fervent Evangelist, 67, refuses to give in. Like her husband,...

    Read more
    South Africa revokes decision to leave ICC: UN
    08.03.17
    AFP

    South Africa has formally revoked its controversial decision to leave the International Criminal Court following last month's High Court ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional. Notice of Pretoria's decision to end the withdrawal process was posted on the UN's treaty website this week, although it does not necessarily spell the end of its bid to leave the Hague-based court. South Africa had in October announced it would withdraw from the UN court which was set up to try the world's worst crimes following a dispute sparked by its refusal to arrest visiting Sudan President Omar...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Tunisia’s difficult transition, no justice for Syria and Sri Lanka
    06.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In Tunisia, a lawyer is fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis use. The issue might seem marginal in comparison with war crimes and crimes against humanity. But for him, imprisonment of mostly young cannabis users under a law of the former Ben Ali regime, is proof that the country’s democratic transition still has a long way to go.  Lawyer Ghazi Mrabet is fighting to scrap “Law 52”, and he is not alone. Both Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and President Beji Caied Essebsi also say they want the law revoked. “This lawyer and human rights activist is now urging a presidential pardon for...

    Read more