Europe

    Universal jurisdiction gains ground from Pinochet to Syria
    27.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Universal jurisdiction is making slow but steady progress as a tool against impunity, and not only in Europe. This is according to a report published on Monday March 27 by five human rights organizations. Forty-seven people suspected of crimes committed in another country were tried before national courts in 2016, according to the report, entitled Make Way for Justice. This marks slow but steady progress for the principle of universal jurisdiction, which is being used more widely, including outside the European Union. “Despite constant attacks, universal jurisdiction continues to be a...

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    A Foundation of Lies: "Relatives for Justice" Unpacks the Truth about the Irish Conflict
    15.03.17
    ICTJ

      On February 12th, 1989, sledgehammers smashed through Pat Finucane’s front door in north Belfast. Paramilitaries stormed his family home and found the 39-year-old human rights lawyer eating Sunday dinner with his wife and three children. They shot him 14 times and fled. Nearly 30 years after Finucane’s killing, questions persist. Who commissioned the murder? Was the British government involved in some capacity? And when will justice for victims finally be served?     Mark Thompson These are the questions Mark Thompson grapples with every day....

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    Ukraine accuses Russia of terrorism at the International Court of Justice
    08.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Ukraine and Russia are this week facing off against each other before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Kiev accuses Moscow of violating two international Conventions, one on funding terrorism and one on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. It is asking the Court for urgent measures. Ukraine wants the ICJ to order Moscow to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine immediately and also stop violating the rights of ethnic Tatars in Crimea. It is asking the Court to do this urgently, before making any pronouncement on the substance of the case,...

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    French arrest of former Kosovo PM is a “test for Europe”
    30.01.17
    Franck Petit, JusticeInfo.net

    The name of Ramush Haradinaj is again on the lips of European diplomats. This former nightclub bouncer was head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the war with Serbia in 1998. Emerging victorious from the war, he was seen as a hero of the resistance and an ally of the international community that wanted a stable Kosovo. He was also tried and twice acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). But on January 4, 2017, he was arrested at Bâle-Mulhouse airport in France, on the basis of an arrest warrant from Serbia, which wants him extradited. Europe...

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    Serbia and Kosovo declare war of words
    18.01.17
    AFP

    A propagandist train, a rising wall and the ghosts of the late 1990s conflict: Serbia and Kosovo are engaged in a disturbing war of symbols and words, unprecedented in recent years. "Kosovo is Serbia" said a message in 20 languages on the side of a train, painted in the colours of the Serbian flag, which left Belgrade on Saturday, destined for northern Kosovo. The move was lambasted as a "deliberate provocation" by Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci, who suggested it was part of a plan to annex the Serb-populated north of his country. "Serbia counts on the assistance of Russia," said...

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    Targeted State killings abroad as a new form of war
    17.01.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Since September 11, 2001, the strategy of targeted killings has become more and more widespread internationally, in the name of the War on Terror. But the question of their legality is controversial. The widening of targets is turning this tactic into a specific way of waging war. Almost immediately after Al Qaeda attacked American soil on September 11, 2001, the United States promised it would hit its enemies wherever they were in the name of the “war” on terror. Paris did the same thing in Mali in 2013, still as part of the fight against armed Jihadists. Then, after the November 23, 2015...

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    UN prosecutors urge life term for 'Butcher of Bosnia'
    07.12.16
    AFP

    Prosecutors urged UN judges on Wednesday to jail Ratko Mladic for life, accusing the former Serb commander of a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing to create a Greater Serbia in the 1990s Balkans wars. "It would be... an insult to the victims, living and dead, and an affront to justice to impose any sentence other than the most severe available one: a life sentence," prosecutor Alan Tieger told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "The time has come for General Mladic to be held accountable for those crimes against each of his victims and the communities he destroyed." Once dubbed "the Butcher of Bosnia", Mladic, 74, has denied 11 charges including two of...

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    ICTY to hear closing arguments in Mladic case
    04.12.16
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The trial of former Bosnian Serb military boss Ratko Mladic is coming to an end before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Prosecutor’s closing arguments are due to start on Monday December 5, followed by those of the defence. Mladic, who has been on trial for more than four years, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “I chose Mladic,” former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic told a session of the Bosnian Serb parliament, the transcript of which is recorded...

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    ‘Death opens the eyes of the living’
    30.11.16
    Marcela Aguila Rubín

    Secret mass graves in Mexico, daily bombings and a mounting death toll in Syria, 30,000 “disappeared” people in Argentina. What does the fight for truth and justice mean in terrible contexts like these where impunity persists? A Swiss research project hopes to provide an answer. “What does ‘right to the truth’ actually mean when criminal proceedings are not possible due to amnesty laws, state denial, systematic disappearances of bodies or the deaths of those responsible?” ponders Sévane Garibian, a law professor at Geneva and Neuchâtel universities.She is leading a project...

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    Bosnia: "Compensation empowers war crimes survivors", says TRIAL
    22.11.16
    Basma Elmahdy

    Bringing justice to female survivors of wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a main concern in the field of international justice. “Over 20 years after the end of the conflict, wartime victims are still paying a high price for the harm they suffered”, says Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović, a senior legal adviser at Trial International organization.  Whilst a three and a half year war was ended by the Dayton peace agreement in 1995, sexual violence victims feel neglected by the lack of effective enforcement of compensation awards. Swiss NGO TRIAL International, based in Geneva since...

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    Moscow Holds International Justice in Contempt, says HRW

    Yesterday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin issued an order to notify the United Nations that Russia was withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute, the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia never ratified the statute and was not a member of the ICC, so its withdrawal has no practical impact. But the move has symbolic significance, driving home again Russia’s contempt for international efforts to enforce human rights.  The timing was no accident. The day before, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, in its annual report, characterized the armed conflict in eastern...

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    Geneva Twitter bot flags up dictators’ planes

    An open-source computer programme identifies planes flying into Geneva airport which belong to authoritarian regimes and raises the alert via Twitter. The creators of the GVA Dictator Alert now want to install the device in other airports.The programme, launched in April by a group of investigative journalists, mines data captured by the network of antennae used by plane spotters. In Geneva, this was provided by the association of airport residents. Civilian planes emit signals which give the plane number and location. These data are scanned by the computer, which uses a list of around 100...

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    Five questions on the ICC
    21.10.16
    AFP

    Once a champion of the International Criminal Court (ICC), South Africa dealt a blow to the world tribunal Friday by announcing its intention to withdraw, a move that came on the heels of a similar move by Burundi. Here are five key questions following Pretoria's announcement: Is this the end of the ICC? Not according to Harvard law professor Alex Whiting. "International criminal justice has always had its ups and downs and setbacks in the past. This is another setback, but the court is not going to disappear," he told AFP. The ICC's founding Rome Statute "is a treaty and parties are free to leave it as they want," said Aaron Matta, senior researcher at the Hague Institute for Global...

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    New-look IRIN opens Geneva office
    18.10.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, Geneva

    Humanitarian news agency IRIN, which turned independent from the UN in 2015, opened a new office in Geneva on October 12. Since taking its independence, IRIN has had funding concerns, but has now been able to re-launch with support notably from the Swiss and Swedish governments and the Swiss Lottery (Loterie Romande). Focussing on humanitarian issues worldwide, IRIN sees its network of 200 correspondents, editors and analysts as an original asset to help “ shine a light on forgotten crises and to keep issues that are less sexy on the radar". "We try to fill gaps that are left by the...

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    Transitional Justice in Ukraine: Reconciliation or Reconsolidation of Post-Communist Trauma?
    17.10.16
    Ilya Nuzov

    Shortly after the 2014 Maidan Revolution, during an international armed conflict with Russia in the East of the country, Ukraine adopted a package of four Decommunization Laws addressing its Soviet history. Largely a product of politics of memory, these measures further a particular understanding of past events that will likely continue to fuel division and distrust among Ukrainians, and between Ukraine and Russia.   Introduction   Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution in winter 2014 culminated in the ouster of Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, after his refusal to sign a European Union...

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    People's tribunal accuses Monsanto of 'ecocide'
    14.10.16
    AFP

    Global activists Friday launched a people's tribunal, accusing giant US seeds firm Monsanto of violating human rights and committing the crime of "ecocide", by posing a "major threat" to the environment. Monsanto, which produces genetically-modified seeds as well as controversial pesticides, has already dismissed the gathering in The Hague organised by hundreds of grassroots groups as a "parody" with no legal standing, and refused to attend. But five professional international judges will hear from 30 witnesses, including scientists, farmers and beekeepers, who have travelled from five...

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    Week in Review: Hunger strike in The Hague, and looking back on a fiasco in Rwanda
    19.09.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

        It was a rich and varied week in transitional justice, with its high and low points.   In the Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) faced new difficulties in trying former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who no longer wants to cooperate with the Court. Ntaganda, who has been in the ICC prison in the Netherlands for 36 months, is boycotting his trial. He has also gone on hunger strike to protest restrictions on his family visits, imposed by the judges because of his suspected attempts to intimidate witnesses through intermediaries. Ntaganda is accused of crimes against...

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    ICC prosecutors put new focus on ecological harm, land grabs
    15.09.16
    AFP

    Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court Thursday said they would boost their focus on environmental destruction and illegal land grabs as possible crimes against humanity, in what may prove a warning to big business. In a new ICC internal policy, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office would "give particular consideration" to crimes committed by or resulting in "the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land". The landmark move was hailed by environmental and rights activists who said it could act as a...

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    Is the age of liberal democracy coming to an end?

    As the rise of populist anti-establishment parties in western democracies – including in Switzerland – continues unabated, the events of 2016 have only served to push liberal democracies further into crisis. After the waves of democracy that swept across the world following the fall of Latin American dictators in the 1980s and the implosion of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, commentators and rankings alike now reveal a stagnation in the number of countries adopting democracy as a political system and a growth in the power of authoritarian regimes.  This year, as...

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    Week in Review: Remembering Srebrenica, and the ICC versus Bashir
    18.07.16
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    On July 11, the world remembered the massacre committed 21 years ago in Srebrenica, in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  This massacre, which the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has categorized as genocide, is the worst in Europe since the Second World War. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court remains faced with UN Security Council incoherence in the case of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir.  People came in their thousands on Monday July 11 to pay their respects to the victims of Srebrenica.  Twenty-one years later, the grief was still enormous. Wives and...

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