New Kosovo Court Pledges to Finally Prosecute Ex-Guerrillas
    Marija Ristić

    The new special court will try to make up for the failures of several international efforts to bring former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters to justice for 1990s crimes, but witness protection, legitimacy and outreach remain key challenges ahead. After five years of negotiations, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office will finally launch its first judicial activity this year. Although based in The Hague, the Specialist Chambers (SC) is legally part of Kosovo’s judicial system, but independent from the Kosovo judiciary and staffed by internationals, while all...

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    Week in Review: “Dealing with the past is defining the present”
    François Sergent,

    The way history is remembered was a theme emerging this week not only in Tunisia and Germany but also France, in the grip of presidential elections.  Remembrance and the past were one of the numerous subjects of debate between the two second-round French presidential candidates. “The country’s 20th century history, including the Algerian War and the Second World War, brought some of the fiercest clashes between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron,” writes JusticeInfo editorial advisor Pierre Hazan. “Doesn’t France also need a Truth Commission to better deal with its colonial past?”  And...

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    “Who will testify to Kosovo tribunal?” asks the man who exposed organ trafficking

    Former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty this week spoke publicly for the first time in years about his explosive December 2010 report on illegal human organ trafficking in Kosovo. He was speaking to a “Carrefour de Sarajevo” forum at Neuchâtel University, attended by a numerous public.  In his report Marty (who is also on the board of  Fondation Hirondelle, owner of pointed the finger at current President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, accused of being “one of the most dangerous sponsors of the Albanian criminal underworld”. The report says that the Kosovo president and his close...

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    French court refuses to extradite ex-Kosovo PM Haradinaj to Serbia

    A French court on Thursday rejected a request by Serbia to extradite former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who Belgrade accuses of committing war crimes during the 1998-1999 war in the Serbian Kosovo. Haradinaj, 48, was arrested by French police on January 4 when he flew into the Franco-Swiss airport of Basel-Mulhouse, but he is free to return home following Thursday's decision by the court in Colmar, eastern France. He told AFP in an interview this month that he is the victim of "political persecution". Haradinaj, a lawmaker and opponent of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is...

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    Mission impossible for Kosovo war crimes court?
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In a few days, the 19 judges of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), a European Union initiative ratified by Kosovo’s parliament in 2016, will have their own Rules of Procedure and Evidence. In theory, everything will then be ready for the first indictments against the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000. The Specialist Chambers are an integral part of Kosovo’s judicial system, but they have an international presence and they sit in The Hague, Netherlands. The President is Bulgarian, the Prosecutor...

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    Remembrance: Can Mali learn from Germany?
    Arrey Ojong Eyumeneh

    Whenever there are serious and /or massive human rights violations within a community or a State, victims, their family members and eye witnesses tend to seek justice and truth about what happened to their loved ones. To ensure that that the truth is uncovered and justice takes its course in the form of prosecuting the perpetrators and offering restitution/compensation to the victims and their families, some societies have also moved a step further by introducing different remembrance projects aimed at honoring the victims, thus reminding citizens of the atrocities that happened in the...

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    Turkish obstruction keeps Geneva’s Armenian genocide memorial in public eye
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The irony is that Turkey, by blocking for years the construction of a memorial in Geneva to the Armenian genocide, has made this monument more alive than if it had been built, if only because of the passions it arouses.  Austrian writer and philosopher Robert Musil talked in one of his works about the paradox of building monuments. Although they are erected in the public space to be seen, they tend to disappear from conscious view and condemned to the ocean of forgetfulness. “Nothing in the world is less visible than monuments,” he wrote. “There is no doubt they are erected to be seen and...

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    War Justice Strategy for Kosovo Undermined by Divisions
    Marija Ristic

    A Kosovo government-backed working group set up to draft a national strategy for dealing with the wartime past has been troubled by divisions, disputes and failures to deliver, a new report says. Kosovo’s Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Dealing with the Past and Reconciliation (IMWG) has been working since 2012 on developing a National Strategy on Transitional Justice - but with no public draft yet published, questions are being asked about why it has failed to live up to expectations.A group of NGOs is launching a report on Tuesday in Pristina examining the role of the IMWG, which...

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    Universal jurisdiction gains ground from Pinochet to Syria
    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

      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
    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”
    Franck Petit,

    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

    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
    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'

    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
    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’
    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
    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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