Middle-East

    Persecuted Egyptian activist wins human rights award
    11.10.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    Egyptian Mohamed Zaree on Tuesday received in Geneva the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. The award honours his commitment despite personal risk. It also serves as a protest against the Egyptian President, whose repressive tactics know no bounds according to the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), of which Zaree is Egypt Country Director.   Mohamed Zaree was unable to travel to Geneva to receive the Martin Ennals Award because of a travel ban as he faces judicial investigations and the prospect of a possible 30-year prison sentence. His “crime” is a...

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    Syria : “These are the Crimes we are Fleeing”
    03.10.17
    HRW

    Over the last six years the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of an estimated 475,000 people as of July 2017, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. All sides to the conflict have committed serious crimes under international law amid a climate of impunity. A range of groups have actively documented violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Syria. In late 2016, the United Nations General Assembly also created a mechanism tasked with analyzing and collecting evidence of serious crimes committed in Syria suitable for use in future proceedings before any court or...

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    Questions and answers on Israeli settlements
    26.09.17
    AFP

    A Palestinian gunman opened fire at an entrance to the Israeli settlement of Har Adar in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, killing three security personnel and wounding another. Here are some key questions and answers on Israeli settlements: - What are settlements? - Settlements are Israeli villages, towns and even cities built on territory Israel seized during the Six-Day War of 1967. Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank, along with 2.6 million Palestinians. A further 200,000 Israelis live in annexed east Jerusalem, along with at least 300,000 Palestinians, who want to make the sector the capital of their future state. Israel also seized part...

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    Carla Del Ponte blasts impunity in farewell speech
    18.09.17
    AFP

    Outgoing Syria war crimes investigator Carla Del Ponte said on Monday she had quit her post out of frustration over "total impunity", in a fiery farewell speech. Del Ponte, an accomplished war crimes prosecutor, announced last month that she was leaving the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria, a UN-backed panel that has collected evidence of alleged atrocities committed in the country since the outbreak of civil war in 2011. "I resign to put an end to my frustration," Del Ponte told the Human Rights Council, after the COI presented its latest report. "Seven years of crimes in Syria...

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    A movie takes on taboos of Lebanon's civil war
    14.09.17
    AFP

    Nearly three decades after it ended, Lebanon's civil war returned to haunt Beirut this week at a screening of the film "The Insult," which forcefully explores the taboos of the conflict. The movie opened to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, earning accolades for its French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri and a Volpi Cup for Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha. The advance screening on Tuesday was overshadowed somewhat by Doueiri's brief detention for filming in 2012 in Israel despite Lebanese legislation banning citizens from visiting the Jewish state. But viewers still packed...

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    Saudi-led strikes against children 'war crimes' in Yeman : HRW
    12.09.17
    AFP

    A series of Saudi-led coalition air strikes which killed 26 children in Yemen in June amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. "The attacks, which struck four family homes and a grocery, in one case killing 14 members of the same family, caused indiscriminate loss of civilian life in violation of the laws of war. Such attacks carried out deliberately or recklessly are war crimes," the New York-based HRW said. Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Iran-backed Huthi rebels forced him into exile. HRW is urging the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is...

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    Assad may win war but will preside over a ruined Syria
    11.09.17
    AFP

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad appears to be winning the war against those who sought his overthrow, but he will preside over a ruined country with an economy in tatters. "Assad remains in charge of most of the population and most of the important territory, and I expect him to continue to rule most of Syria," said Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation think-tank. "The war goes on, but in the larger strategic sense he has defeated those who sought to depose him," Lund told AFP. The writing is on the wall even in the halls of the United Nations, where special envoy...

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    Recap of Syrian chemical weapons attacks since 2011
    06.09.17
    AFP

    United Nations war crimes investigators said Wednesday they have evidence showing the Syrian regime carried out an April sarin gas attack in Idlib province that killed dozens of people. The attack was the latest in a string of chemical strikes since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Here is a recap. - Damascus threatens to use chemical weapons - July 23, 2012: The Syrian government acknowledges for the first time that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in the event of military operations by Western countries, but not against its own population. The following month, then US president Barack Obama says the use or even movement of such weapons would be a "red...

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    Week in Review: The high price of impunity in Syria and CAR
    11.08.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week was marked by the resignation of Swiss war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from the UN commission investigating crimes in Syria. “This commission does absolutely nothing," explained Del Ponte, accusing UN Security Council members of “not wanting to establish justice”. Russia, ally of Damascus has ever since the commission’s creation six years ago vetoed referring Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Damascus has never authorized the Commission, which has produced numerous reports, to go to Syria. “Believe me, I have never seen such horrible crimes as are being...

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    Syria and the lessons to be learned from Carla Del Ponte’s resignation
    08.08.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Criminals like to commit their crimes in the dark. It is on this assumption that justice must be seen to be done if it is to help prevent crime. And so metaphorically, good triumphs over evil and light over darkness. In international public life this conviction has often produced a will to expose publicly the atrocities committed by war criminals, so as to shame them and dissuade others from associating with them. This "naming and shaming" approach was the reason United Nations Commissions of Inquiry were set up and is the preferred method of human rights organizations, convinced that...

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    HRW says Israel stripping Palestinians of Jerusalem residency 'war crime'
    08.08.17
    AFP

    Human Rights Watch said Tuesday Israel had stripped nearly 15,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem of their right to live in the city since 1967 and warned that it could be a "war crime." "Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians," Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director, said in a report. Israel occupied east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War in a move never recognised by the international community. The more than 300,000 Palestinians there have permanent residency status but are not Israeli nationals. While east Jerusalem residents are allowed to apply for citizenship, most do...

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    Veteran prosecutor to quit UN Syria probe that 'does nothing'
    06.08.17
    AFP

    Veteran former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is on a UN commission probing rights abuses in Syria, has said she intends to resign because the body "does absolutely nothing". "I am frustrated, I give up," she told the Swiss newspaper Blick in an interview published on Sunday. "I have written my letter of resignation and will send it in the next few days". Del Ponte, a 70-year-old Swiss national who came to prominence investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, has been part of the four-member UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria since September 2012. The...

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    Palestinian civil society urges the ICC to act
    24.07.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Lawyers representing 448 named victims and 42 Palestinian civil society organizations have presented to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a thick file of complaints against Israeli settlement, its blockade of Gaza and the war of summer 2014. They are urging the Prosecutor to speed up proceedings and asking her to open an investigation.  “This is the first time the people have turned to the Court,” said French lawyer Gilles Devers as he emerged from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on July 19 after filing the complaint  on behalf of Palestinian victims and civil...

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    Mosul minaret destruction 'deepens wounds' of Iraqis: UNESCO
    22.06.17
    AFP

    The destruction by jihadists of Mosul's leaning minaret "deepens the wounds" in war-torn Iraq, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said Thursday. Calling in a statement for "immediate and strengthened international mobilisation," the head of the UN's cultural agency said: "This new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy." She pledged UNESCO's "renewed solidarity and readiness to support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage whenever possible." The 12th-century minaret blown up along with the Nuri mosque on Wednesday was one of...

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    Government cynicism and the transitional justice dream in crisis
    21.06.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    What a revealing new development in terms of government attitudes towards international justice: Twenty years ago, it was a source of immense hope, but now it has been reduced to begging from the public to fund the International Mechanism for Syria that was nevertheless set up by the UN General Assembly to gather evidence on serious crimes committed during the Syrian war.    The recent article by our Hague correspondent Stéphanie Maupas sharply reflects the troubled state of international justice and transitional justice more widely. Transitional justice was conceived in the 1990s and...

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    Civil society calls for Syria justice funding as UN drags its feet
    20.06.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    An organization supporting Syrian civil society has launched a call for funding to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria. This Mechanism, approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2016, is supposed to centralize evidence gathered over the last seven years of war and prepare potential war crimes cases for any future tribunal. The UN Secretary General is expected to announce shortly the name of the person to head this Mechanism, but its funding is still not certain. Is justice for Syria too costly for UN Member States? The International,...

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    At UN event, Russia fights back against "fake news" surrounding the battle for Aleppo
    14.06.17
    AFP

    Russia fought back Wednesday against what it called "fake news" surrounding the battle for Aleppo, hosting a UN event with a video appearance by the boy whose blood-streaked face became a symbol of the conflict. The August 2016 footage of the young Omran Daqneesh, shell-shocked and covered in dust while sitting in an ambulance after an air strike, made headlines around the world. The United States described him as "the real face" of the Syrian civil war. He looked dramatically different on Wednesday when he was featured in a Human Rights Council side event hosted by the Russian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Russian ambassador Alexey Borodavkin said Wednesday's event was...

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    Building justice for Syria
    24.04.17
    Radwan Ziadeh Senior Analyst Arab Center Washington D.C

    Syria became the place where the most serious war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated, even one day the former secretary general Ban Ki-Moon described of what happened in Aleppo as "synonym for hell." The challenges face the international human rights, and justice communities are vast, where the impunity became the new culture and circle of violence turned to be the only reality. The UN commission of Inquiry documented the patterns of the crimes in Syria, and concluded that there is an "everyday war crimes and crimes against Humanity."   The widespread and the brutality of such crimes requires a response from the international community beyond condemnations and...

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    Week in Review: US strikes in Syria, while Rwanda remembers the genocide
    09.04.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    International justice saw a new failure this week on Syria. The UN Security Council was unable to agree a Resolution after the “chemical weapons” massacre at Khan Cheikhoun which left dozens dead and injured, including children. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it a war crime, saying that “international humanitarian law has been violated”. Nevertheless opposition from Russia, backer of the Syrian regime, and China prevented a Resolution condemning this massacre blamed on the Syrian air force. This blockage in the UN Security Council has also stopped any moves to refer Syria to...

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    Syrian war crime brings illegal but perhaps legitimate US strikes
    07.04.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Syrian air force use of chemical weapons against civilians is a war crime, or even a crime against humanity. The retaliatory US missile strikes are perhaps legitimate, but certainly illegal under international law.   On Friday August 30, 2013, US President Barack Obama took one of the heaviest decisions of his mandate. He decided to abandon the “red line” that he had himself set. He would not take military action against the Syrian regime, even though it had just used chemical weapons. But new US President Donald Trump took action this Thursday, after seeing the images of dozens of dead...

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