Switzerland


    Will Switzerland dare to prosecute two African leaders the Gambian Sonko and the Liberian Kosiah ?
    02.06.17
    Julia Crawford

    Human rights NGOs hope Switzerland has the political will to prosecute former Gambian minister Ousman Sonko and former Liberian rebel leader Alieu Kosiah. Sonko is suspected of crimes against humanity while Kosiah is charged with committing war crimes.   The NGOs TRIAL and Civitas Maxima see both cases as important tests for Switzerland’s use of an international legal tool known as “universal jurisdiction”. Ousman Sonko, a former long-time interior minister of Gambia, was arrested in Bern in January this year, on allegations of torture filed by the Swiss branch of TRIAL International....

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    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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    ‘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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    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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    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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    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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    “Corporate Responsibility for International Crimes Must Be Tackled,” Says Swiss NGO
    06.06.16
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Swiss NGO TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) is celebrating its 14th anniversary on Monday June 6, renaming itself TRIAL International to reflect an increasingly worldwide role and launching a new website. TRIAL was founded shortly before the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was signed in July 2002, and after the London arrest of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet gave new hope to the idea of international jurisdiction to try “international crimes” (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture). It aims to combat impunity for international crimes through...

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    Accountability as a Common Goal
    26.05.16
    JusticeInfo.net

    Public dialogue in Geneva between the ICC Prosecutor and Human Rights Actors With the participation of JusticeInfo.net To learn more: Geneva Panel Discussion

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    Swiss NGO Highlights Need to Document War Crimes
    18.05.16
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    In view of the rising number of civilian casualties in armed conflict and the very low number of cases brought against alleged perpetrators of international crimes (genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity), the work of independent, professional organizations to help document crimes is vital, says Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima in its 2015 annual report. The organization stresses its work with victims and highlights cases it is helping bring to justice, including the first arrest for trading “blood diamonds” as a war crime. “The most visible outcome of Civitas Maxima’s work in 2015 was...

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    World Humanitarian Summit Must Act on Rules of War, says ICRC International Law and Policy Director
    04.05.16
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Here we publish an interview with Helen Durham, International Law and Policy Director at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a Swiss-based humanitarian  organization which serves as the guardian of the Geneva Conventions. These Conventions form the heart of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which is supposed to protect non-combatants in time of war. Yet not only are civilians being increasingly targeted, medical facilities have also come under attack in places such as Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan (Kunduz). The UN Security Council this week demanded that hospitals and...

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    Swiss mull extradition for Kosovan war crimes suspects: report
    02.05.16
    AFP

    Swiss authorities have arrested two Kosovans wanted by Serbia for suspected war crimes, but the question of where to extradite them to is stirring up diplomatic tensions, Swiss media said Monday. The men, whose names were not given, were both arrested last week and are suspected by Belgrade of committing war crimes as members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the 1998-99 war, the ATS news agency reported, citing information from the justice ministry. The first man, who was arrested in Zurich last Tuesday after Serbian authorities requested his extradition, is reportedly suspected of participating in armed attacks in 1998 against two villages situated in what today is...

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    Non-State Groups are Biggest New Threat to Rules of War, Conference Told
    27.04.16
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.net

     "We are witnessing the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime,” says the website of the first World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Istanbul in May. And it proclaims that “the World Humanitarian Summit is our chance to end it”. The agenda includes preventing and ending conflict, and strengthening respect for the rules of war. International Humanitarian Law (IHL), based around the Geneva Conventions, is supposed to protect civilians and non-combatants in time of war. But with mass atrocities every day against civilians in Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and floods of...

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    Will new forum boost compliance with the rules of war?

    Next week in Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the government of Switzerland will unveil recommendations aimed at strengthening the Geneva Conventions. The proposals, developed over almost four years of extensive consultations, primarily with member states, are intended as a response to the need to improve compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), something the ICRC says was recognised by all parties to the consultation process. The plan is to create an annual forum at which key challenges relating to the laws of war can be discussed, and at which states can exchange information on best practices. The resolution will be presented to the International...

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    “Sexual Violence in Conflict can be Prevented,” says ICRC conference
    18.11.15
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.Net

    “Sexual violence against civilians is not an inevitable consequence of armed conflict”. This was the message of a recent conference organized in Geneva by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH). The conference looked at causes and prevention strategies with regard to all forms of sexual violence during war. Whilst research has thrown up some concurring patterns, there is still no consensus on the best prevention strategies, says the ICRC, hence this conference to exchange ideas and experiences on...

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    SWITZERLAND IN TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE SPOTLIGHT
    19.10.15
    François Sergent, Justiceinfo.Net

    Spotlight on Switzerland this week in transitional justice. A Swiss court was wrong to convict and fine a Turkish politician for calling the Armenian genocide an “international lie”, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday. The judges found in their landmark ruling that Dogu Perinçek’s words “could not be regarded as affecting the dignity of the members of the Armenian community to the point of requiring a criminal law response" in Switzerland, because they “did not amount to a call for hatred or intolerance” against Armenians. In a subtle and controversial distinction,...

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    SWISS “MUST TURN WORDS TO ACTION ON INTERNATIONAL CRIMES”, SAYS TRIAL
    14.10.15
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.Net

    Swiss anti-impunity NGO TRIAL, supported by Amnesty International, has just published a new manual on how Swiss law can be used to prosecute international crimes under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Following changes to the law in 2011, Switzerland should be a model in this field, says TRIAL, but it still has a long way to go. The manual (in French) is entitled “The Fight against Impunity under Swiss Law: Universal Jurisdiction and International Crimes”. Written by a group of specialist lawyers, it lays out provisions and concepts of universal jurisdiction under current Swiss law,...

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    JusticeInfo.net takes up the challenge
    17.06.15
    François Sergent, Editor in Chief

    JusticeInfo.net is launched, as you can see! We will talk about justice, law, remembrance, forgiveness and punishment in transition societies and beyond. How each society deals with its political violence, past and present. JusticeInfo.net aims to bring information and debate on key questions of our time. The wars that are tearing the world apart are largely internal conflicts. More than 80% of those who are dying are civilians. And there are 50 million refugees in the world, the highest number since the Second World War. How can a community be rebuilt after massive violations of human...

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