Kosovo's 'Rambo', Serbia's arch-antagonist, set to be PM

    A hero at home but considered a war criminal by Belgrade, Ramush Haradinaj is set to become Kosovo's prime minister just a few months after fighting against extradition to Serbia. If parliament approves his appointment as expected, this controversial former insurgent -- nicknamed "Rambo" by his comrades -- will have the job of relaunching crucial negotiations with his Serbian adversaries. The talks to "normalise" relations between Belgrade and Pristina, brokered by the European Union, have come to a standstill in recent months. Haradinaj has opposed the dialogue, calling for Belgrade...

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    Ukraine: Unbearable uncertainty for families of the missing

    For more than three years, eastern Ukraine has suffered conflict. Amid the world’s many other humanitarian crises, in Syria, or in Yemen for example, it can be easy to forget Ukraine. But the UN estimates that 10,000 people have lost their lives here since 2014. Thousands of families are grieving, and many, like Yuliia and Olha, have been condemned to wait for years to find out exactly what happened to their loved ones. “These are our fathers,” says Yuliia, taking a framed photograph off the shelf. “This one is Olha’s father, Serhii Uzakov, and this one here is my father, Volodymyr Bondarenko.” The two men disappeared almost three years ago. “It was November 27th 2014,” remembers...

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    Post-Charlottesville: Should we write off the past?
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The French revolutionaries dreamed of writing off the past. But it is not so easy to throw the legacy of time past into the dustbin of history when it directly affects the present and future. This is the drama that played out recently in Charlottesville.  Through the fate of General Lee’s statue, what was at stake in Charlottesville was not what happened in the War of Secession (1861-1865), but rather the way Americans see themselves at a crucial turning point. For the first time, Americans citizens are contemplating the fact that in two decades Whites will be in the minority in the US....

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    Malian Jihadist ordered to pay 2.7 million Euros in reparations to Timbuktu victims
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down on Thursday August 17 their reparations order for the victims of Ahmed Al Mahdi. Al Mahdi, who has been convicted by the Court, pleaded guilty to war crimes for the destruction of nine mausoleums and the main gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu during the occupation of northern Mali in 2012 by Jihadists of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) and Ansar Eddine.  As well as telling of the crimes committed in Timbuktu in 2012, Al-Mahdi’s case before the ICC was especially about punishing those who destroy cultural heritage. ...

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    Week in Review: The thorny issue of reparations
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    There is no justice without reparations. That is all the more true when it comes to international crimes. But the mechanisms of reparation are still problematic, whether at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or in national transitional justice systems like in Côte d’Ivoire. More than three years ago, the ICC sentenced former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga to 12 years in jail for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes linked to the February 24, 2003 massacre in the village of Bogoro, in Ituri. On March 24, 2017, the judges evaluated at 3.75 million dollars (3.2M...

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    Togo “purification” leaves bitter taste for many
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    In Togo, the transitional justice process put in place by the authorities seems to be dividing people more than it is reconciling them. And it was amid controversy that the High Commission for Reconciliation and National Unity (HCRRUN) organized so-called “purification” ceremonies in the country from July 3 to 9. A week of so-called purification in Togo ended on Sunday July 9 with a Christian service in the capital Lomé attended by the Prime Minister, members of the government, national institutions and the High Commission for Reconciliation and National Unity (HCRRUN). As on preceding days...

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    Geneva conference on Kosovo: a judicial and a humanitarian approach to find the 1658 missing persons
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor

    In contexts of political violence, one of the worst forms of psychological torture is not to know what happened to loved ones. And it gets worse with time. Has that person been taken by the army or an armed group? Have they been assassinated? Will they ever be found alive, or at least their remains, if victim of an extrajudicial killing? “For the past 18 years, every day that goes by is agony for us,” wrote the families of Serb and Kosovar disappeared people in a joint appeal on June 21. Under pressure from them, a UN roundtable was held in Geneva last Thursday and Friday with all the...

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    Families of 1,658 Kosovo disappeared still searching for their loved ones
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    A two-day conference this week in Geneva aims to relaunch the process of identifying 1,658 people who disappeared during the war in Kosovo (1998-1999). On the eve of the conference, families of Serb and Kosovar victims together urged local and international authorities to rise above obstacles and lack of political will. “We the mothers, fathers, spouses, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons and other relatives of the disappeared (…) will not rest until the fate of the last missing person has been clarified,” says the joint appeal signed on June 21 by Serb and Albanian families of people who...

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    USA : Addressing Our Tortured History, One Monument at a Time
    David Tolbert

    The recent remarks of Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordering the removal of monuments honoring confederate leaders from New Orleans stands out as an important moment of moral clarity and civic courage for our country. The question is, how do we build on the success of the “take ‘em down” movement to tackle the deep, ongoing history of racial violence in the United States. We also need to see many more leaders on the local, state and national levels addressing the past truthfully, apologizing for the multitude of abuses committed against people of color and correcting our twisted historical...

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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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    Offering New Insights on Memory and Memorialization for Uganda
    Lino Owor Ogora

    From November 25, to December 9, 2016, I was privileged to join a select group of 25 participants who attended a two-week seminar on truth, justice and remembrance in Berlin, Germany. I was the only Ugandan in the group, and one of five Africans, a factor which I felt highlighted the significance of my presence there.   I arrived in Berlin on a chilly Thursday evening on November 24, 2016. I was eager to get my first glimpse of the city, given that it was my first visit to Germany. Prior to this, all I knew about Germany was what we had been taught in European history regarding the first and second world wars. In Uganda Berlin was especially famous for the Berlin Conference of 1884...

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    Building justice for Syria
    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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    Memorialization and politics in Germany, a view from Nepal
    Aditya Adhikari

    “Today, the Shoah is a universal reference,” wrote the historian Tony Judt in 2008. Everywhere in the world the Holocaust has come to stand as the epitome of political evil. And in addition, the German people’s effort to atone for and repudiate their past is often held up as exemplary. The trials of war criminals in post-war Germany, the reparations provided to victims and the memorials erected in their name have become lodestars for what is called ‘transitional justice’ – the contemporary codification of norms and policies aimed at ensuring peace and justice in the aftermath of...

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    Transitional injustice in Nepal
    Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, PhD President, INHURED International

    The Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) of 2006 ended a decade of armed conflict in Nepal between the State security forces and the CPN (Maoist). With the end of the conflict that caused more than 13,000 deaths, 1,000 disappearances, displaced hundreds of thousands of people and victimized many others through torture and other human rights violations by both sides,[1] the Peace Accord spoke of a ‘new Nepal’ promising a set of transitional mechanisms to take forward political, social and economic transformation with an acknowledgement that it is necessary to address past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. [2]   As the government introduced an Ordinance in 2013...

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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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    Week in Review: Central African Republic, Geneva, Tunisia and the environment
    François Sergent,

    History resonates with time, and the crimes of the past cannot be erased from memory as if with the stroke of a pen. And so this week in the Central African Republic (CAR), courageous NGOs said no to amnesty and impunity.  According to a statement by the Network of Central African NGOs for Human Rights Promotion (RONGDH), such an amnesty has already been suggested to President Faustin-Archange Touadéra by the African Union. This is quite simply “a macabre and doomed proposal”, according to lawyer Mathias Mourouba, RONGDH deputy national coordinator, as quoted on April 18 by the Network of...

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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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    Week in Review: US strikes in Syria, while Rwanda remembers the genocide
    François Sergent,

    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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    Rwandan genocide commemoration pays tribute to “upright” Hutus
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Kigali

    On Friday April 7 Rwanda will be commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis in 1994. In the run-up to these commemorations genocide survivors, including a considerable number of young students, have been criss-crossing the one thousand hills of their little country bringing assistance to other, less fortunate survivors and also making gestures of recognition towards Hutus who saved their lives.  Her name is Roza Mukarurinda. This Hutu countrywoman from the village of Kinazi in southern Rwanda had neither weapons nor money at the height of the genocide in...

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    New Church doctrine of repentance and forgiveness gains ground in Rwanda
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Nyamata (eastern Rwanda)

    People in Rwanda excommunicated from the Church because of their participation in the 1994 genocide are now being allowed back to Communion in some Catholic parishes. This rehabilitation, which would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, is part of a special programme of spiritual re-education. At first, however, the priests who initiated it faced a lot of opposition, including from some in their hierarchy. Genocide survivor Claudette Mukamanzi, wearing a purple scarf that hardly hides the scar of a gash on her neck, has just embraced her “killer”, Jean-Claude Ntambara....

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