National tribunals

    Week in Review: CAR and Gambia take positive steps on justice
    20.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week Africa and Africans showed that transitional justice, so often criticized on that continent, can complement national justice.  The Central African Republic (CAR) finally appointed a Prosecutor for its future Special Criminal Court, a mixed tribunal to be composed of national and international judges. This is the first step in a long transitional justice process, in a country divided and ravaged by conflict. CAR’s President Touadéra has appointed a Congolese jurist and military man, Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa (also author of an article by JusticeInfo.net on complementarity...

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    Central African Special Court gets Congolese Prosecutor
    17.02.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    On February 14, Central African Republic (CAR) president Faustin-Archange Touadéra signed a decree appointing the Prosecutor of the country’s Special Criminal Court (SCC). The appointment of jurist and military man Colonel Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, a military prosecutor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is an important step towards the setting up of the SCC, which has a mandate to try suspected perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed in the CAR since 2003. But the Prosecutor’s task will be difficult in a country where more than half the territory is still in...

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    Barrow appoints Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice
    15.02.17
    AFP

    President Adama Barrow appointed a Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, ending a series of controversial foreign appointments to the position by former leader Yahya Jammeh. Hassan Bubacar Jallow has served in the appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and as a prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Barrow's government had vowed to implement a "Gambianisation" of the justice system after Jammeh named several chief justices from Pakistan and Nigeria. Foreign judges were regularly accused of kowtowing to the regime because their contracts could be easily terminated, and some were hired to hear a...

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    Spanish court receives complaint for “State terrorism” in Syria
    09.02.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    French and German judicial authorities have recently been seized of cases against the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria, which was again denounced this week for allegedly hanging thousands of opponents. But the National Audience in Madrid, Spain’s highest court with jurisdiction in matters of international law and terrorism, is ahead of the game. Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza has recently received a criminal complaint from a woman with dual Spanish and Syrian nationality. In 2014, the Spanish government restricted the country’s ability to act on “universal jurisdiction”, in which Spain had led...

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    Gambia: Will justice one day catch up with Yahya Jammeh?
    06.02.17
    Maxime DOMEGNI, regional correspondent

    It was under threat of a military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that Yahya Jammeh, President of Gambia for 22 years, finally decided to cede power to the winner of the December 1, 2016 election. Jammeh, who is now in Equatorial Guinea, is counting on the protection of his host country to avoid accountability for the many crimes and human rights abuses committed under his regime. As he went into exile on the night of Saturday January 21, Yahya Jammeh left behind him a wounded nation whose scars will take time to heal. Under the regime of the man who...

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    Week in Review: Tests for international justice in Switzerland and France
    30.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The arrest of a former Gambian Interior Minister in Switzerland this week is a test of the reach and limits of international justice, as is the earlier arrest in France of an ex-Prime Minister of Kosovo. Ousman Sonko, who is being held in Berne for suspected “crimes against humanity” was Interior Minister for 10 years under Gambia’s brutal and capricious former dictator Yahya Jammeh. He was arrested under pressure from Swiss NGO Trial International which filed a criminal case against him for torture. “As Interior Minister of The Gambia from 2006 to 2016, Sonko was head of the police and he...

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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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    Arrest of Gambian ex-minister in Switzerland an “important sign” for torture victims
    26.01.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Just days after long-time Gambian President Yahya Jammeh went into exile following electoral defeat and the threat of regional military intervention, his former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko has been arrested in Switzerland. This comes after Geneva-based NGO TRIAL International filed a criminal complaint to the authorities in Berne, where Sanko had applied for asylum. Sonko was Interior Minister from 2006 until he was dismissed by Jammeh in September 2016. So what are the allegations against him? JusticeInfo spoke to Bénédict De Moerloose, head of the Criminal Law and Investigation division...

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    Spanish justice catches up with Guatemalan ex-minister
    18.01.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Roberto Vielmann, 60, has gone on trial in Spain for the assassination of eight detainees in 2006. The trial before Spain’s highest court for cases of terrorism, genocide and crimes against humanity is expected to last two months. Vielmann could face a sentence of 160 years’ imprisonment (20 for each assassination) and payment of 300,000 Euros compensation to victims’ relatives. Vielmann obtained Spanish citizenship in 2010 and has dual nationality. Since the beginning of the trial, he has denied the allegations against him.  “I have nothing to do...

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    Switzerland drops war crimes case against ex-Algerian minister
    18.01.17
    AFP

    Switzerland said Wednesday that it had no grounds to charge former Algerian defence minister Khaled Nezzar with war crimes, the latest twist in a controversial five-year-old case. The Swiss attorney general's office (OAG) said it could not move forward with a trial because there was no conclusive evidence of a "conflict" in Algeria during the period in question, leaving a key condition for prosecution unfulfilled. Nezzar was in office from 1990 to 1994 when the military was battling an Islamist opposition in a bloody civil war. Algerian troops were accused of committing grave abuses during the fighting, including torture and summary executions. Nezzar was arrested in Switzerland in...

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    Hopes for justice in Mali after start of coup-leader’s trial
    16.12.16
    Mamadou Ben Chérif Diabaté in Bamako

    In Mali, civil society hopes the trial of the 2012 coup leader Amadou Haya Sanogo which opened on November 30 will pave the way for independent justice and an end to impunity. Sanogo and and 17 others are accused in connection with the massacre of 21 “Red Berets” who attempted a counter-coup after Sanogo seized power from President Amadou Toumani Touré in 2012. The trial is highly symbolic, even if it will not get properly under way until next year.  At the time of the coup on March 22, 2012, Amadou Haya Sanogo had only the rank of Captain in an army where there were many more senior...

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    Week in Review: Landmark trials and landmark struggles for transitional justice
    12.12.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    Transitional justice, the focus of our website, is still a little understood concept, according to Kora Andrieu, an expert in the field. “The problem with transitional justice, he says, is that the term can be taken to mean that it is justice which is in transition, whereas the idea is rather justice applied to the special context of democratic transitions.” And so this week, whether before the courts of Israel or France, transitional justice continued trying to forge its identity. The Israeli case is emblematic. Settlers on Palestinian land and their allies in the Knesset (Israeli...

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    French court confirms Rwandan’s 25-year sentence for genocide
    05.12.16
    Franck Petit, Bobigny, France (special envoy)

    A French court on Saturday confirmed a 25-year prison sentence on Pascal Simbikangwa, the first Rwandan to be tried for genocide in France. Simbikangwa, 57, has been detained in Fresnes, near Paris, since 2009. He was found guilty of participating in genocide and crimes against humanity in Kigali between April and July 1994. Simbikangwa, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in the 1980s, has always denied all the charges. After two trials and nearly three years, the appeals court in Bobigny (Paris area) reached the same conclusions as the lower court in Paris on former...

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    Rwanda to probe French officials' genocide role
    30.11.16
    AFP

    Rwanda on Tuesday opened a formal probe into 20 French officials suspected of playing a role in the 1994 genocide, in a move likely to further sour diplomatic ties with France. Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide of some 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists, angering Paris and straining relations. "The inquiry, for now, is focused on 20 individuals whom, according to information gathered so far, are required by the prosecution authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them," said prosecutor general Richard Muhumuza...

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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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    No giving up, says Swiss NGO, after blood diamonds trial setback
    06.11.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, correspondent in Geneva

    There will be no “blood diamonds” trial of Michel Desaedeleer, the first person to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in blood diamond trading that fuelled civil war and serious human rights abuses in Sierra Leone. Desaedeleer, 64, died in a Belgian prison in September this year. But Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima, which fought to help bring the case, says it will continue the fight “for justice in the name of forgotten victims of international crimes”. Desaedeleer, who had both Belgian and American nationality, was arrested in Malaga, Spain, in...

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    The arrest of Enoch Ruhigira, President Juvenal Habyarimana’s former Chief of Staff

    JusticeInfo here publishes comments of Paris professor André Guichaoua on the July 20, 2016 arrest in Frankfurt, Germany, of Enoch Ruhigira, last head of presidential staff under Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.  Professor Guichaoua is a specialist on the Great Lakes region of Africa and testified several times as an expert witness for the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which closed at the end of 2015.   This paper presents a brief factual summary of the efforts of the Prosecutor General of Rwanda to obtain during the last fifteen years the extradition of M. Enoch Ruhigira, became a New Zealand’s citizen. From New Zealand to Germany, it...

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    Extradited genocide suspects say Rwanda undermining their defence
    21.09.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    Several genocide suspects have been extradited to Rwanda by third countries or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which closed its doors at the end of 2015. Most of them accuse the Rwandan government of denying them adequate means for their defence. The Justice Ministry, which oversees legal aid, denies the accusation. The first accused person to be sent to Rwanda by the ICTR was Pentecostal pastor Jean Uwinkindi, who was transferred in April 2012. The ICTR judges approved his transfer after receiving assurances from Rwanda that the accused would get a fair trial there....

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    More pressure on Lord’s Resistance Army as US targets Kony sons with sanctions
    06.09.16
    Vony Rambolamanana

    On August 23, the US Treasury Department issued a press release announcing sanctions against Ali and Salim Kony, sons of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, who has been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2005 for serious crimes committed in northern Uganda. The LRA continues to commit serious crimes against civilians in several neighbouring African countries, but Joseph Kony has not yet been caught. The US action “freezes any of Salim or Ali Kony’s assets within U.S. jurisdiction and generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with...

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    Justice for sexual violence in Congo advancing painfully, says NGO coordinator
    01.09.16
    Vony Rambolamanana

    Abuses against civilians happen all too often in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Following a massacre in Beni on the night of August 13-14 this year that left some 50 civilians dead, six men of Ugandan, Congolese and Tanzanian nationality have gone on trial at the North Kivu military court. Another trial has been taking place since August 12 at the military court in Bukavu, South Kivu, of seven men accused in connection with the Mutarule massacre of 37 members of the Bafulero ethnic group on June 6, 2014. The accused include four Congolese soldiers, Swiss NGO TRIAL International,...

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