National tribunals

    Guatemala: How the Sepur Zarco Women lifted impunity for sexual violence
    21.06.17
    Laura Cools & Brisna Caxaj, Impunity Watch

    “The verdict has been obtained, justice has been achieved; sadness is no longer”, states Demecia Yat, President of the Jalok U Collective, which gathers survivors of sexual violence and armed conflict from Sepur Zarco and surrounding communities. During the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996), in the military base of Sepur Zarco, 15 indigenous q’eqchi’ women were forced to clean the soldiers’ clothes, cook, and serve them without pay, while being subjected to physical and sexual abuse for months or sometimes years on end, receiving anti-contraceptive pills and injections to prevent...

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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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    Long road to justice for Tunisian torture victim in Switzerland
    14.06.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    In 2004, Abdennacer Naït-Liman filed a complaint in Geneva to obtain reparations for torture suffered in the Tunisian Interior Ministry in 1992. However, it was in vain. Now the case of this Tunisian exiled in Switzerland is before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the highest court of appeal on the continent. Depending on the outcome, this case could open a new path for torture victims in countries of asylum. “We are opening doors in the hope that victims of international crimes like torture and war crimes can have other recourse than criminal trials,” said...

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    Spanish Left demands return to universal jurisdiction
    07.06.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    Is the concept of universal jurisdiction, in which Spanish judges used to lead the way, about to come back in Spain? A Bill to this effect is in the parliamentary works, even if it is blocked for the moment by the party in power, the Popular Party. Some voices within Podemos, the third largest political force in the lower house of parliament, have in recent weeks been demanding that Spain become once again a country where justice has “no limits and no borders”. This was the recent call of Miguel Urban, one of the co-founders of Podemos, on Publico-TV. In April, renowned Spanish jurist...

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    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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    Nepal : Politicisation of the supreme court and its impact on justice process in transition
    23.05.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The first women chief justice of the Supreme Court, Shushila Karki, was an independent and strong chief justice who was against the political influence or unwanted interference in judiciary. She has challenged the powerholders through judicial process openly such as declared chief of Commission on Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Nepal anti-corruption body, Lokman Singh Karki an incompetent in her verdict, who was appointed by then government in a ‘political consensus’. On 30 April, Justice Karki made a verdict to prosecute three former Chiefs of Nepal police on corruption charges....

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    Gambia's 'broken' justice system struggles with victims' ire
    12.05.17
    AFP

    Gambians want swift justice for the crimes of fallen dictator Yahya Jammeh's regime but the new government faces an uphill battle to jail the most prolific abusers. Silenced for 22 years, victims shot or tortured by Jammeh's security services are now speaking out, along with families whose loved ones have been pulled from recently found unmarked graves. But the cash-strapped government refuses to put anyone else in the dock, burnt by a high-profile, politically charged case this year that has run into procedural and systemic problems. "In terms of prosecutions, we are not at that...

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    French court refuses to extradite ex-Kosovo PM Haradinaj to Serbia
    27.04.17
    AFP

    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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    Week in Review: Simone Gbagbo, Myanmar, universal jurisdiction and satellites
    03.04.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    An Abidjan court’s March 28 acquittal of former Ivorian First Lady Simone Gbagbo, charged with “crimes against humanity”, was the big surprise of this week in transitional justice. Was it a judicial or a political decision? Human rights defenders and associations representing victims of the fierce repression that followed the 2010 presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire have criticized this decision. The Prosecutor had called for life imprisonment “in the name of national reconciliation”. Simone Gbagbo herself, who is already serving a 20-year sentence for “undermining State security”,...

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    I.Coast ex-first lady Simone Gbagbo acquitted of crimes against humanity
    28.03.17
    AFP

    An Ivory Coast jury on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity during the 2010-11 post-election crisis in a stunning verdict after the prosecution had sought to jail her for life. "A majority of the jury declared Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes of which she has been accused, pronounced her acquittal and ordered that she be immediately freed if she is not being held for other reasons," said the head of the country's top criminal court, judge Kouadjo Boiqui. Once dubbed Ivory Coast's "Iron Lady," Gbagbo, who was not in court Tuesday, is already...

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    Tunisia : Men and Boys Are Victims Of Sexual Violence, Too
    28.03.17
    Kelli Muddell, Director of the ICTJ's Gender Justice Program and Sibley Hawkins, ICTJ Program Officer

    Something unusual happened on the first day of the public hearings being held by Tunisia’s national Truth and Dignity Commission. Sami Brahim came forward to give personal testimony of having survived sexual violence in prison during the Ben Ali regime. Mr. Brahim told the hundreds of Tunisians listening in the room, and thousands more following live on TV and the Internet, about his arrest as a student in the 1990s and his experience of abuse and torture while in jail: "All the prisoners were stripped, the young and the elderly. For an entire week, everyone was kept naked. Why? What...

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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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    Genocide in Rwanda : Former aide of ex-Rwandan President Habyarimana freed in Germany
    21.03.17
    JusticeInfo

    Frankfurt (Germany) – A close aide of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, who had been detained in Germany since July 2016 on allegations of involvement in the 1994 genocide, was released on Monday, JusticeInfo has learned.  Enoch Ruhigira, the last head of presidential staff under Habyarimana, was arrested during a stopover in Frankfurt on July 20 last year, on the basis of a Rwandan arrest warrant. The arrest warrant was based on accusations deemed unfounded by New Zealand, where Ruhigira has citizenship, and Belgium, where he had resided.   “He was released on Monday March 20...

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    Colombia to set up special war crimes courts
    14.03.17
    AFP

    Colombia's senate late Monday approved a constitutional reform to set up special war crimes courts, a key component of the historic peace agreement with FARC guerrillas that ended five decades of war. The court system will be made up of three sections: a truth commission, a unit to search for missing people, and a temporary, autonomous body to try crimes committed during the armed conflict before December 1, 2016. Establishing the courts was the backbone of the peace deal Bogota reached in November with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels. President Juan Manuel Santos...

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    Week in Review: Three African women in transitional justice
    13.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    “When I think – about the world, politics, freedom, literature, and so on – I do not feel like a woman at all,” wrote French philosopher Belinda Cannone. Her reflection is especially good to remember around International Women’s Day. This week we reported on three African women on different sides of justice and reconciliation.  In the Central African Republic (CAR), former Seleka rebel fighter Martine Bangue told Radio Ndeke Luka in Bangui how she had exchanged weapons for a mason’s trowel. Asked why she chose that profession, she replied: “I chose it because I wanted to be autonomous, to...

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    The rise and fall of Ivorian ex-First Lady Simone Gbagbo
    09.03.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    For many of her admirers, Simone Gbagbo, whose trial resumed in her absence Tuesday before an Abidjan court, remains the “Iron Lady”, even behind bars. But for her detractors, she is the “Bloodstained Lady”. Côte d’Ivoire’s former First Lady was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in jail for endangering State security and is now on trial again for crimes against humanity. The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo is undoubtedly one of the leading female figures of contemporary Ivorian history. Although visibly marked by jail, this fervent Evangelist, 67, refuses to give in. Like her husband,...

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    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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