Truth and Justice Commissions

    Myanmar: Karen rebels urge nonviolent solution to Rakhine crisis on ceasefire anniversary
    18.10.17
    Sean Gleeson, Frontier

    One of Myanmar’s leading non-state armed groups has urged the government to find a “politically dignified and nonviolent” resolution to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, warning that failure to do so could jeopardise the government’s peace process. On Sunday, the second anniversary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the Karen National Union released a statement reaffirming its commitment to ending Myanmar’s decades-long history of civil conflict through political dialogue. However, it went on to criticise the northern Rakhine security crackdown that began in August, noting the...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    Liberian war victims to testify in US “Jungle Jabbah” case
    03.10.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    The trial has begun in the United States of Liberian national Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”), a Pennsylvania resident suspected of war crimes. The former ULIMO rebel commander is charged with two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury. Now that the jury has been selected, war crimes victims from Liberia are expected to start testifying before the Pennsylvania court. Alain Werner, a lawyer and co-founder of Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima, has been working for many years to help Liberian war victims get justice, and his organization is following this case closely. He...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Transitional justice under pressure in Tunisia and Myanmar
    01.10.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    The difficulties of transitional justice were illustrated this week in countries as diverse as Tunisia, Burundi, Myanmar and Nepal. In Tunisia,  a JusticeInfo investigation showed how abuses by the President of the Truth and Dignity Commission, Sihem Bensedrine, has herself weakened an already weak and vulnerable institution. Bensedrine, nicknamed Araïssa (the boss) is accused of “squandering public funds and recruiting staff in an anarchic and opaque way, so as to set up a parallel administration totally subservient to her orders”, writes our correspondent Olfa Belhassine. Sihem Bensedrine...

    Read more
     
    Outrage at Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis is “exaggerated”, says expert
    01.10.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    The crisis that has been taking place in Myanmar since August – an attack by Muslim rebels, bloody clampdown by the army and flight to Bangladesh of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya people – has provoked outrage across the world and denial from Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Syi, who is the country’s de facto leader. But Matthias Huber, a Swiss expert on Myanmar, says the world is being too hard on Suu Kyi. The United Nations announced on Wednesday it was preparing a humanitarian aid plan in case all the Rohingyas of Myanmar (also known as Burma) flee to Bangladesh to escape the...

    Read more
    In Nepal Transitional justice in crisis
    27.09.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    How can Truth Commissions function properly in a place like Nepal where alleged perpetrators set the agenda and control the commissioners in a situation of continuing insecurity where both victims and witnesses cannot speak out openly? The situation now, 11 years since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), is more complex and dangerous than the end of conflict in 2006. Security forces (both Nepal Army and Nepal Police) are becoming more powerful, and have almost destroyed evidence about past violations held in government offices. They intervene in every process, including blocking...

    Read more
    The Rakhine crisis in Myanmar and the government’s options
    19.09.17
    Sithu Aung Myint, Frontier

    The Myanmar government’s policy options for troubled Rakhine state are a choice between an army strategy focused on the 1982 Citizenship Law or implementing recommendations in the final report by the Annan commission. The coordinated attacks by extremists on 30 police posts and a Tatmadaw (army) camp in northern Rakhine in the early hours of August 25 came as no surprise to many political observers and conflict analysts. The attacks, which initially claimed the lives of 10 policemen, a soldier and two government officials, and also left dozens of extremists dead, followed a disturbing rise...

    Read more
    Burundi government remains intransigent, says UN
    04.09.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    Despite numerous mediation attempts, Burundi’s government and President do not intend to talk to the opposition, and repression is continuing. The authorities are showing the same intransigence with regard to the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which has not been able to go to the country or hold talks with Bujumbura. Fatsah Ouguergouz, president of the Commission, gives this worrying assessment ahead of the final report which he is due to present to the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in mid-September. How hard it is to give up power, even when the Constitution...

    Read more
     
    Lawyer who felled Habré to pursue Gambian Yahya Jammeh
    30.08.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Human rights lawyer Reed Brody became known for working with the victims of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Haitian ex-dictator Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier. More recently, Brody was counsel for victims of former Chadian dictator, Hissène Habré, who, after an interminable struggle, was sentenced by a special African court in Senegal to life in prison. Now, returning to Human Rights Watch after a  one-year absence, Brody is lending his support to the victims of Gambia’s ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh.  Jammeh ruled with an iron fist for 22 years before stepping down under popular...

    Read more
    Annan 's Commission calls on Myanmar to end Rohingya repression
    24.08.17
    AFP

    Myanmar must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship for its Rohingya minority if it wants to avoid fuelling extremism and bring peace to Rakhine state, a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan said Thursday. Rights groups hailed the report as a milestone for the persecuted Rohingya community because the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has previously vowed to abide by its findings. The western state, one of the country's poorest, has long been a sectarian tinderbox and mainly Buddhist Myanmar has faced growing international condemnation for its treatment of the Muslim...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
    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...

    Read more
     
    Guilt and denial at Tunisia’s Truth Commission hearings
    31.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission launched its public hearings on November 17, 2016 to shed light on nearly 60 years of human rights abuses. With 10 of the 20 planned hearings now having taken place, we look at the Commission’s half-way record. In Tunisia, the hearings’ official launch in a luxury club belonging to former First Lady Leyla Trabelsi Ben Ali sought to prove wrong the accusations of Commission inertia by leaders of Nida Tounes, current President Beji Caied Essebsi’s party, whilst most local media and politico-financial circles remained loyal to former president Ben Ali....

    Read more
    Week in Review: The thorny issue of reparations
    30.07.17
    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...

    Read more
    Tunisians tell Truth Commission of stolen elections
    28.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission has already held ten of its 20 planned public hearings. The last one, on July 21, examined the issue of electoral fraud under former presidents Bourguiba and Beni Ali. Mohamed Bennour, an activist of the centre-left Democratic Socialist Movement (MDS) – founded in 1978 by Ahmed Mestiri, former minister and dissident from Bourguiba’s regime -- was victim of several violations linked to electoral fraud. In 1981 he announced his candidacy for legislative elections that the authorities announced as “pluralist” and which raised much hope among Tunisians....

    Read more
    Nepal’s Transitional Justice mechanism "a road to nowhere"
    24.07.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The existing transitional justice (TJ) system in Nepal fails to open avenues for social justice as it is envisioned and demanded at the local level. Rather, the current system promotes a gap between the mainstream (i.e. the State) and the margins (i.e. the victims). Such a gap has brought about a polarized line of thinking in which the voices of the margins have been further marginalized and hijacked by the powerful. The State’s mechanisms and the so-called civil society groups, backed by donors, cannot provide a satisfactory solution to the truth-seeking and justice debate or provide real...

    Read more
     
    Tunisia plans amnesty for corrupt public employees
    18.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunisia

    With many of its articles removed, Tunisia’s law on “economic reconciliation” looks likely to be adopted by parliament in the coming days. But the text is still imperfect and remains controversial.  Two years ago, on July 14, 2015, President Beji Caied Essebsi presented to the cabinet his proposed law on “Special measures concerning reconciliation in the the economic and financial field”. This Bill was submitted to parliament shortly afterwards, but has continued to raise protest, not only in parliament but also on the streets and amongst national and international organizations. One of the...

    Read more
    Togo “purification” leaves bitter taste for many
    11.07.17
    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...

    Read more
    Geneva conference on Kosovo: a judicial and a humanitarian approach to find the 1658 missing persons
    03.07.17
    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...

    Read more
    “No peace for the CAR while armed groups hold balance of power”
    24.06.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Thierry Vircoulon, a researcher at the French International Relations Institute (IFRI), lectures on security issues in Africa. In an interview with JusticeInfo.Net, he is pessimistic about the chances that a ceasefire for the Central African Republic (CAR) signed in Rome on June 19 will be implemented. He says there is no chance of a lasting peace deal so long as armed groups continue to hold sway on the ground. On June 20, only a few hours after the accord was signed, clashes between militia groups left up to a hundred people dead in Bria, in central CAR. Thierry Vircoulon, researcher at...

    Read more