Week in Review: Remembering Srebrenica, and the ICC versus Bashir

Week in Review: Remembering Srebrenica, and the ICC versus Bashir©Photo Rosa Menkman / Flickr
Prayers at the cemetery in Srebrenica July 14, 2011
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On July 11, the world remembered the massacre committed 21 years ago in Srebrenica, in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  This massacre, which the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has categorized as genocide, is the worst in Europe since the Second World War. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court remains faced with UN Security Council incoherence in the case of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. 

People came in their thousands on Monday July 11 to pay their respects to the victims of Srebrenica.  Twenty-one years later, the grief was still enormous. Wives and daughters of some of the 8,000 men and boys killed in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces wept, and were comforted by loved ones, wrote AFP. Others remained bent over coffins, touching them and placing flowers.

Two decades later, survivors of that war in Bosnia-Herzegovina remain psychologically scarred, as JusticeInfo’s editorial advisor Pierre Hazan writes: “For years they suffered bombings, were subject to violence, or it was their relatives who suffered it between 1992 and 1995. In Bosnia, like in other conflict zones, psychologists have established that trauma can be transmitted to new generations born well after the end of the conflict. To tackle this situation, the authorities of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of Republika Srpska – for once in agreement! – launched a project in 2009 setting up municipal mental health clinics.”

Meanwhile, can the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague hope to get its hands one day on Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, against whom it has issued two arrest warrants for serious crimes committed in Darfur? Addressing the Security Council a month ago, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda accused it of being “silent and non-responsive” on Darfur, whereas it was the Security Council itself which referred the situation to the ICC.

Last Monday, the ICC once again referred African countries to the Council for refusing to cooperate on the arrest of Bashir. This time it was Uganda and Djibouti, which hosted Bashir in May. Less than a week after this referral, the Sudanese President was welcomed with open arms to the African Union summit taking place in Rwanda which, unlike Uganda and Djibouti, has not signed the Treaty of Rome (founding treaty of the ICC).

Also in the transitional justice news was the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which last Monday decided to drop its case against Hezbollah military boss Mustafa Badreddine, finally recognizing that he was killed in Syria. Badreddine is accused of being the “brains” behind the 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese Prime Rafic Hariri.  According to Hezbollah, Badreddine was killed in an explosion near Damascus airport on May 12, the circumstances of which are still unclear. He was one of the five accused persons whose trial in absentia opened at the STL in January 2014.  

Finally to Tunisia, where the government seems to be endangering a transitional justice process in which people have placed much hope. The draft law on “economic and financial reconciliation”, which has met strong opposition ever since it was presented by President Beji Caied Essebsi on July 14, 2015, has resurfaced. “The Bill proposes to drop prosecution or serving of sentences for public officials and state employees who misused and embezzled public funds,” writes our Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhasine. National and international NGOs have again mobilized as they did last year to try and stop the Bill which, if passed, “would sabotage the mechanism Tunisia already put in place to address economic crimes through a mix of public truth-telling, restitution, and judicial flexibility”, says Human Rights Watch.