Archives


The archives of the JusticeInfo.net website have been available through our search tool since 2015. These archives are a real memory bank of Transitional Justice and reconciliation processes. They cover nearly 100 countries, focussing on, for example, the activities of special courts like the ICC, ICTY and ICTR, and Truth Commissions like the Truth and Dignity Commission in Tunisia. The dispatches of the Hirondelle News Agency, which covered the work of the ICTR from its start in 1997 to its closure in 2015, are included in the search tool.

Start
End
 (Reset)
    Political resistance: how cross-cutting frictions drive and define transitional justice in Tunisia
    Political resistance: how cross-cutting frictions drive...
    18.07.18
    Mariam Salehi

    Transitional justice is inherently political. It emerges from political concerns, influences politics and power structures. In a transitional society, transitional justice has an important role to play in shaping the ‘new political architecture’,[i] in deciding who may participate in what capacity in future politics, as well as in granting access to material and non-material resources that in turn may facilitate access to decision-making procedures and positions of power. After the uprising in 2010/11 that culminated in the fall of the authoritarian regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia started very early on dealing with its violent, repressive past: first in the framework of existing legislation and later with the development...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Bangui rejects hate message, Euro-MPs make an appeal
    Week in Review: Bangui rejects hate message, Euro-MPs make...
    16.07.18
    Ephrem RUGIRIRIZA, JusticeInfo.Net

    Central Africans from all sides have come out strongly against a message calling on Christians to avenge the deaths of priests and members of the faithful killed in recent days. That call came in a communiqué from the “Church Defence League”, a hitherto unknown organization which says it wants to “denounce the lack of action by national authorities and Catholic church leaders in the face of violence against priests and religious people”, according  to Radio Ndeke Luka. The Catholic church, Muslim organizations, journalists’ associations and other members of civil society have come out as one to denounce this hate message. “The stated aims of this organization go against the Bible, the aspirations of the Church and its work here in...

    Read more
    “If the ICC had jurisdiction in Syria, it might save many lives”
    “If the ICC had jurisdiction in Syria, it might save many...
    16.07.18
    Stéphanie MAUPAS, The Hague

    On July 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding document, the Rome treaty. Interview with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW). Justice Info: What is the significance of this 20th anniversary? Kenneth Roth: I think the creation of the ICC twenty years ago was an historic moment, because it signals theoretical commitment by the international community to attack the impunity that so often stood behind mass atrocities. So many abusive governments had figured out that if they kill or compromise their domestic judges, they can proceed with their murderous plan, without any worry about criminal prosecution. And the Rome Statute signals, at least in...

    Read more
    EU needs Special Representative on International Justice, say Euro-MPs
    EU needs Special Representative on International Justice,...
    09.07.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    A group of European Parliament members have asked top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini to appoint as a matter of urgency a special representative on international humanitarian law and international justice. In a letter sent on June 29 to Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, 34 members of the parliament in Strasbourg call for the “urgent establishment of a European Union Special Representative for International Humanitarian Law and International Justice”. The signatories suggest this should be decided for the 20th anniversary on July 17 of the adoption of the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty. “Nobody is doing anything to ensure that those responsible for crimes are...

    Read more
    France upholds life sentences for Rwanda genocide mayors
    France upholds life sentences for Rwanda genocide mayors
    06.07.18
    AFP

    A French court on Friday upheld life sentences for two former Rwandan mayors for taking part in the massacre of hundreds of ethnic Tutsis during the country's 1994 genocide. Octavien Ngenzi, 60, and Tito Barahira, 67, had launched an appeal after they were found guilty in 2016 of crimes against humanity, genocide and summary executions in their village of Kabarondo. Relatives of the pair sobbed quietly as the ruling was read out in court, while Ngenzi and Barahira listened in silence. They will have five days to decide whether they will appeal the ruling again to a higher court. "This decision is just and sends a message: no to impunity for all those who took part in the genocide and who thought they could find refuge in...

    Read more
    ICC Prosecutor says Bemba acquittal based on false testimony
    ICC Prosecutor says Bemba acquittal based on false testimony
    05.07.18
    Stéphanie Maupas,correspondent in The Hague

    As the International Criminal Court (ICC) prepared to hold a hearing this July 5 in a second, witness tampering case against Congolese Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba and his co-accused, the Prosecutor says his acquittal in early June for crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) was based partly on false testimonies. 48 hours before the witness tampering sentencing debates, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed a new deposition. Fatou Bensouda considers that witness tampering by the former Congolese vice-president had an impact on the acquittal decision of June 8. Whilst Bemba was acquitted of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges for rape, murder and looting committed by his forces in the CAR in 2002 and...

    Read more
    Opinion : transitional justice amendment in Nepal not "acceptable" , according to victims
    Opinion : transitional justice amendment in Nepal not...
    22.06.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The government of Nepal is preparing to register a new bill of controversial and highly contested transitional justice act in the parliament after 3 and half years of two transitional bodies formed in February 2015. In a historic verdicts of Supreme Court (26 February 2015) on behalf of conflict victims legal petitions against flaws in the previous Act (the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014), government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Disappeared Commission to investigate war era (1996-2006) crimes without listening to the victims’ demands and Supreme Court directives against the contested provisions of amnesty and forced...

    Read more
    "Recognizing sexual violence in conflict is part of sexual equality"
    "Recognizing sexual violence in conflict is part of sexual...
    21.06.18
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    Better fighting sexual violence in conflict, prosecuting perpetrators more efficiently and strengthening judicial procedures so that victims can get justice and reparation – this was the focus of a conference organized in Geneva by the NGO TRIAL International on June 18-19. TRIAL’s specialist in the field Lucie Canal talked to JusticeInfo about the progress made in the fighting such atrocities which have been ignored all too long. JusticeInfo: Why this focus now? Lucie Canal: For several years our organization has been working more and more on sexual violence, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where we represent many victims of rape. This is expertise which we have acquired over time. We are now seeking to put...

    Read more
    War-ravaged South Sudan at a glance
    20.06.18
    AFP

    South Sudan, the world's newest country, has been mired in a devastating civil war for more than four years, with tens of thousands of people killed, nearly four million displaced and its economy in ruins. War broke out when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup just two years after the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011. With the two men to meet on Wednesday in the latest international effort to stop the fighting, here is some background. - World's youngest state - Before independence, the south of Sudan was ravaged by two civil wars (1956-1972 and 1983-2005) that pitted mainly Christian and animist insurgents in the south against Khartoum's Arab-dominated...

    Read more
    Spain's new government to remove Franco's remains from...
    18.06.18
    AFP

    Spain's new Socialist government is determined to remove the remains of Francisco Franco from a vast mausoleum near Madrid and turn it into a place of "reconciliation" for a country still coming to terms with the dictator's legacy. "We don't have a date yet, but the government will do it," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said late Monday during his first television interview since being sworn in on June 2 after toppling his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote. He recalled that a non-binding motion approved last year in parliament called for Franco's remains to be exhumed from the massive Valley of the Fallen mausoleum some 50 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of Madrid and the site turned into a "memorial of...

    Read more
    Sexual violence in conflict: how international guidelines can help investigators
    Sexual violence in conflict: how international guidelines...
    18.06.18
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Swiss NGO TRIAL International, a partner of JusticeInfo that supports victims of international crimes, is putting the spotlight on sexual violence in conflict at a series of events in Geneva on June 18-19 to mark its fifteenth anniversary. Among the participants is Danaé van der Straten Ponthoz, who has in particular worked with TRIAL and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), and is the co-author of the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict (the “Protocol”). She spoke to JusticeInfo. Justiceinfo: What is the Protocol? Danaé van der Straten Ponthoz: Despite its name, the Protocol is not a legal instrument and it is not...

    Read more
    Colombia's new president Ivan Duque is an anti-FARC...
    17.06.18
    AFP

    Ivan Duque's election victory in Colombia makes him the youngest president in his country's modern history, and gives him a strong mandate to overhaul the government's fragile peace deal with the former rebel group FARC. He campaigned on a ticket to rewrite the peace deal signed with the FARC by outgoing center-right president Juan Manuel Santos. His vanquished leftist opponent, Gustavo Petro, supports the deal. A lawyer with a degree in economics, Duque represents many Colombian voters who were outraged by concessions given to the former rebels, including reduced sentences for those who confessed to their crimes. He has vowed to make "structural changes" to the 2016 agreement, which led to the group's disarmament and...

    Read more
    Pay more attention to witness protection and reparations, says sexual violence expert
    Pay more attention to witness protection and reparations,...
    16.06.18
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Sexual violence in conflict is one of the most important but also hardest crimes to prosecute. Swiss NGO TRIAL International, a partner of JusticeInfo and Fondation Hirondelle that supports victims of international crimes, is putting the spotlight on this at a series of events in Geneva on June 18-19 to mark its fifteenth anniversary.  Kim Thuy Seelinger, director of the sexual violence project at the Human Rights Center of Berkeley University in California, will be among the participants. She spoke to JusticeInfo. JusticeInfo: What are the specific challenges and difficulties of investigating sexual violence in conflict? Kim Thuy Seelinger: There are so many. Obviously at the time, it’s incredibly difficult and often dangerous....

    Read more
    The possibility of transitional justice post-Mugabe in Zimbabwe
    The possibility of transitional justice post-Mugabe in...
    13.06.18
    Dr Thompson Chengeta

     Through a reign of terror and a ruinous economic policy, the ZANU-PF Government of Zimbabwe [GoZ] not only violated the rights of Zimbabweans but broke the relationship between the Government and its citizens. In order to rebuild Zimbabwe, the broken relationship must be mended. As African elders say, “the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people”. The recently initiated transitional justice processes such as the national peace and reconciliation have the potential to fix the relationship between the GoZ and its citizens. Nevertheless, while scholars and organisations may agree on the need for transitional justice in Zimbabwe, the fundamental question is whether there can be transitional justice without a meaningful...

    Read more
    Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Congolese warlord and Kabila foe
    12.06.18
    AFP

    Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was provisionally freed Tuesday by the International Criminal Court following an acquittal last week, is a former warlord and adversary of Congolese President Joseph Kabila. His interim release relates to a case in which he was handed a one-year jail sentence and fined 300,000 euros ($350,000) in 2017 for bribing witnesses during his main war crimes trial. He is still awaiting sentencing on July 4 in a secondary trial which he lost on appeal. Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo however won his main war crimes trial on appeal in which he was previously convicted and sentenced to 18 years for rapes, killings and looting committed by his militia in the Central African Republic...

    Read more
    DRC's Jean-Pierre Bemba: key dates
    12.06.18
    AFP

    Key dates of DR Congo's Jean-Pierre Bemba, acquitted on appeal on warcrimes charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and whose interim release was ordered on Tuesday: - November 4, 1962: Born in Bogada in the northwest Equateur province, his father was a rich businessman close to former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. - 1997: Leaves Kinshasa when the late rebel leader Laurent Desire Kabila overthrows Mobutu. - 1998: Founds the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), backed by neighbouring Uganda and opposed to the Kabila regime. - October 2002-March 2003: Sends his private militiamen to the Central African Republic to help put down a coup against then president Ange-Felix Patasse. The MLC murder, rape and loot. -...

    Read more
    Legal Witnessing and Mass Human Rights Violations: Remembering Atrocities
    Legal Witnessing and Mass Human Rights Violations:...
    12.06.18
    Benjamin Thorne

    International criminal courts and tribunals, such as the ICT for Rwanda, are commonly understood within legal scholarship as the primary tool that is utilized after mass human rights violations. This is so not only in addressing impunity, but also in uncovering the truth of what happened and why. Victims play a pivotal role in these processes of justice. However, there are significant limitations in legal collective understandings of the past. In legal transitional justice scholarship, these have received sparse critical investigation.   Legal witnesses and their contribution to tribunals ‘truth’ finding process The ICTR (1994-2015), located in Arusha, Tanzania, was tasked to prosecute those responsible for the 1994 Genocide...

    Read more
    Feasible Justice: Has Colombia Over-Promised and Under-Delivered Reparations for its 8.6 Million Victims?
    Feasible Justice: Has Colombia Over-Promised and...
    12.06.18
    Julia Zulver, University of Oxford

     Colombia’s unprecedented reparations programme guarantees financial, land restitution, and holistic benefits for millions of victims. With only 7% payment to date, however, the government faces the challenge of making good on promises to its citizenry, undermining the potential for building lasting peace. In 2016, after four years of official negotiations, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP, Spanish acronym) were finally able to negotiate a definitive peace, and the country is now in a full-scale transition away from its violent past. The Peace Accords have been heralded as some of the most comprehensive in the world, especially due to their differential inclusion of vulnerable...

    Read more
    Teachers’ Influence: Transitional Justice and the Impact of Education
    Teachers’ Influence: Transitional Justice and the Impact...
    12.06.18
    Dr. John Sturtz

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, recently advocated a deeper form of education – one that “goes beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic to include skills and values that can equip people to act with responsibility and care…guided by human rights education to make informed choices in life, to approach situations with critical and independent thought, and to empathize with other points of view.” Education is an important part of transitional justice and calls for new ideas about what and how we teach young people. If the goal is to use education to secure the promise of transitional justice, then teachers need significant support. Teachers play a critical role in fulfilling the promise...

    Read more
    Gambia: Fatou Jatta, HIV activist who went through Yahya Jammeh “HIV cure program” asks for justice
    Gambia: Fatou Jatta, HIV activist who went through Yahya...
    12.06.18
    Maxime Domegni

    In The Gambia, according to local media, over 9,000 Gambians went through Yahya Jammeh’s so-called 'treatment program', with a majority of HIV patients. “The testimony of survivors makes obvious that significant numbers of deaths resulted from Jammeh's HIV cure”, notes the international advocacy organization AIDS-Free World.  "Shocked and outraged by the actions of the former dictator of The Gambia…AIDS-Free World is determined to defend people living with HIV who, like those who suffered at Jammeh's hands, have experienced a gross violation of their rights”, Sarah Bosha, Legal Research and Policy Associate at AIDS-Free World, declares to Justice Info.  "We have been moved by the strength and courage of Jammeh's victims and we are...

    Read more
    ICC acquits warlord and former congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba
    ICC acquits warlord and former congolese vice-president...
    08.06.18
    Jan HENNOP

    International war crimes judges Friday acquitted former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba on appeal, overturning an 18-year sentence for war crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR). "Mr Bemba cannot be held criminally liable for the crimes committed by his troops in the Central African Republic," presiding judge Christine Van den Wyngaert told the International Criminal Court in The Hague. "The Appeals Chamber in this instant reverses the conviction against Mr Bemba... and in relation to the remaining criminal acts it enters an acquittal," Van den Wyngaert said. Bemba, 55, dressed in a blue-grey suit, light blue shirt and dark blue tie showed little emotion as the judge read the verdict, but his...

    Read more
    Gambian to continue to be “resilient, peaceful and resolute”, commends Ade Lekoetje, UN representativ
    Gambian to continue to be “resilient, peaceful and...
    07.06.18
    Maxime Domegni

    Since Yahya Jammeh’s left the power in The Gambia, in January 2017, the country is going through a delicate political transition and running a transitional justice process. After getting rid of the dictatorship, the young and vulnerable Gambian democracy, has to rely on the supports from the international community. One of the main actors of the diplomatic support to one of the smallest countries of Africa is the United Nations System. We met, in The Gambia, Ade Lekoetje,the UN Resident Coordinator, for an exclusive interview. Though she believes the transitional justice is going “well”, she commends Gambian to keep on being “resilient, peaceful, and resolute” and to continue to demonstrate to the world that democracy is...

    Read more
    Lebanon Edges Closer Toward Truth for Families of the Missing and Disappeared
    Lebanon Edges Closer Toward Truth for Families of the...
    07.06.18
    Nour El Bejjani Noureddine, ICTJ

    Life continues to stand still for the many families of the missing and disappeared in Lebanon who have been desperately trying to uncover the fate of their loved ones and who are holding out hope of seeing them someday. The Lebanese War ended 28 years ago, but for these families the war rages on. During Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, thousands of people went missing or were disappeared without a trace or explanation. Their families have never stopped waiting for answers, answers they fear will never come. The Lebanese government has failed to adequately address the issue of the missing and disappeared due in large part to a post-war amnesty law and a lack of political will. Civil society has resolutely sought to fulfill families’...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Tunisian trial and questions on UN judge selection
    Week in Review: Tunisian trial and questions on UN judge...
    04.06.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    An important event of the transitional justice week was the start of trial in Tunisia in the case of Kamel Matmati, who was kidnapped by former president Ben Ali’s police, died under torture 27 years ago and his body disappeared without a trace.  Kamel Matmati's case was transferred by the Truth and Dignity Commission on March 2 to the specialized chamber at the court in Gabes. This trial is the first before a specialized chamber and so is seen as a test case. The 14 accused, including ex-president Ben Ali, his interior minister Abdallah Kallel, former police chief  Mohamed Ali Ganzoui and state security chief Ezzedine Jenaieh, are all absent. This absence “says a lot about the culture of impunity in Tunisia and the power of the...

    Read more
    Iraq: Impartial Justice Effort Needed
    Iraq: Impartial Justice Effort Needed
    01.06.18
    Human Rights Watch

    A new United Nations investigation of crimes committed by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Iraq was not given the mandate that the situation calls for, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 31, 2018, the United Nations secretary-general appointed Karim Khan to head a team tasked with collecting and preserving evidence of serious crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. The team was created based on a UN Security Council resolution unanimously adopted on September 21, 2017. The resolution mandates the investigative team to document serious crimes committed by ISIS but failed to include within its scope of work the abuses, including war crimes, by anti-ISIS forces. “In limiting the team’s focus, the Security Council effectively...

    Read more
    UN schizophrenia and the choice of international judges
    UN schizophrenia and the choice of international judges
    31.05.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    International criminal justice puts forward the idea of universal, detached justice delivered by judges who are themselves completely independent and impartial because they are not part of the reality of societies at war whose crimes they judge. But the practices of the United Nations, international and mixed tribunals are questionable in terms of this ideal of justice. The blindfold on the eyes of Justice is a symbol of impartiality. It signifies that justice is (or should be) delivered objectively, without fear or favour, independently of the identity, power or weakness of the accused persons: justice, like impartiality, is blind. This presupposition is strongly affirmed by the UN, which has put in place specific procedures to...

    Read more
    What prospects for an African Court under the Malabo Protocol?  
    What prospects for an African Court under the Malabo...
    31.05.18
    Eden Matiyas

    The future of the Malabo Protocol to create an African Court of Justice and Human Rights remains uncertain. Despite hopes that it could add a regional accountability layer and strengthen “African solutions for African problems”, it is also criticized for granting immunity to sitting Heads of States and Government. The African Union (AU) foresees an alternative to the International Criminal Court (ICC) that consists of extending and strengthening the jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), to deal with international crimes committed in Africa. In 2014, the AU and its of Heads of State and Government meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, adopted the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol of the ACHPR...

    Read more
    Opinion : in Nepal, impunity for perpetrators
    Opinion : in Nepal, impunity for perpetrators
    30.05.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On the Republican day on 29 May 2018, government released a criminally convicted former parliamentarian and ex-Maoist leader Balkrishna Dhungel from jail, who was arrested by Supreme Court order in October 2017 and other 815 convicted persons across the country. Former lawmaker Dhungel was recommended for pardon by the cabinet, which said that he had served 40 percent of his sentence, and fulfilled the criteria for presidential pardon as per the article (276) of the constitution. Upon release on the Republican day in the capital, Dhungel slammed rights activists and lawyers who petitioned against him and charged them making huge profits in the name of human rights. A petition was filed against his pardon at the Supreme Court...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Views on the ICC and violence in Mali
    Week in Review: Views on the ICC and violence in Mali
    28.05.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Once again this week, questions have been raised about current models of transitional justice and reconciliation procedures. Justice Info spoke to three lawyers and activists from Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire and Georgia, who shared their views on the International Criminal Court (ICC). These three perspectives shine a light on the Court’s impact and its failures.  Burundian lawyer Lambert Nigarura, listed as an “enemy of the country” and in exile since 2015, says “the regime is afraid of the Court” after the ICC launched investigations Burundi’s leaders for alleged crimes against humanity. Expressing a positive view of the ICC, the lawyer thinks that “justice can be done” despite the obstacles strewn in its path by the regime in...

    Read more
    War, displacement reshuffle Syria's demographic map
    25.05.18
    AFP

    Seven years of war and massive displacement have redrawn Syria's demographic map, erecting borders between the country's ethnic, religious, and political communities that will be hard to erase. Displaced Syrians, analysts, and rights defenders have described to AFP a divided country where regime opponents have been driven out, minorities stick closer together and communities generally have become more homogenous. The demographic reshuffle is likely to last, they say, with around 11 million Syrians displaced either abroad or within the country and unsure if they can go home. Abu Musab al-Mukasar, a 25-year-old rebel fighter, doubts he'll ever return to his birthplace in Homs city, now fully held by Syrian troops. "I could...

    Read more
    France upholds landmark Rwandan genocide conviction
    24.05.18
    AFP

    France's highest court on Thursday upheld a landmark conviction against a former Rwandan intelligence agent for his role in the country's 1994 genocide. Pascal Simbikangwa, 58, was sentenced to 25 years in 2014 in a trial that marked a turning point in France's approach to genocide suspects living on its soil. The former presidential guard member had already lost an appeal against his conviction for crimes against humanity and genocide in 2016. The Cour de Cassation, France's court of final appeal, on Thursday ruled it was "obvious" that Simbikangwa had "willingly participated in abuses against the Tutsis and against the civilian population in general". Simbikangwa, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in...

    Read more
    Special Central African Court must be operational for “long-term stability”
    Special Central African Court must be operational for...
    24.05.18
    Ephrem RUGIRIRIZA, JusticeInfo.Net

    In a report on the Central African Republic (CAR) published on May 18, Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls for more political and financial support to the Special Criminal Court (SCC), which is being set up to try serious crimes committed in the country since 2003. The report, which comes as the CAR is experiencing a new upsurge of violence including in the capital Bangui, looks at the progress, obstacles and challenges for the Special Criminal Court in its initial phases. JusticeInfo.Net talked to Elise Keppler, associate director of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch. JusticeInfo: Why have donors been slow to provide funds for the SCC to start its work?   Elise Keppler: The Special Criminal Court fortunately has...

    Read more
    Lawyer Reed Brody believes Gambian ex-dictator can be brought to justice in Ghana
    Lawyer Reed Brody believes Gambian ex-dictator can be...
    23.05.18
    Maxime Domegni

    Families of victims of the 2005 massacre of some 50 migrants in The Gambia, along with Ghanaian human rights organizations, launched a new push for the extradition of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday May 16. Senior Adviser to Human Rights Watch Reed Brody, who helped bring former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré to justice, was also there to support them. Brody thinks that if the socio-political and security situation in The Gambia is not ready for a trial of the former dictator, the political conditions now exist for his extradition to Ghana. Jammeh has been living since his fall from power in Equatorial Guinea. He is accused not only of killing and torturing his own compatriots but also of being...

    Read more
    The challenges of reintegrating child soldiers in South Sudan
    The challenges of reintegrating child soldiers in South...
    23.05.18
    Eden Matiyas

     One of the most troubling trends of the armed conflict in South Sudan is the use of children as soldiers. South Sudan is among the ten countries with the highest number of child soldiers in the world. Yet political efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate these child soldiers have been limited and challenging. Since independence in 2011, South Sudan has experienced numerous violent struggles. And according to the United Nations, ever since the eruption of the civil war in 2013, both military and opposing armed groups in the conflict have recruited about 19,000 children as soldiers. In 2015, parties to the conflict signed the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). In this accord, the warring...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Israeli impunity and Gambian perseverance
    Week in Review: Israeli impunity and Gambian perseverance
    21.05.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week was marked by the events in Gaza and the possibility that those responsible in Israel might be brought before a court. The violence on May 14, which saw nearly 60 people killed by the Israeli army, has drawn anger and concern abroad. It coincided with the controversial inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. Israel is accused of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, while the United States moved in the Security Council to block an “independent inquiry”, which the UN and numerous leaders have called for.   The Palestinian Authority is trying to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for “war crimes”. This is a “potential key development for the case opened by the Court in 2015”, writes our...

    Read more
    Swiss judge delivers harsh criticism of Lebanon Tribunal
    Swiss judge delivers harsh criticism of Lebanon Tribunal
    17.05.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    Robert Roth, professor of law at the University of Geneva and former judge of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has for the first time explained why he resigned from that court in September 2013. He points in particular to a lack of independence of the STL, which he says has succumbed to multiple political pressures.  On February 14, 2005, a huge explosion rocked Beirut not far from the seafront. 1,800 kilos of dynamite had just blown up the car of Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, killing him and the other occupants. One of Lebanon’s most powerful figures (although no longer in an official post) had thus been killed along with 22 other people nearby. Two years later, on May 30, 2007, The UN Security Council adopted Resolution...

    Read more
    Palestine to bring Israel before ICC for “war crimes”
    Palestine to bring Israel before ICC for “war crimes”
    17.05.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The Palestinian Authority is preparing to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes -- a potential key development for a case opened by the Court in 2015. A document referring Israel to the ICC for “war crimes” was signed in Ramallah on Tuesday evening by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki and is expected to be filed with the Prosecutor next week. The decision was taken after the May 14 protests in Gaza, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told the press. Once Ramallah has filed the case to the office of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, she will have the possibility to open an investigation without a green light from the judges. The Court is expected to appoint three trial-chamber judges...

    Read more
    Burundi: three years of bloody political crisis
    15.05.18
    AFP

    The small central African state of Burundi has been mired in a bloody crisis since 2015 over President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid to cling to power, the unrest claiming 1,200 lives. The violence has stoked fears of a return to the 1993-2006 civil war in which 300,000 people died. As the country votes Thursday on constitutional reforms that would enable Nkurunziza to rule until 2034, here is a recap of the past three years of unrest. - Demonstrations erupt - On April 26, 2015, a day after Nkurunziza is declared candidate for a third term in office by his ruling CNDD-FDD party, thousands gather in the capital in protest, defying a ban on demonstrations. It is the start of six weeks of almost daily protests that the police clamp...

    Read more
    Opinion : Nepali war victims demand real reparations and remembrance
    Opinion : Nepali war victims demand real reparations and...
    13.05.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    In Nepal, the Conflict Victim Common Platform (CVCP) has submitted an advocacy paper on “reparative needs, rights and demands” to the Justice Minister and the country's two transitional justice bodies, in the hope of creating momentum for a national policy of reparation. Victims are urging the government to address their needs through urgent support in terms of livelihoods, health, education, employment, remembrance and recognition, based on prior consultations with victims of the civil war.  CVCP has demanded that the government declare a “national remembrance day” in memory of the conflict victims and to honour them. In the collective advocacy paper, victims have strongly demanded that the truth be acknowledged and an official...

    Read more
    Kosovo war crimes weigh heavy on Serbian film 'The Load'...
    11.05.18
    AFP

    Serbian director Ognjen Glavonic says the topic of his new film, which tackles the lingering horror of the Kosovo war, probably explains why his script was rejected seven times. "Teret" (The Load), which will screen at Cannes on Saturday, addresses one of the grim secrets revealed after the war, a taboo subject in a country still struggling to confront its past. It follows Vlada, a truck driver on the road from Kosovo to Belgrade, who discovers that he is transporting the bodies of victims from war crimes committed by Serb forces in Kosovo. Most of them are ethnic Albanian civilians, including many women and children. Based on real events, the bodies are transported to Serbia to be buried in mass graves in a bid to cover up...

    Read more
    Sperisen verdict “gives hope to Guatemalan victims”
    Sperisen verdict “gives hope to Guatemalan victims”
    07.05.18
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.net

    A 15-year prison sentence handed down by a Geneva court on former Guatemalan police chief Erwin Sperisen for complicity in the 2006 murder of seven prison inmates is an “important step in the fight against impunity for State crimes”, says Swiss NGO Trial International, which helped bring the case. It is a rare case of a person being tried in Switzerland for crimes committed on foreign soil.  The court also awarded the plaintive, the mother of one of the murdered prisoners, CHF 30,000 as compensation. “This verdict demonstrates the healthy functioning of our institutions, and gives hope to victims as well as to individuals and organizations committed to the fight against impunity in Guatemala,” says Trial International’s director...

    Read more
    Week in Review: ICC and universal jurisdiction slowly making a mark
    Week in Review: ICC and universal jurisdiction slowly...
    06.05.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    It was an eventful week for transitional justice. Human rights activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo called on the oft-criticized International Criminal Court (ICC), whilst Human Right Watch said the ICC is inciting national jurisdictions to act. And in France, two Rwandan mayors accused of genocide returned to court for appeals proceedings seen as a test for universal jurisdiction. This week also saw World Press Freedom Day, with this year’s focus on the link between information, justice and the rule of law. Freedom of information is under more threaten than ever, in both developing and developed countries, as JusticeInfo notes. This is the case in countries such as the United States, Turkey, Egypt, Hungary and many...

    Read more
    OPINION: Justice and press freedom go hand in hand
    OPINION: Justice and press freedom go hand in hand
    03.05.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, Joseph K’s friend Ms Burstner says: “I find stories about justice extremely interesting. Justice has a strange power of seduction, don’t you think?” This is a terrible irony given the trial in the book, which has become a symbol of totalitarianism and tyranny. Justice and press freedom are good indicators of overall freedom in a country. The UN ritually celebrates press freedom for one day on May 3, and this year the theme is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law”.It is right to link justice and media, even if their practices and ways of operating are not the same. A journalist should not be a judge, even though both must respect the rights of victims and treat the accused as...

    Read more
    Myanmar facing ICC referral unless ‘proper’ Rakhine probe conducted: UN
    Myanmar facing ICC referral unless ‘proper’ Rakhine probe...
    03.05.18
    Clare Hammond, Frontier

    Members of the United Nations Security Council have told Myanmar’s leaders there must be a “proper investigation” into a military crackdown in Rakhine State last August, which displaced almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. British envoy to the UN Security Council, Ms Karen Pierce, said there were two routes to achieving this. “One is an ICC [International Criminal Court] referral. The second would be for the Burmese government to do it themselves,” she said. Her remarks came at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, which marked the end of a high-profile UN Security Council visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar. This was the council’s first visit to Southeast Asia since ambassadors visited East Timor in 2012. The...

    Read more
    Week in Review: The importance of remembrance
    Week in Review: The importance of remembrance
    30.04.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week, JusticeInfo.net examined the significance of a memorial to the Armenian genocide recently inaugurated in a Geneva park. “Despite opposition from Ankara, the “Streetlights of Memory” were inaugurated in Geneva after 10 years of judicial and diplomatic battles,” explains our Geneva correspondent Frédéric Burnand. “The work of artist Melik Ohanian pays tribute to the Armenians massacred over a century ago in Turkey and also to the many Swiss who mobilized to help them as soon as the massacres started. This is a message that still resonates today.” “It is a good thing that Geneva and Switzerland have given a home to the Streetlights of Memory, because, like every tragedy, the Armenian one needs to be remembered,” writes...

    Read more
    What exactly are foreign troops protecting in the Sahel?
    What exactly are foreign troops protecting in the Sahel?
    27.04.18
    Institute for security studies

    Foreign military footprints, especially those of the United States (US) and France, are expanding in West Africa, particularly in the Sahel. This presence is receiving increasingly hostile public criticism. It is often considered invasive, and at times ill-adapted and ineffective against growing insecurity, and even counterproductive. Regarding the opening of a US military base in Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in April, ‘So let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base, and will not offer a military base to the United States of America.’ This statement came in response to protests that shook the country after a defence cooperation agreement was signed with the United States. Four...

    Read more
    An Armenian genocide memorial in Geneva to shine light on past and present
    An Armenian genocide memorial in Geneva to shine light on...
    26.04.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    After long years the “Streetlights of Memory”, a work by French artist Melik Ohanian, found a home in Geneva on April 13. It first needed the Geneva parliament in 1998 and then the Swiss parliament in 2003 to recognize the Armenian genocide. It then required the determination of those defending remembrance, the City of Geneva and especially the Municipal Fund for Contemporary Art (FMAC) to get a monument selected that evokes the Armenian genocide and the evil that man can inflict on man. Finally, the promoters of the monument had to overcome the reservations of several parties, often linked to fear of upsetting the Turkish authorities. Istanbul, which still refuses to recognize the Armenian genocide, made known its fierce...

    Read more
    ICC: Reparation process “makes the Court to be relevant to society, beyond the Courtroom”
    ICC: Reparation process “makes the Court to be relevant to...
    24.04.18
    Stéphanie MAUPAS, The Hague

    In 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down its first ever verdict in the trial of Congolese ex-militia leader Thomas Lubanga. Since then, there have been two other confirmed convictions of Congolese Germain Katanga in 2014 and Malian Ahmed Al Mahdi in 2016. However, victims are still waiting for reparations. JusticeInfo talked to Pieter de Baan, Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims. JusticeInfo: Since the opening of the Court in 2002, 16 years ago, reparations have never yet been implemented. How do you explain that? Pieter de Baan: I can acknowledge the frustration of the victims, the diminishing confidence that they may have. But it is not only about the judicial proceedings, about what the...

    Read more
    Without information, no reconciliation
    Without information, no reconciliation
    23.04.18
    JusticeInfo.net

    So the victims of the past do not become the perpetrators of the future: an animated presentation of JusticeInfo.Net.

    Read more
    Karadzic urges UN judges to throw out war crimes conviction
    Karadzic urges UN judges to throw out war crimes conviction
    23.04.18
    AFP

    Once-feared Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic Monday urged UN judges to overturn his conviction for war crimes during the Balkans conflict, and either acquit him or order a new trial. Appearing at the start of his two-day appeal dressed in a dark suit and red tie, Karadzic, 72, smiled and greeted his defence team in the tribunal in The Hague. He was sentenced to 40 years behind bars in March 2016 for the bloodshed committed during the Balkan country's three-year war from 1992-1995 which killed 100,000 people and left 2.2 million others homeless. Once the most powerful Bosnian Serb leader, he became the highest ranked person to be convicted and sentenced at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia...

    Read more
    Week in Review: One warlord on trial in the DRC, and one sentenced in the US
    Week in Review: One warlord on trial in the DRC, and one...
    22.04.18
    Ephrem RUGIRIRIZA, JusticeInfo.Net

    The trial of former Congolese militia leader Maro Ntumwa (dubbed the “Moroccan”) by a military tribunal in South Kivu, eastern DRC, opened on April 13 and continued this week. The accused is charged with “rape, sexual slavery, looting, attacks against a civilian population and on religious buildings” committed between 2005 and 2007, reports our correspondent Claude Segenya. “At the time, he was the right-hand man of Bedi Mobuli Engengela, dubbed `Colonel 106`, a former leader of the Mai-Mai militia who has already been convicted by a military court,” he writes. For Sylvestre Bisimwa, spokesman for the victims’ lawyers’ collective, this trial is “a strong signal addressed to perpetrators and potential perpetrators of...

    Read more
    CAR: Are ex-Seleka preparing to march on Bangui?
    CAR: Are ex-Seleka preparing to march on Bangui?
    19.04.18
    Ephrem Rugiririza, with Radio Ndeke Luka

    The latest joint operation by UN peacekeepers and Central African forces in Bangui’s PK5 district is viewed by factions of the ex-Seleka rebels as an attack on Muslims. In response, some militia have organized protest shut-downs in the areas under their control. And over the weekend these former rivals, now magically reconciled, started gathering heavily armed forces at Kaga Bandoro, in the north. What are they planning? The UN force has issued a warning. Frequently accused of doing nothing, the UN force decided to act in the capital by launching on April 8 “operation Soukoula Km5” to disarm the gangs infesting this strategic district. The shopkeepers of PK5 – a kind of Muslim enclave and economic lungs of Bangui – were fed up with...

    Read more
    A scholar’s journey to understand the needs of Pol Pot’s survivors
    A scholar’s journey to understand the needs of Pol Pot’s...
    18.04.18
    John Ciorciari

    Forty-three years ago today, the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia. Their radical regime, led by the dictator Pol Pot, inflicted countless atrocities and left deep wounds. Neighbors turned against one another. Families were fractured. Political cleavages deepened. An estimated 1.7 million people died. Almost everyone suffered personal trauma. Survivors are still in the long process of seeking reconciliation, or putting the pieces back together in lives and societies shattered by conflict. Yet the measures taken to address political and social conflict are not always conducive to personal reconciliation – the journey of coming to terms with excruciating past experiences. Reconciliation is one of the aims of transitional...

    Read more
    Long-delayed, disputed Armenian memorial unveiled in Geneva
    Long-delayed, disputed Armenian memorial unveiled in Geneva
    16.04.18
    swissinfo.ch

    A memorial series of street lamps commemorating the 1915-1917 Armenian genocide has been officially unveiled in Geneva. Turkish groups said that the initiative is a mistake. “Streetlights of memory” was unveiled on Friday in the presence of various members of the Armenian community, including current Armenian ambassador to Switzerland Charles Aznavour, and the artist behind the work Mélik Ohanian. No representative of the federal administration attended, a fact that could be ascribed to the ongoing diplomatic tensions around the 1915-1917 genocide, for which Turkey continues to deny responsibility. Speaking to Swiss public broadcaster RTS in the Tremblay park in Geneva, not far from the United Nations European headquarters...

    Read more
    Congolese court tries ex-militia leader for crimes against humanity
    Congolese court tries ex-militia leader for crimes against...
    16.04.18
    Claude Sengenya, special envoy to Kalehe, in the South Kivu province of eastern DRC

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a military tribunal has been sitting since Friday April 13, in Kalehe, South Kivu province, for the trial of a former militia leader accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Maro Ntumwa, known as “the Moroccan”, is charged with “rape, sexual slavery, looting, attacks against a civilian population and on religious buildings” committed between 2005 and 2007. At the time, the accused was the right-hand man of Bedi Mobuli Engengela, dubbed “Colonel 106”, a former leader of the Mai-Mai militia who has already been convicted by a military court. After a first day confirming the identity of the accused, the South Kivu military tribunal on April 14 heard objections raised by the defence....

    Read more
    Pressure needed to save transitional justice in Nepal
    Pressure needed to save transitional justice in Nepal
    15.04.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Nepal’s government and security forces have been obstructing the country’s transitional justice (TJ) process and threatening human rights activists. But now they say they are ready to address victims’ demands and amend TJ legislation. This is a crucial phase of the process, requiring joint national and international pressure on the authorities to ensure that the voices of thousands of civil war victims are heard.  Existing transitional justice mechanisms are failing to listen to victims’ voices and seem loyal to the government. They have a very limited legal mandate to fully investigate the crimes. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Enforced Disappeared Persons are passive, and wish to extend their time to...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Gambia forgotten, CAR at risk
    Week in Review: Gambia forgotten, CAR at risk
    15.04.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week we looked at Gambia, a small West African country forgotten since its successful transition from 22 years of bloody and madcap dictatorship under Yahya Jammeh. But a year after the arrival in power in January 2017 of President Adama Barrow – democratically elected in December 2017 --, victims are disappointed. They feel forgotten and neglected, writes our special envoy to Banjul Maxime Domegni. Among the victims is Yahya Jammeh’s own niece Ayesha, who is now engaged in defending the memory of her father and her aunt, both members of the Jammeh family killed by their own brother Yahya. “At 27, she chose to shoulder a big responsibility of national and even international importance,” writes Maxime Domegni. “She is demanding...

    Read more
    Myanmar and the Southeast Asian press squeeze
    Myanmar and the Southeast Asian press squeeze
    11.04.18
    Oliver Slow/ Frontier

    Across Southeast Asia – but especially Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines – journalists are facing arrest, intimidation and violence. On the afternoon of December 12 in Myanmar, Ma Pan Ei Mon asked her husband, Reuters journalist Ko Wa Lone, if she should cook dinner for him and his colleague, Ko Kyaw Soe Oo. “Kyaw Soe Oo was in Yangon from Sittwe,” Pan Ei Mon told Frontier. “But [Wa Lone] told me that they were meeting the police for dinner.” Later that night, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested near a restaurant on the northern outskirts of Yangon. Prior to their arrest, the journalists had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men at Inn Din village, in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township, in late August. They had...

    Read more
    Vojislav Seselj: Unrepentant Serb ultranationalist
    11.04.18
    AFP

    Serb academic turned far-right leader Vojislav Seselj, who was found guilty Wednesday by a UN court of crimes against humanity, won notoriety during the 1990s Balkan wars for his incendiary rhetoric and remains defiant in defending the idea of a "Greater Serbia". UN war crimes judges in The Hague overturned the shock 2016 acquittal of the stocky, ruddy-faced former deputy prime minister, sentencing him to 10 years behind bars, although ruling that he had already served 12 years in custody. The court found the 63-year-old guilty of "instigating persecution, deportation and other inhumane acts". Prosecutors had accused Seselj of poisoning the minds of volunteer forces who committed atrocities in the 1990s, in a quest to forge a...

    Read more
    Preventing sexual violence: lessons from rebel armies in Burundi and Uganda
    Preventing sexual violence: lessons from rebel armies in...
    11.04.18
    The Conversation, Angela Muvumba Sellström

    I conduct research on wartime sexual violence. But hold on. My work focuses on the non-cases: armed political actors which have committed little sexual violence and have a history of disciplining their members’ sexual behaviour. This effort seems ridiculously extraneous in the current climate. Just in the last years, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Daesh) in Syria and Iraq have systematically abducted and abused thousands of women and girls. However, as researcher Elisabeth Jean Wood has demonstrated, sexual violence patterns vary because armed groups are different. And their diverse politics, strategies and institutional “DNA” is evident in their varied wartime conduct. In another...

    Read more
    Rwandans discuss how best to commemorate genocide
    Rwandans discuss how best to commemorate genocide
    10.04.18
    The Conversation

    Rwanda is commemorating the 24th anniversary of the 1994 Tutsi genocide. This claimed the lives of between 800,000 and one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus over 100 days. This is a good time to reflect on the history of policy and practice of memory, justice, and recovery in the country over the past 24 years. Two questions are especially pertinent: how have Rwandans engaged in various forms of memory after genocide? How have these processes been meaningful? From a series of nearly 60 interviews conducted in the country since 2015, I have learned from a diversity of perspectives about memory and justice. The findings suggest that genocide memory in Rwanda is diverse and dynamic. The interviewees’ often offered surprising and...

    Read more
    Gambian rapper tells of concerns in the post-Jammeh era
    Gambian rapper tells of concerns in the post-Jammeh era
    10.04.18
    Maxime Domegni, Banjul (special correspondent)

    Under Yahya Jammeh's regime, members of the youth movement "Gomsabopa" (believe in yourself) had to flee Gambia at one point to neighbouring Senegal. They also contributed to the "war effort" against Yahya Jammeh at the end of 2016, actively participating in the "Coalition 2016" that helped bring new president Adama Barrow to power. In the "New Gambia", they revel in a new political environment where there is freedom of opinion and expression. Yet now they fear the new Gambian administration is developing a liking for certain practices they fought against, such as tribalism, nepotism and squandering of public resources. This, they think, could compromise peaceful coexistence in The Gambia after Yahya Jammeh. Their leader, rapper...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Victims feel ignored in Mali, Gambia and Tunisia
    Week in Review: Victims feel ignored in Mali, Gambia and...
    08.04.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The appearance of the former Islamist police chief of Timbuktu (northern Mali) before the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a highlight of this week in transitional justice. “Al Hassan” is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was transferred to the ICC from Mali on March 31. Malian civil society expressed satisfaction at the appearance of this second Jihadist before the ICC. It comes after the ICC’s trial and conviction of Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, alias “Abu Turab”, for the destruction of Timbuktu’s cultural heritage during its occupation by the militant Jihadist group Ansar Dine. After giving the impression it was most interested in the town’s religious heritage, the ICC is in this new case finally looking...

    Read more
    As first group of Libya refugees arrives in Switzerland, who is a refugee and who a migrant?
    As first group of Libya refugees arrives in Switzerland,...
    05.04.18
    Julia Crawford, swissinfo.ch

    As Switzerland receives a first group of vulnerable refugees from Libyan detention centres, we take a look at the international response to Libya's migrant crisis. At the end of last year, CNN reports of detained Africans being sold in Libyan slave markets sent shock waves around the world. It also prompted the European Union and International Organization for Migration (IOM) to step up evacuating migrants from Libya, “because,” says IOM media officer for West and Central Africa Florence Kim, “the EU and African Union decided that we could not leave 20,000 people in detention centres in Libya.” Also in December, Switzerland announced that it has agreed to take up to 80 vulnerable refugees as part of an emergency plan by the United...

    Read more
    Outsider Peter Lewis voted Registrar to reform the International Criminal Court
    Outsider Peter Lewis voted Registrar to reform the...
    01.04.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    British jurist Peter Lewis was on March 28 elected new Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Unlike his three predecessors, he is not an insider, but has solid experience as a Crown prosecutor in England and Wales. He succeeds Herman von Hebel of the Netherlands and will take up his post on April 16, with a mandate for five years. For the next five years, Peter Lewis will be the key man in the Court’s administration. The 18 ICC judges – of whom six have just been inaugurated – have elected a former British prosecutor to head the Registry. They passed over the favourites: Marc Dubuisson of Belgium, current director of judicial support services in the Registry who has 20 years’ experience in international justice; and...

    Read more
    Mali should have helped fund rebuilding of Timbuktu heritage, says local archaeologist
    Mali should have helped fund rebuilding of Timbuktu...
    29.03.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    In 2012, Jihadist groups seized northern Mali. They occupied the town of Timbuktu, intellectual capital of the Sahara and crossroads of different cultures and religions. The Jihadists methodically destroyed the unique cultural heritage of this City of 333 Saints.  Fifteen of the town’s 16 mausoleums and the gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque, considered sacred by the inhabitants, were hacked and destroyed by groups linked to Al-Qaeda including Ansar Dine, in the name of fighting "idolatry". Some 4,200 manuscripts of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies and Research (IHERI-AB) were also burned by the Jihadists. The emblematic El Farouk monument at the entrance to the city was also destroyed. Fortunately, 370,000 other...

    Read more
    Ugandan ex-rebel leader not mentally ill, experts tell the ICC
    Ugandan ex-rebel leader not mentally ill, experts tell the...
    29.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The first stage of Dominic Ongwen’s trial is coming to an end before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In mid-April, prosecutors will call their last witness, and then it will be the turn of the defence to present its case. Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in northern Uganda. His lawyers, hoping for an acquittal, say he suffers from mental problems. “We all agree that Mr. Ongwen was in a traumatizing environment,” psychiatric expert Catherine Abbo told the Court on March 27 this year. After being kidnapped by the LRA at age 14, Ongwen was at first in “survival mode”, she explained. But very soon he was promoted within the ranks of...

    Read more
    As the Red Dust Settles: Mali Confronts the Truth about a Legacy of War
    As the Red Dust Settles: Mali Confronts the Truth about a...
    29.03.18
    Hannah Dunphy, Justice Rapid Response

    When Mali created a truth commission to address decades of conflict, it soon required specialized expertise. Working together with a JRR expert, the truth commission now has the tools it needs to bring together victims and gather truth, with method that is uniquely their own. On the night before he was to travel to Kidal, Colonel Major Haidara Aboucarine awoke suddenly from a bad dream. It was May 2014, and Aboucarine was working as an officer for the government of Mali. At the time, the north of the country was contested by Touaregs belonging to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and other groups fighting for independence in northern Mali. In the town of Kidal, a stronghold of these groups, the...

    Read more
    UN Syria probe awash with war crime evidence
    UN Syria probe awash with war crime evidence
    27.03.18
    AFP

    UN investigators gathering evidence against perpetrators of horrific crimes committed in Syria's seven-year war said Tuesday they had begun sifting through "unprecedented" amounts of information. Catherine Marchi-Uhel, the French judge leading the new UN push to bring Syria's war criminals to justice, said "overwhelming" amounts of data were flooding in and it would be impossible for investigators to probe all of the crimes. "We are faced with unprecedented volumes of information," she told reporters in Geneva, adding that her team was setting up IT systems capable of managing the vast amounts of data. The so-called "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism" was created in 2016 to compile prosecutorial files that...

    Read more
    Tunisia votes to end truth tribunal mandate
    27.03.18
    AFP

    In a contentious vote late Monday, Tunisia's parliament voted to end the work of a tribunal tasked with healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship. After two particularly stormy sessions on Saturday and Monday, Tunisian MPs rejected an extension of the Truth and Dignity Commission's (IVD) mandate, set to end on May 31, parliament said on Twitter. The vote was 68 against, zero votes for and two abstentions. But dozens of MPs, including those of the Islamist Ennahdha party, left parliament before Monday's vote, alleging it was tainted with irregularities. Two thirds of lawmakers did not vote. Set up in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the tribunal was created to investigate...

    Read more
    Week in Review: ICC withdrawals and fragile transitional justice
    Week in Review: ICC withdrawals and fragile transitional...
    26.03.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    How should the International Criminal Court react after first Burundi and now the Philippines decided to withdraw their membership? Numerous African countries have also threatened to do the same. Since withdrawal from the ICC only becomes effective after a year, ICC procedures with regard to the two countries can continue. Thus neither President Duterte, who is waging a merciless war on suspected drug traffickers, nor President Nkurunziza, accused of widespread and systematic human rights violations, are safe from prosecution.   “Withdrawal does not cancel out ICC judicial procedures,” writes correspondent Stéphanie Maupas in The Hague. “The Philippines will not therefore win easily by withdrawing. Burundi has already lost this...

    Read more
       
    Argentina : Protesters slam transfer of dictatorship...
    24.03.18
    AFP

    Tens of thousands of people turned out across Argentina Saturday to march against a policy allowing ex-military members convicted of crimes during the country's dictatorship to be moved to house arrest. Demonstrations were held in squares and parks to denounce "setbacks in human rights policy" and to "demand freedom for political prisoners," according to a statement released by organizers. The main protest was held at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in front of the home of the federal government's executive branch. At the forefront of the demonstrations were organizations including Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, set up to search for relatives who were victims of forced disappearances. Less than a week ago, Alfredo Astiz -- who...

    Read more
    As Philippines withdraws, “quality justice” is best shield for ICC
    As Philippines withdraws, “quality justice” is best shield...
    22.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas,correspondent in The Hague

    After Burundi in 2016, the Philippines decided this March 16 to pull out of the Rome Treaty which created the International Criminal Court (ICC). In both cases, the decision followed announcements by the ICC Prosecutor that she was opening preliminary examinations on alleged crimes committed in those countries, including by their political leaders. The withdrawal decisions come in a specific context which is not linked to the standoff between some states notably in the African Union and the Court. According to a number of experts, recurring threats from states opposed to ICC decisions should incite it to work harder, and especially better. The Philippines said in its formal withdrawal letter to the UN on March 17 that it has its own...

    Read more
    Geneva puts spotlight on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority
    Geneva puts spotlight on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority
    21.03.18
    Simon Bradley, swissinfo.ch

    The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya community was the centre of attention in Geneva last week with allegations of “acts of genocide” against the Muslim minority, counterclaims by Myanmar officials, a donor appeal for almost $1 billion (CHF954 million) and a bleak documentary film about a Buddhist monk stirring up ethnic hate. Since August 25, 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh as security forces carried out brutal crackdowns, following attacks by Rohingya insurgents.  “This is on top of 200,000 Rohingya already living in Bangladesh, so we are getting close to the one-million mark,” Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva on...

    Read more
    Hope for Nepal’s flawed transitional justice?
    Hope for Nepal’s flawed transitional justice?
    20.03.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Nepal’s Commission on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and victims’ group NEFAD have agreed a common platform, including action on ratifying international instruments on enforced disappearances, effective victims’ protection, integral support to families for their livelihood, security and memorialization, and introducing legal protection for the future by framing a disappearance law soon. This offers some hope for the country’s flawed transitional justice (TJ) process.  After three years of failed implementation and no results, the mandates of the two TJ commissions – the CIEDP and the Truth Commission -- were extended for another year in February 2018. The previous transitional government extended their terms through an...

    Read more
    Fight against impunity for mass crimes becomes more universal
    Fight against impunity for mass crimes becomes more...
    20.03.18
    Frédéric Burnand

    “Rarely has the fight against impunity been so dynamic” says Geneva-based group TRIAL International. “In 2017, countries in Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America tightened the net on war criminals by resorting to universal jurisdiction.” This is a legal principle under which countries can prosecute foreign war criminals when they visit or live on their territory.  “Last year, war crimes units (WCUs) around the world tightened the net on war criminals,” says the annual report of TRIAL International, which helps victims of mass crimes obtain justice. “While European countries continue to be the main drivers of universal jurisdiction cases, complaints have been filed all around the world against war crime suspects. Colombia,...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Philippines to quit the ICC, while populism undermines the West
    Week in Review: Philippines to quit the ICC, while...
    19.03.18
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    At the International Criminal Court (ICC), registrar Herman Von Hebel this week announced that he is withdrawing his candidacy for a new five-year mandate. Von Hebel of the Netherlands had been severely criticized for his financial management of the Court. Twelve candidates remain in the running to succeed him, but a date has not yet been announced for the ICC judges to elect the new registrar. Still on the ICC, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose country’s withdrawal from the Court became effective at the end of 2017, now has someone following in his path. His equally controversial counterpart in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, announced on March 14 that he was also pulling out of the ICC, which is looking into his...

    Read more
    Democratic recession and transitional justice
    Democratic recession and transitional justice
    15.03.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    In an article that made an impact, American political sociologist Larry Diamond says that since 2006 we have been living through a “democratic recession”. The events of the past few weeks prove him right. The nomination to the post of US Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo, a supporter of torture, and of Gina Haspen to head the CIA are unfortunately the most recent symbols. Gina Haspen, directed a secret prison of the American intelligence services in Thailand where torture, especially waterboarding, was used against suspected “terrorists”. The Trump Administration is clearly not in line with respect for human rights.  In Europe, the wave of populism has not stopped rolling. In central and eastern Europe, populists with a whiff of...

    Read more
    ICC Registrar withdraws candidacy for new mandate
    ICC Registrar withdraws candidacy for new mandate
    15.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Herman von Hebel, decided on March 13 to withdraw as candidate for a new five-year mandate, JusticeInfo.net has learned. Von Hebel of the Netherlands had been sharply criticized for his management of the Court, especially in the context of the ReVision reform plan, aspects of which were deemed illegal by the administrative tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the end of January. In total, these reforms may have cost the Court nearly 7 million Euros.  Twelve candidates are still in the running to succeed him. But the date of the future Registrar’s election by the 18 ICC judges has not yet been announced. On March 9, the six new judges elected in December...

    Read more
    NGOs on the frontline of South Sudan’s forgotten war
    NGOs on the frontline of South Sudan’s forgotten war
    14.03.18
    Julia Crawford

    As the United Nations Human Rights Council this week heard a new report on abuses in South Sudan, we look at how two Swiss non-governmental groups are working against the odds to help alleviate the suffering of the population. On Tuesday March 13, the Human Rights Council discussed a UN commission report documenting new abuses against civilians in South Sudan, including gang rapes, beheadings and blindings. “We talk of a crime against humanity of persecution with an ethnic dimension,” says commission member Andrew Clapham, professor of international law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, “and in those instances we felt there was a deliberate attempt to humiliate people because of their ethnicity and to get them to move on or move...

    Read more
    In Colombia, FARC leader ends presidential bid, giving transitional justice a chance
    In Colombia, FARC leader ends presidential bid, giving...
    14.03.18
    The Conversation

    In a decision with far-reaching consequences for Colombia’s fragile peace process, the FARC – a political party formed by former Marxist guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – has withdrawn from the country’s presidential race after candidate Rodrigo Londoño underwent open-heart surgery in Bogota. The 59-year-old Londoño, who as leader of the violent rebel group used the name Timochenko, had a heart attack in 2015. Last year, not long after signing a historic peace deal with the Colombian government, he suffered a stroke. Despite concerns that his health problems were a political liability, Londoño’s symbolic power and name recognition won him the nomination to lead the FARC’s ticket. This is the group’s first...

    Read more
    Philippines moves to quit ICC: What does it mean?
    14.03.18
    AFP

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday a move towards quitting the International Criminal Court, which has launched a preliminary examination of his deadly drug war. Here are five questions and answers on what it means: - Why did Duterte do it? - The ICC announced on February 9 a preliminary examination into allegations Philippine police have killed thousands of alleged users or dealers as part of Duterte's anti-drug war that he launched after taking office in mid-2016. Duterte had previously threatened to withdraw from the international body as a result of what he has called a politically slanted inquiry. - Can ICC still investigate? - Philippine lawyers say Duterte's withdrawal will not stop any ICC...

    Read more
    Philippines' Duterte moves to quit International Criminal Court
    Philippines' Duterte moves to quit International Criminal...
    14.03.18
    AFP

    President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he was pulling the Philippines out of the treaty underpinning the International Criminal Court, which is examining his deadly drug war. The outspoken leader, who is accused of stoking the killing of drug suspects with inflammatory statements, has fiercely pushed back since the Philippines became the first southeast Asian nation put under "preliminary examination" by the court's prosecutors. The ICC announced last month it was launching a study of the killings, which Philippine police put at 4,000 but rights groups say is actually triple that number. Officially quitting the court requires a year's notice and experts say pulling out does not preclude an investigation of the deaths, which...

    Read more
    Myanmar events 'bear hallmarks of genocide': UN expert
    12.03.18
    AFP

    A top UN rights expert warned Monday that the crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya minority bears "the hallmarks of genocide" and insisted the government should be held accountable. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents six months ago amid accounts of arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in the mainly Buddhist country. Myanmar has vehemently denied US and UN allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in late August. But on Monday, UN special rapporteur to Myanmar Yanghee Lee suggested that term was not strong enough. "I am becoming more...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Questions in Tunisia, and Switzerland returns stolen funds
    Week in Review: Questions in Tunisia, and Switzerland...
    12.03.18
    François Sergent JusticeInfo.net

    Tunisia’s transition is certainly chaotic, but it is also lively and resilient, as JusticeInfo.net showed this week. This country, last bastion of the Arab Spring, is questioning the future of its transitional justice processes, notably its Truth and Dignity Commission. “A few months from the end of the Commission’s work in December 2018, the question of what happens afterwards is recurrent”, writes JusticeInfo’s correspondent in Tunis Olfa Belhassine. With 60,000 victims’ cases registered at the Commission, the questions are many. What kind of transitional justice will there be in the period after the Truth Commission? Who will implement the recommendations of its final report? How will the victims be helped with rehabilitation and...

    Read more
    Why China’s removal of term limits is a gift to African...
    09.03.18
    David E Kiwuwa Associate Professor of International Studies, Princeton Univers

      Chinese President Xi Jinping has led social and economic transformation. Wu Hong /EPA   The recent sitting of the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) rolled out a big surprise development: a proposed removal of presidential term limits. This came among a raft of other constitutional amendments. The two-term limit had been instituted in 1982 by Deng Xiaoping after his experience with the chaotic post-Mao succession. Term limits were instituted to facilitate orderly succession and to support China’s reform era. China’s economic transformation wasn’t to be disrupted or sidetracked by unnecessary political struggles and uncertainty. Consequently, successive communist leaders have abided by this...

    Read more
    World must act on a litany of crimes, says outgoing Human Rights Commissioner
    World must act on a litany of crimes, says outgoing Human...
    08.03.18
    Frédéric Burnand, Geneva correspondent

    Presenting his last annual report to the UN Human Rights Council as High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein highlighted a series of mass crimes needing investigation by commissions of inquiry, referral to the International Criminal Court or other courts able to act under universal jurisdiction. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s four-year mandate ends this summer. And the Jordanian High Commissioner could only present an alarming picture of the human rights situation across all continents. The resurgence of brute force in relations between State powers is rocking a crisis-hit world where democratic regression is palpable, even in the oldest liberal democracies, 70 years after the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration...

    Read more
    Switzerland : Is the Abacha accord a model for returning ‘dictator funds’?
    Switzerland : Is the Abacha accord a model for returning...
    08.03.18
    Julia Crawford

    A recent Swiss agreement with Nigeria and the World Bank to return hundreds of millions in so-called “Abacha funds” is being hailed as a model for how other countries deal with dictators’ assets. But civil society organisations in both Switzerland and Nigeria have reservations. Switzerland has been working for several years to clean up its image as a haven for “dirty money”, having returned more than CHF2 billion ($2.1 billion) in stolen assets since 1986. The latest example is $321 million that has already been transferred from Switzerland to a Nigerian government account, part of assets stolen by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha (1993-98) and his family. With World Bank oversight, the funds will be used to finance Nigeria’s...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Rule of law under threat in Tanzania and Tunisia
    Week in Review: Rule of law under threat in Tanzania and...
    04.03.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Tanzania is one of the rare African countries known for being peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic. Its revered former long-time president Julius Nyerere decided, unlike many of his counterparts, to withdraw from power in 1985. But since the election of President John Magufuli in late 2015, Tanzania is losing this positive image envied by its neighbours. “Murders and attempted murders of opponents, suspension of media deemed critical, disappearances of journalists, harassment of human rights activists and artists have reached an unprecedented level,” writes JusticeInfo. We point to the case of opposition parliamentarian Tindu Lissu, head of the Tanzanian Bar, who was seriously injured by gunshots from unidentified attackers as he...

    Read more
    Tanzania's legendary "tranquillity" under threat
    Tanzania's legendary "tranquillity" under threat
    04.03.18
    JusticeInfo.Net

    Since President John Magufuli’s election in late 2015, Tanzania has been losing its reputation as a haven of “peace and tranquillity” previously envied by its neighbours. Murders and attempted murders of opponents, suspension of media deemed critical, disappearances of journalists, harassment of human rights activists and artists have reached an unprecedented level. Given this situation, the Tanzanian Catholic church, viewed as close to the regime, has recently crossed the Rubicon to denounce the excesses of the president. A few days later, some 100 local organizations launched a joint warning against this suppression of freedoms. Although 2016, the first year of Magufuli’s administration, saw its share of human rights violations,...

    Read more
    Sri Lanka launches probe into war-era disappearances
    01.03.18
    AFP

    Sri Lanka has appointed commissioners to a special panel tasked with investigating war-era disappearances, three years after President Maithripala Sirisena was elected promising justice for victims of the island's bloody ethnic conflict. The Office of Missing Persons was officially launched Wednesday by Sirisena, who has faced international censure for repeated delays in probing atrocities by troops and Tamil rebels during the decades-long civil war. Sri Lanka narrowly avoided sanctions when Sirisena came to power in January 2015 pledging investigations into war-time abuses, which the previous regime refused to even acknowledge. Parliament agreed two years ago to the first steps toward reconciling its war-era past -- tracing...

    Read more