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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.

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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....

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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,...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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,...

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    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...

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    ICC under fire for internal mismanagement
    ICC under fire for internal mismanagement
    26.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) is again under fire for bad governance. In late January the International Labour Organization (ILO) handed down six judgments denouncing the “illegal” nature of steps taken by ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel as part of reforms launched in 2014. This comes as the ICC prepares to elect its next Registrar. Fourteen candidates are running, including the incumbent, Herman von Hebel. The administrative court of the ILO, to which ICC employees had recourse, rendered six decisions on January 24, 2018, finding that the Court should pay material and moral damages after firing several employees. The judges in Geneva found that redundancy procedures put in place by the Registrar under the “ReVision” reform...

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    Myanmar's government, the Rakhine crisis and media access
    Myanmar's government, the Rakhine crisis and media access
    26.02.18
    SITHU AUNG MYINT | FRONTIER

    The Myanmar government’s response to an Associated Press report about civilians buried in a mass grave at a northern Rakhine village has again focused attention on a counterproductive media access ban to the area imposed nearly five months ago. Foreign media coverage of Rakhine State made headlines again this month when the Union government denied a report by the Associated Press about the discovery of mass graves containing civilians and accused the American newsagency of harming the country’s image. The report also angered the Rakhine State government, which said it planned to sue AP, although it was unclear how any such case might proceed. The Union government’s response to the AP report has left some wondering if it plans to...

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    Week in Review: ICC internal management, Tunisia and DRC
    Week in Review: ICC internal management, Tunisia and DRC
    26.02.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This transitional justice week saw an investigation by our correspondent in The Hague into the administrative problems of the International Criminal Court, whose staff management has been sanctioned. This is a singular situation for a Court that is supposed to represent the law. As the Latin proverb says, “who will watch the watchman”?  “The administrative court of the International Labour Organization (ILO), to which ICC employees had recourse, rendered six decisions on January 24, 2018, finding that the Court should pay material and moral damages after firing several employees,” explains our correspondent Stéphanie Maupas. “The judges in Geneva found that redundancy procedures put in place by the Registrar were `without legal...

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    UN wants prosecutions for S,Sudan war crimes
    23.02.18
    AFP

    A UN rights commission in South Sudan said Friday there was sufficient evidence to charge at least 41 senior officers and officials with war crimes and crimes against humanity. South Sudan's four-year-old civil war has been characterised by extreme brutality and attacks on civilians. But no high-ranking officials have been held to account, despite African Union (AU) promises to establish a special court to try alleged crimes. "The court could be set up straight away and the prosecutor could begin working on indictments," said Yasmin Sooka, chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. "Under the peace agreement, those indicted can no longer hold or stand for office. Ultimately this is the only way to stop...

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    Armenian 'genocide': the disputed massacres of 1915-17
    23.02.18
    AFP

    Armenia and Turkey are at odds over whether the World War I massacres and deportations of Armenians by their Ottoman rulers should be described as genocide. Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed between 1915 and 1917, and have long sought international recognition that this was genocide. Turkey rejects the term and puts the number of dead at between 300,000 and 500,000. It says what happened was civil conflict and a collective tragedy. Around 20 countries and some parliaments have voted through laws or resolutions recognising there was genocide, to the fury of Ankara. The Dutch lower house on Thursday became the latest to vote such an acknowledgement but made clear that the government as a whole would not...

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    Unfair ISIS Trial in Iraq Hands Women Harshest Sentences
    Unfair ISIS Trial in Iraq Hands Women Harshest Sentences
    22.02.18
    Human Rights Watch

    Six months after about 1,400 foreign women and children surrendered with Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Iraqi security forces, Iraq’s courts are sentencing the women to life in prison and even to death for non-violent crimes. It’s just one indicator of how people viewed as colluding with ISIS are receiving unfair trials. The women have been charged with illegally entering Iraq and, in some cases aiding, abetting or having membership in ISIS, which carries the penalty of life in prison or death under Iraq’s counterterrorism law. In January, Baghdad’s Criminal Court sentenced a German woman to death. Two days ago, the same court convicted 11 Turkish women and an Azeri. One of the Turkish women was sentenced to death, and the...

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    Enclaves bombarded by the Syrian regime
    21.02.18
    AFP

    Before Eastern Ghouta there was Homs, Aleppo, Daraya -- rebel towns and enclaves that the Syrian regime pounded and besieged, forcing fighters to give up their arms and civilians to flee. - Homs - Syria's third city Homs was dubbed the "capital of the revolution," after anti-government protests erupted in March 2011, but from 2012 it came under a two-year siege. In 2014, rebels cornered by advancing regime forces agreed to be evacuated, although the government went on to besiege Waer, the last remaining opposition-held district in the city. During the siege nearly 2,200 people were killed in the Homs's Old City, according to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. In the historic centre of the city, completely in ruins,...

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    Human Rights Watch slams police brutality and slow reform in Tunisia
    Human Rights Watch slams police brutality and slow reform...
    19.02.18
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Human Rights Watch recently published two reports on the human rights situation in Tunisia. One concerns police brutality during a wave of protests in January 2018, and the second is part of a 2018 World Report on human rights situations. Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch, tells Justiceinfo.net in this interview about the mixed picture of human rights in Tunisia today.  JusticeInfo.net: During popular protests this January against the rising cost of living, the authorities called activists of Fech Nestanew (“What are we waiting for?”) hooligans, and accused them of vandalism. Is that true?  Amna Guellali: It is clear that there were some acts of violence that HRW considers reprehensible, but there is not yet any...

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    Week in Review: Reconciliation as the key to a successful transition
    Week in Review: Reconciliation as the key to a successful...
    18.02.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    In the wide domain of “transitional justice”, reconciliation processes are the key to transition, as we see in many countries.    Mali, for example, is showing this once again through its weaknesses, as Justiceinfo’s Bamako correspondent Bokar Sangaré explains. Because the 2015 Algiers accord -- meant to reconcile the north and south and their communities -- has not been implemented, the situation is deteriorating dangerously. And it is worrying people both in Mali and the international community, especially since the country is due to hold presidential elections this year in a security situation that is worsening all across Mali.  “The longer we take to implement the security provisions of the Accord, the more the situation will...

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    Opinion: Nepal’s victims want real results from transitional justice
    Opinion: Nepal’s victims want real results from...
    15.02.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The one-year extensions of Nepal’s two transitional justice mechanisms without necessary legal and institutional reforms ordered by the Supreme Court and the United Nations are insufficient to comply with international standards, international human rights groups said this week. Conflict victims have welcomed the extensions, but remain dissatisfied with the commissions. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists also said that “despite flaws in the law, and questions of legitimacy and capacity, victims and their families have given the benefit of the doubt to these bodies and submitted thousands of complaints”. The National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Persons (NEFAD), a...

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    Brazil: Court decision puts spotlight on crimes against indigenous people
    Brazil: Court decision puts spotlight on crimes against...
    15.02.18
    Fabio Cascardo

    In a historic decision regarding crimes against humanity committed by the military dictatorship (1964-1985) against the indigenous Kinja people (also known as Waimiri-Atroari), the Brazilian Federal Justice of the state of Amazonas put out restraining orders against the Federal Government and the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), opening the way for an unprecedented judicial acknowledgement of the violence suffered by the Kinja Indigenous during that period. In this first writ on 01.19.2018 the court obliged the Federal Government to present in the next 15 days all the documents concerning the military operations carried out between 1967 and 1977 in Amazonas and determined that FUNAI shall immediately protect the sacred sites...

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    South Africa: a giant of Africa
    13.02.18
    AFP

    South Africa is the continent's most industrialised economy and among its most developed, but marked by gaping inequalities rooted in years of racist white-minority rule that ended in 1994. - Apartheid - Black South Africans, around 80 percent of the population, voted for the first time only in 1994. It was a moment of jubilation after a bitter decades-long struggle against white-minority rule. British and Dutch settlers arrived at Africa's southern tip from the 17th century, first using it as a stopover on the shipping route to Asia and later claiming colonies. They imposed discriminatory laws early on, restricting non-whites to unskilled jobs and limiting land ownership and free movement. This developed into the radical...

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    How political violence can become criminal violence
    How political violence can become criminal violence
    12.02.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    According to the Gallup survey institute, the five most dangerous countries in the world in 2017 were Venezuela, South Africa, El Salvador, South Sudan and Liberia. With the exception of Venezuela, they have all been through civil war, and in South Sudan there is still war. South Africa, El Salvador and Liberia, on the other hand, all turned the page on political violence a long time ago, but criminal violence has taken its place. More awareness is needed to better understand the links between armed conflict and criminal violence.  South Africa, El Salvador and Liberia all have in common that they set up Truth and Reconciliation Commissions after apartheid or armed conflicts. These commissions shed light on the political violence...

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    Week in Review: Amnesia in Poland, violence in Venezuela and the Philippines
    Week in Review: Amnesia in Poland, violence in Venezuela...
    12.02.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Poland’s adoption of a controversial law on the history of the Holocaust marked the transitional justice week. Once again, a country is trying to impose its vision of history through law and close all debate on its past. The text provides for prison sentences of up to three years for anyone who talks of “Polish death camps” or “attributes responsibility or co-responsibility of the Polish State in Nazi crimes”.  Historically, the extermination camps in Poland during the Second World War were German and the work of the Nazis without collaboration of the Warsaw government, unlike other countries such as France which collaborated with the enemy. Holocaust museum Yad Vashem writes clearly that to speak of Polish death camps is a...

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    PM calls on Poles to avoid "unnecessary anti-Semitic jokes"
    11.02.18
    AFP

    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday called on Poles to refrain from making anti-Semitic statements at a time when the country is under fire over a controversial Holocaust law. The new law sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich -- or other crimes against humanity and war crimes" and set off criticism from Israel, the United States and France. "I would like to invite every one of you to contribute to positive thinking... to avoid anti-Semitic statements, because they are grist to the mill for our enemies, for our adversaries," Morawiecki said at a town hall meeting in the...

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    Wake up to suffering of Georgian victims, NGOs tell international court
    Wake up to suffering of Georgian victims, NGOs tell...
    08.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In a report published on February 5, human rights organizations express concern for the situation of victims of the summer 2008 Russia-Georgia war.  Two years after the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation, they are calling on the Court to go faster. In The Hague, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) asserts that the investigation is “progressing at full speed”. The 50-page report calls for the world not to forget victims of the lightning summer 2008 war (August 7-12, 2008) that pitted Russia against Georgia for the separatist province of South Ossetia. It is published by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Georgian Human Rights Centre (HRIDC). “Almost ten years have passed since the...

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    The US-led coalition in Syria: a timeline
    08.02.18
    AFP

    The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group has avoided involvement in Syria's civil war, but on Thursday it said it killed more than 100 pro-regime fighters in the country. The international coalition was set up in 2014 to drive IS from territories it controlled in Iraq and Syria. Washington has deployed 2,000 soldiers in Syria, mainly special forces, who support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arab-Kurdish coalition fighting the IS. - First air strikes - In September 2014, the US and Arab allies launch air strikes on the IS in Syria, opening a new front in the fight against the jihadist group, already targeted by raids in Iraq. - Support for Kurds - In October 2014 the US State Department reveals that...

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    ICC probing alleged crimes in Philippines, Venezuela
    ICC probing alleged crimes in Philippines, Venezuela
    08.02.18
    AFP

    The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on Thursday unveiled new probes focusing on the deadly war on drugs in the Philippines and alleged abuses during Venezuela's political unrest. The unprecedented decision to launch two inquiries at once comes after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was petitioned by opposition leaders from the two countries, accusing their hardline governments of crimes against humanity. Bensouda said after "a careful, independent and impartial review... I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation." Both countries have signed the Rome Statute, underpinning the ICC, giving the tribunal authority to investigate crimes on their soil. In the Philippines, Bensouda's office will...

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    EU’s Balkan Strategy Misses Chance to Tackle Past Injustice
    EU’s Balkan Strategy Misses Chance to Tackle Past Injustice
    08.02.18
    Marlies Stappers, Thomas Unger

    The European Commission presented its strategy for the Western Balkans on Tuesday, giving countries in the region a clear perspective for EU accession.This is to be welcomed, and there is no discussion that the future of the region lies within the European bloc. However, unaddressed grievances from the 1990s wars continue to undermine the perspective for peace. The EU strategy notes that transitional justice processes are incomplete, adding that “all countries must unequivocally commit, in both word and deed, to overcoming the legacy of the past, by achieving reconciliation and solving open issues well before their accession to the EU”.The EU strategy, however, fails in providing a clear road map for change.Today, 20 years after...

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    Poland : "Fighting for historical truth with a penal code is the matter of weak states"
    Poland : "Fighting for historical truth with a penal code...
    07.02.18
    Tomasz Lachowski

    Reckoning with past evils never is an easy task. Undoubtedly, fighting for historical truth appears as an inherent right of each and every nation, what corresponds to the freely chosen shape of the politics of memory of a given state. Nevertheless, the ongoing discussion over the recent changes in the law on the Institute of National Remembrance (PINR) – named as a ‘Holocaust law’ in Western media – recently enacted by the Polish parliament, clearly shows how (even justified) intentions may be sunk by the legal and diplomatic short-sightedness of their authors. Today’s decision of the president Andrzej Duda to sign the bill, despite the assurances by politicians in Warsaw, definitely would not calm Poland’s partners in Tel Aviv,...

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    Poland tries to rewrite Holocaust history
    Poland tries to rewrite Holocaust history
    06.02.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    After putting pressure on the judicial system and the media, Poland’s authorities are now clamping down on how the country’s Second World War history is told. This authoritarian trend is worrying the European Union. January 27 marked the commemoration of 73 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. The day before, Poland’s Senate adopted by 57 votes to 23 against plus two  abstentions a law under which people who mention “Polish death camps” or attribute any responsibility of the Polish State in Nazi crimes can be sentenced to up to three years in jail. On February 6, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed this into law. The law has provoked the ire of the Israeli government, which “adamantly opposes” any attempt to modify historical...

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    Gambia: Many Jammeh loyalists still in high posts, says human rights defender
    Gambia: Many Jammeh loyalists still in high posts, says...
    06.02.18
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    A year after the fall of Yahya Jammeh’s bloody 22-year dictatorship, there is a wind of freedom blowing in The Gambia. But, at the same time, many Gambians are worried that the new government is trying to do “new things with old faces”. One of them is Fatou Jagne Senghor, a Gambian human rights defender who is West Africa regional director for the freedom of expression group Article 19. She spoke to JusticeInfo about her concerns, starting with how the secret service, formerly the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA), is managed. JusticeInfo: What was the role of the National Intelligence Agency in Yahya Jammeh’s repression? Fatou Jagne Senghor: It is clear that for 22 years the NIA was at the heart of most of the human rights...

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    Afghanistan: NGO urges ICC not to forget Guantanamo crimes
    Afghanistan: NGO urges ICC not to forget Guantanamo crimes
    05.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    A human rights NGO has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to extend its likely investigations on Afghanistan to crimes committed at Guantanamo. On November 20, 2017, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court’s  judges for authorisation to open an investigation into crimes committed by US forces and the CIA in Afghanistan and Europe, as well as by the Taliban and the Afghan regime. The victims had until January 31, 2018 to support or reject this request. Their opinions should allow the judges to decide whether or not it is in victims’ interest to open an investigation. Several victims imprisoned in secret CIA prisons have sent opinions to the Court via human rights organizations including the Center for...

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    Week in Review: Testing times for TJ from Kosovo to Burundi
    Week in Review: Testing times for TJ from Kosovo to Burundi
    05.02.18
    François Sergent JusticeInfo.net

    This was a bad week for transitional justice, in Kosovo, Tunisia and Burundi. In Kosovo, the authorities are trying to stop the special tribunal charged with trying war crimes committed by UCK rebels between 1998 -2000, explains Pierre Hazan. That is not surprising given that former UCK commanders including President Hashim Thaçi and his Prime Minister are now in power in Pristina. The Serbs, who feel they have been abandoned by justice in the Balkans, were the primary victims of the crimes under the jurisdiction of the new tribunal, which is officially part of the Kosovo judicial system but based in The Hague to ensure independence. The European Union, which initiated the court, has already warned Kosovo’s leaders that any attempt...

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    Will contested Kosovo tribunal ever get off the ground?
    Will contested Kosovo tribunal ever get off the ground?
    01.02.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    Is the Kosovo war crimes tribunal dead before it even begins? Parliamentarians close to the country’s President and Prime Minister are trying to sabotage it. Meanwhile Switzerland has granted it funding support. In January 2018, Switzerland granted funding of 200,000 francs (181,200 euros) to the tribunal charged with shedding light on war crimes committed in Kosovo between 1998 and 2000, particularly the disappearance of 500 mainly Serb civilians in the context of conflict between separatists and Serb forces plus a NATO military intervention. But numerous parliamentarians from the party in power in Pristina remain determined to put an end to this new tribunal which could threaten key people in power who were commanders of the...

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    Opinion: Klaus Barbie and Burundi’s Truth Commission
    Opinion: Klaus Barbie and Burundi’s Truth Commission
    30.01.18
    Louis-Marie Nindorera, Burundian consultant on transitional justice

    January 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Seventy years on and thousands of miles from where it happened, this day for prevention of crimes against humanity also has resonance in Burundi. Louis-Marie Nindorera is a Burundian transitional justice expert. To mark this year’s international day, he penned these memories for Yaga, a collective of Burundian bloggers. It was 20 years ago, in 1994. I was driving in the north of Bujumbura in my Peugeot 205, taking a two-year-old girl to see the heights and plains of the Burundian capital, as had become my habit. A few weeks earlier my cousin had rescued this little girl from one of the many Red Cross trucks bringing hundreds of refugees, survivors of the unspeakable genocide...

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    Myanmar: A mass grave, an unprecedented admission and a few unanswered questions
    Myanmar: A mass grave, an unprecedented admission and a...
    29.01.18
    SITHU AUNG MYINT | FRONTIER

    The unprecedented admission by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar national army) that security forces were involved in unlawfully killing Muslims in Rakhine State may have implications for plans to repatriate verified refugees from Bangladesh. The True News Information Team at the Ministry of Defence said on January 10 that action would be taken against members of the security forces and civilians over the summary execution in Rakhine State of 10 men it described as “Muslim terrorists”. The announcement followed an investigation launched by the Tatmadaw on December 20, two days after it revealed the discovery of 10 bodies in a mass grave at a cemetery at Inn Din village, in Maungdaw Township, northern Rakhine. The investigation, which ended on...

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    Week in Review: Gambia, Mali, Tunisia and Iraq
    Week in Review: Gambia, Mali, Tunisia and Iraq
    29.01.18
    François Sergent JusticeInfo.net

    Transitional justice is moving forward in Gambia with the setting up of a Truth Commission.  The Commission’s task will be no less than to “mend the tissue of Gambian society, torn apart by 22 years of iron-fisted rule under ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh”, as our West Africa correspondent Maxime Domegni writes. The victims and their families expect much of this Commission, but they warn there will be no reconciliation without justice. “I often hear people talking about reconciliation, but there can be no talk of reconciliation without truth and justice for our loved ones who were killed,” says Aji Maly Ceesay, whose son Mamute Ceesay was disappeared in 2013 by Jammeh’s secret service. This phrase could well be spoken by all the victims...

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    Iraq: “Saving manuscripts is also saving people”
    Iraq: “Saving manuscripts is also saving people”
    25.01.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    What is the point of saving culture if you can’t save people? That seems a derisory question in the spiral of violence hitting Iraq and Syria for years. But not for Father Najeeb. He has managed to save thousands of precious manuscripts that Daesh wanted to destroy because, he says, “Man is like a tree and cannot live without his roots”. With his soft-spoke manner and obvious kindness, Father Najeeb does not look like a cowboy or an Indiana Jones come to save treasure. This, however, is what this former oil industry engineer born in Mosul has done. For a long time now, he has not been seeking black gold beneath the soil of Iraq but other resources also born there long ago: cross-cultural manuscripts that recount the stories of...

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    I visited the Rohingya refugee camps and here is what Bangladesh is doing right
    I visited the Rohingya refugee camps and here is what...
    25.01.18
    The Conversation

    Nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh from Myanmar since September 2017. The Bangladeshi government’s plan to start repatriating them beginning this Tuesday, Jan. 22, has been postponed due to concerns about their safety. That the Bangladesh government agreed to the delay, speaks to its benevolent attitude toward the Rohingya refugees. In a recent trip to Bangladesh I witnessed this benevolence firsthand. I saw roads adorned with pro-refugee banners. Even those with opposing political views have come together to support the Rohingyas. The Bangladesh case stands in stark contrast to what happened in Europe in 2015, which faced an influx of a similar number of refugees, where many European countries saw rising...

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    No reconciliation without justice, say Gambia’s victims
    No reconciliation without justice, say Gambia’s victims
    25.01.18
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    As Gambia’s new authorities prepare to launch a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, victims warn that there will be no reconciliation without justice. The process leading to the appointment of 11 Commission members is expected to be complete by the end of February. These rare birds, people of moral standing who have never been involved in human rights abuses or active in a political party, should be in post by then. According to a guide released by the Justice Ministry in mid-January, five Commission members will be designated by the country’s president, five will be elected (one from each region) and one will be a youth representative. This team of 11 will have the heavy task of mending the tissue of Gambian society,...

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    A Practitioners' Perspective on Forms of Justice in Peru...
    23.01.18
    ICTJ

    Jairo Rivas has a decade of experience working with reparations forms. In the aftermath of Peru’s internal armed conflict, Rivas helped distribute reparations to thousands of victims as Technical Secretary of the Reparations Council, an autonomous body established to implement the comprehensive reparations plan recommended by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Rivas has also worked in Colombia, serving as senior advisor to the Director of the Special Administrative Unit for the Assistance and Comprehensive Reparations of Victims. There, he coordinated the registration process and the implementation of reparations from the internal armed conflict in that country. In both Peru and Colombia, registrar officers...

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    Kabul Hotel Attack a "War Crime", says HRW
    Kabul Hotel Attack a "War Crime", says HRW
    23.01.18
    Human Rights Watch

    This weekend’s attack on the Intercontinental Hotel was just the latest in a long string of incidents targeting civilians in Afghanistan. Those who ordered or carried out this serious violation of the laws of war are responsible for war crimes. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the hours-long attack on the hotel, during which gunmen killed at least seven Afghans and 11 foreign nationals, most of them shot dead in their rooms or the hotel dining room. The attackers, who reportedly entered through the kitchen, worked their way through the hotel floors, blowing open guests’ rooms and shooting whoever was inside, or detonating grenades. Some people were injured or killed jumping out of windows while trying to escape. The...

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    Syrian chemical weapons attacks
    23.01.18
    AFP

    Since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, the belligerents -- in particular the regime of President Bashar al-Assad -- have been accused on numerous occasions of using chemical weapons. Here is a summary. - Damascus threatens - The Syrian government acknowledges in July 2012 for the first time that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in the event of military operations by Western countries, but not against its own population. The following month, US President Barack Obama says the use or even movement of such weapons would be a "red line" for his administration. - Sarin attack - In August 2013 hundreds of people are killed in Damascus in chemical weapons strikes after Syrian troops launch an offensive in...

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    Salvadoran army colonel faces justice in Spain
    Salvadoran army colonel faces justice in Spain
    22.01.18
    François Musseau (Madrid)

    He no longer has the same charisma or the same look as he did when he was part of El Salvador’s army élite. At 74, former colonel Inocente Montano is still tall, but as he comes to the special high court in Madrid (Audiencia Nacional) he seems stooped, frowning and tense. There is good reason, because he has just been extradited to Spain from the United States. And, for the first time, a senior Salvadoran officer is to face justice in Spain for one of the most infamous massacres during the years of the "dirty wars" in central America: the assassination on November 16, 1989 of 6 Jesuits (of whom 5 Spanish), a Salvadoran cook and her daughter. This slaughter took place at the Central American University (UCA) of El Salvador, headed by...

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    Week in Review: Hope in Guinea, disappointment in Togo, impunity in Burundi
    Week in Review: Hope in Guinea, disappointment in Togo,...
    22.01.18
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Will justice be done in Guinea in the very sensitive case of the September 28, 2009 massacre of 150 people in a stadium in the capital Conakry? This looks more likely after investigations closed in December 2017 and the suspects were referred for trial, but victims are not so happy.  Firstly, Justice Minister Cheik Sacko is already saying the government does not have the money to hold this trial, which could last 8 to 10 months according to him. So he has thrown the ball into the court of donors, mainly the US and Europe, who have been calling for years for light to be shed on this massacre that the United Nations has called a crime against humanity. Another reason for dissatisfaction is the dropping of charges against two officers...

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    Burundi: "Impunity for serious crimes remains the norm"
    Burundi: "Impunity for serious crimes remains the norm"
    19.01.18
    Human Rights Watch

    The Burundi government continued its repression of real and perceived political opponents in 2017, according to the annual report of Human Rights Watch published on January 18. This included murder, forced disappearance, torture and arbitrary arrest. In its determination to continue suppressing the population without the outside world's gaze, the regime of Pierre Nkurunziza has also declared all foreign investigators persona non grata.  The political and human rights crisis that began in Burundi in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a disputed third term, continued through 2017, as government forces targeted real and perceived opponents with near total impunity. Security forces and...

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    Living through the horrors of genocide: humanitarian workers in Rwanda
    Living through the horrors of genocide: humanitarian...
    19.01.18
    The Conversation

    They are on the frontlines of any major conflict or disaster – but how much is known about the daily experiences of humanitarian workers in these extreme situations? In their new book, Génocide et crimes de masse. L’expérience rwandaise de MSF (“Humanitarian Aid, Genocide and Mass Killings: Médecins sans frontières, the Rwandan experience, 1982-97”), Marc Le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol set out to answer some of these questions. The book is also informed by Bradol’s experience of working for Médecins Sans Frontières in Rwanda during the genocide. Here, they discuss their findings. You investigated humanitarian operations in the Great Lakes region between 1990 and 1997. This was a period of extreme violence against Rwandophone...

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    Will Guinea hold trial this year for 2009 stadium massacre?
    Will Guinea hold trial this year for 2009 stadium massacre?
    18.01.18
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

      In Guinea, investigations into the September 2009 massacre in Conakry have finally closed, seven years after the event. Announcing this on December 29, 2017, Guinean Justice Minister Cheik Sacko said the suspects have been referred for trial. On September 28, 2009 the military junta in power at the time brutally crushed a peaceful opposition protest, killing 156 people and raping more than 100 women, according to UN figures. The end of the judicial investigation seems to pave the way for a trial. A steering committee has been set up to prepare the first stages of the trial, although no date has been set for its opening. “Such an important case of mass crimes has no deadline, it will take place in Guinea,” Cheik Sacko told a press...

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    This is not Myanmar’s path to peace
    This is not Myanmar’s path to peace
    18.01.18
    Frontier

    Myanmar's government runs the risk of ceding so much control to the Tatmadaw (national army) that it simply becomes irrelevant to the peace process. The next 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference is supposed to be just a few weeks away, but you wouldn’t know it from the Tatmadaw’s recent behaviour. Extrajudicial killings, disruption of peace meetings, fresh offensives: if you are trying to get people around a table, it’s a strange way to go about it. In recent weeks, we’ve had the deaths of four Karenni Army soldiers in military custody and the shootout at a Tatmadaw base that left two Lahu People’s Militia members dead. In the north, fighting has erupted with both the Kachin Independence Army and Ta’ang National Liberation...

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    Nepal's TJ commissions need political will, not just more time
    Nepal's TJ commissions need political will, not just more...
    15.01.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On January 5, 2018, Nepal’s cabinet decided to extend the tenure of the country’s two transitional justice (TJ) bodies for another year. But this was done without consulting primary stakeholders and without evaluating the work of the commissions over the last three years. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were set up in February 2015 with an initial two- year mandate and a one-year extension to complete the assigned tasks. However, in three years both commissions failed to deliver satisfactory results. They continue to suffer because of their limited mandates and the fact that the government financially controls them. They seem incompetent and...

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    Week in Review: African dictators cling to power, as Tunisia protests austerity again
    Week in Review: African dictators cling to power, as...
    14.01.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    On JusticeInfo.net, French jurist Didier Niewiadowski looks at what he calls “exception for insecurity”, a pretext used by African dictators to postpone elections indefinitely. The best example, he writes, is Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo who, according to Niewiadowski, is “using the exception for insecurity with cynicism and provocation”. “His mandate expired definitively on December 19, 2016,” the writer explains, “but despite mediation by the National Episcopal Conference of Congo and the accords of December 31, 2016, the presidential election did not take place in 2017. Insecurity is clearly the primary reason used for not launching the first phases of the electoral process. And so the presidential mandate is...

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    For Muslims across Myanmar, citizenship rights a legal fiction
    For Muslims across Myanmar, citizenship rights a legal...
    11.01.18
    THOMAS MANCH | FRONTIER

    In Myanmar, members of the Muslim community are facing long delays in citizenship applications unless they acquiesce to officials’ suggestions that they be labelled “Bengali”. Ma Hnin Hlaing, a bright, young Bamar Muslim, cannot become a Myanmar citizen unless she agrees to be called “Bengali”. She finds the label offensive, but without citizenship she cannot complete the business law degree she began in 2014. If she cannot graduate she cannot become a lawyer, her chosen profession. Immigration officials insist she cannot be both Bamar and Muslim and must register as Bengali. She refuses. “It’s quite disgusting,” she said. “Why should I be treated as an alien in a country I was born in? That my ancestors died in?” Citizenship,...

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    ICC investigations in Burundi “will be difficult but not impossible”
    ICC investigations in Burundi “will be difficult but not...
    11.01.18
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Kigali

    Burundi’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) became effective in October 2017, after the Court had finished its preliminary examination on crimes committed since April 2015 in that country. But Burundi’s withdrawal does not put an end to the ICC investigations.  According to Stella Ndirangu, a Kenyan human rights lawyer working with the International Commission of Jurists, the challenge now is how the Court in The Hague will conduct investigations, since Bujumbura has clearly stated that it will not cooperate. She says the task will be difficult but not impossible. JusticeInfo: What are the legal consequences for the ICC of Burundi’s withdrawal? Stella Ndirangu: By the time Burundi withdrew, the ICC had been...

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    Key dates in Tunisia since 2011 revolt
    10.01.18
    AFP

    Key developments in Tunisia in the seven years since president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in a revolt that sparked a wave of uprisings in the region. - 2011: President flees - Ben Ali quits on January 14, 2011 after weeks of demonstrations sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit seller who was protesting police harassment and unemployment. He is the first leader to stand down in the Arab Spring, fleeing to Saudi Arabia after 23 years in power. In October, Islamist group Ennahda wins 89 of the 217 seats in a new constituent assembly, just months after being legalised in March. It is Tunisia's first free election. The assembly elects former opposition leader Moncef Marzouki as president in December. - 2012:...

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    War criminals: freed before serving out their jailtime
    War criminals: freed before serving out their jailtime
    05.01.18
    AFP

    Before former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, several people convicted of crimes against humanity have been granted early release, from Nazis tried in Nuremberg to Argentinian military officers. - World War II - - Walther Funk: The former chief of the German Reichsbank from 1939 to 1945 is sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 for having accepted gold extorted by the SS from deportees to concentration camps. He is freed in 1957 for health reasons. - Erich Raeder: The commander of the German Navy until 1943 is sentenced at Nuremberg to life in prison, before being freed in 1955 as he approaches 80 for medical reasons. - Maurice Papon: A senior official under France's wartime Vichy government, Papon...

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    As Yugoslav tribunal closes, a look back at its history
    As Yugoslav tribunal closes, a look back at its history
    03.01.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    In his last speech to the UN Security Council on December 6, 2017, ICTY President Carmel Agius expressed satisfaction that out of 161 persons indicted, all have been tried or have died, representing a 100% success rate, although the difficulties were many. This is all the more surprising because the first international criminal tribunal had everything against it. It was created in 1993, in the midst of war in Bosnia- Herzegovina, with no access to the former Yugoslavia, and was pushed by founding fathers who did not even want it to succeed!  The ICTY was proposed to the Security Council by French Foreign Minister at the time Roland Dumas (Resolutions 808 and 827) as a tool to deter crimes but above all to fend off accusations that...

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    How the ICTY has changed our world
    How the ICTY has changed our world
    03.01.18
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) closed its doors on December 31, 2017, after working for 24 years, issuing 161 indictments and nearly as many judgments, hearing 4,600 witnesses over 10,800 days of trials, producing millions of pages and costing billions of dollars. Apart from the Second World War, no war has been as studied and certainly none has been the subject of judicial procedures like the one that tore the former Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s.   So the time has come for a first evaluation, and the legacy of the ICTY is clearly considerable. Its major impact was to help judicialize international relations, and try to make this work even in wartime.  This is a revolution whose effects we...

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    French judges finish probe into attack that sparked Rwanda...
    21.12.17
    AFP

    French anti-terror judges have finished their investigation into the missile attack that sparked Rwanda's 1994 genocide and will now decide whether to send the highly sensitive case to trial, legal sources said Thursday. The missile strike on a plane near Kigali's airport in April 1994 killed Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, triggering 100 days of bloodshed that left an estimated 800,000 people dead, mostly members of the Tutsi minority. The genocide has caused two decades of tension between Paris and Kigali, which accuses France of complicity in the killings through its support and military training for Habyarimana's Hutu forces who carried out most of the slaughter. The French probe over the missile attack -- set up in...

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    Nepal: Publish Commission Report on Terai Violence, says HRW
    Nepal: Publish Commission Report on Terai Violence, says HRW
    21.12.17
    Human Rights Watch

     Authorities in Nepal should immediately make public the December 14, 2017 report of a special commission on the Terai violence in 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. The High-Level Inquiry Commission was established in 2016 to investigate alleged excessive and indiscriminate use of force during violent protests that left at least 45 people dead, including nine police officers. While the commission officially handed its report to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the government has not indicated next steps based on the report’s findings and its recommendations. The victims of the violence and their families have a right to know what happened. “The Nepali government overcame political bickering to appoint an independent...

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    How the Yugoslav Tribunal Made History, according to HRW
    How the Yugoslav Tribunal Made History, according to HRW
    21.12.17
    Human Rights Watch

    Bullet holes, bloodstains and brain matter marked the walls of an empty barn, a crime scene processed to document the worst crime in Europe since the Second World War: the deliberate killings of more than 7,000 men and boys from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Journalists and human rights researchers had pieced together the horrifying story based on eyewitness accounts from the few who survived; and then investigators from the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal built a genocide case by collecting evidence from killing sites and exhuming mass graves. At the time war erupted amidst the breakup of socialist Yugoslavia in 1991, human rights investigations in Europe largely focused on the rights of political dissidents and minorities within...

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    State agents, militia 'planned' DRC massacres: rights group
    State agents, militia 'planned' DRC massacres: rights group
    20.12.17
    AFP

    Security forces and an army-backed militia planned massacres in an opposition stronghold in the Democratic Republic of Congo, human rights activists charged Wednesday, calling the killings "crimes against humanity". The southern Kasai region suffered "one of the worst human rights crises in the world" between March and July, the Paris-based International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) said in a report compiled with partner rights groups in the country. It includes heart-rending testimony such as that of a 27-year-old woman who described soldiers attacking her village and burning down houses. As she fled, she "saw a lot of corpses... of children, of villagers." The FIDH said the atrocities "were perpetrated mainly by elements...

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    Reuters journalists arrests a damning reflection on the state of Myanmar's democratic transition
    Reuters journalists arrests a damning reflection on the...
    20.12.17
    Frontier

    These are dark days for journalism in Myanmar. LET’S BE CLEAR: The detention of Reuters journalists Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo is a brazen attack on the media and the principles of democracy. This is not about national security. This is about protecting the interests of the Tatmadaw and silencing those who do not blindly repeat the official line. However, this line – that security forces have not been involved in abuses in northern Rakhine – has already been widely discredited: by satellite imagery, by accounts of refugees, by physical evidence of abuses and even by journalists who visited Rakhine on a state-sponsored trip. The military’s investigation claimed that security forces acted with restraint in Rakhine State in the...

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    South Sudan: Stop Delays on Hybrid Court, says HRW
    South Sudan: Stop Delays on Hybrid Court, says HRW
    19.12.17
    Human Rights Watch

     South Sudan’s top officials have failed to make good on promises to establish an African Union-South Sudanese hybrid court to try international crimes committed during the country’s civil war, Human Rights Watch said today. Four years into the conflict, both parties continue to commit grave human rights crimes against civilians. Despite the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), which envisioned the hybrid court, abuses by all parties persist as the conflict continues to spread. South Sudan’s transitional government has neither ended violations by its army nor made progress toward setting up the court. The lack of progress points to the need for measures like targeted sanctions against...

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    In Myanmar, possibly 'genocide', says UN rights chief
    In Myanmar, possibly 'genocide', says UN rights chief
    18.12.17
    AFP

    The UN rights chief told AFP Monday that Myanmar clearly "planned" violent attacks on its Rohingya minority, causing a mass-exodus, and warned the crackdown could possibly amount to "genocide". "For us, it was clear... that these operations were organised and planned," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in an interview. "You couldn't exclude the possibility of acts of genocide... You cannot rule it out as having taken place or taking place." Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of a Myanmar army crackdown on rebels in Rakhine state that began in August. And more than 655,000 of the Muslim minority have fled across the border into Cox's...

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    Week in Review: DRC, Ethiopia and crime of aggression,
    Week in Review: DRC, Ethiopia and crime of aggression,
    16.12.17
    François Sergent and Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military court sitting in the little town of Kavumu struck a historic blow for transitional justice in a place where sexual violence and powerful people generally go unpunished. The week also saw an important verdict for Ethiopia and a move to give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over “aggression”.   “It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder,” writes our correspondent Claude Sengenya. “Local politician Frédéric Batumike, head of this militia, and 11 of his co-accused were sentenced to life in...

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    UN says life terms for DRCongo child rapists a 'major...
    16.12.17
    AFP

    The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo Saturday hailed as a "major advance" life sentences served this week on a provincial lawmaker and ten militiamen convicted of raping young girls. The group were jailed for life on Wednesday in the east of the country for raping about 40 children, including a baby, in what was judged as a crime against humanity. The defendants were said to belong to a militia group called "Djeshi ya Yesu" -- meaning "Army of Jesus" in Swahili -- led by South Kivu provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike. The "unprecedented trial and the ruling constitute a major advance in the fight against impunity for sexual violence," said Maman Sidikou, the head of MONUSCO, the UN's peacekeeping mission in the...

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    Historic verdict in DRC child rape trial
    Historic verdict in DRC child rape trial
    14.12.17
    Claude Sengenya in Kavumu, South Kivu province of eastern DRC

    It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder. Local politician Frédéric Batumike, head of this militia, and 11 of his co-accused were sentenced to life in jail. Two others were sentenced to one year, while six were acquitted. Their trial concerned the rape of some 40 children aged 8 months to 12 years in Kavumu, South Kivu, between 2013 and 2016. The trial lasted 17 days, during which the prosecution and civil parties brought evidence in a tireless attempt to convince the three military judges that these were “widespread and systematic” acts...

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    Dozen DR Congo child rapists handed life sentences
    Dozen DR Congo child rapists handed life sentences
    13.12.17
    AFP

    A dozen militiamen in eastern DR Congo were jailed for life Wednesday for raping about 40 children, including a baby, in what was judged a crime against humanity. The defendants were said to belong to a militia group called "Djeshi ya Yesu" -- meaning "Army of Jesus" in Swahili -- led by South Kivu provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike. The children, ranging from babies aged just eight months to a 12-year-old girl, were kidnapped and raped between 2013 and 2016. A large crowd gathered in the area before Batumike and the 11 others were convicted by the military tribunal and "sentenced to life in prison for the crime against humanity by rape and murder". The verdict was delivered in a packed courtroom, concluding a trial that...

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    Burundi: The Rights Defender Nestor Nibitanga Detained,...
    13.12.17
    Human Rights Watch

    Authorities in Burundi have been holding a human rights activist since November 21, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately release the activist, Nestor Nibitanga, or charge him with a credible offense. The police accused Nibitanga, via twitter, of “threatening state security.” Nibitanga was arrested at his home in Gitega province and taken to the headquarters of the national intelligence service (Service national de renseignement, SNR), in Bujumbura, the capital. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented numerous cases of torture of detainees there. He was held incommunicado, without charge and without access to his family or a lawyer until December 4. He was then transferred to an...

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    Gambia: Truth Commission to Uncover Jammeh Abuses, says HRW
    Gambia: Truth Commission to Uncover Jammeh Abuses, says HRW
    12.12.17
    Human Rights Watch

    Gambia’s truth commission bill, to be debated on December 13, 2017, is an important opportunity to shed light on human rights violations committed during the rule of former President Yahya Jammeh, Human Rights Watch said today. The National Assembly should amend the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission bill to prohibit amnesties for those responsible for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, rape, or torture, in accordance with international law and practice. “Gambia will greatly benefit from a truth-telling process that shines light on Jammeh’s abuses,” said Jim Wormington, West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Gambian victims deserve a truth commission that gives them a platform to tell their...

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    In Myanmar, women targeted by human trafficking in Kachin
    In Myanmar, women targeted by human trafficking in Kachin
    11.12.17
    SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

    Women’s groups in Myanmar's Kachin State say understaffed police with inadequate resources are hampering investigations into human trafficking and contributing to a crime wave in Myitkyina, in which women are often the targets. Since the conflict between the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) and Kachin Independence Army resumed in 2011, bringing to an end a 17-year ceasefire, almost 100,000 people have been displaced.  The majority of those displaced live in camps close to Myitkyina, the state capital, and neighbouring Waingmaw. Women and children comprise more than half of the IDPs, and human traffickers are a constant menace, looking to take victims over the border into China. A serious shortage of officers and resources is making it...

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    Was the destruction of Old Mostar Bridge a war crime?
    Was the destruction of Old Mostar Bridge a war crime?
    11.12.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    To what extent does the destruction of an architectural masterpiece constitute a war crime if that masterpiece is also used for military purposes? What, too, if the destruction of such a monument, like the Old Mostar Bridge, causes psychological and physical harm to a civilian population now under siege? How should military objectives, damage to cultural heritage, psychological and physical harm be weighed together? That was the headache posed by the last judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).  The ICTY’s last judgment on November 29 will be remembered for the televised live suicide of Slobodan Praljak, one of the six accused, as the sentence was being read out. But another aspect of this...

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    Week in Review: ICC debates “crime of aggression” as Yemen suffers and Croatia denies
    Week in Review: ICC debates “crime of aggression” as Yemen...
    09.12.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The International Criminal Court’s annual meeting of 123 member countries started this week at the United Nations in New York. This year’s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) is discussing, among other things, whether the "crime of aggression" will be added to the ICC’s jurisdiction alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This debate is not just academic and legal. The "crime of aggression" -- i.e. one country aggressing another -- divides both ICC member and non-member States, because it could mean the indictment of State leaders in cases like Russia’s war in Georgia and/or annexation of Crimea, and the United States’, France’s and Britain’s intervention in Libya. Ugandan and Rwandan meddling in the Democratic...

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    Yemen situation worsening faster than we can respond, says ICRC chief
    Yemen situation worsening faster than we can respond, says...
    07.12.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    The violent death of former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh following his implicit offer to make peace with Saudi Arabia, risks fuelling the proxy war in Yemen between Riyadh and Teheran, according to some analysts, while some now see a possible end to the conflict. Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross says the humanitarian situation continues to worsen, as ICRC President Peter Maurer explains. Last Saturday, 48 hours before he was killed by his former allies – Houthi rebels supported by Iran --, Ali Abdallah Saleh had said he was ready to "turn the page” with Saudi Arabia. That was immediately welcomed by the Saudi-led  military coalition that has been fighting the Houthi-Saleh alliance since 2015. With no...

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    Opinion: More justice needed for war victims in Nepal
    Opinion: More justice needed for war victims in Nepal
    07.12.17
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Nepal’s political elites hail the country’s transition from civil war as a success. But commissions for Truth and Reconciliation and on Enforced Disappeared Persons are not independent, and have not so far done their job. Many cases of civil war abuses filed before both national courts and UN bodies have not been adequately followed up, and victims are still waiting for justice.  On this Human Rights Day (December 10), let us call on all political actors in Nepal to respect victims’ right to truth, access to justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition for a peaceful future.The Maoist revolt in Nepal between 1996 and 2006 left thousands dead, as well as many disappeared. After the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was...

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    Possible 'elements of genocide' in Myanmar: UN rights chief
    Possible 'elements of genocide' in Myanmar: UN rights chief
    05.12.17
    AFP

    The UN rights chief called Tuesday for a fresh international investigation into Myanmar's abuses against its Rohingya Muslim minority, warning of possible "elements of genocide". Speaking before a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the abuses against the Rohingya, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein condemned "widespread, systematic and shockingly brutal" attacks against the Rohingya, as well as decades of discrimination and persecution. An army-led crackdown has forced some 626,000 people to flee from northern Rakhine state and across the border into squalid camps in Bangladesh in recent months, leaving hundreds of villages burned to the ground. Myanmar's military denies accusations by the UN and US that it has committed...

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    Week in Review: ICTY suicide and children’s war drawings question international justice
    Week in Review: ICTY suicide and children’s war drawings...
    01.12.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    Croat war criminal Slobodan Praljak’s suicide in court, just as he was being sentenced to 20 years in jail,  puts a tragic final end to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It is with those images, broadcast on the Internet, that the ICTY will close its doors at the end of December. This is the “lowering of the curtain on a courtroom become a crime scene”, writes AFP. The ICTY, set up by the United Nations in 1993, was the first international criminal tribunal after the post-World War II Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. Born during the Balkan conflicts, the ICTY leaves a significant but also controversial legacy for international justice. “Never has a war been so documented, examined and...

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    Children’s drawings as evidence of war crimes
    Children’s drawings as evidence of war crimes
    01.12.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    “Deflagrations: Children’s drawings and adult wars”, a book published by Anamosa, recounts war in 150 children’s drawings. The book is accompanied by an exhibition until December 16 at the André Malraux médiathèque in Strasbourg. This is a beautiful book which appeals for peace. Colourless corpses, huts on fire, columns of refugees, bombing, fear and sadness. The 150 drawings put together by Zérane Girardeau tell of war through children’s eyes. The book “ Déflagrations, dessins d’enfants, guerre d’adultes”, published by Anamosa, reproduces a century of children’s drawings during war, the work of young witnesses from the First World War to the conflict in Syria. “These drawings allow us to situate ourselves for a moment outside the...

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    Justice leaves a bitter taste in the Balkans
    Justice leaves a bitter taste in the Balkans
    27.11.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    This December 21, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will close its doors. Never have so many crimes provoked so much investigative work. Never has a war been so documented, examined and analysed by judicial authorities since the Second World War. Now it is time to analyse the record of this first international criminal tribunal, its successes and failures. This is indispensable, if only to learn lessons for the future of international justice.  What is most striking is the huge gap between judicial truth and the way it resonates in the societies most concerned. With courage, but also with sadness, the ICTY Prosecutor recognizes that those being glorified today are the war criminals and not their...

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