Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

    Mladic genocide verdict hailed as victory for justice

    UN judges on Wednesday sentenced former Bosnian Serbian commander Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of genocide and war crimes in the brutal Balkans conflicts over two decades ago. But the man dubbed "The Butcher of Bosnia" was not present in court to hear the final verdict, having been dragged out of the courtroom after loudly accusing the judges of "lying". And his son told reporters he planned to appeal. Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Mladic guilty on 10 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes...

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    Four big challenges to Suu Kyi’s plans for northern Rakhine

    Myanmar's de facto leader  Aung San Suu Kyi travelled to Rakhine State this month on her first visit there since taking office. The November 2 trip took her to Sittwe, and to Maungdaw Township in northern Rakhine, where she met Rakhine and Muslims affected by the violence that has resulted in more than 600,000 Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh. At a time when the US and European Union are considering targeted sanctions against senior army officers over the operation launched in northern Rakhine after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked security posts in late August, Suu Kyi is trying to...

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    Week in Review: Victims still waiting for justice in Gambia, Sri Lanka and Laos
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    This week took a closer look at transitional justice issues affecting Gambia, where civil society is campaigning to bring ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh to justice, and Sri Lanka, where the government is dragging its feet on promises of justice for victims of the civil war. We also looked at human rights in a forgotten country, Laos. In Gambia Baba Hydara, son of journalist Deyda Hydara who was one of the suspected victims of Jammeh’s 25-year dictatorship, explained his fight to get justice. The journalist was assassinated on December 16, 2004, with Jammeh’s death squad widely...

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    A book on “Silent Repression in Laos”, five years after activist disappeared
    Arnaud Dubus, southeast Asia correspondent

    Anne-Sophie Gindroz, an aid worker who was expelled by the Communist government of Laos in late 2012, has just written a book on her experience in that country. “Laos, the silent repression” (see attachment download above) comes five years after the disappearance of Laotian activist Sombath Somphone. The Laotian government has still not provided any information on his fate, despite international pressure. Gindroz worked for the Swiss NGO Helvetas in Laos for three years. Shortly before her expulsion, she had been a member of the organizing committee of the Asia-Europe People Forum, a forum...

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    'Mounting evidence' of Myanmar genocide: watchdogs

    Myanmar security forces slit the throats of Muslim Rohingya, burned victims alive, and gang-raped women and girls, according to two separate reports detailing mounting evidence of genocide against the minority group. Human Rights Watch focused on the use of sexual violence in its report on the military's campaign against the Rohingya, and concluded that the depredations amounted to crimes against humanity. "Rape has been a prominent and devastating feature of the Burmese military's campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," said Skye Wheeler, a researcher at Human Rights Watch...

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    UN countries must press Sri Lanka on justice, say NGOs
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.Net

    International jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP)  say Sri Lanka’s government has made no credible progress on its transitional justice commitments, and are urging the international community to get tough. This comes as Human Rights Watch also called Wednesday for countries at the UN Human Rights Council to press Sri Lanka on time-bound reforms ensuring justice for serious crimes committed during the civil war that ended in 2009. The war, which pitted majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and east, left at least...

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    Cambodia's Duch and the analysis of a killer
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Psychologist Françoise Sironi has been working with victims of mass violence for a quarter of a century. She was one of the founders of the Primo Levi Centre in Paris which provides care for torture victims. More recently she provided psychological expertise for the trial in Phnom Penh of Duch, who was director of the infamous S-21 prison during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Some two million people were killed under the murderous Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. As S-21 prison director, Duch was personally responsible for the torture and deaths of 17,000 people....

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    Guinea: Judges's 2009 Massacre Inquiry break new ground in combatting impunity, according to HRW
    Human Rights Watch

    The panel of Guinean judges investigating the September 28, 2009 massacre of more than 150 protesters and rape of 100 women by the security forces during a peaceful protest concluded their investigation on November 9 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The development is a major, much-awaited step in ensuring justice for the victims. The domestic investigation – which began in February 2010 – broke new ground in combatting impunity in the country, but progressed slowly amid political, financial, and logistical obstacles. During the investigation, the judges have brought charges against...

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    ICC targets Burundi regime crimes
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved a full investigation into serious crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015, it announced on Thursday. This investigation will look into suspected crimes against humanity committed by the Burundian regime. The decision was taken on October 25, just two days before Burundi’s official withdrawal from the ICC. By quitting membership of the Court, Bujumbura thought it would secure impunity. The Court has said otherwise. Those in power in Bujumbura have now got a long-awaited answer from the ICC, which says the perpetrators of crimes against...

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    ICC Prosecutor targets Taliban and US crimes in Afghanistan
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is about to ask Court permission to investigate crimes committed in Afghanistan and secret CIA prisons in Europe, she announced on November 3. “In due course, I will file my request for judicial authorisation to open an investigation, submitting that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” says a statement from Bensouda. It took just four days for ICC President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi to designate the three judges...

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    Myanmar ‘ready to begin repatriation process’ despite disagreements

    Myanmar's government says it is ready to begin scrutinising refugees who have fled to Bangladesh in the wake of recent violence in northern Rakhine State – the first step on the path to potential repatriation. Speaking to reporters in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, government spokesperson U Zaw Htay said Myanmar is planning to begin the repatriation process as soon as possible. However, in a sign of the tense state of relations between the neighbouring countries, Zaw Htay also accused Dhaka of dragging its feet on repatriation. He said the government is concerned that Bangladesh has not agreed...

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    Dutch court to try Ethiopian for “Red Terror” crimes
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    On October 30 a Dutch court is due to open the war crimes trial of Eshetu Alemu, 63, ex-member of the regime of former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. He is accused of war crimes, torture and illegal detentions. The trial is expected to last two weeks.   The trial due to open before a court in The Hague on October 30 is taking place 40 years after the events in question. The man who will appear in the dock faces four charges of war crimes -- for illegal detentions and cruel treatment -- and of torture. His indictment cites by name 321 victims, and refers to two events in...

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    Week in Review: “Historic” judgment for Liberia and the ICC under more fire
    François Sergent and Julia Crawford,

    This week saw transitional justice faced once again with classic tensions between law and politics, justice and peace. As the ICC, supposed to be the “police force” of international justice, came under more fire, a US court delivered an important judgment linked to war crimes in Liberia, a country in the midst of elections where impunity still rules for the crimes of the civil war.  A court in Philadelphia on Wednesday found Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”) guilty of charges related to atrocities committed during the first Liberian civil war (1989-96). He is expected to be sentenced in coming months and could face up to 30 years in jail. In order to prove that Jabbateh entered the...

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    Liberian found guilty of war crimes-linked charges in “historic” US case
    Julia Crawford,

    A court in Philadelphia on Wednesday found Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”) guilty of charges related to atrocities committed during the first Liberian civil war (1989-96). His two-week trial was the first time that Liberian war victims were able to testify in a public and fair trial, according to Swiss-based NGO Civitas Maxima, which has been monitoring the case. The jury of 12 in Philadelphia found Jabbateh guilty on two counts of fraud and two counts of perjury for lying to US officials about his background as a combatant in Liberia. Jabbateh was a commander of the ULIMO rebel group...

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

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

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    ICC scandal: Who is watching the sheriff?
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    A consortium of media known as the European Investigative Collaboration (EIC), of which French investigative website Mediapart is a member, has revealed certain facts that are embarrassing to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Court has opened an internal investigation and suspended two members of staff, but the scandal focuses on former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. Apart from the questions about individual responsibility, the main issue raised by these revelations is ICC governance. Indeed, how should the ICC Prosecutor, the Court’s “sheriff”, be watched over? When Luis...

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    Week in Review: Human rights activist awarded as dictators cling on
    François Sergent,

    As we saw this week, transitional justice still appears far from countries such as Togo, Egypt and Burundi, whose people are still struggling under authoritarian regimes disrespectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In Togo, there is an open crisis between the dictatorial Gnassingbé dynasty that has been in power for more than 50 years and the population who aspire to democracy and rule of law. “In this small West African country, the factors for rebellion are being put in place,” writes our Lomé correspondent Maxime Domegni. “On the streets, the young people no longer hide their...

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    Rwanda: The gruesome plight of children during the Tutsi genocide
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) launched on October 4 an online exhibition giving insight on how children were affected by the Rwandan genocide and conflicts in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The exhibition, entitled “Children in Conflict – Evidence from the Archives of the International Criminal Tribunals”, shows that children were often deliberately targeted for sexual violence, torture, persecution, forcible transfer, murder and extermination. To know more about how children were affected in Rwanda, JusticeInfo’s Kigali correspondent spoke to Valérie Mukabayire,...

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    Week in Review: Scandal at the ICC, questions on Burundi and Mali
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    The International Criminal Court is rocked by a huge scandal implicating its first Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, while the Central African Republic pursues its difficult quest for justice and the suffering continues of Burundi’s people, being used as a rampart by a regime that sees threats everywhere. Eight international media, members of the European Investigative Collaboration (EIC), have conducted a six-month investigation into the secrets of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which makes serious allegations against its first Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo. As JusticeInfo editorial...

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    “Embattled Burundi government using impoverished people as a rampart”

    In Burundi, repression has been directed at all democrats in the country since 2015, even if there has been some ethnic targeting, according to French sociologist and African Great Lakes specialist André Guichaoua. He says the core hardliners of embattled President Nkurunziza’s government are still trying to use the country’s “impoverished and pressurized population” as a rampart against perceived foreign threats. JusticeInfo spoke to André Guichaoua:   JusticeInfo: What is your assessment of the current human rights situation in Burundi? Is there still a risk of genocide as some observers...

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