Crimes against humanity, War crimes and Genocide

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

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

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

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

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    NGOs denounce 'crimes against humanity' in Myanmar
    29.09.17
    AFP

    Nearly 90 non-governmental organizations have denounced "crimes against humanity" committed by authorities in Myanmar against the Muslim Rohingya minority and called on the international community to take action. Half a million Rohingya have crushed into camps in Bangladesh in just over a month, fleeing a military campaign in Myanmar and communal violence. "As more evidence emerges, it is clear that the atrocities committed by Myanmar state security forces amount to crimes against humanity," a joint statement from the groups said. The 88 NGOs, which included Amnesty International and...

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    Week in Review: When failure to tackle impunity hinders peace
    24.09.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The exodus and massacre of Rohingyas, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, marked the week in transitional justice. French President Emmanuel Macron said this was “genocide”, while the UN Secretary General called it ethnic cleansing. But according to Myanmar’s de facto leader, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, this is a “huge iceberg of misinformation”. Everything indicates, however, that some 400,000 Rohingyas, i.e. nearly half of this community living in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine or Arakan, have fled their country pursued by the army, and that hundreds have been shot...

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    Central African Republic: 12 peace plans in 10 years and still at war
    20.09.17
    Pierre Hazan

    In the last ten years, the Central African Republic has had a dozen peace plans. None have ever been implemented. Here we look back and analyse this serial failure, as people close to armed groups are admitted into government. This move by the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, “in the name of national reconciliation” comes as UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned there are “early warning signs of genocide in the Central African Republic”. Is the Central African Republic (CAR) a serial killer of peace plans? From the 2007 Sirte accord concluded under the late “Mediator and Guide...

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    In Myanmar, former child soldier punished for speaking out
    13.09.17
    Hein Ko So, Frontier

    In Myanmar, the recent arrest of a man who gave an interview about his past as a child soldier has brought the issue to a wider audience ­but also raised fears about the military’s commitment to ending underage recruitment. Ko Aung Ko Htwe’s taste of freedom was brief. Barely a month after completing a 10-year prison sentence, he was re-arrested on August 18 and remanded the following day in Insein Prison. His alleged crime was speaking about his experience as a child soldier to the media. The interview prompted an officer from Yangon Region Command to file a complaint directly to Dagon...

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    ‘That guy should be killed’: Escaping a mob in Maungdaw, Myanmar
    12.09.17
    Mratt Kyaw Thu, Frontier

    Hostility greeted three journalists who made a clandestine trip to Maungdaw, in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state, late last month after the security operation had began against those behind the August 25 attacks. When 10 journalists with domestic and international media organisations, including Frontier, arrived at Buthidaung jetty by river ferry from Sittwe on August 28 in the hope of travelling to Maungdaw, special branch police were everywhere. We’d taken the ferry with Border Guard Police escorting a consignment of yellow packages wrapped tightly with yellow tape. No one we asked knew...

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    UN genocide warning in Central African Republic reflects powerlessness
    12.09.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    When should one warn of genocide? Was the UN right to raise the alarm in recent days about a genocidal pattern in the Central African Republic? Is there not a risk that invoking the “crime of crimes” too quickly could devalue the term “genocide” and reduce its power to raise the alarm? In August, United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien warned the UN Security Council that there were “early signs of a genocide” in the Central African Republic (CAR). He was criticized by nearly all experts on the country for being overly alarmist. “Genocide is a precise concept,” explained Didier...

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    Colombia's FARC rebels need a leader
    12.09.17
    Fabio Andres Diaz

    Ever since Colombia signed its fragile, contested peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in November 2016, the big question has been: What will this no-longer-armed insurgency do next? On Aug. 28, the FARC made its official reply. In its first congress since disarmament, the Marxist guerrilla group unveiled Colombia’s newest political party: the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común, or Commoners’ Alternative Revolutionary Force. “The new party will be built with many voices and diverse ideas,” announced Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the FARC’s top...

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    Unchecked Abuses by the Malian Army, according to HRW
    08.09.17
    HRW

     Mali and Burkina Faso military operations to counter the growing presence of Islamist armed groups in central Mali have resulted in serious human rights violations. Since late 2016, Malian forces have committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests against men accused of supporting Islamist armed groups, while a June 2017 cross-border operation by Burkinabe forces left two suspects dead. Human Rights Watch documented three common graves believed to contain the remains of at least 14 men executed after being detained by Malian soldiers since...

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    Kosovo's 'Rambo', Serbia's arch-antagonist, set to be PM
    07.09.17
    AFP

    A hero at home but considered a war criminal by Belgrade, Ramush Haradinaj is set to become Kosovo's prime minister just a few months after fighting against extradition to Serbia. If parliament approves his appointment as expected, this controversial former insurgent -- nicknamed "Rambo" by his comrades -- will have the job of relaunching crucial negotiations with his Serbian adversaries. The talks to "normalise" relations between Belgrade and Pristina, brokered by the European Union, have come to a standstill in recent months. Haradinaj has opposed the dialogue, calling for Belgrade...

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    Agony of Afghanistan’s Enforced Disappearances, according to HRW
    30.08.17
    Patricia Gossman

    As the world marks International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, learning the fate of the tens of thousands of Afghans who have been victims of enforced disappearance over the past four decades seems ever more remote. For their family members, that failure is like a wound that has never healed. Four years ago, Mohammad Rahim’s family finally held funeral services for him – 34 years after Afghanistan’s secret police took him away, never to be seen again.   The ceremony took place after Rahim’s name finally appeared on a “death list” of people detained and ordered executed in...

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

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

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    Ukraine: Unbearable uncertainty for families of the missing
    28.08.17
    ICRC

    For more than three years, eastern Ukraine has suffered conflict. Amid the world’s many other humanitarian crises, in Syria, or in Yemen for example, it can be easy to forget Ukraine. But the UN estimates that 10,000 people have lost their lives here since 2014. Thousands of families are grieving, and many, like Yuliia and Olha, have been condemned to wait for years to find out exactly what happened to their loved ones. “These are our fathers,” says Yuliia, taking a framed photograph off the shelf. “This one is Olha’s father, Serhii Uzakov, and this one here is my father, Volodymyr Bondarenko.” The two men disappeared almost three years ago. “It was November 27th 2014,” remembers...

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    Tunisia adopts pioneering law on violence against women
    15.08.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    On July 26, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a law to fight violence against women, becoming the first Arab country to do so. This was the culmination of a long struggle by feminists, lasting more than 20 years. MPs present in parliament that evening unanimously approved the new Organic Law on Elimination of Violence against Women. The law’s adoption stirred emotions among most women MPs (72 out of a total 217), who launched cries of joy in parliament. Tunisia thus becomes the first Arab country and the 19th in the world to adopt legislation on fighting violence against women.  The new law is...

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    Syria and the lessons to be learned from Carla Del Ponte’s resignation
    08.08.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Criminals like to commit their crimes in the dark. It is on this assumption that justice must be seen to be done if it is to help prevent crime. And so metaphorically, good triumphs over evil and light over darkness. In international public life this conviction has often produced a will to expose publicly the atrocities committed by war criminals, so as to shame them and dissuade others from associating with them. This "naming and shaming" approach was the reason United Nations Commissions of Inquiry were set up and is the preferred method of human rights organizations, convinced that...

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    DR Congo warlord accused of crimes against humanity surrenders
    26.07.17
    AFP

    Congolese rebel warlord Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, wanted for crimes against humanity including mass rape, surrendered to UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday. Sheka was arrested in Mutongo, in the country's North Kivu region by UN peacekeepers and was "transferred to Goma," the regional capital, his spokeswoman told AFP. The UN's peacekeeping mission in DR Congo MONUSCO said in a statement that Sheka handed himself in "in full awareness of the fact that he is wanted by the government... to stand trial for alleged crimes". Authorities issued the warrant for...

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    ICC judges ordered to review freeing I.Coast ex-leader Gbagbo
    19.07.17
    AFP

    Judges must review whether to release the ageing former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo for the rest of his crimes against humanity trial, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. Gbagbo, the first ex-head of state to be tried by the International Criminal Court, won his appeal against a March decision which ordered him to be held in a UN detention centre until the end of the legal process. Five appeals court judges found the trial judges had "erred" on several points by refusing the 72-year-old an interim release, including failing to consider his age and state of health. The trial chamber...

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    Myanmar villagers tell of abuses during crackdown in Rakhine
    18.07.17
    Oliver Slow, Frontier

    Residents of villages in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State have told reporters of accounts of human rights abuses by security forces during clearance operations conducted in the aftermath of the October 9 attack on police outposts in the beleaguered region. The accounts, told to reporters from local and foreign media outlets who were in the region as part of a government-sponsored trip, included accusations of extrajudicial killing, arson and arbitrary arrest. The government and military have repeatedly denied that such incidents took place. In Kyar Gaung Taung village, Maungdaw Township,...

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    Geneva conference on Kosovo: a judicial and a humanitarian approach to find the 1658 missing persons
    03.07.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor

    In contexts of political violence, one of the worst forms of psychological torture is not to know what happened to loved ones. And it gets worse with time. Has that person been taken by the army or an armed group? Have they been assassinated? Will they ever be found alive, or at least their remains, if victim of an extrajudicial killing? “For the past 18 years, every day that goes by is agony for us,” wrote the families of Serb and Kosovar disappeared people in a joint appeal on June 21. Under pressure from them, a UN roundtable was held in Geneva last Thursday and Friday with all the...

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