Karadzic urges UN judges to throw out war crimes conviction

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

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

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

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    CAR: Are ex-Seleka preparing to march on Bangui?
    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...

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    A scholar’s journey to understand the needs of Pol Pot’s survivors
    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...

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    Congolese court tries ex-militia leader for crimes against humanity
    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...

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    Week in Review: Gambia forgotten, CAR at risk
    François Sergent,

    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...

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    Myanmar and the Southeast Asian press squeeze
    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...

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    As first group of Libya refugees arrives in Switzerland, who is a refugee and who a migrant?
    Julia Crawford,

    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...

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    Outsider Peter Lewis voted Registrar to reform the International Criminal Court
    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...

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    As Philippines withdraws, “quality justice” is best shield for ICC
    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...

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    Geneva puts spotlight on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority
    Simon Bradley,

    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...

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    Fight against impunity for mass crimes becomes more universal
    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...

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    Democratic recession and transitional justice
    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...

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    World must act on a litany of crimes, says outgoing Human Rights Commissioner
    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...

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    Tanzania's legendary "tranquillity" under threat

    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...

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    ICC under fire for internal mismanagement
    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...

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    Human Rights Watch slams police brutality and slow reform in Tunisia
    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 in this interview about the mixed picture of human rights in Tunisia today. 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...

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

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    How political violence can become criminal violence
    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...

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