Opinion

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

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    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...

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    Preventing sexual violence: lessons from rebel armies in Burundi and Uganda
    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    In Colombia, FARC leader ends presidential bid, giving transitional justice a chance
    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...

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    Why China’s removal of term limits is a gift to African Presidents
    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...

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    Week in Review: Rule of law under threat in Tanzania and Tunisia
    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    Opinion: Nepal’s victims want real results from transitional justice
    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...

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

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    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...

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

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    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...

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    A Practitioners' Perspective on Forms of Justice in Peru and Colombia
    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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

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    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...

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