Peace processes

    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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    Week in Review: Reconciliation as the key to a successful transition
    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...

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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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    Week in Review: Gambia, Mali, Tunisia and Iraq
    François Sergent

    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...

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    Burundi: "Impunity for serious crimes remains the norm"
    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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    This is not Myanmar’s path to peace

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

    On, 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...

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    Opinion: More justice needed for war victims in Nepal
    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...

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    Tepid response to Myanmar-Bangladesh repatriation agreement

    Bangladesh and Myanmar say they will start repatriating refugees in two months, amid continued global pressure about the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State, in a move that humanitarian groups have called “premature” as refugees continue to cross the border. According to the United Nations, more than 620,000 people – overwhelmingly Muslims who identify as Rohingya – have crossed the border since August after a military crackdown that Washington last week said constitutes “ethnic cleansing”. After lengthy discussions, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Mr AH...

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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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    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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    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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    Is judicial wrangling fuelling Kenya's election turmoil?
    Aileen Kimutai, Nairobi

    Kenya's annulled presidential elections have thrown the country into the worst political crisis since the 2008 post-election violence which saw over 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Tension is high as the scheduled October 26 re-run approaches. "Kenya has had a very tough year so far and the going looks as if it will get tougher," says Robert Shaw, a public policy and economic analyst in Nairobi. "The country is dangerously polarized and fatigued, which is a lethal cocktail. There is an increasing number of antagonistic and inflammatory comments by some leaders that...

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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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    Week in Review: When failure to tackle impunity hinders peace
    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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    Colombia's FARC rebels need a leader
    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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    Week in Review: A victory for rule of law in Africa?
    François Sergent,

    The highlight of  the week was undoubtedly Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Kenya to invalidate the August 8 presidential election, a first in Africa. Kenya’s media hailed the decision which, as said by daily newspaper The Star, "will reverberate for years to come in Kenya and around the continent". This is all the more so since President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta has accepted the decision, even if he launched a sharp verbal attack on the Court.   Representatives of opposition parties in Africa have also hailed the decision, including in Zimbabwe, Guinea and Mali. “The decision of the...

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    Post-Charlottesville: Should we write off the past?
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    The French revolutionaries dreamed of writing off the past. But it is not so easy to throw the legacy of time past into the dustbin of history when it directly affects the present and future. This is the drama that played out recently in Charlottesville.  Through the fate of General Lee’s statue, what was at stake in Charlottesville was not what happened in the War of Secession (1861-1865), but rather the way Americans see themselves at a crucial turning point. For the first time, Americans citizens are contemplating the fact that in two decades Whites will be in the minority in the US....

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    Tunisia adopts pioneering law on violence against women
    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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    “Risk of Central African Republic exploding has never been so high”
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Dozens of people have been killed in recent weeks of fighting between armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), as a UN official warned of possible genocide. In this interview Didier Niewiadowski, jurist and former advisor to the French embassy in Bangui, gives his view of the situation in that troubled country. He agrees with the UN that “the risk of a national explosion has never been so high”, but says he does not at this stage see early warning signs of genocide.  Do you agree with UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien that there are early warning...

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