Peace processes

    Week in Review: Bangui rejects hate message, Euro-MPs make an appeal
    Ephrem RUGIRIRIZA, JusticeInfo.Net

    Central Africans from all sides have come out strongly against a message calling on Christians to avenge the deaths of priests and members of the faithful killed in recent days. That call came in a communiqué from the “Church Defence League”, a hitherto unknown organization which says it wants to “denounce the lack of action by national authorities and Catholic church leaders in the face of violence against priests and religious people”, according  to Radio Ndeke Luka. The Catholic church, Muslim organizations, journalists’ associations and other members of civil society have come out as...

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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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    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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    Mali should have helped fund rebuilding of Timbuktu heritage, says local archaeologist
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    In 2012, Jihadist groups seized northern Mali. They occupied the town of Timbuktu, intellectual capital of the Sahara and crossroads of different cultures and religions. The Jihadists methodically destroyed the unique cultural heritage of this City of 333 Saints.  Fifteen of the town’s 16 mausoleums and the gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque, considered sacred by the inhabitants, were hacked and destroyed by groups linked to Al-Qaeda including Ansar Dine, in the name of fighting "idolatry". Some 4,200 manuscripts of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies and Research (IHERI-AB) were...

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    Week in Review: Philippines to quit the ICC, while populism undermines the West
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    At the International Criminal Court (ICC), registrar Herman Von Hebel this week announced that he is withdrawing his candidacy for a new five-year mandate. Von Hebel of the Netherlands had been severely criticized for his financial management of the Court. Twelve candidates remain in the running to succeed him, but a date has not yet been announced for the ICC judges to elect the new registrar. Still on the ICC, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose country’s withdrawal from the Court became effective at the end of 2017, now has someone following in his path. His equally...

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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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    Week in Review: Rule of law under threat in Tanzania and Tunisia
    François Sergent,

    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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    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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    Myanmar's government, the Rakhine crisis and media access

    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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    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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