Africa

    CAR: Are ex-Seleka preparing to march on Bangui?
    19.04.18
    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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    Congolese court tries ex-militia leader for crimes against humanity
    16.04.18
    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
    15.04.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    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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    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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    Gambian rapper tells of concerns in the post-Jammeh era
    10.04.18
    Maxime Domegni, Banjul (special correspondent)

    Under Yahya Jammeh's regime, members of the youth movement "Gomsabopa" (believe in yourself) had to flee Gambia at one point to neighbouring Senegal. They also contributed to the "war effort" against Yahya Jammeh at the end of 2016, actively participating in the "Coalition 2016" that helped bring new president Adama Barrow to power. In the "New Gambia", they revel in a new political environment where there is freedom of opinion and expression. Yet now they fear the new Gambian administration is developing a liking for certain practices they fought against, such as tribalism, nepotism and...

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    Week in Review: Victims feel ignored in Mali, Gambia and Tunisia
    08.04.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The appearance of the former Islamist police chief of Timbuktu (northern Mali) before the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a highlight of this week in transitional justice. “Al Hassan” is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was transferred to the ICC from Mali on March 31. Malian civil society expressed satisfaction at the appearance of this second Jihadist before the ICC. It comes after the ICC’s trial and conviction of Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, alias “Abu Turab”, for the destruction of Timbuktu’s cultural heritage during its occupation by the militant Jihadist...

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    As first group of Libya refugees arrives in Switzerland, who is a refugee and who a migrant?
    05.04.18
    Julia Crawford, swissinfo.ch

    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
    29.03.18
    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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    Ugandan ex-rebel leader not mentally ill, experts tell the ICC
    29.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The first stage of Dominic Ongwen’s trial is coming to an end before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In mid-April, prosecutors will call their last witness, and then it will be the turn of the defence to present its case. Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in northern Uganda. His lawyers, hoping for an acquittal, say he suffers from mental problems. “We all agree that Mr. Ongwen was in a traumatizing environment,” psychiatric expert Catherine Abbo told the Court on March 27 this year. After...

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    As the Red Dust Settles: Mali Confronts the Truth about a Legacy of War
    29.03.18
    Hannah Dunphy, Justice Rapid Response

    When Mali created a truth commission to address decades of conflict, it soon required specialized expertise. Working together with a JRR expert, the truth commission now has the tools it needs to bring together victims and gather truth, with method that is uniquely their own. On the night before he was to travel to Kidal, Colonel Major Haidara Aboucarine awoke suddenly from a bad dream. It was May 2014, and Aboucarine was working as an officer for the government of Mali. At the time, the north of the country was contested by Touaregs belonging to the National Movement for the...

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    Tunisia votes to end truth tribunal mandate
    27.03.18
    AFP

    In a contentious vote late Monday, Tunisia's parliament voted to end the work of a tribunal tasked with healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship. After two particularly stormy sessions on Saturday and Monday, Tunisian MPs rejected an extension of the Truth and Dignity Commission's (IVD) mandate, set to end on May 31, parliament said on Twitter. The vote was 68 against, zero votes for and two abstentions. But dozens of MPs, including those of the Islamist Ennahdha party, left parliament before Monday's vote, alleging it was tainted with irregularities. Two thirds of lawmakers did not vote. Set up in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben...

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    NGOs on the frontline of South Sudan’s forgotten war
    14.03.18
    Julia Crawford

    As the United Nations Human Rights Council this week heard a new report on abuses in South Sudan, we look at how two Swiss non-governmental groups are working against the odds to help alleviate the suffering of the population. On Tuesday March 13, the Human Rights Council discussed a UN commission report documenting new abuses against civilians in South Sudan, including gang rapes, beheadings and blindings. “We talk of a crime against humanity of persecution with an ethnic dimension,” says commission member Andrew Clapham, professor of international law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva,...

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    Week in Review: Questions in Tunisia, and Switzerland returns stolen funds
    12.03.18
    François Sergent JusticeInfo.net

    Tunisia’s transition is certainly chaotic, but it is also lively and resilient, as JusticeInfo.net showed this week. This country, last bastion of the Arab Spring, is questioning the future of its transitional justice processes, notably its Truth and Dignity Commission. “A few months from the end of the Commission’s work in December 2018, the question of what happens afterwards is recurrent”, writes JusticeInfo’s correspondent in Tunis Olfa Belhassine. With 60,000 victims’ cases registered at the Commission, the questions are many. What kind of transitional justice will there be in the...

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    Switzerland : Is the Abacha accord a model for returning ‘dictator funds’?
    08.03.18
    Julia Crawford

    A recent Swiss agreement with Nigeria and the World Bank to return hundreds of millions in so-called “Abacha funds” is being hailed as a model for how other countries deal with dictators’ assets. But civil society organisations in both Switzerland and Nigeria have reservations. Switzerland has been working for several years to clean up its image as a haven for “dirty money”, having returned more than CHF2 billion ($2.1 billion) in stolen assets since 1986. The latest example is $321 million that has already been transferred from Switzerland to a Nigerian government account, part of assets...

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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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    Tanzania's legendary "tranquillity" under threat
    04.03.18
    JusticeInfo.Net

    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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    UN wants prosecutions for S,Sudan war crimes
    23.02.18
    AFP

    A UN rights commission in South Sudan said Friday there was sufficient evidence to charge at least 41 senior officers and officials with war crimes and crimes against humanity. South Sudan's four-year-old civil war has been characterised by extreme brutality and attacks on civilians. But no high-ranking officials have been held to account, despite African Union (AU) promises to establish a special court to try alleged crimes. "The court could be set up straight away and the prosecutor could begin working on indictments," said Yasmin Sooka, chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. "Under the peace agreement, those indicted can no longer hold or stand for...

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    Human Rights Watch slams police brutality and slow reform in Tunisia
    19.02.18
    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 Justiceinfo.net in this interview about the mixed picture of human rights in Tunisia today.  JusticeInfo.net: 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
    18.02.18
    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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