Colombia's new president Ivan Duque is an anti-FARC hardliner

    Ivan Duque's election victory in Colombia makes him the youngest president in his country's modern history, and gives him a strong mandate to overhaul the government's fragile peace deal with the former rebel group FARC. He campaigned on a ticket to rewrite the peace deal signed with the FARC by outgoing center-right president Juan Manuel Santos. His vanquished leftist opponent, Gustavo Petro, supports the deal. A lawyer with a degree in economics, Duque represents many Colombian voters who were outraged by concessions given to the former rebels, including reduced sentences for those who confessed to their crimes. He has vowed to make "structural changes" to the 2016 agreement,...

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    Feasible Justice: Has Colombia Over-Promised and Under-Delivered Reparations for its 8.6 Million Victims?
    Julia Zulver, University of Oxford

     Colombia’s unprecedented reparations programme guarantees financial, land restitution, and holistic benefits for millions of victims. With only 7% payment to date, however, the government faces the challenge of making good on promises to its citizenry, undermining the potential for building lasting peace. In 2016, after four years of official negotiations, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP, Spanish acronym) were finally able to negotiate a definitive peace, and the country is now in a full-scale transition away from its violent past. The...

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    Sperisen verdict “gives hope to Guatemalan victims”
    Julia Crawford,

    A 15-year prison sentence handed down by a Geneva court on former Guatemalan police chief Erwin Sperisen for complicity in the 2006 murder of seven prison inmates is an “important step in the fight against impunity for State crimes”, says Swiss NGO Trial International, which helped bring the case. It is a rare case of a person being tried in Switzerland for crimes committed on foreign soil.  The court also awarded the plaintive, the mother of one of the murdered prisoners, CHF 30,000 as compensation. “This verdict demonstrates the healthy functioning of our institutions, and gives hope to...

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    Argentina : Protesters slam transfer of dictatorship convicts to house arrest

    Tens of thousands of people turned out across Argentina Saturday to march against a policy allowing ex-military members convicted of crimes during the country's dictatorship to be moved to house arrest. Demonstrations were held in squares and parks to denounce "setbacks in human rights policy" and to "demand freedom for political prisoners," according to a statement released by organizers. The main protest was held at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in front of the home of the federal government's executive branch. At the forefront of the demonstrations were organizations including Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, set up to search for relatives who were victims of forced...

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    In Colombia, FARC leader ends presidential bid, giving transitional justice a chance
    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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    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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    A Practitioners' Perspective on Forms of Justice in Peru and Colombia

    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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    Salvadoran army colonel faces justice in Spain
    François Musseau (Madrid)

    He no longer has the same charisma or the same look as he did when he was part of El Salvador’s army élite. At 74, former colonel Inocente Montano is still tall, but as he comes to the special high court in Madrid (Audiencia Nacional) he seems stooped, frowning and tense. There is good reason, because he has just been extradited to Spain from the United States. And, for the first time, a senior Salvadoran officer is to face justice in Spain for one of the most infamous massacres during the years of the "dirty wars" in central America: the assassination on November 16, 1989 of 6 Jesuits (of...

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    Guatemala: Courts Jeopardizing Fight Against Impunity, according to HRW
    Human Rights Watch

     The remarkable progress Guatemala has made in prosecuting corruption and abuse could be reversed if the country’s highest courts don’t stop the egregious delays that are keeping powerful defendants from going to trial, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 56-page report, “Running Out the Clock: How Guatemala’s Judiciary Could Doom the Fight against Impunity,” documents a pattern of repeated and unjustifiable delays in criminal cases brought by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office. “The fight against impunity in Guatemala has reached a critical moment,” said Daniel Wilkinson, managing...

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    Is the United States Ready for a Truth-Telling Process?

    Fania Davis thinks the time has come for a truth-telling process about racial injustice in the United States. A noted activist and the founding director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), Davis has confronted systematic racism for decades, working from Birmingham, Alabama to the Bay Area and beyond. But she noticed renewed grassroots momentum to explore the legacy of slavery in the aftermath a white police officer killing Michael Brown, a black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri three years ago. “I see Ferguson as kind of a marker,” she said at a conference at Kean...

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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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    UN says Venezuela policies designed to 'instil fear'

    The widespread rights abuses committed against protestors in Venezuela indicate that the country has implemented a policy of repression aimed at instilling fear in the population, the UN said Wednesday. A fresh UN report warned that the rights situation in Venezuela was at "grave risk" of unravelling further as the authorities continue to systematically and brutally repress demonstrators, and urged international action. The extent of the violations "points to the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instil fear in the population to curb demonstrations at the cost of Venezuelans' rights and freedoms," the report from the UN human rights office said. "The generalised...

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    Charlottesville is part of our nation’s moral reckoning
    Derek W. Black

    The number and exuberance of white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville sent emotional tremors through the nation. Some worried that this was the beginning of an expanding movement that would hearken us back to darker times. And many felt that President Donald Trump’s comments only made matters worse. The president’s implied moral equivalency between racist elements and counterprotesters emboldened the former: David Duke, a white nationalist leader and former KKK grand wizard, thanked the president for his “honesty” and willingness to “condemn the leftist terrorists.” As a...

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    Week in Review: Disunity over the past
    François Sergent

    Looking again at a divided past is part of transitional justice. How can a country, an institution come to terms with the memory of a past which still divides people? Sylvie Wuhrmann, director of the Fondation de l’Hermitage art gallery in Lausanne, Switzerland, puts it rather elegantly: “We should not punish the works of art because of their past. A museum is not a court but a place of remembrance.” The gallery is currently showing the exceptional art collection of Bürhle, a naturalized Swiss who made money selling canons to the Nazis. In an article published by our partner 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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    A Noble Dream: The Tenacious Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala
    Marcie Mersky (ICTJ)

    Bring General Ríos Montt and other high-ranking members of the military to trial in the Guatemalan courts for genocide? In 1999 it was a noble dream for justice for the thousands of Mayan victims of the country’s civil war, and for the entire country, but one with little apparent possibility of ever coming true. The UN-backed Guatemalan truth commission where I worked, the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), had just released its findings that state forces had committed genocide in at least three regions of the country. The report vindicated human rights defenders and hundreds of...

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    Week in Review: Impunity in Mexico, disappointment in Georgia
    François Sergent,

    Transitional justice can take different forms. This week several international and national NGOs called in The Hague for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes in Mexico. They accuse State authorities of “colluding” with drug cartels to commit murder, torture and enforced disappearances, especially in the northern state of Coahuila between 2009 and 2016. Organized crime, they say has become crimes against humanity and therefore falls within the ICC’s jurisdiction. The Mexico situation has been on the ICC Prosecutor’s desk for a while. It is one of the secret preliminary...

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    USA : Addressing Our Tortured History, One Monument at a Time
    David Tolbert

    The recent remarks of Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordering the removal of monuments honoring confederate leaders from New Orleans stands out as an important moment of moral clarity and civic courage for our country. The question is, how do we build on the success of the “take ‘em down” movement to tackle the deep, ongoing history of racial violence in the United States. We also need to see many more leaders on the local, state and national levels addressing the past truthfully, apologizing for the multitude of abuses committed against people of color and correcting our twisted historical...

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    Guatemala: How the Sepur Zarco Women lifted impunity for sexual violence
    Laura Cools & Brisna Caxaj, Impunity Watch

    “The verdict has been obtained, justice has been achieved; sadness is no longer”, states Demecia Yat, President of the Jalok U Collective, which gathers survivors of sexual violence and armed conflict from Sepur Zarco and surrounding communities. During the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996), in the military base of Sepur Zarco, 15 indigenous q’eqchi’ women were forced to clean the soldiers’ clothes, cook, and serve them without pay, while being subjected to physical and sexual abuse for months or sometimes years on end, receiving anti-contraceptive pills and injections to prevent...

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    Chiquita “contributed” to Colombian paramilitary crimes, ICC told
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Human rights organizations are asking the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include managers of Chiquita Brands International Inc. in her preliminary examination on Colombia. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard University and Colombian NGO Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo  (CAJAR) accuse the multinational of having “contributed” to crimes against humanity committed by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group. They say that from 1997 to 2004, the world leading...

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