Asia

    Opinion : transitional justice amendment in Nepal not "acceptable" , according to victims
    22.06.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    The government of Nepal is preparing to register a new bill of controversial and highly contested transitional justice act in the parliament after 3 and half years of two transitional bodies formed in February 2015. In a historic verdicts of Supreme Court (26 February 2015) on behalf of conflict victims legal petitions against flaws in the previous Act (the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014), government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Disappeared Commission to investigate war era (1996-2006) crimes without...

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    Opinion : in Nepal, impunity for perpetrators
    30.05.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On the Republican day on 29 May 2018, government released a criminally convicted former parliamentarian and ex-Maoist leader Balkrishna Dhungel from jail, who was arrested by Supreme Court order in October 2017 and other 815 convicted persons across the country. Former lawmaker Dhungel was recommended for pardon by the cabinet, which said that he had served 40 percent of his sentence, and fulfilled the criteria for presidential pardon as per the article (276) of the constitution. Upon release on the Republican day in the capital, Dhungel slammed rights activists and lawyers who...

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    Opinion : Nepali war victims demand real reparations and remembrance
    13.05.18
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    In Nepal, the Conflict Victim Common Platform (CVCP) has submitted an advocacy paper on “reparative needs, rights and demands” to the Justice Minister and the country's two transitional justice bodies, in the hope of creating momentum for a national policy of reparation. Victims are urging the government to address their needs through urgent support in terms of livelihoods, health, education, employment, remembrance and recognition, based on prior consultations with victims of the civil war.  CVCP has demanded that the government declare a “national remembrance day” in memory of the...

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    Myanmar facing ICC referral unless ‘proper’ Rakhine probe conducted: UN
    03.05.18
    Clare Hammond, Frontier

    Members of the United Nations Security Council have told Myanmar’s leaders there must be a “proper investigation” into a military crackdown in Rakhine State last August, which displaced almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. British envoy to the UN Security Council, Ms Karen Pierce, said there were two routes to achieving this. “One is an ICC [International Criminal Court] referral. The second would be for the Burmese government to do it themselves,” she said. Her remarks came at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, which marked the end of a high-profile UN Security...

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    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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    Myanmar and the Southeast Asian press squeeze
    11.04.18
    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 Philippines withdraws, “quality justice” is best shield for ICC
    22.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas,correspondent in The Hague

    After Burundi in 2016, the Philippines decided this March 16 to pull out of the Rome Treaty which created the International Criminal Court (ICC). In both cases, the decision followed announcements by the ICC Prosecutor that she was opening preliminary examinations on alleged crimes committed in those countries, including by their political leaders. The withdrawal decisions come in a specific context which is not linked to the standoff between some states notably in the African Union and the Court. According to a number of experts, recurring threats from states opposed to ICC decisions should...

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    Geneva puts spotlight on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority
    21.03.18
    Simon Bradley, swissinfo.ch

    The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya community was the centre of attention in Geneva last week with allegations of “acts of genocide” against the Muslim minority, counterclaims by Myanmar officials, a donor appeal for almost $1 billion (CHF954 million) and a bleak documentary film about a Buddhist monk stirring up ethnic hate. Since August 25, 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh as security forces carried out brutal crackdowns, following attacks by Rohingya insurgents.  “This is on top of 200,000 Rohingya already living in...

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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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    Philippines moves to quit ICC: What does it mean?
    14.03.18
    AFP

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday a move towards quitting the International Criminal Court, which has launched a preliminary examination of his deadly drug war. Here are five questions and answers on what it means: - Why did Duterte do it? - The ICC announced on February 9 a preliminary examination into allegations Philippine police have killed thousands of alleged users or dealers as part of Duterte's anti-drug war that he launched after taking office in mid-2016. Duterte had previously threatened to withdraw from the international body as a result of what he has called a politically slanted inquiry. - Can ICC still investigate? - Philippine lawyers say...

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    Philippines' Duterte moves to quit International Criminal Court
    14.03.18
    AFP

    President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he was pulling the Philippines out of the treaty underpinning the International Criminal Court, which is examining his deadly drug war. The outspoken leader, who is accused of stoking the killing of drug suspects with inflammatory statements, has fiercely pushed back since the Philippines became the first southeast Asian nation put under "preliminary examination" by the court's prosecutors. The ICC announced last month it was launching a study of the killings, which Philippine police put at 4,000 but rights groups say is actually triple that...

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    Myanmar events 'bear hallmarks of genocide': UN expert
    12.03.18
    AFP

    A top UN rights expert warned Monday that the crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya minority bears "the hallmarks of genocide" and insisted the government should be held accountable. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents six months ago amid accounts of arson, murder and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in the mainly Buddhist country. Myanmar has vehemently denied US and UN allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in late August. But on Monday, UN special rapporteur to Myanmar Yanghee Lee suggested that term...

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    Sri Lanka launches probe into war-era disappearances
    01.03.18
    AFP

    Sri Lanka has appointed commissioners to a special panel tasked with investigating war-era disappearances, three years after President Maithripala Sirisena was elected promising justice for victims of the island's bloody ethnic conflict. The Office of Missing Persons was officially launched Wednesday by Sirisena, who has faced international censure for repeated delays in probing atrocities by troops and Tamil rebels during the decades-long civil war. Sri Lanka narrowly avoided sanctions when Sirisena came to power in January 2015 pledging investigations into war-time abuses, which the previous regime refused to even acknowledge. Parliament agreed two years ago to the first steps...

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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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    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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    ICC probing alleged crimes in Philippines, Venezuela
    08.02.18
    AFP

    The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on Thursday unveiled new probes focusing on the deadly war on drugs in the Philippines and alleged abuses during Venezuela's political unrest. The unprecedented decision to launch two inquiries at once comes after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was petitioned by opposition leaders from the two countries, accusing their hardline governments of crimes against humanity. Bensouda said after "a careful, independent and impartial review... I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation." Both countries have signed the...

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    Afghanistan: NGO urges ICC not to forget Guantanamo crimes
    05.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    A human rights NGO has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to extend its likely investigations on Afghanistan to crimes committed at Guantanamo. On November 20, 2017, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court’s  judges for authorisation to open an investigation into crimes committed by US forces and the CIA in Afghanistan and Europe, as well as by the Taliban and the Afghan regime. The victims had until January 31, 2018 to support or reject this request. Their opinions should allow the judges to decide whether or not it is in victims’ interest to open an...

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    Myanmar: A mass grave, an unprecedented admission and a few unanswered questions
    29.01.18
    SITHU AUNG MYINT | FRONTIER

    The unprecedented admission by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar national army) that security forces were involved in unlawfully killing Muslims in Rakhine State may have implications for plans to repatriate verified refugees from Bangladesh. The True News Information Team at the Ministry of Defence said on January 10 that action would be taken against members of the security forces and civilians over the summary execution in Rakhine State of 10 men it described as “Muslim terrorists”. The announcement followed an investigation launched by the Tatmadaw on December 20, two days after it revealed the...

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    I visited the Rohingya refugee camps and here is what Bangladesh is doing right
    25.01.18
    The Conversation

    Nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh from Myanmar since September 2017. The Bangladeshi government’s plan to start repatriating them beginning this Tuesday, Jan. 22, has been postponed due to concerns about their safety. That the Bangladesh government agreed to the delay, speaks to its benevolent attitude toward the Rohingya refugees. In a recent trip to Bangladesh I witnessed this benevolence firsthand. I saw roads adorned with pro-refugee banners. Even those with opposing political views have come together to support the Rohingyas. The Bangladesh case stands in...

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