National tribunals

    Unfair ISIS Trial in Iraq Hands Women Harshest Sentences
    Human Rights Watch

    Six months after about 1,400 foreign women and children surrendered with Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Iraqi security forces, Iraq’s courts are sentencing the women to life in prison and even to death for non-violent crimes. It’s just one indicator of how people viewed as colluding with ISIS are receiving unfair trials. The women have been charged with illegally entering Iraq and, in some cases aiding, abetting or having membership in ISIS, which carries the penalty of life in prison or death under Iraq’s counterterrorism law. In January, Baghdad’s Criminal Court sentenced a German...

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    Week in Review: Testing times for TJ from Kosovo to Burundi
    François Sergent

    This was a bad week for transitional justice, in Kosovo, Tunisia and Burundi. In Kosovo, the authorities are trying to stop the special tribunal charged with trying war crimes committed by UCK rebels between 1998 -2000, explains Pierre Hazan. That is not surprising given that former UCK commanders including President Hashim Thaçi and his Prime Minister are now in power in Pristina. The Serbs, who feel they have been abandoned by justice in the Balkans, were the primary victims of the crimes under the jurisdiction of the new tribunal, which is officially part of the Kosovo judicial system...

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    Will contested Kosovo tribunal ever get off the ground?
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and professor at Neuchâtel University

    Is the Kosovo war crimes tribunal dead before it even begins? Parliamentarians close to the country’s President and Prime Minister are trying to sabotage it. Meanwhile Switzerland has granted it funding support. In January 2018, Switzerland granted funding of 200,000 francs (181,200 euros) to the tribunal charged with shedding light on war crimes committed in Kosovo between 1998 and 2000, particularly the disappearance of 500 mainly Serb civilians in the context of conflict between separatists and Serb forces plus a NATO military intervention. But numerous parliamentarians from the party 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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    Week in Review: Hope in Guinea, disappointment in Togo, impunity in Burundi
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Will justice be done in Guinea in the very sensitive case of the September 28, 2009 massacre of 150 people in a stadium in the capital Conakry? This looks more likely after investigations closed in December 2017 and the suspects were referred for trial, but victims are not so happy.  Firstly, Justice Minister Cheik Sacko is already saying the government does not have the money to hold this trial, which could last 8 to 10 months according to him. So he has thrown the ball into the court of donors, mainly the US and Europe, who have been calling for years for light to be shed on this massacre...

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    Will Guinea hold trial this year for 2009 stadium massacre?
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

      In Guinea, investigations into the September 2009 massacre in Conakry have finally closed, seven years after the event. Announcing this on December 29, 2017, Guinean Justice Minister Cheik Sacko said the suspects have been referred for trial. On September 28, 2009 the military junta in power at the time brutally crushed a peaceful opposition protest, killing 156 people and raping more than 100 women, according to UN figures. The end of the judicial investigation seems to pave the way for a trial. A steering committee has been set up to prepare the first stages of the trial, although no...

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    Week in Review: DRC, Ethiopia and crime of aggression,
    François Sergent and Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military court sitting in the little town of Kavumu struck a historic blow for transitional justice in a place where sexual violence and powerful people generally go unpunished. The week also saw an important verdict for Ethiopia and a move to give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over “aggression”.   “It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder,” writes...

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    Historic verdict in DRC child rape trial
    Claude Sengenya in Kavumu, South Kivu province of eastern DRC

    It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder. Local politician Frédéric Batumike, head of this militia, and 11 of his co-accused were sentenced to life in jail. Two others were sentenced to one year, while six were acquitted. Their trial concerned the rape of some 40 children aged 8 months to 12 years in Kavumu, South Kivu, between 2013 and 2016. The trial lasted 17 days, during which the prosecution and...

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    Dozen DR Congo child rapists handed life sentences

    A dozen militiamen in eastern DR Congo were jailed for life Wednesday for raping about 40 children, including a baby, in what was judged a crime against humanity. The defendants were said to belong to a militia group called "Djeshi ya Yesu" -- meaning "Army of Jesus" in Swahili -- led by South Kivu provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike. The children, ranging from babies aged just eight months to a 12-year-old girl, were kidnapped and raped between 2013 and 2016. A large crowd gathered in the area before Batumike and the 11 others were convicted by the military tribunal and "sentenced...

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    UN countries must press Sri Lanka on justice, say NGOs
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.Net

    International jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP)  say Sri Lanka’s government has made no credible progress on its transitional justice commitments, and are urging the international community to get tough. This comes as Human Rights Watch also called Wednesday for countries at the UN Human Rights Council to press Sri Lanka on time-bound reforms ensuring justice for serious crimes committed during the civil war that ended in 2009. The war, which pitted majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and east, left at least...

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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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    Guinea: Judges's 2009 Massacre Inquiry break new ground in combatting impunity, according to HRW
    Human Rights Watch

    The panel of Guinean judges investigating the September 28, 2009 massacre of more than 150 protesters and rape of 100 women by the security forces during a peaceful protest concluded their investigation on November 9 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The development is a major, much-awaited step in ensuring justice for the victims. The domestic investigation – which began in February 2010 – broke new ground in combatting impunity in the country, but progressed slowly amid political, financial, and logistical obstacles. During the investigation, the judges have brought charges against...

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    Week in Review: ICC says no to Burundi impunity, DRC starts historic rape trial
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate crimes committed in Burundi, announced on Thursday, was the highlight of this transitional justice week.  This ICC decision came just two days before Burundi’s withdrawal from the Court became effective on October 27. It is the first country to pull out of the ICC. The ICC Prosecutor had opened a preliminary examination into crimes committed in Burundi before Bujumbura announced it was leaving the Rome Statute. “By quitting membership of the Court, Bujumbura thought it would secure impunity,” writes our ICC correspondent Stéphanie...

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    “Many options” to bring Jammeh to justice, says murdered Gambian journalist’s son
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    Baba Hydara is the son of Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara, who was assassinated in 2004. The former regime of President Yahya Jammeh is widely suspected of being behind his murder. Baba Hydara has been fighting ever since to get justice for his father, who was one of the many victims of the Jammeh regime that ruled Gambia with an iron fist for nearly a quarter of a century. So it is natural that he is part of the new “Jammeh2Justice” coalition, which wants Jammeh tried for his crimes. The former dictator finally stepped down in January 2017 after being beaten in elections by current...

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    Week in Review: CAR's challenges, a trial for Ethiopia, and Burundi withdraws from the ICC
    François Sergent,

    A highlight of this week in transitional justice was the visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to the Central African Republic (CAR).  In this fragile state ravaged by war, Guterres spoke up for the rule of law, the UN mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) and for justice rather than impunity. He had trouble convincing his Central African audience, which doubts MINUSCA’s impartiality and sees it as being on the side of CAR President Ange-Félix Touadera. The CAR is a country which “a group of criminals is trying to descend into Hell”, the UN Secretary General said on Thursday as he visited...

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    Dutch court to try Ethiopian for “Red Terror” crimes
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    On October 30 a Dutch court is due to open the war crimes trial of Eshetu Alemu, 63, ex-member of the regime of former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. He is accused of war crimes, torture and illegal detentions. The trial is expected to last two weeks.   The trial due to open before a court in The Hague on October 30 is taking place 40 years after the events in question. The man who will appear in the dock faces four charges of war crimes -- for illegal detentions and cruel treatment -- and of torture. His indictment cites by name 321 victims, and refers to two events in...

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    Week in Review: “Historic” judgment for Liberia and the ICC under more fire
    François Sergent and Julia Crawford,

    This week saw transitional justice faced once again with classic tensions between law and politics, justice and peace. As the ICC, supposed to be the “police force” of international justice, came under more fire, a US court delivered an important judgment linked to war crimes in Liberia, a country in the midst of elections where impunity still rules for the crimes of the civil war.  A court in Philadelphia on Wednesday found Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”) guilty of charges related to atrocities committed during the first Liberian civil war (1989-96). He is expected to be sentenced in coming months and could face up to 30 years in jail. In order to prove that Jabbateh entered the...

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    Liberian found guilty of war crimes-linked charges in “historic” US case
    Julia Crawford,

    A court in Philadelphia on Wednesday found Mohammed Jabbateh (“Jungle Jabbah”) guilty of charges related to atrocities committed during the first Liberian civil war (1989-96). His two-week trial was the first time that Liberian war victims were able to testify in a public and fair trial, according to Swiss-based NGO Civitas Maxima, which has been monitoring the case. The jury of 12 in Philadelphia found Jabbateh guilty on two counts of fraud and two counts of perjury for lying to US officials about his background as a combatant in Liberia. Jabbateh was a commander of the ULIMO rebel group...

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    Courts in Myanmar ‘unequipped’ to administer justice, says report
    Sean Gleeson, Frontier

    A new report has delivered a damning indictment of Myanmar’s judicial system, detailing judges sleeping through during testimony, defendants coerced into pleading guilty and most cases going to trial before legal counsel was organised for the accused. The report, published this month by the London-based legal support group Justice Base, was the culmination of more than 150 trial observations across four years in Yangon Region’s township and district courtrooms. Local legal professionals, employed by Justice Base as observers for the "Monitoring in Myanmar" report, documented rampant...

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    Central African Republic: 12 peace plans in 10 years and still at war
    Pierre Hazan

    In the last ten years, the Central African Republic has had a dozen peace plans. None have ever been implemented. Here we look back and analyse this serial failure, as people close to armed groups are admitted into government. This move by the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, “in the name of national reconciliation” comes as UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned there are “early warning signs of genocide in the Central African Republic”. Is the Central African Republic (CAR) a serial killer of peace plans? From the 2007 Sirte accord concluded under the late “Mediator and Guide...

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