Crímenes contra la Humanidad

An elderly Bosnian woman mourns at the grave of her relative on July 11, 2015 at the Potocari memorial center, near the eastern town of Srebrenica. © Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP

It’s a quarter of a century—and half of my lifetime—since the 1995 Srebrenica genocide happened. Or, more accurately, since it was planned and committed by an army and a police force trained, equipped and sponsored by Bosnia’s neighbour, the state of Serbia. This genocide was also allowed to happen by important actors within the international community who chose to play the role of passive bystanders, even though that was not only morally wrong but also against international law and the 1951 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

This was the first act of genocide in Europe after the Holocaust.…  Seguir leyendo »

In August 1992, the magnificent Austro-Hungarian building housing the Bosnia Library in Sarajevo was targeted by Serb shelling. More than three-quarters of the collections were destroyed by fire.

Even 25 years after the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) is a divided society, in which each of three major ethnic groups (Bosnian Serbs, Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats) cherish their own “version of truth” about war. The problem with this is that there is no “Serbian”, or “Bosniak”, or “Croatian” side of the story and there cannot be three “truths”.

Historical truth is only one river, regardless of how many influents it has. In every war, you can find only two sides of unequal positions – victim and war criminal, victims and organizers of genocide, defenders and attackers, conqueror and a threatened population, aggressor state and a threatened community.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nunca más”. Esta expresión, emblemática cuando se habla de los crímenes contra la humanidad, siempre me ha repugnado y me ha parecido una promesa hipócrita, incluso por parte de los mayores intelectuales jurídicos. La realidad es que, desde el Holocausto, no solo la humanidad sigue matándose (igual que lo hacía antes), sino que a la hora de prevenir o detener esos conflictos y esos crímenes, la comunidad internacional —todos y cada uno de nosotros— sigue siendo tan incapaz como siempre de reaccionar.

En Bosnia, Ruanda, Congo, en Siria, Libia, Sudán, en Myanmar (Birmania) y muchos otros lugares, dejamos que aniquilaran a nuestros congéneres, actuamos como si lo que les estaba sucediendo no fuera previsible y, sobre todo, escondimos la cabeza bajo el ala, con la actitud del que no tiene culpa ni responsabilidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace hoy 25 años, en la ciudad bosnia de Srebrenica, se cometió la mayor masacre ocurrida en Europa desde el fin de la Segunda Guerra mundial. También el mayor encubrimiento orquestado por la Secretaría General de las Naciones Unidas, con la colaboración de los principales países miembros de su Consejo de Seguridad.

Me explico. Por aquellos días, mientras las Naciones Unidas celebraba con legítimo orgullo el desmantelamiento del abominable régimen del apartheid en Suráfrica, Lord Peter Carrington y el canciller portugués José Cutileiro, en representación de la Comunidad Europea, proponía un plan de paz para Bosnia y Herzegovina, cuyo punto central era la partición del país en tres distritos autónomos delimitados exclusivamente por razones étnicas y religiosas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Este año 2020 se conmemora el 75º Aniversario de la creación de Naciones Unidas y también, por desgracia, recordamos en estos días uno de los episodios más oscuros de la historia de la organización: el genocidio perpetrado contra la población bosnio-musulmana en el enclave de Srebrenica.

Declarada zona segura por la ONU en el mes de abril de 1993 junto a otras poblaciones –como Zepa y Gorazde–, las fuerzas de UNPROFOR asumieron la responsabilidad de proteger a la población civil, al amparo de la resolución 819 del Consejo de Seguridad. Sin embargo, tras el ominoso episodio desarrollado entre los días 10 y 14 de julio de 1995, se iniciaría el largo y espinoso proceso de delimitación de responsabilidades sobre la comisión del genocidio perpetrado en Srebrenica –por acción u omisión– y del que la propia organización no quedó excluida.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugees fleeing Bosnian Serb troops gather at Tuzla airport, eastern Bosnia, in July 1995. Photograph: Wade Goddard/Reuters

This Saturday, like every 11 July on the anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the remains of newly identified victims will be buried alongside the thousands already interred at the cemetery and memorial site in the Bosnian town. The bodies of Almir Halilović, Sakib Kiverić, Emin Mustafić and Fuad Ðozić, who died in the 1995 slaughter, will not, however, be among them.

Twenty-five years ago, senior Bosnian Serb leaders committed genocide against Srebrenica’s Bosnian Muslims. The town had been designated a UN safe area. But Bosnian Serb forces besieged and captured it and systematically executed more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, burying them in mass graves.…  Seguir leyendo »

Uighur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China's Xinjiang region in November 2017. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Large red X’s smeared across the doors of each home. Transformers ripped from their sockets. A lone child’s tricycle, abandoned in the street.

It was around 10:30 one night in the fall of 2018 when I fumbled around the darkness of Kashgar’s historic Yarbeshi neighborhood, famous for being the last authentic holdout of traditional Kashgari culture. Locals and recent travel blogs had both assured me that, although guards blocked foreigners’ entry to Yarbeshi during the day, I would find a vibrant night market if I snuck in after 10 p.m. Instead, I was confronted by evidence of a mass disappearance.

A stone’s throw away, a festive night market was in full swing in a re-creation of Kashgar’s historic district — where the Uighur culture on display was cheap, bubbly and state-approved.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump declared a national emergency last Thursday — but it wasn’t about the covid-19 pandemic or police brutality or nationwide protests. Rather, the subject of the emergency declaration was the International Criminal Court, the body investigating the United States for suspected war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump announced that the ICC represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The executive order pushes back by authorizing economic and diplomatic sanctions on ICC personnel working on the Afghanistan probe and anyone who helps them.

The Trump administration has consistently and directly opposed the ICC, in contrast to the more passive opposition or even ad hoc support from previous administrations.…  Seguir leyendo »

A painting by the artist Banksy, in 2015 in Gaza. Divorce between Israel and the International Criminal Court was consumed in Rome in 1998, when Tel Aviv refused to sign and ratify the Statute, following its recognition of the transfer of the civilian population as a war crime. © Mohammed Abed / AFP

To me, the subject of Israel and Palestine, the relations between the two entities and their peoples, as well as the role of third actors (international or not), including the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been of concern for many years. The so-called Palestine Situation before the ICC seems to put into perspective the meetings and dialogues I had more than twenty years ago. Professionally, I have devoted my energy for the past fifteen years to international criminal justice, both in teaching and research and in practice, where I have been able to work alongside the Prosecutor General of Israel, the defence and more recently, in the representation of victims of international crimes.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this piece, the author points out "the interminable circularity of ‘debate’ around declaratory and constitutive theories of international law – which is to say the whether a state exists exclusively by having satisfied some set of criteria, or whether a state exists when other states recognise it as such". © Mohammed Abed / AFP

In December 2019 the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it had concluded its preliminary examination into the Situation in Palestine, and was satisfied that it had competence to open a formal investigation. The announcement, however, came in the form of a Request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for confirmation that the OTP’s understanding of the scope of the Court’s jurisdiction over Palestine was correct.

Among the reasons the OTP gave for making the request was that “while the Prosecution wishes to obtain a ruling expeditiously, it would provide an opportunity for legal representatives of victims and the referring State to participate in the proceedings, if they wish.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syrians wearing face masks walk past billboards with messages about the coronavirus in Damascus on April 1. (Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

“You can’t expect your torturer to care about your health.” This simple truism was told to me by torture victim Omar Alshogre, who spent more than three years in the worst of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s dungeons, beginning when he was 15 years old. But if the tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Assad’s prisons catch the coronavirus, this contagious and potentially deadly disease will surely spread to their jailers. The only way the jailers can save themselves is by releasing their victims now.

As of Wednesday, the Syrian government had reported only 19 cases of the coronavirus in the entire country, including two deaths.…  Seguir leyendo »

Coast guards escort Rohingya refugees following a boat capsizing accident in Teknaf on 11 February 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

International criminal justice provides a stark reminder that state sovereignty is not an absolute, and that the world’s most heinous crimes should be prosecuted at an international level, particularly where domestic systems lack the capacity or will to hold perpetrators to account.

The post-Cold War period witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of international tribunals with jurisdiction over war crimes and serious human rights abuses in countries including Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Yugoslavia. With these processes approaching, or having reached the end of their dockets, many have called for the creation of new tribunals to address more recent conflicts, including the army crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that resulted in evidence of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Considero al presidente de China culpable de ser el origen de la epidemia mundial del virus de Wuhan, el cual ha causado miles de muertes en todo el mundo y una recesión económica que asolará nuestro planeta durante varios años. En principio, los tribunales internacionales, como el de La Haya, juzgan solo los crímenes de guerra en el sentido estricto del término. Pero la epidemia mundial contra un adversario esquivo es una forma de guerra de naturaleza bacteriológica.

El tribunal que debería acusar a Xi Jinping podría añadir a su expediente el genocidio que se está perpetrando actualmente contra los uigures.…  Seguir leyendo »

From 10 to 12 March, about two dozen prosecutors, victim’s lawyers and defence counsels gathered in The Hague to present their closing arguments to three judges on how they ought to perceive Dominic Ongwen, a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) child soldier who became one of its commanders, and whether or not to convict and punish him for a litany of atrocities he perpetrated after his eighteenth birthday. On one hand, Ongwen was portrayed as a monstrous, brutal and cruel serial-paedophile, a mass murderer and a fearless terrorist, who was powerful, proud and happily “gratifying his own desires” in the bush.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rebel fighters walk amid rubble in the village of Nayrab, southeast of the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria, on March 7. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images)

I am a Syrian American, and I have an urgent message. You do not have the full story on Syria. The truth will shake you to the bone.

The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, is committing genocide.

Assad has deliberately erased at least 200,000 Syrian civilians from existence. Most of them died for the “crime” of sharing the same ethnicity, religion and neighborhood as pro-democracy protesters. It is true that the overwhelming majority of these victims come from a single ethno-religious group (Sunni Arabs), but this is not about religion. This is about a dictator who is willing to gas children to stay in power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Si l’instabilité climatique représente l’une des menaces les plus importantes pour l’avenir de notre humanité, cette considération est principalement basée sur le fait que nous vivons sur une terre dont les éléments de survie (climat, ressources naturelles, etc.) sont interconnectés et leurs souffrances sont «transmissibles» à travers les continents, peu importent les distances. En tant que médecin, il m’est difficile de ne pas faire valoir la notion de la souffrance comme «un signal d’alarme» qui doit être pris au sérieux pour sauver l’ensemble du corps. Une évidence de la responsabilité partagée et indivisible qui fait des accords de Kyoto un espoir pour les générations à venir.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Idlib se está desarrollando un nuevo desastre humanitario, uno de los peores de la crisis siria que, en casi una década, ha causado demasiados desastres para llevar la cuenta. El régimen sirio continúa su estrategia de reconquistar militarmente el país a cualquier precio, sin consideración hacia las consecuencias para los civiles sirios. Desde diciembre, sus operaciones en la zona noroeste han aumentado de intensidad, contando con el respaldo de la aviación rusa. Los incesantes ataques aéreos y el bombardeo con bombas de barril han obligado a casi un millón de sirios a huir en apenas unas semanas. Las infraestructuras de asistencia están saturadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), approved by the Kosovo Parliament in 2015, are touted as a new and more promising attempt at delivering justice for unpunished war crimes. A series of previous courts – the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) panels, local courts and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) – have tried, but largely failed to bring perpetrators of war crimes to trial. The promise of the KSC to correct previous failures stands in their attributes as a hybrid court. Part of the Kosovo judiciary, but situated in the Hague and constituted of international judges only, the Chambers represent a new type of hybrid court that is supposed to combine the strength of international tribunals with the benefits of local ownership.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees pray as they gather to mark the second anniversary in August of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Rafiqur Rahman/Reuters)

Recently, the United Nations’ top court ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocide. In a unanimous decision, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that without such measures, the vulnerable Rohingya minority could suffer “irreparable harm.” This legally binding decision has been hailed by human rights advocates as a “first taste of justice” for the Rohingya. However, whether it actually protects the Rohingya will depend on the diplomacy that comes next.

Calls for justice for the Rohingya have intensified

The Rohingya have long suffered from discrimination and political exclusion in Myanmar. In recent years, government forces have led a campaign of violent attacks against them, leading nearly 1 million to flee to neighboring Bangladesh since mid-2017.…  Seguir leyendo »

A modo de despedida, sonrisa cínica incluida, el líder del Partido del Brexit, Nigel Farage, soltó en Bruselas esta bravuconada: “Les puedo prometer que, tanto en el UKIP como en mi partido, amamos Europa, pero odiamos la Unión Europea”. Y, con orgullo exacerbado, el adalid euroescéptico ondeó un banderín del Reino Unido, cuyo reducido tamaño parecía simbolizar cuál es, en realidad, su pretendida grandeza política. Habría podido recurrir a verbos como “discrepar” u “oponerse”, pero escogió “odiar”, en una sala desprovista de los colores de las banderas nacionales sobre las mesas de los europarlamentarios.

En estos días, en los que se ha conmemorado el 75º aniversario de la liberación de Auschwitz, no está de más tener presente que la Europa contemporánea se recompuso sobre los escombros de un pasado totalitario.…  Seguir leyendo »