An Afghan soldier convicted of murdering three Australian soldiers is among six high-value prisoners who have been flown to Qatar ahead of the September peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government. Hekmatullah has spent seven years in jail after killing the three soldiers he worked with in 2012 — Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate.
For a long time, the Afghan government vowed not to free 600 prisoners it considered too dangerous, including murderers and foreign fighters. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called them a “danger” to the world. But last month, an assembly of Afghan elders, community leaders and politicians called a “loya jirga” approved the release of the last 400 Taliban captives and hundreds have been set free.… Seguir leyendo »
To some people it is a soothing thought to believe that torturers (wherever they may come from) are “different” from the rest of us – an otherworldly ilk of barbarians or sick individuals driven by the pathological pleasure of inflicting pain on their victims. What they did, we’d never do, so we like to think.
It might be disturbing to remind those “belles âmes” (as we say in French) of a few biographical details of Kaing Kek leu, aka Duch, the former executioner in chief of the Tuol Seng central Khmer Rouge detention and torture center, who just passed away in Phnom Penh at the age of seventy-seven.… Seguir leyendo »
On the morning of June 21, Greenland’s National Day, inhabitants in the capital Nuuk woke up to the statue of the missionary Hans Egede painted over with Inuit symbols, red paint on his face and the word “Decolonize” written on the plinth. However, the fate of the statue followed a somewhat different trajectory compared to other colonial statues around the world.
In August, after weeks of very intense public debate in Greenland following the action of activists on National Day, inhabitants in the municipality of which Nuuk is part, took a public vote on the matter and decided – perhaps surprisingly – that the statue should remain in place, towering high over the oldest part of Nuuk, still referred to as The Colonial Harbour.… Seguir leyendo »
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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
In Sonora, Mexico, the search for a missing loved one combines science, magic and faith. Virginia wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps by studying agronomy, but after his disappearance, she finally chose to study criminology. «I promised myself that I would find him, and my studies are helping me in my quest,» she tells me as she pulls from her wallet an already yellowed newspaper clipping with the missing person’s name on it. «This clipping will stay there until it disintegrates. I will never stop looking,» she adds.
Virginia is one of the «Madres Buscadoras» (literally, the searching mothers) of Sonora (northern state of Mexico), one of the 70 collectives of «searchers», «rastreadoras» (trackers) and «warriors» – as they are called – in Mexico who dedicate themselves day after day to searching for loved ones who disappeared in their own country.… 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 »
In 1972, Daniel Banfi and Aurora Meloni escaped political persecution in their native Uruguay and moved with their daughters to Argentina. This occurred several months before the dictatorial coup in Uruguay in June 1973. In the relative security of exile in Buenos Aires, the Banfis started to rebuild their lives. But safety was ephemeral. Two years later, the night of September 13, 1974, a joint Argentine-Uruguayan police taskforce illegally arrested Daniel at his home. For 45 days, he was held in different clandestine prisons and subjected to torture. Six weeks later, the almost unrecognisable bullet-ridden bodies of Daniel and two of his Uruguayan companions, Luis Latronica and Guillermo Jabiff, were found partially buried in the fields of Buenos Aires’ province.… Seguir leyendo »
After almost two decades of silence in the aftermath of its civil war (1975-2002), the Angolan government on 10 December 2019 changed its course by launching a “Reconciliation Plan in Memory of Victims of the Armed Conflicts in Angola”. Why was this plan established and how likely is it that this new approach will contribute to the healing of open wounds and genuine reconciliation?
Straight after its war of independence against the Portuguese colonizer, Angola went through a devastating civil war between 1975 and 2002. What could be characterized as a ‘proxy Cold-War’ in the 1970s and 1980s, turned in the 1990s into a ‘greed’ based war over the control of natural resources.… Seguir leyendo »
Dark, cold and heavy clouds loom over foggy, grey Brussels. A large crowd stands in line to enter the old Justice Palace, which has been under reconstruction for a couple of years. An elderly Rwandan man, wearing a chic white trench coat, manoeuvres through the scaffolding and smoothly jumps the line. At 71, his pace is slow. He drags one of his feet. Supporting himself with a crutch in his right hand, he passes security and makes his way up the imposing stairway. His destination is a timeworn, dingy and dark courtroom. It is located at the outer wing of the historic Palace, which was inaugurated in 1883 by King Leopold II, infamous for his lethal colonial exploitation of the Congo Free State, today’s Democratic Republic of Congo.… Seguir leyendo »
This week the case will commence at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) before the glare of the world’s media, drawn not only by the significance of the case itself, but in particular by the direct role Aung Sang Suu Kyi is set to play in the defence of her government. On 11 November, The Gambia instituted proceedings against Myanmar at the ICJ, based in The Hague. The Gambia’s application alleges that the Government of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya constitutes a manifest violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The persecution of the Rohingya has been ongoing for decades; their status as the ‘other’ has been a convenient outlet for the oppressive, violent and, all too often, deadly impulses of Buddhist nationalism stretching back to well before the independence of the state in 1948.… Seguir leyendo »
Global greenhouse gas emissions are up 60% since 1990. Last week, the United Nations Environment Program published its 10th Emission Gap Report. This report analyses the latest scientific studies on current and future greenhouse gas emissions. Its findings are alarming: countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions. A conclusion must be drawn: more striking efforts that those initially anticipated must be deployed by states and companies to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts must be deployed now to prevent dangerous levels of climate change.
Almost no one seriously contests anymore that increasing greenhouse gas emissions have a significant impact on the planet’s climate or that these emissions essentially result from human activities.… Seguir leyendo »
Ecocide, a Vietnam war ‘veteran’ concept used to describe the destruction caused by Agent Orange, is also the 5th missing element of crime of the Rome Statute, dropped from the International Criminal Court (ICC) draft code in 1996, recalls Jojo Mehta. A British environmental activist, she carries the global campaign to change international law, initiated by the late Polly Higgins, before the 2019 Assembly of States Parties. Mehta defends that going the route of the ICC can be faster, cheaper and create more genuine enforcement and deterrence than going the road of corporate litigation.
It’s not every day you inherit – literally – a global campaign to change international law. … Seguir leyendo »
Widespread impunity prevailing in the Central African Republic applies in particular to sexual and gender-based crimes, which are increasingly documented and recorded. As criminal prosecution can only be limited in the absence of an effective judicial structure, we look here at possible solutions. These include the so-called «holistic» approach promoted by the Institut francophone pour la justice et la démocratie, along with the team of Nobel Peace Prize winner doctor Denis Mukwege of Congo and the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission project.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), as in all states marked by recent conflict, dealing with sexual violence is one of the major issues that transitional justice must address.… Seguir leyendo »
An older woman spoke haltingly into a microphone, her hands trembling from the memory: “They beat my whole body, my eyes and hands were tied. They hit me with a big plank of wood. There were four of them. They hit me on the head, and whipped me with a belt.”
Thus began two days of testimonies at the local parliament house in Lhokseumawe, in the northern part of Aceh, a province of Indonesia located at the northern end of Sumatra. On 16 and 17 of July fifteen victims and family members of the disappeared took their place on stage, speaking before Aceh’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).… Seguir leyendo »
The situation in Brazil illustrates a sad fact: none of the mechanisms in place make it possible, as it stands, to effectively combat ecocide and associated criminal practices. Data published by the Brazilian Space Agency reveal that in June 2019, deforestation in the Amazon increased by 88% compared to June last year. This trend has exploded since November 2018 with the election of Jair Bolsonaro, who has pledged to promote the development of the Amazon by opening it up more to agricultural and mining investments and putting an end to the repression of environmental crimes.
His government has been following up on its promises.… Seguir leyendo »
Reparations are measures intended as far as possible to acknowledge and remedy victims’ harm by a responsible actor. The ICC and other international criminal law bodies (in Cambodia and in Senegal) have allowed victims to claim reparations against a convicted person, but few victims have so far benefited from such measures, since a conviction is needed before they can claim reparations. Even when a conviction is secured, there are challenges of implementation or politicisation of reparations to which the ICC is not immune. In practice, victims will often never receive reparations or may wait years for them.
At the ICC, only three cases have so far reached the reparation stage, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Mali.… Seguir leyendo »