Justice Info

Este archivo solo abarca los artículos del periódico incorporados a este sitio a partir del 1 de diciembre de 2006.

Nota informativa: Justice Info es un sitio web independiente que cubre las iniciativas en materia de justicia en países que se enfrentan a graves situaciones de violencia. Es un medio de comunicación de la Fondation Hirondelle, con sede en Lausana (Suiza), financiado por sus lectores y por donantes públicos y privados. Todos sus contenidos son de acceso libre aunque se puede apoyar su trabajo con donaciones.

The plaque next to the "slave huts" near the Oranje Pan, on the Dutch Bonaire island: a romanticized, incomplete and outdated account of the colonial past. Photo: Anne Van Mourik

The plaque stands adjacent to the ‘slave cabins’ (kasnan di katibu, in Papiamentu, the local language on Bonaire’s island), shelters for enslaved individuals built from 1850 to 1863 as lip service to those criticising the living conditions of slaves. It depicts enslaved laborers toiling in the saltpans – vast, pink-hued pools where seawater evaporated, leaving behind crystallized salt. And it bears the following inscription:

“Captains on the salt exporting ships would describe the beauty of the island, the colourful salt ponds, blazing sunsets with pink flying flamingos and the singing women who looked like mermaids carrying the salt for the ships anchored off shore.…  Seguir leyendo »

FARC officials at the signing of part of the peace agreement, in December 2015 in Cuba. Colombian judiciary now seems under pressure to implement a sanctions regime more lenient than considered in the agreement. Photo : © Adalberto Roque / AFP

Demobilized former top commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas recently criticized publicly the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the judicial branch of the country’s transitional justice system, claiming that judges were departing from the 2016 peace accord.

Among other critiques listed in two letters sent to President Gustavo Petro and former FARC members between February 7th and 19th, the former commanders raised seemingly preemptive concerns about the “sanctions” that the Special Jurisdiction has yet to impose. Putting in place these sanctions, that is, the penalties that will attach to individual admissions of responsibility, will be a critical test for the credibility of the transitional court system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bertram Schmitt, judge at the International Criminal Court, has expressed "the hope that sooner or later - sooner rather than later", the victims of Dominic Ongwen's crimes will receive their compensation, but who can find the 52 million euros awarded by the ICC? © ICC-CPI

By the time I made my way over to the courtroom entrance at 14:45 on February 28, the queue for courtroom security was longer than many of those I have stood in at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. It seemed to be mainly composed, however, of a university class visit and staff from the International Criminal Court (ICC), rather than NGOs and other external parties. A few members of the press made their way past to take the elevator to the media room, as we all trooped into Courtroom I. Loud and excited chatter quickly gave way to hushed silence as a security guard gave two loud claps, called for quiet, and reminded us to stand “in respect for the judges” once the curtains opened.…  Seguir leyendo »

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Ghana’s Asante king, receives artefacts returned by the Fowler Museum of UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) to the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, Ghana, on February 8, 2024. © Nipah Dennis / AFP

The Asante empire was the largest and most powerful in the region in the 18th century and controlled an area that was rich in gold. Many of the gold royal artefacts were looted by British troops during the third Anglo-Asante war of 1874. The first collection of seven objects is expected from the Fowler Museum at the University of California in Los Angeles. The second collection of 32 will arrive from the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in the UK. These artefacts are being loaned to the Asante people for six years.

RACHEL AMA ASAA ENGMANN: What are these objects and how did they were looted?…  Seguir leyendo »

The eyes of part of the world will be on the International Court of Justice when it delivers its decision on urgent provisional measures in relation to the war in Gaza on 26 January. © International Court of Justice (ICJ)

On December 29, 2023, South Africa filed a case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that Israel had violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention concerning the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. South Africa also sought provisional measures, meaning that parties may request urgent measures to prevent imminent harm while the case is pending. A decision on the provisional measures is expected today, January 26.

It is the first time that Israel is on trial before an international court.

In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, law and legal institutions have been extensively mobilized at both national and international levels.…  Seguir leyendo »

Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court gave a powerful speech from Cairo, Egypt, on 29 October 2023. He explained that he had just tried to visit the Gaza Strip, without indicating which authority had prevented him from doing so. © ICC-CPI

In general, this Assembly of the States Parties was a very enriching debate and one can observe that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is still a - if not the - relevant and necessary actor in the international justice arena. Victims of egregious crimes committed in the too many conflicts that poison our world look at the Court in The Hague as their last resort to achieve justice, engaging with this institution notwithstanding the many difficulties. At the same time, in many events I attended, worrying criticism was raised against the operate of the Court and in particular of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) by civil society actors.…  Seguir leyendo »

The phenomenon of closed and private session has reached, in modern international criminal trials, epidemic proportions. © Adalberto Roque / AFP

I don’t often expect to be apologised to by an international criminal court judge. But on 23 October 2023 it happened twice in less than two hours. British judge Joanna Korner, sitting in the centre of the judges’ raised podium in Courtroom II, was visibly exasperated when she looked up to the public gallery and told us at about 9:35am – 5 minutes into the hearing – to go for a coffee break for an hour as the chamber was turning to private session. By 11:15am, when those of us determined to witness some of the trial had returned and sat patiently for 30 minutes, listening to the deafening silence coming through our headsets, she told us to abandon hope and leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the day.…  Seguir leyendo »

Stand-off in Dubai: on the last scheduled day of COP28, hopes of an historic agreement calling for an exit from oil, gas and coal now seem highly unlikely. © Sergey Nivens / Justice Info

COP28 is drawing to a close in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), marked by the paradox of its president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is both CEO of the national oil company and founder of the Emirati renewable energy giant. "There is no science that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5°C" [maximum increase in average global temperature set by the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015], he said on November 21 at an online conference organised by the NGO She Changes Climate.

However, the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in March 2023, is clear: a "gradual phase-out" of fossil fuels is needed if we are to stay below the target 1.5°C temperature rise.…  Seguir leyendo »

Joseph Boakai, Liberia's new president, here on the campaign trail last October, had declared in 2021: “You cannot live in a society, create harmony and reconciliation when most of the people don’t believe that they’re responsible for anything." © Guy Peterson / AFP

In Liberia, there is a conflict about what the conflict was about. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) 2009 final report, however, determined that the history of political violence and Liberia’s destructive civil wars (in 1989-1997 and 1999-2003) are attributable to the origin of the nation-state. Liberia is Africa’s first Black Republic. It was never formally colonised but conceived under problematic circumstances. Despite this pertinent finding, discussions over what led to the civil wars abound. Some maintain that it was caused by inter-ethnic conflict. Conspiracy theorists blamed it on the machination of the Americo-Liberian elites and how they upended indigenous people’s rule in the late 1980s through the plot of a civil war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crowds gathered outside the Peace Palace early on the morning of the hearing on 10 October 2023. A protester carrying a Syrian flag looks over photos of the detained, disappeared, and tortured. The photos are accompanied by signs reading “Where are they?”, and “ICJ: Hold Assad Accountable!”. © Lucy Gaynor

“We trust in international law”. These were the words of Alan Kessel, representative of the Canadian government before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a post-hearing press conference on the steps of the ‘Peace Palace’ on 10 October. Standing mere feet away from Kessel, outside the grandiose building, surrounded by carefully manicured lawns and flowerbeds, I struggled to hear him. Outside the gates, chants of ‘Hurriyah, Hurriyah, Hurriyah’ (Freedom, Freedom, Freedom), rose loudly as Syrian flags waved. Kessel’s pledge of allegiance to ‘international law’ was a response to a specific question from a reporter: “The Syrians didn’t even turn up today, what makes you think they would adhere to any measures demanded by the court?”…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators celebrate (here in Uruguay) the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in October 1998. 25 years later, the Chilean justice system is more active than ever on the files of the dictatorship. © Miguel Rojo / AFP

The year 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of Chile’s violent military coup, which ushered in 17 years of harsh dictatorship and cast a shadow over the hopes and dreams of utopian democratic socialists everywhere. The year also marks a quarter of a century since ‘Pinochet cases’ at home and abroad galvanised Chile’s previously dormant national courts, forcing them to either embrace justice, or side definitively with impunity for the former dictator and his henchmen. Perhaps suprisingly, they chose justice.

Two and a half decades on, Chile’s rather quiet, yet cumulative, experience of prosecuting atrocity crimes before domestic courts deserves more attention than it is often afforded.…  Seguir leyendo »

Liberian President George Weah, who is running for a second term in office, has abandoned the idea of national prosecutions for war crimes committed during the civil war. © Ludovic Marin / Pool / AFP

In 2004, George Weah, then a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, called for the establishment of a war crimes court to prosecute those most responsible for the atrocities of the civil war in Liberia in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Like many Liberians, Weah – a former football superstar – had himself suffered immensely from the violence. Some of his relatives were killed, and others gangraped. His properties, including houses and vehicles, were looted, vandalised; his entire estate in Monrovia was razed to the ground.

Weah’s early support for criminal accountability for civil war-era reverberated in his move into politics and the formation of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).…  Seguir leyendo »

Angolan UNITA soldiers parade in Jamba, the armed movement's headquarters, in 1989. UNITA's bloody internal purges are now at the heart of the reconciliation commission's controversial investigations. © Trevor Samson / AFP

In August, Angola's government-led Reconciliation commission (CIVICOP) stirred up controversy by taking yet another contentious step. A CIVICOP delegation, closely accompanied by a group of journalists from state television broadcaster TPA, set out on a journey to search for victims in an area that was, during Angola's civil war (1975-2002), controlled by current opposition party UNITA. The delegation, headed by the director of Angola's intelligence service, was on a specific mission: locating the remains of disfavored UNITA members who were allegedly killed during the civil war on the orders of Jonas Savimbi, UNITA's founder and former leader. The commission's initiative triggered significant outrage within UNITA and exposed a reconciliation process that has become increasingly politicized and polarized.…  Seguir leyendo »

Relatives of victims of the September 2009 massacre gather inside Conakry's new courthouse on 28 September 2022, for the opening of the trial. © Cellou Binani / AFP

On 28 September 2009, when opponents gathered peacefully in the stadium of Guinea’s capital Conakry to demonstrate against the presidential candidacy of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, the security forces brutally repressed the gathering. Among other abuses, 156 people were killed, 109 women were raped and sexually assaulted. The trial for these crimes did not start in Guinea until 13 years later, on 28 September 2022, involving former military and government officials of the then junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD).

The decision to hold the trial was taken in July 2022, two months before it was due to begin, by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the country's new strongman who overthrew President Alpha Condé in a coup d'état on 5 September 2021.…  Seguir leyendo »

The "Herero stone" at Columbiadamm cemetery honours the German soldiers who took part in the genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples in Namibia. © Anne van Mourik, July 2023.

In the garrison cemetery on Columbiadamm in Berlin's Neukölln district, there is a four-foot-tall stone which commemorates seven German soldiers who volunteered for the “campaign in South West Africa” between January 1904 and March 1907 and “died a hero’s death”. In other words: this monument does not commemorate victims, but perpetrators of genocide.

The stone, popularly known as the “Herero Stone”, dates from 1907 and refers to a short but important period within the German colonial rule of what is now Namibia (1884-1915). German colonial policy was characterized by land and cattle theft, racism, mistreatment and exploitation. Resistance of indigenous Herero and Nama was ruthlessly crushed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Issa Sallet Adoum and Mahamat Tahir, lying on the ground, weakened by a hunger strike during the judgement handed down against them in October 2022. In July 2023, the appeal chamber of the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic corrected and clarified their guilt and sentences. © Barbara Debout / AFP

On July 20, 2023, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic handed down its first judgment on the merits. The ruling went largely unnoticed. However, it offers a real double added value: controlling the work of the trial chamber, and guiding the judges in their future task.

The Appeals Chamber was called to rule on the SCC trial court judgment handed down on October 31, 2022. Issa Sallet Adoum, Yaouba Ousman and Mahamat Tahir had been found guilty of crimes against humanity for murder and other inhumane acts, and war crimes for murder and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Norway, the majority population has little or no knowledge of the language, culture and history of indigenous peoples and national minorities, according to the report by the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. © Olivier Morin / AFP

At midday on June 1, Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) chairman Dagfinn Høybråten handed over the final report to Norwegian parliament president Masud Gharahkhani at an official ceremony in Stortinget, Oslo. An hour later, only a few 100 metres away, leader of Kvääniteatteri (the Kven Theatre) Frank Jørstad took stage at the National Theatre to give the first reading aloud of the full TRC report, nearly 700-pages long. This reading took more than 35 hours and could be followed live on the national broadcaster NRK and listening posts around the country.

But other than these two events, the Norwegian TRC has rarely made national headlines in the nearly five years it has been working.…  Seguir leyendo »

Multiple reports have accused Wagner's mercenaries of committing war crimes, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially declared that the group has been entirely financed by the Russian state. © Vladimir Nikolayev / AFP

On 23 August 2023, Russian authorities reported that a private jet carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin – Wagner Private Military Company’s No. 1 and No. 2 – crashed killing everyone on board. The next day, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin appeared to confirm Prigozhin’s death, promising a thorough inquiry into the crash. Wagner PMC, active since at least 2014, has been linked to war crimes in Ukraine, Mali, Libya, Central African Republic (CAR) and Syria. In January 2023, the U.S. Government designated Wagner PMC as a “Transnational Criminal Organization”. Commentators have opined that Wagner PMC acts as a private proxy for the Kremlin’s foreign policy.…  Seguir leyendo »

The renowned Swiss ethnologist, merchant and art collector Hans Himmelheber, photographed in 1971 with his masks. © Rietberg Museum, Zurich

"And I said to the Minister: I'm glad that Switzerland never participated in either slavery or colonization”.

Four years after this statement by former Swiss minister Doris Leuthard during a visit to Benin, eight Swiss museums joined the Benin Switzerland Initiative. This initiative is part of a process of decolonizing museums. Through this initiative, Swiss museums have discovered that, of the 97 objects in the collection originating from the Kingdom of Benin, 40% come from the colonial period.

If you were to ask the Swiss what they think of their colonial history, most would say that it doesn't exist. Researchers have nevertheless proved the colonial involvement of Switzerland, or rather of certain Swiss people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two residents of Majuro Atoll, the capital of the Marshall Islands, make their way through areas flooded by extreme tides on 20 February 2011. © Giff Johnson / AFP

On March 29, 2023, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution requesting the opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on state obligations in relation to climate change. The resolution, initiated by Vanuatu, marks a decisive step from both a legal and political point of view.

Legally, the resolution poses two very general questions for the ICJ, the main judicial body of the United Nations. The Court is called to rule on States’ obligations to combat climate change "for the benefit of States and future generations", but also on the legal consequences for those who violate these obligations.…  Seguir leyendo »