News

Monthly News Update: International Criminal Court – May & June 2019

BY JUAN MANUEL MARTINEZ, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PILPG-NL

THIS POST ASSEMBLES UPDATES ON THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT. THIS POST COMBINES UPDATES FROM THE PAST TWO MONTHS. LAWYERING JUSTICE WILL TAKE A BREAK FROM POSTING UPDATES UNTIL AFTER THE SUMMER. 

AFRICA

DRC | Judge Ozaki Says No Concrete Grounds to Justify Her Disqualification from Ntaganda Case

Judge Kuniko Ozaki has dismissed accusations by defense lawyers that she violated International Criminal Court (ICC) rules on judicial independence. Judge Ozaki defended herself by stating that her appointment does not contravene any provision of the Rome Statute and that the nature of the two functions does not imply conflicts of any kind. And that her main concern following her appointment was the effective and expeditious completion of the trial against Ntaganda. [June 11, 2019]

DRC | Bid to Disqualify Judge Ozaki Dismissed

The bid to disqualify Judge Ozaki was dismissed by her fellow judges stressing that “the defense failed to demonstrate a reasonable appearance of bias in the Ntaganda case arising from the circumstances of Judge Ozaki’s appointment, ambassadorship, or resignation from the diplomatic post.” [June 20, 2019]

Sudan | Bashir accused of graft, but what about ICC charges?

The  ousted President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir who has been accused by the OTP of the ICC of allegedly committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the region of Darfur, Sudan has not been handed over to the ICC. [June 29, 2019]

Sudan | Sudan’s Bashir should be handed over or stand trial, says ICC prosecutor

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has called for the Sudanese people to choose between justice and impunity in the case against al-Bashir.  Following the appearance of the deposed President before Sudanese courts on charges of homicide and corruption, Bensouda called for his surrender to The Hague to answer for crimes committed in the Darfur situation. However, she stated that she is ready “to engage in dialogue with the authorities in Sudan to ensure that the Darfur suspects face independent and impartial justice, either in a courtroom in The Hague, or in Sudan.” [June 19, 2019]

 

EUROPE

European Union | Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC 

The European Union and its leaders publicly announced a denunciation of crimes against humanity for their migration policy. This denunciation was made by Juan Branco, a young French lawyer who worked at the International Criminal Court. He stated that it “there can be agreements or disagreements regarding migration politics, integration policies, border control etcetera. However, there are clear limits established by international criminal law.”[June 14, 2019]

European Union | ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths

A 245-page document, by the two main authors Juan Branco and Omer Shatz, calls for punitive action against the EU’s migration policy after 2014. The report asks for the prosecution of the EU and its member states for the deaths of thousands of migrants, who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya. The document was handed to the International Criminal Court as a legal submission. 

 Netherlands - ICC Prosecutor Signals Important Strategy Shift in New Policy Documents

The Office of the Prosecutor released a draft of its most recent Strategic Plan for this and the next two years, which you can find here. The plan aims to change the strong focus of the ICC on only prosecuting those most responsible for a crime, at the top of the chain command, which often resulted in unsuccessful cases due to constraints in evidence collection. Therefore, the OTP has expanded its target focus slowly to include mid-level perpetrators. This could “have a better prospect of conviction in potential subsequent cases against higher-level accused.” [May 17, 2019]

ASIA 

Myanmar | ICC Presidency assigns the Situation in Bangladesh/ Myanmar to Pre-Trial Chamber III

The Prosecutor of the ICC Fatou Bensouda announced her intention to request the commencement of an investigation into the situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court. According to Bensouda, this request seeks “to investigate alleged crimes within the Court's jurisdiction in which at least one element occurred on the territory of the People's Republic of Bangladesh – a State Party to the Rome Statute since 1 June 2010 – and within the context of two waves of violence in Rakhine State on the territory of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events.” [June 26, 2019]

 Myanmar | Military commits war crimes in latest operation in Rakhine State

Amnesty International denounced the official Myanmar military forces which conducted operations against Rohingya civilian population in Rakhine, particularly the 22ndand 55thLight Infantry Divisions (LID). [May 29, 2019]

Malaysia | UN confirms Malaysia's withdrawal from Rome Statute, says Wisma Putra

The United Nations Secretary-General has confirmed Malaysia’s withdrawal as a signatory of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In April this year, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad informed the ICC of Malaysia’s withdrawal from ratifying the treaty. [May 16, 2019]

Malaysia | Human Rights Watch Urges Malaysia not to quit the International Criminal Court

The Deputy Asia Director of the NGO Human Rights Watch argued that “[b]y quitting the ICC, Malaysia’s government is undermining its credibility on human rights reforms.” [April 5, 2019]

 

 

 

Monthly News Update: Domestic Prosecution of International Crimes - June 2019

BY CLEO MEINICKE, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PILPG-NL

THIS UPDATE COLLECTS NEWS ON THE TOPIC OF DOMESTIC PROSECUTIONS OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMES. LAWYERING JUSTICE WILL TAKE A BREAK FROM POSTING UPDATES UNTIL AFTER THE SUMMER. 

AFRICA 

Egypt | HRW: Egypt forces and militants responsible for crimes against humanity in Sinai Peninsula

Based on a two-year investigation into the conditions of civilians in Sinai, Human Rights Watch found widespread abuses against civilians by both the Egyptian government and militants in the Sinai Peninsula. These actions are part of the government’s fight against the ISIS-affiliate militants in Sinai, but Human Rights Watch claims that while both groups are guilty of committing atrocities against civilians, the Egyptian government is responsible for the majority of the abuses. [May 28, 2019]

Liberia | Liberia: War Crimes Court in Sight?

President George Manneh Weah met with the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Eboe-Osuji, to discuss the role of the ICC in promoting peace and security in the world. [July 1, 2019]

Rwanda | New fund to fight people negating, denying genocide launched

The fund “Umurinzi Support Fund” was launched to follow up on cases of negation or denial of the 1994 Genocide and prosecute the responsible persons. Many perpetrators and their accomplices still continue to deny the Genocide. [June 8, 2019]

Sudan | Ex-Sudan leader Bashir appears before prosecutor to face corruption charges

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was taken from Kober prison into the capital Khartoum to the prosecutor's office to face corruptions charges. Prosecutor Alaeddin Dafallah told reporters that the former strongman was facing charges of "possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally." [June 16, 2019]

ASIA

Bangladesh | SC starts appeal hearing of war criminal Azharul

The appeal hearing of war criminal Azharul started. On December 30, 2014 he was sentenced to death for war crimes committed in Rangpur. [June 18, 2019]

Bangladesh | War crime evidence found against 11 men, including USA citizen

Based on an International Crimes Tribunal report evidence exists against eleven alleged war crimminals of Shalla and Dirai police station at Sunamganj. All of these were members of the Pakistan Democratic Parts during the 1971 Liberation War. The investigation agency charged the 11 accused for crimes against humanity, which includes murder, mass killing, confinement, abduction, torture, and rape. [June 17, 2019]

Myanmar | U.N. investigator reports possible fresh war crimes in Myanmar

Myanmar security forces and insurgents are currently committing more human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes, a United Nations investigator said. The government troops are fighting ethnic rebels in conflict-torn Rakhine and Chin states. [July 2, 2019]

 

CENTRAL AMERICA CARIBBEANS 

El Salvador | In El Salvador, Left Joins Right in Asking for War-Crimes Amnesty

During El Salvador’s civil war approximately 75,000 civilians were killed. The two opposing parties, the FMLN and Arena, take up a substantive number of seats in the Legislative Assembly now and support a legislation calling for de facto amnesty for crimes committed during the war. [May 28, 2019]

Guatemala | Eight Years Imprisonment for Mensur Dakic for War Crimes

Guatemalan police have arrested the former military commander Luis Enrique Mendoza accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. He has been hiding since an arrest warrant was issued in 2011 due to his role in the massacre of 1,771 Maya Ixil villagers in 1982. [June 16, 2019]

Nicaragua | Nicaraguan Lawmakers OK Amnesty for Crimes During Protests

Lawmakers allied to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Saturday approved an amnesty bill for crimes related to last year's anti-government protests, over staunch criticism from the opposition. [June 8, 2019] 

 

EUROPE

France| Chad rebel leader faces charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes in Paris

Two opponents of Chadian President Idriss Deby are heard by a Paris public prosecutor for alleged crimes against humanity and links to child soldier operations in Chad and Sudan between December 2005 and July 2010. [June 21, 2019]

Germany | Yazidi women sue Germany for failing to prosecute German ISIS jihadis for war crimes

The German government refused a request from the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces to repatriate at least 61 captured Germans who joined ISIS in Syria. Based on this, a coalition of Yazidi women filed a lawsuits against the two high-level German government officials, Justice Minister Katarina Barley and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. [May 31, 2019]

Kosovo | Kosovo President Secretly Appoints War Crimes Convict as Adviser

Rrustem Mustafa, who was the KLA’s commander in its ‘Llapi Operational Zone’ during the war was found guilty and imprisoned for four years for war crimes in 2013. The Anti-Corruption Agency now found out that he has been an adviser to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci for the last four months, of which the public was not informed of. [June 6, 2019]

Montenegro| Montenegro Convicts Ex-Soldier of Kosovo War Crime

The High Court in Podgorica on Wednesday sentenced Vlado Zmajevic to 14 years in prison for war crimes against the civilian population. He was found guilty for the murder of four Albanian civilians in the village of Zegra near Gnjilane in Kosovo during the war in 1999. [June 5, 2019]

Netherlands |Three Russians and one Ukrainian to face MH17 murder charges

Four suspects will face murder charges for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. The trial is due to start next March in the Netherlands. Prosecutors said there was enough evidence to bring criminal charges. [June 19, 2019]

Serbia | Serbia sentences ex-soldiers for 1991 war crimes in Croatia

Serbia’s special war crimes court sentenced eight former Yugoslav Army soldiers and paramilitaries on Thursday to prison for the killings of Croat civilians during the 1991-1995 war. The defendants are guilty of the killings, and of mistreating and torturing civilians in October 1991, when the then Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army and paramilitaries attacked the village of Lovas in eastern Croatia. [June 20, 2019]

MIDDLE EAST

Saudi Arabia | 'Khashoggi killing was an international crime': UN rapporteur

UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard labeled the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi an “international crime.” She allegedly called on the UN Human Rights Council to look at this murder as a “springboard to take very effective measures for prevention of targeted killings.” [June 20, 2019]

Yemen | Yemen: Attack on Saudi Airport Apparent War Crime

Human Rights Watch claimed that the attack of a Saudi civilian airport on June 12, 2019 by Houthi forces in Yemen was in violation of the laws of war. The organisation argues that deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilian objects amount to war crimes and commanders are responsible for them. [June 14, 2019] 

Yemen | Houthi terrorist acts war crimes 

The Council of Ministers on Tuesday highlighted that the hostilities and terrorist operations by Iran-backed Houthi terrorist militias against Saudi Arabia amount to war crimes and a threat to regional and international security. [June 25, 2019]

 

NORTH AMERICA 

Canada | Canadian Inquiry Calls Killings of Indigenous Women Genocide

A national inquiry into the killings and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls considers the violence to amount to genocide. The inquiry holds Canada responsible for much of the conduct. [June 2, 2019]

United States | Edward Gallagher: Witness in US war crimes case admits killing IS teen

Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott witnessed Mr Gallagher stabbing a teenaged IS fighter. However, he testified that the teenager probably would have not died from the stabbing. Mr Scott revealed that after the stabbing he himself plugged the teenagers air tube that lead to his death. Mr Scott was given immunity in exchange for his testimony.  [June 20, 2019]

SOUTH AMERICA 

Colombia | Colombia’s war criminals have three months to submit to war crimes tribunal or risk prison

Colombia’s war crimes tribunal issued a public alert that war criminals should report themselves within three months. If they do not do so within that time period they lose the possibility of judicial benefits. [June 12, 2019] 

Colombia | Colombia’s war crimes tribunal receives testimonies of former child soldiers

The youth advocacy group Benposta Nacion de Muchach@s and the European Union provided Colombia’s war crimes tribunal with a report on child soldiers, detailing abuses children suffered at the hands of guerrillas and the armed forces. This report will be used by the tribunal’s ‘Case 7’ that works on investigating the “recruitment and use of boys and girls in the armed conflict.” [June 27, 2019] 

Monthly News Update: Southern Cameroons - June 2019

BY PHEDRA NEEL, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PILPG-NL

THIS POST COLLECTS UPDATES FROM THE PAST MONTH CONCERNING RELEVANT DEVELOPMENTS IN SOUTHERN CAMEROON. THE INFORMATION IS DRAWN FROM LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL ONLINE SOURCES. LAWYERING JUSTICE WILL TAKE A BREAK FROM POSTING UPDATES UNTIL AFTER THE SUMMER. 

BEGINNING OF PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

Switzerland facilitates talks to end Anglophone crisis

In early April, Pietro Lazzeri, Swiss Ambassador to Cameroon, announced that Switzerland would be willing to help the belligerent parties in finding a way to end the Anglophone crisis. Two months later, in June, the Cameroonian federal government and several separatist groups have asked Switzerland to mediate in peace negotiations, a question Switzerland responded to in a positive matter. Switzerland noted: “At the request of the parties, Switzerland is acting as a facilitator in the crisis in north-western and south-western Cameroon. To this end, a second preparatory meeting with various Cameroonian opposition groups took place in Switzerland between 25 and 27 June 2019. Facilitation is an instrument of Switzerland’s traditional good offices. In this role, Switzerland can establish contacts and provide communication channels. Switzerland’s good offices are open to all concerned parties who wish to participate in facilitation processes.” [June 28, 2019]

Ambazonia leaders endorse Swiss-led dialogue to solve Anglophone crisis

Various leaders of the Ambazonia separatist movement have pledged to take part in the negotiation process initiated by Switzerland to seek a lasting solution to the crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. The leaders of the separatists groups have made it clear that they demand the independence of the Anglophone regions and urged other countries to support the peace negotiations. [June 28, 2019]

UN and USA welcome Swiss mediation in Anglophone crisis

Stephane Dujarric de la Rivière, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, issued a statement in which he welcomes the move by Switzerland to mediate talks between the government and the separatists in order to seek a solution to the crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. The statement reads: “The Secretary-General expresses the full backing of the United Nations to this endeavor and reaffirms his readiness to support it as necessary. He encourages all parties to participate in this process and commends the Cameroonian authorities and other stakeholders for this positive step.”

Similarly, the United States’ Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, who was in Cameroon earlier his year, welcomes the announcement that a dialogue will begin between both the government and separatist movements. He calls upon all parties to participate in the inclusive negotiation process. [June 30, 2019]

SITUATION IN SWITZERLAND

Cameroonian diaspora warned against protesting in Switzerland

Cameroon’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Leonard Henri Bindzi, has warned Cameroonians in Switzerland of the personal consequences they risk when participating in a violent protest against the presence of President Biya and his wife in Switzerland. [June 25, 2019]

Cameroon Ambassador summoned after attack on Swiss journalist at Biya’s hotel

 On Wednesday 26th June, a Swiss reporter was attacked by supposedly Biya’s bodyguards, in front of  the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva where Paul Biya was staying with his wife Chantal Biya. According to the journalist, when demonstrations began, several men ran out of the hotel to chase them away. He remained in front of the hotel and said that he was mishandled by the men who forcibly took his equipment while he was filming.Following these events, Switzerland has taken “diplomatic steps”, meaning that the Cameroonian ambassador was summoned to explain the events. [June 28, 2019] 

Swiss police clash with anti-Biya protesters in Geneva

Swiss anti-riot police clashed on Saturday, June 29, with hundreds of Cameroonian protesters in Geneva as they attempted to force their way to the Intercontinental hotel where the President Paul Biya is lodged. The anti-riot police used tear gas and water cannons to displace the protesters who were calling on the Swiss government to evict Biya from the Intercontinental hotel. The protest was organized by a group that calls itself Brigade Anti Sardinard (BAS) and assembled hundreds of Cameroonians who are calling for the release of Maurice Kamto and an end to the violence in the North West and South West regions of the country. [June 30, 2019]

Petition launched to oust Paul Biya from Switzerland

A Swiss parliamentarian has launched a petition at the Geneva Council in order to declare Cameroon’s Head of State Paul Biya persona non grata in the country. This petition is a reaction to the assault on the Swiss journalist, allegedly by Biya’s bodyguards. The Parliamentarian says the continuous stay of Paul Biya in Switzerland is a slap in the face of human rights advocates and a humiliation to the city of Geneva. [June 30, 2019]

HUMANITARIAN SITUATION

Red Cross chief worried by the humanitarian situation in Anglophone regions

The Deputy Director of the International Red Cross-Africa, Patrick Youssef, has called for more support from the international community to help victims of the crisis in the North West and South West regions. The Red Cross chief said that his recent visit to the region has given him a broader idea of the urgency of the needs of those affected by the conflict, including the access to health facilities, food, clothing, and shelter. He called upon all fighting parties to allow humanitarian aid to reach even the most remote refugees. [June 17, 2019]

Separatists destroy humanitarian aid destined for Anglophone crisis victims

Armed men have set fire to a humanitarian aid vehicle in the North West region. In a video of the events, the men are heard saying that the goods are poison and that no goods sent by the Cameroonian government will be allowed to pass. This causes difficulties for the assistance plan of the government which consists of 50 truckloads of humanitarian aid to the North West and South West regions. [June 24, 2019]

Over 650,000 children in restive regions in need of humanitarian assistance 

 According to a new assessment of UNICEF, around 650 000 children living in the Anglophone regions are in need of humanitarian assistance. Toby Fricker, UNICEF’s spokesperson, also mentioned that humanitarian organizations, such as UNICEF, are having difficulties executing their mandate because of the ongoing conflict. [June 25, 2019]

Monthly News Update: Domestic Prosecution of International Crimes - May 2019

BY CLEO MEINICKE, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PILPG-NL

THIS NEWS UPDATE GIVES INFORMATION ABOUT GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS AND ACTIONS TAKEN IN THE DOMESTIC PROSECUTION OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMES. THE INFORMATION IS PUT TOGETHER FROM DIFFERENT ONLINE NEWS PLATFORMS.

 

AFRICA 

Liberia | Liberia: Govt Urged to Seek Accountability for War Crimes

A Question and Answer (Q&A) document containing frequently asked questions and answers relative to the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia was published beginning of May 2019. These booklets contain information on what war crimes are, what the president’s position of the court is and the view of the international community on judicial accountability of past crimes. [May 13, 2019] 

Liberia | Liberia: President Skips Truth & Reconciliation Commission Event in Gbarnga

Liberia’s President George Weah failed to attend the opening of a conference on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He also did not turn up at an event held by the Independent Human Rights Commission. No reason for the absence was given, even though his comments were strongly anticipated by the organizers of the conference. [May 17, 2019] 

Liberia | Starting the Accountability Process: Liberian Lawyers Draft Bill for Establishing War Crimes Court

Since the end of the Liberian civil war and the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia, the body was empowered to investigate the root causes of the country’s conflict and make recommendations. The TRC made its final recommendations in July 2009 but only few recommendations by the commission were implemented yet. The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) is currently drafting a Bill seeking for the establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia. [May 23, 2019] 

Libya | Libya: Evidence of possible war crimes underscores need for international investigation

The attacks between 15-17 April in Tripoli could amount to war crimes which must be investigated by international prosecutors, according to Amnesty International that refers to evidence of indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas. Amnesty International gathered witness testimony and analysed satellite imagery. [May 16, 2019]

Namibia | Namibians challenge Germany to be remorseful on genocide 

The leader of the Namibian Genocide Committee on Sunday urged Germany to be remorseful over the 1904 genocide against Namibian tribes. "I am very happy that there is some sort of movement from the Germans on returning our pieces of history for closure, but they need to be remorseful about the issue," according to the chairman of the commission Idda Hoffman. [May 20, 2019] 

Niger | UNITAD and Niger cooperate in fight for accountability of Da’esh / Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant 

Mr. Karim A. A. Khan QC , the Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), visited the Republic of Niger to establish modalities for cooperation in order to create a basis for the implementation of UNITAD’s mandate to promote accountability for international crimes around the world. UNITAD’s work is supported by His Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger especially considering the affiliation between Da’esh and Boko Haram operating in Niger. [May 6, 2019]

Rwanda | Over 149,000 Gacaca judgements remain unexecuted, say Genocide survivors’ proponents

Ibuka, the Umbrella Organization of Genocide Survivors' Associations has appealed for joint efforts to deal with 149,209 unexecuted Gacaca courts judgements across the country especially those related to genocide survivor’s assets that were plundered and damaged during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. [May 27, 2019]

Somalia | A former Somali army commander accused of war crimes has been working as an Uber driver in Virginia

A man accused of committing war crimes while serving as a Somali military commander during the African nation's civil war moved to the US and got a job driving for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft according to a CNN investigation. A man saying he was one of his victims brought legal proceedings against him in 2004 in the US for shooting him and leaving him for dead during an interrogation in Somalia in 1988. A court in Virginia heard the opening statements in May 2019. [May 15, 2019] 

South Sudan | South Sudan hires US lobby group to avoid war crime charges

Many African governments hire lobby groups that are linked to Trump in order to “reverse sanctions and prevent further sanctions” and to prevent the setting up of an independent tribunal investigating alleged war crimes in the country. Based on filings from the US Department of Justice, Gainful Solutions Inc signed a contract worth several millions of dollars with the South Sudanese government. [May 2, 2019]  

Sudan | Prosecutor orders Sudan's Bashir interrogated

Sudan’s public prosecutor ordered President Omar al-Bashir to be interrogated on charges of money laundering and financing terrorism. This was supported by thousands of protesters. According to the prosecutor also other senior figures would be investigated for financial crimes. [May 3, 2019] 

Sudan | Omar al-Bashir charged over dead Sudan protesters 

Sudan's public prosecutor has charged ousted President Omar al-Bashir with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters. The charges stem from an inquiry into the death of a medic killed during protests that led to the end of his rule last month. He is also facing an investigation over allegations of money laundering and terror financing. [May 13, 2019]


ASIA 

Myanmar | Myanmar soldiers jailed for Rohingya massacre freed after months

Myanmar has granted early release to seven soldiers jailed for the killing of 10 Rohingya men and boys during a 2017 military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine. The soldiers served less jail time than two Reuters reporters who uncovered the killings. The journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The prison officials declined to provide further details and said they did not know the exact date of the release, which was not announced publicly. [May 27, 2019] 

Sri Lanka | War crimes accused commander heads Colombo’s operational command

Sri Lanka has appointed Major General Sathyapriya Liyanage, a man accused of overseeing war crimes a decade ago, as head of the Overall Operational Command in Colombo in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks last week. Liyange was head of Task Force 3, during the Sri Lanka military’s 2009 offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils and saw the shelling of hospitals, widespread sexual violence and the execution of those who attempted to surrender. [May 6, 2019] 

Sri Lanka | “No war crimes committed in last phase of war” : Mahinda Rajapaksa

The opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa claims that no war crimes were committed during the last phase of the war in the country. Rajapaksa continued to say that the law of armed conflict is also formulated in such a way to fight in a war and that western powers led by America were also instrumental in proceeding with this law. [May 19, 2019] 

 

NORTH AMERICA

Canada | Genocide against Indigenous Peoples recognized by Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg now deems the treatment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada a genocide. Previously, the museum had said Indigenous Peoples faced cultural genocide rather than genocide. Their stance has now shifted. "I think we recognize as a museum that our lack of clear acknowledgement of the genocide against Indigenous Peoples has caused hurt, and we've listened and we are working to do better," said the museum's manager of marketing and communications. [May 17, 2019]

United States | Trump keeps supporting US troops accused of war crimes, and it's 'dangerous' for the military's justice system

President Donald Trump supports US troop members accused or convicted of murder. Not only has he pardoned a former Army lieutenant who was convicted of killing an Iraq detainee, the president has also voiced support for two other service members accused of murder while their cases are still pending. On May 6, the president pardoned Michael Behenna, who had served prison time after being convicted of killing an Iraqi detainee in 2008. [May 13, 2019] 

United States | US House Foreign Affairs Committee calls for probing Haftar for war crimes being US citizen

US House Representative Tom Malinowski said the House Foreign Affairs Committee members will send a letter to the US Attorney General and FBI Director asking for investigating Khalifa Haftar for war crimes he and his subordinates committed in Libya since Haftar is a US citizen. Under his command his troops attacked Tripoli in April 2019. Theodore Deutch, the chairman of a hearing of witnesses by the committee, reiterated that Khalifa Haftar's attack on Tripoli is undermining the political process in the country, urging the US administration to adopt a clearer policy toward Libya and call for an unconditional ceasefire. [May 16, 2019]

United States | BNP Paribas to face revived lawsuit over Sudanese genocide: U.S. appeals court

Twenty-one refugees now living in the United States filed a class action against BNP Paribas in 2016, over its role as the Sudan regime’s main bank from 1997 to 2007. They said BNP Paribas’ processing of thousands of illegal transactions through its New York offices furthered the regime’s campaign of murder, mass rape, torture and deliberate HIV infection against its own people. BNP Paribas agreed to plead guilty and pay an $8.97 billion penalty to settle U.S. charges it transferred billions of dollars for Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban entities subject to economic sanctions. The case was revived by a US appeals court. [May 22, 2019]

 
SOUTH AMERICA

 Argentina | Truth, Justice And Declassification: Secret Archives Show US Helped Argentine Military Wage ‘Dirty War’ That Killed 30,000

 United States military and intelligence documents were recently delivered to Argentina that offer new details about the country’s brutal military junta that terrorized Argentina from 1976 to 1984. 

 “Argentines now have more information about a dark period of our history that will allow us to continue strengthening justice, seeking and finding the truth,” President Mauricio Macri said on Twitter after receiving the 7,500-document report on April 12.[May 13, 2019] 

Colombia | Colombia's attorney general resigns over court refusal to extradite FARC leader

 The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal in Colombia prosecutes leaders of the FARC guerrillas, who demobilized under a 2016 peace deal, as well as military officials, for crimes committed during a five-decade internal conflict. Recently the JEP ordered the release of Jesus Santrich despite an extradition request by the US. He was indicted more than a year ago by a U.S. grand jury for conspiracy to export 10 tonnes of cocaine, worth $320 million in street value. As a consequence Colombia’s attorney general Nelson Humberto Martinez resigned in protest. [May 15, 2019] 

 

EUROPE

Bosnia | Bosnia Tries Ex-Fighters for Crimes Against Humanity in Konjic

Prosecutor Marijana Cobovic told the Bosnian state court that the 14 defendants were responsible for the murders, detentions, rape, torture and mistreatment of the Serb population in Konjic, as well as burning their property and the local Orthodox church. The crimes were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against Serbs in the Konjic area in the period between May 1992 and May 1993. [May 8, 2019]

Bosnia | BiH’s Court upheld a Case against Mujcinovic et al. over War Crimes

The Panel of Section I for War Crimes of the Appellate Division of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, having held a session in the criminal case conducted against the Accused Safet Mujcinovic, Selman Busnov, Nusret Muhic, Zijad Hamzic, Ramiz Halilovic, Nedzad Hodzic and Osman Gogic, rendered a Judgment upholding the acquittal of the suspects of war crimes against civilians. [May 20, 2019]  

Croatia | Croatia Contests Ruling Sparing War Criminals from Compensation Payments

The Croatian state attorney’s office appealed against a recent first-instance ruling by the Zagreb Municipal Civil Court, which rejected a request from the state for convicted war criminal Mirko Norac and two of his co-perpetrators to pay the state the money that it has already given to their victims in compensation. [May 27, 2019] 

European Union | Genocide and war crimes cases rise by 1/3 in the EU in 3 years

EU Member States are giving more priority to investigating genocide and war crimes. The number of new cases rose by a third over the last three years, with 1 430 new investigations launched in 2018. [May 23, 2019] 

France | French FM: Paris Considers Mechanism to Try Foreign ISIS Militants

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that an international “legal mechanism” is being studied to prosecute foreign ISIS terrorists detained in Kurdish areas in Syria. [May 13, 2019] 

Hungary | Hungary Extradites Serb Suspected Of War Crimes To Kosovo

According to Kosovo's justice minister, a Serbian man wanted in connection with a 1999 massacre in Kosovo has been extradited from Hungary. The name of the man was not provided, but the justice minister said he had been extradited by Budapest after "full guarantees" were given to respect the man's "dignity and rights." Media in Kosovo said the man participated in the massacre of 113 Albanian men in a town west of the capital, Pristina, on March 26, 1999. The killings occurred one day after NATO started its bombing campaign against Serbian targets. [May 17, 2019]  

Kosovo | Kosovo MPs Draft Resolution Accusing Serbia of Genocide

An ad hoc parliamentary commission set up to prepare a resolution condemning crimes by Serbian forces during the Kosovo war is expected to send a draft resolution to parliament for a vote. The resolution focuses on accusing Serbia of committing genocide against ethnic Albanians. The resolution also asks the Kosovo government for a law to penalise the justification, minimisation or denial of genocide in Kosovo. [May 8, 2019]

Netherlands | Dutch court will hear widows' case against Shell over deaths of Ogoni Nine

A Dutch court ruled that it has jurisdiction to determine whether Royal Dutch Shell was complicit in the Nigerian government’s execution of the Ogoni Nine, environmental protesters who fought against widespread pollution in the Niger Delta. [May 1, 2019] 

Netherlands | Netherlands Wants Tribunal to Try Some Islamic State Members

The Netherlands called for the establishment of a tribunal to prosecute members of the Islamic State extremist group responsible for "mass atrocity crimes." Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok made the proposal at a U.N. Security Council meeting, saying there must be accountability and an end to impunity for violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws. [May 23, 2019]

Netherlands | Netherlands arrests suspected Syrian Al Nusra Front commander

Dutch police arrested a Syrian man suspected of committing war crimes as a commander of Al-Nusra Front. The 47-year-old man was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands. According to the prosecutor, he was held “on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria,” adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan). [May 21, 2019] 

Spain | Former ETA chief ‘Josu Ternera’ arrested in France after 17 years in hiding

A historic leader of the Basque terrorist group ETA who had been on the run for 17 years has been arrested in France, police sources have told EL PAÍS. ETA is responsible for killing over 800 people. “French-Spanish cooperation has proven its efficiency once more. The Civil Guard and French Intelligence Service DGSI have my appreciation,” tweeted acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. “Today, more than ever, I send a hug to all the victims of terrorism.” [May 16, 2019]

Sweden | Swedish War Crimes Unit Interviews Syrian Torture Survivors

Swedish prosecution authorities responded promptly to the first criminal complaint filed in Sweden on torture in Syria. Four of nine Syrian plaintiffs, who are survivors of torture and now reside in Sweden, gave witness evidence to the Swedish War Crimes Unit. On 19 February 2019 the Syrian victims submitted a criminal complaint under the principle of universal jurisdiction against senior officials in Bashar al-Assad's government."It is very important for me to feel that the Swedish authorities care for our pain and help us in achieving justice", said one of the plaintiffs. [May 16, 2019]

 

UNIVERSAL 

Universal | Prosecuting sexual violence as an international crime: a review of the 2018 cases

More than 30 trials were initiated in over 15 countries in 2018. At least 18 guilty verdicts were delivered, sometimes against multiple defendants. TRIAL International attempts to present an overview of the prosecution of sexual violence as an international crime around the world. [April 30, 2019] 

Monthly News Update: Southern Cameroons - May 2019

BY PHEDRA NEEL, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PILPG-NL

THIS POST COLLECTS UPDATES FROM THE PAST MONTHS CONCERNING RELEVANT DEVELOPMENTS IN SOUTHERN CAMEROON. THE INFORMATION IS DRAWN FROM LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL ONLINE SOURCES.

International reactions

American Senate adopts Resolution on Cameroon

The American Senate has adopted a Resolution in which it expresses its concern regarding the worsening of the socio-political situation in Cameroon. In particular, the Senate is concerned about the Anglophone crisis and the detention of political opposition. It calls upon the Cameroonian government to respect all human beings and their rights, regardless of their political beliefs. It urges the Cameroonian government and the separatist fighters to engage in a peaceful dialogue in order to find a solution for the conflict. [May 10, 2019]

US pleased with UNSC meeting on Cameroon

The United States’ Assistant Secretary for African affairs, Tibor Nagy, welcomes that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held an informal meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon. Just like his colleagues, Nagy called for both parties to start an inclusive dialogue, to respect international humanitarian law and the protected status of aid workers. [May 15, 2019]

Nagy accuses Cameroonian government of not handling the crisis correctly

Only a day after the UNSC meeting, Nagy, said that the Cameroonian government has done nothing to handle the crisis in the North West and South West regions. This statement follows Nagy’s visit to Cameroon last month. Nagy now asks the American government to double their efforts and commitment to find a solution for the crisis. [May 16, 2019]

Nagy: “Independent state of Ambazonia is not a realistic solution”

Tibor Nagy, said the US should not have talks about the possibility of an independent Ambazonia as a solution to the Anglophone crisis, but should rather pressure the government of Cameroon to initiate dialogue. He criticized the government’s handling of the crisis and said sanctions could be imposed on Cameroon if the government fails to open a broad dialogue. Nagy believes prefers dialogue because “both the North West and South West have a sense of Cameroonianess and it is in the view of America to recognize the integrity of Cameroon.” [May 17, 2019]

Cameroonians will no longer need a visa to travel to the US

Mike Pompeo announced that inhabitants from Cameroon and several other African States will no longer need a visa to travel to the US for several purposes. This aims to strengthen US-African relations in the fight on terrorism. [May 16, 2019]

Francophonie commits to help Cameroon

TheSecretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, met with President Biya last Friday. Mushikiwabo told reporters that his organization would accompany Cameroon to mitigate concrete security hot spots. [May 26, 2019]

France expresses concern about Anglophone crisis

The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, expressed concern about the socio-political unrest taking place in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, highlighting that France has been urging President Biya to find a lasting solution. Jean-Yves Le Drian added that “France, the European Union, and the United Nations are doing everything to push Paul Biya to take concrete steps in redressing the crisis” and that he is “very concerned about the situation of the international jurist and CRM leader, Maurice Kamto.” [May 29, 2019]

Extrajudicial killings

Four-month-old baby killed

On May 20th, a baby of four months was killed. The family accuses governmental forces of shooting the baby in the head. The death of the four-month-old baby has provoked anger and condemnation. [May 21, 2019]

The following day, the government denied accusations and blamed armed separatists. A video of the incident circulating on the internet was dismissed as a ‘well-staged drama aimed at manipulating public opinion and to once again throw the blame on the Cameroonian defense and security forces.’ [May 22, 2019]

The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa condemned the killing, arguing that it violates international law.[May 29, 2019]

Teacher beheaded

Unidentified men beheadeda teacher from the Government Bilingual High School Nitop around Mobile Nkwen. Several armed groups have denied responsibility for the murder. In a communiqué signed on Wednesday, the Governor of the North West region, Adolphe Lele L’Afrique, said security forces have launched an operation to recover the body as well as to identify the perpetrators of the act. [May 23, 2019] 

Man shot in Bamenda

A video on social media shows the body of a 35-year old man with his head apparently shattered from gunshots, lying on the road at the Mile 90 neighborhood. Sources say the man was on his way to work in the morning when soldiers arrivedinthe neighborhood and opened fire, which resulted in the killing of the man and burning of bikes. Residents were forced to flee while a narrator in the video says that at least two persons escaped into the bushes with bullet wounds. [May 23, 2019]

The extrajudicial killing of popular bike rider

A bike rider, identified as Meboka, was reportedly shot in a neighborhood in Kumba. Sources say the deceased is suspected to have been an informant of separatist fighters in the locality. [May 24, 2019]

Two human heads discovered in North West region

Two heads were discovered in Meluf in the North West Region of Cameroon. According to local sources, the heads belonged to armed separatist fighters and the act was committed by men in uniform Thursday, May 30th. These claims are yet to be confirmed and the bodies have not been found. [May 31, 2019]

Destruction of civilian property

Hospital attacked by governmental forces

On Friday 10thMay, governmental forces allegedly attacked the Presbyterian hospital in Kumba targeting two secessionists who were in this hospital for treatment of their wounds. In their search they threatened the medical staff and accused them of collaborating with the secessionists. [11 May]

Church, clinic and houses burnt by military men in Alachu (North West Region)

After Ambazonian fighters killed two soldiers, their military colleagues tried to take revenge, whereby a clinic, a church and several houses caught fire. President Biya expressed his sympathy with the victims and promised compensation. [May 16, 2019]

Following this, a commission was established to identify victims, assess the material damageandhumanitarian needs of people in the Muwatchu, Matsam and Alachu neighborhoods in Bamenda. The Minister of Defence Joseph Beti Assomo said investigations have been opened to determine the perpetrators of the acts. [May 18, 2019]

Nine killed, houses and shops burnt down in Esu

Sources say the killings and destruction followed gun battles between Cameroonian defense, security forces and Ambazonian fighters. “Most of the bodies were only discovered later after soldiers had left the area. The military fired gunshots shattering windows and damaging equipment at the Esu health center…” a local claimed. [May 24, 2019]