Sudan’s Inadequate Rape Laws

By Impunity Watch Africa

Refugees International issued a report on Friday concluding that Sudan must overhaul its rape laws in order to protect its citizens.  Rape victims currently have almost no access to medical care or justice and may even risk being prosecuted for having sex outside of marriage.   The report also stated that government soldiers and related militia are often responsible for the attacks.  Khartoum however continues to deny that rape has been used as a weapon of war in Darfur and says that Sudan already punishes rape harshly enough.

Since the conflict in Darfur began four years ago, more than 2 million people have been displaced and it is estimate that at least 200,000 have died.  According to the report, the rape of women in Darfur has been occurring on a massive scale.  The government military, security services, police and border guards, and Janjaweed militias are all granted immunity.  The report also stated that the government continues to harass non-governmental organizations who work with rape victims and doctors who provide treatment.

Refugees International states that the government is more likely to punish and take action against those who report the rape, rather than those actually guilty of the crime.  The report states that although the high incidence of sexual violence against women and girls has been highly documented, existing regulations make it “all but impossible” to prosecute the rapists.  Women who report a rape are often prosecuted for having sex outside the marriage, punishable by 100 lashes or death by stoning.

The report includes 24 recommendations for changes, including the need for more judges and police officers, and expanding its definition of rape to include sexual assault with objects, such as rifle barrels.
Download the full report

For more information, please also see:

AllAfrica – Urgent Need to Reform Rape Laws, Says NGO – 29 June 2007

BBC – Sudan Rape Laws ‘Need Overhaul’ – 29 June 2007

Sudan Tribune – Sudan Must Reform Law to End Rape in Darfur – Aid Group – 29 June 2007

Reuters – Sudan Must Rewrite Rape Laws to Protect Victims – 28 June 2007

Niger Rebels Release 30 Wounded Soldiers

By Impunity Watch Africa

Rebels in Niger released 30 wounded soldiers to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today in the Sahara desert.  The rebel group Niger Movement for Justice (NMJ) has carried out a number of raids on military targets in the northern region.  Last week they killed 15 soldiers and took dozens hostage during a raid on a remote army outpost.   The 30 most seriously wounded were released, however several hostages still remain.

Niger is a former French colony whose vast desert has long been a location and hotbed of dissent, which has largely been beyond the government’s control. Niger’s government, more than 1,000 km away in the capital, is hoping to cash in on the vast reserves of uranium by granting dozens of new exploration permits, particularly to the Chinese.

The NMJ has come out strongly against this proposed plan.  A spokesman told Reuters that they “condemn what’s being done: giving extraction, exploitation and exploration permits to China. … They’re not welcome because they don’t work with locals, they don’t employ locals, and they respect the environment even less.”

The MNJ claims their campaign against the government is also in retaliation for the arbitrary arrests and killing of civilians in the north during security clampdowns. At least 33 soldiers have been killed since the rebels launched their campaign in February.

For more information please see:

BBC – Niger Rebels Free Wounded Troops – 29 June 2007

Independence – Niger rebels hand prisoners to Red Cross – 28 June 2007

Reuters – Niger rebels hand wounded prisoners to Red Cross – 28 June 2007

Reuters – Sahara Uranium – 27 June 2007

Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands face danger

The Galapagos Islands might become listed as “in danger” by Unesco at their World Heritage Committee occurring this week in New Zealand.  Ecuador, the territory’s ruler, submitted an application to Unesco to further protect the Galapagos because of their fragile ecosystem.  Unesco protects 830 sites all over the world, called World Heritage Sites, that are considered to have “outstanding universal values.”  The islands gained World Heritage Site statues in 1978.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa declared in April that since the islands were home to many endangered species and unique plant and animal life that are at risk, the islands were a priority for national action.  Species on the islands include tiny penguins, marine iguanas, and venerable giant tortoises.  The islands are Ecuador’s top tourist draw.  However, because of the drastic increase in tourists the islands are suffering an environmental and social crisis and are in dire need of restrictions.  Tourism has increased by 12% annually with over a 150% increase on passengers from cruise ships in the past 15 years alone.  This drastic increase is leading to the decline of the islands.  The islands face invasive species that are brought with tourists and migrants that compete and destroy the native species.

The increased rate of tourism has brought workers from the mainland to work in construction, restaurants and cruise ships which brings the total residents of the islands to 20,000.  There is a large need for cheap labor on the islands because of the industries that come along with tourism such as restaurants, hotels, and cleaners.  Thousands of migrants coming into the country has been a large source of the problem with the islands ecosystem.

In May 2007, rangers in an ecological reserve were in dispute with the Ecuadorian Armed Forces about illegal fishing in protected waters.  This dispute showed how many practices are damaging the site.  Ecologists say that the problem in the Galapagos is deeper then the government has publicly acknowledged.  The increase in people and of non-native species is threatening the ecosystem throughout the islands.

Ecuador may soon need to place restrictions on outsiders coming into the islands in order to protect them.  There is a need to redo the tourism model for the islands by reducing the amount of tourists while maintaining high revenues.  In the past year, the tourism in the islands brought in $486 million for Ecuador which is the fourth largest source behind oil, bananas, and fishing.  Fernando Ortiz, head of Conservation International, states that action needs to be taken to stop tourism as “this place could turn into another Disneyland.”  However, some argue that the tourism is not the reason for the decline as most visitors stay on cruise ships.  Rocio Martinez, who is president the islands Chamber of Commerce, argues that the islands are based on tourism and they should take advantage of the environment and benefit from the tourism.

For more information, see:

http://environment.independent.co.uk/article2697805.ece

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-06-22-galapagos_N.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6241416.stm http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19281278/

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N26367053.htm

Police Raid Brazil Slum

Police in Rio De Janeiro raided the city slum, Alemao, arresting drug traffickers and confiscating drugs and weapons. Armed cars and over 1,300 policeman entered the slum on June 27 in an effort to show their force before the Pan American Games next month.

Gangsters placed barricades and oil slicks in alleys to prevent the armed cars and police from getting into the slum. The raid lasted for five hours as police battled gang members. According to state security, 13 suspects were killed and one policeman and 10 others were wounded. Police arrest four more suspects. Since May 2, 40 people have been killed and 80 injured since conflict in the Alemao started with the killing of two police officers.

The tactics of Brazil’s police force has been opposed by many human rights groups saying that police shoot indiscriminately and target people who are “suspected traffickers.” Human rights groups also criticize the police of victimizing the poor who live in the slums. Rio De Janeiro is home to one of the highest murder rates in the world, comparable to war zones in some places. In the first quarter of 2007 over 1,800 people were killed.

Officials announced that 2,000 more police officers will be sent to Rio De Janerio in order to increase security of the Pan American Games.

For more information, see:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N27321895.htm

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/27/america/LA-GEN-Brazil-Violence.php

IDF Operations in Gaza and West Bank

On June 27, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) carried out two operations in Gaza, one in Gaza City and the other in the southern city of Khan Younis.  The IDF states that the purpose of the incursions was to disrupt the terrorist infrastructure inside Gaza by finding and seizing militants and their weapons.  The incursions consisted of air strikes, as well a ground assault led by tanks.  The IDF claims that it “hit” 15 militants, while the media reports that 11 militants were killed, along with 2 civilians.  In addition, 40 people were injured, some in critical condition, and several dozens were arrested.  IDF reported that two soldiers were injured in these operations.

Then, early June 28, IDF went into the West Bank city of Nablus.  Witnesses stated that around 80 jeeps filled with Israeli soldiers entered the city.  Israeli troops interrupted radio and television programs and warned Palestinians to remain at home.  Again, IDF justified the incursion by stating that Nablus is a “hotbed” for terrorism and that the goal was to disrupt terror activity.  Israeli troops arrested two men suspected of being Fatah fighters and confiscated weapons.  Five IDF soldiers were wounded in a bombing in Nablus.  Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed branch of Fatah claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Both Fatah and Hamas leadership condemned Israel’s actions.   Hamas accused Israel and Fatah of conspiring to pressure Hamas in Gaza.  While Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the emergency Palestinian government, viewed the aggression as Israeli attempts to undermine the Palestinian government’s attempts to end the chaos.  Abbas condemned both of these military operations; calling the IDF’s actions as “criminal”.  He added that Fatah is against violence of any kind and criticized the launching of Qassam rockets.  Recently, Abbas vocalized his desire to disband all militias in both Gaza and the West Bank, even those affiliated with Fatah.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera:  “Israeli troops raid Nablus”  28 June 2007. 

Gulf News:  “Israel raids downtown Nablus”  28 June 2007. 

Gulf News:  “Israeli raids stoke war fears”  28 June 2007. 

IDF:  “Nablus:  an officer and soldier severely injured”  28 June 2007. 

Washington Post:  “At least 14 Palestinians killed as Israeli military enters Gaza”  28 June 2007. 

Al Jazeera:  “Israel launches deadly Gaza raids”  27 June 2007. 

IDF:  “A summary of today’s events in the Gaza Strip”  27 June 2007. 

International Herald Tribune:  “Israeli raids into Gaza leave 13 dead”  27 June 2007. 

New York Times:  “Israelis kills 11 militants inside Gaza; 2 civilians die”  27 June 2007.

Indian doctor-imposter charged with illegal abortion

Indian police have arrested a man posing as a doctor, charging him with illegally aborting female fetuses and then flushing them down the toilet. A.K. Singh ran an illegal clinic in Gurgaon (a Delhi suburb) offering sex-determination tests and abortions.

Abortion is legal in India, but the government outlawed abortion based on the sex of the fetus in 1994. Police found tiny skulls and bones in the clinic’s septic tank, as well as a pile of partly burned fetuses in the clinic building. Singh confessed to the crime, but Indian law does not accept confessions made in police custody unless they are repeated in court.

The Indian government reports that about 10 million girls have been killed over the past 20 years.  Many regions of India, including Gurgaon, report only 800 girls born for every 1,000 boys. Indian parents tend to prefer sons because daughters are expensive to marry off.

For more information, please see:

http://in.news.yahoo.com/070615/137/6h15g.html

http://www.indiadaily.org/entry/aborted-female-foetuses-found-in-gurgaon/

Zimbabwe’s Spiraling Inflation

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

Zimbabwe is battling a down spiraling inflation rate. The official rate is 4,500 %, the highest in the world for a country not in war.

In an effort to curb inflation rates, which increased by 300 % in the last week alone, the government ordered a price cut on basic commodities such as bread, milk and oil. The price cut took effect on Tuesday. However, several struggling companies have ignored the governments order and continued raising prices.

In essence, the government is ordering factories to sell goods at prices lower than production costs. Reluctant to violate new laws prohibiting criticism of the government, one storeowner explained that it could not simply slash prices in the middle of production.

President Mugabe is blaming the West, specifically Britain, for persuading factories to defy price reduction in an effort to overthrow him. During the funeral of a top military official, Mugabe warned that if factories continued their “dirty tricks” he would seize and nationalize all companies.

In 2000, Mugabe forcibly seized white owned farms and gave them to the landless blacks. Critics blame this seizure for the present state of the economy. Furthermore, economists warn that price cut strategies will likely lead to shortages and factory closures. Economic analyst Tony Hawkins, suggests that Mugabe’s threat to seize companies is another ploy to win the 2008 election.

In the meantime, the United States and the European Union has imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze on President Mugabe and other leading officials.

For more information please see:

Yahoo – Mugabe Threatens to Seize Firms Over ‘Dirty Tricks’ – 27 June 2007

BBC – Zimbabwe to Cut Prices ‘By Half’ – 26 June 2007

Yahoo – Zimbabwe Government Orders Price Cuts – 26 June 2007

Kurds Continue to Battle

    The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (“PKK”) have become more frequent in their attacks. Thus, Gen. İlker Başbuğ, the commander of the Turkish Land Forces promised to increase his force to crush the rebels.

    The Kurds are the largest people group in the Middle East without their own nation. They originate from an area located within Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria.  In 1920, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the Allies, the Kurds were split up into multiple different nations. Their strong desire for an independent nation has remained since 1920.  The Kurdistan Workers’ Party has actively tried to make that desire into a reality.

    The PKK was founded in 1978 by Abdullah Ocalan. He was a Leninist revolutionary. He has fought the Turkish government since 1984, using guerrilla warfare tactics. Recently, some of their members were arrested trying to place bombs.  Their leader, Ocalan, was captured by Turkey and was placed in prison for life in 1999.  The group currently has more than 5,000 members, and has its own unrecognized parliament.

    In response to the actions by the PKK the Turkish government has promised to quell the rebellious Kurds.  In just his year alone, the PKK has killed 65-70 of the Turkish soldiers.  The weapon of choice for the PKK is land mines. The Turkish Government hopes its response  will be able to completely defeat the PKK and avenge some of the 30,000 lives lost since the party’s inception.

    This new major offensive will be long, brutal and demanding. It will force the Turkish government and the Kurds into a deep civil war, which cannot not be resolved soon.  It will cause many to die, and will create more open hostility in an already unstable region.  The Kurds will not be satisfied until they get their own land. And so even if the Turkish government is successful in accomplishing its goal, it will only be a stop-gap measure.

Time Magazine. Nationalists without a Nation. 1 March 1999.
Washington Post. Who are the Kurds? 1999.
Reuters.  Turkey’s army chief renews call to crush Kurd rebels in Iraq. 27 June 2007.
Today’s Zaman. Army to restructure to step up fight against PKK. 28 June 2007.
Trend News Agency. PKK terrorists fail to plant mine trap on highway in eastern Turkey. 26 June 2007.
Associated Press. 2 Kurds Die in Failed Suicide Attack. 24 June 2007.

Fujimori agrees to run in Japan race despite allegations of human rights abuses

Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru, has decided to run for a seat in Japan’s upper parliament in July, according to the country’s NTV network’s website.  Fujimori, 68, is quoted as saying that he wants “to make use of [his] 10-year experience as president to work for Japan and the world.”

The People’s New Party, a minor party, asked Fujimori to run.  According to Fujimori, his top policy objectives would be to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and the campaign to resolve the country’s abductions of Japanese citizens.   “I think I can do it,” Fujimori told NTV.

It is not clear whether Fujimori would be eligible to register as a candidate. In 2000, the Japanese government came to the conclusion that Fujimori was a Japanese citizen because his birth was registered with a Japanese consulate in Peru, and he had never renounced his citizenship.  Japan’s Kyodo News reported that no regulations under Japan’s Public Offices Election Law prohibit a candidate under house arrest overseas from running in an election in Japan, according to the Associated Press.

Peru wants to try Fujimori for bribery, wire tapping, the sanctioning of 25 killings and other charges accrued during his ten-year administration, which ended in 2000 following a corruption scandal.  Fujimori spent the following five years in Japan in exile, and has renounced any wrongdoing.  After returning to South America in an apparent bid to run for Peruvian office, he was arrested by Chilean authorities and put under house arrest.  Fujimori was freed for a time, on the condition he not leave the country, but recently a Chilean prosecutor recommended that he be extradited to Peru to face charges of human rights abuses and corruption.  He is currently under house arrest in Chile.

Jose Garcia Belaunde, Peru’s Foreign Minister, dismissed the proposal as “a maneuver by that party and by ex-President Fujimori to try to avoid extradition,” reported BBC News.  Chilean legal experts claim that Fujimori’s candidacy will not affect a final deportation ruling.

For more information, please see:

“Fujimori mulls Japan party offer” BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6220694.stm 20 June 2007

“Report: Ex-Peruvian Leader to run in Japan Race” CNN http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/06/27/fujimori.japan.ap/index.html 27 June 2007

“Japanese Party says Fujimori to run in Japanese Parliamentary Race” International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/28/asia/AS-GEN-Japan-Fujimori.php 27 June 2007

“Peruvian Ex-President Fujimori Under House Arrest in Chile” Impunity Watch; 14 June 2007

Charles Taylor Trial Delayed

By Impunity Watch Africa

The trial against former Liberian President Charles Taylor was set to resume Monday in The Hague, however Taylor once again refused to attend.  When opening statements began on June 4, Taylor refused to appear in court, instead sending a letter to the judge calling the court “a charade that does injustice to the people of Sierra Leone.”  Taylor claimed he could not receive a fair trial and fired his attorney, Karim Khan, stating he wished to represent himself.  Following opening statements the trial was in recess until Monday, when witness testimony was scheduled to begin.

Monday brought neither new defense attorneys for Taylor, nor an appearance by the accused, and the trial was once again put on hold.  Justice Julie Sebutinde issued a terse warning against “undue delay” but was nevertheless forced to continue the trial until July 3.  The purpose of the delay is to appoint a new defense team to Taylor, who has claimed he will not appear in court until he is provided with enough resources to match those of the prosecution. He continues to assert that he will act as his own attorney unless he can be represented by a Queen’s Counsel (a high-level British lawyer).

The prosecution objected to the delay, stating that Taylor had intentionally tried to delay proceedings by waiting until the start of trial to fire his lawyer.  However, Justice Sebutinde ruled that adequate resources had to be provided to the defense and that the court’s registry has not moved quickly enough to ensure they were in place.

Taylor faces 11 charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law for acts which allegedly occurred during his involvement with the Sierra Leone civil war.

Last week the Sierra Leone Court issued its first verdicts, convicting three former Sierra Leonean military leaders on multiple counts of war crimes, including the first ever conviction by an international court for the use of child soldiers. The three men convicted were former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, a group of former military officers who overthrew Sierra Leone’s government in 1997 and then teamed up with rebels to control the country.  Prosecutors allege the rebels were among those supported by Taylor.

For more information, please see:

AllAfrica – Liberia: Sebutinde Warns Taylor On Boycott – 26 June 2007

AllAfrica – Liberia: Defiant Taylor’s Request Granted – 26 June 2007

BBC – Liberia’s Taylor trial adjourned – 25 June 2007

CNN – Taylor Boycott Forces Delay – 25 June 2007

Construction on a River Project brings Debate

Brazil’s President Lula is attempting to make the history books by beginning a project to shift the course of the San Francisco River, the fourth largest in Brazil, to the poor and semi arid region of northeast Brazil.  The project has been met with feverish debate and has become controversial over the past few years.

The project’s aim is to bring water to the north through the construction of two canals.  As a result of the difference in altitude of the two regions, the water must be pumped to the north which adds to the project the construction of nine pumping stations, 27 aqueducts, eight tunnels, 35 water reservoirs and two hydroelectric plants.  The water is said to be used for irrigation purposes, urban use and rural population but it will end up benefiting the agro-industrial sector the most putting control in the hands of an elite class.

Debate around the project is present from all kinds of interest groups organizing protests.  In 2005 work on the project was stopped briefly when Roman Catholic Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio went on an 11 day hunger strike to stop the construction.  His strike ended when he was given assurances that the government and the civil society would enter into a dialogue.  Yet, the dialogue was limited to one seminar that took place in May of 2006.  In early 2007 thousands of landless workers attempted to stop the project by invading government property in protest.  The work on the River forced rural workers to leave their land and they face working unproductive lands as agribusiness companies will get the best land.  Many social movements, such as the Landless Workers’ Movement and the Pastoral Fishers Commission, have formed a unified alliance to stop the construction by radical means if necessary.  Those who depend on the river for the livelihood, such as indigenous people, fisherman and small farmers, are constantly ignored.

Opponents of the project argue that the semiarid region’s problem is not the lack of water but the lack of distribution of water resources that already exist.  The area needs an efficient management, not a new system some argue.  In addition, experts have shown that the project ignores the climate change scenarios.  One possible consequence would be a decrease in the runoff of the river by 20% from global warming. International donors have even shown opposition as the World Bank released a study that argued against funding the project since the effects on poverty reduction cannot be proven.  Many argue that there are much cheaper and effective ways to meet the project’s aims. Even the Supreme Court of Brazil has questioned the legality of the project as they are currently analyzing the authorization from the National Congress for water resources to be used in the lands.

Since the beginning of 2007, construction has moved forward despite concerns or opposition.  The $2 billion project was approved by Brazil’s environmental protection agency in March and in June military battalions prepared for construction work.  The project is supposed to be funded through transferring costs to water users which is expected to raise the costs five fold.  Hence, the Brazil’s citizens would be paying the cost of agricultural goods that are exported.  Construction is set to begin at the end of June while more protests are being organized from social movements, indigenous and environmental groups to bring public attention to the disaster.

For more information, see:

http://www.brazzil.com/content/view/9911/80/

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/04/15/america/LA-GEN-Brazil-River-Protest.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6560887,00.html

http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=105&sid=1041752

Chinese ex-slave laborer tells his story

A 16-year-old Chinese boy, Chen, an ex-slave, told his story to the media this week. He reported that he accepted a job at a factory from a man that approached him at a train station.

He said that he was taken to a brick yard, where he was fed minimally, beaten, and forced to work without pay. As a result, his body is pocked with sores from being beaten by the guards.

Recently police have raided thousands of Chinese coal mines, freeing hundreds of workers.

The boy claims that until the raid, police were bribed by the owners of the mines. He went without a bed, shower, health care, or hair cut. Chen said that he was beaten the guards with iron bars, sticks, or bricks if he worked too slowly. 

Chen and his family are now worried about the possibility of retaliation by the brickyard and they agreed to be interviewed by media only after receiving assurances that the exact location of their home would not be identified.

Since the coal-mine scandal broke last month, more than 8,000 kilns and small coal mines in Shanxi and Henan provinces have been raided, with 591 workers freed, including 51 children.

About 160 suspected kiln bosses have been detained, and at least one village-level Communist Party secretary expelled from the party after his son was found to be operating a kiln where 31 slaves were found laboring under harsh conditions.

For more information, please see:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070620/ap_on_re_as/china_slavery

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/23/world/asia/23china.html?ref=asia

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/jan-june07/labor_06-25.html

Iraqi court delivers guilty verdicts in Anfal trial

On June 24, a judge of the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) delivered the verdict as the Anfal trial ended after ten months.  The defendants were changed with various crimes against humanity relating to the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988.  During this campaign Kurds were systematically murdered, tortured, detained, and displaced.  The number of Kurds killed during this year long campaign ranges from 50,000 to 180,000.  During the past ten months, the IHT heard testimony from survivors detailing mass graves, the use of chemical weapons, and mistreatment of detainees.

The defendants included:

  • Ali Hassan al-Majid – former Ba’ath leader in northern Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s cousin
  • Saber Abdul-Aziz al-Duri – director of military intelligence
  • Sultan Hashim Ahmed – military commander of the campaign
  • Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti – deputy of operations for the Iraqi forces
  • Farhan al-Jibouri – head of military intelligence in northern Iraq
  • Taher Muhammad al-Ani – governor of Mosul

** Prosecutors removed Saddam Hussein as a defendant following his execution on December 30, 2006.

Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for his use of chemical weapons, received five death sentences for his role in the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988.  Defendants Ahmed and al-Tikriti both received three death sentences.  The IHT found al-Douri and al-Jabouri guilty of involvement in Anfal, yet these two defendants received life sentences.  The last defendant, al-Ani, was found not guilty based on a lack of evidence.

This verdict is the second verdict delivered by the IHT.  The verdict for the Dujail trial was delivered in November 2006, where Saddam Hussein received the death sentence.  Recently, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a briefing in which it listed the legal flaws of the Dujail trial.  Serious flaws include:

  • The IHT inferring from the defendant’s position in the government that he had the requisite knowledge and criminal intent; 
  • Failure to show the required lines of command and control necessary to establish command responsibility;
  • Using lower-level defendants’ status as Ba’th party members to prove intent without requiring evidence of individual criminal intent;
  • Allowing witnesses to testify anonymously and prohibiting the defense from questioning the witnesses; and, 
  • Failure to address numerous instances of same-day or late disclosure of prosecution evidence to the defense that was used at trial.

Also, HRW listed two additional concerns relating specifically to the Anfal trial.  First, on September 2006, the presiding judge was removed by the Iraqi president and Cabinet after he made statements perceived to be favorable to the defendants.  Second, the charges against the defendants were vague, making it difficult for the defense to properly prepare their cases.  HRW stressed that while the international community is continually working to stop human rights abuses and holding violators accountable, it is important that the methods used meet international law standards.

For more information on the verdict of the Anfal trial, please see:
The Independent:  “Chemical Ali: The end of an overlord”  25 June 2007. 

New York Times:  “Hussein cousin sentenced to die for Kurd attacks”  25 June 2007. 

BBC:  “‘Chemical Ali’ sentenced to hang”  24 June 2007. 

BBC:  “Timeline: Anfal Trial”  24 June 2007. 

HRW:  “The Anfal Trial”  22 June 2007. 

 

For HRW’s briefings on the flaws of the Dujail Trial, please see:
HRW:  “Dujail judgment marred by serious flaws”  22 June 2007.

HRW:  “The poisoned chalice”  22 June 2007. 

HRW:  “Judgement of the Dujail Trial at the Iraqi High Tribunal: English Translation”  June 2007.

 

For HRW documentation of the Anfal Campaign, please see:
HRW:  “Genocide in Iraq:  The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds”  July 1993.

Dispute over deaths in ‘Rape of Nanking’

A group of about one hundred Japanese lawmakers has said the Chinese estimate of the death toll in the ‘Rape of Nanking’ massacre has been grossly inflated.  This disagreement has led to increased friction between the two countries.  The Japanese lawmakers compiled a study indicating the deaths to be 20,000.  China has estimated the number to be over 300,000 deaths.  Historians, however, have generally  agreed that at least 150,000 civilians were slaughters and thousands of Chinese women were raped in the 1937 attack in Nanjing, then called Nanking.

When the Japanese seized the city of Nanjing in 1937, they raped thousands of Chinese women and killed thousands in what came to be known as the ‘Rape of Nanking.’  Many Japanese conservatives are now angry over what they call exaggerated stories of Japanese brutality during World War II.

Amid this new friction between China and Japan, anti-Japanese feelings over the Nanjing attacks among the Chinese have remained strong.  In its 70th anniversary, an American movie about the mass slaughter will open in China next week.  “Nanking” will premiere in Beijing and be released across China.  The movie mixes archival footage with actors’ readings of witness accounts from those who protected Chinese refugees.

For more information, please see:

Rape of Nanking toll disputed

China says ‘Rape of Nanking’ was atrocious crime that Japanese lawmakers cannot deny

‘No massacre in Nanking,’ Japanese lawmakers say

Film about 1937 Japanese assault on ‘Nanking’ to screen in China

Somalia: Violence Despite Curfew

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

The violence in Somalia continues despite the curfew invoked by the government, effective this past Friday, after weeks of bloodshed. Anyone outside his or her home between 7 pm and 5 am will be arrested. Somalia’s intelligence chief Mohamed Warsame Darwish says the curfew is a necessary means to tackle the violence in the evening and secure the city.

The curfew comes after a bombing in the main Bakara market in Mogadishu on Thursday. At least five people were killed, four police officers and one civilian, when a masked man threw a grenade at several policemen patrolling the crowded marketplace in the capital of Somalia.

Somali policemen continue to be the targets of violence. Early last week two people were killed when insurgents attacked two police stations.

The government and its allied Ethiopian troops have been battling insurgents for nearly six months. The government has accused the Islamists and Mogadishu’s dominant Hawiye clan for Thursday’s bombing.

A national reconciliation conference is scheduled for next month and both the Hawiya clan and Islamists have been invited to create a peaceful resolution. However, neither group has elected to attend or discuss peace until Ethiopian troops are removed from the country.

The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) controlled the government for six months last year until Ethiopian and government troops ousted the Islamic group.

In the meantime, as malnutrition increases in Somalia, about 140 UN trucks carrying food aid to Somalia were forced to remain in the Kenyan border for more than a month. Kenya closed its border to Somalia in January after hundreds of thousands migrated to the neighboring country following the increased violence. The Kenyan land route was chosen after pirate attacks threatened the safety of seamen and cargo.

Today, with the arrival of food and aid, at least three people were killed when hundreds of people stormed a police station where food was being handed out. One witness, whose brother was among the victims, reports that the police opened fire and killed five people. Another witness describes the killing as cold-blooded murder.

For more information please see:

BBC – Shooting at Somali Food Aid Crush – 25 June 2007

BBC – Somalia Food Aid Trucks Stranded – 22 June 2007

BBC – Curfew After Somali Grenade Blast – 21 June 2007

Yahoo – Somalia Violence Kills 6; Curfew Imposed – 21 June 2007