Justice Is Served As Human Rights Activist and Leader Is Released

By Jared Kleinman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku issued a permanent stay of prosecution on Monday in the case of the prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko and eight other defendants facing charges of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe’s government. Mukoko had been illegally abducted, beaten, and tortured in jail, by Zimbabwe’s security forces last year. Chidyausiku ruled that Mukoko and her co-accused could not be tried now, or in the future, because their constitutional rights had been violated.

Last year in December Mukoko, the leader of Zimbabwe Peace Project, was abducted from her Norton home in the early hours of the morning, wearing nothing but her night clothes. For weeks police claimed they did not have her in custody, only for the then State Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa, to admit in court papers that he had sanctioned the abductions as a matter of state security. Mukoko spent more than a month in several secret locations where she was tortured by state security agents to force her to confess to an anti-government plot. Her captors accused her of recruiting and attempting to recruit people, including a police officer, to undergo military training in Botswana so they could topple Mugabe’s government.

Monday’s ruling sets a precedent for other human rights and opposition activists who face similar charges and were subjected to the same conditions. They have applied to the same court to have their charges dropped but are awaiting rulings. “This is really a positive thing for activists and civil society but I hope the state will comply with the ruling because in the past they (the state) have re-arrested people on fresh trumped up charges,” John Makumbe, a political analyst and Mugabe critic, said. Innocent Gonese, a member of parliament from Tsvangirai’s party, said the judgment could be “the beginning of good things to come, politically,” but added that scores of other party activists remain jailed or face charges.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project director said she would be going home to rest and thanked everyone who had supported her during her ordeal. Mukoko also vowed to continue her activism work.

For more information, please see:

SW Radio Africa – Terror Charges Dropped Against Mukoko And 8 Others – 28 September 2009

CNN – Zimbabwe court bars activist Mukoko’s prosecution – 28 September 2009

Reuters – Zimbabwe Court Rules Activist Can’t Be Prosecuted – 28 September 2009

AP – Terror charges dropped against Zimbabwe activist – 28 September 2009

Iraq Struck By Multiple Bombings

By Bobby Rajabi
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq – On September 28, a number of Iraqis died as a result of a number of bombings that took place throughout the country. While the exact number of dead has not been confirmed, estimates range between thirteen and eighteen dead as a result of the first major acts of violence in the country that followed the end of Ramadan. There had been somewhat of a pause in violence in the country since the Muslim holy month ended. Additionally, at least fifty five people were injured as a result of the bombings.

The deadliest bomb went off twenty miles west of the city of Ramadi, capital of the Anbar province.  It killed a number of Iraqi security forces members. The Anbar province and its capital were bases for insurgents after the United States invasion in 2003. A suicide attacker was able to blow up a water tanker that was packed with explosives at the headquarters of a quick response unit located on the highway. The explosion killed seven police officers and wounded ten others. The explosion also damaged a number of nearby buildings.

Another bomb went off in Diwaniyah, a city located one hundred miles south of Baghdad. The bomb went off in a minibus. Three passengers were killed while two others wounded.

Two bombs exploded in western Baghdad. The bombs went off in the Ghazaliyah neighborhood and killed three people. Among those killed was the commander of the army battalion. The first blast was a roadside bomb that did not kill anyone but injured one individual. The second bomb was attached to a parked motorcycle vehicle and accounted for the three deaths. Overall the Baghdad bombings wounded twenty-eight individuals.

A bomb also went off in the city of Mosul. This northern city is an area where it is believed that insurgents have regrouped after being forced out of Baghdad. A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded and killed two officers.

Despite the drop in violence from 2006 and 2007, roadside bombs and attempted assassinations are frequent occurrences. The primary targets for insurgents are Iraqi security forces, who are expected to take complete control of the country after all United States combat forces leave in August 2010.

For more information, please see:

Washington Post – Bombings Across Iraq Kill 15, Wound Dozens – 29 September 2009

AFP – Eighteen Killed, Dozens Wounded In Iraq Attacks – 28 September 2009

BBC – Iraq Hit By Deadly Bomb Attacks – 28 September 2009

New York Times – Holy Month Ends, And Violence Rises Again In Iraq – 28 September 2009

Reuters – Iraq Bomb Attacks End Ramadan Relative Lull – 28 September 2009

Immigration and Nationality Act Leads to Civil and Human Rights Abuses and Violations

By Brenda Lopez Romero

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorized more local police enforcement to use section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 287(g) allows state and local authorities to have some of their officers trained to enforce immigration laws. Many advocates believed that the Obama administration would end this program, because they believe that 287(g) is arbitrary and punitive. Civil and human rights organizations argue that this program leads to multiple violations of the law and the Constitution because it is so susceptible to abuse by law enforcement officials.

In the beginning of this year, the Government Accountability Office found that the program lacked internal controls, with the result that 287(g) officers were detaining traffic-offenders rather than genuinely criminal aliens.

Advocates argue that the program makes immigrant communities less safe, including those that are U.S. citizens and legal residents, due to the strained relationship between local police authorities and the people. In fact, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona is now being investigated by the Justice Department on allegations that include racial profiling and due process violations.

Usa-imm

(PHOTO: The Economist)
Another strong supporter of “tough” immigration enforcement includes the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a hate group in part for its support of xenophobic hate speech.

Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, expects immigration work to restart in Congress in 2010. “As of right now, I have not been convinced that comprehensive immigration reform cannot move in 2010, so it needs to move,” Saenz said. “If that is not possible, then I’m interested in discussing this idea of down payments with a commitment to fulfill the obligation through comprehensive immigration reform that is not postponed indefinitely.”

“Part of President Obama’s mandate coming in, particularly in the high levels of support that he received from Latino voters in critical states, I think a significant part of his mandate was about comprehensive immigration reform,” Saenz said. However, Saenz is convinced that a good start is ending 287(g), a statute that has in effect created unsafe communities, and has essentially condoned civil rights abuses.

In New York, a multilingual religious group of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Yoruba that took part in the prayer service and made a call for justice for hardworking, taxpaying communities, because “the need for comprehensive immigration reform remains as pressing as ever,” the religious leaders said in a written statement. “Our communities continue to suffer because of raids, anti-immigrant press, hate crimes against the immigrant community, and a broken immigration system that keeps at least twelve million people undocumented.” Reverend Donna Schaper stated that “this is un-American” and that family values did not stop at the borders.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics prove the claims that hate crimes are an increasing nationwide problem, particularly assaults against Latinos.

For more information, please see:

The Associated Press – AP Interview: Leader Has Back-Up Immigration Plan – 26 September  2009

The Economist – The Continuing Crackdown – 17 September 2009

The NY Daily News – Anti-Immigration Group FAIR Mars Smart Reform Push by Faith Groups – 17 September 2009

Educators Bear the Brunt of “Shocking” Level of Political Violence in Colombia

By Sovereign Hager

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

PARIS, France – Education International, a global union federation, released a report today finding that Colombian teachers face the highest rates of political violence against teachers in the world. The detailed report, entitled Colombia’s Classroom Wars details incidences of murder, disappearances, torture, death threats, forced displacement, arbitrary detention, and other violations of human rights..

The Colombian National Trade Union School reported that 816 Colombian trade unionists were killed between 1999 and 2005. That represents more than half of the 1,175 trade unionists killed during that period worldwide. The Education International report points out that many violations go unreported because the environment is so politicized and dangerous. As a result, the estimates of human rights violations are thought to be conservative.

Over half of the trade unionists murdered in Colombia are teachers. Teachers working in rural areas are seen as community leaders, which can bring them into conflict with powerful local, national, and international interests. For example, teachers in Arauca, an oil-rich region, campaigned for multinational oil companies to finance social investment.

The report finds that political violence disproportionately affects teachers in Colombia because they represent the majority of unionization in the country. Findings of the report indicate that due to repression, and the massive growth in the informal sector, trade union representation is extremely low in Colombia. The majority of state employees are unionized and the biggest trade union in Colombia is the FECODE – the National Teacher’s Federation. FEDCODE has a strong presence and leadership in the Colombian Labor Federation.

Education International attributes the majority of the assassinations to right-wing paramilitary organizations with links to the Colombian state. People responsible for the assassinations “committed their crimes with impunity.” Dr. Mario Novelli, of the University of Amsterdam prepared the report and will present it at a UNESCO – sponsored seminar today in Paris. Dr. Novelli argues that “the violation of the political and civil rights of educators in Colombia by state and state-supported paramilitary organizations is carried out precisely with the intention of silencing the very organizations and individuals that are actively defending the economic, social, and cultural rights of their members and the broader Colombian society.”

Colombian labor union leaders spoke at the ALF-CIO meeting in Pittsburgh earlier this month. They expressly stated that the government and employers are responsible for violence against unionized workers. They argued that violence against unions rises to the level of governmental policy, saying that the government “uses its own agencies to murder trade unionists.”

Two U.S. corporations have been accused of being involved in anti-union “death squads.” The Organization of American States said that 3,000 automatic weapons and 2.5 million bullets were shipped through Chiquita Brands International’s private port and picked up by death squad operatives. Drummond Coal executives are currently being investigated for allegedly conspiring with paramilitaries to kill three union activists. Trade unionists in Colombia are hoping that violence against trade unions will be considered as the United States and Canada negotiate a Colombian Free Trade Agreement.

Dr. Novelli traces the violence to “a highly unequal development model favoring a small minority of wealthy elites at the expense of the vast majority of the population.” Novelli and Education International are urging the international community and labor movements around the world to call on governments to hold Colombia accountable for crimes; to stop giving financial support to the Colombian military; and to prioritize improvement of human rights in Colombia over the interests of foreign-based corporations.

For more information, please see:

Agencia Latinoamericana de Información – Colombian Teachers Face Highest Rate of Political Violence – 29 September 2009

Education International – Colombian Teachers Face Highest Rate of Political Violence – 29 September 2009

People’s Weekly World – Trade Unions to Colombia: Stop Murdering Labor Activists – 24 September 2009

Former Mayor Denies Rwanda Genocide Charges

By Jonathan Ambaye
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

ARUSHA, Tanzania – After 15 years of being on the run from Rwandan authorities, former Mayor of the small Rwanda town of Kivumu, Gregoire Ndahimana, was finally arrested this past August.  Much talk has been made about the eventual detainment of a man who is alleged to have been the primary executor of a plan leading to the deaths of 2000 Tutsi’s in a small church in Kivumu, Rwanda.  After fleeing Rwanda for the neighboring country of the DR Congo many in Rwanda feared Ndahimana, and many others involved in the Genocide who also fled to the Congo, would never be brought to justice.

In a surprise move thought to be an encouraging sign of reconciliation between Rwanda and the Congo, the Congolese deported Ndahimana to Arusha, Tanzania where the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda is located, and where he will be tried.  Ndahimana’s deportation is hoped to lead to both countries releasing rebels who have fled to each respective country.  The Congolese specifically hope for the transfer of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda who is believed to be currently under house arrest in Rwanda.

On the verge of trial, Ndahimana claims his innocence and denies any involvement in the genocide and denies all charges brought against him.  As prosecutors continue their investigation and prepare their case, many are hoping new witnesses will step forward. In hopes to encourage the forwarding of information regarding Ndahimana’s case, a five million dollar reward has been offered by the United States, and has yet to be collected.

If Ndahimana is convicted it will be a huge victory for many invested in the situation because he is thought to be one of the last major offenders involved in the 1994 genocide.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Ex Mayor Denies Genocide Charges – 29 September 2009

MSN-UK – Accused Denies 1994 Rwanda Genocide – 28 September 2009

BBC – DR Congo Deports Genocide Suspect – 20 September 2009

Serbian Court Convicts Bosnian Officer of Attacks that Killed 50 Soldiers

By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

BELGRADE, Serbia – On Monday a Serbian court convicted Bosnian security officer Ilija Jurisic of ordering an attack that killed approximately 50 soldiers in 1992.  Jurisic was sentenced to 12 years in prison for war crimes.

The War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court for War Crimes concluded that Jurisic, a citizen of both of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had ordered the attack on a column of Serbian soldiers as they withdrew from the Bosnian town of Tuzla in May, 1992.  This decision, which found improper battlefield conduct, killed 50 Yugoslavian soldiers while injuring another 44.

Bosnian officials have claimed that it was the Yugoslavian soldiers that first fired in this event.  Jurisic’s lawyer has labeled the court’s verdict ‘scandalous’.

Jurisic’s trial has strained already fragile relations between Bosnia’s Muslim and Serbian populations.  The Bosnian war, which continued the breakup of the old Yugoslavia, began in 1992 after Croats and Muslims in Bosnia voted to split off from the Serbian-led Yugoslavia.  Fighting came to an end in 1995 through the Dayton Accords.  Since he capture by Serbian authorities, Bosnia has demanded Jurisic’s release from a trial that it believes is politically motivated.

Jurisic maintained throughout the trial that he was innocent of the charges.  Prior to the start of the trial in February of 2008, Jurisic was detained for two and a half years.  He had been arrested by Serbian authorities while on a business trip in Belgrade.

Following the Serbian court’s verdict there were protests on Tuesday involving thousands of ethnic Bosnians in Tuzla.

For more information, please see:

B92 – Protests in Tuzla over Jurisic verdict – 29 September 2009

BALKANINSIGHT – Jurisic Sentenced to 12 Years – 29 September 2009

BLIC Online – Jurisic sentenced to 12 years in prison – 29 September 2009

SETIMES – Serbia sentences Bosnian for war crimes – 29 September 2009

AP – Bosnian jailed in Serbia for war crimes – 28 September 2009

REUTERS – Serbia jails Bosnian Croat for 1992 war crimes – 28 September 2009

Pakistan Releases Iranian Detainees

By Alok Bhatt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

MASHKHEL, Iran – The Pakistani government recently released the eleven alleged members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) whom border police detained for illegal entry into Pakistan.   Although the Pakistan initially identified the arrested individuals as members of the IRG, they later confirmed their status as security guards.  It is unknown how this reclassification informed the government’s decision to release the prisoners. 

Pakistani border control was patrolling the area for drug-dealers crossing into Pakistan.  Suspecting the eleven men were drug-dealers, border control pursued them after they crossed the Pakistani border.  Pakistan’s border police arrested the men in the Baluchistan province. 

Pakistan and Iran do not have a general history of hostility concerning borders.  However, last week’s suicide-bomb attack in the Mashkhel region of the Pakistan-Iran border, which left over 50 dead, incensed tensions between the neighboring nations.  Furthermore, the small insurgency operations occurring along the southwestern border region over the past decade caused an increase in patrolling activity. 

A Sunni Muslim group known has Jundallah, or God’s Soldiers, claimed responsibility for the suicide-bomb attack in Mashkhel.   The Iranian government criticized the Pakistani government for unreasonably detaining members of the IRG.  Military personnel asserted that it is the protocol of the Iranian law enforcement to chase suspects into Pakistani borders has there been actually been an instance of drug-dealers fleeing from Iran into Pakistan. 

Iranian personnel stated that the Pakistani border control’s brazen actions represent counterintuitive acts of hostility in a time when both nations face insurgent attacks.  They also pleaded that Pakistan be more cooperative with Iran instead of committing wrongful acts against them.  The regions constituting the border between Pakistan and Iran signify a zone of neutrality between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.  Considering the interaction between the two groups at the borders, Iranians have voiced a concern that the recent friction between the two states may compromise the rare peace among members of the two opposing groups. 

However, not all Iranians plead to the sensibilities of the people.  A senior commander of the IRG recently stated his desire to meet Pakistan militants within Pakistan’s borders with the IRG.  Also, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad publicly announced that some members of Pakistan’s intelligence agency have been colluding with the Jundallah to perpetrate many of the suicide bombings. 

While the strife continues between the Iran and Pakistan, the fate of each states’ respective civilians lies in the cross-fire.  Until both nations recognize their common cause against insurgency in the area, it seems peace will not settle in the border regions.

 

For more information, please see:

Al-Jazeera – Pakistan Frees Iranian Guards – 27 October 2009

CBS News – Pakistan Frees 11 Iran Security Officers – 27 October 2009

VOA News – Pakistan Frees 11 Iranian Guards Arrested Near SW Border – 27 October 2009

After Years of Poor Prison Conditions, the UN Human Rights Council Reports that Vanuatu is Finally Taking Steps to Improve the Situation

by Cindy Trinh
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

PORT VILA, Vanuatu – Since the 1990s, Vanuatu has been criticized by the international community for its reckless treatment of prison inmates and its disregard for human rights. After years of pressure from the international community, Vanuatu is finally taking steps to improve its prison conditions.

According to various reports in the years of 1995-1998, the prison conditions in Vanuatu were especially degrading, and posed serious international human rights violations. The Ombudsman of Vanuatu investigated the prison conditions during this time period, and found them severely unsatisfactory. The Ombudsman requested further inspection and new construction for the prisons. However, because of the severe lack of funding, Vanuatu disregarded many of the complaints.

These reports stated only some of the horrible incidents that were happening within the prisons of Vanuatu, such as overcrowding, earthquake damage and rain water seepage, leaks, and dangerous electrical wiring.

Amnesty International was also prompted to report on the severe prison conditions in 1998, and described it as “men held in conditions amounting to cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in decaying, overcrowded former colonial prison.” A delegate for Amnesty International visited one of the prisons and found that several hundred prisoners were held in a prison built for only 63 people.

During a mass arrest, military and police officers abused their powers and assaulted numerous prisoners. They faced criminal charges of international assault for beating and kicking the prisoners. Approximately 500 officers were arrested and faced prosecution. The effect of this event was massive. There was widespread rioting and looting. Amnesty International reported that the criminal prosecution of the human rights abusers sent “an important signal that ill-treatment of prisoners must not be tolerated, that police and prison officers are not above the law, and that national emergencies do not excuse officers’ taking the law into their own hands.”

In April 2006, a report from Marc Neil-Jones, a publisher of the Vanuatu Daily Post newspaper, reported that human rights abuse was still present in the prisons of Vanuatu. Mr. Neil-Jones was jailed for five hours for a mere traffic offense, and witnessed other inmates chained in shackles. Some inmates told Mr. Neil-Jones that they had been chained for eight months.

However, recently this year in May 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review met with the Vice Chairperson of the Vanuatu UPR Committee to help work towards improving the conditions. Vanuatu invited the United Nations to assist it in meeting its human rights obligations, and also extended an open invitation to the international community to help continue its efforts in reaching its goals of realizing human rights.

Several recommendations were suggested to Vanuatu during the meeting. In general, these recommendations included: continually working on improving the structural conditions of prisons, conducting more investigations, taking measures to reduce discrimination, implementing more training for law enforcement officials, and combatting corruption.

More recently, on September 28, 2009 the UN Human Rights Council has been told that Vanuatu has taken further positive steps to improve conditions in prisons. Members of the international community and sponsors for Vanuatu, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Amnesty International, expressed their support for Vanuatu’s progress.

Specifically, Vanuatu has now enforced a separation of minors and adults in its correctional facilities. Vanuatu hopes that this small but important step will reduce not only the overcrowding of the facilities, but also reduce the conflict and tension between inmates.

For more information, please see:

Radio New Zealand International – Vanuatu improving prison conditions, UN told – 28 September, 2009

Amnesty International – Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on Vanuatu – 25 September, 2009

Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review – Universal Periodic Review for 12 May 2009 – 12 May, 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Amnesty urged to inspect Vanuatu prison conditions – 3 April, 2006

Amnesty International – Dangerous prison conditions prompt Amnesty International report – 28 September, 1998

Digested Reports of the Vanuatu Office of the Ombudsman – Report on prison conditions and mismanagement of prison budget – 16 September, 1999

Malaysian Court Upholds Woman’s Caning

By Michael E. Sanchez
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA– An Islamic court of appeals in Malaysia on Monday upheld the sentence of six strokes of the cane which will be given to a Muslim woman.  She was caught drinking beer in public at a resort.  She was caught by Islamic enforcement officers.

The significance of this ruling means that the woman, Kartika Sari Dewo Shukarno, a former model and nurse and a 32-year old mother of two, is set to become the first woman to be caned under the country’s religious laws that apply only to Muslims. Analysts have stated that the government fears that the punishment could damage Malaysia’s reputation abroad.  Malaysia uses a two-track legal system; where the majority Malays are subject to Islamic law, while the Chinese and Indian minorities are not.

After being arrested for drinking beer in a beachfront hotel in December 2007, she was originally told she would receive six strokes of a rattan cane during the last weeks of August.  This was delayed until after Ramadan and after a further review the ruling was subsequently upheld earlier in the week. 

Women’s minister Shahrizat Jalil, the chief judge of Pahang state appeals court called the verdict excessive, stating that it projected a “cruel image” of Malaysia.  “The overriding view was that the sentence meted out was too harsh and is not commensurate with the offense,” she told reporters.

The Prime Minister Najib Razak urged Shukarno to appeal.  However, Shukarno’s case previously garnered widespread media attention after she refused to appeal her sentence.  Shukarno asked that her punishment be carried out in public, saying that she wanted serve as an example to other Muslims.  This has triggered a debate over the use of Islamic laws in the moderate Muslim country, where the country’s majority Malay-Muslims make up 55% of the country’s 27 million population.

It is now in the hands of Pahang Islamic Religious Department to carry out the sentence.  A thin stick is used for the caning since the punishment is less about pain than it is about symbolism and humiliation.  No date has yet been set for the caning.

For more information, please see:

BBC News- Malaysia To Review Caning Woman 25 August 2009

BBC News- Malaysia Upholds Woman’s Caning 28 September 2009

USA Today- Court Uphold Caning of Malaysian Woman For Drinking Beer 28 September 2009

Digital City-Court Upholds Caning of Woman For Drinking Beer 28 September 28, 2009

Saudis To Permit Israeli Use Of Airspace In The Event Of Iran Attack

By Ahmad Shihadah

Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – As Iran continued missile tests, Saudi officials in a closed door London meeting with British Intelligence chief John Scarlett and his Israeli counterpart Meir, agreed to give logistical support to Israel in the event it decides it decides to attack Iran. During the meeting it was agreed that Saudi Arabian air space would be available for Israeli airplanes to launch a hit-and-run operations against Iran. The Israeli offense and possible Iranian retaliatory strikes could result in the death of as many as 6 million people.

The alleged Iranian nuclear plant is located inside of a mountain near the ancient city of Qom and was discovered by British and Saudi officials. Both Tel Aviv and Riyadh perceive the site as a major threat. British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, acknowledged the danger of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and did not rule out military action but insisted “we are 100% focused on a diplomatic solution.” Further condemnations came from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US President Barack Obama urging Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to comply with weapons inspectors or face more sanctions.

Iran insists that the tests were part of Sacred Defense Week’s annual military exercises to commemorate Iran’s with Iraq in the 1980s. They further stress that their nuclear work is for peaceful power generation.

Officials from Iran and the United States are set to meet next Thursday in what are the highest-level talks between the two sides in three decades. Also joining the talks are the members of the UN Security Council including – Britain, France, Russia and China as well as Germany. According to State department spokesmen P.J. Crowley the main question to be answered at the meeting is whether Iran is prepared to seriously address the concerns of the international community.

For More Information Please See:

Arab Monitor – Saudi Arabia said to make available its airspace for Israeli fighter jets – 28 September 2009

Israel News Agency – Israel, Saudi Arabia, US, UK join forces as Iran fires nuclear capable missiles – 28 September 2009

The Daily Express (UK) – Saudis will let Israel bomb Iran nuclear site – 27 September 2009

CNN – Thursday meeting with Iran to test Obama ‘engagement policy’ – 29 September 2009

Latin American Drug Cartels Penetrate West Africa

By Ryan C. Kossler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Colombia – Latin American drug cartels have crossed the Atlantic Ocean seeking to expand their share of the drug market into West Africa.  The Drug Enforcement Agency’s regional director for Europe and Africa said that “the same organizations that we investigate in Central and South America that are involved in drug activity toward the United States are engaged in this trafficking in Western Africa.”  He further said that “there’s not one country that hasn’t been touched to some extent,” by the Latin American drug cartels.

There are several factors that have led the cartels’ to seek West Africa as a viable market source.  West Africa is one of the poorest and least stable regions in the world.  Its Governments are weak and often corrupted and law enforcement in the region is also often riddled with corruption.  Further, due to its large population of desperate indignant inhabitants, it is relatively simple for the cartels to recruit soldiers from the area.  The combination of these factors makes West Africa particularly vulnerable to penetration by the drug cartels.

Geography also plays an important role.  West Africa is close to Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, which are the three Latin American countries that produce most of the world’s cocaine.  Cartels transport the drugs through Venezuela and across the Atlantic Ocean to the West Africa region.  A recent U.N. report said that nearly 1,000 tons of pure cocaine is produced each year.  Of this nearly 1,000 tons, approximately 60 percent evades the detection of law enforcement agencies, making for a wholesale global market value of $70 billion dollars.

Colombia’s Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) has already been identified by the DEA as one of the Latin American groups involved in the drug trafficking in West Africa.  Recently, Colombian and United States officials signed an agreement that would allow the United States access to Colombian military bases.  This agreement is intended to help battle the drug epidemic in the region.  Unfortunately, surrounding nations have condemned the agreement.  Nations such as Venezuela and Ecuador provide refuge to criminal organizations such as Colombia’s FARC and have been vocal in stating that they would not condemn any military activity against these organizations within their borders.

The United States has pressed Latin American countries to meet there counter narcotics obligations.  In a recent annual report, the United States identified Bolivia as the world’s third largest cocaine producer and charged Venezuela as failing to do enough to fight the drug trade.  The United States, however, said that it would continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Latin American countries, even though the aid was intended to be dependent on the countries counter narcotics obligations.

For more information, please see:

CNN – Latin American Drug Cartels Find Home in West Africa – 21 September 2009

The Spectator – South American Spat – 24 September 2009

Reuters – U.S. keeps Venezuela, Bolivia atop narcotics list – 16 September 2009

Canadian Terror Suspect Sues Canada for Their Role in His Detention in Sudan

By William Miller

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

OTTAWA, Canada – Abousfian Abdelrazik has filed a lawsuit against the Canadian government and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon claiming that they violated his rights as a Canadian citizen when they denied him flying credentials back to Canada after he had been placed on the UN no-fly list at the request of the United States government. He is suing Ottawa for twenty-three million Canadian dollars for a list of charges including false imprisonment, negligence, and breach of his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He further accuses Cannon of misfeasance in public office, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breaches of his rights under the Canadian Charter and is suing him for three million dollars.

Abdelrazik is a Muslim living in Canada with dual citizenship in both Canada and his home country of Sudan. He first came to Canada in 1990 as a refugee in fear of prosecution for his opposition to the Sudan government. He became a Canadian Citizen in 1995. In 2003, Abdelrazik returned to Sudan to visit his sick mother and was promptly arrested by authorities. He was detained for twelve days and later imprisoned for eleven months. Abdelrazik claims he was tortured during his detention and was visited by agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who refused to help him and told him he was no longer wanted in Canada. He claims that while imprisoned in Sudan, Canadian government officials questioned him about his connections to terrorist groups but told his late wife they did not know where he was.

Abdelrazik was released in July of 2004 only to find out he could not return to Canada because his passport had expired while he was in prison and the Canadian government refused to issue him new travel documentation. As a result, he was stranded in Sudan and was ultimately imprisoned again for nine months. Abdelrazik claims he was again visited by Canadian officials during his imprisonment who refused to help him and only wanted to know about his possible connections to terrorist agencies. After his release Abdelrazik was granted safe haven at the Canadian Embassy in Sudan where he remained for over a year. In March 2009 a Canadian Federal Judge ruled that Canada had violated Abdelrazik’s right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by not helping him return to Canada. Abdelrazik was issued an emergency passport and returned to Canada in June.

Abdelrazik is also seeking his removal from the UN terrorist watch list. He admits to traveling to many war torn regions but claims he did so to promote humanitarian efforts. He adamantly denies any connection with terrorist organizations. Canadian federal police and spy agencies have investigated his alleged ties to terrorist cells in Montreal and connections to Ahmed Ressam who is currently in prison for his attempt to bomb an airport in Los Angeles. The RCMP and other agencies however, admit that they do not have evidence to charge Abdelrazik with any crimes and no charges have ever been filed against Abdelrazik for his involvement with any terrorist group.

Abdelrazik does have scarring on his back which is consistent with his claims that he was tortured while imprisoned in Sudan. His allegations that Canadian officials visited him in prison and refused to help him have yet to be proven.

Abousfian Abdelrazik is suing the Canadian Government for failing to help him return to Canada after he became stranded in Sudan. (PHOTO: AFP)

For more information please see:

Globe and Mail – Abdelrazik’s Lost Years – 28 September 2009

AFP – Canadian Torture Suspect Sues Over Alleged Torture in Sudan – 24 September 2009

National Post – Abdelrazik Sues Canada for $27 Million – 24 September 2009

Canada.com – Abdelrazik Demands Canada Remove Him From UN Terror List -23 July 2009

Israeli, Palestinian Clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque Threaten to Spark Third Intifada

By Meredith Lee-Clark

Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

 

JERUSALEM, Israel/West Bank – On September 27, fighting inside and outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem has further heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, tensions that have already been strained after recent Israeli refusals to halt settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

 

After noon prayers on Sunday, September 27, fighting broke out, though the exact chain of events is unclear. Israeli police said that Muslim worshippers began throwing rocks at tourists. Palestinians have claimed that Jews from radical groups attempted to enter the mosque on the eve of the Jewish holy day, Yom Kippur. Regardless of what set off the initial event, Palestinians began loud protests, and Israeli police responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Thirty to forty people were injured and at least five people were arrested.

 

Mosque officials reported that they had asked Israeli police to not open the Moroccan Gate to any tourists on Sunday, in order to prevent any protests from Jewish settlers, but the police refused to do so. Instead, mosque officials said that police opened the gate early in the morning, and protected the settlers as they entered the mosque compound.

 

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, accused the Israelis of deliberately stoking tensions.

 

“At a time when [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama is trying to bridge the divide between Palestinians and Israelis, and to get negotiations back on track, Israel is deliberately escalating tensions in Jerusalem,” said Erekat on Sunday evening.

 

Erekat said the situation was reminiscent of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the site in 2000. Sharon’s visit to Islam’s third-holiest site triggered the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada, or Uprising.

 

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, called for Palestinians to rise up in response to the incident, calling it a “Zionist crime.”

 

With Israeli government offices closed for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, there was no official comment immediately following the skirmishes. There was no sign that any fighting at the Dome of the Rock continued the next day, though teens in Bethlehem threw rocks at an Israeli military watchtower, and Israeli military personnel responded by throwing a stun grenade.

 

For more information, please see:

 

Al-Jazeera – Arab Officials Condemn Aqsa Raid – 28 September 2009

 

Ha’aretz – Erekat: Israel Deliberately Escalating Tensions in Jerusalem – 28 September 2009

 

Ma’an News Agency – Bethlehem Teens Hurl Stones at Watchtower After Al-Aqsa Violence – 28 September 2009

 

Reuters – Palestinian “Moderate” Govt Slams Israel on Mosque – 28 September 2009

 

Palestinian News Network – Extremists Have Attempted for Weeks to Storm Al Aqsa – 27 September 2009

 

Guinea Security Forces Kill 9 During Protest

By Jennifer M. Haralambides

CONAKRY, Guinea – In a rally against Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, security forces violently quelled the crowds, killing at least 9 people.

Junta leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who took power in a bloodless coup last year, had initially pledged not to run in a presidential election planned for this coming January, although now it looks as though he will run.

Because of this, hundreds of demonstrators joined together to rally against his campaign holding up signs reading “No to Dadis” and “Down with the Army in Power.”  They were quickly dispersed by the military who used tear gas, live ammunition and baton charges to break up the crowds.

“I have counted nine bodies but we have not yet been able to reach the stands in the stadium where there are also some dead,” said Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Human Rights Organization.

Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure, two former prime ministers, were injured during the demonstrations and then taken to the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp, which is the headquarters of the junta in power.  Witnesses say that many more prominent opposition leaders were injured and taken into custody during the violence.

The security forces are still in effect and have been setting up roadway checkpoints.

“This is only the beginning of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations we can expect in the next few months,” said Gilles Yabi, a Guinea expert.

The military take-over by Captain Camara had some initial support, although the recent anti-government protests to Camara’s potential run for the presidency show that the tide has shifted.

If Captain Camara stands for president, it will be a violation of the agreement between the military and civil forces which has kept him in power.
For more information, please see:

AFP – At Least 10 Killed at Guinea Demonstration – 28 September 2009

BBC – Protesters Killed in Guinea Rally – 28 September 2009

Reuters – Guinea Forces Kill 9 in Crackdown – Group – 28 September 2009

Canadian Foreign Minister Protests Iran Head of State by Walking Out on Speech

By William Miller

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

NEW YORK, United States – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian officials boycotted a speech given by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations General Assembly to protest Iran’s human rights violations and President Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic remarks. Canada was joined in the boycott by Israel who was also not present for Ahmadinejad’s speech. Other nations, including the US, were present when the Iranian head of state began his speech but walked out as the speech took on more anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli tones.

A spokeswoman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told the Canadian press that Cannon would not attend Ahmadinejad’s speech because Ahmadinejad is hostile to Canada’s ally Israel, continuously delivers anti-Semitic speeches, and commits countless human rights violations against his own people. The spokeswoman specifically cited the violent acts by the Iranian government towards election protestors in Iran who protested the results of the Iranian presidential election claiming the results were fraudulent. Opposition groups say there where at least seventy-two protestors killed by the Iranian government in the aftermath of the election. Iranian government officials, however, claim only thirty-six were killed. Hundreds of others remain imprisoned for their part in the protests.

Cannon himself also pointed to Iran’s detention of an Iranian-Canadian citizen as one of his reasons for not attending Ahmadinejad’s speech in an interview with Fox News. Iran has resisted all attempts by Canada to negotiate his release, claiming that the detainee was involved in a plot against the government although no charges have been brought against him. Iran has also denied his Canadian citizenship.

Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmaud Ahamadinejad (PHOTO: Canadian Press)

President Ahmadinejad has a reputation for making anti-Semitic speeches for some time and has incited walkouts at UN events before. Diplomats from nations including the US, Britain, and France have protested his speeches in the past. He has called Israel “the most cruel and repressive racist regime” and has called for their destruction. He has also angered world leaders by claiming the Holocaust was fabricated and never actually took place. Although President Ahmadinejad’s speeches are condemned by the leaders of many nations he maintains a right as head of state to speak at the U.N. General Assembly and has been hailed by some world leaders who share his hostilities towards Israel.

For more information pleas see:

Canadian Press – Canada to Boycott Ahmadinejad’s UN Speech – 24 September 2009

Fox News – Canadian Walkout on Ahmadinejad – 24 September 2009

Reuters – Ahmadinejad Prompts Walkout From UN Racism Summit – 20 April 2009