War Crimes Prosecution Watch, Vol. 5, Issue 19 – 20 December 2010

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Central African Republic & Uganda

Darfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo (ICC)

Kenya

AFRICA

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Special Court for Sierra Leone

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA

United States

TOPICS

Terrorism

Piracy

Universal Jurisdiction

REPORTS

NGO Reports

UN Reports

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONS

General

COMMENTARY AND PERSPECTIVES

WORTH READING

For more information, please see:

Case Western Reserve School of Law – War Crimes Prosecution Watch – 20 Dec 2010

TENTH HONDURAN JOURNALIST MURDERED POST-COUP: IFEX PRESSURES GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE

By Erica Laster                                                                                                                        Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

LA MASICA, Honduras –The government’s commitment to freedom of expression and encouragement from various lobbyists including IFEX-ALC, led to a pledge to investigate the increasing murders of journalists in the country.   The United Nations Human Rights Council offered recommendations to the Honduran government which they accepted, including freedom of expression, increasing authorities’ power to investigate and judiciary independence. 

Despite these affirmations for change, Henry Suazo became the 10th journalist to be murdered in Honduras in the past year on December 28, 2010. 

Members of the IFEX-ALC delegation met in Geneva on November 4.  Their lobbying led to Honduras pledge to investigate the murders.
Members of the IFEX-ALC delegation met in Geneva on November 4. Their lobbying led to Honduras' pledge to investigate the murders.

Mr. Suazo worked as an HRN Radio correspondent as well as at a local television station.  While leaving his house by bicycle in the La Masica municipality, two unknown assailants shot the journalist in the head. Authorities have not arrested anyone in connection with his murder.

IFEX-ALC (America Latina y el Caribe) will be closely monitoring the country’s compliance with the recommendations of the Human Rights Council.  Created in Montreal, Canada in 1992, IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression eXchange network, helps promote and defend change and investigations into violations of the right to freedom of expression.

Since the Honduran coup in 2009, Honduras freedom of expression situation has rapidly declined with a rise in censorship and violence against members of the media.  Anarella Vélez, the Vice President of Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre), an IFEX member, noted that “IFEX-ALC’s support in the lead up to and during the UPR process was crucial in raising awareness about Honduras’s freedom of expression situation.”

The nine other journalists murdered this year in Honduras include: David Meza, Nicolás Asfura, Joseph Hernández Ochoa, Nahum Palacios Arteaga, Bayardo Mairena, Manuel Juárez, Luis Chévez Hernández, Georgino Orellana and Israel Zelaya Díaz.

María Antonieta Guillén, Vice President of Honduras, is heading the murder investigations of the journalists.  Guillen expressed “consternation and condemnation” for the journalists murders and indicated that an investigation of previous murders  demonstrates that they do not appear to be politically motivated. 

Photo courtesy of IFEX. For more information please visit:

IFEX – International Freedom of Expression Exchange

IFEX – Government Vows To Investigate Journalists Murders Thanks To IFEX-ALC – 10 November 2010

IFEX – Honduras Accepts United Nations Human Rights Council Recommendations On Free of Expression – 9 November 2010

Honduras Weekly – Tenth Journalist Murdered In Honduras – 28 December 2010

Colombia Named One Of The Most Dangerous Countries For Journalists

By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia – A recent report published by Swiss-based Press Emblem Campaign calls Latin America the most dangerous region in the world for journalists.  In 2010, there were a reported 105 murders of journalists worldwide, 35 of which occurred in Latin America.

While Mexico and Honduras were among the most dangerous countries on Press Emblem Campaign’s list, Colombia was named the seventh most dangerous area, with four murders of journalists in 2010 alone.  According to the Swiss NGO, Colombia’s numbers are on par with other South American countries, such as Brazil.

Fewer fatalities have been reported this year compared to 2009, when 122 journalists died, but the toll is higher than the 91 deaths recorded in 2008.

Blaise Lempen, Press Emblem Campaign’s Secretary-General, said that “the killing of journalists has become an epidemic with no cure.” “The international community has not found solutions to it, or put in place effective mechanisms for bringing the perpetrators of those crimes against journalists to trial.”  Since the NGO began keeping statistics five years ago, 529 journalists have been murdered performing their professional duties.

The media watchdog’s president, Hedayat Abdel Nabi, pressed for action to better protect journalists.  PEC campaign promotes the adoption of international legislation to protect journalists in carrying out their mission.  Nabi also stated “let’s move together in 2011 to achieve a well deserved bold step for journalists, 2011 could be the target date, then or never.”

For more information, please see:

Examiner – Latin America Considered the Most Dangerous Region for Journalists – 27 December 2010

Hindustan Times – Journalists’ Death Toll Reaches 105 in 2010 – 27 December 2010

Latin American Herald Tribune – Latin America Most Dangerous Region for Journalists in 2010 – 27 December 2010

Update: Mugabe Using Blood Diamonds to Fund Zimbabwe Election

By Laura Hirahara
Impunity Watch, Africa

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)
President Mugabe of Zimbabwe (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

HARARE, Zimbabwe- The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report citing ‘blood’ diamonds as the main source of funding for President Robert Mugabe’s upcoming 2011 election in Zimbabwe.  These blood diamonds, also called conflict diamonds, are being mined from the Marange fields in Zimbabwe, a mining cite that lost it’s Kimberly Process (KP) certification last year after reports of forced labor and other human rights violations reached the Israeli Diamond Exchange, the group that leads the KP.  The KP is a watchdog group made up of government, diamond industry and civil officials to end the mining, smuggling and sale of blood diamonds.  Despite losing its certification, the Marange fields continues to be mined.  Last week, David Vardi, an Israeli Diamond Exchange trader, was stopped at the Ben Gurion Internatiol Airport after flying in from Zimbabwe carrying $140,000 in uncut diamonds. While the KP has not classified the diamonds coming from Murange as blood diamonds, they have put a stop to their export and some fear that President Mugabe’s effort to control the fields will increase the number of blood diamonds on the market.

In addition to the HRW report, the Africa Canada Partnership group reported in June that it had investigated the Marange fields and found that the mining cites were under military control yet none of the proceeds were benefiting Zimbabwe’s government.  Because the military reports to the President, many fear Mugabe is using these diamonds to ensure his victory in the next elections.  Tom Porteous, UK director of HRW, said “Revenue from the mines is serving to prop up Mugabe and his cronies.”  The HRW report cites unnamed soldiers, diggers, local and national parliament leaders and others inside Zimbabwe’s government as the source for this information.

Mugabe’s party, Zanu (PF), has denied the existence of any diamond smuggling. “These are just inventions of the western imperialists who are trying to discredit Zanu (PF)[. . . .]  There is no corruption at Marange,” said party spokesman Rugare Gumbo earlier this month in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.  Despite these assertions by the government, these latest HRW allegations follow years of reports citing torture in the mines as well as military slayings of freelance diamond miners and other human rights violations.  The Marange feilds remain under a KP enforced embargo until the international community can agree the diamonds being mined there are conflict free.  As reported earlier this week on Impunity Watch, Zimbabwe continues to struggle with its next elections.  If Mugabe is using the Murange feilds to fund his campaign for 2011, Porteous believes the diamonds will be used to “[. . .] fund political violence and intimidation of Mugabe’s opponents.”

For more information, please see;

VOA News- Human Rights Watch Says Zimbabwe’s Murange Diamonds Funding Mugabe Party– 29 Dec., 2010

Business Day- Diamonds Funding Mugabe’s Election– 30 Dec., 2010

AFP- Blood Diamond Fears in I. Coast Political Duel– 28 Dec., 2010

AFP- Israeli Trader Barred as ‘Blood Diamonds’ Suspect– 29 Dec., 2010

IW- Zimbabwe Delays Elections– 23 Dec., 2010

Ukrainian Border Officials Torture Migrants and Asylum Seekers

By Ricardo Zamora

Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

KYIV, Ukraine – Migrants and asylum seekers, including children and the elderly, face torturous practices and arbitrary detention at the hands of Ukrainian border officials and police, said Human Rights Watch in a recent report.  The inhuman practices include the use of electric shocks to “round up” those apprehended at the country’s borders, lack of access to the asylum procedure, food deprivation, detention of children, corruption and more.

The report, “Buffered in the Borderland: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Migrants in the Ukraine,” reveals the Ukraine’s failure to live up to its obligations under an agreement with the EU which came into effect on January 1, 2010.

For example, Ukraine has not taken the initiative to close major legal gaps in its laws.  One of the legal gaps does not provide for the protection of those who flee generalized violence and war or for trafficking victims.  Such loopholes are not just inconsistent with the point of the agreement, but also contradict the EU charter of fundamental rights.

Under the agreement, the EU provides financial assistance to the Ukraine to assist in the development of acceptable treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers.  While the report concedes that some conditions in detention facilities have improved, it notes that Ukraine continues to subject many individuals to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The report also criticizes the EU for returning third-country nationals who enter the EU from Ukraine back to Ukraine to face such inhuman treatment.  The report notes that the EU’s financial assistance does not absolve its member states of their obligations under the EU charter of fundamental rights to provide access to proper asylum procedures and not to return people to face torture or ill-treatment or of the EU members’ responsibilities toward unaccompanied children.

“The EU should suspend its readmission agreement until Ukraine demonstrates its capacity to provide a fair hearing for asylum seekers, to treat migrants humanely, and to guarantee effective protection for refugees and vulnerable individuals,” said Bill Frelick, Refugee Program director at Human Rights Watch.

“Buffeted in the Borderland: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Migrants in Ukraine” is available at: http:/www.hrw.org/node/94366

Ukrainians.ca – Ukraine: Migrants and Asylum Seekers Tortured. Mistreated – December 19, 2010

PressTV – Report: Migrants Abused By Ukrainian Guards – December 18, 2010

Reuters – Migrants Returned by EU to Ukraine Face Abuse: HRW – December 16, 2010

Impunity Watch Presentation of Nectali Rodenzo (2/12)

Continuation of Video…

IMPUNITY WATCH PRESENTATION OF NECTALI RODENZO (2/12) from Impunity Watch on Vimeo.

November 9, 2010. Impunity Watch Law Journal and the International Law Society hosted Nectali Rodenzo, a lawyer and Co-Coordinator of the National Front of Lawyers in Resistance to the Coup in Honduras. Rodenzo shared his experiences of the 2009 Honduran military coup, its context and aftermath, and how it relates to the human rights situation on the ground in Honduras today.

Study Finds Deterioration of Women’s Rights in Egypt During 2010

By Elizabeth A. Conger
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East Desk

CAIRO, Egypt –  According to a report issued by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), Egypt ranked 125th out of 134 countries when it came to women’s rights in 2010. The report also showed that Egypt ranked thirteenth among countries in the Middle Estate/North Africa region.

Nehad Abu El Komsan, chair of the board of ECWR, said: “The regional ranking is especially saddening . . . Palestine – which is under occupation – preceded Egypt in the women’s rights ranking.”

Among the factors which determined Egypt’s low ranking was the state council’s refusal to appoint female judges in February of 2010.  The ECWR report also stated that the women’s quota system, which reserves sixty four parliamentary seats for female candidates, was only a temporary solution and did not adequately integrate women into the polical sphere.

Abu El Komsan stated: “The women [candidates] were used to decorate the parliament.  It is not an issue of development, it is only a political tool.”

The report noted that although representation of women in political parties turned out ot be weak, some women did successfully emerge as leaders in a few political parties, such as Asmahan Shoukry, who was named the Labor Party’s first female president.

The report’s examination of educational opportunities in Egypt revealed that school curriculum in Egypt reaffirm the stereotypical view that women are only suitable for domestic roles.  Additionally, the study showed many reports of men attempting to break into girls’ schools and harass girls. Girls also reported harassment by teachers and security guards at universities.

As for workplace conditions, women still receive lower wages than men for the same work, are regularly deprived of promotion opportunities, and are treated as temporary labor because of their domestic responsibilities.  A new labor law reduced maternity leave from ninety to one hundred an eighty days, and limited it to twice in a lifetime.

Additionally, the study showed a marked increase in violence against women. According to the report, 71.4% of violent crimes committed in Egypt during 2010 were against women. A study by several NGO’s also showed that incidents of rape have increased in Egypt, with twenty seven rapes reported daily. It is also estimated that roughly 95% of rape cases in Egypt go unreported.

The study stated that two thirds of young men polled felt that physically torturing a women is “justifiable in some situations.”

The report also noted the rise in two new police practice practices in Egypt: the practice of holding women hostages in order to force fugitives to surrender themselves to the police, and sexual violation of women by police officers. In 2010, several Christian women women were also reported to have disappeared as a part of sectarian violence in Egypt.

The ECWR report concluded with recommendations that the Egyptian government pass more legislation to protect women, do more to integrate women into the political sphere, and promote gender equality through art.

For more information, please see:

thedailynewsegypt.com – Women’s rights in Egypt deteriorate in 2010, says report – 28 December, 2010

msn news – Violence against women increased in Egypt in 2010: Report – 28 December, 2010

ECWR /Bikyamasr – Egypt Women: Postponed rights in 2010 – 28 December, 2010

Impunity Watch Presentation of Nectali Rodenzo (1/5)

November 9, 2010. Impunity Watch Law Journal and the International Law Society hosted Nectali Rodenzo, a lawyer and Co-Coordinator of the National Front of Lawyers in Resistance to the Coup in Honduras. Rodenzo shared his experiences of the 2009 Honduran military coup, its context and aftermath, and how it relates to the human rights situation on the ground in Honduras today.

Impunity Watch Presentation with Nectali Rodenzo from Impunity Watch on Vimeo.

Rodezno and the Lawyer’s Front are engaged in the daily defense of life and liberties in post-coup Honduras, as part of a massive resistance that opposes not only the de facto government that took over when President Zelaya was ousted, but the illegitimate regime installed after fraudulent elections were held last November. Ongoing political assassinations, horrific police brutality, persecution and murder of anyone working in opposition to the Lobo government characterize the current regime’s approach to human rights. Rodezno will speak to the context in which the coup was perpetrated, and prospects for those who continue to struggle for justice in Honduras.

Jobless Protests Lead to Violence in Tunisia

By Laura Hirahara
Impunity Watch, Africa

Protestors struggle against police in an effort to raise awareness about social services neglect and unbelievable unemployment.
Protestors struggle against police in an effort to raise awareness about social services neglect and unbelievably high unemployment in Tunisia (Photo Courtesy of CNN).

TUNIS, Tunisia- Police used batons to end demonstrations today in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, after weeks of clashes between those protesting the high unemployment rates in the North African country and officials. Today’s events come just three days after police opened fire on a group of 1,000 protesters in Menzel Bouzaiene, killing one and injuring several more. The demonstrations started earlier this month after two men attempted suicide in the Sidi Bouzid province of Tunisia, citing lack of employment and poor living conditions.

One of the young men, a jobless graduate, Mohammed Bouazizi, doused himself in gasoline and then lit himself on fire after being cited by police for selling fruits and vegetables without a permit. The second young man electrocuted himself shortly after in the same town. In a statement made to the AP, Sami Tahr, head of the union for high school teachers said “We’re gathered today in solidarity with the population of Sidi Bouzid and to salute the memories of the martyrs of repression who seek only their right to working.”

Officials claim the protests are isolated and being used by the opposition to garner support for their radical agenda. In a statement released by the Tunisia government, officials say protesters burned a national guard building using malatov cocktails and threw stones at police. The statement reports that several police suffered severe burns during the demonstrations and that two are currently in comas as a result of their injuries. Student representative Mohamed Fadhel, said the man who was shot during Friday’s demonstration was 18-year-old Mohamed Ammari and that police had surrounded the city, not allowing any travel in or out.

Protest in Tunisia is rare and the violent protest in the capital is the first of its kind in approximately ten years. Despite being a relatively stable and wealthy North African country, Tunisia’s President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who has been in power for the last 23 years, has been criticized by the international community for repressing political dissent and quashing public protest. In response to the recent demonstrations, on Thursday the government promised to use eight million euros to create jobs but with no details on the program released, including when it will start, protests continue.

For more information, please see;

CNN-Tunisian Forces Kill 1, Hurt 4 Protestors– 24 Dec., 2010

BBC- Tunisian Jobs Protests Reach Capital Tunis– 27 Dec., 2010

BBC- Tunisia Security Forces Shoot Dead Protester- 24 Dec., 2010

Reuters- Police Disperse Jobs Protest in Tunisian Capital– 27 Dec., 2010

MSNBC- Rare Rally in Tunisian Capital Against Joblessness– 27 Dec., 2010

New Laws Restrict Opposition

By R. Renee Yaworsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela—New laws imposed by “lame duck” legislators in Venezuela have continued to inspire criticism that the country has now lapsed into a dictatorship.  President Hugo Chavez, who will rule by decree for the next 18 months, has taken this opportunity to stifle as much opposition as possible.

One of the new laws sparking controversy will prevent lawmakers from switching political parties, categorizing such an act as “fraud.”  Lawmakers breaking this law may be thwarted from holding public office of any kind.   Many leaders of the opposition have protested, calling the law unconstitutional.

Proponents of Chavez defend the regulation.  Iris Varela, a legislator who is a member of the President’s United Socialist Party, argued that such a law was necessary as it disallowed Chavez’s critics from being elected on one ticket “so later they can betray.”

Another new law changes the way the country’s legislature will operate procedurally.  For example, legislators used to be able to take to the floor to orally defend a bill for 15 minutes; now they will only have 10 minutes.  Those opposing a bill will only have 3 minutes to make their argument.  A further change restricts parliamentary debates from being broadcasted on state television.

Defenders of free expression have spoken out against a new law that expands restrictions on Internet messages that “incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order,” or “refuse the legitimately constituted authority.”

“One has to say it clearly:” said Ismael Garcia, an anti-Chavez legislator, “a new dictatorial model is being imposed in Venezuela.”

Last week, fervent protests erupted against the restrictive laws.  Most of the protesters were students and were dispersed by armed forces shooting off water cannons and rubber bullets.

“In Venezuela, the law is destroyed by the law,” opined historian and philosopher Fernando Mires in a recent essay.  “The judicial system is destroyed by the judicial system and the Parliament is destroyed by the Parliament.”

For more information, please see:

New York Times-New Laws in Venezuela Aim to Limit Dissent-24 December 2010

Wall Street Journal-Flurry Of New Laws Strengthens Chavez’s Grip On Venezuela-24 December 2010

AP-Flurry of laws boost Chavez’s power in Venezuela-24 December 2010

Opposition Leaders Jailed After Protesting Election Fraud in Belarus

By Sovereign Hager
Managing Editor, Impunity Watch News

Over 600 people were arrested after protesting election results in Belarus. (Photo Courtesy of The Armenion)
Over 600 people were arrested after protesting election results in Belarus. (Photo Courtesy of The Armenion)

MINSK, Belarus-Mass protests over what is widely considered to be a rigged re-election of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the country’s long-standing president resulted in Belarus’s security service filing charges against seventeen oppositional figures, including seven other presidential candidates for organizing mass disturbances. Police have launched raids on oppositional leaders’ offices, seizing computers.

A meeting has been set for January 11, 2011, for leaders in the European Parliament to consider the election and crack-down. Leaders are set to discuss “the conduct and the aftermath of the presidential elections including the excessive and disproportionate forces by the Belarusian authorities, the beating and detention of oppositional presidential candidates and violence against journalists and civil society activists.”

Belarus held its Presidential election on December 19 and gave Lukashenko to a fourth term in office Massive protests broke out after election results were announced. International monitors called the elections fraudulent.  Since that time, some 700 people have been arrested, with serious charges filed against twenty top opposition figures, including candidates for president. One man, Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu was beaten unconscious during a protest and then taken from his hospital bed by men in plain clothes.

The Belarussian parliament simultaneously ratified an agreement to create a “unified economic space” between Russia an Kazakastan. As part of the agreement, Russia said it would end tariffs on oil exported to Belarus, a concession that is thought to significantly strengthen Lukashenko’s position.

Several countries have condemned Lukashenka’s actions. Germany issued a warning that Mr. Lukashenka is isolating his country and the EU foreign policy chief and US Secretary of state have threatened to review relations with Belarus. Human rights organizations are concerned that the former presidential candidates currently being held fact up to fifteen years in prison if convicted. The Belarus Security Service, still called the KGB, refuses to issue any comment on the issue. Lukashenko told reporters that he had warned against such protests and said “there will no longer be any brainless democracy.”

For more information, please see:

European Voice-Special Meeting of MEPs to Consider Belarus-24 December 2010

Spero News-“European” Police State-24 December 2010

Belarus News-Human Rights Groups Urge EU to Impose Travel Ban on Lukashenka-23 December 2010

String of Bombings Rock Central Nigeria

By Daniel M. Austin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa 
 

Bombing in Jos, Nigeria on December 24. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters).
Bombing in Jos, Nigeria on December 24. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters).

JOS, Nigeria – On Friday, December 24, extremists detonated a number of bombs in the Nigerian city of Jos, killing dozens. Nigerian officials believe at least 38 people were killed in the attacks and more than 78 were wounded. In response to this act of terrorism, the Nigerian government stepped up patrols and instituted a curfew in Jos, and barred people from carrying guns in the city. Yet despite these restrictions, there are reports of more violent outbursts in Jos on Sunday, December 26, as angry citizen’s reacted to Friday’s bombings.

The attack on December 24 consisted of a series of four bombings; two bombings occurred at a large market as people were doing last minute Christmas shopping. A third bomb was detonated in a predominately Christian part of the city, and a fourth bomb was detonated on a road leading to a mosque. The central government blames the violence on sectarian fighting between Christians and Muslims.

Furthermore, on December 26, several buildings in the city of Jos were set on fire and there were armed clashes between Christians and Muslims. News agencies claim at least one person was killed in the fighting. The Nigerian government has stepped in to prevent any further bloodshed.

Nigeria is a country where roughly have the population is Christian, while the other half is Muslim. The Christian residents dominate the southern half of Nigeria while the Muslim population is concentrated in the northern half of the country. Jos is the capital city in the state of Plateau. Plateau is located in a region called the Middle Belt, which separates the northern and southern regions.

Friday’s attack on Jos was not the first time the city has been embroiled in sectarian conflict. There were similar bombings in 2001, and in 2008 when religious tensions boiled over. Additionally, in March of this year over 490 people were killed when Muslim herders attacked a Christian village in the state of Plateau.  Although the most obvious tension between these two factions are religious differences, other factors such as economic and political control, poverty, and lack of access to land and other resources also contribute to the unrest. Nigerian government officials believe the most recent attack was intended to produce more sectarian violence.

For more information, please see:

AFP —  Clashes in Nigerian city after deadly Christmas bombings – 26 December 2010

BBC — Nigeria: Jos sees renewed clashes after bombings – 26 December 2010

Bloomberg — Nigeria Imposes Curfew on City After 32 Die in Christmas Eve Explosions – 26 December 2010

Reuters — Christmas Eve attacks kill at least 38 in Nigeria – 26 December 2010

VOA News — New Clashes in Central Nigeria After Deadly Friday Bombings – 26 December 2010

 

MOBS LYNCH AND BURN PRIESTS THOUGHT RESPONSIBLE FOR CHOLERA EPIDEMIC

By Erica Laster                                                                                                                              Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Uncontrollable lynch mobs have contributed to the murder of at least 45 citizens of Haiti since the beginning of the cholera epidemic.  Ministry official Moise Fritz Evens confirmed that “The victims…were stoned or hacked with machetes before being burned in the streets.”   Many of the bodies were found burned, using gasoline and other accelerants or hacked to pieces using machetes.

Authorities discovered the body of Ti Panyol after being attacked with a machete.  Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail.
Authorities discovered the body of Ti Panyol after being attacked with a machete. Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Some Haitians believe that voodoo priests are responsible for bringing cholera to the country, a severe blow considering many are still recovering from the earthquake in January.  “People who practice voodoo have nothing to do with the cholera epidemic,” stated Max Beauvoir, head of one of the voodoo organizations in Haiti.   He believes that the police should be doing more to stop the murder of innocent priests.  Beauvoir and other heads have appealed to authorities in an attempt to assist priests and other victims of the lynch mobs.  

Haiti’s minister of communication appealed to the community to end the lynchings, calling for a campaign to disseminate information to citizens to better understand the origin and spread of cholera.    

Cholera causes diarrhea and vomiting in victims.  The disease can easily be treated with rehydration and antibiotics, but the sanitary conditions and lack of medical supplies has dealt a blow to Haiti’s population.  Almost 2,500 have been killed since October.

‘We have had cases every day since last week. People really believe that witches are taking advantage of the cholera epidemic to kill,” indicates Haitian prosecutor Kesner Numa.  Numa said the mobs had accused the victims of spreading cholera to regions previously unaffected by the disease.  40 of the victims were found in a region called Grand Anse in southwest Haiti and none have been arrested in connection with their deaths. 

For more Information please visit:

BBC News – Haiti Mobs Lynch Voodo Priests Over Cholera F–  24 December 2010

Daily Mail – Haiti Lynch Mobs Murder 40 Accused of Spreading Cholera With Sorcery – 23 December 2010

CNN – Officials: 45 People Lynched in Haiti Amid Cholera Fears – 24 December 2010

Pakistani Police Arrested For Involvment With Bhutto Assassination

David L. Chaplin II
Impunity Watch, Asia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Two senior police officials were arrested Wednesday in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.  A court refused bail for the two officials, Saud Aziz and his assistant Khurram Shehzad, said special public prosecutor Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ali. Aziz, the police chief in the Rawalpindi district at the time of Bhutto’s assassination, was the head of her security team. The two police officials are scheduled to appear for a hearing January 7.

Candle light vigil morning the near reunion of the Bhutto assassination
Candle light vigil morning the near reunion of the Bhutto assassination

Bhutto returning from a self-imposed, eight-year exile to running in the country’s general elections in 2007, to later escape an attempt on her life but was subsequently killed on December 27 by a 15-year-old suicide bomber while campaigning for parliament in Rawalpindi.

Security breaches and allegations of covering up are the charges. The actions which bring their condemnation are the hosing down of the crime scene and failing to conduct a post-mortem examination on Bhutto.

The attorney for the two officials argued that Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, the current president, had asked the police not to carry out a post-mortem. Evidence of this conversation, via audio of that request, was played in court Wednesday.

The court decided that both men failed their legal obligations as officers of the law. Five suspected militants are already facing trial for alleged involvement in Ms. Bhutto’s murder.

A Pakistani government investigation blamed the then top leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud. He denied being involved in the assassination and was killed in a suspected US missile attack in August 2009.

It was the United Nations panel and their insight into Bhutto’s assassination which came to the conclusion that Pakistan’s military-led former government failed to sufficiently protect her and the intelligence agencies stalled the ensuing investigation.

The panel’s report in April said the suicide bombing which killed Bhutto “could have been prevented” and also that police deliberately failed in pursuit of an effective investigation into the killings.

The government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf rejects the allegations saying that Bhutto had in fact been afforded adequate protection.

“No one believes that this boy acted alone,” the U.N. report said. “A range of government officials failed profoundly in their efforts first to protect Ms. Bhutto, and second to investigate with vigor all those responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack, but also in its conception, planning and financing.”

Bhutto’s family, including Zardari, said they suspected some elements in Pakistan’s intelligence agencies might have been involved in the assassination.

Police said they had earlier arrested five suspects in connection with Bhutto’s murder. Almost all of them are alleged to have been associated with the local Taliban fighting government forces in the country’s tribal region along the Afghan border.

Bhutto had taken a firm stand against Taliban militants before she returned to Pakistan in October 2007, ending a decade of self-imposed exile to take part in elections.

For more information, please see:

CNN – Two police offiicials arrested in Bhutto assassination – 22 December 2010

BBC – Pakistan police detained over Benazir Bhutto murder – 22 December

Sify News – Two police officers arrested in Bhutto murder case – 22 December

Zimbabwe Delays Elections

By Laura Hirahara
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsavangirai, Photo Courtesy of the AP
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsavangirai, Photo Courtesy of the AP

HARARE, Zimbabwe- Zimbabwe’s coalition government announced this week that elections would be postponed until at least October since there would first need to be a referendum on a new constitution.  The coalition government, led by Zimbabwe’s long time president Robert Mugabe and the opposition leader from 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been a tumultuous union and many fear that the next elections could end in violence.  President Mugabe, who first gained power thirty years ago, is pushing for a quick election that would end the coalition government even though his critics say he is stalling on the necessary media, security and electoral reforms that wound guarantee a free and fair voting process.

Many outside of Zimbabwe are pushing for the country to make these necessary changes.  The Friends of Zimbabwe group, comprised of the United States, the United Nations, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and other Western nations has expressed concerns that Zimbabwe is not focusing on the “protection of fundamental rights, the rule of law, governance and respect for agreements.”  Botswana’s Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Jeff Ramsay, made a statement that Botswana would respect the decisions of Zimbabwe in their own affairs but that such decisions need to be made in an open and fair climate.  Said Ramsay, “[The Southern African Development Community (SADC)] must insist on such a process for the delivery of credible elections in that country and must put in place [. . .] a monitoring mechanism to guarantee such an outcome.”

Those in the coalition government believe Zimbabwe is far from holding an election despite Mugabe’s urging for a quick election.  Douglas Mwonzora, joint-chairman of Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Select Committee said this week that the process has been slowed by a lack of funds and political infighting, adding that the referendum adopting a new constitution could take the process well into September of 2011.  Given the violence that left 200 Zimbabweans dead after the 2008 elections, partners in the coalition government are asking for a SADC election road-map that would ensure safe elections.  The international community, along with Zimbabwe’s citizens, fear President Mugabe and the coalition government will not be able to reach timely agreements on any electoral processes.  The Friends of Zimbabwe stated on Wednesday, “[T]he Zimbabwean government needs to create [an] enabling environment, and agree on and implement significant reforms. Zimbabweans should not face violence and intimidation to cast their votes.”

For more information, please see;

Reuters- Western Countries Press Zimbabwe on Vote Reforms– 23 Dec., 2010

The Zimbabwe Mail- SADC Must Insist on Credible Zimbabwe Elections– 22 Dec., 2010

CNN- Zimbabwe Elections Likely to Be Delayed– 23 Dec., 2010