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