War Crimes Prosecution Watch; Vol. 6, Issue 2

War Crimes Prosecution Watch; Vol. 6, Issue 2



Central African Republic & Uganda

Darfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo




International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia



Universal Jurisdiction

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is a bi-weekly e-newsletter that compiles official documents and articles from major news sources detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world.

Protesters in Yemen Close to Ousting President Saleh

By Eric C. Sigmund
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

SANA’A, Yemen – After weeks of unrest precipitated by pro-reform protests throughout the country, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s tenure may soon come to an end. Saleh, who has served as Yemen’s President since 1978, announced his intention Friday, to step down as the country’s leader as part of a peace deal between the government and opposition forces brokered by neighboring nations. The deal however, has yet to be signed and Saleh insists that the opposition accept its terms before any final transition of leadership takes place.

Peace negotiations were led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of six regional oil-producing nations. GCC nations reacted quickly to increased violence within Yemen seeking to prevent a possible spillover effect into their own countries. Dozens of Yemeni civilians have been killed in government led crackdowns since protests began over a month ago.

The finalization of an agreement has been warmly welcomed by anti-government protesters. The agreement stipulates that Saleh be given 30 days to vacate his position however, the deal also provides Saleh and regime officials with complete domestic immunity. One official noted that the issue of immunity was critical to reaching any deal but once this issue had been resolved, the agreement would be finalized without reservations.

Commenting on the prospect of resigning, President Saleh noted “Civil war will not only affect Yemen, but also the whole region and the international security.” The President however, did not waste any opportunity to blame protesters, targeting the youth, for destabilizing the country. “They are the masters of corruption, thieves of lands, and murderers. All their officials and grassroots are rogues, for they lied in this crisis without feeling shame before the Yemeni people who have matured.” While the President announced that is “ready to quit,” he affirmed that any transition must be by free election as required by the constitution.

According to the terms of the peace deal however, Yemen’s vice-president would assume power after Saleh’s final 30 days expired and would have seven days to formulate a unity government. That government may incorporate the President’s General People’s Congress party. Despite approval of the agreement by government opponents, protesters in the streets note that they will continue to demand reform until Saleh is finally removed. At least two were killed Monday, when protesters were again met with violent resistance.

For more information please see:

Al-Jazeera – Deaths Reported in Fresh Yemen Protests – Apr. 25, 2011

CNN World – Yemen’s Embattled President Agrees to Exit, Officials say – Apr. 23, 2011

Reuters – Yemen’s Saleh to Quit but Activists say Protests go on – Apr. 23, 2011

Yemen News Agency – Opposition Dragging Nation into Civil War says President Saleh – Apr. 23, 2011

Yemen Post – Opposition Welcomes Power Deal in Yemen Also – Apr. 23, 2011


TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Fear rises in Honduras as governmental abuse and oppression grows.  Journalists, activists and independent citizens are under the control of the government and military which continues to impose limits on speech as well as preventing citizens from conducting peaceful demonstrations against the Post-coup regime.  The past year has been plagued with an increase in disappearances and murders of journalists, students, homosexuals and even teachers.

Police use truck to spray teargas at peaceful protesters
Police use truck to spray teargas at peaceful protesters

With a homicide rate that is four times that of Mexico, Honduras currently maintains a spot as the country with the highest homicide rate in the Western hemisphere.

On April 1, 2011, Honduran teachers and students orchestrated a strike across the country to protest the repression inherent in the government.  Their attempts to free 18 teachers arrested and detained for sedition were unsuccessful.  Teachers protesting the illegal detainment, privatization of public school education and the oppression by the regime were beaten, shot with tear gas and illegally detained by police and military personnel. 

Americas Director at Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco condemned the violence, indicating that “Human Rights Watch recognizes that Honduran police have a duty to respond to protesters who engage in violence and prosecute those who break the law. But they also have an obligation to respect the basic rights of demonstrators.”

Protests by public school teachers have been ongoing since Mid March of 2011.  Each one ending more violently than the first.  President Lobo has been blamed as the source of the violence. 

“If President Lobo is committed to law and order, he should ensure that alleged brutality by the police is thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are prosecuted and held accountable,” Vivanco said.  Human Rights Watch called on the immediate and thorough investigation of the use of excessive force by Honduran authorities.  Further, Honduran authorities have been asked to prosecute anyone deemed responsible for the violence. 

Allegations of targeted violence against the media have also been made.  According to C-Libre, a popular Honduran newspaper, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters directly at journalists and cameramen, injuring those who merely came to record the protests. 

Gerardo Torres of Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance claimed that the money received from the United States to combat such issues as drug trafficking has been used indiscriminately. 

“All the money is spent on weapons, propaganda and controlling the mass media,” Torres is quoted as saying. “There are no civil rights in Honduras.”
The Honduran homicide rate has increased 39% in the last two years. 

Photo courtesy of Honduras Human Rights. For more information please visit:  

Honduras Human Rights – Honduras: Probe Charges of Police Brutality – 8 April 2011

Honduras Human Rights – Endless Repression By Military Back Regime – 1 April 2011

Latin Dispatch – Honduran Government Responsible for Murders and Human Rights Abuses – 14 April 2011

Update: Nigeria’s Post-Election Violence Intensifies

By Laura Hirahara
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

Aftermath of election violence in Zonkwa locate din the northern state of Kaduna; Photo courtesy of the AP
Aftermath of election violence in Zonkwa locate din the northern state of Kaduna; Photo courtesy of the AP

ABUJA, Nigeria– Though observers at first lauded Nigeria’s presidential election on April 16, the country is experiencing growing violence in the aftermath, with upwards of 40,000 displaced in the last two weeks and an estimated 500 killed.  Because the government refuses to release any confirmed numbers, it is difficult to verify how many have died.  However, across the north as the post-election violence ebbed over Easter, many towns held mass burials.  The rioting started shortly after the election in which the northern Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari lost to the southern Christian incumbent Jonathan Goodluck by a 57% to 31% margin.  Shehu Seni, who leads the Civil Rights Congress in northern Nigeria, said the death toll could reach 1,000 before the violence stops.

While the primary conflict appears to be between Muslims and Christians, analysts believe the conflict is more indicative of the stark economic differences between the two halves of the country.  The south is an oil rich delta region and the north is largely struggling, where many live on less than $2 a day.  The conflict is further complicated by the fact that the population of many areas is a mix of economically, religious and ethnically diverse people.  This conflict is also mirrored by Nigeria’s long history of civil unrest; the last presidential election four years ago left 300 dead.  Goodluck stated last week “These acts of mayhem are sad reminders of the events which plunged our country into 30 months of an unfortunate civil war,” referring to the 1967 civil war during which an estimated 3 million were killed.

After Goodluck was announced the winner this month, many Muslim youths in the north began rioting, believing that the polls had been rigged.  There are in fact signs of ballot box tampering, with evidence of unusually large voter turnout and suspected underage voting.  In the months leading up to the election, the Independent Nigerian Election Council in charge of the voting procedures had problems getting election materials and processes in place, resulting in a postponement of the vote until April 16.  So far, Goodlucks’ People’s Democratic Party is the only party to officially recognize and sign the election results.

While a curfew has been imposed, Nigerians fear the violence will only escalate.  Eyo Anthony, a resident in the northern city of Kano where homes and shops had been burned in his neighborhood, said Sunday “Although it has been calm in the past two days I don’t intend to go back to my house… until after the governors’ elections. . .I know how I managed to escape with my family and I don’t want to relive the same experience.”  A Human Right Watch researcher told reporters that the northern state of Kaduna looked like a “war zone” and that not “one building was standing”.  Located within that state, the town of Zonkwa has been hit the hardest, with over 300 reported dead there since April 16.

Initially, gubernatorial elections were planned to take place in the week following the presidential election, but those have been postponed out of fear that those elections will prompt more violence.  Goodluck has denounced the riots but it is unclear what steps he is taking to end the conflict.  Buhari will only state that he objects to the election results and remains silent as Muslims in the north continue to retaliate against Christians and supporters of Goodluck, which some see as an implicit encouragement to his followers.  In the meantime, many residents in the north have fled to police and military barracks as rioters continue to target businesses and religious centers.

For more information, please see;

CNNMass Burials Held in Rural Nigeria24 April, 2011

NYTElection Results Fuels Deadly Clashes in Nigeria24 April, 2011

BBCNigeria Election Violence ‘Left More Than 500 Dead’24 April, 2011

AFP Nigerian Rights Group Says More Than 500 Killed in Unrest24 April, 2011

The Botswana GazetteNigeria- Mass Burials Held Following Violence24 April, 2011

Demobilized Paramilitary Members Pose Problems For Colombian Citizens

By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia – According to reports, the Organization of American States has expressed concerns over the terrorizing of Colombia’s civilian population by criminal groups comprised of now-demobilized paramilitary members. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza acknowledged the disappearance of the paramilitary group the Unified Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (“AUC”) as “a political reality,” but emphasized that the OAS is “concerned that the civilian population is still caught in the dynamics imposed by criminal groups post-demobilization.”

Based on the recent OAS Mission to Support the Peace Process report, violence against and displacement of rural Colombian populations is said to be highest in Antioquia, Choco, Nariño and Corodba. Insulza stated that “”it remains imperative to strengthen the economic and community reintegration of villages, ” that are still faced with these demobilization challenges.

The AUC’s demobilization process was carried out from 2003-2006 under former President Alvaro Uribe’s administration. The process is now widely considered to have failed due to the rearming of several paramilitary fighters after the process.

There are several primary reasons for these failures. For example, the Colombian government has failed to offer low and mid-level fighters the same benefits being offered to top AUC leaders. Many of these low and mid-level fighters subsequently went on to join neo-paramilitary organizations. An NGO report from March this year suggested that these criminal groups are present in nearly a third of Colombia.

According to Justice and Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras, as a result of this vast presence, the groups could pose threats to the October 2011 elections. Insulza did not point specifically to the Justice and Peace Law, which forced this demobilization. Rather, Insulza  pointed to the economic and psychological problems of reintegrating former fighters into society due to the current unemployment levels in Colombia and the “stigma” attached to being a former paramilitary.

For more information, please see:

Colombia Reports – Colombian Citizens Continue to be Victims of Demobilized AUC: OAS – 20 April 2011

Colombia Reports – Red Cross Labels Criminal Gangs as Primary Concern – 14 April 2011

Upside Down World – Rising from the Ashes of Demobilization in Colombia – 13 April 2011