by Adom M. Cooper
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

SUEZ, Egypt–After a court upheld the release on bail of policemen accused of killing 17 people during an uprising, hundreds of family members of the victims displayed their own disapproval with the outcome. They attacked police cars and flung stones at the court building.

Protesters in Suez throwing stones at the court building and attacking police cars. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)
Protesters in Suez throwing stones at the court building and attacking police cars. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

On July 4, 2011, the same sort of displeasure was festering in Cairo when the seven officers were originally granted bail. The snowball effect has been in full swing in Egypt as anger has been mounting about the slow pace of the trials for officials and security forces of former President Hosni Mubarak.

These seven officers are part of a group of 14 facing trial over the murder of 17 protesters and the wounding of 300 others. The other seven decided to flee and are currently being tried in absentia.

Activists have called for a demonstration this coming Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, hoping to muster more then a million protesters. Tahrir Square is the nerve center for the protests that forced former President Hosni Mubarak to resign on February 11th of this year.

Since that time, only one single policeman has been convicted in more than a dozen court cases over the death of approximately 850 people in the government-wide crackdown on protesters.

The case of these police officers is just a microcosm of the increased tensions in Egypt. The management of legal proceedings against security forces who used deadly force in the uprising, killing approximately 846 civilians and wounding thousands, has only further angered the protesters desiring change.

Egypt’s opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has decided to support Friday’s planned protest. Ayman Mohyeldin, an Al-Jazeera correspondent, shared these sentiments while reporting from Egypt on the developing situation:

“Military police are here on the scene, they are trying to control the situation, but so far they have been unsuccessful in pushing the crowd back. They have been able to secure the entrance to the building in order to secure the people from going in, but the situation outside remains very tense. This situation highlights the frustration Egyptians have toward the process of justice that is unfolding.”

At the other end of the spectrum, approximately 10,000 civilians face military trials for their participation in the protests. These trials have further spit fuel onto the fire of pro-democracy activists calling for the end of the oppressive methods of Mubarak’s regime.

For more information, please see:

NYT-Acquittals of Ex-officials Feed Anger Across Egypt-05 July 2011

Al-Jazeera-Riots outside Suez security building-06 July 2011

BBC-Egyptians riot in Suez over police trials-06 July 2011

Wall Street Journal-Rage at Police Fuels Egypt Rioting-30 June 2011

Several Dead in Kabul Hotel Raid

By Greg Donaldson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KABUL, Afghanistan— Approximately nine Taliban suicide bombers stormed the prestigious hilltop Inter-Continental Hotel in the capital city late Tuesday night, killing up to twenty-one people in the raid. Armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, the attackers entered the heavily guarded hotel where foreigners and authorities generally stay. An Afghan security official said that three of the suicide bombers detonated their explosives, one in front of the main gate, one on the second floor and one behind the hotel, reports the Khaama Press.

The Inter-Continental Hotel after the attack (Photo courtesy of Ahmad Masood / Reuters)
The Inter-Continental Hotel after the attack (Photo courtesy of Ahmad Masood / Reuters)

It is unclear whether the attack was in response to a local governor’s meeting or the upcoming transfer of police power. Regardless, the attack comes at a critical time as the United States plans to transfer security responsibilities to the national intelligence police in Kabul on the fourteenth. Afghan president Hamid Karzai has stated for months that his security forces are competent enough to handle Taliban attacks. President Obama has also announced the withdrawal of 33,000 American troops by the end of next year.

In response to the various Taliban attacks that preceded and followed the hotel bombing, President Karzai has spoken with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari about doing more to prevent Taliban activities. Both sides point fingers at the other when discussing the Taliban’s actions in their countries, but Afghan and US officials have pushed Pakistan to do more on the Pakistani side of the border to prevent future attacks reports Dawn.

Kamel Khan, a businessman, was visiting the hotel when the raid began. Khan heard gunfire and saw a man carrying a machine gun, with an ammunition belt across his chest, and a backpack. Khan stated “He stared at all of the guests like he wanted to kill us, and he had enough bullets to do it, but for some reason he just turned and kept going.”

Another hotel visitor, Maulvi Mohammed Orsaji, the head of the Takhar Provincial Council, was having dinner with a judge in the hotel’s formal dining room when several gunmen entered the room and killed the judge and Orsaji’s guard. Orsaji related that he had previous military experience, but he had never seen such a wild attack in his life. Some of the bombers carried tape recorders playing Taliban war songs and shot at anyone they saw, reports MSNBC.

When Afghan security forces entered the building, some of the attackers blew themselves up. A NATO helicopter then killed the remaining insurgents in a rooftop battle reports MSNBC. In a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said he received a phone call from one of his fighters during the raid. The fighter stated that the attackers killed the guards at one of the entrances to the hotel, and the assault was going as planned reports MSNBC.

Lutfullah Mashal, spokesman for the national intelligence police, continued to proclaim that the local police have the ability to protect residents from terrorist attacks in a news conference following the hotel siege. However, police officials were unable to explain how the attackers were able to enter the heavily guarded hotel with such a large arsenal of weapons.

For more information, please see:

Dawn– Karzai raises concerns with Pakistan over attacks — 5 July 2011

Khaama Press — Group of Suicide Bombers Stormed Kabul Intercontinental Hotel – 30 June 2011

Miami Herald — US-led coalition: Pakistan group behind Kabul hotel attack – 30 June 2011

Khaleej Times — 21 dead as Taleban storm Kabul hotel – 29 June 2011

MSNBC – ‘Everybody was shooting’: 18 die in Kabul hotel attack – 29 June 2011

Washington Post — Kabul hotel siege leaves at least 11 civilians dead – 29 June 2011

Appeals court finds Dutch responsible for Srebrenica massacre victims

By Polly Johnson
Senior Desk Officer, Europe

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – In a landmark ruling, a Dutch appeals court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that the Dutch state was responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men in the infamous 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

An appeals court ruling could have far-reaching implications for victims of the Srebrenica massacre who wish to bring suit against the Dutch government (1995 File Photo Courtesy of Voice of America).
An appeals court ruling could have far-reaching implications for victims of the Srebrenica massacre who wish to bring suit against the Dutch government (1995 File Photo Courtesy of Voice of America).

Analysts have called the ruling historic and a possible floodgate for future compensation claims for victims of the Srebrenica massacre. The court ordered the Dutch government to pay compensation to the dead men’s relatives.

The three Bosnian Muslims became members of the Dutch peacekeeping group known as “Dutchbat” in July 1995 and took shelter in the Dutchbat-run United Nations “safe” compound on July 11, 1995.  When Bosnian Serbian troops under the command of General Ratko Mladic invaded the compound, Dutch peacekeepers turned the three Bosnian Muslim men over to Mladic’s troops. They, along with more than eight thousand Bosnian Muslim men and boys, were subsequently rounded up and shot, marking the deadliest European massacre since World War II.

The appeals court has now ruled that the Dutch peacekeepers were wrong to turn the three men over to Mladic’s forces, and more, that the Dutch state bore responsibility for their deaths. Now, the court ruled, the government must pay damages to the victims’ next-of-kin.

The ruling renewed an age-old debate regarding the Dutch role in the Srebrenica slaughter and to what extent the Dutch peacekeepers could have prevented the massacre. The discussion has been amplified since the capture and arrest of General Mladic, who is currently awaiting trial at The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide related to his role at Srebrenica.

Relatives of the victims praised the court’s decision, which overturned a previous decision by the Netherlands ruling that the state was not responsible for the deaths because the Dutchbat was operating under a UN mandate.

“This ruling is a very good thing. It certainly paves the way that the Dutch state be also proclaimed responsible for what has happened in Srebrenica, for other victims also,” said Sabaheta Fejzic, whose husband and son were killed at Srebrenica and who is a part of the Mothers of Srebrenica association.

“The fact that the state is finally held responsible for this act of cowardice is some little relief,” Fejzic said.

The case was brought by relatives of Rizo Mustafic, who worked as an electrician for the Dutchbat, and by Hasan Nuhanovic, an intepreter who lost his father and brother at Srebrenica.

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Dutch found responsible for Srebrenica deaths – 5 July 2011

BBC – Dutch state ‘responsible for three Srebrenica deaths’ – 5 July 2011

Independent – Dutch state admits responsibility over Srebrenica deaths – 5 July 2011

Irish Times – Netherlands ruled at fault over three Srebrenica deaths – 5 July 2011

Dutch Parliament Votes 150 to 0 to Sanction the Russian Officials Who Killed Sergei Magnitsky

Hermitage Capital Press Release

Originally Published 4 July 2011

The Dutch parliament, by a vote of 150 to 0 has passed a resolution demanding that the Dutch government impose visa and economic sanctions on the Russian officials who were responsible for the false arrest, torture and death of 37-year old anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Eighteen months have passed since Sergei Magnitsky died in Interior Ministry custody after testifying against corrupt state officials in Russia.  Despite President Medvedev calling for an investigation, not a single person has been charged.  Instead, the senior officials responsible for Magnitsky’s torture and death have been promoted and in some cases have received state honors. Despite worldwide calls for prosecution, these officials enjoy absolute impunity in Russia.

On December 16 last year, the European Parliament called on all EU member states to impose visa and economic sanctions on the Russian officials behind the Magnitsky case. In May 2011, the US Senate submitted legislation entitled “The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act”, that will give these sanctions the force of a law in the United States.

The motion in the Dutch parliament, entitled “Over de dood van Sergei Magnitsky,” was passed unanimously by the lower House of Parliament.  It reads:

“The Chamber, hearing the proceedings, noting that the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died under suspicious circumstances in a Russian prison, after a major corruption scandal was uncovered in Russia … noting that among other things, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have put measures to restrict visas and freezing assets of Russian officials who
were involved in the death of Magnitsky, calls on the Government to take steps in a European context, in line with the initiatives of the U.S. Senate and the European Parliament, so that those responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky be held to account.”

Commenting on the vote, one of the initiators of the resolution, Kathleen Ferrier MP (Christian Democrats), said, “The fact that this resolution was adopted unanimously by all 150 members of the House of Representatives shows the strong commitment of Dutch parliament with the case of Sergei Magnitsky. For me, impunity is unacceptable. That is why I am satisfied with this result. But I also realise that, though this is a very important step, there are many more steps to come. We will continue to fight for justice for Sergei Magnitsky.”

Sergei Magnitsky represented the Hermitage Fund, once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. He was arrested by the Russian Interior Ministry after he exposed how Russian officials stole $230 million of public funds. He was detained by the same officials he had named in his testimony and tortured for one year in custody to withdraw his testimony. After he refused and filed numerous complaints, he was found dead in an isolation cell in a  pre-trial detention center. While in custody, despite his extreme illness and more than twenty official requests for medical attention, he was refused medical care.

Coskun Çörüz, the head of the Dutch delegation to OSCE and Dutch MP, who was the sponsor of the Sergei Magnitsky Motion in the Dutch parliament, said:

“As a member of Dutch Parliament and a lawyer, I am pleased that the Dutch Parliament unanimously adopted my motion about the case of Sergei Magnitsky. This is a strong signal from the Dutch Parliament to the Dutch Government. I believe that human rights are for everybody, everywhere and any time. I believe the Dutch government, which is known as advocate of human rights, will act in the spirit of this resolution.”

The Sergei Magnitsky motion in the Dutch parliament was supported by deputies from both ruling and opposition parties. In addition to Mr Çörüz (Christian Democrats), the motion was co-sponsored by Mr Joël Voordewind (Christian Union), Mr Han Ten Broeke (Liberal Party), and Mr Kees van der Staaij  (Dutch Reformed Party). Senior Dutch lawmaker Frans Timmermans also voted for the resolution.

The co-sponsor of the Sergei Magnitsky motion, Joël Voordewind MP, said:

“I sincerely regret the death of Mr. Magnitsky … Now is the time to raise the pressure on Russia to bring to justice those responsible for this cowardly act. Unfortunately the death of Mr. Magnitsky is not a isolated incident but part of a much larger problem of the lack of human rights in Russia. Freezing assets and banning visa’s is therefore a clear signal to the Russian authorities that this is unacceptable.”

“The Sergei Magnitsky story touches every person who hears it, which is why the Dutch parliament responded so robustly to his tragedy and what it symbolizes for human rights and the rule of law in Russia,” said William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital.

Hermitage Capital
+44 207 440 17 77

See the reference to the Sergei Magnitsky Motion 32 735, nr. 14 on the
Dutch Parliament website: (р. 11)

Agencies “Cover” Officials Involved In Magnitsky Case – Rights Activist

Originally published by Interfax News, The Russia And CIS Business And Financial News Wire
July 1st, 2011

MOSCOW. July 1 (Interfax) – Human rights activists intend to name the officials who may be involved in Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s case, who died in a Moscow detention facility.

The names will be mentioned in the interim report on the Magnitsky case, which the presidential Human Rights Council plans to pass to President Dmitry Medvedev on July 5, Kirill Kabanov, the head of the public organization National Anti-Corruption Committee, told Interfax on Friday.

“We will raise questions about the names of the people who may be interested in the Magnitsky case,” Kabanov said.

The working group of the presidential Human Rights Council is actively working with the Russian Investigations Committee, which is investigating Magnitsky’s death.

“We have come to the following interim conclusion: Unfortunately, it may be impossible to subject all participants in this trial to criminal liability. Agencies are covering them. Courts have made many illegal decisions. Dealing with courts is a big problem,” Kabanov said.

The interim report will not state the final conclusion on the cause of Magnitsky’s death, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a member of the presidential human rights council, a member of the Council’s working group on the Magnitsky case, and head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, said.

Magnitsky, a lawyer for the investment foundation Hermitage Capital, died in the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility on November 16, 2009, at the age of 37. He was charged with tax evasion.

Magnitsky’s death drew a broad public response. The Investigations Committee opened a criminal case on charges of failure to provide assistance to a patient and negligence.

According to two forensic evaluations, Magnitsky died of acute heart insufficiency. The experts confirmed that Magnitsky was suffering from the illnesses he was diagnosed with earlier, but said those illnesses were not at an acute stage.

Despite the dismissals in the Federal Service for the Enforcement of Punishments, human rights activists believe no real investigation into the causes of Magnitsky’s death was conducted.

Syrian government tries to curb unrest in symbolic city

By Tyler Yates
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

HAMA, Syria — After anti-government protests last Friday, Syrian troops began a now continuing barrage of raids and arrests, aimed at quelling the country’s unrest in many of its more notorious trouble spots.

Thousands protest in Hama (Photo courtesy of The Guardian).
Thousands protest in Hama (Photo courtesy of The Guardian).

Hama, a city of around 800,000 people, still quaking with scars from a previous governmental onslaught of nearly a generation ago, is one of those trouble spots. The city, located in a corridor between Damascus and Aleppo, has become a symbolic center for what has become a four-month uprising against the ruling Assad family.

Recently, the city’s protests have been gaining momentum.  This was clearly evidenced on Friday, by a demonstration of tens of thousands; gathering in Hama’s appropriately renamed Freedom Square.

Hama is considered by some to be liberated, but this did not stop the Syrian security forces from raiding the city’s outskirts and making numerous arrests on Monday.

One resident saw “at least 30 buses carrying soldiers and security police.”  The soldiers were “firing randomly in residential neighborhoods.” The random shooting has injured at least 21 people, and killed around 7.

The city’s inhabitants are not taking the military’s actions sitting down.  Activists threw rocks, while others attempted to build barricades out of whatever they could find – burning tires, stones, and trash bins.  There are accounts of self-defense committees being created to patrol some of the neighborhoods.  Their purpose appears to be both to maintain order and to protect from governmental crackdowns.

The Syrian forces retreated almost as quickly as they appeared, but the people of Hama don’t think they are gone for good.  “People are waiting.  They can’t control Hama unless they wipe out the people here,” said a 24-year-old student who identified himself only as Abdel-Rahman.

Prior to Monday’s events the government had cited Hama as an example of the leadership’s good will, allowing dissent as long as it didn’t cause too much harm.  This recent uprising has shown that Hama is in reality a vexing problem for the government.

The city’s name echoes with memories of the government’s historic brutality.  In 1982, the Syrian military stormed the city to suppress an armed Islamic opposition group, killing at least 10,000 people.  For this reason, the government has gone out of its way to avoid stirring too much trouble in the city.  In June, after around 73 people were killed during a protest in Hama, the government ordered a military withdrawal and fired a group of security officials.

Despite this reluctance for the government to fight the conflict in the very city that symbolizes the opposition’s struggle, it appears it was inevitable.  The opposition has deep roots in Hama, and the uprisings momentum shows no sign of letting up.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera — Several ‘shot dead’ in Hama crackdown — 5 July 2011

Al Jazeera — ‘Shooting and arrests’ in Syrian city — 4 July 2011

BBC News — Syria unrest: ‘Arrests in Hama as tanks move on Idlib’ — 4 July 2011

New York Times — Fears Rise With Arrests in Restive Syrian City — 4 July 2011

Four Colombian Teachers Murdered

By Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Four teachers have been murdered in Colombia over the past two months.  On May 15, Dionis Alfredo Sierra Vergara was killed; on May 26 Carlos Julio Gómez was shot.  Freddy Antonio Cuadrado Núñez was murdered on May 27 and Alejandro José Peñata López on June 20.

Protesters hold the bleeding flag of Colombia.  (Photo Courtesy of International Trade Union Confederation)
Protesters hold the bleeding flag of Colombia. (Photo Courtesy of International Trade Union Confederation)

Vergara was shot three times outside of the school at which he taught.  Witnesses said that he was attacked as he stepped outside to take a phone call.  Gómez was injured by gunmen early in the morning on May 26.  He was later taken to a nearby hospital where he passed away three days later on May 29.

Núñez was shot in the head by a hired gunman as he was celebrating his 46th birthday.  López disappeared after leaving the school he taught at.  His body was hung with barbed wire and found days later; it also showed signs of being tortured.

The four teachers were members of the teachers’ unions ADEMACOR (Asociación de Maestros de Córdoba) and SUTEV (Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Educación del Valle).  Their murders are the most recent in a long line of trade unionist slayings.  Since December of 2008 there have been 20 teachers murdered in the Department of Córdoba alone.

After the killing of Vergara in early May, Domingo Ayala, president of ADEMACOR,   declared that he was going to make a complaint to the International Criminal Court.  For Ayala, the continuing pattern of unionist killings shows that no deterrent has been provided by Colombia.

The International Trade Union Confederation (“ITUC”) called for immediate government action saying, “[t]he context of almost total impunity for these murders has led to an alarming humanitarian crisis in the education sector and has put teaching and trade union actions at risk, [it] clearly refutes the Colombian governments’ statements in international forums about human rights’ improvements.”

The United Steelworkers also condemned the Colombian government’s lack of action in bringing those responsible to justice.  They expressed outrage that U.S.  representatives are considering passing the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries when the Colombian government is unable to address the brutality against unionists in its own country.

For more information, please see;

Colombia Reports – 17 Murdered Unionists a Grim Record for Colombia: US Union – 30 June 2011

Teacher Solidarity – Two More Teachers Murdered in Colombia – 27 June 2011

Education International – EI Condemns the Murders of More Teachers in Colombia – 26 June 2011

CNN World – Union Group Slams Colombia Over Recent Killings of 2 Teachers – 24 June 2011

Colombia Reports – Teacher’s Murder in North Colombia Sparks Complaint to ICC – 17 May 2011

Students and teachers demand education reform in Chile through organized protests

By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

SANTIAGO, Chile –The Chilean government’s efforts to improve Chile’s deteriorating education system have proved ineffective for some. In response, the Chilean Students Federation and the Teacher’s Association took to the streets once again on Thursday to demand public education.

Student movement rejects government proposal. (Photo Courtesy of National Turk)

Over the past month, more than 200,000 people have participated in organized protests held on the streets of Santiago. Protest organizers claim that such mass protests are necessary to grab the government’s attention and put education reform high up on their agenda.

Education Minister Joaquin Lavin responded to the strike earlier this week by drafting the 75 million USD “Public University Education Revitalizing Fund;” an act which some believe to be a superficial solution to the education crisis. Additionally, Lavin has moved up winter break by 12 days, claiming that the shorter winter break will allow students to make up the class time they have missed while being on strike.

Some protestors, however, are not satisfied with Lavin’s response, claiming that the government’s recent action reflects its inability to solve conflicts. Many are demanding an end to for-profit education fueled by the unstable market. Jaime Gajardo, president of the College of Professors, believes educational policies must be redesigned. “We cannot continue on this path of privatization,” he tells CNN Chile.

Other groups in support of public education include: The Center Labor Federation (“CUT”), the Communist Party, and the Allende Party of Socialism (PSA).

CUT president, Arturo Martinez, defended his position to join the mobilization based on the fact that the high cost of education is being funded by working families.

For more information, please see:

Associated Press — Chile moves up school vacations as protests rage —29 June 2011

Inside Costa Rica — Chile: New National Strike against For-Profit Education — 28 June 2011

Escambray – Deeper Reforms Are Needed, Chilean Students  – 27 June 2011

El Universal — Protestan en Chile 20 mil estudiantes —24 June 2011

CNN — Chileans rally in capital to demand better education policies — 16 June 2011

High Court calls for release of government official in Zimbabwe

By Carolyn Abdenour
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – On Sunday, June 26, 2010, the Harare High Court in Zimbabwe ordered the release of government minister Jameson Timba from prison.  Timba was arrested and detained the previous Friday after South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper reported he called President Robert Mugabe a liar.

Jameson Timba was released from jail on Sunday (Photo Courtesy of Zim Daily)
Jameson Timba was released from jail on Sunday. (Photo Courtesy of Zim Daily)

Zimbabwean security law dictates that it is a criminal offense to insult the president.  Timba was jailed for his statement  that he believed President Mugabe lied about the South Africa Development Community’s (“SADC”) outcome from their meeting last month. At the SADC meeting, DA Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said the SADC addressed “Mugabe’s attempts to undermine political progress in Zimbabwe.  The community extended the moratorium for the SADC tribunal to take new cases, a decision made due to Zimbabwe’s political instability.  This tribunal tries cases between citizens and governments of SADC countries after citizens exhaust local legal avenues.

Timba is an aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and a current cabinet minister in Mugabe’s administration.  Along with Tsvangirai Timba is a member of the MDC party while Mugabe is a member of the opposing ZANU-PF Party.  The two parties share power in Zimbabwe under a coalition-style administration called the Government of National Unity (“GNU”).

Upon Timba’s release, Judge Joseph Musakwa stated “there was a violation of human rights…He was not informed of the charges he was facing.”  The High Court went further, calling Timba’s arrest unconstitutional.  Timba’s lawyers noted that while he was in prison, Timba was denied access to food and his legal team.

In response to Timba’s arrest, Trollip said “these are not the actions of a regime that is keen to embrace democratic reform, nor is it the behavior of a state that is ready to hold free and fair elections,” adding the incident “was an illustration of Mugabe’s determination to entrench ‘repressive, tyrannical rule’ in Zimbabwe”.

Besides Timba, other MDC officials face accusations.  Energy Minister Elton Mangoma is being tried for abusing his position during negotiations on a fuel purchase contract, but the MDC believes that Mongoma’s charges are politically motivated.  Additionally, ZANUF-PF is pressuring Finance Minister Tendai Biti to resign due to pay cuts for public workers.

On Sunday, June 26, Tsvangirai told MDC supporters that their party would not leave the campaign despite political harassment from the ZANU-PF.  News Day reports Tsvangiari said to a group of thousands of supporters “he would rather rot in jail than pull his party out of the inclusive government and play into the hands of ZANU-PF.”

For more information, please see;
IOL NewsDA calls for tougher stance in Zim – 27 June 2011
News DayLet me rot in jail – Tsvangirai – 27 June 2011
VOA NewsZimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Vows to Remain in Unity Gov’t Despite ‘Provisions’ – 27 June 2011
BBCJameson Timba, Zimbabwe minister, ordered free by court – 26 June 2011

DA Parliamentary leader Athol TrollipIOL

Saudi Arabia Cracks Down on Women Drivers

by Zach Waksman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s religious police arrested and detained five women for driving, which is prohibited by religious edict (fatwa) in the Islamic kingdom.  The events took place in Jeddah, a port city along the Red Sea. These arrests are among the first to be made since the Women2Drive campaign that encourages defiance of the fatwa began on June 17, when 42 women took to the streets.

Women exit a car in Riyadh on June 17, the first day of definance that led to Tuesdays arrests
Women exit a car in Riyadh on June 17. That day marked the beginning of women driving in defiance of a fatwa banning such behavior. (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

Four of the arrested parties were young women, ages 21 and 22, using a single car.  They were found in the Dorat al Arous neighborhood of Jeddah, where they were arrested by local religious police.  They were taken to a police station, where they signed a pledge never to get behind the wheel again.  They were then released.  The actions taken are similar to what happened to Manal Al-Sharif, who was arrested on May 17 and also forced to sign a promise not to drive again.

The fifth was driving were her brother in the Sulaimania district.  Local residents reported the incident to the police, noting that she was also not wearing a veil.  According to the Saudi news website, “The two were surrounded by four police patrols who asked for their identities then took them to a police station, where they were interrogated.”  As of June 29, they were in custody of police in Jamia, where an investigation was underway.

Saudi Arabia has a male guardianship system, meaning that women must obtain permission to go to work, get an education, marry, leave the country, or have a medical operation. According to the fatwa, women must be driven by a male chauffeur or relative.  Hiring a full-time chauffeur is expensive, costing approximately $600 per month plus expenses for their coming to and remaining in the conservative kingdom.

Eman al-Nafjan, a Saudi women’s rights activist who is a member of Saudi Women for Driving, called referred to the arrests as “…the first big pushback from authorities, it seems.  We aren’t sure what it means at this point and whither this is the start of a harder line by the government against the campaign.”

To some women, however, the pushback started before the activism even began.  Many who supported the Women2Drive initiative said their husbands or male relatives prevented them from taking part.  One housewife referred to as Mana (name changed) said she could not risk driving because her family did not support her.  “I could not take my husband’s car because he expressed real fears and apprehension,” she explained.  “He assumed I might get arrested or get into trouble like Manal Al-Sharif, so I could not pursue the idea.”  Part of this, she believed, was the general belief among women that they must be submissive to their husbands, which interfered with any effort to protest.  Another supporter who did not participate in the June 17 protest, Hawazen Nassief, a self-described “outspoken Saudi female activist,” felt there was too little to gain from driving.

The situation has drawn attention abroad.  Saudi Women for Driving says its campaign draws inspiration by the recent uprisings in other Arab countries and has requested backing from the West.  On Wednesday, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the group’s efforts, calling their actions brave.  “They’re right to raise their concerns with their own government,” she said.  Despite this, she said the U.S. would not take part.

Within the country, the discussion continues on whether, and if so, how to begin the process of allowing women drivers onto the roads.  Much of the concern stems from safety issues, be it the safety of the women or the roads themselves.  “The roads are a mess and there is construction work and uneven ground.  With the atrocious traffic management system, you want women out there too?  I did not allow my wife or daughter to drive,” said Salman Abadi, a Jeddah-based sales manager.

When asked the same question, marketing assistant Saad Hamri said, “Not yet.”  In his opinion, too many variables existed, including whether women knew how to drive.  Nassief believed that the issued should be handled gradually by working with the government.  She noted that King Abdullah said that his government would not oppose women driving if society was ready to accept it.  Therefore, she believed that the government should start acting to help prepare the country for women drivers with a series of programs designed to introduce them to the road.

In the meantime, al-Nafjan remained confident in the movement’s success despite the recent crackdown.  “This will not scare us,” she said.

For more information, please see: — Jeddah woman detained for violating driving ban — 29 June 2011

Arab Times — Saudi arrests five women for driving : reports Police tipped-off by residents — 29 June 2011

CNN — Saudi women arrested for driving — 29 June 2011

New York Times — Saudi religious police detained 5 women for driving, group reports — 29 June 2011 — ‘Man’ipulation continues to stall Women2Drive campaign — 28 June 2011

Asharq Alawsat — No to women driving! — 28 June 2011 — Let govt prepare society to accept driving by women — 27 June 2011

Impunity Watch — Saudi women protest driving ban by hitting the road — 19 June 2011

New York Times — In a scattered protest, Saudi women take the wheel — 17 June 2011


By Adom M. Cooper
Impunity Watch, Middle East Reporter

BEIRUT, Lebanon–With the UN serving as the backbone, four members of the Lebanese Muslim movement known as Hezbollah have been indicted for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A banner of the late Rafik Hariri. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)
A banner of the late Rafik Hariri. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) gave the indictments to state prosecutor Saeed Mirza. The indictments are meant to remain sealed for 30 days to allowed Mirza to examine them. But it is believed by multiple directions, international and local outlets citing judicial sources, that the arrest warrants named four men: Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hassan Issa, and Asad Sabra.

Rafik Hariri and 22 others were killed in February 2005 in central Beirut when a huge bomb went of as his motorcade moved through the streets. The STL was established in the Hague in 2009 by the UN to try those individuals alleged to have carried out the bomb responsible for the deaths that occurred.

Badreddine is Hezbollah’s chief operations officer, according to multiple sources. He replaced his former cousin and brother-in-law Imad Mugniyeh in the position after Mugniyeh was assassinated in Syria in 2008. The indictment alleges that Badreddine hatched and supervised the plan to kill Hariri, while al-Ayyash led the cell that actually carried out the bombing.

Saad Hariri, Rafik’s son and former Prime Minister, shared these sentiments after receiving news of the indictments.

“The days of the murderers are gone. My heart is full of joy. The martyrs may now rest in peace. I vow ahead of you to keep this country in peace under the ceiling of security.”

Hezbollah officials declined to comment on the situation. But the group has consistently denied any involvement in the assassination. The group claims that the STL is a plot involving the United States, Israel, and France. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has threatened to cut the hand of anyone who tries to arrest the group’s members.

Currently, Hezbollah has three members in parliament. The group forced the eventual collapse of Hariri’s administration in January after he refused to stop working with the STL. Hezbollah and its allies resigned from Hariri’s administration just days before the head prosecutor for the tribunal filed his petition for the indictments to a pre-trial judge.

The United States State Department has already come forward and supported the indictments and four arrest warrants. Spokesman Mark Toner expressed these words in urging the government of Nijab Mikati to act:

“An important step toward justice and ending impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. The sealed indictments have been handed over. We’re now going to look to see what the Lebanese government does next. We’re looking for it take action.”

There have long been fears inside Lebanon that indictments of Hezbollah members over the assassination of the prominent Sunni Muslim leader, who served as prime minister for several terms between 1992 and 2004, could intensify conflicts between sectarian factions within the country. The two sides have been struggling with the legacy of the 1975-1990 civil war.

For more information, please see:

Al-Jazeera-Indictments issues in Hariri probe-30 June 2011

BBC-Hariri murder: UN tribunal issues arrest warrants-30 June 2011

CNN-Four Hezbollah members indicted in Hariri death, says source-30 June 2011

Reuters-U.S. urges Lebanon to act on Hariri indictments-30 June 2011

ICRC News and Notes

International Committee of the Red Cross

Bridging the Accountability Gap: New Approaches to Addressing Violations Against Children in Armed Conflict

Originally published by Conflict Dynamics International

CDI Bridging the Accountability Gap


OTP Weekly Briefing_21-27 June 2011 #93

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Officials Refuse to Pursue a Third Trial

By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch, Asia

PHNOM PHEN, Cambodia – Four of the surviving leaders of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge are currently standing trial for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.  Now it seems that others responsible for these attrocities may never be brought to justice. 

Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan are standing trial for the deaths of 1.7 million people during the Khmer Rouge (Photo Courtesy of the L.A. Times).
Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan are standing trial for the deaths of 1.7 million people during the Khmer Rouge regime (Photo Courtesy of the L.A. Times).

In addition the four individuals currently standing trial, the international co-prosecutor has identified two more individuals suspected of being involved in the death of thousands of Cambodians. The co-investigating judges however, have closed the investigation of these suspects without arresting or interviewing them to pursue what would potentially be a third trial.

In response to the judges refusal to investigate,  The Open Society Justice Initiative, which has been monitoring the tribunal, has stated that “The court’s actions suggest that the outcome of a case has been pre-determined, and that judges have refused to gather evidence or investigate facts.”

After Pol Pot rose to power, approximately 1.7 million people perished from starvation, overwork, medical neglect and execution between 1975 and 1979. Four of the key members of the regime responsible for these deaths: Head of State Khieu Samphan, Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith and the chief ideologue of the revolution Nuon Chea are standing trial one year after Kaing Guek Eav was sentenced to nineteen years in prison.

The tribunals are being conducted under a “hybrid system,” in which Cambodian judges and staff work in conjunction with United Nations officials. This system has proven to be problematic for past tribunals.

After the court’s refusal to investigate the suspects of the potential third trial, co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley went public demanding that the court take call cases before it seriously.  Commenting on the court’s decision, Mr. Cayley told BBC “It affects the integrity of this institution. The investigation needs to be done properly. Justice must not only be done, but it must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. And I believe if that does not happen, it will have serious consequences for the court as a whole.”

After Mr. Cayley’s statements, the Cambodian judges ordered Mr. Cayley to withdraw what they believed to be “confidential information.” They also stated that they would punish the staff member they believed to have leaked information and would welcome the resignation of international staff who disagreed with the way they were conducting investigations.

Co-investigating judge, Mr. Blunk, silenced a journalist who questioned the motives of the court by asking if the judges were trying to bury the case of the other two suspects by responding that “the use of the word ‘bury’ is insolent for which you are given leave to apologize within two days.”

It has been reported that Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen has stated that he would rather see the tribunal fail than see another trial and told Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General, that he would not allow any additional trials to take place. It has been speculated that much of the Prime Minister’s motive for avoiding further trials is attributed to his desire to avoid embarrassment because some of the members of his inner circle held positions in the Khmer Rouge and were of an appropriate rank to be brought to trial.

For more information, please see:

VA News  – US War Crimes Envoy Seeking Support for Tribunal – 28 June 2011

Aljazeera – Profiles: Khmer Rough Leaders on Trial – 27 June 2011

LA Times – Khmer Rouge Trial Fraught with Drama in Cambdia – 27 June 2011

BBC – Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Disarray – 26 June 2011