Argentina Takes Steps Forward, 18 Years Later Ex-President Menem to Stand Trial for Cover-Up in AMIA Bombing

by Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – A former Argentinian President will finally stand trial for the corruption scandals he was tied to during his terms in office.  Carlos Menem was directed to stand trial last week, by federal judge Ariel Lijo, for his involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building.

Carlos Menem to stand trial for tampering with evidence in worst terrorist attack ever to take place in Argentina. (Photo Courtesy of J Space)

The 1994 bombing completely wiped out the seven-story building.  There were 85 deaths, and more than 300 people injured, when a truck loaded with explosives drove straight into the structure.  Argentina, has the largest community of Jewish citizens in the Americas, outside the United States.

At the time, Argentinian prosecutors said the attack was planned and paid for by Iran who hired the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to carry it out.  Iran has adamantly denied any involvement.  Following the bombing relations between Iran and Argentina were completely frozen.  Argentina sought for years to extradite eight Iranian officials who allegedly masterminded the bombing.  No conviction, or even trial has ever been held regarding the attack.

In 2009 Menem was first accused of concealing and tampering with evidence that indicated the attack at AMIA had a Syrian connection.  Menem is the child of two Syrian immigrants.  A close family friend who died in 2010, Alberto Kanoore Edul, a Syrian-Argentine businessman, is alleged to have been involved.  It is believed that Menem ordered his staff to destroy evidence that linked Edul to the attack.

Judge Lijo has also issued that former judge Jose Galeano, who was in charge of the investigation, stand trial.  Menem is accused of pressuring Galeano to abandon further inquiries into Edul’s involvement.  Other officials also called to stand trial were: the former head of state intelligence, Hugo Anzorreguy; his deputy Juan Carlos Anchezar; former police chief Jorge Palacios; and a former federal police agent.

The Israel UN envoy in the US praised this “re-energizing” action and gave Argentina credit for rechecking the facts and trying to clear up and close the case.  In the past 18 years almost nothing has been done to investigate the attack.

Menem served two-terms as President of Argentina.  He was a member of the Peronist party and in the beginning he was very popular with the public.  However, his popularity decreased as his personal scandals and tough free-market policies alienated him from the public.  Corruption scandals emerged towards the end of his second-term, including charges of smuggling arms to Ecuador and Croatia in the 1990s.  He was recently cleared of these charges.

 

For more information, please see;

Buenos Aires Herald – AMIA Inquiry: Judge Announces Menem, Galeano to Stand Trial – 7 April 2012

J Space – Ex-Argentinian President to Stand Trial for AMIA Attack – 2 April 2012

Merco Press – Former President to Stand Trial in Relation to Argentina’s Deadliest Terrorist Attack – 1 April 2012

European Jewish Press – AMIA Bombing: Argentina’s Carlos Menem to be Tried for Obstruction – 31 March 2012

BBC – Argentina’s Carlos Menem Faces Bombing Trial – 30 March 2012

Amnesty International Slams Russian Government’s Posthumous Prosecution Of Sergei Magnitsky

Hermitage Capital Press Release
Originally Sent April 6, 2012

On the eve of April 8th, which would have been the 40thbirthday of the late Russian whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Amnesty International has publicly called on the Russian Government to stop his posthumous prosecution, and to bring his oppressors and those pressuring his family to justice.

“On 8 April 2012, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky would have turned forty. He died over two years ago, after months of ill-treatment and having suffered multiple human rights violations. For many in Russia and beyond, his death in custody in November 2009 has come to symbolize the injustices associated with Russia’s malfunctioning criminal justice system and widespread corruption,” said Amnesty International in its public statement. (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR46/015/2012/en/6f21ef79-67fe-4014-a084-0f3e8fe8e95f/eur460152012en.pdf).

Amnesty International stressed in its statement that the Russian justice system has consistently failed to protect Sergei Magnitsky and his family from gross rights abuses.

“The [Russian] justice system has not only failed to uphold and protect his rights, but it has also been abused since to continue to violate his, and now his family’s rights in the form of his posthumous criminal prosecution, and by trying to force his close relatives to take part in this process,” said Amnesty International.

Amnesty International described the posthumous prosecution of a dead lawyer as a violation of international and national laws, and demanded that the Russian government stop the posthumous prosecution and stop pressuring his family.

“Amnesty International is calling on the Russian authorities to take immediate steps to rectify these injustices and stop the posthumous criminal prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky, and bring all those responsible for his death to justice,” said Amnesty International in its statement.

Amnesty International went on to say:

“Sergei Magnitsky’s relatives…and Russian and international human rights law regard him as innocent in virtue of the principle of the presumption of innocence, and no court decision is needed to confirm this…The posthumous criminal prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky must stop, and the pressure on his family in connection with their objections to this must cease.”

The Magnitsky family has been unable to stop his posthumous prosecution through the Russian legal system in spite of over 25 petitions filed with the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office, the Russian Interior Ministry and the Moscow courts protesting the illegality of the prosecution. All  petitions have been denied by the authorities. Earlier this week, on 3 April 2012, Judge Yulia Bobrova of the Ostankinsky District Court of Moscow approved the decision of the prosecutors to open a case against Sergei Magnitsky after his death in spite of the fact that he can’t defend himself. Judge Bobrova also sided with prosecutors allowing them to continue to treat Magnitsky’s mother and widow as defendants in this case.

The Russian court system has denied Sergei Magnitsky and his family any measure of justice. Last year, 14 Russian judges, including the chair of the Moscow City Court, Olga Egorova, refused all petitions from the Magnitsky family seeking access to his case file and to his tissue samples for an independent medical examination. When Sergei Magnitsky was still alive, 11 Russian judges rejected his 40 petitions about his unlawful arrest and repression by the officers he had accused of $230 million corruption.

In spite of the findings of gross human rights violations by the Russian President’s Human Rights Council, the Russian Interior Ministry and General Prosecutor’s Office “established no wrong-doing” in the actions of law enforcement officials who arrested and tortured Sergei Magnitsky to death in custody.

Amnesty International is now demanding that the allegations of the arbitrary criminal prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky made by the human rights activists are investigated “immediately, effectively and impartially”, and that “all those found responsible brought to justice”.

So far all Russian investigations in this case remain under control of Viktor Grin, Deputy General Prosecutor of Russia and Number 33 on the U.S. Helsinki Commission list of Russian officials involved in the torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky and the corruption he had uncovered. Viktor Grin ordered the posthumous prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky on 30 July 2011, which was three days after he and other Russian officials were banned by US State Department for their role in the Magnitsky case, and was seen as an act of personal retaliation.

The case is also controlled by first deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Department Tatiana Gerasimova, who was named by the U.S. Senators last November for her role in the Magnitsky case in a petition to the U.S. State Department seeking to ban her U.S. visa.

“In pursuing the posthumous case against Sergei Magnitsky, Russian authorities have rejected the conclusions from the Russian President’s Human Rights Council. It is clear that no justice is possible and no investigation can be impartial and independent as long as it remains controlled by the same officials and bodies who committed crimes against him. To recognise that Magnitsky was right for them, means to recognise that they themselves had been wrong and committed grave crimes,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

 

For further information please contact:

Hermitage Capital

Phone:             +44 207 440 17 77

E-mail:             info@lawandorderinrussia.org

Website:          http://lawandorderinrussia.org

Facebook:        http://on.fb.me/hvIuVI

Twitter:           @KatieFisher__

Livejournal:     http://hermitagecap.livejournal.com/

Statement on Sergei Magnitsky on Amnesty International’s website:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR46/015/2012/en/6f21ef79-67fe-4014-a084-0f3e8fe8e95f/eur460152012en.pdf

ICC Denies Palestine’s Request Until UN Status Changes

By Carolyn Abdenour
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

GAZA CITY, Israel – On Tuesday, 3 April, the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) denied the Palestinian Authority’s request for the ICC to have jurisdiction within the Palestinian territories.  The Palestinian Authority wanted The Hague’s war crimes tribunal to investigate the 2008-2009 Gaza War where 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis lost their lives.

Gazans run from an Israel air strike on 17 January 2009. (Photo Courtesy of Haaretz)

The Israeli foreign ministry commented that the country applauded the ICC’s decision although Israel is not a member of the ICC.

The Palestinian Authority declared the ICC has unilateral jurisdiction for “act committed on the territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002” in January 2009.  After reviewing the Rome Statue, the ICC’s founding treaty, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced the ICC did not have jurisdiction within Palestine.  Article 12 of the Rome Statue specifies only a “state” can extend the ICC’s jurisdiction to its state.

The Palestinian Authority could sign the 1998 Rome Statue after Palestine qualifies as a “state” by the “relevant bodies” by ICC member countries or at the UN.  The Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) presently holds an “observer” status rather than a “non-member observer state” status at the UN although over 130 governments recognize Palestine as a state.

Amnesty International warned that this decision could deny justice to the victims of alleged crimes from Palestine and Israel that occurred during the Gaza war.

Marek Marczynski, head of the International Justice campaign, said, “This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC.  It also breaches the Rome Statue which clearly states that such matters should be considered by the institution’s judges.”

On Wednesday, 4 April, Chief Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo clarified that Palestine could sign the Rome Statue if it received the UN status of non-member observer state.  The UN Security Council has not voted on the membership application Palestine submitted on 23 September 2011.  The United States asserted it would veto the application.  However, the General Assembly would likely approve an application for non-member observer state status if it submits one.

If Palestine receives this new status, Israel could avoid ICC intervention on this matter because Israeli courts have the capacity to try troops for the alleged crimes from the Gaza war.  However, the ICC could later investigate possible violations that occur within the settlements, where the Israeli courts would have less credible means to handle the matter.

Human Right Watch’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth stated, “Today’s decision appears to close the door for now on access to the ICC for victims of international crimes committed in the Palestinian Territories – at least until the General Assembly recognizes Palestinian statehood.”

For more information, please see:

BBC – ICC Prosecutor Rejects Palestinian Recognition – 4 Apr 2012

The Times of Israel – Israel Won The Battle At The ICC, But Not The War – 4 Apr 2012

Washington Post – AP Interview: Prosecutor Says Palestinians Could Join ICC As A UN Non-Member Observer State – 4 Apr 2012

The Chicago Tribune – Hague Court Rejects Palestinian Call To Take On Cases – 3 Apr 2012

 

Colombian Rebel Group Releases 10 After Over A Decade In Captivity

By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

VILLAVICENCIO, Colombia – 10 hostages, including six police officers and four soldiers, were freed this week after being held in captivity for over a decade in the Colombian jungle by the leftists Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  Their release comes after numerous failed peace negotiations with the Colombian government and the FARC’s announcement on February 26 that it would halt ransom kidnappings.

Many of the hostages released today were accompanied by nurses, some carrying the Colombian flag, and others carrying wild animals they had tamed during their captivity in the jungle. (Photo Courtesy of Fox News).
Many of the hostages released April 2 were accompanied by nurses. Some carried the Colombian flag, and others carried wild animals they had tamed during their captivity in the jungle. (Photo Courtesy of Fox News).

The freed hostages were picked up in a secret jungle rendezvous point in Villavicencio by a loaned Brazilian air force helicopter, and were taken to Bogota to be reunited with their family and friends. Some of the hostages were unable to walk on their own and had to be accompanied by nurses.

Olivia Solarte, the mother of 41-year-old former hostage and police officer, “Trujillo,” was overjoyed when she found out her son had been freed after being held captive since 1999. “I shouted! I jumped up and down!,” she told reporters. Solarte was among many relatives waiting at the airport for the arrival of the freed hostages.

The FARC is Colombia’s oldest and most powerful guerilla, and has been at war with the Colombian government since it first took up arms in 1964. The FARC has become notorious for kidnapping government forces and civilians and holding them ransom in exchange for money and other demands. The Colombian government has had at least two serious peace negotiations with the FARC over the past three decades but both negotiations ended unsuccessfully.

Due to military setbacks, such as changes in top command officers, the FARC has become noticeably weaker in the past recent years. On February 26, FARC leaders announced that they would release hostages and stop the kidnappings — a move some people see as a genuine step towards peace. “I don’t know if that brings Colombia closer to peace, I don’t know if things will end well or not, but do I know [the hostages’ release] proves the Farc wants to negotiate,” says Ariel Avila, from Corporacion Nuevo Arcoiris.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is weary about the FARC’s new commitment to peace, emphasizing that hundreds of civilians are still believed to be held captive by the FARC. “Make no mistake: this government has a policy, which consists in facing the violent groups with all its might,” he said.

The citizens’ watchdog group Fundacion Pais Libre says that at least 400 people have been kidnapped since 1996 that have yet to be freed. Fundacion Pais Libre maintains the list of people kidnapped and does not expunge a name from its records until the person is released or until their body has been found.

 

For further information, please see:

BBC News – Colombian Hostages’ Long Wait For Freedom – 04 April 2011

CNN  – Freed Colombian Hostages Carry Pets Tamed In The Jungle – 04 April 2012

Fox News – Colombia Rebel Group Frees Captives Held For 12 Years – 03 April 2012

The New York Times – Colombian Rebels Free 10, Raising Hopes of Peace Talks With Government – 02 April 2012

 

Liberian Gays Targeted on Hit List

By Tamara Alfred
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

An anti-gay group in Liberia released a “hit list” on April 3 of people they believe should be punished for their participation in the gay rights movement.

Anti-gay sentiment has long dominated society in Africa. (Photo Courtesy of InformAfrica.)

Movement Against Gays in Liberia (MOGAL) distributed fliers over the weekend in parts of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, threatening to take out the individuals one by one.  The fliers allege that gays and lesbians want to destroy Liberia and do not have the nation’s best interests at heart.  MOGAL said those involved in promoting gay rights “should not be given space to get a gulp of air.”

“Having conducted a comprehensive investigation, we are convinced that the below listed individuals are gays or supporters of the club who don’t mean well for our country,” the fliers read.  “Therefore, we have agreed to go after them using all means in life.”

While no individual MOGAL members signed the fliers, Moses Tapleh, a 28-year-old affiliated with the group, stressed that its threats should be taken seriously.  “We will get them one by one,” he said.  “They want to spoil our country.”

When asked what action might be taken against those on the list, Tapleh said they could be subjected to “dangerous punishments” including “flogging and death.”

The flier warned that MOGAL would begin taking action soon.  “Let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon,” the flier reads.  “We urge them to also begin saying their Lord’s prayers.”

One of the persons whose name appeared on the list already reported receiving threatening phone calls.

The fliers are yet another example of the growing hostility towards gays and lesbians on the west coast of Africa.  Liberian law currently does not explicitly address homosexuality.  “Voluntary sodomy” is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last month vowed to preserve this law, prompting a statement of concern from the U.S. State Department.

Additionally, last February, two proposals were introduced in the legislature making homosexuality punishable by prison terms.  One of the proposed bills would make same-sex sexual practice a second-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.  The other bill would make same-sex marriage a first-degree felony, with sentences ranging up to 10 years in prison.

Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said the emergence of the “hit list” should put pressure on President Sirleaf to take a stance in support of gay rights.  Simply refusing to sign the new anti-gay laws was insufficient, according to Reid.

“She cannot sit on the fence when there’s this kind of provocation taking place,” said Reid.  “She needs to take a clear and unequivocal stance on this issue.”

Homophobia is widespread in Africa.  Last year, Nigeria voted in favor of a bill that would criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection.  In 2009, Uganda introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians.  Even in South Africa, the only African nation to recognize gay marriage, so-called “corrective” rapes have been carried out on lesbians.

For more information, please see:

Africa Review – Anti-gay hit-list in circulation in Liberia – 4 April 2012

Scrimac.com – Liberian Gays Threatened With Death on Hit List Fliers – 3 April 2012

The Washington Post – Anti-gay group in Liberia issues hit list, threatens to ‘get to them one by one’ – 3 April 2012

The Mess In Mali

By Dr. J. Peter Pham
Originally published through New Atlanticist
April 2, 2012

In less than two weeks, the West African nation of Mali has gone from being a rare oasis of democracy and stability to a near failed state whose troubles threaten to ripple across the Sahel where the security situation, always delicate even in the best of times, is especially stressed in the wake of the flow of refugees, fighters, and arms from the Libyan conflict last year. Moreover, the coup d’état by junior army officers not only overthrew an elected government but also threatened to undo a decade’s worth of patient effort by the United States and its European allies while creating a significant opening for al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate and other extremists.

 
Ironically, the president toppled by the coup which took place overnight between March 21 and March 22, Amadou Toumani Touré, popularly known as “ATT,” himself first came to power at the point of a gun when, in 1991, the then-paratroop commander tossed out longtime dictator Moussa Traoré after the latter’s security forces opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators, killing more than one hundred. However, ATT did not hold on to power. Instead, he convened a national conference to write a democratic constitution, organized elections, and turned over the government of the country to the man elected the following year, Alpha Oumar Konaré, who later went on to serve as the first chairperson of the African Union Commission. Having earned himself the sobriquet “the Soldier of Democracy,” ATT went back to the barracks, finished his military service, and retired to an elder statesman’s role—among other accomplishments, he established a children’s foundation, campaigned to wipe out Guinea worm, and mediated an end to a rebellion in the Central African Republic. When Konaré left office in 2002 after serving the constitutional limit of two terms, ATT was elected president. He was subsequently reelected with an even larger majority in 2007.

 
The president’s second term was perhaps not as happy as his first. The vibrant media that is one of the hallmarks of the Malian democracy he helped to foster—the population of 14.5 million, less than half of whom are literate, supports remarkable dozen-and-a-half French-language newspapers, a half-dozen or so indigenous-language news publications, three television and two national radio networks, and around 150 privately-owned community radio stations—has hounded the administration with allegations of corruption or at least questionable business deals involving presidential associates. Journalists and civil society activists also criticized the government for costly renovations carried out on the presidential palace even as the country consistently ranked near the bottom of the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index (Mali placed 175th out of the 187 countries and territories surveyed in 2011). In recent months, ATT appeared visibly tired and, by most accounts, was eagerly awaiting the election of his successor, scheduled for April 29, to quit office.

 
Another reason that ATT might have been eager to shed the burdens of the presidency was that since last summer, the country has faced a rebellion by Tuareg nomads who seek to create their own state, which they dub “Azawad,” with Mali’s three northernmost provinces—Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu—as well as slices carved from the territories of neighboring countries. The rebels’ Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) is composed of longtime Tuareg dissidents reinforced by battle-hardened ethnic kin who returned last year from Libya, bringing with them heavy armaments looted from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals. In fact, the MNLA’s military commander, Muhammad ag Najim, was a colonel in the Libyan army who had served Gaddafi since the 1980s in various nefarious enterprises across the Sahel. As a result of the fighting, almost 200,000 people have fled their homes in northern Mali since the beginning of the year.

 
Meanwhile, the 7,000-strong Malian army has been faring poorly against the rebels, sparking complaints from soldiers that the government was sending them into battle in the harsh Saharan regions without adequate weapons and supplies. The press took up the criticism—editorials in several newspapers even called for the use of nuclear weapons against the rebels—and stirred up demonstrations, some violent, in the streets of Bamako against what was alleged to be the government’s ineffective response. While the president rejected the MNLA’s demand for independence, he was open to negotiating some sort of a compromise with Tuareg leaders—a reasonable enough stance, albeit one that provoked widespread resentment among the Bambara and other Mande groups who make up the majority of the Malian population.

 
The coup apparently began when the new defense minister tried to calm down restive troops at the Kati barracks outside Bamako. By all accounts, the lecture went rather badly: voices were raised, stones thrown, and shots were fired into the air. Before long, the defense minister and his entourage were in full flight back to the capital with angry troops in pursuit. What began as frustration turned into a farce, which then quickly degenerated into a full-fledged mutiny; in less than twenty-four hours, Mali’s hard-won democratic credentials were in tatters as ATT was chased out Bamako (he is rumored to be hiding out with loyalists at the camp of his old paratroop battalion, the 33rd) and many of his ministers under arrest. A hitherto unknown captain, Amadou Haya Sanogo, who had previously benefited from US-sponsored training as part of America’s efforts to build up the capacity of local militaries to counter the terrorist threat in the region, installed himself as head of junta that promised to “restore power to a democratically elected president as soon as national unity and the integrity of our territory is re-established.”
The international community’s reaction to the putsch was swift and, for once, unequivocal. The UN Security Council “strongly condemn[ed] the forcible seizure of power” and demanded “the restoration of constitutional order and the holding of elections as previously scheduled.” The African Union likewise condemned the coup and, lamenting the “significant setback for Mali,” suspended the country from membership in the organization. Mali’s biggest aid donors—the United States, France, and the European Union—suspended all but humanitarian assistance to the country. The World Bank and other multilateral institutions likewise halted their programs. Perhaps moving with the most alacrity was the subregional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which set last night as the deadline for its members to close their borders with Mali, the regional central bank to freeze the country’s accounts, and its standby forces to be put on alert for possible intervention. ECOWAS heads of state and other leaders are expected to confer today in Dakar on the margins of the inauguration of Senegal’s President Macky Sall; tellingly, General Carter Ham, commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is included as member of the official U.S. diplomatic delegation to the event.

 
Meanwhile, the MNLA rebels took advantage of the situation in southern Mali to score impressive gains. Last Friday, after forty-eight hours of intense fighting, MNLA forces took control of Kidal, the capital of the eponymous northeastern region. The following day, MNLA—ominously joined by fighters from Ansar e-Dine (“Defenders of the Faith”), a local Islamist militant group with links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) led by Iyad ag Ghaly, a Tuareg chieftain whose principal objective is the imposition of shari’a, rather than self-determination—took Gao, capital of the neighboring region and site of the Malian army’s chief garrison in the north. Completing the trifecta on Sunday, Tuareg and Islamist fighters took the historic desert town of Timbuktu after Malian forces apparently abandoned their positions. In effect, Mali has been cut into two parts. And while the MNLA denies that it has connections to any Islamist movements, a number of reports indicate that not only Ansar e-Dine fighters, but also militants from the AQIM splinter group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa. Reuters reports that the black flags of the extremist groups are now flying in Kidal and Gao and that music and Western clothes are already being banned in those towns, while the Associated Press reports that the same dark banners were raised over fabled Timbuktu early Monday morning.

 
All of this leaves Mali’s international partners, both in Africa and beyond, in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, irrespective of the frustrations keenly felt by many Malians, both civilians and military, over the government’s handling of the growing rebellion in the north, the overthrow of constitutional order—and just six weeks before elections at that—is a terrible precedent that, quite correctly, has to be condemned and the putschist regime shunned. On the other hand, unless decisive action is undertaken quickly to dislodge them, the Tuareg rebels and their Islamists allies are likely to consolidate their hold on the north—and, in the process, create a safe haven for terrorists, extremists, criminals, and other agents of destabilization. During a visit to the Atlantic Council last November, Malian Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga—who is currently being held prisoner by the junta—expressed concern that the spillover effects of the Libyan crisis, by sending an increased flow of arms and fighters across borders and heightening security risks across a region already threatened by terrorist groups as well as plagued by trafficking flows would undo not only the decade-long effort by the U.S. and European governments to strengthen the governance capacities of the Sahelian states, but undermine their very foundations. In short, the international community will need to carefully balance its principled refusal to accept the unconstitutional seizure of power with its interests in maintaining the territorial integrity of Mali and securing the strategically vital bridge between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa against the forces of extremism.

 
J. Peter Pham is director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center.

International Criminal Justice News Roundup March 2012

30 March

 

Cambodia must provide full cooperation to new judges at genocide court, Ban stresses
(Source: UN News Centre)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to initiate a selection process for new international judges for the United Nations-backed Cambodia genocide tribunal, and stressed that the Government must provide full cooperation so they can carry out their duties. Recent months have witnessed the resignations of the international co-investigating judge, Siegfried Blunk, and the reserve international co-investigating judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)…

 

France ‘to allow first genocide extradition to Rwanda’
(Source: BBC News)
A French court has for the first time approved the extradition of a suspect to Rwanda on charges over the country’s 1994 genocide, local media reports say. A court in the town of Rouen decided that French-Rwandan dual national Claude Muhayimana, 51, could be sent back to Rwanda, AFP reports. However, the French government still has to approve the extradition…

 

NH woman accused of Rwanda war crimes to get new trial after jury failed to reach verdict
(Source: Washington Post)
The New Hampshire woman prosecutors say lied about her role in the Rwanda genocide to obtain citizenship will get a second trial after a jury failed to reach a verdict in her case earlier this month. Lawyers for 42-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi say she has been in custody since her indictment in June 2010 on two charges of lying on immigration and naturalization papers. Prosecutors say she commanded extremist Hutu militia and ordered the rapes and killings of Tutsis in Butare in 1994…

29 March

 

Ingabire trial: genocide ideology laws face revision 
(Source: Radio Netherlands)
It was a trial within a trial last Tuesday at the Supreme Court of Rwanda, as Victoire Ingabire and her lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the genocide ideology laws. Ingabire, the president of the opposition party Unified Democratic Forces (UDF), has been charged with complicity to terrorism and ideology of genocide…

 

28 March

 

Italy seize 1.1 bln euros of Gaddafi family assets
(Source: Reuters Africa)
Italian tax police have seized 1.1 billion euros of assets belonging to members of the Gaddafi family, including stakes in top Italian companies, bank deposits and a Harley Davidson, at the request of the International Criminal Court…He said the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague had ordered the seizure of assets worldwide in view of possible compensation claims by victims of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya following his overthrow last year…

 

High Court [Australia] urged to approve Charles Zentai extradition to Hungary 
(Source: The Australian)
The final chapter in the long-running legal battle to extradite 90-year-old Charles Zentai to Hungary for his alleged involvement in war crimes has begun in the High Court. Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs is appealing a ruling of the Full Bench of the Federal Court, which last year found it was not open to the government to make an order to extradite Mr Zentai because the offence “war crime” did not exist in Hungarian law in November 1944…

 

27 March

 

US envoy sees likely Syria ‘crimes against humanity’
(Source: AFP)
Syria’s regime is committing human rights atrocities, including torture of men arbitrarily detained by security forces, that could amount to “crimes against humanity,” US envoy Robert Ford said Tuesday. Ford also told a US congressional hearing that President Bashar al-Assad showed “little interest in human rights” but argued against further militarization of the conflict, saying diplomatic pressure should prevail on Assad to give up power…

 

26 March

 

UN tribunal refers case of fugitive genocide suspect to Rwanda court
(Source: UN News Centre)
The United Nations tribunal trying key suspects implicated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda today ordered the case of an indicted suspect who remains at large be referred to the Rwandan High Court for trial…The referral chamber expressed its hope that Rwanda, in accepting referrals from the ICTR, will put into practice commitments it has made about its good faith, capacity and willingness to enforce the highest standards of international justice in the referred cases…

 

23 March

 

UN resolution urging investigation into possible war crimes draws mixed reaction in Sri Lanka
(Source: Washington Post)
Nationalist Sri Lankan groups are calling for a boycott of American goods to punish the U.S. for backing a U.N. resolution urging the country to investigate possible war crimes during its civil war. But human rights groups and ethnic Tamil politicians have hailed the U.N. move as an opportunity for the country to build peace after a quarter-century of violence…

 

Impunity at KRouge court won’t be tolerated: UN
(Source: Bangkok Post)
The United Nations said Thursday it would not tolerate impunity at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge war crimes court in a worsening row with Phnom Penh about whether to pursue more suspects… “The United Nations, in its dealings with the (court), remains committed to ensuring that impunity for the crimes committed during the period of the Democratic Kampuchea is not tolerated,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in an email to AFP…

 

21 March

 

Libya Resists International Court’s Claim on War Crimes Case
(Source: New York Times)
Libya’s interim authorities escalated their face-off against the ICC on Wednesday over custody of the most significant confidants to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi taken prisoner since his ouster and death: his son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi. The battle over the men’s fate is an early test of the former rebels’ commitment to the rule of the law…

 

Switzerland judge resigns from Cambodia genocide tribunal
(Source: Jurist)
…International Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet said that he faced ongoing resistance from National Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng concerning investigations relating to ECCC Khmer Rouge cases 003 and 004 and that the dispute had created a “dysfunctional situation” at the court. Kasper-Ansermet, who will step down on May 4, is the second judge to resign from the UN-supported war crimes tribunal…

 

After ICTY, trials before domestic courts
(Source: EMportal)
Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has said in an interview with Tanjug that after the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is closed, it is of vital importance to ensure competent trials at the national level so that all crimes in the wars of the 1990’s could be punished and justice met…

 

16 March

 

Central Africa: Crimes of Sexual Violence and the Lubanga Case
(Source: allAfrica)
Interview with Patricia Viseur Sellers, international criminal lawyer, former Legal Advisor for Gender and a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Despite the evidence pointing to wide spread rape and other forms of sexual violence against in particular girl child soldiers, why was it that crimes of sexual violence were not taken into account in this case?

 

15 March

 

ICC prosecutor to seek maximum sentence for Congo military leader
(Source: Jurist)
(ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Thursday that he would seek the maximum sentence for recently convicted Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo…Ocampo said that if the prosecution seeks one year per child the total will be well beyond the maximum 30 years provided for under article 77(1) of the Rome Statute, which also allows life sentences for particularly heinous crimes…

 

Sri Lanka denies new war crimes claims
(Source: AFP)
Sri Lanka Thursday rejected as “baseless and unacceptable” a new documentary by Britain’s Channel 4 suggesting the army executed the 12-year-old son of a guerrilla leader after he surrendered…”Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished” also claimed it had “damning new evidence” of abuses against civilians…Human rights organisations have said that up to 40,000 civilians perished in the final months of fighting in 2009 during which the Sri Lankan army is accused of shelling populated areas as well as hospitals and refugee camps…

 

George Clooney urges lawmakers to act to resolve violence in Sudan
(Source: Washington Post)
Actor George Clooney brought his star power to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to call for stepped-up action to resolve ongoing violence in Sudan and stop a potential humanitarian disaster…“It is absolutely without question a war crime that we saw firsthand,” he said in an interview before testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee…

 

14 March

 

Historic verdict condemns warlord, but Hague court limited
(Source: Reuters) 
The war crimes court at The Hague found Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty on Wednesday in its first ever ruling after a decade of work limited largely to Africa while major cases elsewhere remain beyond its reach. The ICC convicted the little known militia leader of using child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But critics noted that deadlock among world powers means the ICC is not even investigating daily tales of atrocity emanating from the Syria of President Bashar al-Assad…

 

Int’l Criminal Court investigators find possible mass graves on Ivory Coast massacre site
(Source: Washington Post)
Investigators with the International Criminal Court may have found mass graves in a western Ivory Coast town, a court official said Wednesday, where rights groups say fighters loyal to the president killed hundreds of people amid postelection violence last year. “We have confirmed some locations in which we think … there are mass graves,” said Amady Ba, who said a crime-scene expert and medical-legal photographer came to the West African nation to investigate the area around the town of Duekoue…

 

Ten years, $900m, one verdict: Does the ICC cost too much?
(Source: BBC News)
The ICC has delivered its first judgement, after a decade in existence, and spending nearly $1bn. Critics say it costs too much, but is this fair? The International Criminal Court (ICC) currently has an annual budget of over $140m (£90m) and 766 staff. Since its inception, its estimated expenditure has been around $900m (£600m). With only one completed trial to show for a decade of effort and expenditure, the ICC has faced regular criticism that it sucks in investment with few results to show for it…

 

13 March

 

Life for Comrade Duch, a milestone for international justice
(Source: The Guardian)
As many eyes in the world are turned towards the crisis in Syria, without much notice, Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes tribunal ended its first major trial, issuing a life sentence to 69-year-old Kain Guek Eav, or “Comrade Duch”, a former Khmer Rouge’s prison chief, for ordering and supervising the torture and murder of over 12,000 men, women and children at the regime’s now-infamous Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison. And while the case has not made too many headlines, it serves as a reminder that war crimes trials are not just a fixture in Europe and Africa – but part of the legal landscape in Asia as well…

 

Guatemalan ex-soldier jailed for 6,060 years over Dos Erres massacre
(Source: The Guardian)
A former Guatemalan special forces soldier has been sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the killings of 201 people in a 1982 massacre…The sentence handed down by a three-judge panel is largely symbolic since under Guatemalan law the maximum time a prisoner can serve is 50 years. It specified 30 years for each of the 201 deaths, plus 30 years for crimes against humanity…

 

12 March

 

Hague Court to Decide Where Former Dictator of Chad Will Be Tried
(Source: New York Times)
International judges in The Hague are hearing a complex case this week that boils down to a single and unusual question: which country has the right to try Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, who has been indicted in two nations in connection with political killings, torture and a host of other brutalities… Mr. Habré turned that arsenal against his own people. The Chad Truth Commission said in 1992 that his government had killed up to 40,000 opponents and tortured many others…

 

10 March

 

ICC rejects Kenyans’ request to appeal trial decision
(Source: AFP)
The International Criminal Court turned down on Friday a request by four prominent Kenyans including two presidential hopefuls to appeal its decision to try them over post-election killings…

 

Hague Court to Decide Where Former Dictator of Chad Will Be Tried
(Source: New York Times)
International judges in The Hague are hearing a complex case this week that boils down to a single and unusual question: which country has the right to try Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, who has been indicted in two nations in connection with political killings, torture and a host of other brutalities… Mr. Habré turned that arsenal against his own people. The Chad Truth Commission said in 1992 that his government had killed up to 40,000 opponents and tortured many others…

 

9 March

 

Rwanda: Archives for UN Genocide Tribunal to Remain in Arusha
(Source: AllAfrica)
The United Nations Security Council voted to retain the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania…”The UN Security Council resolved that the archives of the court will be handled by the residual mechanism. However, Rwandans should know that all unsealed information will still remain accessible on the website of ICTR,” said Amoussouga…

 

Five new judges of International Criminal Court sworn in
(Source: UN News Centre)
…Judges Howard Morrison of United Kingdom, Anthony T. Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago, Olga Herrera Carbuccia of Dominican Republic, Robert Fremr of Czech Republic and Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria will serve nine-year terms in the court, which is based in The Hague…

 

7 March

 

Prosecutor seeks 28-year jail term for Vojislav Seselj
(Source: BBC News)
Prosecutors in the war crimes trial of Serb nationalist Vojislav Seselj at The Hague have called for him to be jailed for 28 years. Mr Seselj, 57, faces nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Balkan wars of the 1990s…

 

Rwanda: Archives for UN Genocide Tribunal to Remain in Arusha
(Source: AllAfrica)
The United Nations Security Council voted to retain the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania…”The UN Security Council resolved that the archives of the court will be handled by the residual mechanism. However, Rwandans should know that all unsealed information will still remain accessible on the website of ICTR,” said Amoussouga…

 

Five new judges of International Criminal Court sworn in
(Source: UN News Centre)
…Judges Howard Morrison of United Kingdom, Anthony T. Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago, Olga Herrera Carbuccia of Dominican Republic, Robert Fremr of Czech Republic and Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria will serve nine-year terms in the court, which is based in The Hague…

 

5 March

 

Sudan: ICC prosecutor urges world to do more to end impunity in Darfur
(Source: UN News Centre)
The Prosecutor of the ICC today urged the international community to find “the final solution” for the problem of impunity in Sudan’s conflict-affected region of Darfur, where he said war crimes have continued despite warrants of arrest against several senior officials, including the president. “I think we did something complicated – we investigated the crime, we collected the evidence, we clarified the responsibilities. But our effort is not enough if the crime is not stopped,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters at UN Headquarters…

 

Rwanda: Archives for UN Genocide Tribunal to Remain in Arusha
(Source: AllAfrica)
The United Nations Security Council voted to retain the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania…”The UN Security Council resolved that the archives of the court will be handled by the residual mechanism. However, Rwandans should know that all unsealed information will still remain accessible on the website of ICTR,” said Amoussouga…

 

Five new judges of International Criminal Court sworn in
(Source: UN News Centre)
…Judges Howard Morrison of United Kingdom, Anthony T. Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago, Olga Herrera Carbuccia of Dominican Republic, Robert Fremr of Czech Republic and Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria will serve nine-year terms in the court, which is based in The Hague…

2 March

 

UN expert panel concludes Gadhafi forces, rebels committed war crimes in Libya
(Source: Washington Post)
…The U.N.-appointed Commission of Inquiry on Libya concluded that “international crimes, specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes, were committed by Gadhafi forces.” “Acts of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture were perpetrated within the context of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population,” it said…

 

Transfers and delays: How fit are Rwanda’s courts?
(Source: Radio Netherlands)
How fit are Rwanda’s courts to try the country’s worst crimes? That’s the question the legal community is asking – even before the ICTR’s first to-be-transferred suspect is outside the prison gates. ICTR judges are keeping Jean Uwikindi in Arusha until they consider his appeal against extradition to Kigali – and are assured he can get a fair trial at home…

 

1 March

 

ICC issues Sudan defence minister warrant over Darfur
(Source: BBC News)
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein for alleged crimes in Darfur.
The court said there were sufficient grounds to hold him responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes…

 

UN-backed court says it will deliver verdicts next month in Charles Taylor war crimes trial
(Source: Washington Post)
U.N-backed war crimes court said Thursday it will issues the decision in the trial of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor next month. Taylor is the first former African head of state to be prosecuted at an international tribunal and faces a maximum life sentence if convicted…

Tibetan Anger Continues

By Greg Donaldson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DHARMSALA, India — More than thirty-three Tibetans have set themselves on fire in recent protests against the Chinese government. The Tibetans believe the Chinese government is attempting to destroy their identity and force Tibetans to conform to the culture the government has established.

A Tibetan Monk sets himself on fire in protest of the Chinese government (Photo Courtesy of Boing Boing)

The protests and self-immolations began in China but now have spread to the nearby country of India. Many Tibetans who have been exiled from China reside in India.

Since last Monday two Tibetans have died from setting themselves on fire in India. The self-immolations came in protest of the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s to India to attend an economic summit. Each protestor set themselves on fire and then ran to a public place where they could be heard protesting the Chinese government. Both demonstrators were rushed to the hospital after the fires were extinguished but each died in local hospitals.

The first demonstrator, Jamphel Yeshi, set himself on fire last Monday. By Tuesday afternoon more than two-hundred supporters marched through the city center of Dharamsala, India proclaiming Mr. Yeshi a martyr. The supporters carried Tibetan flags and posters with several images of Mr. Yeshi’s body on fire.

Tenzing Namdak, a man who participated in the Tuesday march told reporters that Mr. Yeshi “self-immolated for the cause of Tibet.” He continued “all the Tibetans have tried so many ways to get the attention, and somebody had to take the lead.”

The march continued throughout the upper part of the city with the crowd chanting “What do we want? Freedom!” “United Nations , please support us.” “Stop the killing.”

The second demonstrator, Lobsang Jamyang, gave three messages to a friend he dined with before self-immolating himself. The first message was that Tibetans in his village should work hard to preserve their language against the onslaught of Mandarin. The second message was that a couple in his village should reunite after being recently divorced. The third message was that Tibetans should be strong against China and not be cowards.

China’s crackdown seems to have created a sense of nationalism among the Tibetans. Kelsang Nyima, who left Tibet in 1998 and recently returned, to his Tibetan village in China, said he “can strongly feel the growing sense of nationalism among Tibetans. It is a huge change.”

Each Wednesday across the Himalayan plateau, Tibetans wear traditional dress, only speak in Tibetan, and avoid purchasing from shops run by Han Chinese.

The government controlled newspaper, The China Daily, has proposed a solution for the Tibetans: “embrace the goodwill of the Chinese government.”

For more information please see:

Boing Boing – Tibet is Burning: Exiles Mourn Latest String of Self-Immolation Suicide Protests – 2 April 2012

News Track India – Tibetan Exiles Mourn Recent Self-Immolation Incidents – 1 April 2012

Washington Post – Self-Immolations Reflect Rising Tibetan Anger – 1 April 2012

New York Times – Tibetan Exiles Rally Around Delhi Self-Immolator – 28 March 2012

 

 

 

 

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Announces Plan to Seek Presidency

By Adom M. Cooper
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt–Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, already in control of nearly half of the seats available in parliament, announced that it would field its own presidential candidate. The announcement is a reversal of an earlier decision not to do so and will escalate tensions with the nation’s ruling generals and the group’s secular and progressive critics. The Brotherhood vowed in the wake of the 2011 uprising that resulted in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak that it would not field a presidential candidate so as not to monopolize power.

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Khairat al-Shatir. (Photo Courtesy of BBC).

Its candidate, Khairat al-Shater, is the group’s chief strategist and deputy leader. If he becomes president, he would give the Muslim Brotherhood, a formerly outlawed movement, a strong grip on both the country’s executive and legislative branches. al-Shater is a wealthy businessman, whose exploits extend from computers to furniture, and has previously spent 12 years in prison due to his connection with the Muslim Brotherhood. He was released only after last year’s uprisings began.

Before al-Shater came into the public eye, he spent many years working behind the scenes for the Muslim Brotherhood. In the advent of the uprising, his central role in driving the ideology of the Brotherhood has become much more prevalent since Mubarak has been removed from office. Western officials have expressed desires to meet with him and the International Monetary Fund team, seeking a broad consensus for a $3.2 billion loan deal, met with him for talks.

One Western diplomat described al-Shater as a calm individual who “exuded control” in one meeting but displayed traces of a “bully” in another more heated discussion.

“He needs to have grown a thick skin of self-preservation, given his time in jail.”

Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s leader, shared these words with Reuters concerning the announcement.

“He is a national hero to Egypt. He created an institution from the sweat of his brow and when it was destroyed because he was in competition with the son of the toppled president, he was jailed and injustice done to him.”

The group officially announced its support of al-Shater on Saturday 31 March 2012 and it ended weeks of speculation and confusion among the group’s members. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt holds the views that Islamic principles should regulate each and every aspect of public and family life. The announcement split the group’s governing Shura council into two sides. One side favoring the selection of a candidate within the group and the other desiring an outside candidate, fearing repercussions from the rest of Egypt.

Mohamed Habib, a former Brotherhood deputy leader, shared these words through his Twitter feed about the division in the group on al-Shater’s selection.

“It is the right of the Brotherhood to field its own candidate but they should know they are losing much of their credibility and expanding the divide between them and rest of Egypt’s national groups.”

The Muslim Brotherhood says that it should form the new cabinet to reflect the parliamentary majority. But the existing constitution gives that power to the military or the newly elected president. The army has refused to back down and defended the performance of its cabinet and the army’s handling of the transition. Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein cited the refusal to remove the cabinet and referred to “a real threat to the revolution and the democratic transition to an elected civilian government.”

Since the removal of Mubarak, Egypt has been in a state of flux and has shown glimpses of the potential for long-term stability. All of the suffering and lives lost in the demonstrations and protests cannot be forgotten as the country tries to move forward with progressive changes. One can only hope that the Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to go back on its vow is sincerely in the best interests of the people because they are the ones who need the most attention and support.

 

 

For more information, please see: 

Ahram – Brotherhood Frames Primary Components Of Constitution, Says Party MP – 1 April 2012

Al-Jazeera – Brotherhood To Run For Egypt’s Presidency – 1 April 2012

BBC – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Names Presidency Candidate – 1 April 2012

CNN – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood To Field Presidential Candidate – 1 April 2012

The Guardian – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood To Field Presidential Candidate – 1 April 2012

Reuters – Brotherhood Presidency Bid Turns Up Heat In Egypt Race – 1 April 2012

 

 

Haiti Not Receiving Enough Humanitarian Aid to Combat Cholera Outbreak

By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – Almost two years since the first reported case of cholera in Haiti, not much has changed.  The quick-acting intestinal illness has claimed thousands of lives in Haiti and many are wondering why more has not been done to help the struggling country.

The upcoming rainy season is going to only make the spread of cholera worse throughout Haiti. (Image courtesy of The New York Times)

Since October 2010, cholera has claimed the lives of 7,000 Haitians and has made over 530,000 others sick, according to NPR.  Literally one hundred thousand people are waiting to be vaccinated against cholera but the short funding has prevented this from happening.

Besides the cholera outbreak, the country never recovered from the devastating earthquake in 2010.

According to NPR, even with the plan for vaccination that the country has already laid out, only about 1% of the population will be vaccinated.  In order to really contain the outbreak, millions of people need to be vaccinated before next year’s rainy season.

Interestingly, the United Nations might be to blame for the entire cholera outbreak.  According to The New York Times, epidemiologic and microbiologic evidence suggests that United Nations peacekeeping troops imported cholera to Haiti and accidentally contaminated the tributary next to their base.  The troops came from Nepal and the contamination happened due to a faulty sanitation system.  Dr. Paul S. Keim says that the Haitian and Nepalese cholera strains are virtually identical, reports The New York Times.

The South Florida Caribbean News reports that the Haitian government and the United Nations alike are worried about the lack of humanitarian efforts in the country.  The humanitarian community seeks $231 million to fund effectively the island nation, and so far has only received about 8.5% of that amount.  The lack of funding has forced many humanitarian workers out of affected areas.

The upcoming hurricane season (May through November) brings even more worries for the countries.  The heavy rainfall only increases the spread of cholera.  According to The South Florida Caribbean News, resources are needed to overall improve access to clean water and maintain solid waste management systems, along with increasing preparedness ahead of hurricane season.

According to The New York Times, Anthony Banbury, a U.N. assistant secretary general said last week, “We don’t think the cholera outbreak is attributable to any single factor.”  Additionally, many believe that the prime time to suppress the epidemic passed long ago; now that it has had time to spread, the problem is becoming much more difficult to control.

So as Haitians continue to die from the dehydrating illness, humanitarian efforts will continue and hopefully expand.

For more information, please visit:

Newser — How Bickering Aid Workers Brought Cholera to Haiti — 1 Apr. 2012

South Florida Caribbean News — UN Concerned Over Funding for Humanitarian Services in Haiti — 1 Apr. 2012

The New York Times — Haiti’s Cholera Outraced the Experts and Tainted the U.N. — 31 Mar. 2012

NPR — In Haiti, Bureaucratic Delays Stall Mass Cholera Vaccinations — 27 Mar. 2012

Fugitive Iraqi VP Travels to Qatar

By Tyler Yates
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq’s fugitive Sunni vice president, left the country on Sunday for a diplomatic visit to Qatar, despite being under an international travel ban imposed by the Iraqi government.  The development is likely to put a wrench in the Iraqi government’s recent attempts to repair ties with other Arab nations.

Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq's fugitive VP (Photo courtesy of CNN).

Al-Hashimi has increasingly frustrated the Shi’ite led government in Baghdad, as he has thus far avoided their attempts to prosecute him on terrorism charges.

Last December, al-Hashimi fled to the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq after the government accused him of using his bodyguards as a personal death squad and issued an arrest warrant.  For the last few months he has lived under the protection of Kurdish officials, who refuse to turn him over for a trial in Baghdad.

Al-Hashimi has denied all of the charges levied against him, and claims he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

This visit is the first time al-Hashimi has left Kurdistan since the issuance of his arrest warrant.

Iraqi officials are enraged that al-Hashimi was allowed to leave Iraq.

“How could they let him leave?” said Ali al-Moussawi, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. “He is prevented from traveling. This is a violation. And receiving him in Qatar is a violation.”

Al-Moussawi has called upon Interpol, the international police organization, to arrest the vice president.

Iraq has been making strides recently to portray itself as a stable, functioning country, mending rifts with its powerful Sunni Arab neighbors.

The Qatari prime minister recently expressed concern about the growing sectarianism in Iraq, and the disenfranchisement of the country’s Sunni minority.  Similar concerns have been expressed by other Sunni-led Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Sunni Gulf states are also wary of the close ties Iraq’s government has formed with the Shi’ite state of Iran, which they see as a rival.

Al-Hashimi’s office has said that he does plan to return to his temporary headquarters in Kurdistan once he finishes his diplomatic travels.  Any attempt to re-enter Iraq will likely set off a struggle between Iraqi and Kurdish authorities over who controls the country’s airports, borders, and airspace.

Before official news of al-Hashimi’s travels emerged, al-Malawi issued a warning to other Arab states that afford him an official welcome.

“They must know that the accused is wanted by a country which is a member of the Arab league … so he is not supposed to be received as a vice president, which is a violation of the nature of the international relations,” he said.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera — Fugitive Iraq vice president arrives in Qatar — 1 April 2012

Boston Globe — Qatar: Iraq’s fugitive VP arrives for visit — 1 April 2012

CNN — Iraqi VP visits Qatar despite travel ban — 1 April 2012

New York Times — Iraq’s Fugitive Vice President Travels to Qatar — 1 April 2012

The Guardian — Fugitive Iraqi vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi travels to Qatar — 1 April 2012