Syrian Opposition Publishes Recommendation on Political Transition

Press Release

Head of Syrian Coalition and Syrian Expert House to Present “Syria Transition Roadmap”

Istanbul, Turkey – Leaders of the Syrian Expert House, a group of approximately 300 Syrian human rights activists, academics, judges, lawyers, opposition leaders, members of the Syrian National Council and the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, defected government officials, defected military officers, members of local revolutionary councils, and commanders of the armed opposition announced the release of a report presenting comprehensive recommendations on the post-Assad democratic political transition.

The report, entitled “Syria Transition Roadmap,” will be officially unveiled on August 14 at a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey at Holiday Inn Istanbul City. Ahmad Assi al-Jarba, president of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, and leaders of the Syrian Expert House will give an overview of Syria’s imminent transition at the conference.

Syria Transition Roadmap covers the topics of constitutional reform, political reform, electoral reform, security sector reform, economic reform, and transitional justice in post-conflict Syria. The recommendations presented in Syria Transition Roadmap are the result of a year-long consensus-building process. The Syrian Expert House’s final conclusions within the report represent the political common ground of the Syrian opposition on key issues. These recommendations will remain valid, no matter how the Syrian conflict is resolved.

Syria Transition Roadmap specifically recommends the following:

·         The future Syrian government will be a hybrid presidential/parliamentary system to ensure the presence of checks and balances in state institutions.

·         The starting point of the new Syrian constitution will be the Constitution of 1950, which will be amended and modified by a 290-member Constitutional Assembly, elected in a national election. The new Syrian constitution will be approved by a national referendum.

·         The Constitutional Assembly will be elected in an election featuring proportional representation across 20-30 multi-member districts with an average of 12 seats per constituency. Proportional representation will ensure party pluralism, allowing for the first election to lay the foundation for a strong democratic system.

·         The independence of the judiciary will be guaranteed by completely separating it from the executive branch. National reconciliation will be achieved through a long transitional justice process in which justice is assured for all of Syria’s victims.

·         The security services will be restructured and cleansed of corrupt officials. All armed groups will be disarmed, demobilized, and reintegrated into Syrian society.

·         Syria will gradually abandon its state-led economic model in favor of a market-based economy. Public sector employees will continue to be paid while preparing for the overhaul of the state administrative structure.

For further information, please see:

Syrian Expert House

SCPSS

Taiwan Protest Over Military Death

By Kevin M. Mathewson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to protest against the treatment of Hung Chung-chiu, a 24 year old army conscript.

Protesters say they are not convinced the investigation is sincere.

Hung had been held in solitary confinement for bringing a mobile phone with a built in camera onto his military base. He was subjected to strenuous punishment, including exercising in the hot sun, resulting in organ failure brought on by heatstroke.

Hung’s family said he was refused water during his punishment and had previously filed complaints of abuse against his superiors.

Eighteen army officers, including a major-general have been charged in connection with the case. The country’s defense minister has also resigned. The 18 officers were indicted on charges ranging from abuse leading to death and involuntary manslaughter to imposing illegal punishment on a subordinate and offences against personal liberty.

Hung’s death has spawned outrage across Taiwan and further damaged the reputation of an already fragile army.  Taiwan’s army is currently struggling to find volunteers as it tries to phase out conscription. All Taiwanese men aged between 18 and 36 are required to complete one year’s military service.

Protesters, many dressed in white to symbolize truth, covered the streets of Taipei saying they believed the investigation into Hung’s death was corrupt.

“I am mourning for Hung Chung-chiu and I want the truth. I hope there won’t be any more abuse and death like his in the military.” protester Jenny Tan said.

“The Cabinet has requested the Defense Ministry and the Justice Ministry to spare no effort to investigate the case and review the current system to prevent any unhumanitarian (sic) actions and abuse of power.” premier Jiang Yi-Huah said.

President Ma Ying-Jeou has publicly apologized for Hung’s death and promised justice for his family.

“As the president and the leader of the country’s three armed forces, I hereby guarantee that Hung Chung-chiu will not have died in vain and such tragedy will not happen again.” President Ying-Jeou told Hung’s father Hung Chi-tuan.

However, a day after protests, President Ying-Jeou was mobbed by hundreds of mourners as he attended Hung’s funeral protected by security guards.

For further information, please see:

BBC News – Taiwan protest over Hung Chung-chiu death – 3 August 2013

The Japan Times – Thousands in Taiwan protest conscript’s death – 3 August 2013

FOXNews.com – Mass protest in Taiwan over young conscript’s death – 3 August 2013

Yahoo! News – Taiwan president mobbed by mourners at conscript’s funeral – 4 August 2013

UN Special Investigator Says Chile Should Stop Using Anti-Terrorism Law Against Mapuche Indians

By Ellis Cortez
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

SANTIAGO, Chile – A senior United Nations investigator has urged Chile’s government to stop using anti-terrorism law against the country’s Mapuche Indians who are fighting to recover their ancestral land.

Mapuche Indians from the Temucuicui Autonoma community , 9 Feb 2013
Anti-terrorism law has been used against the Mapuche for more than 10 years. (Photo Courtesy of The Associated Press)

The Mapuche Indians make up 9% of the Chilean population. They live in rural communities and suffer from high levels of poverty.

Ben Emmerson, the U.N.’s special investigator on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said a long-running dispute over land rights could boil over into serious violence and disorder at any moment unless urgent action is taken. He says the situation is “volatile” in the southern regions of Araucania and Bio Bio, where most Mapuche live.

Chile’s anti-terrorism law, drafted by General Augusto Pinochet in 1984 is one of the harshest in the Chilean statute book. It doubles the sentences for some offenses and allows for the conviction of defendants on the basis of testimony from anonymous witnesses.

Human rights groups say the law is abusive because it allows for suspects to be held in isolation without charge and for the use of secret witnesses and telephone taps.

“The anti-terrorist legislation has been used in a way that discriminates against the Mapuche. It has been applied in a confusing and arbitrary way, which has turned into a real injustice that has impaired the right to a fair trial, and it has been perceived as stigmatizing and delegitimizing of the Mapuche territorial demands and protests,” Emmerson said.

Mapuche prisoners have staged lengthy hunger strikes to protest the anti-terror law and what they regard as excessive police violence during raids on Mapuche communities. Other forms of protest have ranged from marches, occupation of public buildings, and setting up roads blocks.

“The preliminary conclusions of the U.N. official go along with what we’ve been saying: that there’s no terrorism and that this is a disproportionate law that only creates more tensions,” said Aucan Huilcaman, a Mapuche leader. “If Chile really wants to show its democratic side it must recognize the Mapuche people,” Huilcaman added.

There was no immediate response from Chile’s government.

The Mapuche conflict has been going on for years in the south, with sporadic outbursts of violence. In January of this year, a group of attackers set fire to a house belonging to an elderly couple whose family had a history of poor relations with the Mapuche neighbors. The couple died in the blaze. Their deaths shocked Chileans and raised questions about the inability of President Sebastian Pinera’s government to meet the demands of Chile’s largest indigenous group.

Emmerson said Chile’s government should come up with a strategy to solve the dispute, speed up the return of land and recognize the country’s largest indigenous community under the constitution.

For more information please see:

ABC News UN: Chile Should Solve Land Dispute With Mapuche 31 July 2013

CNN Chile – Relator de la ONU sobre Ley Antiterrorista: “Ha sido aplicada en una forma que es ilógica, discriminatoria y contraproducente” – 30 July 2013

El Universal Relator de ONU advierte a Chile riesgo del conflicto mapuche 30 July 2013

BBC UN criticises Chile for using terror law on Mapuche 30 July 2013

Fox News UN official says Chile should stop using anti-terrorism law against Mapuche in land dispute 30 July 2013

Israeli Cabinet Expands Government Subsidies to Illegal West Bank Settlements Just Days after the Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Middle East

JERUSALEM, Israel – The Israeli cabinet voted on Sunday to expand its list of West Bank settlements eligible for government subsidies. The vote came just days after the resumption of the long-halted peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Israel cabinet expands government subsidy eligibility to West Bank Settlement amidst the resumption of peace talks with Palestinian Officials. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The Cabinet voted to expand the number of communities included on its “national priority map,” a list of poor communities prioritized to receive housing subsidies and other government benefits. The list includes 91 settlements in the occupied West Bank region, up from 85 on the 2012 version of the map.

Many of the West Bank settlements included on the list would most likely be required to evacuate if the current peace talks result in an agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian governments.

Until recently, three of the settlements added to the list, Rehelim, Sansana and Bruchin were classified as “illegal outposts”, meaning they were constructed without the approval of the Israeli government. However, the Israeli government retroactively legalized them by normalizing their last year though a cabinet vote. They are now recognized by the Israeli government and eligible for government funding.

The Palestinian Authority seeks to reclaim lands captured by Israel in 1967, in the hopes of establishing a state that will include the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, with Israel’s borders returning to the pre-1967 lines. Since 1967, the Israeli government has allowed the construction of dozens of settlements on Palestinian lands. The settlements have been deemed illegal under international law by most of the international community. These settlements are now home to roughly 560,000 Israelis.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official stated that she believes the cabinet’s action “will have a destructive impact” on the peace process. She believes that the vote affirmed suspicions felt by many Palestinians about the Israeli government’s motivations for agreeing to participate in the peace negations. She argued, “[t]his is exactly what Israel wants. Have a process for its own sake, and at the same time have a free hand to destroy the objective of the process.”

Four Israeli ministers abstained from voting on this issue, including Amir Pertz, the current  Environment Minister and former Minister of Defense from 2006-2007, said of the vote, “I don’t think it is the time diplomatically, or from a socioeconomic point of view, to include new settlements that until recently were illegal.”

Mark Regev, a spokesperson for the Israeli government, pointed out that the list voted on by cabinet is only a list of communities eligible to receive funding and that the Israeli government would have to grant additional approval for any subsidies to settlements to be dispersed.

The vote can be viewed as an attempt to shore up support for the coalition government in communities added to the subsidies list. Likud, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party has historically supported settlements. Some of the settlements added to the subsidy list are political strongholds of the Jewish Home Party, one of the member parties of the governing coalition. It is opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian State.

For more information please see:

Al Jazeera – Israel expands West Bank settlement subsidies – 4 August 2013

Jerusalem Post – Despite peace talks, cabinet approves preferential status for settlements – 4 August 2013

Jewish Telegraphic Agency – West Bank settlements join Israel’s list of national priority communities – 4 August 2013

Reuters – Israel puts 91 Jewish settlements on priority spending list – 4 August 2013

Wall Street Journal – Israel Expands Settlements Eligible for Subsidies – 4 August 2013

 

 

Attack on Indian Consulate in Afghanistan Leaves 12 Dead

By Brian Lanciault

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NEW DELHI, India– Insurgents attacked an Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s eastern capital Jalalbabad on Saturday morning. Twelve people were killed, reinforcing growing fear that a regional struggle will soon erupt as foreign troops pull out of the country.

Outside the site of a suicide attack that tore through the Indian consulate at Jalalbabad, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Twenty-three were wounded after checkpoint guards stopped three men in a car as they approached the consulate in Jalalbabad. Two of the men jumped out of the car and opened fire on the guards, while the third detonated multiple explosives. No Indian officials were killed, though the blast badly damaged a mosque and dozens of homes and small shops nearby according to a statement issued by the office of the governor of Nangarhar province, Gul Agha Sherzai.

India condemned the attack and, without naming any country or group, blamed outside forces.

“This attack has once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate from beyond its borders,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan have long vied for power and influence in Afghanistan. Many see the struggle intensifying as more international forces are pulled out of the region by the end of next year. Afghans fear that the absence of NATO-led foreign forces could lead to another round of bloody external interference and turmoil in the impoverished and violence-racked country.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, seen as close to India, is strongly opposed to the Taliban, who some say is supported by elements of the Pakistani state, in particular its powerful intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Taliban, which openly promotes armed opposition to Karzai’s Western-backed government, denied responsibility for Saturday’s attack on the Indian consulate close to Pakistan’s border. Nevertheless, Afghan sources identified the three attackers as “Pakistani nationals”.

Attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul -two during 2008 and 2009 that killed more than 50 people together – led to accusations by Karzai that Pakistan was attempting to obliterate India-Afghanistan relations. He gave no evidence for his assertion, and Pakistan denied its truth.

Victim’s of Saturday’s attack included eight children, and several women. Many people had gathered outside of the consulate to apply for visas when the attack occurred. An additional 23 people were injured; however, Afghan reports have dubbed the attack a “failure”.

 

For more information, please see:

Reuters — Attack on Indian mission in Afghanistan raises specter of regional struggle — 3 August 2013

BBC — Afghan attack targets Indian Mission — 3 August 2013

Indian Express — Blast at Indian consulate in Afghanistan kills 12 — 4 August 2013

Bloomberg — Suicide Attack on India Consulate in Afghanistan as Ties Deepen — 4 August 2013

The Guardian — Indian consulate in Afghanistan attacked by suicide bombers — 3 August 2013

UN Congo Mission To Establish Security Zone in Goma

By Erica Smith
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo — The UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, or Monusco, issued a stern warning on Tuesday to rebel groups in the city of Goma in eastern DRC; The warning gave rebel groups 48 hours to hand over weapons or face military force. Monusco wishes to set up a security zone that spans from Goma to the nearby city of Sake, about 17 miles in total, where no one but peacekeepers or Congolese army personnel will be allowed to carry weapons. The area is home to more than 1 million people, including 70,000 who have been displaced by the recent renewal in fighting.

Congolese refugees displaced in fighting between rebel groups and the Congolese army ( Photo Courtesy of The New York Times)

The Monusco warning does not specify any one group but it is widely believed to be targeted towards the M23 rebels. Fighting between the army and M23 has resumed since mid- July and the group has been particularly active in the area since last year when it held Goma for ten days in November.  Anyone carrying a weapon after 4 pm local time on Thursday will be considered “an imminent threat of physical violence to civilians and Monusco will take all necessary measures to disarm them, including by the use of force in accordance with its mandate and rules of engagement,”.

Monusco has accused M23 of killing and displacing civilians. “In these attacks … M23 has used indiscriminate and indirect fire, including by heavy weapons, resulting in civilian casualties,” the statement said. “The M23 has also targeted U.N. installations with its fire.”

The new Monusco warning comes after the UN authorized a new “intervention brigade” in March. The intervention brigade is authorized to take all necessary measures to protect civilians from harm. Humanitarian groups worry that adding another militarized group into the conflict will only escalate violence. Oxfam’s humanitarian program coordinator in Congo, Tariq Riebl issued a statement urging the UN to use caution when enforcing their disarmament demands  and not make a “a bad situation much worse.”

Amani Kabasha, a civilian spokesman for M23, told the AP that he did not believe the warning would apply to the M23 because M23 has agreed to peace talks and rebel leaders considered themselves to be partners of the government and welcomed the disarmament plan.“MONUSCO can attack armed groups that spread terror here, indeed it is long overdue,” Kabasha said. “I do not think we are affected by this measure because we are the partners of the Congolese government in making peace.”

 

For further information, please see:

The Gazette — East Congo residents protest UN security zone around Goma, say help needed elsewhere —  2 August 2013

Aljazeera — DRC rebels dismiss UN deadline to disarm — 1 August 2013

The Guardian — UN gears up for DRC offensive as Goma laments escalating violence — 1 August 2013

Euro News — UN sends ultimatum to M23 rebels in DRC to leave Goma or face force — 31 July 2013

The New York Times — U.N. Warns It Will Disarm Congo Rebels — 31 July 2013

BBC News — DR Congo unrest: UN orders Goma to be arms-free — 30 July 2013

Washington Post — UN Congo mission to establish security zone in Goma, says it will use force to disarm rebels — 30 July 2013

The New York Times — U.N. Approves New Force to Pursue Congo’s Rebels — 28 March 2013

The UK Fights Discrimination Claims Regarding Immigration Operations

By Ben Kopp
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

LONDON, United Kingdom – The Home Office, which is responsible for immigration, has been accused of racism and profiling in recent operations used to combat illegal immigration, including checkpoints that led to the arrest of 139 suspected offenders. British officials are divided on whether the operations were discriminatory.

British authorities arrested 139 suspects, described as #immigrationoffenders on the Home Office’s official Twitter page. (Photo courtesy of the Telegraph)

During the week of 29 July 2013, vans in London sported posters telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”, with a number to text for “free advice, and help with travel documents.” While the Unite union sought legal advice on whether the vans “incited racial hatred”, the Home Office denied that the message was racist and refused to apologize for enforcing the law.

At that time, reports surfaced that the Home Office would force nationals of India, Nigeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh to pay £3000 before receiving a visitor visa. India demanded confirmation and an explanation, stating that acceptance of the bond would hurt British-Indian relations. Business Secretary Vince Cable assured his counterpart in India that no such policy came before the British Cabinet, and the UK would not consider it.

On 31 July 2013, the official Twitter profile @ukhomeoffice posted pixilated photos of possible #immigrationoffenders being led away from checkpoints by officers. At least three immigrants were Brazilian, Indian, and Ukrainian. Witnesses filled Twitter with protests against operations they claim “targeted ethnic minorities and non-white people.” Others equated the arrests to The Hunger Games, a book and film series about gladiator-style fights on dystopian Earth.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper rejected allegations of racial profiling, and stated that officers were required to have reasonable suspicion that an offense had been committed. Harper said: “We are sending a clear message to employers who choose to use illegal labour. We will find you and you will pay a heavy penalty. Illegal working undercuts legitimate businesses and is often linked to exploitative behaviour such as tax evasion and harmful working conditions.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) plans to look into the Home Office’s operations. In a letter to the Home Office, the EHRC will “ask questions about the extent to which the Home Office complied with its public sector equality duty when planning the recent advertising campaign targeted at illegal migration.”

Member of Parliament (MP) Barry Gardiner demanded Home Secretary Theresa May investigate the campaign, writing, “[w]e do not yet live in a society where the police or any other officers of the law are entitled to detain people without reasonable justification and demand their papers. The actions of your department would however appear to be hastening us in that direction.”

In Southern Europe and the Caribbean, “cash-strapped” countries are in bidding wars to attract wealthy Chinese immigrants.

In Germany, where Chancellor Merkel ten years ago ran on a “Children Instead of Indians” campaign, employee shortages have led university and job recruiters to welcome immigrants.

In the UK, perceived racism and hostility will risk long-term damages to international relations, and immigration could be down when the UK needs it most.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – UK Crackdown on Immigrants Branded Racist – August 2, 2013

BBC News – Home Office Vans: Unite Union in ‘Race Hatred’ Query – August 2, 2013

The Independent – Home Office Anti-Immigration Twitter Campaign Branded Start of ‘the UK Hunger Games’ – August 2, 2013

Sky News – Home Office Immigration Tactics Investigated – August 2, 2013

The Telegraph – Nigel Farage Attacks Home Office Immigrant Spot Checks as ‘Un-British’ – August 2, 2013

Guardian – Home Office Tactics in Illegal Immigration Crackdown Prompt Twitter Storm – August 1, 2013

The Times of India – UK’s Move for £3,000 Visa Bond ‘Retrograde Measure’: Anand Sharma – July 31, 2013

The Wall Street Journal – Cash-Strapped Nations Race to Attract Chinese Immigrants – July 30, 2013

Guardian – ‘Go Home’ Campaign against Illegal Immigrants Could Go Nationwide – July 29, 2013

Reuters – Germany Learning to Open Arms to Immigrants – July 21, 2013

Egypt Protesters Fortify Camps After Cabinet Threatens Dispersal

By Thomas Murphy
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt – Thousands of pro-Morsi supporters are defying warnings by the military-backed cabinet to cease protests across Cairo.  The government has authorized police to take “gradual steps” to remove the protesters but thus far no removal has occurred and does not appear imminent.

Protesters gathered in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

“The continuation of the dangerous situation in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, and consequent terrorism and road blockages are no longer acceptable given the threat to national security,” a statement from the interim government said on Wednesday, adding that it has told police to take “all necessary measures” to disperse crowds.

The protesters have employed barricades and sand bags to fortify significant sit-in locations in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo.  Additionally, thirty-three marches were planned around the city in support of ousted president Morsi.

On Friday, state television said that protesters would be allowed to leave safely, but that within forty-eight hours security forces would begin a “siege” at the camps in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares.  Essentially, authorities will begin preventing people from entering the squares, which is one step from beginning removal of the protesters.  Given the security forces history of excessive force, human rights groups are concerned that the situation could result in further violence.

International human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have called on the Egyptian government to refrain from using force against the protesters and allow for the peaceful demonstrations to continue.

“Given the Egyptian security forces’ record of policing demonstrations with the routine use of excessive and unwarranted lethal force, this latest announcement gives a seal of approval to further abuse,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty.

“The authorities as well as the security forces should start with an approach that avoids the use of force and is based on ‘methods of persuasion, negotiation and mediation’, as recommended by international standards,” she added.

“To avoid another bloodbath, Egypt’s civilian rulers need to ensure the ongoing right of protesters to assemble peacefully, and seek alternatives to a forcible dispersal of the crowds,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The police’s persistent record of excessive use of force, leading to dozens of deaths this month, and the density of the sit-ins mean that hundreds of lives could be lost if the sit-in is forcibly dispersed.”

According to Human Rights Watch at least 137 people have been killed by Egyptian security forces in the last month alone.  Other reports claim that at least 250 people have killed since Morsi was removed from power on July 3.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Morsi backers stage defiant rallies in Egypt – 2 August 2013

Human Rights Watch – Egypt: Do Not Forcibly Disperse Sit-Ins – 2 August 2013

Al Jazeera – Egypt police told to break up rallies – 1 August 2013

BBC – Egypt protesters defy cabinet threat to end sit-ins – 1 August 2013

Chong, Detained by DEA, Settles Case With US for $4.1 Million

By Brandon Cottrell
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States – Daniel Chong, who was abandoned in his San Diego, California holding cell for four days, reached a $4.1 million settlement with the United States government on Tuesday.

Daniel Chong. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

In April 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration took Chong, a then 23-year-old college student, into custody as a result of a drug raid.  The DEA raided the residence of one of Chong’s friends and seized ecstasy, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and other prescription medication.

After questioning, the Drug Enforcement Administration determined that no charges would be pressed against Chong.  As Chong sat in handcuffs, waiting to be released from his windowless, five by ten foot cell, he was forgotten about.  While it is uncertain as to how Chong was forgotten about, it took the DEA four and a half days to discover Chong.

Chong meanwhile, waited without food or water.  Over those four days, Chong attempted to draw attention to his cell by screaming and kicking.  Chong even slid his shoelaces under the door and attempted to set off the fire sprinkler in his cell.  After the third day, Chong began to hallucinate and, with the possibility of death looming, attempted to carve a farewell message to his mother in his arm.  Furthermore, confronting dehydration, Chong drank his own urine off a metal bench in his cell.

After being found, Chong had to be hospitalized for five days for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. He lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) in the ordeal.

While the DEA has yet to discipline any employees, it did issue a public apology.  Meanwhile, United States Senator Charles Grassley of the Judiciary Committee, called on the DEA to explain the incident.

Specifically, Grassley asked, “How did this incident happen? Has there been any disciplinary action against the responsible employees? And has the agency taken major steps to prevent an incident like this from happening again?”

Some of those questions remain unanswered, but the DEA has since introduced new national detention standards, such as daily inspections and camera monitoring of cells, in an effort to ensure that a similar incident will never occur again.

 

For further information, please see:

BBC  – US man ‘abandoned’ in US jail gets $4m in compensation  –  31 July 2013

Huffington Post – Daniel Chong, Student Left In DEA Cell, To Get $4 Million From US In Settlement  –  30 July 2013

Wall Street Journal – Daniel Chong, Abandoned in Cell, to Get $4 Million  –  30 July 2013

BBC – US man left in cell for five days ‘drank own urine’  –  2 May 2012

Snowden Obtains Temporary Asylum in Russia

By Michael Yoakum
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

MOSCOW, Russia – After spending more than a month in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was allowed to leave the airport on a temporary asylum. Reuters reports that a representative from the airport saw Snowden cross through immigration services and leave the airport.

Lawyer to Snowden, Anatoly Kucherena, holding a document granting Snowden temporary asylum in Russia. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian and AP)

Snowden, who made headlines back in June by exposing details of an NSA surveillance system intended to gather phone metadata from American citizens, applied for asylum in numerous South American and European countries before finally receiving temporary asylum in Russia.

When leaving the Moscow airport, the LA Times reported that Snowden could be seen getting into a taxi with Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor for the WikiLeaks organization. WikiLeaks has been a vocal supporter of Snowden throughout his flight from the United States and his search for asylum.

Under the terms of Snowden’s temporary asylum, he may live and travel wherever he chooses within Russia for a period of one year. NBC news reported Anatoly Kucherena as saying, “I put him in a taxi . . . and gave him his certificate on getting refugee status in the Russian Federation.” Snowden will likely file for refuge status within Russia before the year’s end.

Snowden’s success in avoiding extradition while obtaining temporary asylum caused some to question Kucherena’s connection to the Russian government. The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong news outlet, said in an article Monday that Kucherena has possible ties to the Kremlin.

Kucherena sits on the board of the Federal Secret Service, or FBS, a combination police force and intelligence agency within Russia. Kucherena is also a political supporter of Russian President Vladamir Putin, leading to accusations by the Hong Kong news outlet that Snowden’s success in avoiding extradition and obtaining asylum were the result of a fabrication by the Kremlin.

For further information, please see:

CBS News – Edward Snowden leaves airport after Russia grants asylum, says “the law is winning” – 1 August 2013

Fox News – Edward Snowden had papers that allow him to enter Russia, his lawyer says – 1 August 2013

LA Times – Edward Snowden granted asylum, leaves Moscow airport in taxi – 1 August 2013

The Guardian – Edward Snowden’s father says FBI asked him to fly to Moscow – 31 July 2013

South China Morning Post – Snowden lawyer Anatoly Kucherena suspected of links to Kremlin – 29 July 2013

Indian man Receives the Death Penalty Upon the Conviction of Raping a Seven-Year-old Girl

By Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – A United Arab Emirates court has sentenced to death a 57-year-old Indian man who was recently convicted of raping a seven-year-old girl at a school where he worked as a janitor.

A United Arab Emirates Court sentenced to death a 57-year-old ma after being found guilty of raping a 7-year-old girl (photo courtesy of Aljazeera)

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Hussain Al Jaziri, reported that the little girl displayed multiple signs of sexual abuse.  “Her aunt, who is accustomed to giving her a bath after school, asked her to remove her trousers. Upon refusing to do so, and after her aunt’s insistence, traces of blood and semen were found in the girl’s underpants,” stated Al Jaziri.

“This is in itself a violation of the educational convention…The girl and her parents have suffered psychological damage and trauma following the incident.  They will continue to suffer because of what happened,” continued Al Jaziri.

According to court documents, on April 14th, the victim was dragged by the convicted into the school kitchen while she was returning from the administration office where she dropped off school papers per her teacher’s request.

The convicted then threatened the victim, saying that he would kill her and her mother if she told anyone of the incident.  It is believed that the teacher who sent the girl to the administration office left the country a few days before the convicted was arrested.

Claims against the school have been made by the prosecution for failing to provide the safety and security to one of its students while on its premises due to a lack of control and surveillance of the school workers.

The defense team of the convicted argued that neither a blood or DNA test were conducted to tie the former janitor to the rape, citing the unsupervised presence of the girl in the school as the direct reason for the crime.

The conviction of capital punishment was delivered unanimously by the presiding Judge Sayyed Abdel Basir and two other judges on three charges of rape, sexual assault and issuing of death threats.  However, the judgment must be confirmed by the court of appeals and cassation.

“Hopefully this verdict will provide the victim’s family with closure and security knowing that justice was served.  I also urge parents and child caretakers everywhere to promptly report any act of aggression or abuse taken against their children as refraining from reporting these incidents only protects the offender,” stated Al Jaziri.

For more information, please see the following: 

Aljazeera – UAE sentences Indian man to death over rape – June 29, 2013

Gulf News – Janitor rapist gets death penalty – June 29, 2013

Straits News – UAE court hands death sentence to Indian convicted of raping young girl – June 29, 2013

Zee News – Indian man given death penalty in UAE for raping 7-year-old girl – June 29, 2013

SNHR Statement: Syrian Regime and Iranian Media Create False Stories About Targeting Minorities by Opposition Members

Ensure the safety and security of the minority, it was and still is the most important of the international community’s concerns, it is always mentioned and rarely missed from officials’ statements, the Syrian regime is totally aware of this point and focus on it, so he is attempting with all his potentials to show that minorities face increased risk of human rights abuses by armed opposition forces.

Syrian Regime and his friend (even sometimes international community) are keen to forget the long years of coexistence that prevailed among the various spectrums of Syrian People, in spite of the diversity of nationalities and religions, and show the opposition, who wanted to mop and eliminate them, and the Syrian regime as protector of minorities, and they will live if he falls.  This logic is followed by most of the Syrian regime supporters whether they are Syrian or not.

While we don’t deny the occurrence of some sectarian reaction against civilians in several parts of Syria, it is not the systematic policy followed by armed battalions’ member, but committed by individuals, and most FSA battalions and fighters condemn such acts, and some battalions contain fighters from minority groups, even if they are in the few.

29/5/2013, Fares News Agency and Syria Media reported news about massacres committed by the FSA against residents of Al Dwair Christian village, here is the attachment:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/10fntpvxMAKq-_t3vouIgD9uLw6Ynbr-fH28qKU8pJTyNw6QYJv-bg_NKagyX/edit

http://sana.sy/ara/336/2013/05/30/484691.htm

According to field investigation and accounts of village residents showing the lying and fraud in this report due to:

–          Geographic location of the village contrary to the truth.  It was stated that the village is located on the Syrian-Lebanese border, while separated by 40 km at least The village is located on the banks of the Orontes River to the north-west of the city of Homs lies about 2 km on the road to Hama, and its inhabitants condemn the Christianity of the Greek Orthodox

–          The agency ignores any mentions to Dar Kbira village, which adjacent to Dwair and their agricultural land overlap, and coexistence prevailed for hundreds of years, “Dar Kbira now under the control of armed opposition.”

–          During Government Troops’ random shelling on that region, shells fell on St. Elias church in Dwair village, and later in this false story, they accused Al-Qaeda and Takfireen for destroying the church.  SNHR documented in many reports published on the website that more than 22 churches and 1551 mosques were targeted by the Syrian Regime.

–          Most of the village residents (almost 400 citizens) were displaced because of fighting and shelling from Military Academy

Mr. Georges D, whose cousin is a resident in that village, told us: that nothing different happened there, it is the same as the Syrian villages and cities, like the other Syrian villages and cities.  When he talked with his female cousin, she mentioned that on 27/5/2013, and because of the fierce fighting and shelling in the close fields, it led to the displacement of the rest of the residents, and that a boy and young lady were killed, and she added when Shabiha militia were in Dwari,  a father and his daughter were killed in a very mysterious way that only the Shabiha know how to commit.  Their bodies were found burned.

When revisiting the Dwair service office in Homs, we figured out that the numbers of dead in that period is 4, and they are all children: Wael Nael Hazim – 10 years old- , and the beautiful young woman Jamila Mikhael Aldaif – 22 years old – , while the burned bodies belong to Mr. Nafeaa Toaamah -63 years old – and his daughter Abeer.

In May 2013, Government’s Troops targeted the village, and killed 4 civilians.

The residents of the village know each other very well because the village is small, and know that the story of the Syrian Regime is a total lie and is deceitful.

Clashes between Free Syrian Army and government forces in the fields near the village led to the deaths of two persons.

Residents told us that they saw bodies in the near fields that did not belong to them, and couldn’t recognize whether they were FSA or regime forces, but they were sure that they were not residents since they know each other very well, we didn’t get any photos or names.  Note that the Syrian and Iranian media stated that the government army took over the village and killed a number of terrorists.

In addition to all of the regime’s media or the Iranian media, they didn’t reveal any video or photo of a victim or even their names.  Just one website published photos of the damaged church which as we said previously was destroyed by the Government forces’ shelling on the village.

Simple Note: church of Saint Peter and Paul in Al-War neighborhood is a shelter and hospital for all Syrian citizens, both Christians and Muslims.

Finally, we see that the reason of access for terrorists and extremists to Syria is due to the West headed by USA, and that’s because:

Conclusions:

According to this accident and the speech of Syrian Regime Representative in Security Council, in addition to send Christian clerics bought by money and positions to a specific European countries, and another actions all aims to link Regime destiny with minority in the area, so he looks like the real sponsored, and any other alternative will eliminate minorities from the map, displace and kill them, all of that based on false news and illusion the reality and the truth is a contrast from decades ago.

The main goal is to intimidate the western society from supporting the liberation movement of Syrian People in order to build a pluralistic and democratic state, and delude them what will happen with regards to Al-Qaeda, darkness, and terrorism.

SNHR noticed that western society directly accepted such news without verification of their origin, truthfulness, and accuracy.

Syrian Society is mild and have instinctive medial religion, who fight extremist and terrorism and categorically reject and condemn all these forms, and the biggest beneficiary of terrorists’ entry to the Syrian conflict are the Syrian and Iranian regimes to prove to the world his theory that he was fighting terrorism and doesn’t kill the Syrian People.

News agencies must investigate the truthfulness, objectivity, and to verify the source of the news, because by publishing false news they also damage the reputation of the ancient Syrian people and give cover to the regime in shed more blood

Finally we would like to notify that in that area and in the nearby village a real massacre happened committed by the government Militia in Alhasoia village (next to Dwair) in mid January of 2013, which led to the deaths of more than 106 victims are 14 families, one consists of 32 individuals of women, children, and unarmed civilians, most of them are family members of human right activist in AFAZ colleague Mohamad Diab, and they burned dozens bodies as you can see in the following video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=937pb0vj1zo

This massacre, as is the case with the rest of the real massacres did not refer to any member of the government or Iranian media loyal to the Syrian regime.