Somalia Rape Victim Convicted for Lying

By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

MOGADISHU, Somalia – A 19-year-old woman who alleged she was raped has been given a suspended jail sentence by a Somalia court.

Human Rights groups say sexual abuse is a growing problem in Somalia (photo courtesy of AFP)

The woman, who spent three weeks in pre-trial detention, was convicted of defamation and lying and told she could not leave Mogadishu. Two journalists who reported her story were also convicted of the same offense.

The two men accused of raping the woman have not been brought before a court.

During the time of the suspended jail sentence, the woman will be confined to her home, said Judge Hashi Elmi Nur.

The journalists are to serve out their sentences, of one year and six months respectively, or pay a fine in order to win early release.

This is the second time this year that Somalia has jailed a woman for speaking out about rape and journalists for interviewing her.

Spokesman Ridwaan Haji said war-torn Somalia’s courts were in their “infancy” and needed time to improve.

He also said that while the government stopped “a free pass and freedom of speech,” journalists were also obliged to “take their role in society seriously and demonstrate social responsibility.”

The Somalia government has said previously that sexual violence is unacceptable.

The BBC’s Mohamed Moalimu in Mogadishu says the case raised fears among journalists about reporting rape.

The woman in this case has accused two men from the state-run Radio Mogadishu of raping her at gunpoint.

Last month Human Rights Watch called on the government to order a new and impartial investigation into the case, saying the response to the incident “has been marred by mismanagement, opacity, and the harassment of the female rape survivor and support service providers.”

This “points to security officials trying to silence both those who report the pervasive problems of sexual violence and those who help rape survivors,” HRW said.

Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

Eighteen media professionals were killed in Somalia in 2012, the east African country’s deadliest year on record, according to reports.

At least six media reporters have been killed this year.

In August, a Somali woman who said she was gang raped by African Union (AU) soldiers was held by police for questioning.

For more information, please visit:

BBC News – Somalia court sentences ‘rape victim’ – 9 December 2013
Horseed Media – Somali court sentences alleged rape victim, journalists – 9 December 2013
News.com.au – Somali court sentences alleged rape victim, journalists – 9 December 2013
The Hindu – Rape victim in Somalia sentenced, govt. defends court – 11 December 2013
The Nation –
Somali court sentences alleged rape victim, journalists – 10 December 2013
The Daily Star – Somali court sentences alleged rape victim, journalists – 9 December 2013
News 24 – Somali ‘rape’ victim, journos sentenced – 9 December 2013

 

Thousands of Eritreans Abducted for Ransom

By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

ASMARA, Eritrea – Up to 30,000 Eritreans have been abducted since 2007 and taken to Egypt’s Sinai to suffer torture and ransom demands, new research says.

Tens of thousands have been severely injured from being captured (photo courtesy of BBC)

The study, presented to the European parliament, says Eritrean and Sudanese security officers are plotting with the kidnap gangs.

The report focuses on the trafficking of refugees from the Horn of Africa who are targeted by criminal networks for extortion and exploitation. The report looks at the experiences of the refugees who have fled their countries looking for safety and security.

The captives are threatened with being sold to people traffickers if they do not raise tens of thousands of dollars. Some are freed if they raise the ransoms. Others are sold on to traffickers, even after money has changed hands, only to be tortured to extract further cash from relatives.

At least $600m has been extorted from families in ransom payments, the report says.

Eritrea has denied its officials are involved in the kidnappings. The report, however, says Eritrea’s Border Surveillance Unit (BSU) and Sudanese security officials are among the “actors” conspiring with the gangs that hold people hostage in the largely lawless Sinai.  

Most of those targeted are Eritrean refugees fleeing the country.

Almost every Eritrean knows somebody who has been held hostage.

“Their captors are opportunistic criminals looking to profit from their vulnerability,” the report says.

“[The victims] are then taken to the Sinai and sold, sometimes more than once, to Bedouin groups living in Sinai.”

These hostages include men, women, children, and infants fleeing from desperate circumstances in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan. An estimated 95% are from Eritrea.

Many of the hostages die in captivity or after their release. Some simply disappear – killed while being held, shot by border guards, or from just being lost in the desert.

The study interviewed an Eritrean woman living in Sweden who told them her son was abducted from the camp. He and six other children were forced into a car by a high-ranking Sawa military officer and driven into Sudan. Once there, they were made to call their parents, who were given three days to pay $7,500 or they would be sold to traffickers.

“[The hostages] are chained together without toilets or washing facilities and dehydrated, starved, and deprived of sleep,” the report says.

“They are subject to threats of death and organ harvesting . . . . Those who attempt to escape are severely tortured.”

The report said trafficking would have been impossible without the direct involvement of Eritrean security officials, given the “restrictions on movement within the country, the requirement of exit visas at the border and the shoot-to-kill policy for illegal border crossing.”

Eritrea’s UK ambassador said Eritrea is a “victim of human trafficking” and that the government was “working hard” to arrest and bring justice to justice criminal gangs operating along its border.

For more information, please visit:

BBC News – Thousands of Eritreans ‘abducted to Sinai for ransom’ – 4 December 2013
Free Republic – Thousands of Eritreans ‘abducted to Sinai for ransom’ – 6 December 2013
WADR – Thousands of Eritreans ‘abducted to Sinai for ransom’ – 5 December 2013
Agencia Angola Press – Thousands of Eritreans ‘abducted to Sinai for ransom’ – 7 December 2013
allAfrica –
Eritrea: The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond – 2 December 2013
The Guardian – Eritrea’s military is trafficking the nation’s children, report says – 3 December 2013

 

Attack on Yemen’s Defense Ministry Leaves 52 Dead

By Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

SANA’A, Yemen-The heavily guarded defenses ministry compound was attacked by a suicide bomber and gunmen yesterday, resulting in the death of 52 doctors and nurses as well as injuring 162 people.

The defense ministry in Sana’a after a car bomb explosion (photo courtesy of The New York Times)

No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but a Yemeni expert on Islamist militant affairs stated that it had the characteristics of al Qaeda, who have repeatedly attacked government officials and sites over the past two years.

Abdelrazzaq al-Jamal, a Yemeni analyst who specializes in Islamist militant affairs, stated, “the operation carries the fingerprints of al Qaeda because of the suicide nature of the attack.”

The U.S. military issued its alert status throughout the region after the coordinated strikes on Yemen, an ally and what Washington believes to be the home to the most active branch of al Qaeda.

The area poses a security threat for the international community.  The impoverished Yemen shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, as well as key shipping lanes.

One of the attackers drove a loaded car with explosives through the gate of the ministry’s compound while a gunmen in another vehicle sped in and opened fire on soldiers, doctors, and nurses all working at hospital inside, reported witnesses.

The explosion rippled throughout the city, shaking the active neighborhood of Bab al-Yemen on the edge of the capital.  The area is known for its maze of market stalls and stone towers that are decorated with stained glass windows and ornate plasterwork.

One employee working the area reported that “the explosion was very violent, the whole place shook because of it.”

A defense ministry official reported that the gunmen grabbed a Western doctor and a Filipino nurse into the courtyard of the hospital and shot them in front of local staff.  It was also reported that the attackers killed one of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s relatives, who was visiting a patient in the onsite hospital.

The bloodshed ceased when security forces retook the compound after killing most all of the attackers.

For more information, please see the following:

New York Times-Attack on Yemen’s Defense Headquarters Is Linked to Al Qaeda-06 December 2013

Al Jazeera-Doctors killed in Yemen’s ministry assault-05 December 2013

Reuters-Suicide bomber, gunmen kill 52 at Yemeni defense ministry-05 December 2013

Voice of America-Yemen: Suicide Car Bomb, Assault Kill 52-05 December 2013

Egyptian Authorities Continue to Crack Down on The Right of The Egyptian People to Protest

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt – According to Egypt’s Interior ministry, Egyptian police have arrested dozens of Islamist protesters Friday while dispersing demonstration rallies across the country.

Ahmed Maher, centre left, the leader of the April 6 youth group that helped lead the 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, tries to hand himself over to Egyptian prosecutors. (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

In Cairo, police fired tear gas into crowds in the Mohandiseen neighbourhood, a middle class community in the capital city, in order to disperse demonstrators who gathered outside a mosque after mid-day prayers.

Egyptian authorities have targets Islamist activists and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi since he was forced from power by the Egyptian military in July. However, attacks on attacks on civilian rights by authorities have not been limited to right leaning Islamist activist.

Egypt’s public prosecutor Ahmed Maher, a leading political activist in Egypt, for trial on Thursday. According to a judicial official his charges will include protesting without government permission. Wael Shibl, the prosecutor, said Maher will also face other charges including allegedly assaulting police and “resisting the authorities”. He will be the first to be charged under a new law of a new law which has been criticized for limiting the right of Egyptian people to protest.

Ahmed Maher is a well-known activists, he is the founder and leader of the April 6 youth group that played a major role in encouraging Egyptian youth to protests against the Mubarak regime in 2011 which eventually led to the fall of the oppressive Hosni Mubarak regime.

Last week, Maher compared the current oppressive climate in Egypt to the political climate in 2008, before the fall of President Mubarak in 2011. He said “when I was hiding and trying to escape the police, and trying to make my wife and family safe”.

Last week, another high-profile activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, was arrested in a violent raid during which his wife claims he was assaulted by police. Abd El Fattah has been targeting by every Egyptian regime since Hosni Mubarak’s brutal regime. Activists claim his arrest, and alleged abuse by police, is evidence that the interim government is being led by the military back into the dark days of the Mubarak regime.

Abd El Fattah’s arrested followed the sentencing of 14 women and young girls to 11 years in prison for participating in pro-Morsi demonstrations. Human rights organizations have accused the government of severely curtailing the right of the people to protest through the use of a legal process that the United Nations has called seriously flawed.”

For further information please see:

Al Jazeera – Dozens of Protesters Arrested In Egypt – 6 December 2013

Reuters – Egyptian Police Fired Tear Gas to End Clashes In Cairo – 6 December 2013

The Guardian – Egypt Charges Three Top Activists over Cairo Protest – 5 December 2013

The Guardian – Egyptian Activist Arrested Amid Government Crackdown on Dissent – 29 November 2013

Former French General Dies 12 Years Following Admitting Role in Torturing and Killing Prisoners of War

By Ben Kopp
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

PARIS, France – At age 95, Paul Aussaresses died on 4 December 2013 of causes not released by the French veterans’ association that announced his death. Former-General Aussaresses became disgraced in France for defending torture.

Paul Aussaresses, 95, who previously admitted to his role in torturing and killing prisoners of war died on December 4, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Telegraph)

Paul Aussaresses enlisted in the French secret services and founded the counter-espionage unit during the 1954-1962 Algerian war for independence. Later, he achieved the French military rank of general.

In his 2001 book about the Algerian war, Aussaresses became the first senior French officer to admit torturing and killing prisoners of war. Aussaresses defended the use of torture because “it became legitimate when the situation demanded it.” He claimed that, at the time, the French government “ignored, if not openly recommended” the use of torture; and he did not suffer sleepless nights.

“Once you have seen with your own eyes as I did,” Aussaresses said, “civilians, men, women, and children quartered, disembowelled and nailed to doors [by the rebels], you are changed for life. What feelings can anyone have towards those who perpetrated such barbaric acts and their accomplices?”

In a 2001 interview, Aussaresses said that he expressed regrets. “But I cannot express remorse. That implies guilt. I consider I did my difficult duty of a soldier implicated in a difficult mission.”

“Am I a criminal?” Aussaresses asked. “An assassin? A monster? No. I’m but a soldier who did his job and who did it for France because the country demanded it.”

“The methods I used were always the same: beatings, electric shocks, and, in particular, water torture, which was the most dangerous technique for the prisoner,” Aussaresses wrote. “It never lasted for more than one hour and the suspects would speak in the hope of saving their own lives.”

Aussaresses admitted that many deaths were concealed as suicides.

Aussaresses described his unit as a “death squad” that carried out night raids, torture, and removed certain detainees. Following the war, he lectured U.S. special forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on techniques used; particularly in the Battle of Algiers. Analysts have claimed that many of those techniques were later used in the Vietnam War.

During the war, both sides committed atrocities, although torture was a shocking revelation to the French.

Louisette Ighilahriz, who a National Liberation Front member who served in the war, said that Aussaresses should have shown remorse.

“He was honest. He admitted torturing Algerians… But he didn’t go all the way. He should have expressed regret,” Ighilahriz said.

Having also served in Algeria, President Jacques Chirac expressed horror at Aussaresses’s actions. President Chirac ordered that Aussaresses be stripped of his military rank and medal.

After his book appeared, France stripped Aussaresses of one of the country’s top merit awards, the Legion of Honour. In 2002, a French court convicted Aussaress of “complicity in justifying war crimes.” However, under the terms of a post-war amnesty agreement, Aussaresses could not be tried for war crimes.

No individual can hide behind the guise of a State authority to act with impunity. This, France made clear.

For further information, please read:

FRANCE 24 – Disgraced French General and Algeria Torturer Dies – December 5, 2013

BBC News – Algeria Torture: French General Paul Aussaresses Dies – December 4, 2013

Telegraph – French General Paul Aussaresses Reviled for Algeria War Crimes Dies at 95 – December 4, 2013

Washington Post – Paul Aussaresses Dies at 95; French General Defended His Use of Torture Techniques – December 4, 2013

Christian Militia Suspected to Killing 12 People

By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

BANGUI, Central African Republic – A Christian militia is suspected to have killed 12 people, including children, and wounded 30 others in an attack in the Central African Republic (CAR), officials say.

A mother sits with her child who is injured in the attack (photo courtesy of AFP)

The attacks appeared to have targeted a mainly Muslim community north of capital, Bangui, the officials said.

Those killed include a pregnant woman and 10 children.

The gang of Christians disemboweled the pregnant woman and slashed the children with machetes in the attack against Peuhl Muslims.

The attack comes with the UN Security Council set to vote on creating a large peacekeeping force for the impoverished country, where the transitional government has lost control since rebels forced the president flee in March.

The Council is to vote on Thursday on dispatching French reinforcement to restore order in CAR, which has slipped into chaos since mainly Muslim rebels seized power, leading to tit-for-tat sectarian violence.

The UN office did not give details on who was responsible but it warned of tensions between communities leading to a “climate of increasing violence” in the impoverished landlocked country, which is majority Christian.

Amy Martin, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangui, said the attack occurred on Monday and that Christian militias known as “anti-balaka” appeared to have targeted Peul herders, who are mostly Muslim.

“It looks much more organized just than community defense groups,” she said, referring to the mainly Christian militia that have formed to counter abuses by the former rebels, who are known as Seleka.

Religious and ethnic attacks have led to warnings of genocide.

Hundreds of villages have been abandoned, with civilians hiding in the bush and pleading for outside intervention.

“At this stage, it is difficult to know whether the African force, with the support of French forces, will be able to do the work,” Mr Araud, France’s UN ambassador told reporters.

“If the African forces do the work there will be no need for a peacekeeping mission.”

One man whose child and wife were killed in the attack said his other child was being treated in the hospital. He said the Christians had fired shots but had mostly used machetes to attack the group.

Clashes are increasingly about religion and the UN Security Council is preparing to vote on developing a peacekeeping force for the country.

For more information, please visit:

BBC News – Central African Republic militia ‘killed’ children – 4 December 2013
International Business Times – Central African Republic: Christian Vigilantes Disembowel Pregnant Muslim and Kill 10 Children – 4 December 2013
Perth now news – Christians disembowel pregnant woman in attack in Central African Republic that killed 12 – 4 December 2013
iol news –
Dozen killed in DRC attack – UN – 4 December 2013
Reuters – Twelve killed in Central African Republic attack – U.N – 3 December 2013

 

UN: Syrian President Assad Linked to Crimes Against Humanity

By Thomas Murphy
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DAMASCUS, Syria – An inquiry conducted by United Nations inspectors implicates Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other high level officials in war crimes committed during the Syrian conflict.

U.N. Human Rights Chief Pillay spoke to reporters on Monday about the evidence of war crimes in Syria and President Assad’s possible role. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

On Monday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that President Assad and other officials were also responsible for crimes against humanity. The U.N. Human Rights Chief later clarified her remarks stating that the report she received pointed to responsibility at the highest level and that she was not directly accusing President Assad.

However, Pillay said that the U.N.’s inquiry into Syria has produced “massive evidence… [of] very serious crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity. The scale of viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by elements on both sides almost defies belief.”

Pillay urged world powers to make accountability for these crimes a priority ahead of the Syria peace talks scheduled for January 22. She has pushed the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, yet the Security Council has neglected to do so.

The inquiry and previous reports from U.N. investigators have stated that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by both sides. However, investigators have maintained that the Assad regime is responsible for the majority of reported offenses. Further, the inquiry points to a policy of abuse implemented by the government.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad disregarded the U.N. Human Rights Chief’s remarks. “She has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don’t listen to her,” he said.

Mekdad was in Geneva to lobby for more supplies and money to aid with Syria’s chemical weapons removal. He said that more trucks and armored vehicles were necessary to safely transport the chemicals to Latakia, where they will be loaded onto a U.S. naval vessel for destruction. He said that part of the risk was from terrorists that might attempt to steal the weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is in charge of the chemical weapons removal. A spokesman for the organization stated that strict guidelines will be applied to any equipment and donations for the disarmament to ensure they are not abused by the Syrian government.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – UN: Evidence links Assad to Syria war crimes – 2 December 2013

BBC – UN implicates Bashar al-Assad in Syria war crimes – 2 December 2013

New York Times – Top U.N. Rights Official Links Assad to Crimes in Syria – 2 December 2013

Washington Post – UN: Syria crimes evidence ‘indicates’ Assad role – 2 December 2013

Guantanamo Bay Detainees Sue Poland over Alleged CIA-Affiliated Torture

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

STRASBOURG, France – Two terror suspects currently held at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, alleging that Poland was contributing to human rights abuses against them by the United States.

The European Court of Human Rights heard the case on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Polskie Radio)

Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri claim that they were tortured at a secret prison in Poland affiliated with the CIA from 2002 to 2003. The two suspects allege that they were subjected to torture and isolated detention while in Poland. They claim that they were interrogated with waterboarding, and had mock executions performed on them while being told their family was going to be sexually abused.

Zubaydah, a 42-year-old Palestinian, was accused of coordinating travel arrangements for jihadis loyal to Osama Bin Laden, including those who carried out the September 2001 attacks in the U.S. al-Nashiri, 48, a Saudi, was accused of organizing the 2000 attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen, in which 17 sailors died.

The U.S.’s war on terror allegedly included CIA operated detention centers in several European countries, according to reports by a Council of Europe investigator. The detention center at issue in Poland is known as Stare Kiejkuty, an intelligence training base near Szczytno in northern Poland.

The suspects were allegedly flown to Poland on the same rendition plane in December 2002. Former U.S. President George W. Bush authorized the rendition policy shortly after the 9/11 attacks to allow the CIA to interrogate terror suspects secretly outside the US.

Zubaydah and al-Nashiri’s lawyers are representing them in Strasbourg and a court statement said their submissions are based mainly on publicly available sources, because of the restrictions imposed on them at Guantanamo Bay.

An investigator at the human rights group Reprieve, stated, “European support for the CIA’s torture program is one of the darkest chapters of our recent history – it is encouraging that the court now looks set to bring it to light, where the [Polish] government has sought to sweep it under the carpet. We have now heard overwhelming and uncontested evidence that the CIA was running a secret torture prison on Polish soil, with the Polish government’s knowledge.”

“The Polish government has failed to contest that it knew prisoners were being held beyond the rule of law and tortured by the CIA inside their own country. It has also become clear that the Polish government’s investigation into the issue was in reality nothing more than a smoke-screen, which was neither designed nor intended to get to the truth,” the investigator stated.

No judgment was issued on Tuesday, however one will be issued at an undisclosed future date.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Two Terror Suspects Sue Poland Over “CIA Torture” – 3 December 2013

The Guardian – Guantanamo Bay Detainees Claim Poland Allowed CIA Torture – 3 December 2013

Polskie Radio – Human Rights Court Examines CIA Prison in Poland Allegations – 3 December 2013

The Voice of Russia – Terror Suspects Sue Poland For Conniving in CIA Torture – 3 December 2013

North Korea Ousts Another Top Official

By Brian Lanciault
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PYONGYANG, North Korea–In another sign of an escalating power struggle amongst North Korea’s elite, South Korea’s intelligence agency reported Tuesday the “No. 2 man” in the isolated North appeared to have been disposed from power.

Former Vice Chairman of the North’s National Defense Commission, Jang Seong-thek has been ousted from his powerful position according to South Korean intelligence sources. (Photo Courtesy of AP)

 

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told South Korean lawmakers that Jang Song Thaek, uncle of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, was “recently ousted from his position” as Vice Chairman of North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission, and that “two of his closest confidantes — Ri Yong Ha and Jang Soo-Kil — were publicly executed in mid-November,” according to opposition lawmaker Jung Cheong Rae.

Still unverified, Jang’s ousting could represent the most serious political shakeup in North Korea since former leader Kim Jong-Il’s death in December 2011.

Jang was widely regarded as second in command in the North Korean leadership, owing to his blood-link to the ruling family, and his visible presence abroad. He married the daughter of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung in the early 1970s and was a close confidant of late leader Kim Jong-il.

“The NIS has assessed the cause of Jang’s fallout to be an internal power struggle,” Cho Won-jin, a conservative lawmaker who was briefed by the NIS, told reporters. “It was a power struggle to consolidate Kim Jong-un’s one man rule.”

Jang was known to have played a critical role in ensuring the smooth succession of his nephew into his role as the head of North Korea’s intelligence and police agencies. Jang was also known as one of the more pro-market reformers among North Korea’s powerful elite.

His influence was on display during a state visit to China in August 2012, on which he brought along fifty North Korean representatives to discuss the two countries’ cooperation in special economic zones near the border. He was received by the then-Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabo.

Some South Korean experts suggest the instability created by this alleged power struggle could lead the isolated nuclear-armed state to take even greater provocative actions on the world stage, in an effort to quell discord and reinforce unity, and reinvigorate the North’s international perception.

“In looking at past cases, when the North Korean regime becomes unstable, there could be more frequent provocations directed against the South,” Yang Moo-jin, a North Korean expert at the University of North Korean studies in Seoul, told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. “If so, then the South-North Korean relations could worsen and the tension on the Korean peninsula will heighten.”

Other experts were not surprised by the reports of Jang’s ouster.

“The signs have been there for some time that Jang was fading. He has been appearing less and less frequently in Kim Jong Un’s presence, or indeed, at all. If that change in his previously high-profile visibility was not caused by health problems, it suggested a political problem,” said one expert, who spoke to CBS News. 

The expert also suggested that Jang’s appearance as a “top leader” was hyperbolic, and indicated that the regime is, and always has been, top-centric.

“There is no power in North Korea except that at the top. From the moment Kim Jong Il died almost two years ago, Jang was vulnerable. He probably had a lot of enemies, but he no longer had any top cover,” said the expert. “It wouldn’t be surprising if Kim Jong Il had told his son to watch Jang carefully, and to cut him down when the time came.”

For more information, please see:

BBC News–North Korea powerbroker ‘dismissed’— 3 December 2013

Washington Post–Kim Jong Un’s uncle ‘very likely’ removed from power— 3 December 2013

Bangkok Post–N. Korean leader’s powerbroker uncle ousted, says South Korea— 3 December 2013

CBS News–North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un reportedly sacks his uncle Jang Seong-thaek, No. 2 man in regime— 3 December 2013

Al Jazeera–N Korean leader’s powerbroker uncle ‘sacked’— 3 December 2013

SNHR: November 2013 Death Toll: Increase in Civilian Causalities Exceeding 100,000 Victims, 277 Children Killed, 194 Women Killed

Period covered:  November 2013
Subject: death toll of civilians and armed rebels in November 2013
Prepared by Syrian Network for Human Rights

Syrian Network for Human Rights is independent of any government and political ideology.  We have more than 100 members, distributed in all Syrian provinces and neighboring countries.

SNHR documents human rights violations and victims killed during the Syria Revolution.

2,583 Syrian citizens were killed; including 663 armed rebels and 1,920 civilians.  Among the civilians, there are 227 children, 194 women, and 123 tortured to death including 2 media activists and 1 child.

In November: the civilian causalities exceeded 100,000 victims, including more than 12,000 children and 11,000 women.

The daily average of killings this month was 92 people a day, 4 people an hour.

The rate of children killed was so high this month: 277 child-victims with an average of 9 children a day, and the proportion of the children killed relative to the death toll is 14%, which is a very high rate and strict evidence that the Government Forces are targeting the civilians.

194 female victims killed at an average of 6 women a day, and the proportion of the women killed to the death toll is 8%, which is a very high rate and strict evidence that the Government Forces are targeting the civilians.

123 victims tortured to death at an average of 7 victims a day tortured to death in formal and informal detention centers.

The proportion of women killed, children, and victims tortured to death is 28%.  This clearly shows the invalidity of the Syrian government’s claims that it is fighting al-Qaeda, extremists and terrorists.  These figures clearly show that they are killing the Syrian people.

SNHR would like to indicate that what we could document by our deployed members in all of the Syrian provinces are classified by names date and place, photo or video.

We couldn’t document many cases of massacres and killing for many reasons, including procedures repeatedly and systematically used by the Syrian Government’s Armed Forces, like communications disconnection and blockading areas for many days. Such acts make the actual number higher than the one provided.  Not to mention that the Syrian government has prevented any of the human rights organizations from performing their duty in its territory.

It should be mentioned that work mechanism of Syrian Network for Human Rights’ Group is based on precise verification and documentation methods, and on our members deployed in the Syrian territory to gather facts and take written testimonies, live images and videos, oral and registered interviews audio, and video interviews so as to complement the efforts exerted to document human rights violations under the restrictions imposed by the Syrian government on the network members or any other Human Rights organization to work on Syrian territory.  The real number may exceed the one provided by dozens, especially in the case of massacres where they imposed blockage and cut communications.

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Legal conclusions

1-     SNHR is assured that the Syrian Government’s Armed Groups and Shabiha violated Previsions of Human Rights International Law which protect the right of life, in addition to dozens of cases considered as a war crimes (murder cases).

Undoubted Evidence of hundreds of eyewitness stories reveal that more than 90% of expanded and individual attacks were directed against civilians, and that’s all contrary to the Syrian Government’s claims that they are fighting Al-Qaeda and terrorists.

2-     SNHR also indicates that the documented events are also crimes against humanity, where the condition of widespread and systematically directed attacks against civilian population groups in most cases of murder was achieved.

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Condemnation and Responsibilities:

Responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts, similarly, Customary IHL provides that the state is responsible for all acts committed by a member of its military and security forces.  Thus, the state is responsible for wrongful acts committed by its military and security forces, including crimes against humanity.

SNHR holds the Syrian President Commander in Chief of the Syrian army, Bashar al-Assad, responsible for all acts of homicide, torture and massacres perpetrated in Syria as he holds the primary responsibility for giving the orders for these acts.  SNHR considers all Syrian regime members and heads of the security and military bodies directly complicit in those acts.  By the same token, SNHR considers the Iranian government and Hezbullah as direct partners in the acts of homicide who shall legally and judicially be held liable for those acts along with all those funding and supporting the Syrian regime which is systematically committing massacres on a daily basis.  SNHR holds all the above mentioned parties responsible for all consequences and potential reactions from the Syrian people in general and the families of the victims in particular.

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Recommendations:

Human right council

1-    Call upon the Security Council and relevant organizations to take upon their responsibility towards what’s happening to the Syrian children who are and have been affected from the constant killings.

2-    Exert pressure on the Syrian government to stop the random and deliberate shelling of civilians.

3-    Hold the allies and supporters of the Syrian government: Russia, Iran, and China, morally and physically responsible for the killings in Syria.

4-    Serious attention of the disastrous situation and give it a high priority, and try to take care of victims’ children and families.

Security Council:

1-    Decision to refer all the criminals and the involved to the ICC.

2-    Warn and send a clear message to the Syrian Government about the repercussions of using brutal methods and systematic killing.

Arab League:

1-    Demand the Human Rights Council and United Nations to give this serious issue the right attention and follow up.

2-    Political and diplomatic pressure on the Syrian Government Troops’  main allies-Russia, Iran, and China -to prevent them from continuously providing cover and international and political protection for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people, and hold them morally and physically responsible for all the excesses of the Syrian Government Troops.

Deadly Gun Battle Breaks Out in Tripoli

By Darrin Simmons,
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

 TRIPOLI, Lebanon-An outbreak of gunfire caused the death of at least six people and wounded thirty in the northern city of Tripoli.  Of the fatalities, one was a sixteen year boy, and of the thirty wounded, seven were soldiers.

Soldiers evacuate school children in an armored vehicle (photo courtesy of The Daily Star)

The outburst resulted from a string of sectarian attacks targeting Tripoli’s minority Alawite community which is centered in Jabal Mohsen, a neighborhood that firmly supports President Bashar Assad.

The Lebanese Army moved in early on Saturday to aid in the evacuating a school where students had been trapped due to heavy sniper fire.  Earlier, a number of pupils fled the school premises in fear of the violence.

Shop owners on Syria Street, which separates rival neighborhoods, also fled the scene of the gunfire.  The Army also blocked the highway that linked Tripoli to Akkar due to the sniper fire.

Earlier in the week, a Sunni group that strongly opposes Assad claimed a responsibility for the recent shooting and wound of three Alawites in the city.  Rumors have been spreading throughout the city that similar attacks would continue until the Ali Eid, the head of the pro-Assad Democratic Party, was handed to authorities.

According to an Army statement, they have boosted its security measures in the city and have apprehended on suspect for allegedly shooting a man from Jabal Mohsen.  The Army also is pursuing the gunmen who targeted the wounded Lebanese soldiers.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated, “We are seeking to put an end to the ongoing security breaches because we, along with the citizens, look forward to activating the security measures.”

Mikati further stated, “I have spoken to President Michel Sleiman about this and the security agencies and the judiciary have the government’s full political backing in order for them to carry out their duties.”

In light of the government’s lack of presence so far, citizens have resorted to vigilante actions said Hadi Hobeish, the Akkar Future Movement MP.  “Shooting at peoples’ legs is unacceptable but we have to look at the reason as well and it is the historic mistake of those behind the bombings,” said Hobeish.

For more information, please see the following: 

Al Bawaba-Four killed in Syria-fuelled sectarian violence in north Lebanon-30 November 2013

Al Jazeera-Deadly gun battles erupt in Lebanon’s Tripoli-30 November 2013

Al Arabiya-Lebanon: sectarian clashes kill three-30 November 2013

Arab News-Lebanon sectarian strife kills 3-30 November 2013

Daily Star-Syria-linked fighting kills five in Lebanon’s Tripoli-30 November 2013

NSA Monitors Porn Habits to Discredit Dissidents

by Michael Yoakum
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States – The National Security Agency spied on porn habits of suspected Muslim “Radicalizers” to discredit them according to a report released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  The slides Snowden provided to the Huffington Post described “personal vulnerabilities” of six Muslim targets that “view[ed] sexually explicit material online.”

The slides, dated 3 October 2012, identified six targets accused of being involved in terrorist plots outside of the US. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

While the names of six targets in this report were redacted from the report provided by Snowden, the NSA believed all six to live outside the United States.  The report identifies these six targets as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” may be used to undermine the views of dissenters.

One dissident was identified as a foreign national and a “respected academic.” His was listed as holding that radicalizing view that “offensive jihad is justified.”  His listed vulnerabilities are “online promiscuity” and “publishes articles without checking facts.”

News of the NSA’s proposed tactics have been met with sharp criticism, both internationally and domestically.

“This is not the first time we’ve seen states use intimate and private information of an individual who holds views the government doesn’t agree with, and exploit this information to undermine an individual’s message,” said NGO Privacy International in response to this news.

Director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, Ben Wizner said via Twitter, “The NSA scandal turns a dangerous corner,” adding, “I bet Washington is full of nervous people.”

Revelations of the latest NSA program came shortly after a group of United Nations experts adopted a right to privacy resolution.  This resolution is set to be passed by the UN General Assembly before the year’s end.

This news was perhaps more damaging to European Union’s review of its commercial data-sharing program known as Safe Harbor.  One EU executor threatened to freeze the pact, effectively eliminating the supply of information on transatlantic air passengers as well as the exchange of information intended to limit terrorist funding.

For more information, please see:

TIME – NSA Monitored Porn Habits To Discredit ‘Radicalizers’ – 27 November 2013

USA Today – NSA spied on porn habits, HuffPo reports – 27 November 2013

Fox News – NSA reportedly spied on porn habits to discredit Islamist radicals – 28 November 2013

The Washington Post – The Switchboard: NSA discussed using porn habits to discredit Muslim radicals – 27 November 2013

BBC News – NSA ‘planned to discredit radicals over web-porn use’ – 27 November 2013