Paraguay: Pregnant 10-Year Old Rape Victim Denied an Abortion

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay — A 10-year-old girl in Paraguay has been denied an abortion that could save her life.  The girl, who is more than five months pregnant, was allegedly raped by her stepfather.

Image courtesy of

The child was admitted to the hospital with stomach pains when doctors discovered that she was 22-weeks pregnant.

Amnesty international is called on Paraguay’s government to allow the child to get the abortion for the sake of her health.  The mother also requested that the child be allowed to have an abortion, due to the high risk nature of the pregnancy.

The mother’s request was also denied by officials, as abortion is illegal in the South American country.  The girl’s mother is now in custody facing charges of breaching duty of care and being an accomplice of sexual abuse.

Guadalupe Marengo, America’s deputy director at Amnesty International, said Paraguay’s “restrictive” abortion law is in violation of international law.

“Forcing the girl to continue with the pregnancy would prolong the horror”, he said. “The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture.”

Health Minister Antonio Barrios told Paraguay’s ABC newspaper that a psychologist along with doctors were providing care to the girl.

“[T]here are no indications that the girl’s health is at risk… we are not from any point of view, in favor of terminating a pregnancy,” Barrios was quoted as saying.

Paraguayan health authorities have said that even if the abortion were allowed, they would not go ahead because it could be risky for the girl at such a late stage in pregnancy.

The Catholic church in Paraguay has weighed in on the debate, noting human life is sacred, and it starts at conception.

This isn’t Paraguay’s first run in with a domestic abuse pregnancy.  According to health statistics, 680 Paraguayan girls between 10 and 14 years old gave birth in 2014.

Two births a day occur among girls aged 10 to 14 in Paraguay, and many are the result of sexual abuse by relatives and stepfathers, according to the government.

For more information, please see: 

Reuters – Pregnant 10-year-old rape victim denied abortion in Paraguay –  5 May 2015

The Telegraph – Girl, 10, raped by stepfather, denied abortion in Paraguay – 30 Apr. 2015

CNN – Group presses Paraguay to allow abortion for raped girl, 10 – 4 May 2015

the guardian – To make a 10-year-old give birth isn’t just horrifying – it’s life threatening – 5 May 2015

Press Release: Canada’s Senate Adopts Magnitsky Sanctions Resolution

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

Canada’s Senate Adopts Magnitsky Sanctions Resolution

6 May 2015 – The Canadian Senate has adopted the Magnitsky sanctions motion and condemned those involved in the cover up of the $230 million corruption exposed by Sergei Magnitsky.

“Joining with parliaments around the world, the Senate’s adoption of this motion expresses our commitment to accountability for foreign nationals who commit the most serious violations of human rights,” said Senator Andreychuk, who introduced the motion in the Senate of Canada.

The Canadian resolution condemns the unprecedented posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky in Russia, and those who have been involved in covering up the crimes he exposed.

The Resolution encourages sanctions against any foreign nationals who were responsible for the detention, torture or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or who have been involved in covering up the crimes he exposed.

Comparable resolutions, motions and acts have been adopted by the European Parliament, the British House of Commons, the Dutch Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and others.

Senator Linda Frum, supporting the Senate motion, said:

“We in Canada and other countries where justice and the rule of law prevail must always speak up and take action when possible against foreign nationals who commit crimes and violate human rights, and then attempt to cover them up. Sergei Magnitsky’s courage, which led to his torture and death, should be recognized and applauded everywhere.”

The Senate’s Magnitsky Motion further calls upon the Canadian government to explore sanctions against any foreign nationals responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights in a foreign country, when authorities in that country are unable or unwilling to conduct a thorough, independent and objective investigation of the violations.

A similar motion was adopted unanimously by all parties in the House of Commons on March 25, 2015.

The adoption in the Canadian parliament of the Magnitsky motion is a significant step forward in bringing accountability and consequences for the torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky and the global fight against Russian impunity,” said William Browder, leader of the Magnisky Justice campaign and author of best-selling book ‘Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s Number One Enemy,’ released in nine languages and thirteen countries (

For more information, please contact:

Magnitsky Justice Campaign

+44 2074401777



Twitter: @KatieFisher__



War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Vol. 10 – Issue 4 — 03 May 2015

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 10 – Issue 4
May 3, 2015


Editor in Chief
Alexis Krivoshik

Managing Editors
Ryanna Miller
Aaron Kearny

Senior Technical Editor
R. Tadd Pinkston

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is a bi-weekly e-newsletter that compiles official documents and articles from major news sources detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world. To subscribe, please email and type “subscribe” in the subject line.

Opinions expressed in the articles herein represent the views of their authors and are not necessarily those of the War Crimes Prosecution Watch staff, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law or Public International Law & Policy Group.



Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Iraqi High Tribunal


Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma


Darfur, Sudan

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents – Situation in Darfur, Sudan

Omar al-Bashir Wins Sudan Elections by a Landslide
BBC News
April 27, 2015

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been re-elected with 94% of the vote, according to official results.

The country’s main opposition parties boycotted the elections, saying they would not be free and fair.

Turnout was officially 46% but BBC Sudan analyst James Copnall says many believe the real figure was even lower.

Mr Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, denies International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of ordering a genocide in the Darfur conflict.

Western countries, including the US, Britain and Norway, criticised the polls for not being free and fair.

The African Union monitors said that basic freedoms and human rights would have “enhanced” the polls.

Most Western countries will not accept the elections as meaningful, but 71-year-old President Bashir can count on support from the likes of the Arab League, and Russia, says our correspondent.

The ICC arrest warrant for Mr Bashir relates to the Darfur conflict, which began in 2003, and in which the UN estimates 300,000 people died and more than two million displaced.

The African Union (AU) has rejected the ICC’s attempts to have him arrested, arguing that Mr Bashir enjoys presidential immunity and therefore cannot be tried while in office.

In December 2014, the ICC dropped its investigation into the crimes, blaming inaction by the UN Security Council.

Omar Al-Bashir and Darfur: Wanted for War Crimes, Genocide, Crimes against Humanity
Daily News Egypt
April 27, 2015

Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir’s rise to political power began in 1989 when he, backed by military power (himself being a military man) and the support of Islamists, toppled the government.

Though he ended the decades-old war with the southern rebels in 2005, leading to the southern secession in 2011, it seems unlikely he will be remembered as a great peacemaker.

In 2003, a conflict erupted in the west of Sudan, in a region that has since then become a symbol for genocide and human suffering: Darfur. There ethnic rebel groups accused the government of unfair treatment and took up arms.

Al-Bashir’s reaction included the arming of militias and, according to the ICC, subjecting thousands of civilians to “acts of murder, […] extermination, […] rape, […] forcible transfer”, and including the expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homelands.

The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2010 included charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Independent researchers estimate the number of deaths in Darfur totals around 300,000, with more than 2 million displaced persons. The Sudanese government however claims the death toll of the conflict is only around 10,000.

The majority of casualties are attributed to diseases caused by the dire humanitarian situation in Darfur, a situation only worsened by the government policy of keeping out international aid organisations and strictly limiting the international peacekeeping forces.

Ever since 2009, the ICC has called upon states and the UN Security Council to arrest Al-Bashir. He has, however, largely been travelling freely, especially in Africa and the Middle East, with Egypt being among his destinations several times.

Al-Bashir met the international community’s accusations with a blunt refusal, denying the charges and in turn accusing the court and the states supporting it of trying to impose their will upon the people of Sudan.

Sudan’s Bashir Wins Presidential Election in Vote Boycotted by Opposition
The Wall Street Journal
By Nicholas Bariyo
April 27, 2015

Sudan’s president won re-election in a vote the opposition boycotted and Western governments denounced. The victory extends the nearly three-decade rule of the head of state, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war-crimes charges.

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, won 94% of the vote that opened April 13, Sudan’s election commission said on Monday. The commission said voter turnout was about 46%—well below the 60% the government had targeted.

The opposition boycotted the election, citing a widespread crackdown on civil society and the media, which they say created an impossible environment to fairly contest Mr. Bashir’s presidency. The boycott left voters with a choice among Mr. Bashir and 19 relatively unknown figures.

Turnout was low from the beginning and the government extended voting by an extra day to encourage more participation.

The victory gives 71-year-old Mr. Bashir another five-year term in office as he continues to defy The Hague’s arrest warrant in relation to his violent suppression of the conflict in Darfur.

During his time at the helm, Sudan has been plagued by back-to-back wars in which the United Nations says around 300,000 people have died, mainly in the region of Darfur. Sudan says about 10,000 have died.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir in 2010, charging him with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide during a violent suppression of rebellions in Darfur. The Sudanese government has said it doesn’t recognize the ICC.

Last week, the U.S. and Britain criticized the election and said Sudan failed to create “a free, fair and conducive elections environment.” Neither the U.S. nor Britain sent observers.

An African Union observation mission was more softly critical. “The 2015 electoral process highlighted the fact that Sudan still faces serious challenges to democracy building.”

Sudanese government spokesman Rabie Abdelaty dismissed the criticism, saying, “This is a decisive victory. The opposition and their international backers should respect the will of the people.”

This is the second election under Mr. Bashir, who came to power after toppling Prime Minister Sadig al-Mahdi in a coup and has clamped down on the opposition, civil society and the media since the 1990s. Observers also criticized the 2010 vote.

Mr. Bashir’s decision to implement Islamist social overhauls in the 1990s effectively split the country—alienating the largely Christian south from the Arab-dominated tribes of the north in a process that culminated with South Sudan’s secession in 2011. Khartoum lost at least a third of its land and nearly all its oil fields as a result of the split.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents – Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ntaganda Case: Trial to Commence in July 2015
April 22, 2015

Today, 22 April 2015, Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an oral ruling, during a status conference, rescheduling the opening of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda to the second or the third week of July 2015. A specific date will be announced in due course for the trial’s commencement date, which was initially scheduled for 2 June 2015.

The Chamber considered a request by the Defence to postpone the trial’s opening until 2 November 2015, which was opposed by the Prosecution and the Legal Representatives of Victims. The Chamber also considered the recent Registry’s submissions indicating that an additional period of approximately one month would be required to facilitate the holding of opening statements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Having considered the Registry’s need for extra time, as well as all other relevant factors, and having indicated that the Chamber was not satisfied that the Defence’s submissions justify a postponement of the length requested, the Chamber decided to postpone the opening statements to the second or the third week of July 2015. This decision was issued without prejudice to the Presidency’s decision on whether they are to be held in the DRC or not, and decided that the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence shall commence provisionally on the week of 17 August 2015.

Background: Bosco Ntaganda, former alleged Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Force Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo [Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo] (FPLC), is accused of 13 counts of war crimes (murder and attempted murder; attacking civilians; rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy’s property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities) and five crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; persecution; forcible transfer of population) allegedly committed in Ituri, DRC, in 2002-2003. Mr Ntaganda is in the Court’s custody.

On 19 March 2015, Trial Chamber VI recommended to the Presidency of the Court that the opening statements of the trial in the Ntaganda case be held in Bunia, in the DRC. Trial Chamber VI indicated its intention of bringing the judicial work of the Court closer to the most affected communities, and its finding that it is in the interests of justice for the opening statements to be held in Bunia in the DRC. The ICC Presidency is consulting with the DRC authorities and will make a decision on this matter, in consultation with the Trial Chamber, in due course.

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Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents – Situation in the Republic of Kenya

ICC Registrar to Monitor Wanted Journalist Walter Barasa’s Travels
All Africa
April 23, 2015

The International Criminal Court Registry has been ordered to monitor any possible movement of wanted journalist Walter Barasa out of Kenya.

Judges handling the case have asked the registry to inform any state party of Barasa’s travel or planned travel into their territories.

They said the registrar should send a Note Verbale to the particular state containing a reminder of their obligation to cooperate with the court in the arrest and surrender of that person.

The judges also ordered the registrar to liaise and cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor in respect of information relating to possible travels of suspects.

Hague Court to Meet Today Over Ruto, Sang Case
All Africa
By Felix Olick
April 28 2015

Hague judges have today scheduled a key meeting in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.

The status conference would determine whether a uncooperative prosecution witness only known by the pseudonym P727 would finally take to the stand.

The witness has dragged the trials by almost two months after he declined to testify – amid allegations he wants his entire family moved to Netherlands.

The courts tentative calendar shows the status conference will begin at 9.30am to 4pm Hague time.

However, according to information the Star has obtained, the status conference will largely be a closed session. This is meant to protect the identity of the witness.

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Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents – Situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Libya: the current UNSMIL-led negotiations should focus on accountability and the fight against impunity
No Peace Without Justice
April 17, 2015

In an open letter to the Members of the UN Human Rights Council, No Peace Without Justice calls on them to use the forthcoming 22nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session to bolster and reinforce the ongoing UNSMIL-led peace talks in Libya and bring the issues of accountability and the fight against impunity at the centre of the negotiations.

So far, UNSMIL’s efforts to bring the crisis to a close have focused on the creation of a unity government and the establishment of multiple councils and consultative bodies, rather than on the basic principles and values which should underpin them, and even less ‎on how these bodies will guarantee equality in front of the law, accountability and personal responsibility for all citizens. These are fundamental elements without which a democratic, peaceful and stable regime cannot be established or sustained.‎ Unless it is an opportunity to discuss and agree on redress, reparations, and mechanisms to ensure non repetition, UNSMIL’s proposals risk little more than “institutional engineering” designed to provide a seat for every player in one of many committees or councils, without addressing any of the fundamental issues at the basis of the current political and humanitarian crisis.

For the political and diplomatic mediation process to succeed, it has to address the need for concrete accountability and transitional justice strategies that can have a tangible and constructive effect on reconciliation and progress in Libya, including in particular the strengthening of the judicial system, providing both the expectation and the reality of individual accountability for current violations and a comprehensive understanding of the past, all of which are necessary in order to build a credible and far reaching political solution in Libya.

The upcoming UPR working group session on Libya, in May 2015, can serve as a platform to initiate genuine action in the sphere of accountability and human rights and in particular focus on the need to act swiftly on the following critical issues:

– ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and enact implementing legislation to incorporate Rome Statute crimes in Libyan law; ‎

– announce a moratorium on all executions imposed by military and civilian courts and ensure full compliance with the restrictions prescribed in article 6 of the ICCPR;

– regularise the prison system and ensure that all prisons and detention facilities are managed and controlled by Libyan State authorities alone;

– address past and ongoing violations of women’s rights and ensure the effective implementation of UNGA Resolutions 67/146 and 69/150 to ban female genital mutilation.

LFJL signs the Tunis Declaration on the Arab Court of Human Rights
Lawyers for Justice in Libya
April 30, 2015

Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) participated in the conference hosted by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Legal Agenda on 8 and 9 April 2015 to discuss the mandate and constitution of the Arab Court of Human Rights (the Court) in light of regional and international experiences. The outcome of that debate is the Tunis Declaration, which outlines the key shortcomings of the Statute of the Court (the Statute) and sets out essential revisions necessary to enable the Court to provide genuine access to justice and act as an effective safeguard for human rights in the region.

The Statute was approved by the League of Arab States (LAS) in September 2014 following a closed drafting process that included no public review. The current Statute falls far below international human rights standards as it:

– restricts access to the Court to states parties to the Statute and accredited, state-approved, non-governmental organisations, thereby denying direct access to individuals;

– fails to safeguard judicial independence; judges are nominated by states parties and sit for short terms of four years before seeking re-election for a second term only, creating an insecure position and dependency on states’ nominations and risking the creation of an incentive to issue politically favourable decisions;

– Adopts a narrow set of criteria for the admissibility of cases, including the requirement that applicants must have exhausted all local remedies, and have received a final judgement on the matter from their domestic system, not reflecting the reality that many LAS states may not attend to cases within a reasonable time frame or in circumstances of judicial independence; and

– does not provide for the Court to take account of international jurisprudence when applying the Arab Charter on Human Rights, risking that its judgments contradict the obligations of states parties arising from other international treaties, particularly given that the Arab Charter falls below international standards in key areas such as women’s rights, the application of the death penalty and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief.

In light of the severe limitations, the Tunis Declaration puts forward a set of amendments to the Statute which draw on the wealth of experience and best practice from other regional and international human rights justice systems.

Key changes requested by the Tunis Declaration’s signatories include revising the Statute so that it incorporates the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary; ensuring access to the Court by individuals and removing obstacles to access for NGOs; providing flexibility within the criteria for admissibility of cases; and guaranteeing that the Court will take full account of international human rights standards when applying and interpreting the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

Elham Saudi, LFJL’s Director, noted, “The current Statute of the Arab Court does not provide the framework for the adequate protection of human rights in the Arab region and risks undermining the international obligations of member states. LFJL urges members of the League of Arab States not to ratify the Statute in its current form, and advocates for its comprehensive overhaul in line with the Tunis Declaration.”

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Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Official Website of the International Criminal Court
ICC Public Documents – Situation in the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

ICC: Getting Gbagbo was a priority
Justice Hub
By Sophie van Leeuwen
April 14, 2015

The ICC has long faced major criticism regarding its investigations in Ivory Coast. Former President Laurent Gbagbo is being held in The Hague, awaiting trial, while crimes reportedly committed by militias supporting the current president, Alassane Ouattara, don’t seem to have been probed.

A balanced investigation into the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast (2010-2011) did take place, according to former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. But, the current prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said that an inquiry into the alleged crimes committed by pro-Ouattara supporters will only be launched in mid-2015. So where is the Court actually at?

Focusing on Gbagbo

“From the very beginning, the investigations covered the post-electoral violence in Ivory Coast committed by all parties”, explains Pascal Turlan, an advisor to Fatou Bensouda. “However, the probe could not be conducted in parallel and at the same speed.”

According to Turlan, “in 2010, we started investigating the entire crisis. On the basis of the evidence we gathered, we were quickly able to open cases against Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé. There was a lot of information, videos and allegations about the events in Abidjan. These pieces of evidence pointed us fairly quickly to those persons who we believe were responsible for part of the crimes.”

Turlan adds “since we didn’t have sufficient resources to carry out investigations into all the incidents simultaneously, our team focused initially on the Gbagbo case. We had to set priorities.”

The prosecutor has juggle with her resources. “The arrival of Bosco Ntaganda is very good news”, says Talan. “The same holds true for Dominic Ongwen. But each time, we have to allocate more resources to that team, and this creates tensions because our budget is finite.”

Setting priorities

Even though the ICC prosecutor works according to her immediate priorities, Turlan says the ICC has already obtained part of the evidence about the other camp, for example, regarding incidents in western Ivory Coast. “We went to the west of the country on several occasions. Now we’re intensifying our investigations into the other parties involved in the post-election violence. The prosecutor has publicly confirmed that in mid-2015, the team will be strengthened. But if Joseph Kony is arrested tomorrow, for instance, we’ll again have to reevaluate our efforts, based on the available funding.”

Another challenge could be the upcoming elections in Ivory Coast, which are scheduled to take place in October of this year. They might disrupt the investigation plans, says Turlan. The prosecutor will take such an external factor into account in planning investigations on the ground. “Of course, the prosecutor has to take into account the security requirements for everyone involved”, says Turlan. “Publishing the results of the investigations or issuing an arrest warrant on the day of the elections wouldn’t make much sense and wouldn’t lead to a good administration of justice.”

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International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

Official Website of the ICTR

Rwanda Genocide Tribunal Holds Final Hearings
BBC News
April 22, 2015

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has held its final hearings into crimes carried out during the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people died.

In more than 20 years of operation, the UN-backed court has indicted 93 people for their roles in the violence.

It was the first international tribunal to deliver verdicts in relation to genocide and recognise rape as a means of carrying out genocide.

Sixty-one defendants were convicted and 14 were acquitted.

Others were referred for trial elsewhere, died before or during their trials, were fugitives or had their indictments withdrawn.

Six appeals

The last defendant to appear before the court, based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, was former Rwanda women’s minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was appealing against her conviction for genocide and incitement to rape.

In 2011 she became the first woman to be found guilty of such crimes by an international tribunal.

Ms Nyiramasuhuko begged the appeal judges to acquit her, saying she was “not the type to commit these heinous crimes for which I was sentenced”.

The court had earlier heard appeals from five other defendants, including one of Ms Nyiramasuhuko’s sons, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali.

He was a militia leader in Rwanda’s southern Butare region at the time of the killings and was sentenced in 2011 to life in prison for genocide, extermination and rape as a crime against humanity.

Four other co-accused people, all serving long jail terms, were senior officials in Butare when mostly members of the minority Tutsi community were massacred, largely by ethnic Hutus.

Verdicts in the six appeals are expected later this year.

Burundi: Thousands Flee to Rwanda As Protests Grip Capital Before June Poll
The Guardian
By Clar Ni Chonghaile
April 30, 2015

Thousands of people have crossed from Burundi into neighbouring Rwanda over the past week, fleeing intimidation by youth militia who are reportedly targeting rural areas as protests grip the capital, Bujumbura, over the president’s decision to stand for a third term in June’s presidential elections.

According to reports, the authorities have cut mobile access to social media services such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Private radio stations have been shut down and youth militia are marking the homes of those opposed to the president. With protests in the capital ongoing, many fear more violence in a country that endured vicious ethnic violence during its 12-year civil war.

The protests have also raised fears that future violence could cause ripples in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where armed groups still prey on vulnerable communities in the resource-rich east bordering Burundi.

On Saturday, President Pierre Nkurunziza was nominated to stand again by his ruling CNDD-FDD party. Furious at what they perceived as a breach of the constitution and of the peace accord that ended the civil war, protesters took to the streets of Bujumbura and clashed with police. The protests have continued this week.

Demonstrators burned tyres, built roadblocks and threw rocks at security forces, who responded with tear gas, water cannon and live bullets, according to Human Rights Watch. Burundi’s Red Cross said at least six people had been killed in Bujumbura.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, sent his special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, to Burundi, while the US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, Tom Malinowski, travelled to the country on Wednesday to “urge all actors to reject violence to safeguard the gains Burundi and its people have achieved since 2005”.

Britain has urged its citizens to avoid all but the most essential travel to the country, with some areas designated no-go zones, including Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces, north of Bujumbura.

Britain’s Foreign Office called for Burundi’s government to allow private radio stations to resume broadcasts, and to let citizens protest peacefully.

Nkurunziza’s supporters argue that his first term, which started in 2005, does not count because he was appointed by parliament rather than elected. His opponents say another term would be in breach of the constitution and the peace deal to end the 1993-2005 civil war, in which 300,000 people were killed.

Nkurunziza is not alone among African leaders in seeking to extend his term of office by changing or ignoring constitutional limits. When Blaise Compaoré, the former president of Burkina Faso, tried to end term limits and extend his 27-year rule in 2014, he was forced to resign after massive street protests.

In Burundi, violence – and intimidation by the pro-government youth militia, the feared Imbonerakure youth wing of the CNDD-FDD party – has driven thousands of people from their homes. Up to 5,000 people crossed into Rwanda over the weekend, although the number crossing daily has dropped slightly since then. On Tuesday, 1,281 people crossed.

More than 22,000 people, mainly women and children, have fled into Rwanda since the beginning of April, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Nearly 4,000 people have crossed from Burundi into the DRC.

Martina Pomeroy, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Rwanda, said most of those fleeing came from the northern province of Kirundo, adding that there had been obstacles to people crossing in recent days, with reports that some were having to pay bribes on the Burundi side.

“Mostly what we hear is that people were feeling threatened. We haven’t encountered people who were victims of violence themselves, but they were threatened by youth militia, who support the current regime … people said they used different intimidation tactics, like they would mark your house and say, ‘We are coming for you tonight’,” Pomeroy said.

“People would go and sleep in the bush and then come to Rwanda on foot. There are also some reports of people saying that people they knew had disappeared,” she said, adding that those fleeing said they were targeted because of their perceived opposition to the government and president.

The UNHCR’s two main reception centres near the border have been completely overwhelmed, Pomeroy said, prompting the agency to move up to 1,500 Burundians a day to a new refugee camp in Mahama, in south-east Rwanda.

Stephan Klingebiel, head of department at the, said the political crisis was exacerbating frustrations caused by extreme poverty and a perception that a small elite was benefiting from an expected “peace dividend” in a country where democracy is but a “fragile facade”.

Klingebiel, who is carrying out research in Rwanda, said he had heard the youth militia were very active in rural areas.

“Burundi was never a very peaceful and stable place but over the last couple of months it really has accumulated, and everyone was expecting that if Nkurunziza ran for a third term, things would get worse. There is a high risk that we are at the brink of a severe and difficult situation.”

He noted that there was also an ethnic dimension to the tensions, with ethnicity still seen as a factor in economic and political success.

During the civil war, Nkurunziza was among the mainly Hutu rebels fighting the army, which was then dominated by the Tutsi minority.

Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries and most of its population of nearly 10 million people are subsistence farmers. It is heavily dependent on aid, with just under half its planned budget for 2015 due to be funded by international donors, according to a plan approved by parliament.

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Senegal: Hissène Habré Trial
Human Rights Watch
April 27, 2015

Human Rights Watch on April 27 issued an updated questions and answers document about the upcoming trial in Senegal of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré.

“The Hissène Habré trial shows that it is possible for victims, with tenacity and perseverance, to bring a dictator to court,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch who has worked with the survivors since 1999. “In a case which looked dead so many times, the victims made it clear that they were never going away until they got justice.”

Habré will stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system. The chambers were inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, the period when Habre ruled Chad. The president of the Trial Chamber is Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso, who will sit with two senior Senegalese judges, Amady Diouf and Moustapha Ba, and Pape Ousmane Diallo of Senegal as an alternate.

The judges were inaugurated on April 23, and Senegal’s minister of justice Sidiki Kaba said that the trial would begin in June.

Habré’s trial will be the first in the world in which the courts of one country prosecute the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. It will also be the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial in Africa. Universal jurisdiction is a legal basis in international law that allows national courts to prosecute the most serious crimes even when committed abroad, by a foreigner and against foreign victims.

The question-and-answer document includes information about the history of the case and details about the trial and the Extraordinary African Chambers.

Habré is accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture during his rule, from 1982 to 1990, when he was deposed by the current president, Idriss Déby Itno, and fled to Senegal. After a 22-year campaign by his victims, the chambers indicted Habré in July 2013 for crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes and placed him in pretrial custody. After a 19-month investigation, judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers found that there was sufficient evidence for Habre to face trial.

On March 25, 2015, a court in Chad convicted 20 top security agents of Habré’s government on torture and murder charges.

Chad’s Troops Rescue 43 Boko Haram Child Soldiers in Nigeria
All Africa
By Nan
April 22, 2015

Col. Azem Agouna, Chadian Army Spokesman, said on Wednesday that they have repatriated 43 children, who had been kidnapped by Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram and forced to become child soldiers.

He said in N’djamena that the children, who are aged 12 and older and are Chadian nationals, were found in the Nigerian town of Damasak, in North-Eastern Borno.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Damasak was under Boko Haram control until Chadian and Nigerian forces recaptured the town in early March.

Agouna said the children managed to escape during the clashes between the insurgents and soldiers, while the local families helped them to hide from the jihadists.

He disclosed that when it was certain that Boko Haram had been defeated and would not return to the town, the children came out of their hiding places and asked Chadian security forces for help.

The spokesman said the army would look into how and when Boko Haram abducted the children from Chad.

Cameroon: Chad – Calm Returns to Kyabé After Clashes
All Africa
By Emmanuel Kendemeh
April 28, 2015

Violent clashes between the protesting population and security forces led to four people killed on April 25, 2015.

Four people died and more than 10 others sustained injuries following violent clashes between the forces of law and order and the protesting population in the town of Kyabé in the southern part of Chad near the border with the Central African Republic, RFI reported.

The angry population of the town is said to have gone on the rampage, attacking security services offices in retaliation for the death of one habitant of Kyabé remanded in Police custody. Security forces are reported to have reacted by firing at the protesters. The angry population reportedly attacked the Police Station, burned down Police vehicles and also attacked the Gendarmerie where they burned down another vehicle. RFI reported that Gendarmes responded to the attack compelling the assailants to retreat

Chad’s Minister of Interior, Abderahim Breme who visited Kyabé on Sunday, April 26, 2015 told news agencies that calmed had returned to the town. On the impact of the violent clashes, he said the protesters ransacked the Police Station and burned down part of the local market. He confirmed that four people died in the incident and specified that the person who died in Police custody was a suspected thief.

A local Police source told news agencies that problems started after the arrest of the man accused of theft. The source reportedly added that the person was suspected of being part of a gang specialized in burgling shops in the town’s market. When the family members of the person learned of the death, they rushed to the Police Station to take his corpse but the Police authorities refused insisting that an autopsy needed to be done. By the time of going to press the cause of the death had not yet been disclosed.

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Mali: Senior UN Official Urges Parties to ‘Immediately Cease Hostilities’
UN News Centre
April 28, 2015

Amid an upsurge in violence in Mali, the top United Nations official there today warned parties about the serious consequences their actions could have on the country’s peace process.

“I urge the parties to immediately cease hostilities and to return to their positions. This resurgence of tensions imperils everybody’s efforts to restore lasting peace in Mali,” said Mongi Hamdi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

At around noon today, MINUSMA was informed about an attack conducted by GATIA and MAA-Plateforme in the town of Ménaka, which is currently held by elements of the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA). Shots were heard and MINUSMA deployed helicopters to assess the situation, according to a statement released by the mission.

“Early this morning, near Timbuktu, MINUSMA vehicles were targeted outside the city by the CMA. There were no casualties. The CMA have indicated to us that this was an error on their part, and demand the departure of FAMa,” Mr. Hamdi said.

“These two events are extremely worrying as they endanger the peace process. We are currently establishing the facts,” added the envoy, who met on 26 April with representatives of the CMA, who reaffirmed their full commitment to the ongoing peace process.

“Months of intensive negotiations involving all parties to put an end to the crisis in Mali could be endangered. These actions constitute serious violations of the ceasefire agreements, which were also reaffirmed in the declaration of 19 February 2015,” he continued.

Mr. Hamdi also pointed to the statement by the President of the Security Council on 6 February, which suggested that appropriate measures would be considered, including the imposition of targeted sanctions against those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire.

“I therefore call for calm and reason to prevail for the benefit of all Malians. The crisis that has shaken Mali will only be resolved through dialogue. I remain convinced that all parties will demonstrate wisdom and reason to sign a historic peace agreement,” he said.

The ceasefire agreements signed by the parties foresee that they stay in their positions during the negotiations and that they abstain from any action – direct or indirect – that would undermine the prospects for peace. MINUSMA, which is completely impartial, insists that these commitments be respected by all.

The MINUSMA teams on the ground are completely committed to ending this “very worrying spiral of tensions as quickly as possible,” Mr. Hamdi said, calling for calm to give dialogue and peace a chance.

“I regret the turn of events, but I remain optimistic regarding the chances of seeing the peace process successfully concluded next month. There is no alternative to the signing of the peace agreement.”

In recent years, Mali has been confronted by a crisis with serious political, security, socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights consequences. The crisis stems from long-standing structural conditions such as weak State institutions, ineffective governance, deep-seated feelings among communities in the north of being marginalized and the effects of environmental degradation, climate change and economic shocks.

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The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

Official Website [English translation]

Indira Kamerić Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 17, 2015

Having completed the main trial, on April 17, 2015 the Trial Panel of Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina pronounced a verdict, finding the accused Indira Kamerić guilty of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (CC SFRY), in conjunction with Article 22 of the same Code. In that regard, the Court sentenced the accused Indira Kamerić to 3 (three) years of imprisonment.

The same verdict, pursuant to Article 284c) of the BiH Criminal Procedure Code (CPC BiH), acquitted the accused Indira Kamerić of the charges that by the acts described in Counts 1 and 4 of the Indictment she committed the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 173(1)c), e) and f) as read with Article 180(1) of the BiH Criminal Code, all in conjunction with Article 29 of the same code.

The accused Indira Kamerić was found guilty that during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a member of the 101st Bosanski Brod Brigade of the Croat Defense Council, on the premises of the Polet stadium building in Bosanski Brod, together with other HVO members, she participated in the physical and mental torture and inhumane treatment of the detained civilians.

Pursuant to Article 188(1) of the CPC BiH, as read with Article 186(2) of the CPC BiH, the accused shall reimburse the costs of the criminal proceedings and a scheduled amount to be determined by the court in a separate decision.

In relation to the acquittal, pursuant to Article 189(1) of the CPC BiH the accused is relieved of the obligation to pay the costs of the proceedings, which shall be paid from the court’s budget appropriations.

Pursuant to Article 198(3) of the CPC BiH, the aggrieved parties are advised to pursue their property claims before a civil court.

The verdict may be appealed within 15 days of the date when the written copy was received.

Ibro Macić Sentenced to 10 (ten) Years in Prison
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 17, 2015

Having completed the main trial, on April 17, 2015 the Trial Panel of Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina pronounced a verdict, finding the accused Ibro Macić guilty of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (CC SFRY), in conjunction with Article 22 of the same Code. In that regard, the Court sentenced the accused Ibro Macić to 10 (ten) years of imprisonment.

The accused Ibro Macić was found guilty that, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina including the territory of Konjic municipality, as a member of the Army of BiH, together with other ARBiH members, he acted in violation of the rules of international humanitarian law, by arriving in the Serb-populated village of Blace, Municipality of Konjic, on or about June 13, 1992, and killing four elderly women whose bodies have never been found.

In addition, the accused Ibro Macić was found guilty that, between May and October 1993, on the premises of the Musala elementary school in Konjic, where Serb and Croat individuals were detained, as a member of the Military Police of the Army of RBiH, alone or together with multiple unidentified members of the Army of BiH, he committed and participated in the torture, sexual abuse and inhumane treatment of the detainees.

Pursuant to Article 188(4) of the CPC BiH, the accused is relieved of the obligation to reimburse the costs of the criminal proceedings.

Pursuant to Article 198(2) of the CPC BiH, the aggrieved parties are advised to pursue their property claims before a civil court

Pursuant to Article 292 of the CPC BiH, an appeal may be filed against this verdict.

Prohibitive Measures Imposed on Redžo Balić
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 23, 2015

Having confirmed the indictment, deciding on the Motion of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina to impose prohibitive measures, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a decision on April 20, 2015 granting the Prosecutor’s Motion, and imposed the following prohibitive measures on Redžo Balić:

· Ban on leaving the place of residence (the suspect’s movement is restricted to the territory of the Konjic municipality);

· Travel ban (with temporary withdrawal of travel documents together with the prohibition of issuance of new travel documents, as well as the prohibition to use the identity card for crossing the State border of Bosnia and Herzegovina);

· Prohibition from meeting with certain persons (the suspect is prohibited from contacting or meeting with witnesses in this case, including approaching them at the distance of 100 meters).

  • Obligation to periodically report to the relevant police station, once a week.

The imposed prohibiting measures may last for as long as they are needed, that is, until a new decision of the Court, and the justifiability of custody shall be reviewed on a bi-monthly basis.

If the accused violates the imposed prohibiting measures, he may be placed into custody.

Redžo Balić is under grounded suspicion that he committed the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 173(1)c) as read with Article 180(1) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Senad Šabić’s Custody Terminated and Prohibitive Measures Imposed
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 24, 2015

On April 24, 2015 the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a decision in the case of Azra Miletić et al., denying the Prosecutor’s Motion to extend custody of the suspect Senad Šabić, instead imposing on him the prohibitive measures as follows:

· ban on leaving the place of residence (authorized officials of the PU Velika Kladuša shall carry out random daily checks to verify the suspect’s whereabouts);

  • ban on meeting certain individuals.

The prohibiting measures may last as long as they are needed, but not later than the date on which the verdict becomes legally binding if a person was not pronounced the sentence of imprisonment and at the latest until the person has been committed to serve the sentence if a person was pronounced the sentence of imprisonment.

If the suspect violates the imposed prohibiting measures, he may be placed into custody.

Pursuant to Article 126.b(6) of the CPC BiH, the justifiability of the imposed prohibitive measures shall be reviewed on a bi-monthly basis.

Prohibitive Measures Imposed on Suspects in the Case of Vahid Bajrektarević et al.
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 24, 2015

On April 22, 2015 the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a decision to deny the Prosecutor’s Motion to order custody of the suspects Zijad Nanić, Esad Kudelić, Nedžad Bapić, Senad Salkić, Hasan Mustafić and Samir Isaković, instead imposing on them the prohibitive measures as follows:

· ban on leaving the place of residence (house arrest – including the obligation for the relevant police officers to make random daily visits to check whether the ban is complied with);

· travel ban (with the prohibition of issuance of new travel documents, as well as the prohibition to use the identity card for crossing the state border of Bosnia and Herzegovina);

· prohibition from meeting and contacting Prosecution witnesses, as well as all former members of the 505th Bužim Brigade of the V Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the suspects among themselves).

The imposed prohibiting measures may last for as long as they are needed, that is, until a new decision of the Court, and the justifiability of custody shall be reviewed on a bi-monthly basis.

If the suspects violate the imposed prohibiting measures, they may be placed into custody.

Zijad Nanić, Esad Kudelić, Nedžad Bapić, Senad Salkić, Hasan Mustafić and Samir Isaković are suspected of the criminal offenses of War Crimes against Prisoners of War under Article 175, Subparagraph a) and War Crimes against Civilians under Article 173 of the Criminal Code of BiH, all as read with Article 180(1) and (2) of the CC BiH.

Miodrag Marković Sentenced to 6 Years of Imprisonment
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 28, 2015

The Appellate Division Panel of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with regard to the Decision issued by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina No. AP-929/12 of March 17, 2015, overturning the verdict of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina No. S 1 1 K 003426 10 Krl (Ref. X-KRŽ-07/442) of September 27, 2011, in the part pertaining to the application of the more lenient criminal code, on April 15, 2015 sent out the Verdict dated April 9, 2015 reversing the second-instance verdict of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina No. S1 1 K 003426 11 Krž of September 27, 2011 in the part concerning the application of substantive law and the sentencing decision, so that the actions Miodrag Marković was found guilty of by the first-instance verdict were legally qualified as a criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (CC SFRY), adopted pursuant to the Law on the Application of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the CC SFRY. The Court of BiH sentenced the accused Milorad Marković to 6 (six) years of imprisonment. Pursuant to Article 50 of the CC SFRY, the time he spent in custody and serving his sentence under the final verdict of the Court of BiH shall be credited towards his ultimate sentence.

In the remaining part the verdict of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina No. S1 1 K 003426 11 Krž of September 27, 2011 shall remain unchanged.

No appeal lies from this verdict.

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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Official Website of the ICTY

Hadžić Granted Provisional Release Pending Trial
By Julie Deisher-Edwards
April 15, 2015

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Monday ordered the provisional release pursuant to an interlocutory appeal for Goran Hadžić, the former president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina during the Croatian War of Independence. Hadžić is accused of coordinating, supporting and instigating efforts to achieve the “permanent removal of a majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from a large part of the territory of the Republic of Croatia” during his term as president. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Hadžić has been unfit to stand trial since October. The ICTY has ordered Hadžić to be released to Serbian custody until his next hearing in May.

The ICTY commenced Hadžić’s trial in October of 2012. In August 2011, Hadžić entered a not guilty plea at the ICTY. Hadžić had refused to enter a plea the previous month when he was extradited to The Hague. Hadžić was the last fugitive of the original 161 sought by the ICTY to be arrested. The ICTY’s work in prosecuting suspected war criminals for acts committed during the Balkan War was part of the impetus for the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other conflict and region specific criminal tribunals. The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals. It was created by the UN Security Council pursuant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Mladic Witness Denies Army Role in Sanski Most Killings
Institute For War & Peace Reporting
By Daniella Peled
April 27, 2015

Former colonel in Bosnian Serb military claims all non-combatants were given a chance to leave.

A defence witness in the case of Ratko Mladic has denied that Bosnian Serb soldiers were involved in crimes committed in the Sanski Most area in the spring of 1992.

Retired Colonel Branko Basara was commander of the 6th Krajina Brigade in the Bosnian Serb army at the time.

Basara has been indicted by the Bosnian state court on charges of crimes against humanity committed in Sanski Most and Prijedor in 1992. At the beginning of his testimony, the judges told him that he did not have to answer any incriminating questions.

Sanski Most is one of the municipalities in which former Bosnian Serb army general Mladic is charged with acts of persecution committed in pursuit of the “objective to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and/or Bosnian Croats” living there.

Prosecuting lawyer Edward Jeremy began by discussing the 6th Brigade’s arrival in Sanski Most on April 3, 1992, on the orders of Basara’s superior General Momir Talic, commander of the Krajina Corps.

Talic was indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Hague tribunal, but proceedings ended with his death in 2003.

The prosecution contends that Talic ordered Basara to start working closely with civilian structures in the municipality. Jeremy produced an order signed by Talic with instructions to “establish full cooperation with the organs of government in Sanski Most municipality and collaboration with the TO [territorial defence] and the police units”.

The witness said that in fact this cooperation had only covered “gathering information and reports from the field” and helping staff the territorial defence units.

“In the field, things look different,” he added.

Jeremy moved on to discuss the witness’s relationship with Talic

“You knew General Talic well, yes?” he asked.

“I knew him well because I used to teach at the military academy. I knew him since his time as a cadet. He knew me and treated me with respect during the period of my engagement,” he answered.

Jeremy turned to previous evidence that Basara gave in The Hague, when he testified as a prosecution witness in the case of Stojan Zupljanin and Mico Stanisic, two former Bosnian Serb police commanders who in 2013 were given 22-year jail terms for war crimes.

“In a 2002 interview with the Office of the Prosecutor, you describe Talic as a very active commander, in the sense that he wanted to know what was going on as far as knowledge of events was concerned. Correct, yes?” Jeremy asked. “You also said in your view, he was not an active commander in the sense of actually commanding operations himself, and you said in comparison to – for instance – General Mladic. Is that correct?”

“It is correct that I said that he was not active directing activities,” the witness replied. “In terms of his participation, more the sort of commander who commanded from his command post.”

“And when you compared that style of command to the more active style of General Mladic, were you basing this on any actual observations that you had of General Mladic’s active command style?” Jeremy asked.

“I did not know General Mladic at all,” Basara answered. “I had no occasion to meet him, but based on what I could follow, I concluded that General Mladic was an officer who wanted to know everything, follow everything and participate in things.”

Jeremy moved on to discuss the “six strategic objectives” adopted by the Bosnian Serb leadership at a session of the Republika Srpska assembly on May 12, 1992. The prosecution has argued that these constitute evidence of advance planning for the crimes that were later committed against non-Serbs during the war.

Basara said he had known nothing about the six objectives.

“Is it your position that while you were brigade commander in Sanski Most, you were not aware of the six strategic goals?” Jeremy asked.

“I was not aware of it, at least to the best of my recollection,” the witness replied.

Jeremy went on to argue that Basara was part of the Crisis Staff, the local Bosnian Serb civilian authority, and referred to a number of documents to support this.

The witness responded that he had emphatically refused to be under the command of any civilian structure. “I did not accept that and that is how I stayed on until [the] very end,” he added.

Jeremy produced a document recording the conclusions of a Crisis Staff meeting, dated June 19, 1992. Basara’s name was on the list of its permanent members.

“No, I was not any kind of member of the Crisis Staff,” the witness insisted. “Why they wrote my name down there, I have no idea – probably because I attended certain meetings.”

The testimony moved on to killings that took place in the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) village of Mahala in Sanski Most.

“On May 26, 1992, residents were given a three-hour warning to evacuate, after which units from your brigade shelled Mahala. That’s correct, isn’t it?” Jeremy asked.

Basara said this was a warning to all non-combatants to leave, adding that his brigade shelled Mahala in response to mortar fire coming from inside the village.

“Colonel Basara, civilians in Mahala died as a consequence of this military operation. You know that, yes?” Jeremy asked.

The prosecutor the turned to events in Hrustovo, where a similar evacuation warning was given.

The prosecution recalled testimony which Basara gave in the Zupljanin/Stanisic case, and which stated that all those killed in Hrustovo were Muslims who had taken part in combat, although some were wearing civilian clothing.

“Now Colonel Basara, this chamber has received evidence that Serb soldiers shot dead a number of civilians, overwhelmingly women and children, who were hiding in a garage in Hrustovo on May 31 1992,” Jeremy said. “Just so I’m clear, you’re not suggesting that these persons were somehow Muslim fighters dressed in civilian clothes, were you?”

Basara repeated that warnings were given to non-combatants to leave, adding that “when NATO was bombing, they didn’t give a second for anybody to leave and anyone who was killed was considered to be collateral damage”.

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie asked the witness whether he considered the people killed in the garage “collateral damage”.

“I do not,” the witness replied, but argued that if people did not leave zones under fire, then they risked being killed.

The prosecution turned to the massacre at the Vrhpolje bridge in Snaski Most on May 31, in which 16 Bosniak men were ordered to jump into the river Sana and were then shot.

Basara heard the gunfire and drove up to the scene immediately after the killings. He said eyewitnesses told him that “armed men… some in blue uniforms and some in camouflage” had carried out the shootings.

Jeremy noted that two armed men from the 6th Krajina Brigade were on the bridge when Basara arrived.

“Did you consider that something relevant to include in your statement, and why didn’t you include it?” he asked the witness.

“Nobody asked me,” Basara replied, adding that he had had “no grounds” to arrest the soldiers “because when I jumped out of the vehicle I saw their weapons were on their shoulders, they were not among those shooting. That group fled and they just went on standing there and then they walked up to me.”

“Did you check weapons for any sort of ballistic analysis?” Jeremy asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t want to sound funny now or anything, [but] I didn’t send it off for an analysis. I didn’t have time to do that, to examine the victims, to send weapons off to ballistics analysis and so on,” the witness said. “All the people I had available were reservists.”

“So 16 men are killed, almost in front of your eyes, and you don’t have time to launch a proper investigation into that. Is that your position?” Jeremy asked.

“It’s not that I didn’t have time – I didn’t have the experts, the organs who could have done that, and I am not a professional; I am not able to do that,” Basara replied. “So that means that during the war I should have dealt with such investigations for 90 per cent of my time and leave aside everything else? And combat was ongoing in Hrustovo, so there was not enough time; there weren’t any professional personnel there who would’ve been capable of doing that.”

Jeremy went on to note an order Basara issued the following day to all subordinate units directing that “in future combat operations we must not make the mistakes we made before… I categorically forbid acts of genocide against the population of the opposing side who are unable to fight, including women, children under 18, the sick and people over 60 years of age.”

The prosecution asked whether this order was a reference to the earlier crimes in Vrhpolje and Hrustovo. Basara acknowledged that it was partly in response to the killings at the bridge, although he denied his own brigade was in any way involved.

“It drove me nuts completely, thinking that people could do such a thing. I was concerned that such a situation could be repeated. That is why I issued this order – to preempt any such future events,” Basara said.

“But was it then your own soldiers who had done it?” Judge Orie asked.

“It wasn’t done by my soldiers, but one learns from others’ mistakes,” the witness replied.

Prosecutors allege that Mladic is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible population transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”. He is accused of the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995, and of planning and overseeing the siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead.

Mladic Witness: Bosnian Muslim Civilians Moved “to Protect Them”
Institute For War & Peace Reporting
By Daniella Peled
April 29, 2015

Wartime officer tells judges that officers feared paramilitaries would attack villagers if they remained.

A former senior Bosnian Serb officer testifying at the trial of Ratko Mladic this week denied orders he issued in May 1992 were aimed at permanently removing Bosnian Muslims from Serb-held Zvornik.

Defence witness Svetozar Andric held a number of senior posts in the Bosnian Serb army during the war, serving as commander of the Birac Brigade and chief-of-staff of the Drina Corps, and finishing with the rank of lieutenant-general.

Prosecutor Andrew Tieger began by asking him about the “six strategic objectives” adopted by the Bosnian Serb leadership at a session of the Republika Srpska assembly in May 1992. The prosecution has argued that these constitute evidence of advance planning for the crimes that were later committed against non-Serbs during the war.

Tieger pointed in particular to the goal that “the Serbian people must struggle for complete separation from the Muslim people and Croat people and form its own state”.

He asked the witness whether he had been made aware of “this position of the political and military leadership regarding the importance of complete separation from Muslim and Croat people”.

“No, I wasn’t informed about that,” Andric replied, explaining that he joined the Bosnian Serb military just a few days after the objectives were agreed and was busy settling into his new post in Birac.

Tieger produced an order dated May 28, 1992 that Andric sent to the Zvornik Territorial Defence staff.

“You direct that the moving out of the Muslim population must be organised and coordinated with the municipality through which the moving is carried out. Only women and children can be moved out while men fit for military service must be placed in camps for exchange,” he read. “You state that the order to remove residents refers ‘only to residents who expressed the wish to go’, correct?”

“Correct,” the witness said.

“The Birac Serbian autonomous region or district government adopted the same order, correct?” Tieger continued.

“That is correct,” Andric said.

The prosecution then turned to the witness statement provided by Andric where he claimed that Bosnian Muslims were moved out of the area to protect them from possible reprisals by Serb paramilitary units.

Tieger asked whether the reason given at the time of the order was that these people were to be moved “as a result of crimes Muslim extremists carried out against Serbs in the area”.

“One of the reasons,” the witness agreed, adding that the local government had called for particular care to be taken over “the protection of the three ethnic groups”.

“The intention to address the perceived problem of crimes carried out against Serbs by armed Muslims would not be addressed, General, would it, by a course of action to simply allow those Muslims who wished to leave to depart in an organised way, would it?” Tieger continued. “In short, if you are concerned about the people attacking you and want to fight, letting a certain number of other people who want to go is not going to address that problem.”

“Many paramilitary organisations were dangerous from the security point of view, not only for Muslims but for Serbs,” the witness explained, adding that “not for a single moment was [the order] written in order to have someone killed. On the contrary, the only aim was to protect people.”

Tieger turned to a report in the official Bosnian Serb journal Javnost dated June 6, 1992 in which the decision to move Bosnian Muslims out of the area was explained as being “a result of crimes Muslim extremists carried out against Serbs in the area, and no other reason is given”.

He also noted that “many people who moved out were rounded up or captured before they expressed any desire to leave”, and highlighted the section of Andric’s order which referred only to “men fit for military service”.

The witness repeated that the aim of his order had been to avoid “liquidations” because there were a number of paramilitary units operating in Zvornik.

He added that he had ordered screening to be carried out to identify anyone who had been involved in military activity.

“If someone had not committed a crime, taken part in armed conflict, then these people could be released; they could go to Muslim territory if that is what they wished. If they wanted to stay, they could stay,” he said.

Andric previously testified as a defence witness in the trial of former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, when he similarly claimed his order was meant to prevent harm to Bosnian Muslims in the Zvornik area.

Later, Tieger returned to the subject of paramilitaries, asking whether Andric blamed groups such as the notorious Yellow Wasps for the killings in the Zvornik area.

“For the most part,” the witness agreed, although he went on to emphasise, “I don’t know specifically who committed these things. I cannot say with any degree of certainty.”

However, Tieger argued that Andric had been aware that such paramilitary groups were supposed to be subordinated to the Zvornik Territorial Defence, later incorporated into the Bosnian Serb army as the Zvornik Brigade.

Andric responded that these units in Zvornik “did whatever they wanted – they even captured the president of the municipality”.

Tieger turned to other instances in the region where Bosnian Muslims were rounded up and men separated from women and children. “That was the implementation of your order to move out the men, and separate the women and children and putting the men in camps for exchange,” he said.

The witness denied this.

“This order of mine saved hundreds of people, I believe. If not, many would not be alive today,” he said, adding that later the men detained were exchanged for Bosnian Serb prisoners “and today they live together with their families”.

Mladic stands accused of crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible population transfer. He is also accused of the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995, and of planning and overseeing the siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead.

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Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

Turkey Extradites Serb War Crime Suspect
Anadolu Agency
April 17, 2015

Dusko Dabetic, a Serb sought by officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina for alleged war crimes committed during the Bosnian War, has been extradited by Turkey.

Dabetic arrived in Sarajevo at 19.31 local time (1831 GMT) aboard a Turkish Airlines scheduled flight accompanied by two Bosnian police officers.

The Sarajevo-born 64-year-old Serb is wanted by Interpol on charges of committing war crimes against Bosniak and Croat civilians including murder, torture and rape in the Grbavica municipality of Sarajevo during the siege of the city between the years 1992 and 1995.

Dabetic’s case is under investigation by Cantonal Prosecution officials.

A Sarajevo court issued an international arrest warrant for Dabetic in September 2012.

In November 2014, he was detained by the Interpol Department of the Turkish General Directorate of Security at Antalya Airport while allegedly using a false identity.

He was later sent to Metris Prison in Istanbul awaiting extradition.

The International Red Cross has said at least 312,000 people, including 200,000 Bosnians, were killed during the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.

A total of 8,400 people remain missing, according to the Institute for Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Former Serbian Party leader Radovan Karadzic, Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, chief of general staff Ljubisa Beara, head of security Dragan Nikoli and police director Ljubomir Borovcanin were among those found guilty of war crimes committed during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Between 1,000 and 1,500 Bosniak men were captured by Serb forces on 13 July,1995, locked in a warehouse belonging to the Agricultural Cooperative in the Bosnian Serb village of Kravica and killed by troops using automatic weapons and grenades.

About 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were eventually killed after the Bosnian Serb army attacked Srebrenica — designated a UN “safe area” — in July, 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as UN peacekeepers.

US Official Drums up Support for Kosovo to Deal With Organ-harvesting, War Crimes Claims
By Associated Press
April 21, 2015

A senior U.S. official says Kosovo must set up a court to try former ethnic Albanian guerrillas for suspected organ-trafficking and the disappearance of hundreds of Serb captives if it wants to avoid Russia and Serbia dealing with the issue at the United Nations.

Stephen Rapp, U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes, made the comments in an interview with Koha Ditore daily on Tuesday. Rapp was in Kosovo to drum up support for the legislation that needs the backing of 81 out of 120 lawmakers, many of whom are former rebels.

An EU-run team of judges would then handle the proceedings.

A Council of Europe report named former Prime Minister Hashim Thaci as head of the criminal network. Rapp said up to 12 people could be indicted.

Kosovo Demands From Serbia To Answer For The Crimes Committed In Kosovo
Journal of Turkish Weekly
April 27, 2015

The fate of missing people remains one of the most serious wounds of the last war in Kosovo.

Thousands of Albanians, including elderly people, women and children, who were killed by police and Serb army during the last war in Kosovo, were put on lorries and buried in massive graves in Serbia, in order to lose all traces of crimes.

Most of those Serbs who are responsible, have not been brought to justice for these cruel crimes, while some of them hold important offices in the institutions of Serbia.

According to official figures, there are over 1600 people from Kosovo, the majority are civil Albanians, the fate of whom remains unknown.

“Mother’s Calls” organization has appealed on institutions to act at once in order to shed light upon the fate of missing persons in Kosovo.

The head of this organization, Nysrete Kumanova says that life without their loved ones is difficult and that they will not give up their efforts until the last missing person is found.

“On this day of commemoration, our association’s only aim is to shed light upon the fate of even the last missing person. Today we convey the message of compassion, commemoration and honor for our people, but we also want to convey our message to politicians and institutions to never give up, but insist for this issue to be resolved”, Kumonva said for IBNA.

The Organization for Regional Cooperation and European Integration (OBRIE) told IBNA that Serbia must apologize for the crimes that have been committed and compensate the damages caused in Kosovo.

“The tendency to individualize crime and the terror of the Serb population on civilian population in Kosovo, but also in other countries of the region, do not serve peace and stability in the region. There are so many missing people and nobody accepts any responsibility. This is not fair. The international community must act”, OBRIE says.

This organization says that if Serbia is looking for a new start, peace and stability in the region, then it must admit responsibility and compensate the damages caused to the people of Kosovo.

According to this organization, only then it would be reasonable to have talks between Kosovo and Serbia on technical issues and not on issues concerning the status.

On the National Day of Missing People, the PM of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa said that the families and relatives of these missing people have gone through many years of anxiety and wait for their loved ones.

“Serbia must provide answers for the disappearance of our people, for the monstrous crimes that its paramilitary and military forces carried out in Kosovo”, Mustafa declared today.

Mustafa said that those who committed crimes must be brought to justice.

“The government of Kosovo must use all international institutions to ask for these missing people to be found, to be returned and for criminals to be brought to justice”, Mustafa declared.

Kosovo Needs War Crimes Court, Germany Says
The Journal of Turkish Weekly
By Una Hajdari
April 29, 2015

On a visit to Kosovo, the German Foreign Minister has reassured Kosovo about the planned special war crimes court, saying sensitive historical issues need to be dealt with openly.

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that the creation of a special court on war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, during the conflict of the 1990s is an essential tool for Kosovo to deal with unresolved issues from the past.

“Kosovo owes it to its own history, and to its younger generations who hopefully have a long and prosperous future ahead of them, to deal with unresolved issues through the Special Court,” Steinmeier said, after meeting Kosovo officials during his visit to Pristina on Tuesday.

“I can only say from our own German experience that we know that the processing of history forms the only basis for a mature perspective of the future,” he said, insisting that the special court should not be considered “bad news” by Kosovo society.

Steinmeier met Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, President Atifete Jahjaga and Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci during his visit.

Kosovo is being urged by its Western partners to set up the special court, which parliament in Pristina is expected to vote on within the coming weeks.

The court, which will be set up as a set of Special Chambers within the Kosovo judiciary but based in The Netherlands, will have jurisdiction to assess crimes committed in 1998 and 1999 period by the local population including members of the KLA.

The formation of the court has caused dismay in Kosovo, where many people see the KLA as liberators from Serbia’s oppressive rule.

However, the United States, Kosovo’s chief foreign ally, has said that if it fails to create the court, a UN court could be created to deal with the crimes.

The KLA was an ethnic Albanian guerilla force established to resist the Serbian army and police in Kosovo, which was then a province of Serbia.

Claims that it committed serious crimes appeared in a report by Council of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty in 2011, and include accusations of organ trafficking. Some claims implicate the current Foreign Minister and former political head of the KLA, Hashim Thaci.

Dutch Court Decides Not to Prosecute Srebrenica Commander
By Addison Morris
April 29, 2015

A Dutch appellate court ruled Wednesday that Gen. Thom Karremans, who ordered Bosnian Muslims away from a UN peacekeeping compound during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, will not be prosecuted. Karremans, along with two other soldiers, faced charges for forcing three Bosnian Muslim men to leave the UN compound during the massacre, which ultimately led to their death. At this time, Bosnian Serb forces had overtaken the town and were busy leading approximately 8,000 Muslim men and boys to remote sites for execution and mass burial. Family members of the victims argued that their Muslim relatives should have been offered protection. However, the court found that Karremans could not be held criminally liable, as he was not obligated to realize the Bosnian Muslims had a chance of execution if turned away from the UN peacekeeper compound.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. Investigations of war crimes relating to the Bosnian-Serbian conflict are ongoing, and suspects are still being arrested and prosecuted. Earlier this month the ICTY upheld the majority of convictions [JURIST report] for Bosnian Serb army General Zdravko Tolimir for his involvement in the massacre. At the end of January the ICTY upheld genocide convictions [JURIST report] for Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara for crimes perpetrated by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1995 massacre. Also in January the war crimes division of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina [official website] confirmed the indictment [JURIST report] of Dragomir Vasic on charges of genocide. In October the Netherlands Ministry of Defense [official website] announced plans [JURIST report] to appeal a ruling finding Netherlands liable for the deaths of 300 of the men and boys killed in the Srebrenica massacre.

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Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)

Official Website of the Extraordinary Chambers
Official Website of the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT)

Beatings, Interrogations Recalled by Ex-Prisoner
Phnom Penh Post
By Shaun Turton
April 22, 2015

A Khmer Rouge tribunal civil party yesterday recalled being beaten, interrogated and imprisoned in Takeo’s Tram Kak district after his children were forced to lie and denounced him as a soldier of the former regime.

Rice farmer Thann Thim, 70, said he pleaded his innocence upon being seized by militia near a watermelon plantation in 1978, where he had been led by his unit chief for a “meeting”, telling them he previously sold firewood and had never been in the military.

He said that the group of four to five militiamen had accused him of being a lieutenant in the Lon Nol regime, whose members were targeted by the communists, according to the Case 002/02 charges against former Democratic Kampuchea leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

“They did not believe me, they kept beating me up, they changed hands one after another in doing so and they threatened me to tell them the truth,” said Thim, who was recalled to the tribunal yesterday to expand on his April 2 testimony.

“They said that my children told them about my rank, my children at the time were rather young, they were about 6 or 7 years old.”

Taken to Tram Kak’s Ang Roka prison, Thim later learned that his daughter had been forced to lie about his background after she was caught stealing sugar cane.

The civil party said he was interrogated again at Ang Roka and shackled in a hall for three months with up to 70 prisoners.

He recalled four or five of the prisoners would be “taken away” regularly, but said he didn’t see them executed.

Following Thim’s testimony, former Tram Kak district chief Pech Chim began his testimony by charting his rise through the Khmer Rouge ranks after becoming a full member in 1971.

Meanwhile, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday released its revised 2015 budget, which was bumped up about $6.4 million from the approved budget to $33.8 million.

Within this, $27.1 million will fund the international component of the hybrid court and $6.7 million their national counterparts.

The final amount spent last year was also announced to be $27.8 million, $2 million less than what had previously been approved.

The trial continues today

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Iraqi High Tribunal

Grotian Moment: The International War Crimes Trial Blog

Islamic State’s ‘War Crimes’ Against Yazidi Women Documented
The Washington Post
By Michael E. Miller
April 16, 2015

The Yazidi woman watched as her name was drawn out of a hat. Then a man she had never met told her to go into the bathroom and clean herself.

But she knew better. As a Yazidi woman captured by the Islamic State, she knew that a bath was often prelude to rape.

So she swallowed some poison and hoped to die.

Her story, and those of 19 other women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State, were collected by Human Rights Watch. In a report released Wednesday, the group accused the Islamic State of war crimes and, potentially, crimes against humanity for their treatment of Yazidi women.

Islamic State “forces have committed organized rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yezidi women and girls,” Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured.”

Yazidis are a mostly Kurdish-speaking people who practice a unique, syncretic faith. Globally, the Yazidis, number about 700,000, but the vast majority of the community — about 500,000 to 600,000 — live concentrated in Iraq’s north.

The HRW report is the second to document the suffering of Yazidi women captured by the Islamic State last summer during its sweep through northern Iraq. An Amnesty International study released in December described rampant torture, rape and suicide among the group’s female prisoners.

This latest report, however, includes interviews with women and girls who have managed to escape within the past couple of months. It suggests that despite an international offensive against the Islamists and reports of infighting within their ranks, the Islamic State remains a frightening and formidable force.

When the Islamic State swept through the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in early August, it killed hundreds of men and captured as many as 1,000 Yazidi women. The women were offered a bleak choice: Convert to Islam and be married, or face imprisonment and potential death.

According to interviews conducted by HRW, both options often led to rape and brutality. So some women chose death. (HRW gave the women interviewed pseudonyms to protect their identities.) The report described a second woman who tried to kill herself rather than be raped.

“I went into the bathroom, turned on the water, stood on a chair to take the wire connecting the light to electrocute myself but there was no electricity,” she told HRW. “After they realized what I was doing, they beat me with a long piece of wood and with their fists. My eyes were swollen shut and my arms turned blue. They handcuffed me to the sink, and cut my clothes with a knife and washed me. They took me out of the bathroom, brought in [my friend] and raped her in the room in front of me.”

She was later raped, she told HRW, and showed investigators the scars on her wrists from where she tried to kill herself for a second time. Human Rights Watch says it interviewed medical workers, Kurdish officials, community leaders and activists in order to corroborate accounts from rape survivors. Of the 20 women interviewed, 10 said they had been raped by Islamic State members, some multiple times. Two of the alleged victims were only 12 years old.

One 12-year-old said that she was abducted on Aug. 3 as she and her family were trying to escape from advancing Islamic State forces. The militants separated the men from the women and sent her to a house in Mosul where other Yazidi women were being kept.

“The men would come and select us,” she said. “When they came, they would tell us to stand up and then examine our bodies. They would tell us to show our hair and sometimes they beat the girls if they refused. They wore dishdashas [ankle length garments], and had long beards and hair.”

She said her captor beat her into submission. “I was a young girl, and I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?'” she told HRW. “He spent three days having sex with me.”

He wasn’t the only one. According to the report, she was passed from one Islamic State fighter to the next. Seven in total.

“Sometimes I was sold. Sometimes I was given as a gift,” she said. “The last man was the most abusive; he used to tie my hands and legs.”

According to the report, the woman’s experience is an example of the “systematic rape” of Yazidi women by the Islamic State. A doctor in Dahuk told the group that of the 105 women and girls she had examined, 70 showed signs of being raped by the Islamic State. The reports says that 974 Yazidis had escaped the group as of March 15, including 513 women and 304 children.

“Human Rights Watch documented a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces,” the report says, referring to another name for the Islamic State. “Such acts are war crimes and may be crimes against humanity.”

Islamic State makes no secret about its enslavement of Yazidi women. In October, the group boasted about the practice in its English-language magazine, Dabiq.

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations,” the magazine said, arguing that, unlike Christians and Jews, Yazidis, as polytheists, could be treated as property. “The enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers.”

These women escaped and recounted their horror stories to HRW. But many of their fellow Yazidis weren’t so lucky.

They remain enslaved by the Islamic State.

Iraqi Leader Confirms Investigation Into Human Rights Abuses, Offers No Specifics
ABC News
By James Gordon Meek
April 16, 2015

Haider al-Abadi said Thursday perpetrators of human rights abuses among his security forces and Shi’a militia allies will be “held accountable,” but he offered no evidence that any of Baghdad’s fighters guilty of ISIS-like atrocities have yet been brought to justice.

“We must continue to crack down on the abuses and excesses of a small minority of fighters that stand in dire opposition to the government’s clear policies. We are investigating all of these allegations of criminal conduct,” Abadi said in a speech before an audience that included many from Washington’s national security braintrust.

Appearing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Iraqi leader — himself a Shi’a Muslim — insisted that he will strive to end sectarian fighting between Shi’as and Sunnis, in part by arresting those accused of war crimes, but he offered no examples.

“Once corroborated, people involved are held accountable and prosecuted with the fullest weight of the law. Let me be clear. Let me be as clear as I can on this. Our government’s priority on this is reducing ethnic, secretariat tensions and divisions in Iraq,” Abadi said.

Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, spokesman for the Iraqi military, said in February that Baghdad would investigate dozens of photos and videos found on social media sites by ABC News in a six-month investigation. The horrifying imagery depicted men who appeared to be from the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces, Special Forces and Interior Ministry counter-terrorism units committing what many experts called war crimes, such as beheadings, torturing detainees and summarily executing prisoners — including, in one case, a young boy gunned down in cold blood.

In response to requests by ABC News about the results or status of the Iraqi investigation, Gen. Maan this week again promised an “update” without offering any details or timelines.

Asked on Thursday if he’d be willing to refer any war crimes cases involving militias to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Abadi replied, “Well, I think we have a good Iraqi justice system and I’m already referring some of these to the Iraqi justice system.”

The Iraqi leader also appeared dismissive of the exit from Baghdad of Reuters bureau chief Ned Parker, a veteran of 12 years of Iraq war coverage who left after Shi’a paramilitaries threatened to kill correspondents from the news agency who reported this month witnessing the mob execution of an ISIS prisoner by national police in Tikrit.

“Now I’m not sure if Mr. Parker — why he has left, to be honest with you,” Abadi said. “I cannot see why he left. Was he really threatened? Or, he felt he was threatened?”

Among those in the audience was Parker’s wife, Erin Evers, who has been the lead war crimes investigator inside Iraq for Human Rights Watch.

Abadi is in Washington to request further military support from President Obama and Congress in the fight against ISIS.

The issue of increased military aid to Iraq has been thorny because the Pentagon disclosed to ABC News in March that “certain units” of the Iraqi Security Forces had been barred since last summer from receiving aid such as weapons and training because a federal law, known as the Leahy Law, prevented it on the grounds of “credible information” of gross human rights violations “in the past.”

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. is “continuing to watch” reports of abuse, specifically emerging from Tikrit, but said so far, “there is no evidence of widespread activity.”

Speaking of the Leahy Law, Dempsey said that should the Iraqi investigations “reveal that a particular part of either the Iraqi security forces or the popular mobilization force [militias] did not behave appro[priately], we would not support it.”

Germany, Iraq seek U.N. action to protect Iraqi cultural sites
Al Arabiya News
April 22, 2015

Germany and Iraq asked U.N. member-states on Tuesday to take action against the destruction by militants groups of Iraq’s cultural sites, which they said was tantamount to a war crime.

The two countries are to present a draft resolution to the General Assembly that calls on countries to prosecute perpetrators of cultural vandalism and prevent the trafficking of stolen artifacts.

There has been growing international alarm over the fate of Iraq’s cultural heritage after videos surfaced of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters destroying artefacts at the Mosul museum and in the ancient cities of Hatra and Nimrud.

“Iraq is a cradle of our common civilization. We cannot leave it to face this challenge alone,” Germany’s deputy ambassador Heiko Thomas told the General Assembly.

“The international community must do all it can to put an end to these war crimes,” he said.

Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the destruction was “not only tantamount to war crimes and an irreplaceable loss to humanity, but also a vile attack on the efforts of the Iraqi government to achieve reconciliation and social cohesion between all Iraqis.”

The resolution, which is expected to come up for a vote in May, would urge world governments to help Iraq document and preserve its historical treasures as well as clamping down on the illegal trade. The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO has raised concern over book burnings in Iraq as part of militant campaign of “cultural cleansing.”

“Where books and works of art are burnt, human beings could be next. This is a painful lesson from history of which we in Germany are keenly aware,” the German deputy envoy said.

The U.N. Security Council in February adopted a resolution that seeks to cut off financing to the Islamic State group from the smuggling of antiquities.

It slapped a ban on the sale of antiquities from Syria, while a 10-year-old ban on those from Iraq remains in force.

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UN Members ‘Cry’ For Child Victims of Syria Chlorine Attacks
The Telegraph
By Ruth Sherlock
April 17, 2015

United Nations Security Council members were moved to tears on Thursday as Syrian doctors described their desperate attempts to save dying children from recent chemical attacks, prompting renewed calls for accountability.

Dr Mohamed Tennari spent several months treating victims after a series of barrel bombs filled with chlorine were dropped across towns and villages in the country’s northern province of Idlib in March.

He showed a video of a suspected chlorine attack on March 16 in his town of Sarmin, with images of three children, aged one, two and three, dying despite attempts to resuscitate them. The medical area was so cramped that one of the children was lying on top of their grandmother, who also died.

“Everyone smelled bleach-like odours” hanging in the air and the sound of helicopters was everywhere, Dr Tennari later told reporters. He said most of the victims were women and children.

Dr Tennari was helped out of Syria by the US government to brief UNSC members in a closed-door session.

Zaher Sahloul, who leads the Syrian American Medical Society and who was present at the closed door meeting on Thursday, said that most members of the 15-strong council mentioned the need for accountability for the attacks, with the exceptions of Russia, China and Venezuela.

He said every council member was affected by the video and briefing, and “some of them cried”.

“What we’ve done today is brought individuals who can testify to what happened, brought the facts to the council in as rapid and moving a way as we could do,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters. “And it is now, in our view, incumbent on the council to go further than we have been able to come to this point, to get past the old divisions.”

The Security Council failed last year to refer the civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year, to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Syrian ally Russia, backed by China, vetoed the move.

On Friday Dr Tennari will meet with Russia’s UN delegation.

The US and other council members have repeatedly blamed the Syrian government for the chlorine gas attacks, saying no other party in the four-year civil war has helicopters to deliver the toxic chemicals.

One proposal is to impose a limited no fly zone over Idlib, that would stop helicopters flying in the area.

“This would be with a limited time frame of four to five weeks,” said Hamish De Bretton Gordon, former colonel and chemical weapons specialist for the British military. “It could be patrolled from a ship off the coast, and US-coalition who are already in the air in the region fighting the Islamic State.”

The no-fly zone against helicopters would also stop the regime from dropping “barrel bombs” – metal cylinders filled with explosives, that are illegal in international law and have caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths in the conflict.

The council last month approved a resolution condemning the use of toxic chemicals in Syria and threatening action against any violations, but the UN’s most powerful body seems stuck because there is no way to formally assign blame for attacks.

It found rare agreement on Syria only in the fall of 2013 to order the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, but chlorine was not declared as a chemical weapon. The chemical does not have to be declared because it is also used for regular purposes in industry.

Mr Bretton Gordon said: “This would be a no-fly zone of limited scope. The Islamic State is not present in Idlib, so Assad cannot say it would be stopping his fight with them.”

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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Ohio Man Charged With Providing Material Support to Terrorists
ABC News
By Mike Levine
April 16, 2015

An Ohio man who allegedly sympathized with ISIS and trained with another terrorist group in Syria has been arrested by federal authorities after returning and looking to launch attacks in the U.S. homeland, the Justice Department announced today.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus, left the United States in April 2014 for the purpose of training and fighting with terrorists in Syria, according to the Justice Department. He had become a naturalized citizen only two months earlier.

Mohamed wanted to join ISIS and he previously posted ISIS propaganda online, but he has been charged with providing material support to al Nusrah, an Al Qaeda affiliate operating in Syria, according to the Justice Department.

Once in Syria, terrorists trained him in shooting weapons, breaking into houses, using explosives and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, charging documents allege. A radical cleric then instructed him to return to the United States and commit an act of terrorism, the documents say.

Mohamud returned to the United States in June 2014 with a plan to attack a military facility or a U.S. prison, according to the charging documents.

“Mohamud talked about doing something big in the United States,” the documents say. “He wanted to go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.”

When Mohamud left for Syria, his brother was already there fighting with terrorists, but his brother has since been killed, according to the Justice Department.

Mohamud was initially arrested in February on state charges. A federal grand jury has now indicted him for attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and one count of making false statements to the FBI.

Australian Police Arrest 5 Men They Say Were Planning Terror Attacks
The New York Times
By Michelle Innis
April 18, 2015

The Australian police arrested five men on Saturday who they said had been planning terrorist attacks to be carried out next weekend, during a national holiday. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the men had been inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.

The police said they believed that two of the men, both 18, had been preparing to attack police officers in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, during the Anzac Day holiday on April 25. Anzac Day honors the landing of troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during World War I. This year is the centennial of the landing, and large-scale public commemorations are planned for next Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“We believe that the potential attack was inspired by the Daesh death cult in the Middle East,” Mr. Abbott said at a news conference here hours after the arrests. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which controls territory in Iraq and Syria.

The arrests followed raids early Saturday on several residences in Melbourne by about 200 police officers.

The five men arrested had been under surveillance, and the raids were conducted after the police became aware of a specific threat, Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan of the Australian Federal Police said at the news conference where Mr. Abbott spoke. “These people have been on our radar,” Mr. Phelan said.

Mr. Phelan said he was “extremely confident that this particular cell and these particular plans” had been stopped.

The two men were likely to be charged with preparing to commit a terrorist act and possessing prohibited weapons, the police said. A third man, also 18, was expected to face weapons charges; two others, ages 18 and 19, were expected to be charged after more questioning by the police.

At a news conference in Melbourne, Neil Gaughan, an acting deputy commissioner for the federal police, said the five men were associates of Abdul Numan Haider, who was shot and killed in Melbourne last September after attacking two police officers with a knife. The police said Mr. Haider was a “known terrorist suspect” whose passport had been confiscated.

The Australian government said it had confiscated the passports of about 100 Australians to prevent them from traveling to the Middle East to join extremists there. Mr. Abbott said Saturday that domestic intelligence agencies were conducting more than 400 investigations of “people who would do us harm.”

In February, two men were arrested in suburban Sydney after a police raid on their home found weapons, a homemade Islamic State flag and a video recording of one of the men plotting an attack. The police also found a machete and a hunting knife.

Australia has joined the American-led coalition that is carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria, and last week Australian and New Zealand troops left for Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army in its fight against the militants.

Spain: Couple Accused of Links to ISIS
The New York Times
By The Associated Press
April 18, 2015

Two Spanish residents arrested in Turkey are suspected of having links to terrorists and membership in the Islamic State group, the Interior Ministry said Saturday. The couple, a Moroccan man identified as Ahmed Debza and a Spanish woman named as Nadia Ataich Fernández, live in Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla. The government said they had been in contact with others to encourage them to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, offering them aid to do so.

6 Minnesotans Held in Plot to Join ISIS
The New York Times
By Scott Shane
April 20, 2015

For months, as one young person after another in Minneapolis’s Somali community tried to join the Islamic State terrorist group, rumors circulated of a sinister terrorist recruiter who must be luring gullible teenagers and providing the cash to buy air tickets to Syria.

But on Monday, federal officials, announcing their biggest Islamic State recruitment case to date, said there was, in fact, no recruiting mastermind. Instead, for the six men arrested, there was just the camaraderie of sharing an illicit ideology, plus advice and inspiration by phone and Internet from one of their friends, a young Minneapolis man who joined the Islamic State last year.

In other words, said Andrew M. Luger, the United States attorney for Minnesota, the circle of friends “recruited each other.” He said they scrounged the money for tickets, selling a car and emptying a financial aid account, and brainstormed about how to evade the F.B.I. and reach the brutal terrorists they idolized.

The F.B.I. is increasingly concerned about this model of radicalization by peers. Because discussions of the Islamic State took place during pickup basketball games and visits to the mall, the wave of recruitment was difficult for the authorities to detect in advance. It is also a source of distress to parents in the Somali-American community, local activists say, providing no nearby villains to blame for leading their children astray.

The head of the Minnesota F.B.I. office, Richard T. Thornton, said crucial help in stopping the recruits came from inside the Somali community, including a young man who changed his mind about the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, and became an informant in January.

“These courageous men and women,” Mr. Thornton said of the local Somalis, “decided to do something to prevent more Minnesotans from traveling and dying in support of a terrorist organization which is evil to its core.”

All of those charged were Somali-Americans ages 19 to 21 from Minneapolis, where four were arrested on Sunday. The other two were detained in San Diego, where officials said they had driven to buy fake passports, hoping to cross into Mexico and continue to Syria from there.

A linchpin in the recruitment effort, it turned out, was Abdi Nur, 21, who left Minneapolis last May and successfully reached Syria. Mr. Nur, whose story was recounted by The New York Times last month, has become “an active recruiter” who offered encouragement and practical tips to those who wanted to follow his path, Mr. Luger said at a news conference.

During a 10-month investigation, the F.B.I. struggled to discover how the Islamic State was luring Minnesotans. Speculation surrounded a local man, Amir Meshal, 31, who had been expelled from two mosques and publicly accused of radicalizing young Muslims. But Mr. Meshal, who had vehemently denied supporting the terrorist group, was not charged.

Instead, Mr. Luger said, the recruitment was “a peer-to-peer operation” in which friends compared notes on how to raise money for plane tickets and connect with Islamic State travel facilitators in Turkey.

Arrested in Minneapolis were Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19; Adnan Farah, 19; Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19; and Guled Ali Omar, 20. The two men arrested in San Diego were identified as Abdirahman Yasin Daud, 21, and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, Adnan Farah’s brother. All were charged with conspiring to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization.

Mr. Daud and Mohamed Farah had driven to San Diego in Mr. Daud’s car accompanied by the friend who had become an informant. The informant, who was not named in court documents, had claimed he could get them forged passports to enter Mexico.

In November, in an earlier bid to leave the United States, Mr. Abdurahman, Mr. Musse and Mohamed Farah traveled by bus to Kennedy Airport in New York but were prevented from boarding. Their companion, Hamza Ahmed, 19, was removed from a plane minutes after boarding and subsequently charged.

But even after that encounter with the authorities, Mr. Luger said, “they never stopped plotting to find a way to get to Syria to join ISIL.” Others in the group were confronted by their parents and blocked from leaving, but decided to try again.

The court documents disclose that another Minneapolis man, referred to as “Y.J.,” evaded the F.B.I., flew to Turkey in June and called his family from the same telephone number used previously by Mr. Nur after he arrived in Turkey. He appears to have reached the Islamic State.

Those arrested on Sunday are among just a few dozen Americans who have traveled or tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. Those whose plans were discovered by the F.B.I. have been arrested, usually at an American airport as they tried to board a flight.

Those intercepted have been a diverse group, including many women, with ages ranging from the early teens to late 40s, and comprising both converts to Islam and children from Muslim immigrant families.

The largest single group, however, has consisted of Somali-Americans from Minnesota, a community that experienced a previous wave of young men departing to fight with the Shabab, the Qaeda affiliate in Somalia. Mr. Omar’s older brother, in fact, has been charged with joining the Shabab in 2007 and remains a fugitive.

The F.B.I. has been intensively investigating how the Islamic State’s recruiting has worked, and whether the sophisticated social media campaign of the terrorist group is supplemented by face-to-face recruiting in the United States. The answer on Monday seemed to be that like gang members or corner drug dealers, the recruiting relied largely on friendship networks and the thrill of a dangerous mission.

Members of the group did not hide their admiration for the Islamic State’s ideology. On his Facebook page, Adnan Farah featured a picture of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric who joined Al Qaeda in Yemen and was killed in a drone strike, the charging papers said. Since moving to Syria, Mr. Nur has periodically posted online photos and messages about his life with the Islamic State on Twitter, and other sites.

Even as Mr. Nur has tried to recruit others, the friend with whom he plotted his getaway has had a very different fate. Abdullahi Yusuf, then 18, was prevented from boarding his flight. Since then, Mr. Yusuf has pleaded guilty and is living in a halfway house under close supervision, while advocates work closely with him in what is seen as a national test case for deradicalization.

The number of Islamic State recruits from the United States remains small in comparison with Western Europe, where more than 3,000 people are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the group. But law enforcement and intelligence officials have tried to disrupt the travel in part because they were concerned that Americans could train with the Islamic State and then return to the United States to carry out attacks.

In the first case of its kind, a 23-year-old Somali-American from Columbus, Ohio, was charged last week with training in Syria — whether with the Islamic State or another group was left unclear — and being directed by a cleric there to go home to the United States and carry out an attack.

The authorities said the man, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a naturalized American citizen whose brother was killed last year fighting in Syria with another militant group, the Nusra Front, spoke of wanting to attack a military base. He mounted no attack, however, and was arrested in February.

Philadelphia Mother Accused of Trying to Martyr Self for ISIS Faces Up to 15 Years in Federal Prison
NBC News
By Wired Reports and NBC10 Staff
April 23, 2015

Federal prosecutors charged a Philadelphia mother, who went by names including “YoungLioness” and “Fatayat Al Khilafah,” after she allegedly tried to become a martyr for the Islamic State.

Keonna Thomas faces charges of knowingly and intentionally attempting to provide material support and resources, including herself as personnel, to a foreign terrorist organization, according to a federal indictment revealed Thursday.

The 30-year-old mom has remained jailed since her arrest earlier this month after judge ruled she is a flight risk and a threat to the community.

If she is found guilty she could spend 15 years in prison, said prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the unemployed mother of two young daughters made arrangements to fly to Spain last month with hopes of reaching Syria to fight with the terror group.

Thomas, also known as “Fatayat Al Khilafah” and “YoungLioness” on social media, began communicating with a man who identified himself as a violent jihadi fighter in December of 2013, according to a criminal complaint. She talked with him about donating money “to the ISIS brothers” and traveling to get more money. Posts from her Twitter accounts also included statements about dying for the cause.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Willis said Thomas would’ve boarded the flight had federal agents not served a search warrant on her home days earlier.

Federally indicted: Madison man charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS
Fox News
By Katie DeLong
April 23, 2015

A 34-year-old Madison man has been federally indicted, charged with attempting to provide material support and resources, namely himself as personnel, to a foreign terrorist organization.

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin returned the indictment against Joshua Van Haften Thursday, April 23rd.

The indictment alleges that from August 26th, 2014 to October 27th, 2014, Van Haften attempted to provide support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), knowing that the organization was a designated terrorist organization engaging in terrorist activity and terrorism.

Van Haften was charged previously in a complaint that was unsealed on April 9th.

The complaint alleges that Van Haften left the United States on August 26th, 2014, and traveled to Istanbul, Turkey. As alleged in the complaint, Turkey shares a land border with Syria and is known to be an entry point into Syria for those who wish to join ISIL.

“Van Haften traveled overseas for the alleged purpose of joining and attempting to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Stemming the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria and holding accountable those who attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations remains a top priority for the National Security Division. I would like to thank all the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.”

Federal anti-terrorism agents in this country had been tracking Van Haften of Madison for quite awhile. He was arrested by immigration officials in Turkey.

They helped by sending him back to the U.S. and he was taken into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Wednesday night, April 8th. Turkish immigration officials had been holding him since October. That’s when the U.S. government charged him in a complaint that’s been sealed until now.

United States Attorney Vaudreuil praised the work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force leading to Van Haften’s arrest, saying, “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate, arrest, and vigorously prosecute all extremists who choose to aid ISIL, or any other terrorist organization, and to stop them before they harm the United States or our allies. We also remain committed to working with dedicated community members to bring this cycle to an end.”

That complaint says Van Haften was trying to cross over into Syria to join ‘Islamic State’ and become a terrorist. Federal investigators say he planned to engage in violent jihad.

“We hope this arrest will serve as a deterrent for others who may be terrorist sympathizers here in Wisconsin.”

“This arrest underscores the importance of our JTTF law enforcement partnerships to bring those to justice who provide support and resources to terrorist organizations such as ISIL,” said Special Agent in Charge Shields. “We hope this arrest will serve as a deterrent for others who may be terrorist sympathizers here in Wisconsin, across the nation or abroad: they will be held accountable for support of terrorism against our citizens and our international partners.”

Federal agents tracked Van Haften’s Facebook page.

In September, Van Haften posted a photo of the ISIL beheading of James Foley, writing: “If the (expletive) Americans and sons of Satan, Israel wanna mutilate the dead, (expletive) we get an eye for an eye fool.”

In October, Van Haften messaged his former roommate in Wisconsin saying “I’m kind of jumping head-first into it. I’m tired of this life man.” He stated he had to do something courageous.

That same month the complaint says Van Haften’s Facebook page posted a comment to an individual asking for help to get into Syria, saying “I’m in Istanbul, bags packed next to the door, ready.”

In Rock County, where Van Haften lived with his mother in the past, there is concern.

“It was about a year-and-a-half ago I saw the turban. My son made the joke ‘al Qaeda is here.’ And now it seems like it is on our doorstep,” Terri Townsend of Rock County said.

Van Haften is a life-long sex offender registrant, convicted of the second degree sexual assault of a child in 1999.

If convicted, Van Haften faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the members of which include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Dane County Sheriff’s Office; and University of Wisconsin Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

Van Haften will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Madison Friday, April 24th at 9:30 a.m.

Saudi Arabia Accuses 93 of Terrorist Links, Including to ISIS
The New York Times
By Ben Hubbard
April 28, 2015

Saudi Arabia has arrested 93 people accused of plotting terrorist attacks since December, including a group described as having sought to strike the United States Embassy with a car bomb, the Saudi Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said in an statement that the suspects were accused of recruiting and training new members; testing explosives; gathering firearms; and plotting to attack residential areas and security facilities. They were arrested in six groups, it said, adding that most of the suspects had ties to the Islamic State extremist group and nearly all were Saudi citizens. One of the 93 suspects is a woman.

Saudi Arabia has joined an American-led coalition that is bombing the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in Iraq and Syria, where the group has seized territory. The Saudis are also leading an Arab coalition carrying out airstrikes in Yemen.

For their part, the Islamic State’s leaders have called on their supporters to mount attacks inside Saudi Arabia. There have been a series of mainly small-scale attacks in recent months.

Saudi officials said last week that a pair of men accused of killing two policemen had received support from the Islamic State. Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that the second of those suspects had been detained.

It was unclear why the Saudi authorities revealed the 93 arrests on Tuesday. They did not give the names of any suspects or provide any information about how or when the suspects would be tried.

A spokesman for the United States Embassy in Riyadh declined to comment about the assertion that one group among those arrested was planning a car bombing at the embassy. The embassy suspended consular services in Riyadh and at consulates elsewhere in the country on March 15 because of security concerns; the services were resumed a week later, but Americans were urged to take precautions.

Another group consisted of 65 people, including two Palestinians and a Yemeni, who had ties to the Islamic State and sought to spread its ideology and set up training sites for new recruits, the ministry statement said.

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Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Official Website of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon
In Focus: Special Tribunal for Lebanon (UN)

Ex-STL Employee Grilled in Al-Jadeed Case
The Daily Star
By Hashem Osseiran
April 18, 2015

The contempt case against Al-Jadeed TV and journalist Karma al-Khayat went into its second day at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Friday, with the defense highlighting the recurrence of leaks coming from the court.

Friday’s session opened with the cross-examination of prosecution witness John Comeau, a retired STL employee who was previously assigned to have direct contact with prosecutor witnesses in the Rafik Hariri assassination case, one day after the defense accused the witness of delivering false testimony and lying under oath.

Following Thursday’s scathing examination, the defense focused Friday on instances where confidential information was allegedly leaked to foreign media outlets like Canada’s CBC in 2010, Germany’s Spiegel Online international news website in 2009 and France’s Le Figaro newspaper in 2006.

These media outlets published the names of alleged suspects, and in the case of CBC, the purported phone numbers of alleged suspects were broadcasted, in addition to a leaked court memo.

The defense raised the issue of confidential information being published by other news outlets in an effort to establish that Al-Jadeed intended to expose the alleged leaks and not intimidate purported witnesses. “They [Al-Jadeed] were saying there is something rotten in the court,” defense lawyer Karim Khan noted.

In response, Comeau fumbled through his testimony and claimed that he was not aware of any leaks coming from the court.

“I’m aware of allegations of leaks but I am not aware of truly identified leaks from the tribunal,” Comeau said. “But any alleged leaks would have been concerning during my employment.”

Khayat and Al-Jadeed are facing charges of obstruction of justice and contempt of court for publishing confidential information from the international investigation into the 2005 assassination of Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister.

The Al-Jadeed case stems from a series of broadcasts aired on the network in 2012 entitled “The Witnesses of the International Tribunal,” which revealed information about alleged confidential witnesses at the STL.

But Khayat, the deputy-manager of Al-Jadeed TV’s news desk, maintains that appropriate measures were taken by the station to protect the identities of the alleged witnesses and says that the public has a right to know about leaks coming from the tribunal.

Though contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri had ruled early on that the selective prosecution of Al-Jadeed could not be used as a viable defense since no complaints were brought against the other media agencies, critics of the tribunal have questioned why the court decided to prosecute Al-Jadeed while Western reporters who have published sensitive details about the trial have not drawn the same level of scrutiny.

STL Hears Head of Court’s Beirut Registry in Contempt Case
The Daily Star
By Elise Knutsen
April 21, 2015

Anthony Lodge, who manages the registry at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s Beirut Office, testified before the court today in the contempt case against Al-Jadeed and journalist Karma Khayat.

Lodge, who oversees the tribunal’s administrative tasks from Beirut, was quizzed by both the prosecution and the defense about conveying legal documents to Al-Jadeed and Khayat. Khayat and Al-Jadeed stand accused of contempt of court for broadcasting a TV series in August 2012 which aired details about alleged confidential witnesses slated to testify before the STL.

After the first episodes of the series were broadcast, Lodge and other STL officials attempted to deliver notices to key figures at Al-Jadeed’s offices requesting the programming be halted.

On Aug. 11, Lodge said he sent Khayat an email containing a judicial order to remove the information on the purported confidential witnesses from Al-Jadeed’s You Tube channel.

Khayat never acknowledged receiving the email.

Karim Khan, the lawyer representing Khayat, asked Lodge if he knew that she had in fact received the document.

“I have no idea whether she received it,” Lodge conceded.

“So you clicked a button, sent an email to cybserspace and had no response whether or not it did in fact arrive at the email account of Ms. Karma Khayat, do you?” Khan pressed.

Lodge said that the registry did not have any documents confirming that Khayat had received the judicial order.

No one from the STL contacted YouTube directly to request that links to the broadcasts be removed, Lodge later acknowledged.

Two more witnesses appeared before the court Monday but both testified in closed sessions that were not broadcast to the public.

The contempt proceedings are expected to continue Tuesday.

No Al-Jadeed Consensus to Disclose STL Witnesses
The Daily Star
By Elise Knutsen
April 23, 2015

Not all Al-Jadeed journalists supported the controversial TV series highlighting alleged confidential witnesses at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, according to the lawyer prosecuting the media outlet and journalist Karma Khayat for contempt of court.

Kenneth Scott, who is leading the prosecution against Al-Jadeed and Khayat, read summaries Tuesday of interviews conducted with various Al-Jadeed staff members in 2013.

Journalist Firas Hatoum was among the employees interviewed. According to Scott’s summary, Khayat initially assigned Hatoum to investigate a list of alleged confidential witnesses slated to testify before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The investigation, completed by another Al-Jadeed journalist, was broadcast as a multipart series in August 2012.

When interviewed by court investigators in 2013, Hatoum said he “could estimate that the feature might put the witnesses in danger and would discourage others to give information,” according to a summary of the interview read by Scott.

Scott has argued that the program put alleged witnesses in danger by revealing personal details and that the broadcast as a whole attempted to undermine public confidence in the court. Al-Jadeed and Khayat, who was deputy director of news at the time of the broadcast, claim that the series was intended to raise awareness about leaks coming from the tribunal.

One of the cameramen involved in producing the series, Hassan Mohammad Bazzi, admitted to using hidden cameras to record conversations with alleged witnesses, according to an interview summary ready by Scott. Bazzi also told court investigators that the faces of the witnesses had not been blurred well enough, Scott said.

In an interview with court investigators, Khayat did not appear concerned with protecting witness identities, according to Scott. “Karma Khayat said that if the tribunal fails to protect its witnesses it is not the media’s responsibility,” Scott read from the interview summary.

Before the interview summaries were read in court, Scott called expert witness Anne-Marie de Brouwer, who studies victims’ participation in international trials. De Brouwer testified that revealing personal information about witnesses “has a significant risk in itself for the lives of the witnesses” and that criminal cases “have collapsed due to witness interference” in the past.

Defense attorney Karim Khan, who represents Khayat, said that he did “not accept [de Brouwer’s] expertise” and questioned the findings of a report she drafted about the effects of witness interference.

Khan further questioned de Brouwer’s impartiality, saying she “had not been bothered” to look into facts that ran contrary to her thesis. De Brouwer vehemently denied Khan’s insinuations.

Throughout the day, barbed comments and tit-for-tat objections revealed the palpable tension between Scott and Khan.

The president Judge Nicola Letteiri drew attention to the enmity between Khan and the prosecutor, suggesting they “bury this hatchet.”

“Your honor, I prefer a scalpel,” Khan retorted.

Lebanese Journalist Returns from STL Trial
The Daily Star
April 23, 2015

Al-Jadeed news editor Karma Khayat, who is being tried for contempt at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, arrived in Beirut Thursday after a week of listening to the case presented against her at the Hague-based court.

“We will go back to the court because we are defending freedom of press and defending Lebanese sovereignty,” the Lebanese journalist said during a news conference at Beirut’s airport.

“If this was a Lebanese court we wouldn’t be convicted and I don’t think we would even be tried.”

Khayyat’s arrival comes one week after the controversial contempt trial kicked off at the tribunal.

Khayat and Al-Jadeed are facing charges of obstruction of justice and contempt of court for publishing confidential information from the international investigation into the assassination of Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Commenting on her second visit to The Hague, Khayyat maintained that the charges brought against her served as a “blatant violation of freedom of press.”

She criticized the fact that foreign judges were prosecuting her case and said that even the Lebanese judges in the court were “subpar.”

Khayyat also said that the week’s proceedings revealed several gaps in the prosecutor’s case presented against her and Al-Jadeed.

“If you watched the open sessions and thought that the charges are baseless, then the closed sessions would have revealed that even more,” she said in reference to closed trial proceedings that were kept from the public due to sensitive information.

She also criticized the courts manner of handling topics raised by her defense lawyer, such as the recurrence of leaks from the tribunal.

“Every time we raised the issues of leaks the court would automatically respond by saying there are no leaks in the court, as though the response was agreed on beforehand.”

Khayyat described her defense lawyer, Karim Khan as “one of the best international lawyers in the field,” and labeled Prosecutor Kenneth Scott, who is leading the case against her as a “clear enemy of the media.”

She said that she will be returning to The Hague in three weeks in order to present her defense.

“Our defense strategy, or more accurately our offense strategy is very well prepared,” she concluded.

Khayyat was welcomed at Beirut’s airport by a group of Al-Jadeed’s staff who presented the journalist with white flowers upon her arrival.

STL Prosecution Wants to Explore Hezbollah-Syria Ties
The Daily Star
By Elise Knutsen
April 29, 2015

The prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon made explicitly clear Tuesday its intention to explore the security and military ties between Hezbollah and the Syrian regime prior to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Prosecution attorney Graeme Cameron asked witness MP Atef Majdalani to discuss the security relationship between Hezbollah and the Syrian army in south Lebanon before 2000. Defense attorney Iain Edwards objected, saying that the military relationship between the two entities extended beyond the scope of permissible witness testimony, which to date has focused on political relationships in Lebanon at the time of Hariri’s assassination.

“The two major entities at the time in Lebanon were Syria and Lebanon,” Cameron countered.

“The connection between Hezbollah and Syria is of significance in this case, not of a political nature, but in both sides’ capacity to contribute to an assassination of this nature.”

While five Hezbollah members have been charged with plotting the blast that killed Hariri and 21 others in February 2005, the prosecution’s narrative of the crime has moved toward implicating, if not outright accusing, the Syrian regime.

Cameron’s statements threw into relief the prosecution’s erstwhile veiled insinuations that Syrian officials cooperated with and possibly instructed the five Hezbollah members suspected of the assassination.

Later in his testimony, Majdalani said that he was contacted by a Beirut-based Syrian general in August 2004, just days after Hariri and Syrian President Bashar Assad had a tense meeting over the extension of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud’s term.

The general “told me that ‘we [the Lebanese-Syrian security apparatus] are present everywhere, and whoever does not abide by our orders should be responsible for his own safety and bear the responsibility,'” Majdalani said.

Majdalani added that he took the statement “as a direct threat.”

Majdalani is scheduled to continue testifying Wednesday.

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Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

Interpol Issues “Red Notice” Against Bangladeshi Politician
Anadolu Agency
April 16, 2015

Interpol have issued a “red notice” against a former Bangladeshi politician found guilty of war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s war for independence in 1971.

The notice was issued against 82-year-old Abdul Jabbar for involvement in looting, arson, murder and abduction as crimes against humanity.

Jabbar was found guilty after being tried in absentia by the International Crimes Tribunal, a Bangladeshi court tasked with investigating war crimes committed in 1971, when up to 3 million people were killed according to official figures.

Interpol stated that Jabbar, who has been sentenced to imprisonment until death, was thought to be staying in the United States.

Jabbar had been a senior figure in the Jatiya party before later joining the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Only two days earlier, Interpol issued a red notice against Tarique Rahman, 47, the senior vice-chairman of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Rahman, the son of the party’s leader Khaleda Zia and former military ruler Ziaur Rahman, is wanted for his alleged involvement in a 2004 grenade attack on a rally of the currently ruling Awami League party.

The attack killed 24 people attending the rally, which was being addressed by the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Rahman has been staying in London, from where he remains heavily involved in party activities, but the Bangladeshi government has been seeking to bring him back to the country.

An Interpol red notice, one of the Interpol’s eight types of notices, seeks “the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action,” according to the Interpol website.

US Expresses Support for War Crimes Trials
The Daily Star
April 18,2015

The US supports bringing to justice those who committed atrocities in the 1971 Liberation War, recognising that it is an important process for Bangladesh to undertake, said US Department of State Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf.

Supporting the ongoing war crimes trials, Harf said Bangladesh has decisions to make on its own.

In reply to questions during a regular briefing at the State Department in Washington DC on Monday, Harf stressed further improvements to the International Crimes Tribunals’ processes to meet domestic and international obligations.

“I think something we’ll keep talking to them (Bangladesh) about, but don’t have much more analysis other than that of what happened…we’ll continue – we understand this is a complicated issue and I think we’ll continue having those conversations with the Bangladeshis.”

Tribunal Concludes War Crimes Tribunal of “Razakar” Hasan Ali
April 20,2015

Ali has been charged over killings of 24 people, abduction and confining of 12 others apart from looting and torching 125 homes in Kishoreganj during the 1971 Liberation War.

The International Crime Tribunal -1 headed by Justice M Enayetur Rahim finished hearing the case on Monday before issuing a CAV.

The Latin term ‘Curia advisari vult’ (CAV for short) literally means ‘the court wishes to be advised’, meaning it reserves the judgment for another day.

The trial started on Nov 11 last year.

The accused went into hiding after prosecution pressed the charges in August.

Supreme Court to Hear Jamaat Leader Mir Quasem’s Appeal Against Death Penalty Wednesday
April 21, 2015

It is second on the list of the Appellate Division’s business agenda for the day.

A four-member bench led by Chief Justice SK Sinha will hear the appeal.

The other members of the bench are justices Nazmun Ara Sultana, Syed Mahmud Hossain and Hasan Foez Siddique.

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Al-Badr commander Quasem to death on Nov 2 last year for his atrocities in Chittagong during the Liberation War.

He appealed against the ICT verdict on Nov 30, seeking exoneration after pleading not guilty.

Assistant Attorney General Bashir Ahmed told that the appeal had been put on the cause list for the order on the submission of its summary.

He also said appeals of war criminals Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury against their death sentences will be heard on Apr 28.

Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir’s founding president Quasem Ali was sentenced to death for the killing of eight, including teenage freedom fighter Jasim Uddin Ahmed.

He was given a total of 72 years in prison on eight other charges.

The ICT observed central commander of Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams, forces formed to collaborate with the Pakistani occupation, Mir Quasem was directly linked to crimes against humanity during the war.

After the changeover in politics in 1975, BNP founder Gen Ziaur Rahman gave Jamaat the chance to do politics in independent Bangladesh.

Mir Quasem became the founding president of Shibir on Feb 6, 1977.

The ICT termed ‘death factory’ the Dalim Hotel, the centre of Mir Quasem’s operations during the war.

It said Mir Quasem was guilty of being the ‘superior authority’ of the crimes under the Section 4 (2) of the 1973 International Crimes Tribunal Act.

The Jamaat leader was arrested on Jun 17, 2012. The trial started by way of his indictment of charges on Sep 5 the following year.

The much-awaited trial of suspected war criminals started through the constitution of the tribunal on Mar 25, 2010 after Awami League had come to power.

The second ICT was launched on Mar 22, 2012 to expedite the trials.

The two tribunals have given verdicts on 17 cases in five years. Of them, 14 were challenged in higher court.

The Appellate Division has given final verdicts on three appeals.

Jamaat assistant secretaries general Abdul Quader Molla and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman have been executed.

In the other case, the Appellate Division commuted Jamaat’s second man Delwar Hossain Sayedee’s death sentence to life-term imprisonment.

The review of Sayedee’s appeal is yet to be disposed of as the full verdict has not been published.

Former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam and former BNP minister Abdul Alim’s appeals were dismissed following their deaths

Appeals of the state and the defence over nine cases of war crimes are awaiting hearing now.

Appeal of Tribunal’s Contempt Verdict Constitutional: HC
April 29, 2015

Justices Farah Mahbub and Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo on Wednesday disposed a petition by 12 individuals who had expressed concern about journalist David Bergman.

“The court disposed the writ with the observation,” the petitioners’ lawyer Rashna Imam told

“It said, a person penalised at the tribunal may move the Supreme Court as per Section 104 of the Constitution.”

Last December, the tribunal handed down punishment to Bergman for blogging ‘irresponsible’ views on sub judice matters.

A statement by 50 citizens, concerned for the British national, was published in a newspaper.

The tribunal, perceiving the statement as ‘criticism of Bangladesh’s justice system’, asked those behind it to explain their action.

Twenty-six of the 50 were let off from contempt charges after they apologised unconditionally, while rights activist Khushi Kabir disowned her association with the statement.

ICT-2 headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan issued a contempt rule against the remaining 23 signatories of the statement on Apr 1.

But 12 among them filed a petition last week challenged the legality of two sections in the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act.

They were Shirin Parvin Akhter, Afsan Chowdhury, Ali Ahmed Ziauddin, Shahidul Alam, Anusheh Anadil, Farida Akhter, Lubna Mariam, Masud Khan, Rehnuma Ahmed, Zafrullah Chouwdhury and Ziaur Rahman.

The lawyer of the petitioners, Rashna Imam, told “If you read the International Crime Tribunal Act’s sections 11 (4) and 21, you will see that even [war criminals] are allowed to appeal but there is no such scope for those found guilty of contempt of court.

“This contradicts section 26, 27, 31 and 39 of the Constitution. The petition is based on that argument.”

The Tribunal Act’s Section 11 (4) details the punishments for sentenced for contempt, while Section 21 specifies who can appeal.

The petition points out that those guilty of contempt have no scope to file an appeal.

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War Crimes Investigation in Burma

Myanmar Population Control Law Threatens Minorities: Rights Group
By Kieran Guilbert
April 22, 2015

Myanmar’s religious and ethnic minorities may be targeted, abused and suppressed by a proposed population control law which could be a serious setback for the country’s maternal health advances, according to a U.S.-based human rights group.

The bill introduces the practice of birth spacing, requiring women to wait three years between pregnancies, which can curb maternal and child deaths, the Physicians for Human Rights said.

While Myanmar has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Southeast Asia, World Bank figures show, the government has taken action, including access to education and contraception to improve maternal and child health, the rights group said.

Yet the group said it was concerned that the bill, passed by Myanmar’s parliament earlier this month and awaiting President Thein Sein’s approval to become law, could strip women of the freedom and right to choose how they have children.

“We want to encourage lower fertility rates but it can’t be done coercively or by suppressing the growth of marginalized groups,” Widney Brown, Physicians for Human Rights’ director of programs, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“If this bill is signed and applied selectively in areas where religious or ethnic minorities are already subjected to persistent and pervasive discrimination, we face a heightened risk of grave human rights violations.”

Women could be forced into abortions and both men and women could be sterilized if the bill comes into force, Brown said.

“Without a clear non-coercion and non-discrimination clause, the bill should never have moved forward.”

The Muslim Rohingya population in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state are at particular risk of abuse, having been subjected to restrictions on marriage, registration of births, and many other human rights violations, Physicians for Human Rights said.

The bill could be an attempt to keep the Rohingya from having any children at all, Brown added.

Almost 140,000 of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya, most of whom are stateless, remain displaced after deadly clashes with Buddhists in Rakhine in 2012.

The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said in a report published last month she had witnessed “abysmal” conditions at a camp where displaced Muslims were being held “for their own security”.

Lee said the population control bill and proposed laws on religious conversion, inter-faith marriage and monogamy could worsen ethnic tensions following a government plan in February to revoke temporary identification “white cards” for minorities.

Myanmar’s parliament voted earlier that month to grant white card holders, mostly Rohingya, the vote in a possible constitutional referendum, paving the way for their participation in a general election later this year.

But Buddhists protested against the plan in Yangon, the biggest city in Myanmar, arguing many of the white-card holders were illegal aliens. Shortly after the protest, the government announced it would revoke the white cards.

Southeast Asian Leaders Urged To Act On Rohingya Crisis
Ledger Enquirer
By Eileen Ng
April 22, 2015

Southeast Asian lawmakers on Wednesday urged their leaders to discuss Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis at their upcoming summit in Malaysia, saying it has led to the highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea in the region since the Vietnam War.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 50 million, is home to an estimated 1.3 million Muslim Rohingya, and most are considered stateless. Though many of their families arrived from Bangladesh generations ago, almost all are denied citizenship by Myanmar as well as Bangladesh.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a grouping of regional lawmakers, said in a statement that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations must abandon its policy of not interfering in each other’s affairs, which has been used as a justification to avoid holding a discussion on the Rohingya issue.

“We are seeing a dire situation in ASEAN,” Malaysian lawmaker Charles Santiago told a news conference ahead of the two-day summit that starts Monday. “The Rohingya issue has become an ASEAN problem because we have a huge amount of refugees fleeing into Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.”

“It has also led to a regional human trafficking epidemic. A human catastrophe is happening and ASEAN leaders cannot and should not hide behind the notion of non-interference,” Santiago said.

The Rohingya issue has emerged as a sensitive topic as Myanmar tries to move away from decades of repressive military rule toward democracy.

In the last 2 1/2 years, attacks by Buddhist mobs have left hundreds of Rohingya dead and 140,000 trapped in camps where they live without access to adequate health care, education or jobs.

More than 100,000 Rohingya have also fled Myanmar’s western shores by boat, according to estimates provided by experts tracking their movements.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians earlier released a report on the Rohingya crisis following a fact-finding mission to Myanmar in early April. The report will be sent to ASEAN leaders along with an appeal letter, Santiago said.

In the letter, which was released to the media, ASEAN Parliamentarians said the delegation had identified “troubling signs of anti-Muslim rhetoric and broader incitement to violence,” and warned that this could increase in the run-up to Myanmar’s elections in November.

“The protracted culture of abuse and resulting high risk of atrocities threaten Myanmar’s political transition, put strains on regional economies and support the rise of extremist ideologies that pose security threats throughout Southeast Asia,” the letter said.

The group said the human rights crisis in Myanmar was exacerbated by ASEAN’s failure to take action and urged leaders to act to prevent a further escalation of the crisis that could affect the entire region.

The United Nations has also urged Myanmar to give Rohingya equal access to citizenship and to crack down on Buddhist violence against them and other Muslims.

UN Must Show Greater Responsiveness To Myanmar Reforms: India
Business Standard
April 25, 2015

India has called for the UN to demonstrate “greater responsiveness” to the reforms being implemented by the Myanmar government and discontinue annual resolutions on the human rights situation in the country.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said here that India welcomes the “significant” political and economic reforms the government of Myanmar has instituted over the last few years.

“Moving forward, the UN must also demonstrate greater responsiveness to the reforms being implemented by the Government of Myanmar. We would urge member states to agree to the discontinuation of annual resolutions on the human rights situation in Myanmar.

“This would convey the world community’s strong support and encouragement for the reform measures that are already underway in Myanmar,” Mukerji said during a meeting of the ‘Partnership Group for Peace, Development and Democracy in Myanmar’ yesterday.

As per the resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar that has been tabled since November 2011, the General Assembly would express grave concern about violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar, while recognising the government’s commitment to implementing reforms.

India has previously also called for the discontinuation of the resolution.

A constructive engagement of the international community with Myanmar at this juncture would strengthen the hands of the government and encourage stakeholders to resolve their differences through healthy debate and peaceful negotiations, he said.

In previous years, several other nations have also said that there is no need for the resolution in future given the positive economic and political development occurring in Myanmar.

Mukerji said while there still are challenging tasks before the Myanmar government, it has demonstrated its resolve to face the challenges to reach the targets that they have set.

He said India welcomes the signing of a draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) between the Myanmar Government’s Union Peace Making Work Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed groups Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT).

“As a close and friendly neighbour, India remains committed to extending all possible assistance and support to the process of national reconciliation and the further strengthening of democracy in Myanmar,” he said.

On the situation in the Rakhine State, Mukerji said India has noted the steps taken towards restoration of law and order.

India has extended assistance for development efforts in the Rakhine State, including USD 300 million out of the total development assistance of USD 1.75 billion to Myanmar.

Mukerji also voiced appreciation for the “tireless efforts” of Ambassador Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser of the Secretary General for Myanmar and his team.

In Myanmar, Crackdown On Student Protests Raises Concern
Al Jazeera
By Hanna Hindstrom
April 27, 2015

In March hundreds of baton-wielding police bludgeoned a group of unarmed protesters in Letpadan, on the outskirts of Yangon. Officers kicked and punched dozens of activists before hustling them into vans. A menacing voice blasted from a megaphone, threatening legal action against the fleeing crowd.

With that, months of student-led protests calling for education reform in Myanmar came to an abrupt end. The crackdown marked the beginning of a spate of arrests that would increase nearly sixfold the number of political prisoners in the country from the previous year. Within days, 133 activists were detained. Some were snatched from their beds at night; others were dragged away from protest sites. By mid-April, most of the student leaders were in custody.

The protests were aimed at a controversial education law enacted in October that activists say limits academic freedoms and prohibits the formation of student unions. Activists began calling for amendments to the law more than six months ago, and earlier this year, the government agreed to re-evaluate the legislation, at the same time warning student protesters marching toward Yangon not to enter the city. After the crackdown, Myanmar’s parliament rejected most of the students’ recommendations.

Myanmar, which is emerging from half a century of military rule, has a history of crushing student-led dissent. In 1988, 3,000 civilians were massacred on the streets of Yangon as the army rolled in tanks to disperse swelling pro-democracy protests. Since 2011, the country has worked hard to shed its reputation as a totalitarian state, freeing thousands of imprisoned dissidents and easing media restrictions under the leadership of President Thein Sein, a former general. The U.S. government responded by lifting sanctions and boosting economic ties with Myanmar. One of the United States’ key conditions for engagement was the release of all political prisoners.

Recently, however, Myanmar’s reforms appear to have stalled, overshadowed by resurgent ethnic conflict, police brutality and a crackdown on protesters.

Ko Nanda Sitt Aung, a leader of Myanmar’s prominent activist group All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), was declared a fugitive by the government for his role in Letpadan. In defiance, he staged a demonstration in downtown Yangon to condemn police brutality during the March protest. Plainclothes police grabbed him at a bus stop on his way home.

Ko Nanda now faces five criminal charges under Myanmar’s draconian colonial-era penal code, including sedition and unlawful assembly, and risks more than 10 years in prison. As prescribed by Myanmar law, he will be charged in all 38 townships where he is suspected of having led protests. But according to his lawyer and father, U Htay, some of the accusations are completely fabricated.

“We checked with the police, and they said some cases were filed against him because they did not know who actually led the protests,” said U Htay.

This is not the first time Ko Nanda has been persecuted for his work with the ABFSU, a historic student union founded under a different name by independence hero Aung San in 1931 and banned by the junta in 1962. In 2004, Ko Nanda, then a young student teacher, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for distributing leaflets critical of the military regime and working with exiled pro-democracy groups to revive the student union. He was tortured so severely in prison that he was unable to walk for several days. In a 2004 cable leaked by WikiLeaks six years later, a U.S. Embassy representative in Yangon described his sentence as “business as usual for a regime that tolerates no dissent.”

Ko Nanda was released in January 2012 as part of a widely lauded amnesty ruling intended to signal Myanmar’s emergence from decades of iron-fisted rule. But U Htay fears that the government, currently led by former generals, has reverted to its old ways.

“The violent crackdown of the Letpadan protest left us all in dismay,” said U Htay, who spent five years as a political prisoner in the mid-1990s for his labor rights activism. “We learned a big political lesson that day.”

“If the government cannot even be generous about education reforms that do not harm anyone’s interest, then it is unlikely they will be generous about constitutional reforms that will challenge the army’s leading role in national politics,” he said.

Student leaders say the government was never planning to make concessions.

“Since the beginning, the government was not interested in negotiation,” said 23-year-old Aung Nay Paing, a student leader from Meiktila. “Their idea of discussion is telling the students to stop protesting.”

Aung Nay Paing was one of six ABFSU leaders chosen to negotiate with the government regarding education reform. He is the only one of them who has not been arrested. Three other leaders wanted by the government are on the run, and dozens more activists are in hiding. The police have hacked phone lines and social media accounts belonging to imprisoned activists, but students have pledged to keep protesting. Speaking from an undisclosed location in Yangon, Aung Nay Paing said he is unable to return to Meiktila, where military intelligence officers are monitoring his house, for fear of arrest.

The number of political prisoners in Myanmar has soared over the past year, and in addition to student protesters, human rights activists and journalists are increasingly targeted under repressive laws. In 2013, Thein Sein pledged to release all political prisoners by the end of that year, but the number of incarcerated dissidents never dipped below 33. There are now 172 political prisoners in Myanmar, with an additional 296 activists awaiting trial, according to the watchdog Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP-B). More than 100 of those awaiting trial were reportedly involved in the education protests.

Even though the government has a tendency to announce amnesties ahead of high-profile diplomatic events — as it did before President Barack Obama’s visit to Myanmar in November — prisoners are never released unconditionally and can be forced to serve the remainder of their sentences at any time. “The U.S. government should put more pressure on Burma to release political prisoners,” said Bo Kyi, the joint secretary of the AAPP, using the country’s former name. “Constructive engagement is not enough to free them.”

The Obama administration, which has been swift to tout Myanmar’s democratic reforms as a foreign policy success, has pumped more than $200 million in aid into the impoverished country since 2011. In late March, the U.S. government issued a short statement expressing concern over the arrests, but it has been reluctant to criticize the administration too harshly. (The recent crackdown has also been embarrassing for the European Union, which spent $11 million training the Myanmar police force on crowd control.) With six months to go until Myanmar’s pivotal general elections, the U.S. has focused diplomatic efforts on the government’s failure to amend the military-drafted constitution, which bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president.

There have been other signs that the government has been taking a harsher line on dissent.

In mid-April, 20 human rights organizations called on Myanmar to re-establish a government-backed committee tasked with identifying and securing the release of political prisoners. Two months earlier, key civil society voices, including members of the AAPP-B, were excluded from the committee, and it was placed under the chairmanship of Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Gen. Kyaw Kyaw Tun. His office is under the command of the military and is widely believed to have ordered the Letpadan crackdown.

Bo Kyi described the committee as a “showcase” intended to dupe the international community.

Around the same time, it was revealed that the Myanmar government hired a public relations firm based in Washington, D.C., for $840,000 a year to boost its relationship with Washington.

In response to Letpadan, officials have dismissed accusations of wrongdoing, blaming students for stirring unrest. Minister of Information Ye Htut bizarrely compared the crackdown to last year’s protests in Ferguson, Missouri. “When protesters in Ferguson were dispersed with the use of tanks, nobody spoke of U.S. democracy having backtracked,” he said to state media.

This didn’t come as a surprise to activists, many of whom believe that the government has shown its true colors.

“A reformist government should have transparency, accountability and responsibility. But this government has none of those,” said Aung Nay Paing. “They still crack down on public protests in the same fashion as the previous military junta … The only difference is that now they do it with [a sense of] legitimacy.”

Court Begins Hearing Into Death of Journalist
Myanmar Times
By Lun Min Mang
April 30, 2015

His death made headlines across the world, but a court hearing into how journalist Ko Par Gyi died while in military custody in October 2014 has gone virtually unnoticed. The first hearing in the case took place in Kyaikmayaw Township Court on April 23, with the second scheduled for today, according to police in Mon State.

Ko Par Gyi’s wife, Daw Thandar, is expected to attend the session today. Despite being the complainant in the case, she was not informed that the hearing had begun and only learned in the past few days.

“I only knew when a local reporter, who once worked with Ko Par Gyi, and members of Mon National Party [MNP], who are helping me with the case, told me about it,” she said yesterday.

“Why have the police have not informed me? I think they are hiding something,” she said, adding that she would question officials today about why she had been excluded from the April 23 hearing.

A police officer in Kyaikmayaw told The Myanmar Times that the case was brought to court last month. He declined to comment on why Daw Thandar had not been informed and said the case was being handled by “higher-level police officials”.

He refused to even reveal the nature of the hearing, and whether there were any defendants.

Ko Par Gyi was arrested in Kyaikmayaw township while covering fighting between government troops and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) on September 30.

The Tatmadaw released a statement on October 23 saying Ko Par Gyi had been shot dead as he tried to escape detention. The Tatmadaw has said he was a member of the Klohtoobaw Karen Organization, an organisation under the DKBA.

His death prompted protests in Yangon and Mandalay, as well as international condemnation. In response, the President’s Office ordered the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to investigate. The commission’s final report, submitted in December, suggested that the case be heard in a civilian rather than military court.

Daw Thandar and her lawyer, U Robert San Aung, dismissed the credibility of the investigation, calling for an independent probe including international rights and forensic experts.

Since the report’s release, little has been heard about the case. On February 16, Daw Thandar gave the authorities 60 days to bring the case to court. That deadline passed on April 16 with no action – as far as she was aware.

U Robert San Aung said the hearing came as he was preparing a writ of Mandamus to the Union Supreme Court, in an attempt to force the authorities to proceed with the case.

He said the writ was to be submitted in the first week of May, and suggested this legal action had helped move the case forward.

“They are dishonest to bring the case to court at this time. It is intended to block our path to the highest body in the judicial system,” he said.

He said the exclusion of Daw Thandar was a violation of legal procedures.

“I cannot imagine how a case can be heard at a court for the first time without the presence of the complainant.”

U Robert San Aung said he was told by police during a visit to Kyaikmayaw on February 10 that the Tatmadaw’s lack of cooperation with the investigation had prevented the case proceeding to court.

“A senior police officer told me that [evidence] was not transferred to them so they could not bring the case to court,” he said.

The human rights commission cited section 347 of the constitution – “the Union shall guarantee any person to enjoy equal rights before the law and shall equally provide legal protection” – to justify its call for the case to be heard in a civilian court.

It said this was important for respecting the fundamental rights of its citizens and transparency in the eyes of the public.

Whether Daw Thandar gets to enjoy those fundamental rights is unclear. However, she is hopeful that the hearing will shed more light on her husband’s death.

“There are so many things I want to know from them,” she said. “I just hope they will let me in the court.”

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The Morocco Truth Commission Balancing Religion, Realpolitik and Idealism
Impunity Watch L.J., Forthcoming
Isaac Kfir
April 21, 2015

Beginning in the 1960s and lasting until the late 1980s, repression and widespread human rights violations were common in Morocco. The paper reviews Morocco’s approach to transitional justice, focusing on the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, a product of political realities, which meant that Morocco’s experience with transitional justice was narrow and limited. The paper adds to the burgeoning literature on religion and transitional justice, pointing out how the Moroccan monarchy applied religion as a way to provide acceptance and forgiveness for what had transpired during the années de plomb (Years of Lead).

The Snowden Affair and the Limits of American Treason
Lincoln Memorial University Law Review, 2015, Forthcoming
By J. Richard Broughton
April 23, 2015

The revelations about Edward Snowden’s leak of American national security information helped to reinvigorate public rhetoric about the crime of treason, which Article III of the Constitution defines only as levying war against the United States or adhering to the enemy by giving aid and comfort. Political leaders and others regularly commented on whether Snowden was a “hero” or “traitor.” And more than one American political leader suggested that Snowden should be tried for treason. But these rhetorical episodes simply demonstrate that despite treason’s stature, numerous gaps remain in the public’s (and even in political leaders’) understanding of the rarely-invoked, rarely-discussed Treason Clause. This paper, written for a symposium on the ramifications of Snowden’s disclosures, therefore focuses on the constitutional provision that requires “adhering” to the enemy, giving them “aid and comfort” – what the paper calls Adherence Treason, which is the provision most likely at issue in a treason case involving actions like Snowden’s – and examines the relevance of the actor’s mental state to the interpretation and application of the Treason Clause. Drawing on the Supreme Court’s World War II treason cases, the paper examines treason in light of complicity doctrine in the criminal law. It demonstrates how information that reaches the enemy does not constitute treason – even if the information actually aids the enemy, as Snowden’s disclosures could have done – in the absence of a specific intent to betray America, which is the mens rea required for treason and which Snowden appears to have lacked. Still, when viewed in light of complicity law, even the narrow standard for American treason could be implicated by contemporary aid-to-the-enemy cases that are distinguishable from Snowden’s, such as the terrorist-aid cases that are now prevalent but are being prosecuted under the material support statutes instead. These terrorist-aid cases, especially when combined with the modern technology that can make it easier for one to communicate with and assist the enemy, could potentially keep the Treason Clause alive, but only in narrow circumstances where legally sufficient aid and the intent to betray coalesce.

International Humanitarian Law Divergence
Pepperdine Law Review, Forthcoming
By Lesley Wexler
April 26, 2015

How do states manage disagreements about the application and interpretation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)? As countries find themselves embroiled in conflicts across the globe and in need of allies’ political, economic, and military support, this question is important from a practical standpoint as well as a theoretical one. This essay provides one set of answers by looking at the United States’ approach to potential IHL disputes with its allies. It opens with an exploration of the issues most likely to create divergence: the existence, typology, and scope of armed conflicts; the interaction between IHL and International Human Rights Law, as well as disagreements about permissible means and methods of warfare.

I use modern examples from the war on terror to then illustrate how other states can manifest their preferences for the United States to follow or accommodate a distinct IHL approach. In particular, allies may significantly constrain the United States’ ability to maintain a divergent approach by: limiting interoperability; restricting territorial access; refusing to cooperate on intelligence matters; and denying access to individuals.

This Essay concludes by dissecting the United States’ options for managing potential IHL divergence and identifying the costs and limitations of various strategies. In the war on terror, the United States sometimes uses secrecy and obfuscation; legal precommitments; and political or economic persuasion to get other states to accept its position on IHL. In other cases, the United States may abandon its IHL approach and harmonize out of deference to an ally. And lastly, the United States may, of course, continue to use its existing interpretations and maintain its preferred behavior without the support of specific allies. But even then, divergence may shape U.S. national security policy by encouraging it to find new partners for particular activities or forcing it to go it alone on activities and procurement for which it would prefer to have support.

Cyber War: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts
Cyber War: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts (Oxford, 2015; pubd online Apr. 2015).
By Jens David Ohlin, Kevin H. Govern and Claire Finkelstein
April 27, 2015

Cyberweapons and cyberwarfare are one of the most dangerous innovations of recent years, and a significant threat to national security. Cyberweapons can imperil economic, political, and military systems by a single act, or by multifaceted orders of effect, with wide-ranging potential consequences. Cyberwarfare occupies an ambiguous status in the conventions of the laws of war. This book addresses Ethical and legal issues surrounding cyberwarfare by considering whether the Laws of Armed Conflict apply to cyberspace and the ethical position of cyberwarfare against the background of our generally recognized moral traditions in armed conflict. The book explores these moral and legal issues and examines the key principles of jus in bello to determine how they might be applied to cyber conflicts. The distinction between civilian and combatant in this context and the level of causation necessary to elicit a response are studied and the specific operational realities implicated by particular regulatory regimes are analyzed.

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War Crimes Prosecution Watch Staff

International Criminal Court

Central African Republic &Uganda
Eden Oxley, Senior Editor
Jacob Lipp, Associate Editor

Darfur, Sudan
Eden Oxley, Senior Editor
Candice Gage, Associate Editor

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Brendon Saslow, Senior Editor
Jordan O’Connell, Associate Editor

Brendon Saslow, Senior Editor
Jessica Joyce, Associate Editor

Kevin Vogel, Senior Editor
Susan Kaczma, Associate Editor

Ivory Coast
Kevin Vogel, Senior Editor
Kristina Porzio, Associate Editor


International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Amber Lewis, Senior Editor
Mindy Garland, Associate Editor

Erin James, Senior Editor
Mia Garcia, Associate Editor

Erin James, Senior Editor
Jessica Weil, Associate Editor


Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, War Crimes Section
Julia Miller, Senior Editor
Emily Sherwood , Associate Editor

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Amber Lewis, Senior Editor
Nicole Triola , Associate Editor

Domestic Prosecutions in the Former Yugoslavia
Sheila Fowler, Senior Editor
Lauren Tuttle, Associate Editor

Middle East and Asia

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Nathan Nasrallah, Senior Editor
Joshua Kirschner, Associate Editor

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Erin James, Senior Editor
Sarah Conway, Associate Editor

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Kate Mozynski, Senior Editor
Stephanie Ripma, Associate Editor

Iraqi & Syria
Dustin Narcisse, Senior Editor
Gaylen Banes, Associate Editor

Rory Safir, Senior Editor
Joshua Kirschner, Associate Editor

War Crimes Investigations in Burma
Nathan Nasrallah, Senior Editor
Sarah Conway, Associate Editor

North and South America

United States
Joseph Walsh, Senior Editor
Roberta Harter, Associate Editor

South & Central America
Hunter Knight, Senior Editor
Amar Dzaferovic, Associate Editor


Julia Liston, Senior Editor
Katelyn Pierce, Associate Editor

Estafania Seijas, Senior Editor
Logan Trombley, Associate Editor

Gender-Based Violence
Sarah Stula, Senior Editor
Menxue Xie, Associate Editor


UN Reports
Rory Safir, Senior Editor
Victoria Sarant, Associate Editor

NGO Reports
Julia Miller, Senior Editor
Victoria Sarant , Associate Editor

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

R. Mitch Wilcosky Senior Editor
Kristina Porzio, Associate Editor

Commentary and Perspectives

Fadi Assaf, Senior Editor
Santiago Reich, Associate Editor

Worth Reading

Joseph Walsh, Senior Editor
Judd Cohen, Associate Editor

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is prepared by the
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VDC: Weekly Statistical Report

Violations Documentation Center in Syria – VDC


The Weekly Statistical Report of victims, from 25 April until 1 of May 2015.


During this period, the Violations Documentation Center in Syria was able to document (511) victims in all the Syrian governorates, (477) of whom were documented by names, while (34) i.e. (7%) of the total were documented as an unidentified bodies because they had turned into carnages, (6)victims were documented by videos, one of them was documented by photo, while (24) victims were documented just by witnessing.

Idlib governorate witnessed the fall of the largest number of victims, as the total number was (178victims) i.e. (35 %), followed by Aleppo (156 victims) i.e. (30.50 %), then Damascus suburbs (67) victims i.e. (13 %) of the total number of victims.

Intensified Fighting in Ukraine is Worst Since Minsk Ceasefire

By Kyle Herda

Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

KIEV, Ukraine – The most recent truce agreed upon between Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia while in Minsk appears to be threatened yet again by intensified fighting in Eastern Ukraine. In the past week, 8 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, as well as 40 other Ukrainian soldiers wounded.

A Ukrainian fighter remains posted in Pisky, near the pro-Russian stronghold in Donetsk. (Photo courtesy of Kyiv Post)

The truce, made only three months ago, is at risk of collapsing due to increased fighting. Shyrokyne, a village just 12.5 miles east of Mariupol where both sides anticipate a large fight may be looming, has been shelled over the past several days more than at any point since fighting began in that area in mid-February. Donetsk also saw 550 explosions in just one day, according to OSCE monitors who also reported a “seriously deteriorated” security situation at the rebel-controlled airport in Donetsk. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO military chief Gen Philip Breedlove reported on Wednesday and Thursday that they worry the pro-Russian forces are preparing for an offensive to begin in a couple weeks and that these forces have been taking preparatory action “consistent with the possibility of an offensive.”

A landmine in Luhansk, which is also heavily controlled by pro-Russian rebels, killed two Ukrainian soldiers today. One civilian was also killed by rebel shelling of a Ukrainian army checkpoint in Marinka, which lies just four miles west of Donetsk. In addition to this location, 16 army positions have been shelled in the past 24 hours by guns of a caliber of at least 100mm, which were supposed to be pulled away from the front based on the Minsk agreement from February.

This adds to the nearly 6,200 already killed in fighting since last year between the rebels and Ukrainian soldiers. In response to renewed fighting by both sides, there will be a meeting in Belarus on Wednesday including representatives from both sides to discuss the intensifying situation.

For more information, please see:

Fox News – 2 dead as fighting in Ukraine intensifies – 4 May 2015

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty – Two Ukrainian Soldiers Killed By Land Mine In Luhansk – 4 May 2015

Yahoo News – Ukrainian soldier and civilian killed in intensifying clashes – 3 May 2015

The Guardian – Upswing in fighting in Ukraine sends civilians fleeing and puts truce in doubt – 3 May 2015

Indonesia Follows Through With the Execution of Drug Smugglers

By Max Bartels 

Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania 


Jakarta, Indonesia

Australian citizens Andrew Chan and Myruran Sukumaran were executed Wednesday in Indonesia by firing squad. Both men were convicted in Indonesian courts and sentenced to death for their membership in the Bali Nine, a drug smuggling group. The executions took place despite strong protests from the Australian government and others in the international community.

The field where the prisoners were executed. (Photo curtesy of

In response to the executions Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott recalled the Australian ambassador to Indonesia. Abbott protested the executions saying that they were unnecessary because both men had been rehabilitated after 10 years in Indonesian prison. Abbott went on to say that these executions mark a dark time in Indonesian- Australian relations but he also stated that the relationship between the two countries would be restored.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop protested saying that the executions were against international law. Australia requested that the case be submitted to the International Court of Justice for arbitration however, Indonesia never responded to the Australian appeals. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed by Indonesia, the death penalty can only be imposed for the most serious crimes. Australia argues that drug trafficking does not rise to the level of a serious crime warranting the death penalty.

The Australian federal government claims that they are now taking the death penalty into account before they tip off foreign agencies to suspected Australian drug smugglers operating abroad. Justice Minister Michael Keenan insists that there are strict guidelines in place that Australian law enforcement officials have to consider the dangers of Australian citizens facing execution abroad.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo claims that the execution of the Australian citizens was not a political issue. He stated to reporters that it was an issue of Indonesian legal sovereignty and that Indonesian sovereignty must be respected. The President has imposed the death penalty in drug smuggling cases because of the significant toll drugs are taking on Indonesian society.

Five other foreign nationals were executed in Indonesia on drug smuggling convictions along with the two Australians. Among them were four Nigerian nationals and one Brazilian National. A second Brazilian is scheduled for execution this year and the Brazilian ambassador to Indonesia has also been recalled to Brazil for consultations. A Filipino women was also scheduled to be executed with the others but was spared a the last minute, no reason has been given by Indonesian authorities but it is suspected that there have been developments in her case.

For more information, please see: 

CNN — Australia Recalls Ambassador After Indonesia Executes Prisoners — 29 April, 2015 

The Sydney Morning Herald — Chan and Sukumaran Execution ‘Illegal’, but Indonesia Ignores Australia Again — 2 May, 2015 — Bali Nine: Indonesia Says Executions of Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran were ‘Perfect’ — 1 May, 2015

Yahoo News — Bodies of Australians Executed in Indonesia Arrive Home: Reports — 1 May, 2015