ICTJ | World Report November 2015 – Transitional Justice News and Analysis

In Focus

Doing Right by Victims in Cote d’Ivoire: Ouattara’s Second TermIn this op-ed, ICTJ President David Tolbert argues that President Alassane Ouattara should use his second term as president to address widespread atrocities committed in Cote d’Ivoire’s recent past.

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World Report

AFRICAThe Government of Kenya asked the United Nations Security Council to defer the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against Deputy President William Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua Sang, who are charged with crimes against humanity allegedly committed during post-election violence in 2007 and 2008. The ICC decided not to hold the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen in Uganda. The ICC called on India to arrest Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir – who is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur – while he visited the country. In Cote d’Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara was reelected to a second term. The ICC prosecutor warned against war crimes in Burundi, where political divisions and violence have raised concerns about a potential genocide.

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AMERICASAs part of the Colombia peace talks, the government and the FARC reached an agreement to work together to locate thousands of people who disappeared during the country’s 50-year conflict. President Juan Manuel Santos apologized for the 1985 raid on Colombia’s Palace of Justice, during which nearly 100 people were killed, and prosecutors identified the remains of three people who were disappeared the siege. Guatemala opened a new court to hear war crimes cases stemming from the country’s civil war. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – an archive of materials related to abuses committed in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools – opened in Winnipeg. Mexico will reopen its investigation into the disappearance of 43 college students from Ayotzinapa.

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ASIANepal’s government limited the number of staff postings at its Truth and Reconciliation Committee to 100 people, 44 fewer than what was originally requested. In Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party won a majority of seats in parliament in the country’s first free nationwide elections in over 25 years. Ahead of the elections, Myanmar signed a ceasefire with eight armed rebel groups, but the most active militant groups declined to join the agreement. In Sri Lanka, a judge appointed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa found that allegations that government forces committed war crimes during the civil war – fiercely denied by the Rajapaksa government – are in fact credible.

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EUROPEIn Bosnia and Herzegovina, the families of three people killed by Bosnian Serb forces in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide petitioned the European Court of Human Rights to prosecute three former Dutch UN commanders for their role in the three men’s deaths. Meanwhile, Serbia said that it will donate $5.4 million to Srebrenica for economic development. Kosovo and Montenegro signed an agreement of cooperation to find out what happened to over 1,000 people who disappeared during the Kosovo war in the late 1990s. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said that Serbia is laggingbehind on war crimes prosecutions, and the European Union said that Montenegro needs to do more to fight impunity for war crimes. Turkey granted Cyprus access to military-controlled areas of Northern Cyprus in order to speed the search for missing persons from the conflict that divided the island in the 1960s and 70s.

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MENAVictims in Tunisia say that they want a more direct voice in the country’s transitional justice process.Palestine gave ICC prosecutors a file of evidence of war crimes committed during a recent spate of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Journalist and activist Hassam Bahgat was arrested andreleased by Egypt’s military. Lebanon’s human rights record was reviewed by states during the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, and received recommendations on women’s rights, torture, migrant workers, establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty.Kuwait agreed to postpone reparations payments from Iraq stemming from Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait in the 1990s.

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From Rejection to Redress: Overcoming Legacies of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Northern UgandaThis report examines the unique, enduring consequences of conflict-related sexual violence in northern Uganda, focusing specifically on the impact of the lack of accountability for sexual crimes leading to motherhood on girls and women, and on the children they bore as a result of violations.

Tunisia in Transition: One Year After the Creation of the Truth and Dignity CommissionThis briefing paper details and analyzes the progress made so far in Tunisia to implement its historic Transitional Justice Law, with a particular focus on the Truth and Dignity Commission, created one year ago.

More Publications

Upcoming Events

December 03 – 05, 2015

The Politics of Memory: Victimization, Violence and Contested Narratives of the PastLocation: Columbia University, New YorkView Details

December 08, 2015

Annual Emilio Mignone Lecture on Transitional JusticeLocation: New York, USAView Details


Governors Threaten To Block U.S. Syrian Refugee Intake

By Samuel Miller
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, North America and Oceania

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States of America — A growing number of U.S. Governors are refusing to admit Syrian refugees, citing security concerns highlighted by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Leading Republican presidential candidates called on President Barack Obama to suspend the plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year.

A Syrian Refugee Camp on the Border Between Greece and Macedonia. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

The governors are responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders.

As of Monday, the governors of the following states have either expressed hesitation or outright refusal to accept Syrian refugees within their borders: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

For example, Louisiana Governor and 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Bobby Jindal declared over Twitter, “I just signed an Executive Order instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to LA.”

Chief among the concerns shared by these governors, and indeed many of those involved, including members of the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, have revolved around the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of properly screening and vetting the Syrian refugees. Indeed, because of the Syrian conflict, many of these refugees have little or no documentation records.

Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration, has said under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block refugees from settling in their communities.

Several governors acknowledged that they do not have the ability to stop the federal government from accepting and financing the resettlement of refugees to the United States. They too have sought reassurances that the process used to screen refugees is adequate and thorough.

As the list of states blocking refugees grows, the state of Delaware announced that it plans to accept refugees.

Governor Jack Markell said in a statement, “It is unfortunate that anyone would use the tragic events in Paris to send a message that we do not understand the plight of these refugees, ignoring the fact that the people we are talking about are fleeing the perpetrators of terror.”

Along with Delaware, governors from the following states have stated they will accept Syrian Refugees: Colorado, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

According to the Obama administration, which has stated that it hopes to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, more than 180 cities and towns have expressed willingness to accept refugees. The U.S. has resettled about 1,800 refugees from Syria so far in 2015, according to statistics compiled by the State Department.

Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe, and President Obama’s administration has pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months. The U.S. State Department said the refugees would be spread across the country.

For more information, please see:

ABC News — Wary Governors Halt, Question Plan to Accept Syrian Refugees – 16 November 2015

CNN — Syrian refugees not welcome here, governors of 16 states say – 16 November 2015

Reuters — U.S. Republicans seek to shut door on Syrian refugees after Paris – 16 November 2015

Time — Governors Vow to Block Syrian Refugees After Paris Attacks – 16 November 2015

USA Today — After attacks in Paris, governors refuse to accept Syrian refugees – 16 November 2015

Washington Post — Governors rush to slam door on Syrian refugees – 16 November 2015

UN Commissioner’s Statement Angers Venezuela’s Maduro

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

GENEVA, Switzerland — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to respect and defend human rights in Venezuela, even of those who oppose state policies. He also questioned the impartiality of the Venezuelan judicial system in political trials, such as that of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in September.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Photo courtesy of UNPhoto)

“The Human Rights Committee also recently expressed concerns, which I share, about intimidation, threats and attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers,” said the Commissioner. He also expressed concern regarding the declared state of emergency lingering in 24 municipalities.

The commentary came at the start of a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the human rights situation in Venezuela.

President Maduro called the Commissioner’s comments “audacious accusations and imperialist attacks … taken from the agenda of global harassment.” He accused the Commissioner’s statement as a break in internal procedure, describing it as “absolutely biased conduct.” Commissioner Zeid’s comments were delivered via a pre-recorded video statement, which was screened prior to Maduro’s speech.

Venezuela, along with member states Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Algeria and Saudi Arabia have announced their intention to lodge a formal complaint.

Maduro also accused the United States of using human rights as a “political weapon” against Venezuela. “The West,” according to Maduro, seeks to “isolate our country.”

Paul Patin, U.S. Mission Geneva spokesperson, responded to Maduro’s accusations, calling the address an attempt to draw attention away from his government’s repressive policies before the national election.

Venezuela was recently re-elected to the Council despite criticism from around the globe. International activists had encouraged U.N. ambassadors to boycott the special session.


For more information, please see:

TeleSur – Maduro Slams US Misuse of Human Rights Discourse at United Nations – 12 November 2015

UN News Centre – Venezuela must uphold rights of ‘even those who disagree with state policies’ – UN human rights chief – 12 November 2015

Voice of America – UN Rights Council Criticized for Welcoming Venezuelan President – 12 November 2015

Venezuela Analysis – Venezuela’s Maduro Highlights Human Rights Advances at UNHRC, Slams Western Bias – 15 November 2015


War Crimes Prosecution Watch Volume 10 – Issue 18 November 16, 2015

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 warcrimeswatch@pilpg.org 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.

Central African Republic & UgandaDarfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo



Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)


Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia


Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia



Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

War Crimes Investigations in Burma


United States

South & Central America



Gender-Based Violence