Syria Deeply: Peace Talks Kick Off on Shaky Ground in Geneva

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the weekly Syria Deeply newsletter. We’ve rounded up the most important stories and developments about Syria and the Syrians in order to bring you valuable news and analysis.

Peace Talks Kick Off on Shaky Ground in Geneva

Delayed talks between the Assad government and representatives of the Syrian opposition began in Geneva today. But with major opposition players missing and fresh government gains on the ground, the prospects of ending the five-year civil war seem slim.

Anatomy of a Siege: The Story of Madaya

The siege of Madaya began in July 2015, but global pressure on the Syrian government to allow humanitarian access didn’t begin to build until nearly 30 people had died of starvation. Why did it take so long, and why was aid only delivered once during the first six months of the siege?

Geneva and the Growing Irrelevance of Syrians

The peace talks between the Assad government and representatives of the Syrian opposition are to begin today, but Syrians have little faith in any positive outcome, because non-Syrians are dictating the parameters of the discussion, writes Middle East analyst Sharif Nashashibi.

More Recent Stories to Look Out for at Syria Deeply

Failed Peace Talks Are a Death Sentence for Syrians

Turkey and Russia’s Proxy War and the Kurds

YPG-PKK Connection Spells U.S.-Turkey Friction

My Life Outside Syria: Diary Entry 56

Putin Has Won Big in Syria, Europe is Embracing Him

Find our new reporting and analysis every weekday at www.syriadeeply.org.
You can reach our team with any comments or suggestions at
info@newsdeeply.org.

 

Eli Rosenbaum Seeks To Have Former Nazi Deported

By Samuel Miller
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America and Oceania

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States of America — For over 35 years, director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy Eli Rosenbaum has dedicated his career to prosecuting former Nazis. The human rights office got its start after congressional and public pressure prompted the Justice Department to try to track down former Nazis who had moved to the United States.

Rosenbaum has become the Justice Department’s best-known ‘Nazi Hunter’, assisting the Justice Department pursue 137 cases against suspected Nazis, of which 107 were successful in stripping citizenship or deporting these individuals.

After 35 years of service, Mr. Rosenbaum finds himself with just one active case: Jakiw Palij. Even more peculiar is that the 92 year-old suspected former guard at a Nazi concentration camp will most likely die in the United States, without answering for his alleged crimes against humanity.

Perhaps the most frustrating element for lawyers and researchers such as Rosenbaum working on the cases similar to the case of Jakiw Palij is that under U.S. law, the most that the court allows them to do is to deport former Nazis. Trying them for the actual crimes against humanity is something that has been left for authorities in other countries.

A federal judge ordered Palij deported in 2004, but none of three European countries to which he could be sent would take him. In court filings, Palij denied wrongdoing, claiming that he and other young men in his Polish hometown were coerced into working for the Nazi occupiers.

In the case of Palij, Rosenbaum said to CNN: “What Mr. Palij did prevented other people from reaching old age. He served at the Trawniki SS training and base camp — really a school for mass murder — and he trained on live Jews at the adjacent Trawniki Jewish Labor Camp. And, in the end, everyone who was held there was massacred.”

The atrocities of the Trawniki camp, where Palij worked, aren’t well known in part because the killing was thorough, and kept off official documents. The Trawniki training camp was dismantled in July 1944, due to the advances of the Soviet Red Army.

Though it remains unlikely that Mr. Palij will be deported from the United States, Mr. Rosenbaum remains undeterred to see justice served to those responsible for such a tragic and unforgettable act, stating he believes that he owes it to the victims of the Holocaust to bring every person responsible to justice.

For more information, please see:

CNN — U.S. Nazi hunter has one active case — 27 January 2016

Mercer: Latin America to Reach Gender Workplace Parity by 2025

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LONDON, UK — Mercer’s second annual “When Women Thrive” report has identified Latin America as the only region globally on track to reach gender workplace parity at the professional level by 2025.

According to the report, in Latin America, women account for 17 % of executives today, but current hiring, promotion and retention rates projects that that number will rise to 44% in 2025. Women’s representation at the professional level is 36%, rising to 49% by 2025.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (L) and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (R). (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

The study also reports that Latin American women are twice as likely as men to be promoted from the senior manager level, and more likely to be promoted from every level.

Worldwide, women hold 28 % of profit and loss roles, breaking down to 47 % in Latin America, followed by 27 % in Asia and 25 % in Australia/New Zealand. Women only represent 22 % of profit and loss roles in the US and Canada and only 17% in Europe.

The study is based on a survey of 583 organizations in 42 countries (representing Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas), accounting for 3.2 million employees.

Pat Milligan, Mercer’s global leader of the “When Women Thrive” initiative called the under-representation of women in the workplace an “economic and social travesty.” Julia Howes, a Mercer principal involved with the project, said that although there has been focus on women at the top, the main issue is the lack of female talent pipelines.

Women are set to make up 40 % of the professional workforce by 2025. Most regions of the world “won’t even be close to gender equality” within the next 10 years.

For more information, please see:

Forbes – Women: Under Representation is an Economic and Social Travesty – 26 January 2016

Mercer – 2016 Global When Women Thrive Report – 26 January 2016

Business Standard – Failure to build talent pipeline threatens women’s workplace progress, says Mercer report – 27 January 2016

Irish Times – Latin America Expected to top women at work rankings – 27 January 2016 

Reuters – Latin America to top professional working women league by 2025 – Mercer – 27 January 2016

Voice of America – Study: Latin America to Lead with Number of Professional Working Women by 2025 – 27 January 2016

Press Release: Pro-Kremlin Russian Nationalist Politician Calls for Rendition of William Browder to Russia

28 January 2016 – Pro-Kremlin Russian nationalist politician, Eduard Limonov, has publicly called for the illegal rendition to Russia of UK-based Putin critic William Browder.

“The task of our special services is to catch Browder and bring him in a sack to Russia,” Eduard Limonov told to the pro-Putin news agency “Novy Den.” ?(http://newdaynews.ru/moskow/555722.html).

This is the second illegal rendition threat against Mr. Browder emanating from Russia. In the summer of 2014, Mr. Browder received a warning from the US Department of Justice of a similar Russian threat. The threat related to actions being put in place to “find” Mr Browder in London and “potentially return” him to Russia.

This most recent threat came just as Browder called on British Prime Minister Cameron to impose travel sanctions and asset freezes on senior officials in the Putin regime in response to the finding of the Russian state’s complicity in the Litvinenko murder which endangered lives of others in Britain.

In an open letter in the Guardian, William Browder said:

You can’t undo an act of state-sponsored terrorism on British soil from 2006, but for the long-term safety and security of everyone in Britain you must act in a way that leaves no doubt that the UK government will not be cowed. You must stand firm and ensure serious consequences for anyone who dares to repeat such an atrocious act on British soil.“(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/litvinenko-report-punish-russia-cameron-bill-browder)

Last month, on 15 December 2015, Russian General Prosecutor Chaika lashed out against William Browder, accusing him of working with Western special services to destabilise Russia by producing a corruption expose against the Russian General Prosecutor.

“I have absolutely no doubts that this mendacious movie has been ordered by W. Browder and intelligence services who are standing behind him… There is a global purpose – to compromise the Russian Prosecutor General, his regional subordinates, and once again to denounce our country as… the country worthy of economic and other sanctions,” said Russian General Prosecutor Chaika. (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2876887)

Mr Limonov has become an outspoken supporter of Russian President Putin. This week, he tried to dismiss the expose of corruption involving Vladimir Putin as “part of US war against Russia.”?https://www.therussophile.org/limonov-accusations-of-corruption-against-putin-are-part-of-us-war-against-russia.html/

Obama Bans Use Of Solitary Confinement For Adolescents In Federal Prison

By Samuel Miller
Desk Reporter, North America and Oceania

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States of America — On Monday, President Obama announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, stating the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences. President Obama said he came to his decision after a review by the Justice Department determined the practice reduces the chances that prisoners can be rehabilitated into society.

President Obama Announces Changes to the Federal Prison System. (Photo Courtesy of US News & World Report)

The reforms would affect about 10,000 inmates who are serving time in isolation in the federal system.

The department review yielded a series of recommendations and 50 guiding principles, which officials have said would aim to ensure solitary confinement was an increasingly rare punishment, to be used only as an option of last resort when inmates posed a danger to staff, other inmates or themselves. The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days.

Obama said he would take a number of other executive actions, including banning the use of confinement as a punishment for inmates who commit low-level infractions. The president is also directing federal wardens to expand out-of-cell time for all inmates and ensure those in protective custody are housed in less restrictive conditions.

“The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance,” Obama wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children.”

The President’s decision follows similar actions in some states, as leaders rethink their correctional practices for the first time in decades.

For example, California settled a landmark lawsuit last year by agreeing to an overhaul of its prison system that included strict limits on the prolonged isolation of inmates. Additionally, Colorado and New Mexico have reduced the number of people in solitary confinement.

In recent weeks, Illinois and Oregon have announced they will exclude seriously mentally ill inmates from solitary confinement, and last month New York State reached a five-year, $62 million settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, in which it pledged to significantly cut the number of prisoners in solitary as well as the maximum time they could stay there.

Said President Obama: “We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives. And if we can give them the hope of a better future, and a way to get back on their feet, then we will leave our children with a country that is safer, stronger and worthy of our highest ideals.”

In his final year in office, Obama has said that he’d redouble his efforts on criminal justice reform, including improving conditions in federal prisons and encouraging states to adopt new rules that hew more closely to updated research on corrections facilities.

The executive order will only apply to federal prisons; most inmates in the US, however, are held in state prisons.

For more information, please see:

BBC News — Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles and low-level offenders – 26 January 2016

CNN — Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison – 26 January 2016

Daily Caller — Obama Bans Solitary Confinement For Juvenile Prisoners – 26 January 2016

Washington Post — Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons – 26 January 2016

NY Times — Obama Bans Solitary Confinement of Juveniles in Federal Prisons – 25 January 2016

The Hill — Obama bans solitary confinement for federal juvenile inmates – 25 January 2016

US News and World Report — Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Kids in Federal Jails – 25 January 2016

USA Today — Obama restricts use of solitary confinement – 25 January 2016

Security Council votes to monitor Colombia cease fire

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America 

NEW YORK, United States — The United Nations Security Council, led by the delegation of the United Kingdom, has approved a 12 month long mission to monitor the cease-fire between the Colombian government and FARC Rebels. The resolution was unanimously adopted, and had been requested by both parties.

The United Nations Security Council votes to create UN mission to oversee Colombia cease-fire at UN Headquarters, New York City. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was reportedly “pleased by the strong commitment Council members had shown to the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in Colombia.

Both parties have pledged safety for the members of the mission, who will be unarmed. The mission will include experts from Latin America and Caribbean States.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will present details of the mission within 30 days of a final agreement being signed. He will then report every 90 days on the progress of the mission.

After the initial 12 month period, the mission may be extended with the consent of the Colombian government and FARC leadership.

The move was welcomed by Colombian officials. “The Security Council’s decision means we are no longer going alone, but hand in hand with the U.N., with the entire world, toward the end of this war,” said Colombia President Juan Manual Santos.

The disarmament is tentatively scheduled to begin on March 23, though it is uncertain if a final agreement will be reached before that time. The parties have so far reached agreements in the areas of drug trafficking, land rights, and punishment for human rights violations.

Although the Colombian government has agreed to hold a public referendum to allow Colombians to vote for or against the final agreement, FARC representatives have expressed concern over this method.

The violence between government forces and FARC rebels in Colombia is said to be the longest running conflict in Latin America – lasting for over fifty years. Over 220,000 people have died and 5 million others displaced throughout the conflict.

 

For more information, please see:

New York Times – U.N. Can Seal the Peace in Colombia – 23 January 2016 

Reuters – UN Security Council creates mission to verify Colombia peace deal – 25 January 2016

TeleSur – UN Agrees to Supervise Colombia Peace Deal – 25 January 2016

The City Paper – UN Security Council votes to monitor Colombia in post-conflict – 25 January 2016 

UN News Centre – UN Security Council approves mission to monitor peace deal between Colombia and FARC – 25 January 2016

Washington Times – Colombia, FARC rebels nearing peace deal amid worries about aftermath – 25 January 2016

Jurist – UN Security Council approves peace mission in Colombia – 26 January 2016

Latin America News Dispatch – UN Agrees to Oversee Future Ceasefire Deal Between Colombia, FARC Rebels – 26 January 2016

The City Paper – Striking a peace deal with Colombia’s forests and fields – 26 January 2016

Latin American Herald Tribune – UN Approves Sending Mission to Colombia to Verify Cease-Fire – 27 January 2016

Latin Post – Colombia-FARC Peace Talks to End 50 Years of Conflict – 27 January 2016

Tribunal Finds Canadian Government Discriminated Against First Nation Children

By Samuel Miller
Desk Reporter, North America and Oceania

OTTAWA, Canada — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled on Tuesday the federal government has discriminated against First Nation children on reserves by failing to provide the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere. In its ruling, the tribunal found First Nations are adversely impacted by the services provided by the government and, in some cases, denied services as a result of the government’s involvement.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Located in Ottawa. (Photo Courtesy of National Post)

The government is committing to “significantly increase” funding for First Nations child welfare programs.

In its ruling, the tribunal found that funding formula used by the federal First Nations Child and Family Services Program and related agreements with the provinces and territories have resulted in the denial of child welfare services on reserves. The tribunal also found cases in which there was a financial incentive for the government to remove children living on reserves from their parents’ care and place them in foster care, even though that’s not the standard of care off reserves.

The decision was hailed as a “win not only for First Nations but for all of Canada” by Carrier Sekani Family Services director Mary Teegee.

“If you don’t give a child a good start at life, they don’t have that good of a chance to become strong adults…and if we are not providing what they need to live up to their human potential, that’s a loss not only for Canada but for the world,” Teegee said.

The decision goes on to state the government must cease the discriminatory practice and take measures to redress and prevent it. Furthermore, it calls for the redesign of the child welfare system and its funding model, urging the use of experts to ensure First Nations are given culturally appropriate services.

The quasi-judicial body was ruling on a 2007 complaint from the Assembly of First Nations and The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCSC), who had argued the federal government failed to provide First Nations children the same level of services that exist elsewhere.

Funding for on-reserve child welfare services has been pegged at 22 to 34 per cent lower than for provincially-funded off-reserve counterparts, the FNCFCSC said in a press release.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the tribunal’s ruling presents an immediate opportunity to fix the system. He said he expects to see the funding gap addressed in the upcoming federal budget.

“In this great country there is no room for discrimination and racism. To all the young children that have gone through the failed system, we want to ensure them they’re not forgotten.” Bellegarde said during a news conference.

For more information, please see:

BBC News — Canada short-changed First Nation children – court ruling – 26 January 2016

CBC News — Canada discriminates against children on reserves, tribunal rules – 26 January 2016

CTV News — Ottawa to increase funding for First Nations children after human rights ruling – 26 January 2016

National Post — Federal government discriminated against First Nations children through welfare funding: human rights tribunal – 26 January 2016

Prince George Citizen — Tribunal rules in favour of First Nations on child welfare complaint – 26 January 2016

Reuters — Canada government discriminated against aboriginal children: tribunal – 26 January 2016

Toronto Sun — Federal government discriminated against First Nations children: Tribunal – 26 January 2016

Police Kill Three Protestors in Nepal

By Christine Khamis

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

 

KATHMANDU, Nepal –

Police shot and killed three ethnic Madhesi protesters in Rangeli, Nepal last week. The killings occurred amidst continuing political discord over Nepal’s new constitution.

Madhesi protesters during a November 2015 protest over Nepal’s new constitution. (Photo courtesy of Voice of America)

Protesters disrupted a pro-constitution rally run by the Youth wing of Nepal’s governing Communist Party last Thursday, according to Toyam Raya, the chief district officer of the region. The event was organized to honor Nepal’s current prime minister, K. P. Oli.

The United Madhesi Front, a group that has organized most of the Madhesi protests, reportedly warned the Youth wing of the Communist Party not to have its rally. The United Madhesi Front also said that it would disrupt any attempt to honor Prime Minister Oli.

Protesters began to throw stones at police, at which point the police fired tear gas at them and attempted to use batons and blank shots to control the crowd. When those tactics did not work, the police then opened fire on the protesters.

The number of injuries is unclear at this time. Mr. Raya states that eight protesters and 13 police officers were wounded during the conflict, while the Madhesis say that 35 people were injured.

The Madhesis have repeatedly called for changes to the new constitution, primarily because it redraws the boundaries of Nepal’s provinces. The redrawn districts, according to the Madhesis, deny them adequate political power and representation. They have called for the districts to be redrawn so that electoral constituencies are based on population and proportional representation. Members of the Madhesis have held talks with Nepali authorities on the issue, but those talks have failed to end in agreement.

Nepal’s parliament proposed a constitutional amendment in an attempt to quell the protests, but the Madhesis rejected the amendment this week. Laxman Lal Karna, a member of the United Democratic Front, says that the amendment was incomplete and failed to address the Madhesis’ concerns.

Since the introduction of the new constitution in September 2015, over 50 people have been killed in confrontations between police and protesters. Protesters have also blocked supplies coming in from India, leading to a severe fuel shortage in Nepal.

 

For more information, please see:

The New York Times – Nepal Police Fire on Madhesi Protesters, Killing at Least 3 – 21 January 2016

Voice of America – Police Fire on Protesters in Southern Nepal; 3 Killed – 21 January 2016

Business Standard – 3 Killed in Police Firing as Madhesis Clash with CPN-UML – 21 January 2016

ABC News – Ethnic Protesters in Nepal Reject Constitutional Amendment – 24 January 2016

Press Release- Measuring the Hate: The State of Antisemitism on Social Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27th) the Online Hate Prevention Institute has released a groundbreaking report “Measuring the Hate: The State of Antisemitism on Social Media”. The report tracks over 2000 items of antisemitism reported to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The items were tracked over 10 months and at the end of the period, only 20 per cent has been removed.

The response by social media platforms is unacceptable given the a sharp rise in violent hate crimes against Jewish people around the world. Last year, we saw four French Jews killed in an attack on a Jewish supermarket, a community security volunteer killed outside a Synagogue in Denmark, multiple knife attacks on Jews in Israel and a range of other serious antisemitic incidents. Rampant online antisemitism is also playing a significant role in self-radicalisation and the spread of violent extremism in parts of the Arab world and within some Muslim communities.

The new report examines the spread of antisemitism across Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It also explores the spread across four categories of antisemitism. In both cases the removal rates over time are presented. This report is a world first in empirically examining these issues the responses of the world’s three largest social media platforms.

The four categories of antisemitism explored are:  the promotion of violence against Jews; traditional antisemitism such as conspiracy theories, racial slurs, and accusations such as the blood libel; Holocaust denial; and New Antisemitism which relates to the State of Israel. Traditional antisemitism accounted for almost half the items reported.

The report also outlines where each type of antisemitism occurs, with content promoting violence against Jews far more likely to be found on Twitter, while content promoting Holocaust denial was most likely to be found on YouTube. There was also evidence of significant variations in way the social media companies responded to online antisemitism.

Within each company there was a significant variation depending on the category of antisemitism. The best response rates came from Facebook where content promoting violence against Jews showed a 75% chance of eventually being removed. The worst case was YouTube videos containing New Antisemitism, that is, antisemitism related to the State of Israel, where only 4% has been removed after more than 10 months.

Online hate speech is fuelling hate crimes around the world. Governments are starting to respond to the inadequate response by social media companies to this problem. Last year, German prosecutors launched a criminal investigation against senior Facebook executives in response to growing incitement on the platform against immigrants, and Facebook, Google and Twitter have since agreed to remove hate speech reported in Germany within 24 hours and to use the definition of German law rather than their own standards. Facebook has since announced a one million dollar project to tackle online hate in Europe.

Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute warned that, “time is running out for social media platforms to improve their response to the crisis of dangerous content their technology is helping to spread through society. Governments around the world are demanding better regulation of hate, incitement and radicalisation material. This report shows that some platforms are doing more to meet this challenge than others, but all have a long way to go. The current situation is simply not good enough.”

The full report is available at: http://ohpi.org.au/measuring-antisemitism/

NOTES

The Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) is an Australian charity dedicated to tackling the problem of online hate including antisemitism, online extremism, cyber-racism, cyber-bullying, online religious vilification, online misogyny, and other forms of online hate attacking individuals and groups in society. OHPI aims to be a world leader in combating online hate and a critical partner who works with key stakeholders to improve the prevention and mitigation of online hate and the harm it causes. Ultimately, OHPI seeks to facilitate a change in online culture so that hate in all its forms becomes as socially unacceptable online as it is in “real life”.

France May Extend State of Emergency Powers

by Shelby Vcelka

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe

PARIS, France–

France is in the process of extending its state of emergency that has been in place since the Paris attacks in November of last year. The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said that the state of emergency must continue for a “necessary” period of time, despite protests from the UN experts and human rights groups. Prime Minster Valls also said that Europe could not handle the influx of refugees fleeing the “terrible” wars in Iraq and Syria, as it could destabilize the country.

French President Francois Hollande speaks regarding France’s future regarding the nation’s state of emergency. (Photo courtesy of CNN).

Valls’ remarks have ignited international debate about how long an emergency state and extra police powers could exist. The French President, Francois Hollande, has stated that the extension of the police powers is probable, with a final decision likely next week.

The state of emergency was supposed to last for a short period of time, but was extended for three months and set to expire on 26 February, 2016. The government first extended the police powers immediately after the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015. The state of emergency allows police to conduct house raids and searches without a warrant during the day or night, gives police the ability to place people under house arrest without extrajudicial process, and allows for restrictions on large gatherings or protests.

Since the state of emergency has gone into effect, there have been around 3,100 raids and searches, and almost 400 people have been placed under house arrest. Most of the raids and arrests occurred immediately after the attacks, but have substantially slowed down since then. At least 500 weapons have been seized, but over 200 of them have been seized from one person.

The Human Rights League of France has taken a case contesting the state of emergency to the highest court of France. Their reasoning states that it is no longer defensible and “seriously impacts public freedoms.” The court will hear the case next week.

Likewise, the UN has condemned the extension of the police powers, as it “lack[s] clarity and precision of several provisions of the state of emergency and surveillance laws.” Their main problems involve issues with freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and the right to privacy.

For more information, please see–

CNN–French Parliament considers expanded emergency powers— 19 November 2015

Euronews– France’s national assembly votes to extend state of emergency— 19 November 2015

BBC– Migrant crisis: EU at grave risk, warns France PM Valls— 22 January 2016

The Guardian– France considers extending national state of emergency— 22 January 2016

War Crimes Prosecution Watch Volume 10, Issue 23 – January 25, 2016

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.

Contents

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Central African Republic & Uganda

Darfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kenya

Libya

Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

AFRICA

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Mali

Chad

Nigeria

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Iraq

Syria

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA

South & Central America

TOPICS

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

REPORTS

UN Reports

NGO Reports

WORTH READING

Worth Reading

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

North Korea Detains American Student

By Christine Khamis

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

 

A student who traveled to North Korea as a tourist has been detained for a “hostile act”, according to North Korea’s state-run media. Otto F. Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, has been accused of entering North Korea with the intent to bring down the foundation of North Korea’s “single-minded unity”.

Otto Warmbier. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

Mr. Warmbier traveled to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours, a China-based company that organizes trips to North Korea. The company released a statement saying that Mr. Warmbier had been detained in Pyongyang on January 2 as he went through customs. It appears that Mr. Warmbier was about to travel to China when he was detained.

Young Pioneer Tours also stated that it was in contact with Mr. Warmbier’s family and the Swedish Embassy, which offers consular assistance to Americans in North Korea. KCNA, North Korea’s state-run news source, has disclosed that Mr. Warmbier is currently under investigation. Further details about Mr. Warmbier’s detainment are currently unknown.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Mark Toner, has stated that the State Department is aware that Mr. Warmbier has been detained and that the Department is working with the Swedish Embassy to address the situation. The Swedish Embassy represents U.S. interests in North Korea, as the U.S. and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations with each other.

Other Americans have been detained by North Korea in the past, often for activities seen as subversive due to their religious or political nature. The U.S. State Department and Canada’s government have warned against traveling to North Korea because of the westerners who have been detained there. Despite the warnings, around 6,000 westerners continue to travel to North Korea every year.

Mr. Warmbier is the third westerner known to be held in North Korea at this time. The others include a Korean-American detained on spying charges and a Canadian pastor who allegedly plotted to overthrow North Korea’s government.

 

For more information, please see:

CNN – North Korea Arrests American Student for ‘Hostile Act’ – 23 January 2016

BBC News – North Korea Arrests US student for ‘Hostile Act’ – 22 January 2016

The New York Times – North Korea Says It’s Holding U.S. Student for ‘Hostile Act’ –22 January 2015

Reuters – North Korea Detains U.S. Student on New Year Trip for ‘Hostile Act’ – 22 January 2016

 

This Week in Syria Deeply: Origins of the Syrian Democratic Forces: A Primer

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the weekly Syria Deeply newsletter. We’ve rounded up the most important stories and developments about Syria and the Syrians in order to bring you valuable news and analysis.

Origins of the Syrian Democratic Forces: A Primer

Aron Lund, editor of the Carnegie Endowment’s Syria in Crisis page, provides an in-depth look at the Syrian Democratic Forces, their overall political agenda, the group’s masked connections to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, and what he believes to be their impending inclusion in the Geneva III talks.

My Life in Syria: Diary Entry 55

Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, has been sharing her stories of life in war. With her mother and siblings, she recently left Syria, stopping off in Turkey before making the precarious crossing to Greece by boat. Now in Switzerland, she recounts the rigorous journey.

Deir Ezzor: Facing a ‘Double Blockade’ From All Sides

In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, ISIS militants and the Syrian government are battling for control of the capital. As violence between the two sides continues to escalate, residents in the government-held areas of the city must fight to survive under what they call a “double blockade.” 

More Recent Stories to Look Out for at Syria Deeply

Syria Crisis: Community Q&A with a U.N. Adviser

Ending Syria’s Atrocities, a Prerequisite to Ending Its War

Syria’s Warring Parties Teach Separate Curriculums

Displaced Turkmen Villagers Brace for a Cold Winter

Find our new reporting and analysis every weekday at www.syriadeeply.org.

You can reach our team with any comments or suggestions at info@newsdeeply.org.

Indonesia To Review Anti-Terror Laws Following Jakarta Attack

By Samuel Miller
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America and Oceania

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for revisions to the country’s anti-terrorism laws after last week’s attacks in the capital, Jakarta. The proposed changes would make it easier for officials to arrest anyone suspected of planning an attack.

Indonesians Stand Guard Near the Cite of the Jakarta Attack on January 14th. (Photo Courtesy of BBC News)

The call for review comes in the wake of last week’s attacks in Jakarta, which were claimed by ISIL.

President Widodo, addressing a high-level security meeting on Tuesday, called for amendments to the country’s anti-terrorism law after ISIL-linked attackers struck last week at the heart of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the most populated Muslim country.

The proposed changes would make it easier for the authorities to arrest anyone whom they believe have a strong indication to be planning a terrorist attack, according to the minister in charge of security, Luhut Panjaitan. The proposed new legislation would also allow officials to hold suspects for longer than a week without charge and would make it illegal for Indonesians to fight with militants of ISIL.

“It’s true that there are some people who feel this won’t be a solution to the problem, but at the very least it will make it easier to get intelligence data and make it harder for terrorists to get space to operate,” said Panjaitan.

Senior officials in Jakarta believe that roughly 500 Indonesians have traveled to the Middle East region to join the ISIL and other militant groups. Nearly 100 are believed to have returned to the Southeast Asian country in recent months.

Security forces would also be permitted to hold suspects for longer without charge, and it would be made illegal for any Indonesian to fight for ISIL, in an effort to dispel fears that those returning could plan further attacks after being radicalized.

Indonesia’s national police chief, Badrodin Haiti, reportedly admitted their current authority is limited. “We can detect, but we can’t take action before any crime is committed. That is the weakness of our regulations. For example, if there are those who came back home from Syria after joining IS, there is no proof of their crime and we can’t take action against them.”

The planned laws have faced opposition from human rights organizations, political figures, and Islamic groups who argue that the proposed laws are too authoritarian in nature and would mark a step back towards the powers that the police once held under the previous Indonesian dictatorship.

It should be noted, however, that all of the major parties have expressed at least some support for the measures, suggesting the proposed laws will most likely be approved by the Indonesian parliament.

 

For more information, please see:

BBC News — Jakarta attacks: President Widodo seeks terror laws review – 19 January 2016

NewEurope — Indonesia’s anti-terrorist law overhaul debated – 19 January 2016

PressTV — Indonesia president seeks terror law review – 19 January 2016

Voice of America — Indonesia’s Widodo Seeks Terror Law Review – 19 January 2016

The World Weekly — Indonesia to strengthen anti-terror laws after Jakarta attacks – 19 January 2016

Bloomberg — Indonesia to Strengthen Anti-Terror Law Following Jakarta Attack – 18 January 2016