Justice for Sergei Magnitsky: Press release: Two Russians Included in the European Parliament’s Magnitsky List Welcomed at the European Parliament for Anti-Magnitsky Event

29 April 2016  – Two Russians on the European Parliament’s Magnitsky Sanctions List were welcomed at the European parliament for the premiere of a film by a Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, defaming the memory of Sergei Magnitsky

Among those present in the audience in Brussels on April 27th were ex police officer Pavel Karpov, named in Sergei Magnitsky’s testimony for his role in the custody of documents and files, used in the fraud to steal $230 million from the Russian government, and Andrei Pavlov, the lawyer who took part in sham court proceedings, described in Sergei Magnitsky’stestimony as part of that same crime.

Pavel Karpov and Andrei Pavlov are No 7 and No 15 on the European Parliament’s Magnitsky list, which recommends the European Council to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on those who were involved in the crimes against Sergei Magnitsky

#7: KARPOV, Pavel, born 27 August 1977;

#15: PAVLOV, Andrey (a.k.a. Pavlov, Andrei), born 7 August 1977;

In his testimony on the fraud, Sergei Magnitsky described the roles of both Pavel Karpov and Andrei Pavlov. In particular, Sergei Magnitsky said in his 5 June 2008 testimony:

“Many times the lawyer of Firestone Duncan (CIS) Limited and the company’s representatives requested Investigator P.A. Karpov to return the seized documents that were not related to the case investigated by P.A. Karpov, but the investigator kept delaying the return of the documents saying that there were many documents and it took him much time to finish examining them.” 

“I can confirm that the seized folders, which I also used in my work, contained the originals of the latest editions of the Articles of Association of LLC Kameya, LLC Parfenion, LLC Rilend and LLC Makhaon, the original certificates of the tax registration, the original certificates of the legal entity state registration, the original Minutes of meetings and resolutions of the sole participants of the companies, the original legalized certificates confirming the residency of the companies’ participants and some other documents,” testified Sergei Magnitsky.

In his testimony Sergei Magnitsky described fictitious claims filed against Hermitage’s companies in Russia and the appearance of Pavlov in those sham court proceedings:

“Almost at once it became clear that the filing and consideration of the said claims were associated with fraudulent actions because as it followed from the decisions of the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region dated 3 and 7 September 2007, the court hearings had been attended by the LLC Makhaon representative Yu.MMaiorovaand the LLC Rilend representative A.A. Pavlov, who presented Powers of Attorney said to be issued by those companies and dated 24 August 2007. It means the Powers of Attorney were forged ones because the companies’ seals had been seized and were kept at the Main Investigative Department of the Main Internal Affairs Department of Moscow.” 

Four months later, on 7 October 2008, Sergei Magnitskyconfirmed his 5 June 2008 testimony and added in his testimony the discovery of “the embezzlement of budget funds that took place in excess of Five Billion rubles, which was obviously committed by the same group of persons that used illegal re-registration of Parfenion LLC, Makhaon LLC, and Rilend LLC and filing claims against those companies as a tool for embezzling money from the state treasury.”  

At the event held in the European Parliament seven and half years later, on 27 April 2016,  Pavel Karpov was giving interviews to Russian TV stations, and Andrei Pavlov was able to approach Heidi Hautala, MEP from Finland, who hosted the event.

Lithuanian MEP Petras Austrevicius interrupted proceedings in the European Parliament the following day, on 28 April 2016, to draw attention to the fact that two Russian citizens whose names were placed on the European Parliament’s Magnitsky list, had been allowed access to the parliament the previous day.

Mr Austrevicius, MEP, said: 

“I deplore this happening within the walls of the European Parliament,” it was, he went on, “an issue of the integrity of our own decisions.”

For more information, please contact:

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org  

www.lawandorderinrussia.org   

www.facebook.com/russianuntouchables

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Position Paper on the Upcoming Transitional Constitution

April 22, 2016

To: The Syrian Negotiating Parties

The International Syria Support Group

The United Nations Special Envoy Stefan de Mistura and his Team

We, the Syrian organizations working in the fields of documenting violations, accountability, transitional justice, and supporting a democratic transition in Syria, who have signed this memorandum, following the media reports on the drafting of a new constitution before August, submit this memorandum to the Syrian negotiating parties, to the United Nations Special Envoy and his team, and to the states supporting the negotiations as a procedural memorandum specifying our organizations’ position on matters pertaining to the next Syrian constitution.

The signatories agree that the writing of a permanent Syrian constitution should come at a later time subsequent to the transitional stage. The drafting of a permanent Syrian constitution should take place through a constitutional committee, which would be established through a process that is agreed upon through elections, and would have a membership that is also agreed upon through elections and on the basis of legal and constitutional experience, and upon the review of members’ résumés and characters.

The text of UN Resolution 2254 expressed support for a political process under Syrian leadership, facilitated by the United Nations, to “define a timeframe and a mechanism to draft a new constitution.” However, the resolution did not in any way stipulate that a new Syrian constitution should be completed by non-Syrian parties before August.

The undersigned organizations believe that the timeframe that the American and Russian parties have announced is not at all realistic. This timeframe deprives the Syrians from thoroughly planning the process for drafting a new constitution. It also opens the door to pre-prepared constitutional drafts that could be readily imposed on the Syrian people. Moreover, the process of drafting the new constitution is exactly as important as the new constitution itself. If a guarantee is given that a wide segment of the Syrian people can participate by putting forth their demands for the new constitution, the drafting process itself can be part of the peace-building process.

The signatories affirm that Syria needs, in the transitional period, a constitutional declaration or a temporary draft constitution that focuses on the following constitutional principles in advance of the drafting of a new constitution once the security situation has stabilized and refugees have returned to Syria:

1) The people are the source of authority and legislation.

2) The division of powers, and the affirmation of the principle of checks and balances in the constitution.

3) Making the army and security forces subject to the authority of elected civilian officials, and banning military and security figures from politics.

4) Banning torture as well as harsh, degrading, and inhumane treatment.

5) Independence of the judiciary.

6) The constitution guarantees individual rights, including freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, and the guarantee of religious freedoms.

7) The constitution guarantees the freedom to assemble and protest, including the freedom to form parties and civil society organizations.

8) Forbidding discrimination among Syrians on the basis of gender, origin, language, religion, creed, wealth, social position, political beliefs, disability, or for any other reason.

9) Giving damaged areas priority in development and reconstruction efforts.

10) Ratifying international agreements on human rights, and committing to implementing them.

11) Equality before and in the law, specifying clear bases for respecting the principles in force, and the rule of law.

12) Total equality between all citizens, male and female, in civil, political, economic, and social rights, and in all fields of public and family life; and the implementation of policies and mechanisms to achieve the principle of proportionate representation between women and men in legislative and executive bodies, and in all representative institutions, including parties and civil organizations.

The organizations that have signed this memorandum affirm that the United Nations and the International Syria Support Group must abide by the decisions of the Security Council and allow the Syrian people to participate in the drafting of their country’s next constitution.

We are ready to meet with you through our representatives at any time, and we invite you to discuss these points with us in more detail.

Signatories alphabetically,

  1. Assyrian Network for Human Rights
  2. Badael
  3. Baytna Syria
  4. Dawlaty
  5. Daraa Free Lawyer Bar
  6. Free Syrian Lawyers Aggregation
  7. Free Syrian Lawyers Association (FSLA)
  8. Human Rights Organization in Syria (MAF)
  9. Local Development and Small-Projects Support (LDSPS)
  10. Kawakibi Center for Human Rights
  11. Kawakibi Organization for Human Rights
  12. Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC)
  13. Syrian Network For Human Rights
  14. The Day After (TDA)
  15. Syrian League for Citizenship
  16. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (CME)
  17. Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies
  18. Syrian Center for Human Rights Studies
  19. Syrian Institute for Justice
  20. Syrian Free Independent Judicial Council
  21. Violation Documentation Center (VDC)
  22. Women Now

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Atrocity Alert, Issue 2

Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect highlighting and updating situations where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Burundi

After one year of conflict, Burundi’s protracted political and human rights crisis has claimed the lives of over 500 people and displaced over 250,000. Extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances and sexual violence are increasing. The UN Security Council should take decisive preventive action by authorizing a robust UN police presence to halt any further deterioration of the situation.

South Sudan

Following a number of delays, rebel leader Riek Machar returned to Juba on 26 April to be sworn in as First Vice President of South Sudan. The parties to the civil war, including Machar and President Salva Kiir, must now swiftly establish the Transitional Government of National Unity and fully implement the August 2015 peace agreement, including holding accountable those who perpetrated mass atrocities during the civil war.

UN Photo/Isaac Billy

UNHCR Photo

Burma/Myanmar

Despite Burma/Myanmar holding successful democratic elections in November 2015, rampant discrimination continues against Rohingya Muslims. The new National League for Democracy (NLD) government has shown no sign of reversing decades-long institutionalized persecution of this vulnerable ethnic community, most of whom are also denied citizenship. The NLD cannot build a new, democratic Burma/Myanmar that upholds the human rights of its people without including the Rohingya in its reform process. The government should immediately repeal laws and policies that pose an existential threat to the survival of the Rohingya community.

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky: Magnitsky’s mother blasts Green Party for premiering defamatory film about Sergei Magnitsky at the European Parliament

Mag­nit­sky Fam­ily Blasts the Green Party in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment for Host­ing Pre­miere of a False and Offen­sive Film about Sergei Mag­nit­sky by Andrei Nekrasov

 

27 April 2016 – The widow and mother of Sergei Mag­nit­sky have writ­ten to the Green/EFA fac­tion in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (see their let­ter) protest­ing the pre­miere of a new false, offen­sive and defam­a­tory film by Russ­ian film­maker Andrei Nekrasov about their mur­dered hus­band and son. The pre­miere will take place this after­noon at 5:30 pm at the Euro­pean Parliament.

 

The pre­miere is spon­sored at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment by the Greens/EFA Group, and hosted by Heidi Hau­tala, Finnish MEP, Vice Pres­i­dent of the Green/EFA Group, who was reported in the Finnish press to be film­maker Andrei Nekrasov’s girl­friend.

 

The Mag­nit­sky fam­ily expressed their indig­na­tion in the let­ter about this new attempt to blacken Sergei Magnitsky’s name. They view this film as pro­mot­ing the inter­ests of those who Sergei Mag­nit­sky exposed and who are afraid of the truth he had uncovered.

 

“This film has been made in the inter­est of those who are scared of the truth uncov­ered by Sergei Mag­nit­sky, – said Sergei Magnitsky’s mother and widow. – “By this let­ter the fam­ily of Sergei Mag­nit­sky state their highly neg­a­tive reac­tion to this film and protest against uncon­scionable attempts to blacken Sergei Magnitsky’s name. We are cat­e­gor­i­cally against pub­lic view­ing of the Andrei Nekrasov’s film, against its dis­tri­b­u­tion in any form.”

 

The let­ter from the Mag­nit­sky fam­ily states that the film con­tains false infor­ma­tion and lies about Sergei Mag­nit­sky. They are cat­e­gor­i­cally against any show­ing or dis­tri­b­u­tion of this film, includ­ing and espe­cially at the Euro­pean Parliament.

 

“We believe that the film by Andrei Nekrasov, based on his inven­tions, and not on doc­u­ments and facts, is degrad­ing to the dig­nity of Sergei Mag­nit­sky, degrad­ing to the deceased, who can­not defend him­self,” says the let­ter from the Mag­nit­sky family.

 

The film by Andrei Nekrasov and pro­ducer Torstein Grude of Piraya Films (Nor­way) is designed to per­pet­u­ate a Russ­ian gov­ern­ment dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign about the Mag­nit­sky case for a West­ern audi­ence. The film claims that Sergei Mag­nit­sky was not beaten in cus­tody, was not a lawyer, did not tes­tify against Russ­ian offi­cials, did not inves­ti­gate the US$230 mil­lion fraud, but instead com­mit­ted it him­self.
These false claims are con­tra­dicted by numer­ous doc­u­ments. In par­tic­u­lar, the claim that he wasn’t beaten is refuted by the pho­tos of his injuries from the state autopsy; his death cer­tifi­cate stat­ing he had a sus­pected cere­br­ial cra­nial injury; cer­tifi­cates from the deten­tion cen­ter where he died record­ing the appli­ca­tion of rub­ber batons; the Russ­ian state foren­sic opin­ion find­ing that Sergei Magnitsky’s injuries were con­sis­tent with blunt force trauma.
Magnitsky’s pro­fes­sion as a lawyer is demon­strated by his role in rep­re­sent­ing his mul­ti­ple clients in court, pro­vid­ing them legal advice, and his own tes­ti­mony iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as a lawyer.

 

The fact that Sergei Magnitsky’s tes­ti­fied against police offi­cers is proven by his tes­ti­mony from 5 June 2008 in which he described the theft of Hermitage’s com­pa­nies and fraud­u­lent claims against them, men­tion­ing police offi­cer Kuznetsov 14 times and police offi­cer Kar­pov 13 times, his 7 Octo­ber 2008 tes­ti­mony in which he con­firmed his 5 June 2008 tes­ti­mony and tes­ti­fied that the same group who stole Hermitage’s com­pa­nies stoleUS$230 mln from the Russ­ian budget.

 

The claim that Sergei Mag­nit­sky stole US$230 mln is refuted by the dis­cov­ery of the illicit pro­ceeds from the fraud on accounts con­nected to the Russ­ian offi­cials and mem­bers of their fam­i­lies; the joint travel of the crim­i­nals and Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials involved in the fraud; the fact that Mag­nit­sky helped Her­mitage report the crime three weeks before the crim­i­nals applied for the fraud­u­lent tax refund, and the fact that the same crim­i­nal organ­i­sa­tion did sim­i­lar crimes before and after.

 

The false and defam­a­tory alle­ga­tions about Sergei Mag­nit­sky that Nekrasov tries to make have been refuted in the past by inde­pen­dent inter­na­tional insti­tu­tions includ­ing the Coun­cil of Europe, the EU Par­lia­ment, the USState Depart­ment and many oth­ers who have stud­ied the case in detail. Fur­ther­more, the alle­ga­tions in the film are also con­tra­dicted by the Russ­ian government’s own evi­dence, court records, and expert conclusions.

 

In Sergei Magnitsky’s own hand-written state­ment, 4 days before his death, on 12 Novem­ber 2009, he wrote:

 

“By now it has been a year that I am being held hostage in prison in the inter­ests of the per­sons, who are inter­ested to ensure that those actu­ally guilty in the theft of 5.4 bil­lion rubles [US$230 mil­lion] from the bud­get will never be brought to jus­tice. … Inves­ti­ga­tor Silchenko does not want to iden­tify the other per­sons, who made this fraud pos­si­ble. He wants the lawyers of the Her­mitage Fund, who pur­sued and con­tinue to pur­sue attempts for this case be inves­ti­gated, be forced to emi­grate from their coun­try, in which crim­i­nal cases were fab­ri­cated against them on phony grounds, or like me be detained in custody.

 

My deten­tion in cus­tody has absolutely noth­ing in com­mon with the pur­pose of crim­i­nal jus­tice, which I referred to ear­lier. It has noth­ing in com­mon with the legal pur­pose of restraint listed in Arti­cle 97 of the Russ­ian Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dural Code, but this is a pun­ish­ment to which I have been sub­jected for merely defend­ing the inter­ests of my client and, ulti­mately, the inter­ests of the Gov­ern­ment, because should my client’s inter­ests be real­ized, should the law enforce­ment agen­cies stop obstruct­ing the inter­ests of my client and instead assisted them, then the theft of 5.4 bil­lion rubles from the state would not be pos­si­ble. The actual pur­pose of my crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion and my deten­tion in cus­tody are in con­flict with the law.”

 

The mother of Sergei Mag­nit­sky has pre­vi­ously writ­ten to the pro­ducer of the film, but received no reply.

 

Let­ter from Sergei Mag­nit­sky Fam­ily: http://russian-untouchables.com/docs/Letter%20from%20family%20%20on%20Nekrasov%20movie.pdf

 

For more infor­ma­tion please con­tact:

 

Jus­tice for Sergei Magnitsky

 

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: R2P in Focus, Issue 1

Keeping mass atrocity prevention a priority for the next UN Secretary-General

UN Photo/Marco Castro

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon approaches the end of his term, member states and civil society have campaigned for improved transparency in the selection process for the next Secretary-General. From 12 to 14 April the President of the General Assembly convened interactive dialogues with the nine candidates currently nominated for the position. Member states questioned the candidates on a wide range of global issues.

These dialogues presented an opportunity to encourage the candidates to ensure that R2P and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing remain a core priority of the UN. Spain and Mexico directly asked some candidates to explain how they would implement R2P in their work if elected. Four candidates, Dr. Igor Lukšić, Ms. Irina Bokova, Ms. Natalia Gherman and Dr. Srgjan Kerim, specifically mentioned R2P in their written statements and remarks.

During his term, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon worked to put “Human Rights up Front” in responding to grave violations of human rights. The next UN Secretary-General should continue efforts to keep mass atrocity prevention at the core of the UN’s mission. The next Secretary-General must emphasize the need for UN member states to consistently and comprehensively deliver on their commitment to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Global Centre Advocacy Highlights

Our Executive Director, Dr. Simon Adams, recently met with six of the candidates to convey how the next UN Secretary-General can prioritize implementation and operationalization of R2P and the prevention of mass atrocity crimes. For more information, see our story on Storify.

The Global Centre also co-signed a joint statement with Amnesty International, CIVICUS, FIDH, Human Rights Watch and the World Federalist Movement on priorities for a human rights agenda for the next Secretary-General. The Global Centre will continue to engage with candidates in the coming months.

Rounded Rectangle: View the Joint Statement

Sixth Annual Meeting of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points

The sixth annual meeting of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points will be held in Seoul from 20 to 22 June 2016. The government of the Republic of Korea is hosting the meeting in collaboration with the Global Centre. The focus of the meeting will be on practical implementation of R2P, including operational initiatives to strengthen national, regional and international capacities to prevent and halt mass atrocity crimes.

Syria Watch: ISIL’s Torture and Detention Centers “The Black Bottom”

ISIL’s Torture

SNHR issued ”The Black Bottom” report regarding ISIL’s torture and detention centers in Syria.
The report stated that ISIL had established secret or public detention centers in regions that are under its control to detain thousands of residents. Prisoners were incarcerated due to different accusations. Most of the times, criticizing ISIL’s oppressive policies was considered the main reason for arrests or abductions. Hence, the civil society and all popular movements were oppressed. To ISIL members or cadres, as long as people are abiding to their religious terms and not criticizing their ruling, then they can live peacefully under ISIL’s terms of living.
The report assured that ISIL has emerged due to decades of political conflicts and not just Islamic extremism. ISIL’s phenomena remain a complex one that cannot be limited to Jihadists or Salafists.
The report depended on SNHR daily documentation since 2011. They communicated with survivors from ISIL’s detention centers and with local residents and activists who live nearby those prisons. SNHR either met the eyewitnesses or residents or interviewed them via Skype or the phone.

SNHR team were not able to record all of ISIL’s detention centers or prisons, especially their secret ones. ISIL had resorted to secret jails after the international coalition commenced its airstrikes on Syria on 23 September 2014. They recorded the arrest of not less than 6318 individuals including 713 children and 647 women since ISIL was established on 9 April 2013 and up till 31 January 2016. They also estimated the enforced disappearance of more than 1188 individuals including 411 children and 87 women since 9 April 2014 and up till March 2016.The report was able to monitor 19 detention centers including some prisons, detailed as follows: Al Raqqa Governorate: 8 detention centers, Deir Al Zour Governorate: 6 detention centers, and Aleppo Governorate with 5 detention centers. While it estimated that ISIL has not less than 54 detention centers.

SNHR affirmed that ISIL had committed, beyond reasonable doubt, widespread violations against the international human rights law and the right of the people in the areas under its control, through arbitrary arrests, torture, and the application of the unjust provisions. Also, similar acts were made against the armed opposition groups, prisoners from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, and governmental forces. All those acts constitute war crimes under the International Humanitarian Law.
The report stated that ISIL exercised, within the detention centers of systematic torture, in the context of the large-scale in various areas controlled by them. The amount of crimes against humanity, and that some of the torture operations have ethnic and sectarian dimensions. Sometimes ISIL resorted to deforming the detainees’ bodies after execution orders.
The report recommended the international coalition forces that is led by the United State and the Russian forces to pay special attention to the detainees in ISIL prisons and all other different prisons and avoid committing the same mistakes that were made before, and to acquire information from SNHR’s report to protect the civilians who live under ISIL’s control

It also demanded the international community to provide all methods of support to Human Rights group in documenting the violations that are being committed by the extremist organization, and reveal their false allegations before the public opinion in Syria, and to build their capacity through substantial training and developing.
Finally, it indicated that the organization of ISIL was founded on 9 April 2013, two years and one month after the eruption of the popular protests that demanded political and economic reform. If the international community had supported popular protests, there would have been no existence to ISIL or Al Nussra Front, and that they cannot eliminate extremism and terrorism as long as political tyranny of the Assad regime exists.

ICTJ: World Report April 2016 – Transitional Justice News and Analysis

In Focus

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What is the Role of Truth Commissions in Peace Processes in Africa?What is the Role of Truth Commissions in Peace Processes in Africa?The African Union, the Kofi Annan Foundation and ICTJ opened a high-level conference examining the role of truth commissions in peace processes. The two-day conference, titled “Truth Commissions and Peace Processes in Africa,” has gathered senior staff from the African Union and member states as well as international and national experts to reflect on lessons learned from truth commissions that have emerged from peace processes in Africa and other continents.

Read More…

World Report

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AFRICAIn the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ICC approved the domestic trial of Congolese warlord Germain Katanga. In South Sudan, the UN has established a three-person commission to inquire into human rights abuses. Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested again for participating in an unlawful procession after being released from house arrest. In Mali, top military commander Souleymane Keita was arrested for his alleged role in the seizing of northern Mali in 2012. Burundi, plagued by violence and killings since April 2015, now welcomes UN police intervention. In Kenya, the ICC has abandoned its case against William Ruto, the country’s deputy president who was accused of orchestrating post-electoral violence in 2007.

Read More…

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AMERICASIn Colombia, peace talks were announced between Colombia and the National Liberation Army guerrilla group. Colombian army general Henry Torres was arrested for his role in the killing of civilians ten years ago. In Argentina, U.S. President Barack Obama honored Dirty War victims and criticized the United States’ hesitancy to condemn the human rights abuses that occurred during Argentina’s dictatorship. An aboriginal community in Canada declared a state of emergency when five aboriginal children attempted to commit suicide in one night. In Mexico, a panel of international experts found that the government hampered the investigation into the 43 students who disappeared in the city of Iguala on September 26, 2014.

Read More…

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ASIAIn Sri Lanka, the UN will support genuine consultations with victims and groups affected by the country’s conflict. In Nepal, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s demand of documents from the National Human Rights Commission sparked debate over the trustworthiness of the TRC. Meanwhile, questions persist around the CIEDP’s ability to deliver restorative justice. Nepalese conflict victims are demanding that transitional justice bodies act effectively to bring about justice. InMyanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi assumed a new post “above the president” to solidify her power. Under her new government, many political prisoners were freed and two were jailed. In Indonesia, activistsurged the government to hold a truth and reconciliation process over massacres of 500,000 suspected communists during the 1960s.

Read More…

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EUROPEIIn Serbia, Vojislav Seselj, a Serbian nationalist, was acquitted by the Hague Tribunal. The UN tribunal’s prosecutor will appeal the acquittal. Following Seselj’s acquittal & the sentencing of Radovan Karadžić last month, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic criticized the Hague tribunal for failing to punish war crimes in Kosovo. Meanwhile, Russian authorities are refusing to extraditeBosnia war crimes suspect Ratko Susnjar back to Bosnia and Herzegovina to face charges. A court inFrance has just ruled to extradite Radomir Susjnar, another Bosnian war criminal, back to Bosnia and Herzegovina to face prosecution.

Read More…

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MENAUN-sponsored Syrian peace talks stalled as opposition negotiators delayed their participation in the formal process until officials representing President Bashar al-Assad agreed to discuss a transitional government, which they have so far refused to do. Meanwhile, peace talks aimed at ending civil war in Yemen failed to get off the ground as delegates representing the country’s Houthi rebels refused to attend. In Egypt, crackdowns on human rights defenders have escalated according to a report from a Cairo-based NGO. In Libya, the new U.N.-backed unity government will soon move into ministry buildings in Tripoli, despite the volatile security situation. On April 13, Lebanon commemorated the 41st anniversary of the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. On this occasion, officials focused on the need to turn the page and emphasized the importance of reconciliation and the need to reinforce civil peace in order to guarantee non-recurrence of the war.

Read More…

Publications

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The Case for Action on Transitional Justice and DisplacementThis briefing paper calls on the international community to use the time and presence of refugees to help shape the outcomes of crises while they are ongoing.

Challenging the Conventional: Can Truth Commissions Strengthen Peace Processes?This joint report by ICTJ and the Kofi Annan Foundation explores common assumptions about why truth commissions are created in the wake of armed conflict and what factors make them more likely to succeed – or fail.

Syria Deeply Weekly Update: Women of Daraya: Help Us ‘Avoid Another Madaya’

WEEKLY UPDATE
April 23, 2016

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.

Women of Daraya: Help Us ‘Avoid Another Madaya’

With their launch of an awareness campaign highlighting deteriorating health conditions in Daraya, a Damascus suburb under government siege for more than three years, a group of women hope to prevent yet another humanitarian disaster.

Syrian women carry a banner in Arabic that reads:” The women of Daraya want an end to the siege,” as they protest in Daraya on Monday, April 25, 2011. (AP Photo)

Women’s Advisory Board in Geneva Sparks Controversy

After being repeatedly accused of sidelining the role and demands of Syrian women at the negotiation table in Geneva, the U.N. established the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board to consult with special envoy Staffan de Mistura. But the board’s makeup has caused outrage in some sections of Syrian society.

Syrian women wait outside a bakery shop to buy bread in Maaret Misreen, near Idlib, on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

36 Mass Graves Uncovered in Deir Ezzor: Activists

Members of an underground activist network named “Deir Ezzor is Being Slaughtered Silently” have scoured government and ISIS-controlled territories across the oil-rich province and discovered 36 mass graves – allegedly the grisly work of extremist militants and government forces.

ISIS militants parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014. (AP Photo/File)

More Recent Stories to Look Out for at Syria Deeply:

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.

Top image: A refugee from Syria, takes a picture of his family by the border fence near a makeshift migrant and refugee camp at the northern Greek border point of Idomeni, Greece, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Daily Digest of Global Delirium, April 22, 2016: Indigenous Shit & Self-Righteous Bastards

 

Today’s Post is brought to you by…   


Society of Self-Righteous Bastards Who Could Care Less About Being Consistently Wrong: So What?

Table of current IGDs in anchor countries

Index of Global Delirium 8.6
United States of America 8.6 Russia 9.3 Japan 7.4
United Kingdom 8.6 China 8.9 India 9.2
France 8.2 Iran 9.5 Israel 9.6
Germany 8.0 Turkey 9.5 Brazil 9.3
Belgium 9.1 Syria 9.9 Pakistan 9.5
Saudi Arabia 9.6 Iraq 9.9 Lebanon 9.8
Egypt 9.8 Yemen 9.9 Nigeria 9.8
Myanmar 9.2 Sudan 9.7 South Africa 8.8
The Index reflects the state of delirium in a particular country using a 1 to 10 count, with 10 denoting the highest level of delirium. Levels of delirium change on the basis of current development in said country, such as instability, terrorism, elections, sports events and the like,  as well as relevant global developments such financial meltdowns, certain leaks, and stock market indices. Countries shown above are among those where fluctuation in the national and local indices have a greater global impact than is the case with other countries.Note: levels of violence and delirium do not always coincide. Indeed, a country can have a high delirium level even though it is relatively stable.

Featured Quote

“My concern at the time was … that the next time we say to someone, ‘There are consequences if you act,’ we won’t really mean that. I think that this has repercussions in Europe, in Asia, and elsewhere. I think sometimes, on the credibility point, on the deterrence point, you actually have to be willing to do things that are a cost to you.” Philip Gordon on President Obama’s decision not to bomb Assad in September of 2013 following the latter’s use of chemical weapons against besieged rebel communities.

The Deliricon

Freakionaire: A billionaire entrepreneur who languishes under the belief that the world owes him a moral debt and should recognize his genius.

Trumpledore: A wizard that lacks wisdom, mirth and intelligence, but who has lots of money, which makes all the difference.

Tedcruzemia: An ailment that befalls certain politicians making them see victory in defeat, acceptance in rejection and signs of likeability in mass hysterical gag reflexes at their very sight. The inflected are the kind of politicians who often fail to get sincere endorsements even from their mothers. Physical manifestations of the disease include: severe halitosis, bloating of the innards and the ego alike, small oily hands, large yellowish toenails and fried brains.

The TED Balks: The mass departure, or balking, of audiences whenever Senator Ted Cruz shows up for an event, unless, that is, they were held at gun point. Sociologists and Mass Psychologists often refer to this phenomenon as a further proof of the phenomenon known as “wisdom of the crowd.”

Cruzify-A-Muslim Day: An annual event organized by the family of Senator Ted Cruz to teach Christian compassion to Muslims by flailing few of them alive and burning bags full of asylum applications submitted by Muslim refugees. The event has become so popular, it is rumored the GOP plans to adopt it as a baptismal rite for entering the RNC.

The Kasich: A type of LASIK surgery that enables people to see the world in a spectrum ranging from bland to meh.

The Hershy Tar: A special kind of odorous tar that comes out of the mouth of those afflicted by the Seymour Hersh Disease (SHD), a rare ailment to which certain narcissists who were once famous but are no longer relevant or in full possession of their faculties succumb. Symptoms include obsessive commitment to tarnishing truths and inventing facts coupled with over-reliance on the kind of “trustworthy” sources that can always be relied upon to come up with the convenient lies. The “trustworthy” lies can then be deployed by the afflicted for the purpose of constructing new conspiracy theories that can help them retrieve their long lost relevance all while maintaining an aura of independence and, even, anti-establishmentarianism, which, in turn, could help them maintain credibility with members of the International Left. Although, there is no known cure for SHD, one of the most effective methods for controlling its symptoms requires for the afflicted to gather enough of their ownHershy Tar to actually tar and feather themselves repeatedly over a period of 2-3 months every year. The science behind the correlation is not known, but scientists hope that once they understand it, they will be able to find a cure.

The International Left: A consortium of useful idiots from different professional and ethnic backgrounds who, wittingly and/or unwittingly, dedicate their otherwise empty lives to serving the imperial designs of various autocracies from around the world in the name of peace.

The Exotic Observations & Propositions of Delirian Mundi

Known to those of his followers seeking his canonization and entry into the Valtheon of Deliriology, as Agnus Mundi, and to his detractors as Ranae Dei and even Capra Satanae, Delirian Mundi’s writings, mixing satire and philosophical reflections, continue to be polarizing, inspiring both adulation and ridicule. Bearing this in mind, we, the editors at DDGD, continue to publish these previously unknown series of “exotic observations and propositions,” as Delirian himself referred to them, as part of our continuing commitment to instigate debate over sensitive issues.

* In order to survive this particularly turbulent phase in our global evolution, small states need to distance themselves from ideology becoming extremely pragmatic and flexible in their politics, both on the domestic and international fronts. They should also realize that the long-term benefits of democracy in this regard far outweigh the short gains that autocratic rule can bestow.

* Small and less powerful states are no less prone to imperialist ventures than larger and more powerful states. In fact, imperialist ventures by small states account for most conflicts in the world today, and throughout history. For the benefit of those who insist on treating certain regions of the world as an enclosed ecosystem, let’s call this phenomenon: indigenous imperialism, and let’s define it as the phenomenon where smaller less powerful states attempt to cannibalize each other, or at least prey on each other’s weakness, in an attempt to grow stronger and become more relevant to developments on the global stage.

The Delirica

A case of Indigenous Imperialism: What’s wrong with the Middle East today is something quite Middle Eastern. Those who blame America and the West miss the fact their meddling in contemporary ME affairs, which, historically speaking, was very much in line with how states behaved since the beginning of civilization, would have been quite different in nature and would have had less negative impact had the prevailing political culture in the region not harkened back on outmoded paternalistic and inflexible models, and had the most popular political parties in the region not been willfully modeled by their indigenous founders along fascist lines.

This habit of focusing only on outside forces, especially America and the West, and blaming them for the ills suffered by the peoples of the region, not only infantilizes them, but it has served to reinforce their sense of victimhood and to stifle a more free debate of the causes of their modern malaise. Moreover, the habit of those engaging in this kind of “analysis,” to equate the concept of foreign intervention with Western intervention, misses the far more negative consequences of Russian imperialism and dabbling in the region, from pre-Soviet times to post-Soviet times. It also misses the role of internal power players, such as Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in fomenting strife in various spots in the region and far beyond to serve their particular agendas.

Yet, the problem is not simply one of political culture: conflicting ambitions among the different regional power players and their conflicting interests are also at play here. See how Delirian Mundi defined Indigenous Imperialism above.

When Liberals Go Bad: If I blame the Obama Administration for failing to address the Syrian Genocide, and for congratulating itself on the matter, it’s because America is a global power with global responsibilities, and not some aspiring JV Team just emerging on the global scene. Shirking these responsibilities in the name of avoiding entanglements in foreign “messes,” not “doing stupid shit,” not dictating outcomes of “other people’s civil wars,” even though an examination of its behavior indicates selectivity rather than avoidance, is capricious and hypocritical. The logic Obama used to justify his intervention in Libya amply applies to Syria, especially in the first year when nonviolent protest movements dominated the scene and for most of the second year when rebels did not need to be described as moderate for that was the underlying reality.  Obama has never explained why he didn’t intervene then, and none of his interviewers ever challenged him on this point. Rather, Obama and his realist advisers were allowed to frame the Syrian conflict in their own terms as a civil war, a mess and the land of ISIS without having to explain how we got there.

Though they project themselves as rational smart and mostly dovish actors, the Realists are nothing less than amoral bastards who deprived their foreign policies of any ethical, moral or humanitarian input. By casting America in terms no different than those of Russia, China or an Iran, they did not simply rebel against claims of American exceptionalism, they rebelled against America’s very values. In the process, neither America nor the world is better off for that. Working solely for the material benefits of the realm is exactly what traditional imperialism is all about. So, under the guidance of liberal realists, America finally became what people like Noam Chomsky and others have been accusing her of being: a vicious empire. The man’s critique of America has finally become relevant, and it took the literal left to get there us there.

The realists’ propaganda machine is scary. Again, and while so many are focused on the Right and the Neocons, the Realists of the liberal camp have done more to undermine democracy at home than all. This is not surprising. After all, they are modeling their foreign policies along traditional amoral lines, which put them in the same camp as the autocratic regimes in Russia, China and Iran. This cannot happen without ramifications at home. Hence, the administration opaqueness and lack of transparency and its engagement in propaganda and downright lies. They lied methodologically and consistently, and excelled where the previous administration proved amateurish. Ah, when liberals go bad, they excel at it, for the detriment of all.

The Daily Delirynth

Note to the Wise: Though I am an ardent critic of Saudi domestic and foreign policies, I consider all critics of these policies that fail to criticize Iran as well and on similar grounds, that is, supporting terrorism and extremism and violations of basic human rights at home and abroad to be quite hypocritical and ideologically motivated, and that the net result of any policies based on their skewed point of view is to help further destabilize the Middle East. Lack of consistency is the quintessence of hypocrisy. Those who honestly seek to contain the spread of extremism and terrorism in the world and beyond should adopt a more balanced approach to the region, and the ongoing realignments of its powers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and, now that it has carved a seemingly permanent niche for itself there: Russia as well. Let’s not pretend this is going to be easy, definitely not after standing by for so long watching on as Iran and Russia helped Assad massacre his people, and insisting to do so even now. But it is necessary, for strategic and humanitarian purposes.

It seems the region is currently witnessing another outbreak, judging by the recent Yahuesque utterances of Israeli PM, Benajmin Netanyahu, for whom the new form of the disease was named. By declaring the occupied Golan Heights as a red line and vowing never to return them to Syria, despite the lack of any legitimate claim to them and the will of their original inhabitants, and in violation of the United Nations’ resolution in this regard, the will of Israel staunchest allies in the world, and he requirements of the any viable peace process, Mr. Netanyahu’s conditions seems to be taking a turn for the worse.A New Outbreak of the Yahu Virus Reported in the Region: Those familiar with the Deliriconmay remember our groundbreaking diagnosis of a new virulent form of an old regional disease which we dubbed, appropriately as many have since suggested, as the Benjamin Netanyahu Disease or the BENNET Syndrome. The disease, you may recall was caused by a sudden outbreak and spread of the Yahu Virus, and was “characterized by having too much hate in one’s heart that it ends up frying one’s brain, turning one into a veritable psychopathic ‘Yahu.’ Scientists also refer to indifference and cynicism as being major contributing factors in the spread of the disease.”

But, the Golan Heights are still a Syrian territory and there is no justification for its continued occupation by Israel, even if Israeli settlers continue to produce some damn good wine. Current changing realities in the region might necessitate coming up with far more creative solutions for its status in any future talks, but they do not change the reality that it is under occupation, and that is legally and morally Syrian.

However, if Israel is willing to allow approximately to 1 million people of Golanese descent to go back to their homes in the Occupied Golan, perhaps, then, the UN can arrange for a local referendum on the its future, giving the Golanese the choice either to stay with Israel, return to Syrian sovereignty under whatever regime that ends up governing the country, or establish an independent bi-national state. In this latter case, perhaps, a call can be issued for the inhabitants of the unoccupied parts of the Golan as well as the provinces of Daraa and Sweida in Southern Syria to join the new independent republic.

Take these recommendations with a bag of salt of course.

The point is: even as the possibility of holding viable talks about the future of the Golan seems impossible now, this, by no means, legitimates the occupation. If peace is still our goal, the language of compromise should continue to be employed, regardless of the current developments in Syria. Mr. Netanyahu has already rendered the possibility of serious peace talks with the Palestinians moot, and though the Palestinian side does share in the blame of course, especially Hamas, we cannot afford to keep allowing Mr. Netanyahu to run roughshod over the process if we are to keep the idea of a two-state solution viable. Otherwise, the countdown for a new larger conflagration in the region might accelerate beyond the possibility of intervention.

The Geneva Quagmire: I believe that the decision made by the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee to suspend their current participation in the Geneva talks is right. Earlier threats to boycott the process were nonsensical, but, at this stage, and considering the violations currently taking place mostly championed by the regime and its Russian and Iranian allies, and the current campaign against Aleppo, the suspension of talks is a legitimate and necessary move by the opposition. There is no more effective way for protest at this stage than to refuse to take part in what amounts to be a frivolous process.  The opposition, however, should retain continuous contacts with de Mistura’s office as well as its international and regional allies, no matter how fickle they have repeatedly proven to be. On a more positive note, and while he man has his faults, Riyad Hijab is emerging as the most professional leader the opposition has fielded so far

ICTJ: Justice in Syria Depends on the Return of the Displaced

Even as more evidence emerges about his crimes, Bashar al-Assad was returned with a predictably implausible majority in the presidential elections in Syria last week. At the same time, negotiations to resolve the conflict began in Geneva with a sense of futility hanging thick in the air and expectedly ran into a dead end very quickly with the opposition representatives suspending their participation. Assad says he might consider cherry-picking some opponents for government positions but a government of national unity is out of the question. Having radically improved Assad’s position Russia has, for the moment, one leg in and one leg out of the conflict, while the US continues to gamble that its insubstantial engagement does not entirely negate its leverage.

All the while the refugee crisis fueled by the Syrian conflict continues in all its harrowing inhumanity, with scores of people drowning in the Mediterranean this week and theconditions in refugee camps in Greece deteriorating. The exodus has seriously damaged Europe’s vision of itself and continues to present the biggest political crisis it has faced in decades.

More than half of Syria’s population of 24 million has been uprooted, with four million no longer even in the country. Any lasting peace will need to address the plight of the displaced, both those who fled across international borders and those fleeing inside Syria.

It is in the immediate interest of Europe not only to stop the exodus at its source but also to begin to create the circumstances for the displaced’s eventual return. Beginning now to think about displacement and its resolution is precisely in the interests of those who seek to remove Assad from power and to see him face justice.

A few weeks ago saw the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict. We heard many calls for justice. The US and the UK have chopped and changed their public views on whether Assad should stay and if so for how long. The US Congress passed a resolutioncalling for the creation of a Tribunal to try those accused of serious crimes. Other governments and human rights organizations are looking into similar options. They are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Only the most deluded propagandist would doubt that Assad has committed large-scale war crimes and crimes against humanity. That he and his colleagues in the Syrian High Command, among others, should face justice ought to be unquestionable. But instead of considering practical steps that make peace and justice likely, there is a tendency to descend into disingenuous posturing that fills the void of inaction.

When we talk of justice we need to remember that it consists of more than making sure Assad is held to account. It also means making Syria a place safe to live and where all its citizens enjoy the respect and protection of the state. That is – it requires root and branch reform.

Other than death, there are only two ways for Assad to go: he can decide to step down or he can be forced by negotiation or democratic process to go. The latter route requires massive numbers of opposition elements to return to Syria with a vision of a democratic future and the chance to exercise their civic voice meaningfully. That is why beginning to deal with displacement now is not only an urgent humanitarian necessity but also a strategic imperative.

The current prospects of holding Assad to account for his crimes are limited. In theory, a resolution from the UN Security Council (even today) could refer Assad to theInternational Criminal Court, a course that most assuredly would be vetoed by Russia (and perhaps by China). Similarly, an international ad hoc tribunal, as set up by the UN Security Council for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, would also be vetoed by Russia.

The remaining options would be for a new Syrian regime to either prosecute Assad or make a retroactive declaration (if he were to leave Syria) recognizing the jurisdiction of the ICC. The most plausible route to holding Assad accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity will require playing the longer game of pursuing a negotiated regime change between Syrians rather than a regime change (under whatever guise) from outside.

As far as the prospects of fundamental reform and demands for justice are concerned, the focus should be on taking steps to facilitate return now, rather than on implausible calls for prosecutions that in fact may hinder the prospects of peace and return in the shorter term.

There are three important steps that should be taken now to ensure that a post-conflict Syria has a chance of a better future than many other post-conflict zones. The first is to exercise meaningful consultation with exiled and displaced populations. Efforts can begin now to discuss and document the plight of people considering return. Where did they come from? Who controls the territory now? What options do they have and which of the viable options do they prefer? Of course this will be a painful and fraught process, but if this process begins now the displaced will be able to begin to rebuild their lives sooner rather than later. That process of registration of information about land and property should also facilitate the prospects of people being able to organize and to vote sooner rather than later after their return.

An even more difficult task will to be to help those displaced to try to locate their family members, many of whom will have been disappeared or killed. No one should underestimate how unbearably painful the process of locating lost loved ones can be. An important step will be to assist these efforts by establishing a DNA databank to help facilitate identifications in due course, as human remains are discovered and family members are able to lay to rest their loved ones with some dignity and closure.

Third, more can be made of the massive amounts of documentation that has been gathered in recent years from Syrian conflict zones rather than simply waiting for a tribunal or other mechanism to be established. That documentation should be synthesized and analyzed. It may even be possible to hold public hearings (in safe locations obviously) where victims are able to tell their stories directly, unmediated by journalists or other forms of reporting. This is not justice, but it has some real benefits. It would allow victims to have a sense of agency in influencing the broader context in which negotiations take place, trying to ensure that compromises for peace are informed by an element of principle.

Assad depends on a number of things for his continued survival: some form of Russian support, a continued conflict with Daesh and a lack of massive well-organized opposition focused on democracy. Facilitating the return of half the population to their homes is the shortest route to undermining his stability and of ultimately provoking a shift in Russian support.

As unpalatable as it may sound, political posturing which reduces the discussion of justice to Assad being removed or tried today is not helpful. A stable ceasefire is the only possible means of helping displaced Syrians return home. That process will be an enormous undertaking. Yet it is much more likely to determine the fate of Syria (and perhaps Europe) in the next five to twenty years than any other.

Indonesia Declines to Launch Criminal Investigation Into Anti-Communist Purges

By Christine Khamis

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

 

JAKARTA, Indonesia –

Indonesia’s security minister has announced that its government will not launch a criminal investigation into anti-Communist purges that occurred in the country during the mid-1960s. The Indonesian government plans to address atrocities committed during the period in some way, but no definitive cause of action has been decided upon at this point.

A symposium was held on Monday to address the purges, where Luhut B. Pandjaitan, coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs, announced that the government would not initiate a criminal investigation. Mr. Luhut said that Indonesia’s government would instead attempt to answer questions about the purge over time. Mr. Luhut also stated at the symposium that the government would be open to official complaints from survivors of the purges. However, the government has no plans to issue a formal apology to victims.

Protesters at the symposium on Monday. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed during the purges, which occurred from 1965-1966. The purges were set off by a quashed uprising within Indonesia’s armed forces. Authorities claimed the Indonesian Communist Party had orchestrated the uprising. Soldiers, military-backed civilians, paramilitary, and religious groups carried out the purges, killing at least 500,000 people, including many who had no ties to Communism.

Many survivors of the purges were imprisoned without trial for years. Descendants of Communist Party members are stigmatized in Indonesia’s society and are prohibited from holding government jobs, including police and military positions.

Indonesia’s government has yet to formally acknowledge the purges, which many historians consider one of the worst mass atrocities to occur in the 20th century. Official government policy on the matter at this time is that the killings were justified to prevent a Communist takeover and that the death toll estimates may not be accurate. This week’s symposium is the first time that the government has engaged in a public discussion of the purges.

The National Commission on Human Rights, an independent body separate from Indonesia’s government, urged the government to initiate a criminal investigation in 2012 after declaring that the purges had violated human rights. The government failed to initiate the criminal investigation.

 

For more information, please see:

Associated Press – Indonesia Takes Step Toward Reckoning With ’65-66 Atrocities – 18 April 2016

Newsweek – Indonesia Allows Talk of 1965 Anti-Communist Purge That Left Half a Million Dead – 18 April 2016

The New York Times – Indonesia Rules Out Criminal Inquiry of Anti-Communist Purges – 18 April 2016

South China Morning Post – Indonesia Vows to Resolve ‘Dark History’ Around 1965-66 Anti-Communist Massacre but Rules Out Formal Apology – 18 April 2016

 

 

 

Bangladeshi Editor Arrested for Alleged Murder Conspiracy

By Christine Khamis

Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

 

DHAKA, Bangladesh –

A prominent magazine editor was arrested in Bangladesh on Saturday for his alleged involvement in a plot to kill the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The editor, Shafik Rehman, is only one of several journalists facing criminal proceedings in Bangladesh at this time.

Mr. Rehman being escorted by police. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

Mr. Rehman was arrested at his home by police officers and has been placed on a five-day police remand for interrogation. Police state that Mr. Rehman is being held due to the discovery of evidence that links him to the conspiracy to kill Mr. Hasina’s son, Sajeeb Wazed.

Mr. Rehman runs a monthly magazine called Mouchake Dhil. He may have been detained due to his ties with the opposition political party, the Bangladesh Nationalist party. Khaleda Zia, former prime minister and the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has demanded Mr. Rehman’s release. Mr. Rehman was Mr. Zia’s speech writer during his term as prime minister.

Before Mr. Rehman’s detainment, he had also been working with the Bangladesh National party’s international affairs committee and had recently begun to organize a pro-opposition think tank as well.

Mr. Rehman is the third pro-opposition editor to be detained by police since 2013. The others, editors of Bengali and English newspapers, were detained for crimes similar to Mr. Rehman’s alleged crime. Both face criminal prosecution for a number of alleged crimes, including dozens of counts of defamation and sedition.

Journalists and local civic groups have noted the Bangladeshi government’s increasing crackdown on dissent. That crackdown has occurred amidst a series of killings of bloggers and publishers by Islamist extremist groups.

 

For more information, please see:

Dhaka Tribune – Minister: Shafik Rehman Arrested On Specific Charge – 17 April 2016

BBC – Senior Bangladesh Editor Shafik Rehman Is Arrested – 16 April 2016

The Indian Express – Bangladesh: 81-year-old Magazine Editor Arrested For Sedition – 16 April 2016

The New York Times – Bangladesh Editor, 81, Is Accused in Plot to Kill Leader’s Son – 16 April 2016

 

Syria Justice & Accountability Centre: Public Participation is a Must for Drafting Syria’s Next Constitution

In December 2015, the UN Security Council passedResolution 2254 with the goal of creating a roadmap to facilitate a political transition in Syria. In the recent round of peace talks, the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura prioritized elections and a new Syrian constitution as key steps to implement the Resolution. The United States and Russia echoed these sentiments and declared August 2016 as the deadline for drafting the constitution. Reportsclaim that the Russian government submitted an initial draft which the United States is currently reviewing. By engineering the constitutional process without input from Syrians, the United States, Russia, and the United Nations are setting the stage for a rushed, non-transparent, and poorly conceived constitutional process, which, most importantly, does not provide adequate time or space to respond to the demands of Syrians.

According to international best practices and lessons learned from other post-conflict countries, the constitutional process has the potential to be an important part of peacebuilding. Although constitutions historically were created by the political elite without public input, modern practice has shown that an inclusive process with public participation leads to final products with greater legitimacy and local buy-in — two elements critical to promoting future stability. In 2003, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) released a report on constitution-making that emphasizes the importance of “genuine political participation” defined as a process which allows for social inclusion, personal security, and freedom of speech and assembly. According to this model, the drafting process is often long and requires significant resources to achieve success. The report further emphasizes that democratic constitutions cannot be written by external actors on a nation’s behalf because it will not address the grievances of the population and is unlikely to secure local buy-in.

Tunisia and Rwanda are both countries that followed a participatory model for constitution drafting. Although Tunisia’s process did not emerge from a bloody civil war as is the case with Syria, Tunisia offers an example of the importance of participation that is markedly different from the transitional processes in other Arab countries. Tunisia’s new constitution was initially framed with the goal of reaching consensus and safeguarding against authoritarian rule. It was a slow process that involved negotiations and voting from a wide spectrum of political parties. A diverse group of popularly elected Parliamentary members voted on each article separately. While it took almost three years to complete, the Tunisian constitution’s long, iterative processensured greater buy-in from Tunisian society, giving the document real legitimacy.

Like Syria, Rwanda experienced a brutal civil war but was still able to form a new constitution with genuine political participation. Following the war, Rwandan officials werecommitted to the principles of participation throughout the transition, and both the government and the international community dedicated significant resources — almost $7 million — to make participation possible. Well before the drafting of the document even started there was local outreach and education on the constitutional process. Participation culminated in over 90% of the Rwandan electorate voting in the final referendum, with 93% of those who voted approving the draft. Thanks to this inclusive process, the new document was seen by Rwandans as a legitimate break from the violence of the past and helped establish a new framework for governance in their post-conflict society.

While peace processes and constitution drafting often go hand-in-hand, according to Habib Nassar, a constitutional expert and member of SJAC’s Advisory Board, the result of peace negotiations typically feeds into the constitution drafting process, not the other way around. Instead in Syria, constitution drafting seems to be guiding and proceeding alongside the talks. This is not only unusual, but threatens Syria’s peacebuilding process. Rather, the negotiators as well as the international backers of the talks could work on a temporary constitution or transitional document and leave the drafting of a permanent constitution for a time when an inclusive process is possible. Rwandans, for example, usedmultiple documents to guide their transition until the country adopted a new constitution in 2003. These documents included the 1991 Rwandan constitution, protocols from the 1999 Arusha Peace Accord, and additional protocols introduced by the transitional government.

The proposed US-Russian approach does not adhere to best practices, and neither the UN Special Envoy nor his advisors are pushing back. The frustration among Syrians is that there has yet to be an explanation of the reasoning behind the current process. Lessons-learned from countries like Tunisia and Rwanda demonstrate that there is no need to rush constitution drafting. Temporary documents can serve as placeholders while a genuine, inclusive process takes place. While having a well-written constitution is important for good governance, the process itself can be even more important for peacebuilding and establishing the rule of law than the final product. And since the roots of the current conflict in Syria stem from serious governance problems, adequately addressing the conflict requires addressing those grievances, not repeating the same closed-door, uninclusive modes of decision-making that define Syria’s past.

For more information and to provide feedback, please contact SJAC at info@syriaaccountability.org.