Syrian Network for Human Rights: The Syrian Regime Targets Children in Schools

I. Introduction
Hass village is located between Ma’aret Al No’man city, to its east, and Kafr Nobbol, to its west. It is eight kilometers away from Ma’aret Al No’man city. The village is under the joint control of Armed opposition factions and Fateh Al Sham Front.
This report documents the targeting of a school complex that includes three schools in the village by fixed-wing government forces warplanes where SNHR team have contacted a number of residents, eyewitnesses, survivors, and local media activists. The report includes two accounts. We have explained the purpose of the interviews to the witnesses who gave us their permission to use the information they provided in this report.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: 2017-2019 UN Human Rights Council Elections and the Responsibility to Protect

2017-2019 UN Human Rights Council Elections and the Responsibility to Protect

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect welcomes the election of 14 members to the Human Rights Council for the period of 2017 to 2019. The Global Centre also notes that Iraq, Croatia, and Rwanda will serve their first term on the Human Rights Council. With the election of Rwanda, Japan, Hungary, United Kingdom and United States, 17 of the 47 Council members are also members of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect.

Mass atrocity crimes – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing – are usually the culmination of sustained human rights abuses. By addressing specific risk factors for mass atrocities, the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms (including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Special Procedures and treaty bodies) help to uphold our collective responsibility to protect.

Since 2008, the Human Rights Council has referred to states’ responsibility to protect their populations in over 20 thematic and country resolutions. However, more work is needed to translate the rhetoric of prevention into a practical reality.

The Global Centre has compiled profiles on each of the newly-elected Human Rights Council members. These provide a basic overview of their engagement with R2P and their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Human Rights Council profiles are available here: 2017-2019 UN Human Rights Council Elections and the Responsibility to Protect.

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

ICTJ ICTJ World Report
October 2016

In Focus

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Cote d’Ivoire Youth Find Political Voice Through StorytellingCote d’Ivoire Youth Find Political Voice Through StorytellingIn Cote d’Ivoire, avenues for education system reform are limited. To help youth find their voice, ICTJ and UNICEF facilitated an innovative truth-telling project led by Ivorian young people themselves. The result: an exploration of the unique experiences of young people during the conflict, told through radio broadcasts, public discussions and reports to government officials.

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World Report

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AFRICASouth Africa announced it will attempt to pull out of the International Criminal Court. This follows news that Burundi’s parliament voted to leave the ICC. Uganda says it is “undecided” about whether to leave the court. The head of the Ugandan army also announced the country’s intention to halt operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army, saying the rebellion no longer exists as a “conventional fighting force.” However, experts fear that the withdrawal of Ugandan troops will create a security vacuum in the LRA’s operational territory. The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba was convicted of witness tampering by the ICC. Bemba is already serving an 18-year prison sentence for war crimes. The UN expressed its concerns over the fragile political situation in the DRC, fearing it could lead to large-scale violence, as “actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends.” Elections were also pushed back until 2018, a move that will anger opposition groups, which have accused the president of trying to cling on to power. In Kenya, David Maraga has been sworn in as the country’s new chief justice, and has promised to end corruption. In Sudan, rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPMN) suspended peace talks with the government amid reports that government forces used chemical weapons against civilians in war-torn Darfur. Demonstrations in the Ivory Coast have intensified this month as police use tear gas to disperse the people protesting the constitution.

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AMERICASIn Colombia voters narrowly rejected a peace deal between the FARC and the government in a plebiscite held on October 2. People took to the streets to demand the peace accord be respected, as President Manuel Santos met with right-wing former president, Alvaro Uribe, to discuss changes to the agreement with the FARC-EP. Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist guerrillas. A draft bill on constitutional justice reforms in the Guatemala legislature was approved. Among other things, the bill seeks to improve access to justice for women and indigenous peoples. In Peru , the former head of Peru’s intelligence services was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the forced disappearance and murder of two students and a teacher in 1993. In Geneva the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee will investigate how Jamaicahas been handling human rights issues, particularly gender discrimination and those relating to persons living with disabilities.

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ASIAIn Nepal, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has prepared reparation guideline suggesting various compensation and reparation schemes for victims. A rights group in Myanmar said it had documented what appeared to be extrajudicial killings of Muslims by the army, following government claims that nine police officers were killed. In the Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte compared his drug campaign – which has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings – with the Holocaust, saying: “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts.” A UN expert has urged Sri Lanka to broaden its work on minority rights despite signs of progress after a 27-year civil war. A court in Tajikistan sentenced two prominent human rights lawyers to long prison terms.

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EUROPEIn Croatia a prosecutor has charged eight former Serb troop commanders with torture, rape, expulsion and killing of more than 100 civilians during fighting in Croatia in 1991-95. Relatives of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre told a Dutch appeals court that the government should be held responsiblefor failing to protect more of the thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys killed there. In Germany17,000 refugees sued the government for not giving them full refugee status – and most won.

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MENAIn Tunisia, parliament is debating a bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women. Syria has violated international law as UN human rights officials called the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo “crimes of historic proportions.” Following allegations of Russian obstruction, France has said it will turn to the International Criminal Court to launch investigations into alleged war crimes by Russia and Syria. Palestine welcomed delegates from the International Criminal Court and said they hoped it would open a war crimes investigation against Israel. In Yemen a double airstrike incinerated a packed funeral hall, killing about 140 people. In Egypt a court has upheld a 20-year jail sentence passed against ousted president Mohamed Morsi for his role in the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Decemmber 2012.

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Publications

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Recommendations for Victim Reparations in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is obligated to provide reparations to victims of both the political violence that shook the country following the 2010 presidential elections and the different episodes of political violence and armed conflict since 1990.

Handbook on Complementarity

Where should justice for some of the world’s worst crimes be done? In national courts or at the International Criminal Court in The Hague? Our new Handbook on Complementarity explores those questions, laying out the interconnected relationship between the ICC and national court systems in the global fight against impunity.

More Publications

Upcoming Events

November 03, 2016

Global Leaders: Conversations with Alon Ben-Meir, International Organization for Migration Location: New York, NY View Details

December 01 – 03, 2016

Confronting Violent Pasts and Historical (In)Justice Location: Amsterdam, NetherlandsView Details

More Events

Syria Deeply: Weekly Update: The Many Battles for Syria’s Northern Provinces


WEEKLY UPDATE
October 28, 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. But first, here is a brief overview of what happened this week:Syrian opposition forces launched an operation on Friday to break the siege of eastern Aleppo. The counterattack, against pro-Syrian government forces who have been surrounding the area since July, began with heavy shelling on the western, regime-controlled side of Syria’s largest city.“There is a general call-up for anyone who can bear arms,” a senior official with Jabhat al-Shamiyya, an Aleppo-based rebel group, told Reuters. “The preparatory shelling started this morning.”The offensive comes after months of siege and heavy aerial bombardment by Syrian and Russian air forces on the opposition-held parts of Aleppo, and the failure of a United Nations Security Council resolution to put an end to the airstrikes.Opposition forces and civilians in the northwestern Idlib province also came under heavy Russian and Syrian aerial bombardments this week. At least 82 people have been killed in airstrikes since last week: 36 of them, including 22 children, in repeated attacks on a school district in the village of Hass on Wednesday.As Russia and Syria fight opposition forces in Aleppo and Idlib, U.S.-led coalition forces are reportedly gearing up for an operation aimed at pushing the so-called Islamic State out of its Syrian stronghold in Raqqa. U.S. defense secretary Ashton Carter and his British counterpart Michael Fallon announced on Wednesday that their operation will begin “in the next few weeks.”Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish-backed Syrian rebels would also begin targeting ISIS’s stronghold in Raqqa, after it had completed operations to push militants out of the northern city of al-Bab and Syrian Kurdish forces out of the town of Manbij.Further complicating the situation in northern Syria, Syrian Kurdish YPG forces will be both fighting Turkish-backed rebels in Manbij and participating alongside U.S. and U.K. forces in the operation against ISIS in Raqqa.Weekly Highlights:

The U.N. Resolution on Aleppo Is Not About Saving Aleppans

The recent failure of the U.N. Security Council resolution on Aleppo comes as no surprise given Russia’s history of using its veto power, writes Dragana Kaurin, a refugee of the Bosnian war formerly with OCHA and UNICEF.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a new conference,  Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 at United Nations headquarters. AP/Mary Altaffer

The Fatal Threat to All Sides of Syria’s Conflict: Part 1

In the first installment of our Q&A series on infectious diseases in Syria, medical researcher Dr. Annie Sparrow discusses Zika, TB, meningitis and other illnesses that have emerged since the conflict began, and how failure to treat these diseases will have a lasting effect on the population.

Men breath with oxygen masks inside a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, after a suspected chlorine gas attack. Aleppo Media Center via AP

My Days in Damascus: Letter to a Friend

Farah is a young woman living in Syria’s capital city, where she faces the daily struggles of trying to maintain a normal social and professional life in a country being ripped apart by war.

Flowers in a garden in the Damascus citadel. Farah

Additional Reading:

Top image: A distraught man in front of destroyed buildings after airstrikes killed over 20 people, in the northern rebel-held village of Hass, Syria, Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016.  Muaz al-Shami, Syrian Revolution Network, via AP

VDC: Is This Collateral Damage?

The attack started at 10 to eleven in the morning and lasted for 15 minutes. Ten carried-by- parachute missiles dropped from fixed wing Sukhoi in Eight aerial attacks on the village. The attack destroyed six houses, 3 schools, a health center, and a local bakery. Moreover, VDC was able to document 36 deaths. All civilians; 14 males, 6 females, and 16 children. and 40 injuries the majority are the school children and teachers.
VDC strongly condemns this bombing, and considers it to be in line with the other systematic and continuous hostile activities carried out by the Russian and Syrian governments against the civilians in besieged areas. Moreover, VDC confirms that attacking schools is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law, and considers this attack to be yet another addition to the series of violations carried out by the Russian and Syrian forces against civilians, infrastructure, humanitarian and relief workers. VDC calls again on the international community and the United Nations to stand up to their responsibilities in protecting civilians with all possible means.
بدأت الهجمة على قرية حاس في الساعة العاشرة وخمسين دقيقة واستمرت تقريبا لمدة 15 دقيقة. تم استهداف القرية بعشرة صواريخ محملة بمظلات هوائية من طائرة سوخوي ضمن ثمان غارات جوية. استطاع مركز توثيق الانتهاكات في سوريا توثيق تدمير ستة منازل وثلاث مدارس ومستوصف وفرن آلي. وسقوط 36 قتيلا جميعهم مدنيين وموثقين بالاسم. توزعوا على الشكل التالي: 14 ذكر بالغاً، 6 إناث بالغات، و16 طفلاً. بينما أصيب 40 آخرين أغلبهم من طلاب المدرسة والكادر التدريسي.

إن مركز توثيق الانتهاكات في سوريا VDC يدين بشدة هذا الاستهداف ويضعه في سياق الأعمال العدائية الممنهجة والمستمرة التي تقوم بها القوات الحكومية السورية والروسية ضد السكان والأعيان المدنية فيالمناطق المحاصرة. ويؤكد المركز أن استهداف المدارس هو خرق كبير للقانون الإنساني الدولي يضاف إلى سلسلة الخروقات وانتهاكات القانون التي ترتكبها القوات الجوية الروسية والسورية في استهداف مظاهر الحياة والأماكن العامة والخدمية والطواقم الطبية وطواقم الانقاذ.
إن مركز توثيق الانتهاكات يجدد دعوته للمجتمع الدولي والأمم المتحدة ممثلة بمجلس الأمن الدولي إلى اتخاذ كل الاجراءات القانونية لتحمل مسؤولية حماية المدنيين بكل الطرق المتاحة.

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Turkish Police Accused of Torturing Detainees

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

ANKARA, Turkey — Human Rights Watch published a 43-page report on Tuesday, in which it accuses Turkish police of beating, sexually abusing, and threatening to rape detainees.

Turkish police are being accused of torturing detainees (Photo courtesy of Voice of America)

The human rights group said that a “climate of fear” has prevailed since thousands of people were arrested after President Erdogan declared a state of emergency in response to July’s failed coup attempt. The state of emergency has allowed the government to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as it deems necessary. In September 2016, prison monitoring boards were dissolved under an emergency rule decree. The report noted that several new regulations, which infringe on detainees’ rights, have been enacted. These include the extension of the maximum length of police detention without judicial review from four to thirty days, denying detainees access to lawyers for up to five days, restricting detainees’ choice of lawyer, and restricting detainees’ right to confidential conversations with their lawyers.

Human Rights Watch indicated that thirteen alleged cases of abuse had been uncovered, in which the detainees claim abuse of power, sleep deprivation, severe beatings, sexual abuse and threat of rape. These cases were not limited only to alleged coup supporters, but also include detainees suspected of ties to Kurdish militant and leftist groups.

In one case, Human Rights Watch found that several detainees had been forced to undress and were left outside under a “baking sun” for several hours. The case further noted that these detainees were then severely beat by police officers and threatened with sodomy by a baton. In another case, a detainee noted he was blindfolded and then beaten by police. He stated that the police chief “began to slap me in the face and eyes. They beat me on the soles of my feet, on my stomach, then squeezed my testicles, saying things like they’d castrate me.” A further case quotes a detainee as stating that a police officer told him “because of the state of emergency, nobody will care if I kill you.” The report further states that many lawyers are reluctant to represent detainees held in connection with the coup attempt. Attorneys who do represent these individuals are noted as expressing fear that they would become the target of the ongoing crackdown. One lawyer stated that she tried to represent a detained soldier, only to see him repeatedly beaten in front of her. Although she attempted to stop the beating, she was unable to do so and had to turn away out of fear.

The Europe and Central Asia Director of Human Rights Watch stated that “by removing safeguards against torture, the Turkish government effectively wrote a blank check to law enforcement agencies to torture and mistreat detainees as they like.” The organization called on authorities to “immediately rescind” the provisions of the state of emergency decrees which “enable abuse.” Human Rights Watch also urged the Turkish government to permit the U.N. Special Investigator on Torture to visit Turkey.

Mr. Bekir Bozdag, Turkey’s Justice Minister, argued that the country is being unfairly accused of torture, while strongly denying ill-treatment of prisoners. He further stated that the Ministry has assembled a task force to investigate all claims.

For more information, please see:

Voice of America—Human Rights Watch Report Accuses Turkish Police of Torture—25 October 2016

Chicago Tribune—Human Rights Watch: Torture reports after failed coup in Turkey—25 October 2016

Independent—Detainees ‘beaten, sexually abused and threatened with rape’ after Turkey coup, Human Rights Watch claims—25 October 2016

Hurriyet Daily News—Human Rights Watch says state of emergency gives Turkey ‘blank check’ to mistreat suspects—25 October 2016

Demolition of Calais Migrant Camp Begins

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe

PARIS, France — On Tuesday, a group of workers in orange jumpsuits and hardhats began demolishing the migrant camp in Calais, France known as “the jungle” by tearing down shelters used by the migrants with sledgehammers.  The workers also disposed of migrants’ possessions by throwing them into dumpsters.

Workers demolish makeshift shelters in the Calais migrant camp (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)
Workers demolish makeshift shelters in the Calais migrant camp (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

Tuesday was the final day that residents were officially allowed to reside in the camp.  On Monday, over 3,100 migrants were bussed out of the camp and sent to other regions around France to begin the process for resettlement.

Some migrants appear determined to stay in the camp for as long as possible.  On Monday evening, a group of migrants threw stones at police officers, who responded by firing tear gas back at them.  Two migrants from Afghanistan told reporters that they refuse to leave the camp because doing so would mean giving up on their dreams to make it to Britain.

Other migrants are ready to leave the camp in hopes of finding better living conditions elsewhere.  One Sudanese migrant, Hassan Jibril, explained how “it is a very bad situation here” and that he and his companions are “ready to leave.”  Another Sudanese migrant, Abdullah Umar, explained that “[t]he Jungle is no good” and “[t]here are problems. Sometimes there’s fighting. And it’s cold.”

It is unclear how French authorities will enforce removal from the camp.  Prior to the destruction process, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said that migrants would not be forced to leave the town of Calais.  Brandet maintained that the evacuation process was to be “done on a voluntary basis and no coercive measures will be taken towards the migrants.”

Children are the only group allowed to remain in Calais throughout the demolition process.  They will be housed in converted shipping containers while the deconstruction process continues throughout the rest of the camp.  Save the Children, a non-governmental organization working with the children in the camp, fears “many children may disappear” or end up in the hands of traffickers if the camp is cleared completely before the children are secured safe places to stay.

The French government’s goal is to remove all migrants from the camp by the end of the week, and clear the camp site completely by the end of December.

 

For more information, please see:

BBC — Calais ‘Jungle’: Demolition Crews Pull Down Migrant Camp — 24 October 2016

CNN — Calais ‘Jungle’: Demolition of Massive Migrant Camp Begins — 24 October 2016

The Guardian — Calais Camp: Demolition Crews Move In — 24 October 2016

NY Times — ‘We Are Ready to Leave’: France Clears Out Calais ‘Jungle’ — 24 October 2016

Saudi Arabia Executes Prince Following Murder Conviction

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — On Tuesday, October 18th, Saudi Arabia executed a member of the royal family after he was convicted of shooting and killing another man during a brawl.

Saudi Prince was executed for shooting and killing a man during a group fight (Photo courtesy of The Daily Star)

Saudi Prince Turki bin Saud bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabeer was executed in the capital, Riyadh, for killing a man during a group fight three years ago. Although details on the method of execution were not provided, most death penalties in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading in a public square.

The guilty verdict was supported by an appeals court, and later authorized by the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia. A royal order was then issued to carry out the Courts’ ruling. The Saudi Gazette reported that the prince’s family made several attempts to reach an agreement with the victim’s father prior to his execution. The victim’s family, however, refused offers of “blood money” and instead demanded justice.

This is the first execution carried out by Saudi Arabia in over four decades. The Interior Ministry stated that King Salman was keen on “enforcement of security, justice and God’s judgments.” The statement released by the Ministry further warned “that legitimate punishment would be the fate of whoever tries to assault innocent people and shed their blood.”

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies, in which the members of the royal family enjoy perks not available to rest of the country’s citizens. The royal execution has been widely interpreted as a message from the monarch that “no one in the kingdom is above the law.” A prominent Saudi lawyer, Mr. Abdul-Rahman al-Lahim, stated “the greatest thing is that the citizen sees the law applied to everyone, and that there are not big people and other small people.” Other Saudis praised the monarch, King Salman, under an Arabic hashtag which translated to “Decisive Salman orders retribution for the prince.”

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Shariah law and is often criticized by human rights groups and Western governments for what they consider to be harsh and arbitrary punishments. Human Rights Watch stated that the country has executed 134 people as of January 2016. Amnesty International reported that at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015.

For more information, please see:

CNN—Saudi Arabia executes member of royal family—20 October 2016

New York Times—Saudi Arabia Executes a Prince Convicted in a Fatal Shooting—18 October 2016

Al Arabiya—Saudi Arabia: Prince executed for murder—18 October 2016

Washington Post—Saudi Arabia executes member of the royal family for first time in four decades—19 October 2016

Khaleej Times—Saudi Arabian prince’s last hours before execution—21 October 2016

 

 

Ex-Congolese Vice President Bemba Convicted of Witness Tampering

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter 

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo– Ex-Congolese Vice President Bemba was convicted of witness tampering at the International Criminal Court.  Bemba and four members of his legal team were convicted on October 19th, just months after Bemba’s conviction for leading a campaign of rape and murder across the Central African Republic.  This was a ground breaking conviction for the International Criminal Court which has struggled with witness tampering since its inception.

Bemba at the International Criminal Court in March. (Photo Courtesy of The New York Times)

The Court’s conviction is based off of evidence that Bemba and his attorneys used a coded exchange in order to ensure testimony that was in Bemba’s favor.  Evidence shows that 14 witnesses were tampered with.  These witnesses testified in Bemba’s crimes against humanities case at the International Criminal Court.  Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison of the rape and murder of hundreds in the Central African Republic.

“No legal system in the world can accept the bribing of witnesses, the inducement of witnesses to lie or the illicit coaching of witnesses. Nor can the International Criminal Court,” Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said after the convictions were made.  This conviction strengthens the power of the International Criminal Court, showing that it takes witness tampering seriously.  Bemba and his attorneys could face up to five years in prison because of their convictions.

For more information, please see:

Deutsche Walle – ICC convicts DRC’s former vice president Bemba of witness tampering – 19 October 2016.

International Justice Monitor – Bemba and Four Associates Convicted for Witness Tampering – 19 October 2016.

The New York Times – Jean-Pierre Bemba, Congolese Politican Imprisoned for War Crimes, Is Convicted of Witness Tampering – 19 October 2016.

Reuters – Ex-Congolese VP Bemba convicted of witness tampering at war crimes court – 19 October 2016.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Notes for the Next UN Secretary-General

27 October 2016

Notes for the Next UN Secretary-General

When António Guterres assumes his role as UN Secretary-General on 1 January 2017, he will become leader of an institution trying to maintain its relevance and improve its efficacy in a time of intense global crisis. With 65 million people currently displaced by war, persecution and atrocities, and with governments and armed extremist groups blatantly defying international humanitarian and human rights law, under Mr. Guterres’ leadership the UN will face immense challenges.

Historically, no single issue has done more to undermine the credibility of the UN than the failure to prevent and halt atrocities. But under a committed Secretary-General, the UN has unique political and institutional capacity to prevent mass atrocity crimes, mediate conflict and promote universal rights.

This article by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, argues that the solution to the current global exigency and a central challenge facing Secretary-General-elect Guterres is to achieve an equilibrium shift away from crisis response and towards mass atrocity prevention.

The article is available here: Notes for the Next UN Secretary-General

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky: US$14 Million Connected to Proceeds of US$230 Million Fraud Uncovered by Magnitsky Have Been Traced to Canada

27 October 2016 – US$14 Million of suspected illicit proceeds connected to the US$230 million Russian fraud uncovered by Hermitage’s murdered Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, have been traced to Canada.

In a complaint filed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and eleven other law enforcement agencies this week, Hermitage’s lawyer, Lincoln Caylor of Bennett Jones LLP, outlined US$220,000 in proceeds which were transferred to Canada from two Cyprus accounts.  These two Cyprus accounts are connected to the leader of the Klyuev Organized Crime Group, Dmitry Klyuev, who is sanctioned under the US Magnitsky Act for his involvement in the Magnitsky case. These transactions can be traced back to the $230 million tax rebate fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky in 2008.

An additional $1.5 million was wired to Canada through a number of different accounts which can also be traced back to the fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, and a further US$12.6 million in suspicious money transfers were wired from Canada back to the money laundering network used by the Russian fraudsters.

“Based on the present information, it is clear that Canada has a role to play in investigating the crime uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky,” said Bill Browder, leader of the global Magnitsky justice campaign.

The news comes amidst the debate in the Canadian parliament on the implementation of Magnitsky sanctions legislation in Canada, similar to that adopted by the US. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe, of which Canada is a member, also urged member states to adopt these sanctions in a 2012 Magnitsky resolution.

In 2008, Hermitage’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky uncovered the US$230 million fraud and testified about the complicity of Russian officials in the fraud. He was falsely arrested by the Russian Interior Ministry, detained for 358 days without trial, tortured and killed in Russian police custody at the age of 37.

After Magnitsky’s death, Russian authorities posthumously accused him of the crime he had uncovered and exonerated all officials. Hermitage’s global justice campaign has identified numerous beneficiaries around the world who received funds laundered from the crime uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.

Investigations into the laundering of proceeds of the US$230 million fraud have been opened in multiple countries, including the USA, France, and Switzerland.

 

The events of this case are described in the New-York Times best-seller, “Red Notice” by William Browder, and in a series of campaign videos which can be seen on the YouTube channel, “Russian Untouchables.”

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777

e-mail: info@lawandorderinrussia.org

www.lawandorderinrussia.org

billbrowder.com

twitter.com/Billbrowder

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Crane 1 of 1 Atrocity Alert: Syria, Iraq, Burma/Myanmar and Accountability Watch

Atrocity Alert, No. 28

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.

Syria

On 26 October airstrikes in Idlib governorate hit a complex of three schools in the town of Hass. At least 26 deaths have been reported so far, including 20 children. As relentless attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Idlib, Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria continue, the international community is still struggling to halt the five-year civil war and hold atrocity perpetrators accountable. Following a fifth Russian veto on a Syria resolution at the UN Security Council on 8 October, the UN General Assembly held a special briefing requested by Canada – on behalf of 69 member states – on 20 October to determine whether to call for an Emergency Special Session. The Human Rights Council also held a special session on Syria on 21 October and adopted a resolution calling for the Commission of Inquiry on Syria to conduct an investigation into possible war crimes in Aleppo and identify those responsible for alleged violations of international law.

Iraq

Since the Iraqi government announced the launch of its offensive to liberate Mosul from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on 17 October, over 50 villages have been retaken and at least 10,725 civilians have been displaced by fighting. ISIL has conducted retaliatory attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish forces across the country, including in Kirkuk, Rutba and Sinjar. On 25 October the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said they had received preliminary reports of mass atrocities perpetrated by ISIL in areas surrounding Mosul, including the discovery of at least one mass grave, and expressed the “fear that these will not be the last such reports we receive of such barbaric acts by ISIL.” There have also been reports of ISIL fighters using civilians as human shields as Iraqi forces advance. It is essential that all parties participating in the battle for Mosul take effective measures to ensure the protection of all civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Burma/Myanmar

On 9 October a series of attacks on border posts were carried out by a pro-Rohingya armed group in Burma/Myanmar’s Arakhan/Rakhine state. Reports of mass arrests and extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group who face systematic persecution by the government of Burma/Myanmar, have continued to surface since an army operation began on 10 October in response to the attacks. Since 23 October army officers have also forcibly removed an estimated 2,000 villagers from their homes. On 24 October the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee – together with four other UN Special Rapporteurs – issued a joint statement condemning human rights violations in Burma/Myanmar. The Special Rapporteurs called upon the government to undertake thorough investigations of all alleged abuses during Army operations and prevent incitement against the Rohingya.

Accountability Watch

During October several African states have formally challenged the capacity of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct impartial investigations and trials and announced their intention to withdraw from the Court. On 26 October Gambia announced that it would join South Africa and Burundi in abandoning the ICC, noting that the decision came as a result of the Court seeming more like “an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans.” Gambia’s human rights record has been widely criticized internationally and President Yahya Jammeh, who has been in power since a military coup in 1994, has been accused of threatening to exterminate the Mandinka ethnic group and of inciting violence against gays and lesbians. An investigation of potential mass atrocity crimes in Burundi is currently underway and South Africa was previously criticized for not arresting President Bashir of Sudan, under indictment for genocide and crimes against humanity, while he was visiting the country during June 2015 for an African Union Summit. On 25 October Botswana issued a press release criticizing the South African decision and saying that the government was turning its back on victims of atrocities and undermining the battle against impunity.

It is essential that all States Parties to the Rome Statute encourage Burundi, Gambia and South Africa to reconsider their positions. In contrast to the message sent by these actions, during September Gabon self-referred itself to the ICC following violence during the country’s August 2016 presidential elections.  Of the 9 African cases currently being investigated by the ICC, the majority have been self-referred.

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Nicaragua Canal Protested as a Threat to Human Rights

By Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

NICARAGUA — A $50 billion, 172-mile canal is expected to be built by a Chinese firm across Nicaragua with the purpose of connecting the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal already accomplishes this but Nicaraguan officials say the canal is crucial to increasing global trade and the new canal can accommodate larger tankers, which the Panama Canal cannot, even with its current expansion. The proposed canal would be three times as long as the Panama Canal and twice as deep. The Nicaraguan government estimates that the revenues created by the project will be almost five times the country’s GDP and will pull more than 400,000 people out of poverty by 2018. The new canal would be an alternative to the Panama Canal, which is 102 years old and handles five percent of global maritime trade. The deal between Nicaragua and Wang Jing of HKND Group would give the firm consortium rights to operate the canal for 116 years. The company broke ground in 2014 but has made little progress since. There are suspicions that the firm may not have enough money to complete the project. There are also concerns that there may not be enough transport demand to support a second canal, especially one with numerous geographical barriers.

Nicaraguan farmers, environmentalists, and human rights groups are protesting construction of the canal. (Photo courtesy of the BBC)
Nicaraguan farmers, environmentalists, and human rights groups are protesting construction of the canal. (Photo courtesy of the BBC)

Nicaraguan farmers, environmentalists, and human rights groups are protesting construction of the canal. A coalition of farmers gathered 28,000 signatures in opposition to Law 840, which grants concession for the canal project. Both indigenous and peasant farmers are concerned the canal will ruin their crops, require evictions, and destroy the graveyards where their ancestors are buried. Rural residents like 39-year-old Francisca Ramirez are coming together to defend their rights, “I will not allow this area to be destroyed by a project which will only benefit a few, but will harm a vast number of people.”

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) says the canal is a threat to people, forests, and to Cocibolca Lake, Central America’s main fresh water reserve. So far, up to 120,000 peasants have no place to relocate to and they were given insufficient compensation for being forced off their land. President of FIDH Dimitris Christopoulos said, “Respecting nature and the rights of rural communities is not a luxury. It’s a duty. These projects will have a dramatic impact on the environment and on human rights. It is unimaginable to sell off territory as such. The government must back out.” The report cites environmental problems with hydrocarbon pollution, salinity, and turbidity. The report also says the canal deal breaches Nicaragua’s constitution and is denying citizens their rights to property, adequate housing, food, and water.

For further information, please see:

Amnesty International – “We Have Hope, we Have Human Rights, we will win This Fight” – 16 October 2016

BBC – Nicaragua Canal Scheme ‘Must be Dropped’ – 14 October 2016

Humanosphere – Nicaragua Canal: Rights Groups Protest Project That may Have Already Failed – 17 October 2016

Sky News – Nicaragua Canal Poses ‘Unimaginable’ Threat to Human Rights – 14 October 2016

 

Iranian-American Father-Son Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison by Iranian Court

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian court sentenced an Iranian-American and his father to ten years in prison and also fined them $4.8 million.

Father-son were sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $4.8 million (Photo courtesy of Daily Mail)

Mr. Siamak Namazi, who is a businessman in his mid-40s, was arrested in October 2015 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”) while visiting family in Tehran. In February 2016, the IRGC arrested his 80-year-old dual citizen father, Baquer Namazi, who is a former Iranian provincial governor and former UNICEF official.

Siamak and Baquer were each given a single court session lasting a few hours in duration, before the sentences were given. The court proceedings were kept in secrecy and details of the allegations against them have not been publicly released. They were not permitted to hire their own defense attorney due to an Iranian law which allows only government-approved lawyers to represent defendants in cases related to national security.

In a statement, Siamak’s brother, Mr. Babak Namazi, stated that the sentences are unjust. He indicated that his father has been “handed practically a death sentence.” Baquer Namazi’s wife indicated that he suffers from a serious heart condition, as well as other medical issues, which require special mediation.

Tehran prosecutor, Mr. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, stated that the men were sentenced to prison for spying for the U.S. and “cooperating with the U.S. government.” Mr. Javad Karimi Qudossi, a member of the security and foreign policy committee in Iran’s parliament stated that Siamak was actively “recruiting spies for America and inserting cultural, military and political spies inside the country.” Iranian officials have not clarified who is responsible for paying the $4.8 million fine. It did, however, indicate that the amount is what Siamak and Baquer had received from the U.S. “for their mission in Iran.”

These are the latest sentences against dual citizens directed by powerful Iranian judiciary and security forces following the U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal. Security officials have arrested dozens of artists, journalists and businessmen, including Iranians with dual U.S., European or Canadian citizenship, as part of a “crackdown” on “western infiltration.” The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (“Campaign”) stated that the country does not recognize dual citizenship, and that it routinely “harasses citizens and dual nationals with trumped up national security charges.” Since the country does not recognize dual nationality, detainees with dual citizenship are unable to obtain consular assistance.

The sentences have attracted international attention. The U.S. State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mr. Mark Toner, indicated that the father and son had been “unjustly detained” in Iran. He stated he was “deeply concerned” by the reports and called for their immediate release. On Tuesday, UNICEF called for the release of Baquer on “humanitarian grounds.”

For more information, please see:

Los Angeles Times—Iranian American father and son sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, report says—18 October 2016

CNN—American father and son sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison—19 October 2016

Reuters—Iran sentences two U.S. citizens to 10 years in prison—18 October 2016

NBC News—Iran Sentences Iranian-American, His Father to 10 Years Each in Prison—18 October 2016

 

Brutal Death Reignites Movement Against Femicide

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Warning: this article contains graphic details

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA—Thousands poured out to the streets of Argentina, wearing black, demanding an end to violence against women. The protestors called it “Black Wednesday”—a movement sparked by the brutal death of 16-year old Lucia Perez.

The death of Lucia Perez has reignited the
The death of Lucia Perez has reignited the “Ni Una Menos” movement in Argentina. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

According to various news outlets, Lucia Perez was abducted by three men outside her High School in Mar del Plata. The men held Lucia against her will, drugged her with large amounts of cocaine and marijuana, gang raped her, penetrated her with a wooden pole, causing her internal organs to bleed, and from the pain she went into cardiac arrest. The men washed her, changed her clothes, and took her to a medical facility stating she had overdosed on drugs. Upon inspection by the medical staff, it was apparent she had been sexually assaulted—Lucia died immediately upon arrival.

Maria Isabel Sanchez, lead prosecutor, stated: “I know it’s not very professional to say this, but I am a mother and a woman and I have seen a thousand things in my career, but never anything equal to this litany of abhorrent acts.”

As a response to the gruesome death of Lucia, Argentina mobilized to change the culture of machismo prevalent throughout the nation. Protestors held signs, “Ni Una Menos” which translates to “Not one less.” Protestors called upon Argentines to strike for an hour, “In your office, school, hospital, law court, newsroom, shop, factory, r wherever you are working, stop for an hour to demand, ‘no more machista violence.’” In solidarity, other countries joined in the movement by protesting, including Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

The Ni Una Menos organization announced that, “one woman is killed every 30 hours in Argentina for being a woman.” Supreme Court Judge, Elena Highton de Nolasco, told the media: “cases of femicide are growing in number, they are becoming more violent, more perverse- we even had the news today that there have been 19 femicides in the last 18 days.”

For more information, please see:

The Guardian—Argentina’s Women Joined Across South America in Marches Against Violence—19 October 2016.

The Washington Post: How A Schoolgirl’s Brutal Rape and Murder United the Women of Argentina—19 October 2016.

BBC—Argentine Women Strike After Fatal Rape of Teenage—20 October 2016.

CNN—Women Protest Rape, Killing of Teenage Girl in Argentina—20 October 2016.