Cholera Outbreak Worsens Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti

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

LES CAYES, HAITI — Hurricane Matthew has left southwestern Haiti with a humanitarian crisis, especially in Sud and Grand Anse. Homes were destroyed, crops drowned, and ocean water flooded fresh water wells, leaving 1.4 million people without shelter, food, and safe water. Basic health services are also limited and the contamination of fresh water sources has caused a previous cholera outbreak to spread, quickly increasing the patient load of these already strained health facilities.

Cholera is a severe gastro-intestinal disease that rapidly dehydrates those infected by triggering diarrhea and vomiting. It becomes deadly when patients lose so much fluids that their organs shut down. Cholera can be contained with water purification and basic sanitation supplies such as bleach, soap, and gloves. It can also be treated with IV fluids but there are limited deliveries of the supplies needed to significantly address the outbreak. Dr. David Sack, professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore says, “A patient with cholera should never die. If they get to a treatment center in time, if they still have a breath, we can save their life.”

Hurricane Matthew has left 1.4 million people without shelter, food, or clean water in Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)
Hurricane Matthew has left 1.4 million people without shelter, food, or clean water in Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

The initial cholera outbreak was brought by UN peacekeepers in 2010 and the hurricane has only exacerbated the problem. The Haitian Ministry of Health says the number of new cases has doubled nationwide and even more dramatically in areas severely hit by the storm. According the World Health Organization there are about 3 million cases a year and 90,000 deaths. Haiti currently has the worst epidemic and an outbreak in South Sudan is now spreading. So far the Haiti outbreak has made 800,000 people sick and killed more than 9,000. Since the population has not seen the disease before there is no immunity and the poor infrastructure for drinking water and sewage has made cholera difficult to contain.

The Haitian government, local communities, and organizations that work in Haiti are doing what they can in relief response but the need is urgent. The United Nations has only raised 28 percent of the $119 million they are seeking for Haiti’s recovery. Immediate mobilization of individuals, corporations, foundations, and governments are needed in order to prevent a significant loss in life. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Haitian Ministry of Health has organized a number of aid groups to launch a cholera vaccination campaign. The goal is to immunize 820,000 Haitians with a relatively new oral cholera vaccination. If the campaign is successful it will be the largest emergency cholera vaccination campaign in history. However PAHO representative for Haiti Jean Luc Poncelet says, “Vaccine is not the solution. It is one tool that we have to add to the ones we already have.” Two doses of the vaccine provide a 65 percent efficacy rate but due to a lack of the vaccine only one dose will be given, reducing the efficacy rate to about 50 percent. The long term solution is to improve access to clean water. The disease can survive for years in the environment but eradicating cholera is possible if living conditions improve enough to provide reliable access to clean water for almost everyone.

For further information please see:

The Guardian – Rise in Maternal Deaths Likely in Haiti, and UN Expert Speaks out on Cholera – 1 November 2016

Huffington Post – Haiti is Facing a Humanitarian Crisis we can Solve – so why aren’t we? – 1 November 2016

New York Times – Haiti Opens a Drive to Vaccinate 820,000 as Cholera Flares – 9 November 2016

NPR – Cholera 101: Why an Ancient Disease Keeps on Haunting us – 4 November 2016


Thousands of Catalans Stage Pro-Independence Demonstration

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe

MADRID, Spain — Approximately 80,000 people gathered in Barcelona at the Plaza de España on Sunday to show their support for Catalan leaders who are currently stuck in negotiations with Madrid over the independence of the Catalan region.  The Catalan separatists were protesting a series of legal challenges that the Spanish government has made against pro-independence Catalan political leaders.

Pro-independence supporters wave independence flags at the protest in Barcelona on Sunday (Photo Courtesy of The Scotsman)
Pro-independence supporters wave independence flags at the protest in Barcelona on Sunday (Photo Courtesy of The Scotsman)

Grassroots activist groups organized about 150 busses to transport protestors from all different parts of the region to the demonstration.  Fueled by the economic downturn in other parts of Spain, many in the wealthy region of Catalonia believe they pay higher taxes than they should to the Spanish government.  They resent supporting the poorer regions in Spain as a result of the decline of the economy in those other regions.

Catalan politicians are facing legal sanctions from the Spanish government for their participation in a 2014 secession referendum, as well as regional laws they developed in order to shape a path towards secession from Spain.

Specifically, former President of Catalonia Artur Mas, Speaker of the Parliament Carme Forcadell, and lawmakers Francesc Homs, Irene Rigau, and Joana Ortega are all being charged with disobeying the orders of the Constitutional Court of Spain.  Mas is scheduled to stand trial for charges of “serious disobedience” and “malfeasance.  If convicted, Mas faces a 10-year ban on holding any political office.  Both Mas and Forcadell attended the protest in Barcelona on Sunday.

Jodi Cuixart, president of the separatist group Omnium, spoke at the demonstration.  He spoke to the Spanish government, telling them that if they “attack our democratically elected representatives, you attack our institutions, all our people and our sovereignty, and we will never allow that.”  Cuixart ensured the Spanish government that the separatists “will never let our elected representatives down.”

The Spanish government has repeatedly maintained the position that regions such as Catalonia do not have a constitutional right to hold a referendum of separatist nature – a referendum that concerns the integrity of the country.

Catalonia’s current president, Carles Puigdemont, plans to hold another referendum regarding secession and independence by next September.  Puigdemont stated that this is a situation which “can only be solved politically.”


For more information, please see:

Expatica — 80,000 Gather for Catalan Pro-Independence Demo — 13 November 2016

Sputnik International — Thousands of People Rally Against Prosecution of Catalan Lawmakers in Barcelona — 13 November 2016

The Guardian — Thousands of Catalan Separatist’s Protest Against Government’s Legal Challenges — 13 November 2016

The Scotsman — Thousands Protest Spain’s Legal Challenge to Catalan Independence — 13 November 2016

Assets of Torture and Violence Victims’ Rehabilitation Center Frozen by Egyptian Authorities

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt — The head of a prominent Egyptian human rights organization that works with torture victims reported that its assets have been frozen by Egyptian authorities.

The El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence was allegedly shut down for not registering as an NGO (Photo courtesy of Al Arabiya)

The El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence (“Center”) provides psychological support for victims of torture and violence, and documents complaints of torture in prison.

The Center’s lawyer, Taher Abu al-Nasr, stated that the legal department had received a ruling from the Central Bank freezing its account. He indicated that an employee who was attempting to cash a check was told by the bank’s manager that its account had been suspended until it registered as an NGO with the Social Solidarity Ministry. The head of the Center, Ms. Adly, indicated that the Central Bank linked the asset freeze decision to the Center’s “legal status,” and that the decision coincides with an NGO law dating back to the rule of President Mubarak.

Amnesty International condemned the move and urged Egyptian authorities to revoke the decision against the Center. The regional advocacy director declared that the decision to “arbitrarily” freeze the Center’s bank account is a “cruel blow to human rights in the country” because it prevents the Center from providing crucial care to survivors of violence. He added that the Center is a “lifeline” for hundreds of torture victims, as well as for the families of those who have been a victim of “enforced disappearance.” He further stated that the decision is additional evidence of Egypt’s “chilling contempt of perceived critics.” The organization indicated that it is “inexcusable” to obstruct care for victims of torture. Additionally, it also stated that Egyptian authorities should be focused on implementing safeguards to prevent custodial torture and ending forced disappearances, instead of “lashing out” at the Center.

Egyptian authorities had previously attempted to shut down the Center on two occasions. In February and April 2016, officials had issued orders to close the Center, while the Health Ministry had stated that it was “carrying out activities other than those allowed.” Mr. Al-Nasr, however, stated that the Center is registered as a clinic with the Health Ministry, and does not need to be registered as an NGO.

All NGOs operating in the country are subject to a strict law permitting the government to supervise their activities and finances. International human rights groups have repeatedly accused the Egyptian government of rights violations, including “forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and illegal detentions.” Egyptian authorities deny allegations that security forces gather and torture individuals in “secret detention centers.”

The Center is still operating despite its frozen assets and has challenged the order in court.

For more information, please see:

Daily Mail—Egypt blocks bank account of torture victims’ center—10 November 2016

Middle East Eye—Egypt freezes assets of anti-torture NGO—10 November 2016

New York Times—Egyptian Rights Group Is Told Its Bank Account Is Blocked, Lawyer Says—10 November 2016

Amnesty International—Egypt: Freeze of torture rehabilitation centre’s financial assets a cruel blow to human rights—10 November 2016

Concern Grows Over Colombia’s Military Nominees

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia—International NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and  Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), are voicing their concerns over the Colombian government’s nominees for military promotion. The nominees include five senior officials that have been linked to credible evidence demonstrating their implication in extrajudicial executions and abuses. They will not be promoted until the senate approves the promotion.

Colombia is set to promote Military personnel accused of war crimes. (Photo Courtesy of Telesur)
Colombia is set to promote Military personnel accused of war crimes. (Photo Courtesy of Telesur)

Human Rights Watch linked credible and convincing evidence of the nominees’ involvement in abuse, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of civilians during the civil war from the years 2002-2008. The killings are known as ‘False Positives,’ in which civilians were killed or forcibly disappeared in order to increase the reported number of guerrilla fighters killed during combat. The military followed this practice for promotions and benefits. José Miguel Vivanco, the HRW director of the Americas stated, “The Colombian Senate should review these promotions carefully and ensure that any officer against whom there is credible evidence of abuses is not promoted.” He continued by emphasizing, “Otherwise, it would reinforce the longstanding message that senior officers in Colombia can get away with murder.” In addition, HRW, has found that many of the brigades, led by the commanders in line for promotion, were involved a number of these killings. In these cases, the commander of the brigade “at least knew or should have known about the wrongful killings, and therefore may be criminally liable.”

WOLA expressed similar concerns earlier in the year by sending a letter to Colombian officials. Adam Isacson from WOLA stated, “Colombia is finally nearing an end to its decades-long armed conflict, and is holding more and more human rights abusers accountable, but promoting these officials without first letting the criminal justice system do its work would represent a setback.”

Colombia has in the past convicted an estimated 800 low-ranking army members involved in extrajudicial killings. Yet, Colombia has failed in prosecuting high level military officials—instead they have been promoted to higher military ranks.

For more information, please see:

Telesur—Colombia Criticized for Promoting Corrupt Army Generals—16 January 2016.

WOLA—Colombia Set to Promote Military Officers Linked to ‘False Positives’ Scandal, Other Abuses—14 January 2016.

Human Rights Watch—Colombia: Disqualify Criminal Suspects from Army Promotions—10 November 2016.

La Prensa—HRW Pide a Colombia ‘Frenar’ Ascenso de Militares por Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales—10 November 2016.

PILPG: War Crimes Prosecution Watch Volume 11, Issue 18: November 14, 2016

Case School of Law Logo


Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 11 – Issue 18
November 14, 2016


Kevin J. Vogel

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Jeradon Z. Mura

Managing Editors
Dustin Narcisse
Victoria Sarant

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

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



Central African Republic

Sudan & South Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo


Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Lake Chad Region — Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon





Rwanda (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)






Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

Israel and Palestine

North Korea




Truth and Reconciliation Commission



Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

Mass Grave with Approximately 100 Bodies Found Near Mosul

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi investigators are examining a mass grave discovered by Iraqi soldiers advancing on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul.

Authorities believe the mass grave contains approximately 100 bodies (Photo courtesy of BBC News)
Authorities believe the mass grave contains approximately 100 bodies (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

On Monday, November 7th, Iraqi troops noticed a pungent smell while approaching the town of Mosul. The mass grave was discovered behind an “earthen embankment” near an agricultural college. Upon bulldozing, the land revealed bones poking out from beneath the surface, along with scraps of clothing, garbage bags, and “human remains swarming with flies.” An Iraqi cabinet official in charge of mass grave inspections stated that investigators are on their way to the grave site to conduct examinations and determine the cause of death.

The first officials at the site noted that the grave likely holds approximately 100 bodies, most of which are decapitated. Although the victims’ identities are currently unclear, authorities believe that the bodies are likely those of Iraqi security forces members and their relatives. There is rising concern, however, that children may be among the deceased due to a child’s stuffed animal that had been pulled from the grave by a soldier.

The U.N. Office of Human Rights indicated that it is investigating into whether the mass grave is connected to reports of police officers being killed in the same area. The spokeswoman for the Office of Human Rights stated that it had received reports of 50 former Iraqi police officers killed in a building outside Mosul. She further noted that the building cited in these reports was the same as the agricultural college near which the mass grave was found.

On Tuesday, November 8th, authorities discovered two additional mass graves containing 23 bodies, including the remains of women and children. Officials are concerned that these mass graves could be just the “tip of the iceberg.” It appears to be the latest of several mass graves found in territory that has been retaken from the Islamic State, which is known for massacring hundreds of individuals across northern and central Iraq.

For more information, please see:

Northwest Herald—Investigators probe mass grave found near Mosul, Iraq—09 November 2016

Wall Street Journal—Remains in Mass Grave Near Mosul Identified—08 November 2016

Fox News—Iraqis investigate decapitated bodies in mass grave near ISIS-held Mosul—08 November 2016

BBC News—Mass graves in Iraq reveal Islamic State horrors—08 November 2016

Syria Deeply Weekly Update: The Battle for Raqqa Begins

November 11, 2016

Dear Readers,Welcome to the weekly Syria Deeply newsletter. We’ve rounded up the most important stories and developments concerning 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:The battle for Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the so-called Islamic State, began on Sunday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab opposition groups backed by the United States, is leading the first phase of the operation against ISIS militants.The U.S.-led coalition is coordinating airstrikes on Raqqa with SDF fighters on the ground. At least 20 civilians were killed in coalition airstrikes on a town north of Raqqa, including nine women and two children. SDF forces took control of six villages north of Raqqa city in the first 24 hours and have seized a total of 17 villages since the offensive began.Last week, Turkey said it would also participate in the battle against ISIS in Raqqa. However, on Monday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that it is “naive” to use Syrian Kurdish SDF fighters in the operation. After a meeting between NATO members in Ankara later that day, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford said that Turkey and the U.S. would work together “on the long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa … We always knew the SDF wasn’t the solution for holding and governing Raqqa.”As U.S.-led coalition and U.S.-backed forces fight for control of Raqqa, the Syrian government and its allies have stepped up attacks in the Damascus countryside. In Eastern Ghouta, government airstrikes on a kindergarten in the opposition-controlled town of Harasta killed at least six children on Sunday. Later in the week, several airstrikes on the opposition-controlled city of Douma and the town of Saqba in Eastern Ghouta killed at least 12 people.

Weekly Highlights:

Analysis: How Civilians Will Lose in the Battle Against ISIS in Raqqa

As the U.S.-led offensive against ISIS pushes fighters out of Mosul into Syria, a similar offensive has begun against militants in Raqqa, but that’s not likely to stop them from mounting attacks, writes journalist Mohamad Bazzi.

Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces gather ahead of an operation to retake the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, outside Erbil, Iraq. Simultaneous attacks are taking place on the Islamic State-held cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria. AP/Khalid Mohammed, File

Wheelchair Race Gives Hope to Injured in Besieged Eastern Ghouta

Amid the rubble in the Damascus suburbs, a wheelchair race sheds light on the growing number of people with lifelong injuries caused by the conflict in Syria, and survivors’ attempts to reengage with a war-ravaged community.

Men compete in a wheelchair race in the streets of Eastern Ghouta. Syrian Revolution Network

Long Read: Why Khan Eshieh Palestinian Camp Could Be the Next Yarmouk

As fighting intensifies in the area around Syria’s Khan Eshieh – the so-called “camp of return” – and UNRWA draws parallels with the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, thousands of Palestinian refugees who call Khan Eshieh home face displacement for a second time.

Residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, Syria, queue to receive food supplies. UNRWA via AP, File

Additional Reading:

Top image: U.S.-backed fighters taking a rest during fighting with the Islamic State group near Ein Issa, north of Raqqa, Syria. Qasioun, a Syrian Opposition Media Outlet, via AP

Women in France Stage Walkout to Protest Unequal Pay

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe

PARIS, France — This past Monday, at 4:34pm, women across France staged a walk-out from their jobs in order to protest the disparity in salaries and wages between women and men.  Women’s rights group Les Glorieuses called for the protest, deciding that the issue of wage disparity finally needs to be addressed in France.  200 women were gathered in Place de la Republique by 5pm on Monday, and there were protests staged in other cities across France as well.  Thousands of women were seen on social media leaving their jobs on Monday afternoon.  The movement became known as “7 november 16h34.”

Women gather at Place de Republique to protest unequal pay (Photo Courtesy of BBC)
Women gather at Place de Republique to protest unequal pay (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

Les Glorieuses was inspired by a similar and successful protest in Iceland last month.  For the past 11 years, women in Iceland have been walking out on the same day and time that they should leave if they were to be paid the same hourly wage as men.  Iceland’s pay gap between men and women’s hourly wages is 14%.

In France, women were urged to leave at exactly 4:34pm because according to their calculations, after this point women will have been essentially working voluntarily.  In 2010, the gap between men and women’s average hourly wage was 15.5%, which means that a woman in France must work 38.2 days more than a male counterpart in order to be awarded the same salary.  Rebecca Amsellem, founder of Les Glorieuses, “thought the difference would maybe be 10 working days, not a month-and-a-half.”

Amsellem urged that at exactly 4:34pm on Monday, “women essentially stop being paid.”  Osez le Feminisme, another women’s rights group, is supporting the movement as well and has called on French companies to be fined if they do not respect equal pay laws.  Les Glorieuses also claims that factored in to the percentage of pay difference between men and women is the notion that women do 1.5 more hours of unpaid housework every day than men.

In recognition of the movement, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo suspended the city council for the afternoon. French minister for women’s rights, Laurence Rossignol, voiced her support for any women from her office who wished to take part in the protest. Rossignol told reports that “[w]hen women protest, they make visible what is invisible, when they speak their outrage and raise collective indignation even higher, I support it.”


For more information, please see:

BBC — Why did some French Women Walk out of Work Early? — 7 November 2016

IBT — Following Icelandic Example, Women in France Walked out of their Jobs at 4:34pm — 7 November 2016

The Local —  Women in France Urged to Walk out of Work Early — 7 November 2016

RT — French Women Stage Mass Walkout in Protest Against Wage Gap — 7 November 2016

The Washington Post — Women Across France will Leave Work at 4:34pm Today.  Here’s Why. — 7 November 2016

Zuma Under Fire Amid Reports of Corruption

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa– President Jacob Zuma is under intense scrutiny after being accused of corruption.  Zuma has been under fire before for misuse of government funds.  A new 355 page report called the ‘State of Capture’ claims that Zuma had an improper relationship with the Gupta Brothers.  The report claims that the Gupta brothers helped Zuma pick key cabinet members.

South African President Jacob Zuma speaks to delegates at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare

Zuma giving a speech. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

Zuma is a member of the African National Congress, the party of Nelson Mandela that has been ruling South Africa since the end of apartheid.  The party has enjoyed uninterrupted rule despite Zuma’s past issues with corruption.  However, the release of the ‘State of Capture’ is worrying other party members who are calling for a full investigation of Zuma.

Opposition party members are calling for Zuma’s resignation.  Zuma is defiant and says that he has done nothing wrong.

For further information, please see: 

BBC – South Africa’s Zuma ‘Not Afraid of Jail’ Amid Corruption Allegations – 5 November 2016

CNN – South Africa corruption report released amid anti-Zuma protests – 2 November 2016

Gulf News – Zuma’s Truly Overwhelming Problems – 5 November 2016

Press TV – South Africa’s Zuma Censures Judiciary Amid Corruption Probe – 5 November 2016

Turkish Riot Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannon and Plastic Bullets to Disperse Protest

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish police have used tear gas, a water cannon, and plastic bullets to disperse a protest against the imprisonment of nine journalists from the secularist opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet.

Turkish police use water cannon to disperse crowds protesting arrests of journalists (Photo courtesy of Newsweek)

The protest took place hours after nine journalists were formally arrested. Approximately 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside a mosque in central Istanbul, shouting slogans denouncing the “fascist” state and vowing not to remain silent. Riot police sprayed freezing water from trucks, fired plastic bullets and used tear gas in an attempt to prevent crowds of protestors from marching to the offices of the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

The nine arrested individuals include some of the most prolific journalists of the Turkish press. They were detained as part of an intensifying crackdown on oppositionists by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Following the arrests, the Turkish courts ordered a media blackout, prohibiting the press from reporting on the detention of Cumhuriyet journalists. The newspaper is known for being one of the few media outlets still critical of President Erdogan. Its reporters are suspected of crimes committed on behalf of Kurdish militants and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the coup attempt.

The arrests come after the shutdown of over 100 media outlets and detention of dozens of journalists following July’s failed coup attempt. Prominent Turkish journalist, Can Dundar, declared his outrage over the current administration by stating “our ‘crime’ is our writing, our headlines, our news. We will write again. We will write even more…” The government has stated that the crackdown is necessary to identify terrorists, whereas critics of President Erdogan state that he is using the coup as an attempt to defeat the opposition. Recently arrested politicians stated that they are victims of a “civilian coup by the government and the palace.” Furthermore, the head of Turkey’s main opposition party outraged “What are you trying to do? Are you trying to create a Turkey where everyone is in jail?”

The recent wave of opposition arrests has sparked concern among Turkey’s allies. The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief stated that she was “extremely worried” over the detentions. The U.S. State Department spokesman noted that there was a “worrisome trend” in Turkey over limiting freedom of speech.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian—Turkish police use water cannon to disperse protest over journalists’ arrests—5 November 2016

Newsweek—Protesters clash with Turkish authorities in continuing crackdown—5 November 2016

The Independent—Turkish police use water cannon and tear gas to disperse protest against arrest of journalists—5 November 2016

BBC News—Turkey coup aftermath: Pro-Kurdish Istanbul protests broken up—5 November 2016




ICTJ: In Focus: “If You Don’t Believe in Human Rights, Why Are You in Journalism?”

ICTJ ICTJ In Focus 62
November 2016

In Focus


“If You Don’t Believe in Human Rights, What Are You Doing in Journalism?” du Preez on Transitional Justice and Media“If You Don’t Believe in Human Rights, What Are You Doing in Journalism?” du Preez on Transitional Justice and MediaLater this month, Tunisians will have an opportunity to hear the truth about the dictatorship’s abuses directly from victims in a series of public hearings hosted by the Truth and Dignity Commission. However, in order for these public testimonies to be effective, the media must cover victims’ stories fully and explore the issues underpinning their experiences. South African journalist Max du Preez spoke with his Tunisian counterparts to help prepare them for the challenges they will face. We sat down with him afterwards to discuss the role of media in transitional justice processes.

Read More…

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Cote d’Ivoire Youth Find Voice Through StorytellingCote d’Ivoire Youth Find 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.

Read More…

Transitional Justice in Ukraine: National Reconciliation or Reconsolidation of Post-Communist Trauma?Transitional Justice in Ukraine: National Reconciliation or Reconsolidation of Post-Communist Trauma?Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution in 2014 ushered in a wave of decommunization efforts, ostensibly in order to ensure respect for human rights and to prevent a recurrence of the crimes of Communist and Nazi regimes. However, the laws were largely a product of contentious politics of memory: they further a particular understanding of past events that will likely continue to fuel division and distrust among Ukrainians, and between Ukraine and Russia.

Read More…




Prospects for Justice in Myanmar: Does the New Political Reality Offer Opportunities for Addressing Violations?

In the years immediately before the 2015 election, there was a palpable sense of waiting among those working in Burmese civil society. Many of their plans depended on one or two critical developments to take hold: the NLD coming to power and the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement. Now, both long-hoped-for events have happened, and Myanmar’s transition to democratic rule continues to move slowly forward. But what opportunities exist to address human rights violations?

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

December 01, 2016

Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent GenocideLocation: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 55 5th Ave View Details

December 01 – 03, 2016

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

More Events

Players Banned from Wearing “Political” Poppy on Jerseys

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe


LONDON, England — The international governing body of soccer, FIFA, has rejected players’ requests to wear embroidered poppy flowers on their jerseys during a game between England and Scotland on November 11.  In the United Kingdom, November 11 is the day which memorializes those who have passed away in war.  Both England and Scotland have asked FIFA to allow them to wear the symbol out of respect for the Royal British Legion, which is a charity that sells poppy badges to raise funds for veterans.  British soccer teams traditionally honor a moment of silence and wear embroidered poppies on their jerseys on the weekend of November 11.

Embroidered poppy symbol on a soccer jersey honoring fallen veterans (Photo Courtesy of BBC)
Embroidered poppy symbol on a soccer jersey honoring fallen veterans (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

FIFA bans any political or religious messages on jerseys, and Scottish Football Association chief Stewart Regan supports FIFA’s position that the organization is “sticking to the letter of law.”  FIFA considers the poppy to be a political statement, and will not allow the symbol to be worn on international shirts unless special permission is given by the organization.

The ban has elicited public outrage from fans.  Falklands veteran Simon Weston supports the English Football Association’s position of risking an imposed fine, and allowing their players to wear the poppy on November 11 regardless of what FIFA decides.  Weston told reporters that both England and Scotland both “took part in both World Wars and should take the lead. They should pay any fine has to give them. This is not a political gesture.”

The Football Associations of England, Scotland, and Wales are set to meet with FIFA in the upcoming days to discuss whether players should be allowed to wear the poppies on their jerseys. These associations are curious to learn what punishments would be administered should they decide to ignore the ban and wear the poppies anyway, as there are rumors that one punishment could be point reduction.  The FAs ensure fans and players that they have “led remembrance discussions with FIFA to allow the England team to show its support for the poppy appeal during the World Cup qualifier with Scotland.”

In 2011, Scottish soccer players were allowed to wear armbands with an embroidered poppy on them after receiving special permission from FIFA.


For more information, please see:

BBC — FIFA ‘Rejects England & Scotland Request to Wear Poppies on Armbands’ — 1 November 2016

ESPN — FIFA Ban England and Scotland from Wearing Poppies in World Cup Qualifier — 1 November 2016

Independent — England vs. Scotland: Fifa Ban Poppy due to being a ‘Political Statement’ as FA make Contact to Find Solution — 1 November 2016

RT — FIFA Refuses to Allow British Teams Wear ‘Political’ Poppy on Shirts — 1 November 2016

Sky Sports — FA and FIFA Discuss Allowing Players to wear Poppies in England v Scotland Clash — 1 November 2016

Reza Photography: Values for Humanity

Values for Humanity
On this day, when the future of our world and the values we defend are tested, I would like to share a memory, to celebrate the recent nomination of António Guterrez to the post of UN Secretary General, and, above all, to encourage him in his mission.

A memory…

One day in the summer of 2015.

I had the honor of guiding António Guterrez, already then the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, through a private visit to the Dream of Humanityexhibition on the banks of the Seine in Paris.

The exhibition displayed images on the theme of humanity, on the theme
of exile and displayed seven large panels bearing different key values translated into the languages of the world.

The new mission of António Guterrez, more than ever after today,
is to spread these values and to encourage each nation to fight for them,
so that they are not trampled.


Protests in Morocco After Fish Seller Crushed to Death in Morocco

By Samantha Netzband

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter

RABAT, Morocco– Protests have rocked Morocco after fish seller Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed to death in a city garbage truck.  Fikri, dove into the truck after municipal workers confiscated his swordfish and threw it away.  It is illegal to catch and sell swordfish during the current season.  The fish that was confiscated is was estimated to be worth a large sum of money.

Protests take part in a rally called by the February 20 Movement in Rabat after a fishmonger in the northern town of Al Hoceima was crushed to death inside a rubbish truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Moroccans protest in Rabat. (Photo Courtesy of Thomson Reuters)

Protests are extremely rare in Morocco and this protest has paralleled the 2010 death of a fruit seller in  Tunisia.  The protest that followed the fruit seller’s death in Tunisia eventually lead to the Arab Spring in that country.  Many protesters that are taking to the street to protest the death of Fikri are shouting “hogra” which is a term for abuse and injustice.

The Moroccan royalty, which has managed to prevent any Arab Spring like protests from consuming the government, is growing irritated with the protests that are not ending.  Morocco is seen across the world as a progressive North African country and is welcoming the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November.  The “February 20 Movement” which started Arab Spring like protests in Morocco in 2011 is said to be taking advantage of the current protests to show the Moroccan people that the government still does not care for its people.  The King of Morocco has visited Fikri’s family in hopes of smoothing over the feeling of ill will in the country.

For more information, please see: 

Al Jazeera – Fishmonger’s Gruesome Death Sparks Protests in Morocco – 31 October 2016

BBC News – Morocco Protests: Death of Fish Seller Triggers Rare Demonstrations – 30 October 2016

Thomson Reuters – Morocco protesters take to streets again over Fishmonger’s death – 31 October 2016

Thomson Reuters – Protests at fishmonger’s death test Moroccan monarchy nerves – 3 November 2016