Zambian Police Banned from Marrying Foreigners

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter 

LUSAKA, Zambia– Zambian police have been forbidden from marrying foreigners.  The Head of Police in Zambia issued a memo on Monday January 23 advising Zambian police to not marry foreigners effective immediately.  This ban is put in place in order to protect the Zambian people.

Zambian police officers arrive at the University of Zambia where students protest against the government’s removal of fuel and mealie meal subsidies on May 17, 2013 in Lusaka

Zambia police in the capital of Lusaka. (Photo Courtesy of BBC Africa)

For police officers who already have foreign spouses have to register their spouses by Monday January 29th.   If they do not register their spouses they will face disciplinary action.  Many are upset about this law which some are claiming is unconstitutional.  However, police spokesperson Esther Katongo defended the order by saying, ““Issues of security are delicate. If not careful, spouses can be spies and can sell the security of the country’’.

She also stated that this law has always been on the books, but given the new security situation in Zambia, it is now being enforced.  Action was being taken in order to ensure that police were complying with this previous requirement.  Some are criticizing the move saying that instead of worrying about spouses the police should better train their officers to be more professional.

For more information, please see: 

Africa Review – Outrage after Zambia police banned from marrying foreigners – 23 January 2017

BBC Africa – Zambia police banned from marrying foreigners – 23 January 2017

News Agency of Nigeria – Zambia police ban foreign wives – 23 January 2017

Vanguard – Zambia bans police officers from marrying foreigners – 23 January 2017


Middle East Briefing: From Astana to Geneva: A Ceasefire that Will Define the Future of Syria/What US National Security Policy Should We Expect from Trump and his Generals?/The Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization: To List or not to List?

In Our New Issue of “Middle East Briefing” this week



From Astana to Geneva: A Ceasefire that Will Define the Future of Syria

It will be a tough call to get Iran and Turkey to really cooperate and monitor the ceasefire in Syria as required by the trilateral deal both countries signed with Russia in Astana, Kazakhstan January 24. But let us hope …





What US National Security Policy Should We Expect from Trump and his Generals?

President Donald Trump has turned to a group of seasoned military officers to staff his national security team at the White House, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. Unlike any recent President, Donald Trump has turned his back on …




The Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization: To List or not to List?

The legislation proposed by Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Diaz-Balart to designate the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) could be viewed from multiple angles. One of those angles is legal. To join the list an organization …





An SOS from Amman

Those who listened to the Friday Sermon of January 20 given by Jordan’s Chief Justice and Imam of the Hashemite Court Sheikh Ahmed Hilyal were certainly shocked. Hilyal sent an SOS message to the Arab Gulf rulers that Jordan is …



Human Rights Watch Warns of Chinese Government Actions

By Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – Human Rights Watch (HRW) released their annual rights report on January 12, 2017. The report outlines HRW’s concerns for human rights violations in Southeast Asia, voicing particular concern over Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia. The report discusses a continuation of limits on free speech, with increasing signs of state suppression and censorship in various countries. The report’s summary on China speaks of similar concerns.

The wife of a human rights lawyer stood outside the Tianjin court in protest of her husband's trial (2016). Photo courtesy of: AP Photo
The wife of a human rights lawyer stands outside the Tianjin court in protest of her husband’s trial (2016). Photo courtesy of: AP Photo

Human rights organizations have paid particular attention to China in light of the state’s nationwide sweep of rights lawyers and advocates in the summer of 2015. Xie Yang, a Chinese lawyer who was interrogated by the Chinese government, recently spoke out about his abuse while detained. Mr. Yang is one of about 250 individuals detained by the government on charges of subverting the one-party state. Though most individuals were released, the government’s use of torture against them shows that international and domestic mechanisms for preventing torture have not worked.

In early 2017, the Chinese government also began to regulate the operation of Non-Governmental Organizations within its borders.  In order to continue their work within China, foreign NGO’s must find government sponsors, register with the local police, and meet other requirements like submitting annual finance reports.  Chinese president Xi Jinping claims such foreign entities are undermining China’s domestic interests.

Critics of the new legislation are concerned that the “Law on Management of Domestic Activities of Overseas Non-governmental Organizations” will hinder the efforts of nonprofits in fields such as human rights. Whether those concerns actually materialize remains to be seen.

For more information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Deteriorating Outlook for Human Rights in SE Asia – 13 January, 2017

Human Rights Watch – World Report 2017 – 12 January, 2017

New York Times – Punches, Kicks, and the ‘Dangling Chair’: Detainee Tells of Torture in China – 20 January 2017

Quartz – NGOs are under threat in China’s latest crackdown against “foreign forces” – 4 January, 2017

Hong Kong Free Press – Torture accusations as EU ambassador raises case of Chinese lawyer Xie Yang – 25 January, 2017 


Iraqi Prime Minister Orders Investigation into Alleged Human Rights Violations

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — On January 23rd, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Haider al-Abadi, ordered an investigation into human rights violations allegedly committed by government troops and a Shia paramilitary group.

Iraqi forces are being accused of torturing and killing civilians following a video that surfaced on social media (Photo courtesy of Washington Post)

The allegations include claims of kidnapping and civilian abuse as the troops attempt to retake Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS). The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq demanded a governmental inquiry from Iraq when a video surfaced on social media allegedly showing “brutal treatment” and the murdering of at least three ISIS members. The video, which is almost three minutes in length, showed several members of the Iraqi security forces wearing army and police uniforms. The video then contains graphic recordings of the individuals “dragging and beating [] suspects in a residential area before showering them with bullets.”

Two days later, Mr. al-Abadi’s office issued a statement saying that he had “ordered to form a committee to investigate cases of kidnappings, mistreatment and violations . . . against civilians by groups exploiting the name of the security forces and Shia paramilitary units.” Mr. al-Abadi subsequently indicated that he had instructed field commanders to ensure that the laws of armed conflict were followed to prevent human rights violations from being committed under the guise of war operations. He further stated that cases of abuse had been recorded and later uploaded to social media to “spoil the joy of victory[,] defame the real image of the brave security forces and their sacrifices to liberate the land[,] and [] maintain security.”

On January 5th, Amnesty International had issued a statement indicating that Iraq’s “Popular Mobilization Units” (PMU) had been “engaged in a systematic pattern of violations, including enforced disappearances, torture and unlawful killings targeting the Sunni community.” Formed in 2014 to join in on the war against ISIS, PMU is a coalition made up of mostly Iranian-trained Shia groups. The coalition was officially merged with the Iraqi armed forces in 2016.

In January 2016, Human Rights Watch had issued a statement in which it “accused Shia militias of abducting and killing [scores] of Sunni civilians in central Iraq.” The rights group had later called upon the Iraqi government to prevent Shia militias from joining the Mosul operation due to concerns of severe human rights violations.

For more information, please see:

Middle East Eye—Iraq PM orders investigation into abuses reported in Mosul battle—23 January 2017

Washington Post—Iraq premier orders probe into violations by troops in Mosul–23 January 2017

Business Standard—Iraqi PM orders probe into abuses by troops in Mosul—23 January 2017

Kurdistan24—Iraqi PM orders investigation of alleged abuses by Iraqi troops in Mosul—24 January 2017

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Statement on United States President Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” of Refugees

Statement on United States President Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” of Refugees

Yesterday, 27 January, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning all refugees, migrants and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries – Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The ban is grievously discriminatory, effectively targeting and blocking lawful entry into the United States to people on the basis of religion, a practice that is explicitly outlawed in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It is also a direct violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that parties shall accept refugees “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin,” and the 1967 Protocol, of which the United States is a signatory.
At a time when more than 65 million people around the world are displaced by persecution, conflict and mass atrocities, the ban is an affront to the moral principles that the United States has carved in stone on its national monuments. For generations, refugees and asylum seekers have found refuge from persecution in the United States. Yesterday’s executive order is a repudiation of that proud tradition. The ban especially targets 4.8 million Syrian refugees, who represent one of the most vulnerable populations on earth, denying them any possibility of entering the United States.
For more than five years the people of Syria have suffered war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian government, and enabled by their Russian and Iranian allies. Syrian civilians have also faced beheading, execution and even crucifixion by armed extremist groups like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and the so-called Islamic State. These crimes under international law have been widely documented by the UN’s independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The United States has a responsibility to protect the men, women and children who have fled these atrocities, not to scapegoat, arbitrarily block and illegally bar them from its shores.
The fact that President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” was promulgated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is especially egregious. The Nazi’s mass murder of 6 million Jews, along with Roma and other targeted victims, was the moral nadir of the twentieth century. In remembering the Holocaust we not only acknowledge its specific origins in murderous anti-Semitism, but also that it was a product of discriminatory laws and exclusionary policies. The fact that so many Jewish victims of the Holocaust were refused asylum in the United States and other countries during the 1930s is a source of enduring shame.
Seventy-two years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the Holocaust continues to provide essential lessons regarding human rights and practices that violate human dignity. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect will continue working with our civil society colleagues in the United States and raise this issue at the United Nations and beyond, until such time as President Trump’s shameful and illegal ban on Muslims is repudiated and rescinded.

Human Rights Watch: Just the Facts

Trump Policies Roll Back Rights
After one full week in office, there is no longer room for doubt: the disturbing proposals that marked President Trump’s campaign are swiftly becoming reality.

Top members of Trump’s administration wasted no time this week baptizing lies with a new name: “alternative facts.” But in this dark new era of “post-truth,” you can count on Human Rights Watch to stand as a collective force for principle, fact, and reason.

Here are a few facts we’d like to share:

  • Fact #1: Two days after some 5 million people marched demanding respect for women’s rights across the globe, Trump signed an executive order that will threaten women’s lives.
    The “Global Gag Rule” prohibits international aid to groups that in any way engage with abortion. It will restrict women’s choices and censor critical health options in clinics worldwide. This destructive policy will contribute to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and more women dying around the world.
  • Fact #2: Trump signed executive orders on immigration and border policy that could severely harm millions of immigrants and US citizens.
    These actions not only put in motion the construction of a proposed border wall extension between the US and Mexico, but set the stage for the expansion of abusive fast-track deportation procedures and overly-broad enforcement laws that could terrorize communities and break families apart.
  • Fact #3: Just yesterday, Trump approved an executive order to temporarily ban nationals of some Muslim-majority countries from entering the US that could intensify xenophobia.
    Not only will the executive order heighten discrimination against affected communities and fail to address national security threats, but Trump’s plan is sure to alienate US allies and wrongly send a message to autocratic regimes that policies like this are acceptable. They are not.
This new wave of attacks threatens our core rights values. But we will not stay silent. We will continue to expose and defend the truth.

Today — and every day — Human Rights Watch will stand up for truth, analyze impacts of harmful policies, and hold President Trump to account.

We’re all in this together. Thank you for standing with us when it’s needed most.

Grace Meng
Senior Researcher, US Program
Human Rights Watch

ICTJ: Human Rights Movement Must Come Together to Resist Trump’s Agenda

Human Rights Movement Must Come Together to Resist Trump’s Agenda

By David Tolbert, ICTJ President
Donald Trump’s inaugural speech has fittingly been described, as “dystopian,” as “dark,” as “a declaration of war.” The new president made no call for unity, did not reach out to a soul not already in his camp — despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes — nor uttered a word to bring together a fractured nation or address a world deeply nervous at his ascension to the most powerful of offices.

In the first few days as president, his actions mirrored his words. Trump has rushed headlong into creating further divisions and has begun an assault on human rights and basic decency — including a de facto ban on many Muslim refugees from entering the United States and the resurrection of CIA “black sites“ — and promises more to come.

The new president exalts torture, mocks the disabled, casts aspersions on those who defend human rights, appeals to racist sentiments through coded and not-so-coded language and denigrates women in both word and deed. He shows no regard for the Geneva Conventions or the painstaking work of generations of human rights activists, many of them American, to ensure that civilians are not abused in times of conflict and that the vulnerable are protected.

For good measure, he seems to demean virtually every restraint that protects the citizen from the state. His first call as president to a foreign leader was to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who crushed the protests against army rule, devastated Egypt’s civil society with draconian laws targeting human rights defenders and turned Egypt’s legal institutions into “kangaroo courts.” A chilling signal indeed.

Say what you will, Trump has clearly laid down the gauntlet that places the most powerful of nations on the side of the privileged and signals that human rights will be honored only in the breach. This can hardly be a surprise, given his campaign rhetoric that called openly for torture and other serious crimes that violate international and domestic law.

For me, the nadir of Trump’s remarks in front of the Capitol echoed his campaign: “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.” This phrase — “American First” — is a term loaded with historical meaning, dating back to Charles Lindbergh and the “America First” movement of the 1930s. At first blush it indicates a withdrawal from the world, but that movement is also strongly associated with anti-Semitism, racism and the white nationalism that is espoused by some of Trump’s closest advisers.

The new president’s inaugural speech was encased in other nationalistic slogans, most prominently “Make America Great Again,” harkening back, at least rhetorically, to what many minorities, women and marginalized people remember as days stained by segregation, hate and discrimination on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation.

I started my life in segregated schools in North Carolina and have seen up close the country’s failure to protect an array of minorities and to implement the promises of the 14th Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Racial injustice continues to be a heavy burden on this country, as the events of Ferguson and elsewhere have shown. Much needs to be done to address the still-open sore of mass incarceration of African-Americans, police violence and a litany of other abuses of police power, as so well-articulated by the Black Lives Matter movement and other activists. Trump has no answer to this problem; instead, he demonizes minorities and callously rejects their legitimate demands.

Trump is on a road to undermine the progress that has been achieved. His appointment to the Supreme Court will certainly aim to undercut the steps that the court has taken over the past 60 years to, haltingly, make the Bill of Rights not simply a promise but gradually more of a reality. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the promissory note of the Bill of Rights has gradually been paid down, but in Trump’s vision this will stop now: One must have “total allegiance to the United States of America,” presumably as he interprets it. The whiff of McCarthyism is in the air for those of us who do not define ourselves as allegiant to Trump’s vision of America.

The inaugural speech and Trump’s first actions also send powerful messages regarding the struggle for human rights across the planet. The consequences of his dark vision will be dire. The record of the United States is patchy at best in terms of promoting human rights abroad, but it has played an important role in a number of areas, commencing with Eleanor Roosevelt’s work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While its record in Latin America and the Middle East has been particularly deplorable, this country has supported civil society groups in a number of countries and other international initiatives that have promoted accountability for human rights violations. It has worked with other countries and the United Nations to advance the normative agenda that has enshrined human rights in international law and broadly supported the human rights movement in areas such as individual liberties and women’s rights. Mr. Trump will end these efforts in an obvious return to the old adage: “Governments can boil their own people in oil for all we care, as long as they support us.”

This abdication of American support for human rights will not only undermine those countries that respect human rights but will also embolden those who seek to undermine the United Nations and other institutions that have advocated for and protected those rights. The emerging Trump-Putin partnership will mean that victims of human rights abuses around the world will have nowhere to turn to, as avenues to redress, accountability and acknowledgement of the violations close down.

The question is, what can we do? What is our responsibility as human rights defenders, but also as citizens of the United States and the world at large?

I was in New York City on Saturday, participating in the Women’s March, and was heartened by the tremendous crowd and the energy to resist Trump’s dystopian agenda. This is an encouraging sign, which indicates that vast segments of American society do not support Trump’s agenda. But the concern has to be expressed that these marches may be like “Occupy Wall Street,” a burst of energy but with little organization to follow up. We will need to think harder and deeper about how to resist an agenda that would erode the gains that have been achieved.

While there is not a single “silver bullet” to take on what we will face ahead, we need to move past “conversations” and start organizing. It is hard to imagine — in this diverse and app-based world of today — that a single organization can take the lead in such a movement, like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (with lots of allies and competition, of course) did for the Civil Rights Movement. However, it is clear that a coalition of forces must emerge in American civil society to provide the backbone of resistance to the Trump agenda.

We cannot afford atomization along the lines of our specific causes, be they accountability for human rights violations, racial injustice, inequality, LGBTI rights, indigenous rights or other human rights causes we support. If we are to have a chance to stop Trump’s destructive agenda, we must unite and act as a movement as strongly against the Dakota Access Pipeline as against a registry for Muslims or systemic police violence against African-Americans. Our goals in protecting human rights in the United States must be as clearly defined as our actions must be coordinated.

There also must be a revitalization of the Democratic party, which should take a page or two from the Republican playbook and be a genuine party of opposition and (when needed) of obstruction. Building on the energy of a progressive agenda, as illustrated by Bernie Sanders’ campaign, needs to replace the Clinton approach of the 1990s that is responsible, in part, for the disaster of last November.

The time for action and resistance is now. I and the organization that I lead, the International Center for Transitional Justice, have over the years had a great deal of experience in addressing the abuses of regimes across the world that disregard human rights and commit abuses. Once rights and the institutions built to protect them are pushed to the side and the strong man reigns, the path to violations becomes real and the difficulties of re-establishing the rule of law become very steep indeed. The warning signs here in the United States are now laid bare. They should be a call to action for us all.

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Syria Deeply: Weekly Update: Renewed Cease-Fire Agreement Amid Rebel Fighting

January 27, 2017

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:Delegates from the Syrian government and the opposition met in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Monday for peace talks organized by Russia and Turkey. After less than two days of negotiations, Russia, Turkey and Iran announced that they had reached an agreement to enforce the nationwide cease-fire in Syria that has somewhat been in place since the fall of eastern Aleppo last month.The statement given on the Astana agreement gave little indication of how the cease-fire would be maintained and monitored. It called on opposition groups to distance themselves from the so-called Islamic State and the former al-Qaida affiliate, but did not specify what measures would be taken to ensure this.Following the Astana talks, Russia said it presented the opposition with a new draft of the Syrian constitution, which rebel groups later said they rejected. The talks were expected to be a precursor to United Nations-backed negotiations in Geneva early next month for a political settlement. However, on Friday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Geneva talks would be postponed.As the rebel delegation engaged in negotiations this week, armed opposition groups on the ground clashed with the former al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS). On Wednesday, JFS accused rebels – some of whom were attending peace talks in Astana – of conspiring against it and attacked their positions in the western Aleppo countryside and in Idlib. After the initial attack, five rebel factions in northern Syria joined forces with major faction Ahrar al-Sham to fight against JFS.

After Astana, Many Obstacles Remain to Maintain the Cease-Fire in Syria

Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to enforce a nationwide truce in Syria, in the hopes of paving the way for a future political solution to the crisis, but both the Syrian government and opposition have their doubts about the truce.

Chief opposition negotiator Mohammed Alloush (center) of the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel group attends the first session of Syria peace talks at Astana’s Rixos President Hotel on Jan. 23, 2017. AFP/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

The Flawed Aftermath of a Damascus Suburb Truce

In the Damascus suburbs, local truces are becoming more common and usually follow long periods of siege and fighting. Though the truce rarely restores normalcy, residents are forced to accept the situation to avoid renewed fighting.

A picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on January 25, 2014, shows Syrians who had fled their homes due to fighting returning to their houses in the Barzeh neighbourhood of the capital Damascus. AFP/HO/SANA

Analysis: Why Jabhat Fatah al-Sham Is Lashing Out at Syrian Rebels

The former al-Qaida affiliate in Syria said it has struck out at a “conspiracy” to undermine the group, but analysts say infighting among factions will further undermine Syrian opposition, writes Middle East reporter Alex MacDonald.

Rebel fighters from Jaish al-Fatah sit in the back of a truck as they take part in a major assault on Syrian government forces west of Aleppo city on October 28, 2016. AFP/Omar haj kadour
Top image: A Syrian boy runs while carrying bread following a reported airstrike by government forces in the Syrian town of Binnish, on the outskirts of Idlib, on January 12, 2017. AFP/Omar haj kadour

United Nations News Centre: Syria: UN chief Guterres clarifies tasks of panel laying groundwork for possible war crimes probe

A damaged building in Aleppo City, Syria. Photo: OCHA/Gemma Connell (file)

26 January 2017 – Following the approval late last year of an independent panel to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria, the United Nations today announced that the mechanism will be headed by a senior judge or prosecutor with extensive criminal investigations and prosecutions experience.

According to a note from a UN spokesperson, the mechanism will be established in phases until it is fully functioning and the Secretary-General will announce the person leading it by the end of February.

The head of the mechanism, which is formally called the ‘International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011,’ will be assisted by a deputy and a secretariat.

The two primary tasks assigned to the mechanism include:

  • Collecting, consolidating, preserving and analyzing evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses; and
  • Preparing files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes, in accordance with international law.

In discharging its responsibilities, the mechanism will closely cooperate and coordinate with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria (Syria CoI) and the two panels will be complementary to each other.

“However, there is a clear distinction between the Syria CoI and the mechanism in terms of functions. The Syria CoI focuses on information collection, publicly reporting and making recommendations notably to Member States,” explained the spokesperson.

The mechanism will build on the information collected by others, by collecting, consolidating, preserving and analysing evidence and information. It will also prepare files to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes under international law.

The resolution approving the mechanism was adopted by the General Assembly – the universal body comprising all 193 UN Members States – on 21 December by a recorded vote of 105 in favour and 15 against, with 52 abstentions.

See also: Syria: UN approves mechanism to lay groundwork for investigations into possible war crimes

Trump Expected to Sign Refugee Ban Executive Order

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe


WASHINGTON D.C., United States — Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order (EO) which would restrict immigration from several countries in the Middle East and Africa, five of which are countries that the U.S. bombed under the Obama administration.  The EO would also deny visas from applicants from countries the Trump administration deems high-risk.

A newly-built section of the border wall between the US and Mexico (Photo Courtesy of RT)
A newly-built section of the border wall between the US and Mexico (Photo Courtesy of RT)

According to sources within the administration, the EO is suspected to block Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely, suspend all refugee admissions for 120 days while the Trump administration decides which countries are high and low risk, temporarily suspend visa issuances to applicants from countries with security screening that the Trump administration deems inadequate, and cap the total refugee admissions for 2017 at 50,000 (as opposed to the 11,000 recommended by the Obama administration).

Though the list of countries included in the EO is not yet finalized, however some of the countries that are under consideration include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Trump’s proposed EO has been subject to criticism due to its possible implications on U.S. foreign policy.  Stephen Legomsky, previous chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Obama administration, explained that while the president has the legal authority to limit refugee admissions into the U.S., doing so would be a “terrible idea” from a policy standpoint because of the immediate humanitarian need for refugees.

This EO threatens a deal made with Australia in late 2016, in which the U.S. agreed to resettle over 1,000 refugees who are currently residing in Papua New Guinea and South Pacific nation Nauru on Australia’s behalf.  Though Australia will not comment on the nationalities of these refugees, sources working for the refugees told reporters that about one third of the asylum-seekers originate from countries that would be covered by the EO if it is put into place.

This move comes as part of a concerted effort on the part of the Trump administration to reduce the number if illegal immigrants who live in the U.S.  As part of this plan, Trump is also expected to direct the construction of a border wall along the U.S. Mexico border in the near future.


For more information, please see:

International Business Times — Donald Trump Muslim Immigration Ban: US Bombs Most Countries on Restricted Refugee List — 25 January 2017

Reuters — Trump Expected to Order Temporary Ban on Refugees — 25 January 2017

RT — Trump to Order Mexican Border Wall, Ban Refugees from 7 Muslim Countries —  25 January 2017

The Huffington Post — Trump Prepares to Halt Syrian Refugee Admissions, Limit Muslim Entry — 24 January 2017

PILPG: War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 11, Issue 23 – January 23, 2017

Case School of Law Logo


Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 11 – Issue 23
January 23, 2017


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

Amnesty International Warns of Oppressive Anti-Terrorism Laws

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe


The human rights activist group Amnesty International issued a warning that Europe’s counter-terrorism measures are eroding basic human rights, and have been for the past two years.  The report released by Amnesty, titled ‘Dangerously Disproportionate: The Ever-Expanding National Security State in Europe,’ gives a detailed look into the anti-terrorism measures employed by 14 European countries, and explains how those measures impact basic human rights.  The report also warns that a security state is becoming the “new normal” in the 14 countries which were examined.

London's Metropolitan anti-terrorism officers (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)
London’s Metropolitan anti-terrorism officers (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

Amnesty attributes the restrictive measures to the recent string of terrorist attacks in Europe.  John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe director, explained that “Europe’s human rights framework, which was so carefully constructed after the Second World War, is being rapidly dismantled.”  Dominique Curis, Amnesty’s director in France, urged the need to “dismantle the paradigm that says there is the state of emergency or nothing in the fight against terrorism, that security equals restriction of rights equals state of emergency.”

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty’s UK branch, compared the restrictive measures to those of Big Brother from author George Orwell’s book 1984, calling the surveillance state from the book “alive and dangerously well in Europe today.”  Allen explained the understandable need for protection from such attacks, however such measures should not be implemented at the cost of fundamental human rights.

Activist groups such as Amnesty criticize the state of emergency that was enacted after the attacks in Paris, and has since been renewed five times, as “extreme.”  Government officials, however, view this as a necessary security measure in protecting against future attacks.  Manuel Valls, French Prime Minister and presidential hopeful, told reporters that “[t]his terrorist threat will last a generation.  Today we have to live with a kind of permanent state of emergency.”

Amnesty’s report is also at odds with independent reviewer of terrorism legislation David Anderson QC’s report.  Anderson believes that the anti-terrorism legislation is an appropriate and proportionate reaction to the current threat Europe faces.  European Union representatives have voiced their disagreement with the conclusions in Amnesty’s report as well, urging that human rights remain paramount in their eyes.


For more information, please see:

EurActiv — Amnesty: Fight Against Terror is Dismantling Human Rights in Europe — 18 January 2017

DW — European Counter-Terrorism Legislation ‘Dangerously Disproportionate,’ Amnesty Reports — 17 January 2017

The Guardian — UK Counter-Terror Laws Most Orwellian in Europe, Says Amnesty — 17 January 2017

Independent — European Anti-Terror Powers ‘Eroding Human Rights’ — 17 January 2017

INSCT: Teaching About Syria: David M. Crane Presents to NYSCSS

On Jan. 10, 2017, INSCT Faculty Member David M. Crane joined Andrew Beiter, Education Director,, at a webinar presented by the New York State Council for the Social Studies (NYSCSS). NYSCSS is a statewide professional organization of school social studies educators.

During the webinar, Crane and Beiter discussed the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and the current situation on the ground, as well as how teachers can approach this topic with students and how students can take action.

Thanks to NYSCSS, this webinar has been released as a video presentation using Adobe Connect. Click here to watch.

Co-founded by Crane, is a public outreach effort to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, especially aimed at schools. It offers zero-prep, Common Core-friendly lesson plans; educational background articles; ground-truth facts about the civil war; and information on how to take action.


ISIS Using Drones to Drop Grenades on Civilian Targets

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Islamic State (ISIS) has evolved the use of commercial drones to release explosive devices and grenades on civilian targets in districts of Mosul.

ISIS struck a civilian market with modified drones capable of carrying grenades (Photo courtesy of Mirror)


ISIS’s newest effort to modernize technology lies in modifying commercial drones for use as “weapons that terrorize the city of Mosul[.]” Off-the-shelf drones are capable of flying for up to half an hour with a range of several miles, and can easily be afforded by terrorist groups. The improvised drones, which are made up of a “plastic tube attached to a camera drone,” can drop 40 milimeter grenades. This creates a medium through which ISIS can engage in acts of terrorism from afar, thus reducing the risk of death to members of the group.

During the week of January 9th, a U.S. Army commander stated that ISIS was using these improvised weapons as part of their effort to avoid losing control of the “former ISIS stronghold of Mosul.” At the time, ISIS had carried out a strike on a market in Eastern Mosul, where eight people were injured. A young boy, Hussein, stated that he had been shopping with his family when a “small ISIL plane dropped a grenade on [them].” He was later treated for a “broken bone protruding from his foot.”

ISIS has a history of using drones to record footage for propaganda videos and to conduct aerial surveillance. A research fellow at a U.K. military think tank, Mr. Justin Bronk, stated that ISIS is “known for turning things they can get hold of into weapons.”

International fear has developed over the possibility of ISIS leaving behind an “army of brainwashed and dangerous children[.]” Mosul’s youth have been exposed to long-term messages of hate while ISIS has occupied the country’s second largest city. They have further been taught “how to become terrorists and suicide bombers[,]” while learning the “extreme views of Muslim Sharia law[.]”

The Iraqi Commission for Human Rights urged the United Nations (U.N.) to “save a generation of children from religious extremism.” The Commission’s media director, Mr. Jawad al-Shamri, stated that two years ago, ISIS started modifying school syllabi to teach children how to make explosive belts, prepare booby traps and take female hostages.

For more information, please see:

Tech Times—ISIS Weaponizes Everyday Consumer Drones, Turns The UAVs Into Bombers—17 January 2017

Mirror— ISIS use drones to drop grenades on Iraq forces in Battle of Mosul’s desperate last stand—19 January 2017

The Telegraph—Islamic State using drones to drop explosives on civilians and troops advancing on Mosul—14 January 2017

The Washington Times—ISIS strikes Iraq with drone grenades—January 17, 2017


Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Atrocity Alert: The Gambia

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.

The Gambia

An ECOWAS-led military intervention appears imminent in The Gambia. Following the country’s 1 December election, which opposition leader Adama Barrow won, current President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule is scheduled to come to an end at midnight tonight. Yesterday, 17 January, President Jammeh declared a state of emergency, making all demonstrations illegal and curtailing other civil liberties. Jammeh appears willing to use force to prevent the impending inauguration of President-elect Barrow.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has repeatedly called upon President Jammeh to accept his electoral defeat and step down. An ECOWAS mediation mission, including Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and former President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama, met with President Jammeh in The Gambia on 13 January. The following day ECOWAS military leaders also met in Abuja, Nigeria. ECOWAS has a long established policy of opposing coups and unconstitutional changes of government in West Africa.

Following numerous failed mediation attempts, ECOWAS troops are now stationed on the Senegalese border, while a Nigerian warship is currently off the coast of The Gambia. The UN Security Council is also considering a resolution on the situation in The Gambia.

President Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since a military coup in 1994 and has a history of inciting ethnic division. In June 2016 President Jammeh threatened to eliminate the entire Mandinka ethnic group, whom he does not consider to be authentic Gambians. UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, condemned President Jammeh’s “public stigmatization, dehumanization and threats against the Mandinka,” arguing that they constituted possible incitement to commit mass atrocities. President Jammeh has also previously threatened to “slit the throats” of all gay men in The Gambia and some of his supporters have recently blamed political instability in the country on gays and their alleged foreign supporters. In his attempt to hold onto power, President Jammeh may try to foment these divisions and systematically target civilians whom he considers a threat to his rule.

Due to fears regarding current political instability, at least 26,000 people have fled The Gambia into Senegal as of 16 January, according to the regional office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

If President Jammeh does not stand down by midnight tonight, the UN Security Council and ECOWAS should work together to secure a peaceful transition in The Gambia and prevent any further incitement to violence on the basis of ethnicity, sexual orientation, or presumed political allegiance. If ECOWAS intervenes, all measures need to be taken to ensure the protection of civilians and respect for human rights.