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 warcrimeswatch@pilpg.org and type “subscribe” in the subject line.

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



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, iamsyria.org, 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, iamsyria.org 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.