The Day After: Local Truces and Forced Demographic Change in Syria

Local Truces and Forced Demographic Change in Syria 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        

February 2, 2017

Contact:  Razan Saffour

Email:     rsaffour@tda-sy.org

Phone:    +90 (552) 216 35 82

 تجدون أدناه البيان في اللغة العربية 

TDA released the first-ever survey of Syrians’ views on local truces – offering lessons for how future truces can avoid past mistakes.

“As world powers fill the airways with opinions about what is best for Syria, we thought it important to find out what Syrians themselves think,” said TDA Executive Director Mutasem Alsyoufi. “In our new survey, Syrians from the regions where local truces have been attempted thus far identify significant flaws with these agreements that any nationwide peace proposal will have to avoid in order to succeed.”

TDA surveyed 1,261 Syrians March 1 – April 19, 2016, to solicit their views on local truces between the regime and residents. Of those surveyed, 1,031 were located in areas where truces have been agreed in Rif Damascus (Barzeh, al-Qaboun, Babibla, Yalda, Bait Sahem, al-Tal and Madaya) and in Homs (al-Wa’er).  Two hundred and two respondents were former residents of these areas, but forced to leave due to truce terms, and are now residing in the northern suburbs of Homs or Hama.

Among the most important findings of the survey is that most Syrians view the local truces as savage war tactics which force civilians to succumb in the face of starvation and siege, as opposed to viewing them as sustainable peace efforts. “Given the one-sided nature of these truces, respondents do not believe they will lead to real peace – offering a cautionary tale to policymakers seeking to craft a nationwide agreement,” Alsyoufi said. Further findings from the survey support this view in alluding to the regime’s main objective of establishing a ‘useful Syria’, whilst pushing all armed and non-armed opponents to the northern countryside in which they remain exposed to the attacks by both regime and ISIS.

Read the full report here.

الهدن المحلية والتغيير الديمغرافي القسري في سوريا

 

 نشرت منظمة اليوم التالي دراسة هي الأولى من نوعها، حول آراء السوريين بالهدن المحلية، تقدم صورة موسعة وتوصيات حول كيفية تجنب الهدن المستقبلية لأخطاء الهدن السابقة.

 

“في الوقت الذي ينشغل الرأي العام بطروحات القوى الدولية حول ما تراه مناسباً لمستقبل سوريا، وجدنا أنه من المهم استكشاف آراء السوريين بمصيرهم ومستقبلهم” كما يقول المدير التنفيذي لمنظمة اليوم التالي معتصم السيوفي، “بحسب نتائج هذه الدراسة، أشار غالبية المستطلعين من أبناء المناطق التي طبقت فيها تجارب الهدن المحلية إلى عيوب خطيرة شابت تلك الاتفاقات، وإننا نعتقد أن هذه العيوب ستعرقل وتفشل أي اتفاق سلام وطني شامل في حال لم تعالج ويتم تلافيها مستقبلاً”.

 

شملت دراسة اليوم التالي 1261 سوريا تمت مقابلتهم، بتاريخ الأول من آذار وحتى 19 نيسان 2016، لاستطلاع آرائهم حول الهدن المحلية بين النظام والسكان، توزعوا على عينتين رئيسيتين اثنتين، الأولى (1031 شخص) تم استبيان آرائهم في مناطق الهدن في دمشق (برزة – القابون – ببيلا – يلدا – بيت سحم – التل – مضايا)، وفي حمص (حي الوعر)، فيما تضمنت العينة الثانية (202 شخص) من المبعدين عن مدنهم وبلداتهم إثر اتفاق هدنة (المقاتلين – أفراد عائلة مقاتل –مدنيين)، تم إجراء المقابلات معهم في مكان إقامتهم الحالي في ريف حمص الشمالي (بعد تهجيرهم من مناطق أخرى منها حمص وحماة).

 

من بين أهم نتائج الدراسة، أن معظم السوريين ينظرون إلى الهدن المحلية على أنها تكتيكات حرب وحشية تجبر المدنيين على الاستسلام في مواجهة الجوع والحصار، بدلا من النظر إليها على أنها جهود مستدامة للسلام!، “نظرا للطبيعة أحادية الجانب لهذه الهدن، لا يعتقد المشاركون في الدراسة أن تلك الهدن ستؤدي لسلام حقيقي” يضيف السيوفي، كما أن نتائج أخرى من الدراسة تدعم هذا الرأي في إشارة إلى الهدف الرئيسي للنظام من إنشاء (سوريا المفيدة)، في حين يتم الدفع بكل المعارضة المسلحة وغير المسلحة إلى شمال سوريا في ريف إدلب، حيث سيبقون عرضة لهجمات النظام السوري وداعش.

 

The Day After (TDA) is a Syrian civil society organisation working towards democratic transition in Syria, and focuses on work in the following sectors: rule of law, transitional justice, security sector reform, constitutional design, electoral system design, and post-conflict social and economic reconstruction.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: R2P in Focus: R2P and the new UN Secretary-General

R2P in Focus

R2P in Focus is a monthly publication from the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect designed to highlight recent events and political developments concerning the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

R2P and the New UN Secretary-General

UN Photo Mark Garten

On 1 January 2017 H.E. Mr. Antonió Guterres assumed his position as the 9th United Nations Secretary-General. During his first formal remarks to the UN Security Council on 10 January, the Secretary-General described plans to reform the UN system and focus on fostering greater cooperation. He also argued that “preventive action is essential to avert mass atrocities or grave abuses of human rights. International cooperation for prevention, and particularly translating early warning into early action, depends on trust between member states, and in their relations with the United Nations.”

Prevention lies at the core of the Responsibility to Protect. Integrating the UN’sFramework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes, which provides a comprehensive set of risk indicators, into the day-to-day operations of the UN is an essential step towards making conflict prevention and mass atrocity prevention a strategic priority.

In his “Notes for the Next Secretary-General,” Global Centre Executive Director Simon Adams proposes actions that the UN can undertake to help prevent and halt atrocity crimes.

The Responsibility to Protect and The Gulf Cooperation Council’s Response to Mass Atrocities

On 23 and 24 January the Global Centre co-hosted a workshop with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar on the “Responsibility to Protect and the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Response to Mass Atrocities.” The conference was the first of its kind to take place in the Middle East. Participants included representatives from various Gulf Cooperation Council governments. During the meeting participants discussed the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as the need for better mechanisms for accountability, humanitarian assistance and prevention of mass atrocities.

Any Other Business

  • Statement on United States President Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” of Refugees. On 28 January the Global Centre released a statement on US President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees fleeing atrocities in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. In the statement the Global Centre called for the ban to be repudiated and rescinded.
  • Atrocity Alert No. 39: The Gambia. On 18 January the Global Centre released an Atrocity Alert focused on the crisis caused by President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to hand over power in The Gambia. The heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met with President Jammeh multiple times in an attempt to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to president-elect Adama Barrow. On 19 January ECOWAS forces entered The Gambia to secure a democratic transition and on 21 January President Jammeh agreed to leave the country.
  • Aleppo Has Fallen. Will the UN Be Next? In this piece for the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory, Simon Adams explores how new UN Secretary-General Guterres can revitalize the UN after the failure to protect civilians in Aleppo.

ICTJ: World Report January 2017 – Transitional Justice News and Analysis

ICTJ ICTJ World Report
January 2017

In Focus

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Prosecuting the Plundering of Natural Resources in Eastern DRC to Stem Violence Prosecuting the Plundering of Natural Resources in Eastern DRC to Stem ViolencePotential political interference, poor evidence gathering and difficulty accessing remote areas are some of the main challenges to prosecuting economic and environmental crimes related to armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Overcoming these challenges was the focus of a two-day workshop for judges and prosecutors in Goma and Bukavu, organized by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), in collaboration with the United States Institute for Peace.

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World Report

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AFRICAIn Uganda, the trial of Dominic Ongwen, ex-child soldier and commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, continued as the prosecution presented its case. In Cote d’Ivoire, soldiers staged a two-day mutiny that came to an end earlier this month, but turmoil reportedly persists In The Democratic Republic of Congo, a deal struck last month requiring President Joseph Kabila to step down after elections this year risks unraveling if politicians do not quickly reach compromises on implementing the accord, according to Catholic bishops mediating the talks. The United Nations reports that it recorded a significant increase in the number of human rights violations committed over the past year, and that state security forces were the main perpetrators. In Kenya, an audit of the criminal justice system released by Chief Justice David Maraga, shows a high number of poor people are being jailed compared to the rich. The report further faults the police for carrying out shoddy investigations, saying some of the cases leading to jail terms should not have ended up in courts. In The Gambia, new president, Adama Barrow, returned to his country afternoon, after former president Yahya Jammeh entered exile after his refusal to accept election results. Barrow pledged to launch a “truth and reconciliation commission” to investigate possible crimes committed by the outgoing leader of 22 years. A human rights abuses complaint against WWF, the world’s largest conservation organization, based on activities in Cameroon is to be examined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) in an unprecedented step.

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AMERICASIn Colombia, the government continues negotiations with the largest remaining rebel group, the ELN. The surrender of child soldiers of the FARC guerrilla group will begin on February 1, Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace announced. U.S. federal agents have arrested a Guatemalan immigrant suspected of involvement in the massacre of about 250 villagers in 1982 during Guatemala’s civil war. In the United States, President Donald Trump used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.” In Chile, Undersecretary of Human Rights Lorena Fries said that torture remains a problem in Chile, along with a lack of transparency that prevents justice for the victims of crimes committed under General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. In El Salvador, victims demanded justice on the 25th anniversary of the country’s peace accords. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a former guerrilla leader during the civil war, announced a plan for 2017 to launch a “second generation of the accords” and called on Salvadorans to continue to “cultivate and defend” peace with hopes of moving the country forward from a bloody past.

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ASIAIn Nepal, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s term seeks extension of its tenure by one year, saying that additional time is needed to complete the given assignments.. A United Nations human rights envoy is visiting Myanmar amid growing international concern over allegations against the military, including reports of rights abuses in western Rakhine State. In The Philippines, the country dropped six notches in the 2016 Corruption Index country ranking published recently by Transparency International, as president Duterte continues his drug war. Thailand is considering legislation aimed at criminalizing torture and other human rights abuses.

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EUROPEIn Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radovan Karadzic’s ex-advisor Jovan Tintor went on trial for charges of unlawful detention, torture, beating, making people do forced labour and murdering Bosniak and Croat victims at several locations including detention camps. Four former police officers were also charged with war crimes. They are allegedly responsible for the murders of eight Yugoslav People’s Army soldiers who were captured after their military vehicle broke down in Sarajevo in April 1992.

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MENAIn Tunisia, public hearings of the Truth and Dignity Commission continued, with victims testifying to the events of the 2011 revolution and labor struggles against the regime’s abuses. In Syria, the United Nations warned that sabotaging water supplies is a war crime as more than five million people continued to face shortages following an attack on the capital’s supplies. In Egypt President Abdel-Fattahal-Sisi will pick a chairman and members of a new media council under a law passed on Monday, giving the body the power to fine or suspend publications and broadcasters and give or revoke licences for foreign media. Human rights organisations and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have repeatedly criticised media freedoms in Egypt, which jailed the second most journalists of any country in the world in 2015, according to the CPJ. In Bahrain prosecutors extended by two weeks the detention of Shiite opposition leader and leading activist Nabil Rajab over spreading “false information” about the Sunni-ruled kingdom, his lawyer said. About 100 migrant passengers are feared drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after their boat sank off the coast of Libya. It is unclear what the nationalities of the migrants involved are.

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Publications

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The Case for Action on Transitional Justice and Displacement

As the refugee crisis deepens, does action on transitional justice issues have to wait for peace? A new paper explores what sort of consultation and documentation work can be done now, while conflict is ongoing, to shape outcomes moving forward.

From Rejection to Redress: Overcoming Legacies of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Northern Uganda

Women and girls in Northern Uganda were victims of various forms of sexual violence, crimes whose consequences endure today.

Muslim Lawyer Shot Dead in Myanmar

By: Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Asia

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar- A prominent human rights lawyer was fatally shot outside Yangon International Airport on January 29. U Ko Ni was holding his grandson when he was shot in the head at close range. Mr. Ko Ni served as a legal adviser to Myanmar’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Ko Ni, a Muslim attorney and a member of the National League for Democracy, was returning home from a government-organized trip to Indonesia, where he attended a panel to discuss democracy and conflict resolution strategies.

Outside Yangon International Airport, where U Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim attorney and legal adviser was fatally shot on January 29, 2017. Photo Courtesy of: European Pressphoto Agency
Outside Yangon International Airport, where U Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim attorney and legal adviser was fatally shot on January 29, 2017. Photo Courtesy of: European Pressphoto Agency

UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee, a human rights expert, has strongly condemned the murder of Mr. Ko Ni. A suspect has been taken into custody but a motive has yet to be determined.

Mr. Ko Ni was known for speaking out against the Nationality Law, which stripped the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group, of citizenship.  Tensions have risen between the Myanmar government and Rohingya in recent months. In October 2016, members of a Rohingya insurgent group attacked border control officers, killing nine. The attack led to a drawn out offensive by Myanmar’s government to demilitarize the Rohingya insurgency, an effort which persists today.

Recent concerns arose out of reports claiming that soldiers are engaging in human rights offenses. Human rights groups have received reports of killings of unarmed men, burnings of civilian homes, and even accounts of rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar soldiers. The Myanmar government has denied allegations that its military is committing violent acts against civilians. The government has denied journalists and human rights investigators access to its villages. An estimated 65,000 Rohingya people have fled into Bangladesh, where refugee camps have been established.

Despite the government’s statements, a video surfaced on January 3, 2017, that appears to show Myanmar border police beating unarmed men. Though four officers have been detained by the government, Myanmar’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has faced much criticism for a failure to respond more vehemently to these incidents and allegations.

For more information, please see:

NY Times – U Ko Ni, a Prominent Muslim Lawyer in Myanmar, Is Fatally Shot – 29 January, 2017

BBC – Myanmar: Leading lawyer Ko Ni assassinated at Yangon airport – 30 January, 2017

JURIST – UN rights expert condemns murder of Muslim lawyer in Myanmar – 30 January, 2017

UN – Note to Correspondents: Statement by Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary- General on Myanmar – 8 December 2016

HRW – Burma: Rohingya Recount Killings, Rape, and Arson – 21 December, 2016

NY Times – ‘There Are No Homes Left’: Rohingya Tell of Rape, Fire, and Death in Myanmar – 10 January, 2017

NY Times – Myanmar Holds Officers After Video Purports to Show Police Beating Rohingya – 3 January, 2017

Children in Prison Allege Being Tortured by Kurdish Security Forces

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Seventeen children imprisoned by the Kurdistan Regional Government (“KRG”) stated that they were tortured or abused by government security forces while in detention. Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) reported that the children were detained due to suspicion of involvement with the Islamic State (“ISIS”).

Children allege being burned with cigarettes and electrocuted during interrogations (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

 

HRW stated that it had privately interviewed nineteen boys, ranging in age from eleven to seventeen, who were being held on suspicions of terrorism. The interview took place at the Women and Children’s Reformatory without the presence of a security or intelligence official. The rights group reported that the children were “held in stress positions, burned with cigarettes, punched and kicked, beaten with plastic pipes and cables, and shocked with electricity” by the KRG. A young boy stated that he “felt that my eyes were popping out” while being interrogated with an “electricity machine” after being drenched in water. Another child indicated that he could not breathe after his face was covered up with a towel and tied with tape. He was subsequently beat for over eight hours while being told to confess. The officer then pulled down the young boy’s pants and “threatened to rape him if he did not confess an ISIS affiliation.” Furthermore, five children also reportedly had marks from cigarette burns or electric shocks administered during interrogation.

Most children stated that they denied any involvement with ISIS. Others, however, admitted that they were associated with the group because of “family connections, desire to earn money or pressure from recruiters.” A deputy director at HRW, Ms. Lama Faikh, indicated that security forces are not granted permission to “beat, manhandle or use electric shocks on children” on the basis of “legitimate security concerns.” While characterizing children escaping from ISIS as “victims,” she stated that many are faced with further abuse from Kurdish security forces. Ms. Faikh strongly urged the KRG to “thoroughly investigate” the allegations of child abuse in prisons, and prosecute those who may be responsible.

The seventeen children are among at least 183 other boys under the age of eighteen who have been imprisoned by KRG based on alleged ISIS involvement. Most, if not all, are being held without charge, and were not permitted access to an attorney during interrogation. The report further indicates that government officials have not informed the children’s families of their whereabouts, and most children have not been permitted to contact their families since being detained.

In response to the HRW report, the KRG denied the allegations of torture by Kurdish security forces. The Head of the KRG High Committee to Evaluate and Respond to International Reports, Dr. Dindar Zebari, stated that KRG authorities are “strongly prohibit[ed]” from using physical and psychological torture on prisoners. He stated that detainees’ rights are protected through established policies, legislations and practices against torture.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian—Children held in Iraq over suspected Isis links ‘say they were tortured’—29 January 2017

Human Rights Watch—Children Allege Torture by Security Forces—29 January 2017

RT—Kurdish militia tortured children to extract ISIS confessions – HRW—29 January 2017

International Business Times—Beaten, electrocuted and abused: Kurds accused of torturing Isis child soldier suspects—29 January 2017

ARA News—Iraqi Kurds deny torturing ISIS child soldiers—30 January 2017

 

Italy Dedicates 200 Million Euros to African Migrant Fund

By Sarah Lafen

Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe

 

ROME, Italy — On Wednesday, Italy pledged 200 million euros ($215 million) to several African countries to aid in their efforts of better controlling their borders. The goal of the fund is to reduce the number of migrants who leave these countries and risk their lives traveling to Europe by preventing them from leaving their home countries. The fund also hopes to deter human traffickers and smugglers who control the migration routes from Africa to Europe.

Migrants disembark from an Italian coast guard vessel in the Sicilian harbor (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)
Migrants disembark from an Italian coast guard vessel in the Sicilian harbor (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

The fund, known as the Africa Fund, will aid in the “fight against human trafficking and illegal migration” according to Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano. The money will help train each nations’ security forces that control the borders, as well as pay for equipment to better monitor their borders. The funding will also be allocated partially towards Libya’s coastguard, as well as United Nations refugee and migrant agencies that can use the money to improve the living conditions of migrants in those countries.
At a press conference, Alfano further explained the fund’s goal of focusing efforts on the African countries migrants leave from, saying that Italy does not “build walls in the Mediterranean – we can’t and don’t want to do that.” Instead, Alfano emphasized the need to “strengthen the bond between solidarity and security.”
Some European leaders have suggested the possibility of financing camps in different locations on the southern shores of the Mediterranean to house potential refugees, however Alfano’s goal with the Africa Fund is to prevent exactly this. According to him, there have not been talks of setting up camps in Tunisia or Libya yet due to the lack of security in those nations. Italy is “trying to work so that there will be no need for camps.”

The majority of the funding will be given to Niger, Libya, and Tunisia, which are three major departure points for African migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italy. Other African countries can also request money to improve their border control.

Last week, the EU’s executive European Commission proposed making another 200 million euros available for other African countries to prevent migrants from leaving their home countries to journey across the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of reaching Europe.

 

For more information, please see:

Daily Nation — Italy Pledges 200 Million Euros to African Countries to Address Immigration — 1 February 2017

Euractiv — Italy Sets up Fund to Help African Countries Stop Migrants — 1 February 2017

European Online Magazine — Italy Unveils 200-Million-Euro Africa Fund to Curb Migration — 1 February 2017

 Reuters — Italy Sets up Fund to Help African Countries Stop Migrants — 1 February 2017

Landmark Case for Transgender Man Gives LGBT Activists Hope

By: Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China- The LGBT communities of China and Taiwan have been gaining increased attention over the past few years. Rights activists are applauding some small, yet encouraging victories, in an ongoing effort to legalize gay marriage and gain equal rights.

Activists march at a pride event in China. Photo courtesy of: CNN News
Activists march at a pride event in China. Photo courtesy of: CNN News

In December 2016, a Taiwanese legislative committee approved draft changes on a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. The proposed amendments to Taiwan’s civil code have been sent to party caucuses for negotiation and further review. Once this process is complete, a final version of the legislation will be voted on. Though the measure has yet to be passed, it is a major step towards gaining equal rights and protections for Taiwan’s LGBT community.

China has received similar attention for a December 2016 landmark ruling in a discriminatory dismissal case. A Chinese court held in favor of Mr. Chen, a transgender man who claims he was illegally dismissed from his position at a Chinese medical clinic after only one week on the job. Though the court ruled in favor of Mr. Chen, finding his dismissal illegal and awarding him a month’s wages, it was not willing to declare that Mr. Chen’s dismissal was due to discrimination against transgender individuals.

Nonetheless, advocates are thrilled that a Chinese court agreed to hear the case. Gay marriage is illegal in China, and homosexuality was long considered a mental illness. It was only in 2014 that Chinese courts ruled against therapy to “correct” homosexuality.

Though LGBT rights are still absent in both Taiwan and China, many are hopeful that change is on the way. Mr. Chen’s case has given activists hope that a legal remedy may be possible in the future.

For more information, please see:

New York Times – On Taking Gay Rights From Taipei to Beijing: Don’t Call It a ‘Movement’ – 18 January, 2017

BBC – China: Limited victory for man in transgender dismissal case – 3 January, 2017

BNA – China: Despite Landmark Ruling, LGBT Rights Lacking in China’s Workplaces – 19 January, 2017

The Guardian – Chinese transgender man wins landmark wrongful dismissal case – 3 January, 2017

 

 

Kuwait’s First Executions in Four Years Draw International Criticism

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — On January 25th, Kuwait carried out executions, by hanging, of seven people. These executions were the first time in four years that the state had carried out a death penalty.

Seven people were executed in Kuwait for the first time since 2013 (Photo courtesy of Middle East Eye)

The executions, which were authorized by the country’s ruler, were carried out in the central prison. Among the seven executed prisoners were citizens of Bangladesh, Philippines, Ethiopia, Kuwait and Egypt. They included a member of the royal family as well as a woman who had been convicted of killing 58 women and children after setting fire to a wedding tent. Six of the deceased had been convicted of murder. The seventh prisoner, a Bangladeshi citizen, had been convicted of rape, theft and kidnapping.

Amnesty International, which opposes the death penalty, immediately responded to the executions with criticism, condemning them as “shocking and deeply regrettable.” Ms. Samah Hadid, an Amnesty International official, stated that Kuwait had “displayed a wanton disregard for the right to life” by reinstating the death penalty. She further noted that the executions “signaled a willingness to weaken human rights standards.”

The executions further garnered criticism from Human Rights Watch. Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson, the organization’s Middle East director, noted that the executions “reflect[] a growing trend in the region to increase the use of, or lift moratorium on, the death penalty.” By executing three people in early January, Bahrain had ended its six-year freeze on use of the death penalty. Similarly, in December 2014, Jordan had carried out its first death penalty in eight years by executing eleven people. Ms. Whitson urged the Kuwaiti government to “reinstat[e] the moratorium on the death penalty” rather than executing prisoners.

In response to international criticism, Kuwait issued a statement in which it “insist[ed] that all legal avenues had been exhausted.” In rejecting international disdain, the Gulf state indicated that the seven prisoners’ executions had been carried out in accordance with the country’s Penal Code. Mr. Ghanim Al Ghanim, Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, stated that the prisoners had been convicted of premeditated murder, and their death sentences had been based on “indisputable evidence [that] the[y] committed the crimes as charged.” He assured that all prisoners had been given fair trials in which all due process guarantees provided by Kuwaiti law had been met.

For more information, please see:

Washington Post—Kuwait hangs 7 prisoners, including royal, in mass execution—25 January 2017

Middle East Eye—Kuwait executions part of worrying trend: Rights group—26 January 2017

Human Rights Watch—Kuwait: First Executions in 4 Year—26 January 2017

Newsweek—Kuwait’s Execution of Prince and Six Others Part of ‘Alarming Trend’ in Middle East—26 January 2017

Gulf News—Kuwait rejects criticism of execution of seven convicts—28 January 2017

Bahrain News Agency—Kuwaiti ministry: Executions based on Penal Code—27 January 2017

FARC ‘Abortion Nurse’ Will Face trial in Colombia

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA—Former Farc member, Hector Arboledo Albeidis Buitrago, a Spanish national, is accused of carrying out three-hundred forced abortions on female FARC fighters. Buitrago was arrested in Madrid Spain in 2015. Spanish officials have agreed to extradite Buitrago to face trial in Colombia at the request of the Colombian Justice Ministers.

FARC gueriila fighters were forced to have abortions from 1998-2000. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)
FARC gueriila fighters were forced to have abortions from 1998-2000. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

Buitrago had been working as a nurse in Colombia where, with no medical training, he performed illegal abortions on women fighters, including an estimated fifty juvenile girls. A majority of the pregnancies were the result of rape by other FARC fighters. The abortions occurred between 1998 and 2000. His arrest came after a formal investigation related to 150 cases of forced abortions. Colombian prosecutors claim that Buitrago took part in most of the abortions. Lead prosecutor, attorney general Eduardo Montealegre, stated that “there was evidence that FARC fighters used forced abortions to avoid losing female fighters ‘as an instrument of war.’” FARC has denied these accusations. In Colombia, Buitrago was known as ‘The Nurse.’ Buitrago is facing charges of murder, attempted murder, abortion without consent.

According to the women forced to have these abortions, they were “carried out in filthy conditions, with no medication, on women who were often in their final months of pregnancy.” Another woman stated that “she had been forced to have five abortions [because] women in that organization were expected to fight, and those who were allowed to have babies considered themselves lucky.” Prosecutors believe these women should have been protected and relieved from fighting during their pregnancies.

A date of extradition has not been revealed.

For more information, please see:

BBC—Colombia: Spain Agrees to Extradite Farc ‘Abortions Nurse’—28 January 2017.

International Business Times—Spain Agrees to Extradite Former Farc ‘Abortions Nurse’ to Colombia—28 January 2017.

The Guardian—Spain Arrests Man Known as ‘The Nurse’ for Forced Abortions on Colombia Rebels—13 December 2015.