War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 13, Issue 5 – April 16, 2018


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 13 – Issue 5
April 16, 2018

Editor-in-Chief
Taylor Frank

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Ashley Mulryan

Managing Editors
Sarah Lucey
Lynsey Rosales

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.

Contents

AFRICA

CENTRAL AFRICA

Central African Republic

Sudan & South Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Burundi

WEST AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

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

Mali

EAST AFRICA

Uganda

Kenya

Rwanda (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)

Somalia

NORTH AFRICA

Libya

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Iraq

Syria

Afghanistan

Yemen

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

AMERICAS

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

WORTH READING


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Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Statement issued by Syrian organizations in support of the work of the IIIM

SJAC Update | April 18, 2018
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Statement issued by Syrian organizations in support of the work of the IIIM

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

 We, the signatories to this letter, are Syrian organizations working on human rights documentation, accountability, and transitional justice in Syria. Reaffirming our commitment to the demands of justice and accountability, standing in solidarity with all victims in Syria and recognizing their demands for justice and redress, we would like to make the following statement to the General Assembly of the United Nations and to the Secretary-General in support of the mandate of the IIIM. We wish to refer to the following points:

  1. Support the work of the IIIM and cooperate with its team:

In its resolution establishing the IIIM (A/71/L.48) in December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly called upon various bodies, including Syrian civil society, to cooperate fully with the IIIM, in particular to provide the IIIM with any information or documents these bodies may possess, as well as any other forms of assistance relevant to the IIIM mandate.

Over the past year and a half, Syrian civil society has worked diligently to support the IIIM’s work. Civil society has introduced the Syrian people to the mechanism, leading to a greater understanding of the IIIM’s mandate. This process included holding three consultative meetings with the mechanism’s team in Lausanne, Switzerland, recently culminating in the signing of a protocol of cooperation between the IIIM and Syrian civil society organizations. This protocol aims at ensuring mutual understanding between the parties in terms of opportunities for cooperation, furthering the parties’ common objective of ensuring justice and accountability for victims of crimes committed in Syria.

The signatory organizations look forward to working with the mechanism’s team to advance the justice and accountability agenda for all victims in Syria and would like to encourage international and local organizations to cooperate with the mechanism and support its mandate.

 

 

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.
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I Am Syria: The Fate of Douma City

The Fate Of Douma City

On April 7th 2018, reports started coming in from medics that civilians were coming in for treatment displaying symptoms of a chemical attack. Shortly after, video and pictures surfaced showing tens of dead bodies of women and children, along with scenes of families who suffocated in bunkers that became gas chambers after the attacks with no escape. Final death tolls reported 55 civilians dead and at least 1,000 injured.

On April 7th 2018, reports started surfacing that civilians were coming into Syrian hospitals displaying symptoms of a chemical attack. Shortly after, video and pictures surfaced showing tens of dead bodies of women and children, along with scenes of families suffocated in bunkers that became gas chambers after filling up with chlorine gas. Final death tolls reported 55 civilians dead and at least 1,000 injured.

​After being captured by rebel forces in 2012, government forces counterattacked the area of Eastern Ghouta in May 2013, beginning a siege.  Government forces then imposed restrictions on humanitarian supplies to Eastern Ghouta while simultaneously striking the area with air artillery.

In August 2013, Eastern Ghouta witnessed the deadliest chemical attacks since the Iran-Iraq war. Government forces launched rockets in the area containing sarin gas that killed over 1,700 people. Civilians never recovered and lived mostly on aid from outside sources.

Despite de-escalation agreement attempted in late 2017, the situation escalated in November. Between the start of heavy fighting in November 2017 up until the escalation through February 2018, the SNHR reported that 1,121 civilians had lost their lives, including 281 children and 171 women. There were more than 18 attacks on medical facilitates, 32 attacks on local markets and 11 attacks on schools. The SNHR also reported that chemical weapons and four cluster munitions were used by Syrian government, and government backed forces.

​In March, government forced broke up Eastern Ghouta, but Douma city was controlled by Jaysh al-Islam, who was holding onto the area and not evacuating like other rebel groups. Negotiations with the group stalled on April 6th 2018, resuming air strikes.

On April 7th 2018, two attacks took place in Douma City. One in north-western Douma on Saada Bakery, and the next on Martyrs Square according to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).

Medics began reporting they were treating civilians with symptoms consistent with those of chlorine gas, and reported strong chlorine odor. Symptoms included acute dyspnea, conjunctivitis, and oral foaming.

​Aid groups and eyewitnesses immediately began blaming the Syrian regime and their allies for the chemical attack. Many agreed the attacks were aimed to break the will of rebel groups so they would let go of the area and evacuate. Groups also noted that Regime forces and allies have used chemical weapons numerous times during the seven year war. The UN found that three of these occasions included the use of chlorine gas.
Shortly after the attacks, Russian military operatives announced that the Syrian Government was in full control of the town as rebels controlling the area surrender.

On April 12th, it was announced that the fact-finding team from the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was on its way to Syria to investigate the chemical attacks.

The international community was quick to denounce the attacks, claiming action would be taken against the Syrian regime and their allies. On April 14th, 2018, the US, backed by Britain and France led air strikes against Syria, targeting area they claimed were vital to Syria’s chemical weapons program.  Shortly after the air strikes, the US, France and Britain laid out evidence that the chemical attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian Regime. They cited eyewitness accounts of government helicopters in the area, and accounts of the same helicopters taking off from the nearby airfield.

The future of Douma city and Eastern Ghouta is unclear as the investigation by the OPCW in still underway. The small agricultural town of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the capital city of Damascus, is home to over 400,000 people that are still in dire need of aid and medical attention after the chemical attacks.

​After being captured by rebel forces in 2012, government forces counterattacked the area in May 2013, beginning the siege on Eastern Ghouta.  Government forces then imposed restrictions on humanitarian supplies to the area while simultaneously striking the area with air artillery.

In August 2013, Eastern Ghouta witnessed the deadliest chemical attacks since the Iran-Iraq war. Government forces launched rockets in the area containing sarin gas that killed over 1,700 people. The area never recovered and lived mostly on aid from outside sources.

Despite de-escalation agreement attempted in late 2017, the situation escalated in November. Between the start of heavy fighting in November 2017 up until the escalation through February 2018, the SNHR reported that 1,121 civilians had lost their lives, including 281 children and 171 women. There were more than 18 attacks on medical facilitates, 32 attacks on local markets and 11 attacks on schools. The SNHR also reports that chemical weapons and four cluster munitions were used by Syrian government, and government backed forces.

​In March, government forced broke up Eastern Ghouta, but Douma city was controlled by Jaysh al-Islam, who was holding onto the area and not evacuating like other rebel groups. Negotiations with the group stalled on April 6th 2017, resuming air strikes in the area.

On April 7th 2017, two attacks took place in Douma City. One in noth-western Douma on Saada Bakery, and the next on Martyrs Square according to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).

Medics began reporting treating civilians with symptoms consistent with those of chlorine gas, and reported strong chlorine odor. Symptoms included acute dyspenea, conjunctivitis, oral foaming and miosis.

​Aid groups and eyewitnesses immediately began blaming the Syrian Regime and their allies for the chemical attack. Many agreed the attacks were aimed to break the will of rebel groups so they let go of the area and evacuate. Groups also noted that Regime forces and allies have used chemical weapons numerous times during the seven year war. The UN found that three of these occasions included the use of chlorine gas.  Shortly after the attacks, Russian military operatives announced that the Syrian Government was in full control of the town as rebels controlling the area surrender.

On April 12th, it was announced that the fact-finding team from the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was on it’s way to Syria to investigate the chemical attacks.

The international community was quick to denounce the attacks, claiming action would be taken against the Syrian Regime and their allies. On April 14th, 2017, the US, backed by Britain and France led air strikes against Syria, targeting area they claimed were vital to Syria’s chemical weapon program.  Shortly after the air strikes, the US, France and Britain laid out evidence that the chemical attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian Regime. They cited eyewitness accounts of government helicopters in the area, and taking off from the nearby airfield.

The future of Douma city and Eastern Ghouta is unclear as the investigation by the OPCW in still underway. The small agricultural town of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the capital city, is home to over 400,000 people that are still in dire need of aid and medical attention after the chemical attacks.

Syria Deeply: Join our Deeply Talks – Making Sense of the Syria Strike

Dear Syria Deeply community,

Join Syria Deeply on Monday, April 16, at 11:00 a.m. ET (4:00 p.m. CET) for a special session of Deeply Talks, covering the fallout of the joint U.S., U.K. and France strike in Syria, and what it could mean for the conflict at large, the welfare of civilians, the persistence of ISIS and jihadi groups and the growing footprint of Iran and Russia in Syria.

In a 30-minute live conversation, our editors Alessandria Masi, Lara Setrakian and Hashem Osseiran will discuss the motivations behind the first coordinated action by western governments against the Syrian government targets, whether or not it could deter the future use of chemical weapons against civilians and the strike’s potential impact on relations between Russia and the U.S.

To RSVP and receive dial-in instructions, click here.

Please send us your questions and comments you would like us to address in the discussion. You can respond to this email or tweet @SyriaDeeply using the hashtag #DeeplyTalks.

Warm regards,

Kim Bode
Community Editor of Geopolitics
News Deeply

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Syria Deeply: Another alleged chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, evacuations begin from Douma, and a missile strike on one of the largest Syrian army air bases

Syria Deeply
Apr. 9th, 2018
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Suspected Chemical Attack: A suspected chemical attack in the town of Douma killed dozens of people late Saturday night in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.

The Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) said they documented at least 42 fatalities, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 80, including 40 people who reportedly died from suffocation. More than 500 patients being treated in medical facilities in Douma reported symptoms compatible with exposure to poison gas, including difficulty breathing, foaming at the mouth and burning eyes, according to a joint statement released by the SCD and the Syrian American Medical Society.

Activists and medics blamed the Syrian government for the attack, but Damascus denied allegations, saying they were “fabrications” by the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has investigated previous claims of chemical weapons use in Syria, expressed “grave concern” about the alleged attack and opened a new investigation. However, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow’s “military specialists have visited this place, along with representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent … and they did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians.”

U.S. president Donald Trump accused the Syrian government on Twitter of carrying out the alleged attack, warning that there would be a “big price to pay” for using chemical weapons. So far, Washington has not specified if, when or how it would respond – Trump is reportedly expected to make a decision on the matter in the next 24-48 hours. U.S. defense secretary James Mattis said on Monday that he would not “rule out anything right now.”

The United Nations Security Council met on Monday to discuss the situation in Douma. The U.S. circulated an updated version of a draft resolution calling for a U.N. inquiry into chemical weapons use in Syria that Washington had initially put forward last month, according to Reuters.

Missile strike: Russia and Syria have accused Israel of launching a missile strike on a Syrian airbase near Homs on Monday. As of Monday afternoon, Israel had not confirmed nor denied the reports.

At least 14 people were killed in the strike on the Tiyas, or T-4 base, including members of Iran-backed paramilitary groups, Reuters reported. At least two Iranians were among those killed, the semi-official Iranian Fars news outlet said, according to Reuters.

T4 is one of the Syrian army’s largest bases, and is allegedly also used by Iranian and Iranian-allied militias.

Russia’s defense ministry said that two Israeli fighter jets launched eight missiles on the T4 air base from Lebanon’s airspace. Syria shot down five missiles, and the remaining three hit the western part of the air base, according to Moscow. The Lebanese army confirmed that four Israeli warplanes had violated its airspace on early Monday, flying in the direction of the Syrian border, but did not specify whether the jets were responsible for the strike on T4.

Syria initially accused the U.S. of carrying out the strike, as it came after Trump’s “big price to pay” warning for the Douma attack. Syrian state media called it an American “aggression.” U.S. officials denied responsibility.

“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting airstrikes in Syria,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”

Rebel evacuations: Jaish al-Islam, the last rebel group in Eastern Ghouta, began to exit the town of Douma on Sunday, in the first phase of a Russian-backed evacuation agreement, Reuters reported. Dozens of fighters from Jaish al-Islam and their families were bussed to the northern city of Jarablus after striking an evacuation deal with the Syrian government. Almost simultaneously, hostages freed by Jaish al-Islam arrived at a government-held crossing.

Both developments are part of an evacuation deal brokered on Sunday between the government and rebels, with mediation from Russia. Under the agreement, the Syrian government grants rebels safe exit to northern Syria in return for the release of hundreds of hostages and prisoners held by the group.

The deal also grants an offer of reconciliation for those rebels who wish to stay in Douma. Citing the Russian RIA news agency, Reuters said that Jaish al-Islam will evacuate Douma in two batches. Syrian state media said the rebels will be evacuated within 48 hours. If completed, the complete evacuation would give the government complete control of Eastern Ghouta.

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The Second Exodus: Tracing the Footsteps of Palestinian Refugees in Syria

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Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: New Commission of Inquiry Report Focuses on Detainees

SJAC Update | March 27, 2018
The COI’s recent report, ‘Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic.’ | Source

New Commission of Inquiry Report Focuses on Detainees

On March 9, the UN  Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria released a new report, ‘Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic: A Way Forward.’ The report offers an overview of the detainee crisis in Syria: tens of thousands of Syrians held with no due process, families with no knowledge of their loved ones, and prisons where sexual violence and extrajudicial killing are rampant. In addition to accusing several parties to the conflict of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes, the report makes recommendations for how to address the suffering of detainees and their families through the UN-led negotiation process. Indeed, Syrian civil society has long demandedthat the issue of detainees be central to negotiations, and the report endorses the notion that concrete proposals on the detainee issue could not only address the immediate needs of victims but also further the negotiations themselves.
READ MORE
The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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Politico Magazine: Gina Haspel Is a Torturer. What Else Does the Senate Need to Know?

Gina Haspel is pictured. | AP Photo
CIA via AP

WASHINGTON AND THE WORLD

Gina Haspel Is a Torturer. What Else Does the Senate Need to Know?

President Donald Trump is notoriously hostile toward the CIA. He frequently denigrates it in public and reportedly rarely even bothers to read its reports. None of Trump’s critical tweets, utterances or acts, however, carries as much venom or has the potential for causing as much harm to the agency as the president’s recent nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as the CIA’s next director. If evidence were needed of the president’s continuing grudge against the agency, this is it.

And why?

The answer begins with an understanding of the role of the director. As is the case with any agency, the director is critical to the CIA’s identity and effectiveness. Inwardly, she sets the standard, defines the vision and mission, drives effectiveness, ensures legal compliance, and is accountable for everything and everyone. If the director rises from the ranks (as Haspel did), she serves as the honored model of and guide to career success and accomplishment. Externally, the director represents the public face of the agency and the embodiment of its ethos, character and competence. And while these functions are common to all agencies, arguably the role is most important at the CIA because it uniquely operates at the boundary of law and illegality—a dangerous intersection for a democracy where particular care is required.

In nominating Haspel, Trump could hardly have selected a person more demonstrably ill-suited to carry out any of these essential duties. Although most of her career has taken place in the shadows and part of it was reportedly distinguished, Haspel is most prominently known for being intimately involved in carrying out the agency’s catastrophic Bush-era torture program or, as it was euphemistically called back then, the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. As such, she bears great personal responsibility for a program famous for its exceptional savagery and brutality, managerial incompetence and consistent ill-judgment.

Haspel was no mere CIA paper-shuffler. By all accounts she was an engaged participant in the torture program. She reportedly ran the CIA’s torture “black site” in Thailand and directly supervised the inhuman interrogations of Al Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Later, when a congressional committee sought to exercise its constitutional oversight of the RDI program, Haspel was instrumental in the destruction of the videos of the black site waterboarding sessions—against the advice of superiors in the Bush administration. This act alone, which I believe was almost certainly motivated by a desire to destroy the evidence that waterboarding exceeded the legal threshold for torture and thus to evade both personal and institutional accountability and oversight, should be sufficient to disqualify her from confirmation.

And yet there is more to consider. To weigh the merits of her nomination, the full, unredacted version of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s 2014 Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program should be released to the public. The data in the devastating 6,700-page report will help the public better understand why the Intelligence Committee concluded that the torture program was such a failure, despite the CIA’s bogus claims to the contrary, and why it helped weaken—not strengthen—the nation’s defenses against terrorism. It will also help us better understand Haspel’s central role in the fiasco and probe the questionable presumption of competence that she would bring as director.

In the end, though, confirmation should not hinge merely on Haspel’s technical competence, but on her integrity and her ability to lead the agency and to credibly represent our country in that role. In making this judgment, a rhetorical question posed to test journalistic integrity is apt: “What do you call a reporter who tells the truth 99 percent of the time but deliberately lies the other 1 percent?” The correct answer is, of course, “a liar.” So it is with torturers in the service of a government. Regardless of the other good a person may have done in the course of her career, the act of having tortured indelibly and forever defines the character and identity of that person.

Is Haspel a torturer? Yes, inescapably. The Justice Department may have approved the RDI program in concept, but its lawyers were not present in the black sites to witness the conditions of confinement, the totality of the torment, and the effect on the victim, which are always the ultimate tests of whether torture was applied. But Haspel was there; she lived it. The situation may have varied from site to site, but she can be presumed to have felt the piercing cold, experienced the bleak darkness and heard the deafening, ceaseless music; she directed and then oversaw the application of pain—the blows, the hanging from shackles, the confinement in coffin- or suitcase-size boxes, the suffocation when water was inhaled time and again; and she heard the cries and groans and saw the bruises, the loss of consciousness, and the blood. And all of this not for a moment, but ceaselessly for weeks on end.

American law and values teach us that the test for torture will always be the severity of the pain, not merely whether a lawyer may have approved its infliction. Haspel didn’t have to rely on a lawyer to tell her whether the pain inflicted under her authority amounted to torture because she was there to see it applied and could not have mistaken it for anything else.

During my service as chief counsel for the Navy and Marine Corps, I was involved in numerous discussions where an officer’s fitness to command was evaluated. Anyone with Haspel’s involvement with brutality would have been summarily dismissed from either service. Perhaps the CIA is different, its standards lower. And perhaps there are no standards. I’m hoping this is not so, but this confirmation hearing will be the test.

These are the questions the Senate will have to answer: Is Haspel the person the Senate would want to stand before the agency’s personnel as the model CIA officer, the leader, the person to be emulated? To recruit at colleges and challenge students to join her and be like her? To reach out to foreign partners and receive their respect? To be a trusted facilitator of congressional oversight? To represent the agency’s future, not its discarded past? Is she to be the face of the agency?

We can guess why Trump is nominating Haspel: He dislikes the CIA and likes torture, so she suits him. Trump may not care much for the agency, but the Senate must. That’s why the Senate must withhold its consent for Haspel’s nomination and advise the president to find a more fitting director.

Alberto Mora is a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and a former general counsel of the Department of the Navy. He was an early opponent of torture during the Bush administration.

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: How the Legacy of Halabja has Failed to Protect Syria

SJAC Update | March 13, 2018
The Monument of Halabja Martyrs was built in 2003, in a city that was still largely destroyed. Photo from Wikipedia.
Thirty Years Later: How the Legacy of Halabja has Failed to Protect Syria
Thirty years ago this week, Saddam Hussein’s forces attacked the Kurdish town of Halabja in Northeastern Iraq. Iraqi forces first launched a conventional attack, forcing civilians into confined basements and shelters. The air force then dropped what is believed to have been a combination of the deadly nerve agent sarin and mustard gas, effectively converting civilian shelters into gas chambers and killing an estimated five thousand people, mainly women and children. The attack was the deadliest use of chemical weapons on a civilian population in history and has become a symbol of the horrors of chemical warfare.
In the three decades since the attack, the international community has made great strides in prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. The conflict in Syria, however, is a stain on that record. To commemorate the Halabja atrocity, SJAC is looking back at why the immense progress on prohibiting chemical weapons over the past 30 years has failed to protect Syrians.
READ MORE
The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org

The Washington Post: Trump gives the Assad regime an open invitation to keep gassing children


A Syrian girl receives treatment after airstrikes in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on March 7. (Amer Almohibany/AFP/Getty Images)
 March 10

NEARLY TWO weeks after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution mandating a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, Russian and government forces are unrelentingly pursuing one of the bloodiest and most brutal offensives of the war. They are attempting to overrun the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, where nearly 400,000 people have been besieged since 2013. Scores of people are being killed each day; the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights counted 93 on Wednesday alone. There have been numerous reports of attacks on hospitals and schools and of the use of chlorine gas — all of which are war crimes.

Tragically, there is little new in this, apart from the intensity. Over and over, the government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia have accepted cease-fires, or “humanitarian pauses,” or “de-escalation zones” in Eastern Ghouta, only to continue their attacks. Their brazenness is enabled by the unwillingness of any other power to enforce U.N. resolutions, or the Chemical Weapons Convention, or to otherwise punish the regime or Russia for their crimes.

There is, at least, reason to hope that the impunity will not last forever. Since 2011, a U.N. commission has been meticulously gathering evidence of war crimes in Syria for presentation at the U.N. Human Rights Council, and eventually to international and national courts. Its latest report, covering the period from last July until January, offers horrifying detail about the Russian-Syrian depredations in Eastern Ghouta.

The siege, the report says, has been “characterized by pervasive war crimes, including the use of prohibited weapons, attacks against civilian and protected objects, starvation leading to acute malnutrition, and the routine denial of medical evacuations.” Hospitals and schools have been systematically bombed; on a single day, Nov. 8, three schools were struck from the air. Hundreds of medical workers have been killed or injured in airstrikes, and women have begun giving birth at home rather than risk going to a hospital.

The United Nations documented three uses of chlorine against rebel fighters in July, and another attack in November in which a phosphorus-based pesticide was used. These are carefully calibrated atrocities. President Trump ordered a retaliatory strike following the regime’s use of nerve gas last year, but he has not responded to chlorine attacks. And so they continue.

Russian forces also target civilians, and the United Nations documented one incident it says “may amount to a war crime.” Last Nov. 13, a Russian plane was observed carrying out a series of airstrikes on the main market as well as surrounding houses in the town of Atarib, in Aleppo province. The report says at least 84 people were killed, including six women and five children. It said the plane dropped unguided “blast weapons,” even though “the use of such weapons in a densely populated area was certain to impact civilians.” That, no doubt, was the intention.

As the Ghouta offensive has continued, the State Department has objected; spokeswoman Heather Nauert castigated Russia on Twitter. The trouble is, Moscow knows that Mr. Trump feels differently. When he was asked about Eastern Ghouta, on Feb. 23, the president reiterated his view that the only U.S. interest in Syria was “to get rid of ISIS and to go home.” For the Assad regime and Russia, that’s an open invitation to continue gassing children, bombing hospitals and committing other war crimes.

Syria Deeply: The latest developments from Eastern Ghouta, Afrin, Idlib, the Aleppo countryside and Daraa

Syria Deeply
Mar. 12th, 2018
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

As the Syrian conflict enters its eighth year, Syria Deeply is collecting insights from our expert community about what the war has taught us about 21st century conflicts. We invite you to share your expertise about the most important developments and lessons here.

Eastern Ghouta: The death toll in East Ghouta continued to rise this week, as pro-government forces continued their aerial and ground offensive on Damascus suburbs that have been under siege for more than four years.

Over the weekend, Syrian troops reportedly cut off the major towns of Douma and Harasta from the rest of the opposition enclave and seized the towns of Misraba and Mudeira. The advance split the Eastern Ghouta suburbs in two, as pro-government forces established a corridor that cuts through the opposition holdout.

More than 1,100 people have been killed since the start of the campaign three weeks ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Civilians in the area are now faced with the difficult choice of either staying in East Ghouta amid the pro-government advance, despite the deadly aerial campaign and the lack of necessary medical and food supplies, or evacuating to government-run shelters.

The SOHR said on Monday that negotiations were ongoing between community leaders from certain towns in East Ghouta, and mediators from the capital. The Russian military said late on Sunday that 52 civilians, including 26 children, had been evacuated from Misraba, according to Reuters.

Jaish al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in the area, said on Monday it reached an agreement with Russia through the United Nations to evacuate the wounded, the Associated Press reported. A day earlier, Faylaq al-Rahman, another major rebel group, said in a statement that it rejected a previous Russian proposal that would allow them safe passage out of East Ghouta if they surrendered the enclave to government forces.

Northern Syria: Turkish troops and allied rebels reached the outskirts of the Kurdish-held city of Afrin over the weekend. Ebrahim Ebrahim, a Europe-based spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), told theAssociated Press that thousands are fleeing the area as Turkish-backed fighters advance on Afrin. According to Al Jazeera, others are planning to erect a human shield to protect the center of Afrin from Turkish forces.

Elsewhere in northern Syria, there have been clashes between major opposition groups vying for control in the countrysides of Aleppo and Idlib provinces for more than a week. Clashes began after rebel groups Ahrar al-Sham and Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki announced last month they would merge forces in an attempt to seize territory controlled by the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Meanwhile, Syrian government and Russian airstrikes are escalating in Idlib province. SOHR reported that at least seven people were killed in air raids on Sunday and Monday, and at least a dozen more people were injured. Syrian Civil Defense officials said one of the airstrikes hit a preschool in Teftenaz village on Monday, injuring at least 20 people, the Turkish Anadolu Agency reported.

Southern Syria: Syrian warplanes reportedly hit the southwestern province of Daraa on Monday, despite the de-escalation zone deal that Russia, the United States and Jordan agreed to in July, according to SOHR. In the first aerial attack since the de-escalation agreement, at least eight raids targeted the eastern Daraa towns of Busr al-Harir, Hrak, al-Gharaiya al-Gharbiya and al-Sowara, Reuters reported.

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This Week’s Top Articles

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RELIGIOUS & ETHNIC GROUPS

How Sectarianism Can Help Explain the Syrian War

The Syrian war is not a clean-cut sectarian conflict as some would suggest. However, a study of sectarian trends and dynamics can illuminate some overlooked aspects of the war, says Fabrice Balanche of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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OP-EDS

The Real Reasons Why Syrians Return to Syria

A small number of Syrian refugees are returning home despite the violence in the country. New research among returnees shows that most were pushed home by the harsh living conditions in neighboring countries, and did not find safety or dignity upon return.

973ab3c3-9b8d-4a6d-9ac8-50621f4257fe.png EDITOR’S PICKS

Community Insight

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HUMAN RIGHTS

After ‘Massacre’ in Ghouta, Aleppo, E.U. States Must Not Fund Reconstruction

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DR. Ahmad Tarakji,  President, Syrian American Medical Society

E.U. states must take action over putting an end to violence against civilians in East Ghouta by holding the perpetrators accountable and refusing to fund reconstruction efforts until the attacks stop, says SAMS president Dr. Ahmad Tarakji.

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GOVERNMENT & PRO-GOVERNMENT FORCES

Beyond the Endgame in Eastern Ghouta

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Lina Khatib,  Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

The government’s endgame in Eastern Ghouta is to overtake the last opposition holdout near the capital. But the bloody strategy Damascus is using to get there is just as important, writes Lina Khatib of Chatham House.

FIRST LOOK

Upcoming coverage

We are always looking for new writers, experts and journalists who are covering the crisis in Syria and are interested in writing about a variety of topics. Please send us your ideas, story pitches and any other thoughts about our coverage via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Three Lessons for the UN Security Council on the Ghouta Ceasefire

SJAC Update | March 6, 2018
UN Security Council Meeting | Credit: Wikipedia

Three Lessons for the UN Security Council on the Ghouta Ceasefire

It is now clear that the ceasefire passed by the UN Security Council (UNSC) on February 24th has failed to put an end to the fighting in Syria or address the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Eastern Ghouta. An estimated 77 people were killed on Monday alone, and when an aid envoy finally entered Eastern Ghouta yesterday morning, it was first ransacked by government security forces, which removed 70 percent of the desperately needed medical aid.

The reality of the Syrian government’s current military position makes any ceasefire challenging, but even under ideal circumstances the flaws in Resolution 2401 would make it difficult to implement.

The text lacks key details and fails to place itself within the larger context of a political solution, reading as a reactive attempt at damage control rather than a thoughtful attempt at resolution. The following lessons from ceasefire agreements in previous conflicts provide useful comparisons:

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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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Syria Deeply: Forbidden aid to Eastern Ghouta, Afrin operation puts anti-ISIS efforts on “pause” and leaders expected back in Astana next week

Syria Deeply
Mar. 6th, 2018
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Eastern Ghouta: Syrian troops and their allies advanced on Eastern Ghouta over the weekend, capturing at least six towns and villages along the edge of the Damascus suburbs. Speaking to reporters in Damascus on Sunday, President Bashar al-Assad said the operation would continue. He added that there “is no contradiction” between the operation and the Russian-ordered daily five-hour cessation of hostilities to allow for civilian evacuations and aid deliveries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday that a 46-truck aid convoy reportedly reached the besieged city of Douma, marking the first time the organization has been able to deliver aid to the area since November 12, 2017. The convoy included 5,500 food parcels that “should last a family of five a month,” the ICRC said.

The ICRC stated the food aid should feed 27,500 people, however, Siege Watch reported that 125,000 people were living under siege in Douma as of January 31, 2017. More than 390,000 civilians are believed to be living in the Eastern Ghouta.

Medical supplies were also expected to be included in the convoy, however, the Syrian government prevented 70 percent of such supplies from reaching the area, including “all trauma, surgical, dialysis and insulin supplies,” AP reported.

Marwa Awad, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program, told AP that “consequently, three of the 46 trucks being sent to Douma today are close to empty.”

More than 700 civilians have been killed in the region since the government stepped up attacks on the enclave two weeks ago, AFP said.

Afrin, ISIS and divergent interests: Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” military operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria has prompted the Pentagon to put the battle against the so-called Islamic State on “operational pause” in eastern Syria.

Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that “some fighters operating within the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] have decided to leave operations in the middle Euphrates river valley to fight elsewhere, possibly in Afrin.”

Pentagon spokesperson Col. Robert Manning said that the “pause” has put some of the SDF’s ground operations on hold, but that coalition warplanes continued to target ISIS positions.

In Afrin, Kurdish groups – with support from pro-government forces who entered the area in recent weeks – are fighting Turkish troops and their allied Syrian rebel forces. Turkish troops launched a series of attacks over the past few days, killing at least 36 pro-government fighters on Saturday and at least 13 people on Monday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put Monday’s death toll at 19, including two children and four women.

Astana: The foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran are set to meet in the Kazakh capital of Astana next week to “assess the results of their collaboration” and discuss next steps toward a settlement for the Syrian conflict, according to a statement released by Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry, cited by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

The United Nations envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will be invited to the talks, but neither the Syrian government nor other observer countries will participate, Anadolu said.

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ARTS & CULTURE

Writing Syria: History as a Form of ‘Resistance’

Alia Malek, author of “The Home That Was Our Country” speaks to Syria Deeply about the process of rediscovering parts of Syrian history that have long been lost or erased.

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DISPLACEMENT

For Syrians in Lebanon, No Formal Plan for Return

The Lebanese government risks losing international support should it develop a formal repatriation plan for Syrian refugees. This has raised concerns that non-state actors will spearhead repatriation efforts, says Dima Mahdi of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies.

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ARTS & CULTURE

Writing Syria: Wendy Pearlman’s ‘Oral History of the Revolution’

Wendy Pearlman, author of “We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled,” speaks to Syria Deeply about how the conflict changed the way displaced Syrians tell their stories, and the shift from hope to disillusionment and eventually despair.

973ab3c3-9b8d-4a6d-9ac8-50621f4257fe.png EDITOR’S PICKS

Community Insight

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CIVIL SOCIETY

Deeply Talks: The Humanitarian Catastrophe in Eastern Ghouta

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Hashem Osseiran,  Deputy Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

In the latest installment of our Deeply Talks, Dr. Annie Sparrow, assistant professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dr. Mohamad Katoub, advocacy manager for the Syrian American Medical Society, discuss the deteriorating healthcare situation in Eastern Ghouta.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Attacks on Healthcare Look Like a Strategy for Forced Displacement

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Abdulkarim Ekzayez,  Syrian Medical Doctor and an Epidemiologist

There is reason to suspect health facilities are being deliberately targeted in eastern Ghouta in a bid to weaken the resilience of the community and make it more amenable to evacuation, writes Syrian doctor and fellow at Chatham House, Abdulkarim Ekzayez.

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EDUCATION

Don’t Forget Our Unfulfilled Promise to Syrian Refugee Children

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Giulia McPherson,  Director of Advocacy and Operations, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Escalating violence in Syria is a reminder that the war is far from over. A focus on Syrian returns had distracted from failures on refugee education, says Jesuit Refugee Service’s Giulia McPherson, urging donors to now refocus on their commitments to Syrian children.

FIRST LOOK

Upcoming coverage

We are always looking for new writers, experts and journalists who are covering the crisis in Syria and are interested in writing about a variety of topics. Please send us your ideas, story pitches and any other thoughts about our coverage via email, Twitter or Facebook.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 13, Issue 2- March 5, 2018


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 13 – Issue 2
March 5, 2018

Editor-in-Chief
Taylor Frank

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Ashley Mulryan

Managing Editors
Sarah Lucey
Lynsey Rosales

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.

Contents

AFRICA

CENTRAL AFRICA

Central African Republic

Sudan & South Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Burundi

WEST AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

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

Mali

EAST AFRICA

Uganda

Kenya

Rwanda (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)

Somalia

NORTH AFRICA

Libya

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Iraq

Syria

Afghanistan

Yemen

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

Israel and Palestine

AMERICAS

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

WORTH READING


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To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to warcrimeswatch+unsubscribe@case.edu.

Syria Deeply: The latest developments on the situation in the Eastern Ghouta and the U.N. Security Council’s call for a 30-day cease-fire

 

Feb. 26th, 2018

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Healthcare Under Attack: As part of our Deeply Talks series, Syria Deeply will host a live 30-minute conversation on Tuesday, February 27 at 12 pm ET, with Annie Sparrow, a critical-care pediatrician and public health professional, and Mohamad Katoub, a medical worker from Eastern Ghouta and advocacy manager for the Syrian Medical Society, about the deteriorating healthcare situation in Eastern Ghouta. To RSVP and receive dial-in instructions, click here. Submit questions for our editors or guests by responding to this email or tweet @SyriaDeeply using the hashtag #DeeplyTalks.

Increased attacks on the rebel-held enclave in the Eastern Ghouta have severely damaged the region’s already strained medical infrastructure. We invite you to read up on our recent interview with Annie Sparrow about the unprecedented pressures on healthcare facilities in Eastern Ghouta, and the repeated failure to deliver life-saving aid.

Eastern Ghouta: It has been one of the deadliest weeks in the opposition-held suburbs of Damascus, since Eastern Ghouta came under siege more than four years ago. Despite the United Nations Security Council resolution that passed on Saturday calling for a 30-day cease-fire to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations, at least 24 people were killed in attacks on the area in the since Sunday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Sunday’s casualties bring the total death toll to around 530 people killed since the government launched an intensified bombing campaign on the opposition enclave last week, according to Agence France-Presse, who cited the SOHR.

Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered a “humanitarian pause” in Eastern Ghouta, beginning on Tuesday that would only be in effect from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time daily, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu announced. Shoigu added that a “humanitarian corridor” would also be created to facilitate civilian evacuations from the area, but did not give any additional details on that process.

Afrin: Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” continued in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday despite the U.N. Security Council’s resolution for a 30-day nationwide cease-fire across Syria.

On Monday, Syrian state-run news and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a Turkish airstrike in the village of Yalan Quz in Afrin killed at least five people. The Turkish army also reportedly captured three villages near the northern Syrian town from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia and shelled Afrin on Sunday, the Associated Press reported, citing Turkey’s official news agency.

Ankara on Sunday said that the cease-fire would not affect operations against the YPG in Afrin, according to AFP.

“We welcome the resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council in response to the worsening humanitarian situation all across Syria, in particular in Eastern Ghouta,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement. But it added that Turkey “will remain resolute in fighting against the terrorist organizations that threaten the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria.”

 

Read our Daily Executive Summaries

 

 

MOST POPULAR

This Week’s Top Articles

 

GOVERNMENT & PRO-GOVERNMENT FORCES

Syrian Conflict’s Deadly Week in Eastern Ghouta

A look at the major developments of one of the deadliest weeks in the besieged Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta.

 

DISPLACEMENT

‘I Was Something She Bought’: Syrian Men Marry To Survive

Although much has been written about Syrian refugee women in Turkey being sold into marriage, little is known of the Syrian men selling themselves in wedlock. Two such refugees share their stories to shed light on what they say is a growing trend.

 

 

EDITOR’S PICKS

Community Insight

 

OPPOSITION GROUPS & REBEL FORCES

Braving Bombs, Health Workers Struggle to Save Lives in Eastern Ghouta

Areeb Ullah,  Journalist, Middle East Eye

 

The Syrian government has targeted a number of hospitals and medical clinics in East Ghouta recently, complicating attempts to provide life-saving care to the nearly 400,000 people trapped under bombardment, writes journalist Areeb Ullah.

 

 

FIRST LOOK

Upcoming coverage

We are always looking for new writers, experts and journalists who are covering the crisis in Syria and are interested in writing about a variety of topics. Please send us your ideas, story pitches and any other thoughts about our coverage via email, Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

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Copyright © 2017 News Deeply, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Syria Deeply: Join Our Deeply Talks – The Humanitarian Catastrophe in East Ghouta

Dear Syria Deeply community,

Please join us on Tuesday, February 27, at 10:30 a.m. EDT (4:30 p.m. CET), for a 30-minute conversation with Dr. Annie Sparrow, a critical-care pediatrician and public health professional, and Dr. Mohamad Katoub, advocacy manager for the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), about the deteriorating healthcare situation in East Ghouta. The call will be moderated by Alessandria Masi, Syria Deeply’s managing editor, and Hashem Osseiran, deputy managing editor.

We will discuss the humanitarian implications of the ongoing government offensive, the international community’s response, and the feasibility of civilian evacuations in light of escalated attacks on opposition-held areas further north.

To RSVP and receive dial-in instructions, click here.

We invite you to read up on our recent interview with Dr. Annie Sparrow. And please send us your questions, as well as any comments you would like us to address in the discussion. You can respond to this email or tweet @SyriaDeeply using the hashtag #DeeplyTalks.

Warm regards,

Kim Bode
Community Editor

 

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