Syria Deeply: Eastern Ghouta ‘spiraling out of control,’ and Turkey’s operation in Afrin grows increasingly complex

Syria Deeply
Feb. 20th, 2018
This Week in Syria.

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

Eastern Ghouta: After more than four years of siege, it’s hard to imagine that the situation in Eastern Ghouta could become even more dangerous and devastating. However, aerial bombardments have increased in the suburbs of Damascus, as the Syrian government allegedly prepares for a ground offensive on the besieged opposition-held enclave.

More than 100 people were killed in government attacks on the Eastern Ghouta on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The monitoring group added that this number was expected to rise as many of those injured remain in critical condition, but that it was already the highest one-day death toll in Eastern Ghouta in three years.

“It’s indescribable. It reminded me of what we used to see in Aleppo – shelling day and night,” Khalid Abulabed, a field doctor in the Damascus suburb, told Al Jazeera. “Nothing is excluded from the shelling, not schools, not residential areas, not even markets, which has caused a significant increase in the number of people martyred and wounded.”

The SOHR claimed that the stepped-up attacks are a prelude to a government-led ground offensive in the Eastern Ghouta. Syria has been sending reinforcements to the area since February 5, Agence France-Presse reported on Sunday. “The reinforcements are complete; the attack is just waiting for a green light,” SOHR head Rami Abdulrahman told AFP.

The SOHR and pro-government media are reporting negotiations between rebels and the Syrian government over the evacuation of al-Qaida-linked militants from the Eastern Ghouta in a last-ditch effort to spare the region a full-out attack, AFP said. However, the main rebel groups in the area denied that these talks took place.

Panos Moumtzis, the U.N. regional coordinator for the Syria crisis, said in a statement released on Monday that “the humanitarian situation of civilians in East Ghouta is spiraling out of control. Many residents have little choice but to take shelter in basements and underground bunkers with their children.”

Afrin: The situation in Afrin is becoming even more complex, after reports on Tuesday that pro-government forces entered the northern Syrian city to help defend Kurdish forces battling Turkish-backed troops in Ankara’s “Operation Olive Branch” in the area.

Syrian state-run TV reportedly showed a convoy of pro-government forces entering Afrin on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

SANA reported on Monday that “popular forces” would enter Afrin “within hours.” Turkey’s foreign minister later responded to the report, threatening to confront pro-government forces if they enter the Kurdish enclave, the Associated Press reported.

“If the regime is entering to protect the YPG, then no one can stop us, stop Turkey or the Turkish soldiers,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said, according to AP.

On Friday, Kurdish forces accused Turkey of carrying out a chemical attack in a village in the northwest of Afrin, near the Turkish border, and a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin told Reuters that six people suffered breathing problems after the attack. Turkey dismissed the accusations as “baseless,” but the SOHR and SANA news agency echoed the YPG’s claims.

Read our Daily Executive Summaries

f020b569-7455-410e-8ef8-f41b0077a844.png MOST POPULAR

This Week’s Top Articles

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Analysis: In South Syria, All Roads Lead Back to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The recent uptick in clashes between Israel, Iran and Syria risks circling the conflict back to decades-old hostilities between Damascus and Tel Aviv in battles over the Golan Heights.

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

GOVERNMENT & PRO-GOVERNMENT FORCES

Why Syria and the U.S. Clashed for Control East of the Euphrates

The U.S. coalition’s show of force against a pro-government attack in Deir Ezzor last week is not a change in American engagement policy, but a sign that Washington’s interest in Syria will increasingly come under threat.

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

CIVIL SOCIETY

Analysis: A Model For Rebuilding Infrastructure in Northwestern Syria

The Idlib Health Directorate is a model for local networks providing public services in opposition-controlled areas and for rebuilding northwestern Syria’s shattered healthcare system, writes Abdulkarim Ekzayez, a Syrian medical doctor and fellow at Chatham House.

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

Community Insight

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

In Syria’s Tangled Conflict, a Kind of Regional War Has Already Begun

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Samer Abboud,  Associate Professor of international Studies, Arcadeia University

A general state of war exists between antagonistic, intervening states in Syria, even if it remains undeclared and unacknowledged. However, the form this war will take, and the conditions for escalation, remain unclear, writes Syria researcher and professor Samer Abboud.

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Analysis: Iran and Israel Eye Containment in Syria

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Yossi Melman,  Israeli Security and Intelligence Commentator

The downing of an Israeli warplane on Saturday threatened to escalate tensions between Israel and Iran. But now the two adversaries are actively trying to avoid a full blown confrontation, writes Israeli security and intelligence commentator Yossi Melman.

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 1- February 19, 2018

 


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 13 – Issue 1
February 19, 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

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “warcrimeswatch – War Crimes Prosecution Watch” group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to warcrimeswatch+unsubscribe@case.edu

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Syria and the Collapse of the International System

SJAC Update | Feb 20, 2018
Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Russia, 2017. The three guarantors of the “de-escalation zones” in Syria. Photo from Wikipedia

Syria and the Collapse of the International System

The past few weeks have seen the emergence of a new narrative about the conflict in Syria. It is not, as had been widely reported towards the end of 2017, winding down, but rather entering a new phase. While the intervention of foreign powers has defined the war for years, the past few months have seen a profound shift. Not only are foreign powers becoming increasingly active on the ground, they are also increasingly focused on each other. The last two weeks alone have seen incendiary remarks from Turkey regarding the US position in Manbij, Israeli strikes against Iranian air defense, and three foreign states (Israel, Russia, and Turkey) losing aircraft in Syria. The possibility for direct clashes is growing. At this stage of the conflict, with the Syrian government having regained much of its territory, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) largely destroyed, it should be time for all parties to refocus on negotiations instead of escalating tensions on the battlefield to the detriment of civilians.

One vital aspect of the internationalization of the conflict has been the flagrant violation of international law. Combined with the failures of the UN Security Council and the UN-mediated peace process, the war in Syria is now taking place completely outside of the international system. The following is an analysis of the actions of three of the major international actors in the conflict, and the United Nations, which has failed to avert the crisis.

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.

This email was sent to dmcrane@law.syr.edu
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Syria Justice and Accountability Centre · Laan Van Meerdervoort 70 · Den Haag, 2517 AN · Netherlands

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp

Dr. Shelly Whitman: International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers

International Day to End the Use of Child Soldiers
View this email in your browser
“A future where children are no longer used as weapons of war is within our grasp—but only if we choose to make children a priority to achieve peace and security.”

No Child’s War Manifesto

 

Join the No Child’s War Movement Now!

 

 

NOT MY WAR

Peer beyond the headlines of conflict and reveal its effects on societies’ most vulnerable. 

 

 

Not My War investigates the effects of war on a child from a social, physical and psychological point of view. From a girl fleeing continued strife in Syria, to a boy reintegrating after serving in the ranks of Boko Haram in Nigeria, you will learn about the complex and long-term effects of war on children.

 

 

Learn More

 

 

Big News!

 

Global Affairs Canada Awards the Dallaire Initiative 3.3 million to create national level project in South Sudan

 

Global Affairs Canada has announced a 3 million dollar grant for the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative to develop a national level program in South Sudan that will aim to progressively end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The project will seek to protect girls and boys in South Sudan from recruitment and use as child soldiers by working with security actors—such as the national forces, UN peacekeepers – as well as civil society actors— to strengthen strategies to protect children becoming weapons of war. This will be accomplished through training and sensitization activities undertaken by Dallaire Initiative staff with local partners that aims to change attitudes and behaviours with respect to the use of children as weapons of war.

 

Learn More

 

 

Children should not fight wars. Agree? Join the No Child’s War Movement Today!

 

Children should not fight wars.

Yet, tens of thousands of children are forced, coerced or born into conflict every day where they end up fighting a war that adults created.

A future where children are no longer used as weapons of war is within our grasp—but only if we choose to make children a priority to achieve peace and security.

Make this future a reality by joining the No Child’s War movement today! child.so/2gM0oAU

 

Join the No Child’s War Movement Now!

 

 

The time for a holistic approach to preventing the use of child soldiers has come. We need to work across disciplines to create robust responses that prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers.”

Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Video letter from Dr. Shelly Whitman.

 

Today is February 12th, the international day against the use of child soldiers. The Dallaire Initiative’s unique, security sector approach is building momentum towards innovative solutions to ending the use of child soldiers around the world.

 

Share
Tweet

 

Not every child soldier carries a gun.

 

#weaponsofwar aims to raise awareness about the large number of roles child soldiers to undertake across the globe and breaks the common iconography that all child soldiers carry guns.

 

Share
Tweet
Allons-y | Call for proposals now open!

 

Allons-y is a peer-reviewed publication written by young academics and practitioners, complemented by expert commentary, designed to foster discussion and innovative thinking on issues relating to children affected by armed conflict. Learn More.

 

Share
Tweet

 

Get involved today!

 

The Dallaire Initiative has created an advocacy kit with the tools and knowledge that you require to help build a movement around preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

 

Share
Tweet

 

The ultimate focus of the rest of my life is to end the use of child soldiers and to eliminate even the thought of the use of children as an instrument of war”

– LGen Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d), Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

 

Please help us keep children off of the frontlines!

Your gift will help grow our flagship work: training military, police, peacekeepers, security personnel and community groups –  often the first point of contact for child soldiers – on how to prevent the use of child soldiers. By equipping those on the front lines with the right tools and training, we believe we can help put an end to the recruitment of children. Join us!

UN Photo: Albert González Farran

 

Donate Today

 

 

 

Copyright © 2018 The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in for occasional updates from the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Our mailing address is:

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Dalhousie University, P.O. Box 15000

Halifax, Nova ScotiaB3H 4J1

Canada

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Syria Deeply: The ‘bloodiest days’ in Eastern Ghouta, and U.S.-led coalition clashes with pro-government forces in Deir Ezzor

Syria Deeply
Feb. 9th, 2018
This Week in Syria.
Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Coalition targets pro-Assad forces: The U.S.-led coalition said it thwarted an “unprovoked attack” by pro-government fighters on a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) base in Deir Ezzor province after midnight Wednesday. An unidentified U.S. official told CNN that some 500 pro-government forces were involved in the offensive on the SDF base, located 5 miles (8km) east of a “deconfliction” line in the Khusham region, east of the Euphrates River.

Pro-government forces “were likely seeking to seize oil fields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh from 2014 to 2017,” the unidentified U.S. official told CNN, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The U.S. said at least 100 pro-government fighters were killed in the attack. Syrian state media said only “dozens” were killed and wounded by the strikes. An unidentified commander fighting in the military alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters that seven members of the pro-government forces were killed and 27 injured. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at more than 20. No U.S. troops and only one SDF fighter were injured in the confrontation.

It was not immediately clear whether the force comprised mostly Syrian troops or Iranian-backed militias.

Syrian state media said that “popular” fighting units were behind the attack, suggesting that it was not orchestrated by Syrian troops. An unidentified Hezbollah official told the Associated Press that pro-Assad forces known as the Popular Committees, as well as the Syrian National Defense Forces, came under attack by coalition forces.

Syria’s foreign ministry sent a letter to the United Nations on Thursday, calling the attack a “war crime” and demanding that the international community “condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it,” according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Washington tried to ease tensions on Thursday, with Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White saying in a news briefing that the U.S. was not “looking for a conflict with the regime.” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the attacks were defensive and limited in nature, also dismissing claims that the U.S. was stumbling into a broader conflict in Syria, Reuters said.

Hundreds killed in East Ghouta: Syrian government attacks killed more than 228 people in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus since Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.

At least 80 people were killed in airstrikes on Tuesday alone, making it “the highest civilian toll in Syria in nearly nine months, and one of the bloodiest days for Eastern Ghouta in several years,” SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman told AFP.

The besieged suburbs, which are designated as a so-called de-escalation zone by Russia, Turkey and Iran are home to some 400,000 people who are trapped with almost no access to food and medicine.

“There is a misperception that the de-escalation areas have resulted in peace and stability. If anything, these have been serious escalation areas,” U.N.’s assistant secretary-general and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Panos Moumtzis said, according to the the Guardian.

READ OUR DAILY EXECUTIVE SUMMARIES

f020b569-7455-410e-8ef8-f41b0077a844.png MOST POPULAR

This Week’s Top Articles

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

CIVIL SOCIETY

The Story of Kfr Nobol Hospital: ‘41 Minutes of Hell’

After the first airstrike hit near the hospital, those inside knew they would soon be targeted, writes Nadi Al Dairi, the Syria country director for Hand in Hand. The next 41 minutes were ones of fear.

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

How De-Escalation Zones in Syria Became a War Management Strategy

Nine months into the de-escalation agreement, the deal has helped the Syrian government seize additional territory and widen its control rather than reduce violence in the designated areas, experts said.

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Analysis: Russia’s Failure at Sochi Means More War for Syria

Having failed to achieve tangible progress at the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue in Sochi, Moscow will instead be forced to rely on military means to achieve its goals in Syria, according to journalist and analyst Neil Hauer.

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

Community Insight

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

HEALTH

‘No Light at the End of the Tunnel’ in Eastern Ghouta: Sparrow

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Alessandria Masi,  Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

Amid unprecedented pressures on healthcare facilities in Eastern Ghouta, and the repeated failure to deliver life-saving aid, time is running out to improve the humanitarian situation and mitigate misery in the Damascus suburb, says medical researcher Dr. Annie Sparrow.

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

CIVIL SOCIETY

The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria’s Northern De-escalation Zone

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Hashem Osseiran,  Deputy Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

The government’s ongoing offensive on Idlib province has already displaced thousands of civilians, many of whom previously fled violence in other areas, writes Cole Bockenfeld of the International Rescue Committee.

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Understanding America’s Endgame in Syria

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Samer Abboud,  Associate Professor of international Studies, Arcadeia University

Washington’s recently outlined policy for Syria is unlikely to be able to change the battlefield, protect its allies, or alter the policies of regional states, says Syria researcher and professor Samer Abboud.

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.

Syracuse University News – Media, Law, and Policy: ‘The Founders,’ Co-Edited by David M. Crane, Charts Creation of World’s First International Tribunals

Tuesday, February 6, 2018, By Martin Walls

book cover of "The Founders" alongside photo of David Crane

Never before have international chief prosecutors written in detail about the challenges they faced, but with the publication of “The Founders”—co-edited by David M. Crane, professor of practice in the College of Law; Leila Sadat of Washington University School of Law, St. Louis; and Michael P. Scharf of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Ohio—comes the complex story of four individuals who created the world’s first international tribunals and special courts.

A candid look at how the founding prosecutors sought justice for millions of victims, the backdrop to these tales is four of the most appalling conflicts of modern times: the Balkan wars in the former Yugoslavia (1991-2001), which included the Bosnian genocide and led to hundreds of thousands of casualties and displaced peoples; the 1994 mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government; the Cambodian genocide (1975-1979), perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge; and crimes against humanity committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002). The crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during these conflicts spurred the creation of international tribunals designed to bring the perpetrators of unimaginable atrocities to justice.

When Richard Goldstone, David M. Crane, Robert Petit and Luis Moreno-Ocampo received their orders from the international community, each set out on a quest to build unique postconflict justice mechanisms and launch their first prosecutions. South African jurist Goldstone founded the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which indicted 161 individuals between 1997 and 2004. Crane was the chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2002 until 2005, indicting, among others, then-President of Liberia Charles Taylor for his role in crimes committed against Sierra Leoneans. (Incidentally, Crane was the first American to be named the chief prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal since Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945.)  The founder of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was Canadian Robert Petit, who led the investigation and prosecution of five of the senior-most leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Lastly, Argentinian lawyer Luis Moreno-Ocampo is most famous for becoming the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. During his tenure, which began in 2003, Moreno-Ocampo opened investigations into crimes committed in Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Uganda and Georgia.

“As we worked on this book it occurred to me the extraordinary professional and personal risk we took in establishing these ground-breaking justice mechanisms. We all had successful careers when we literally received ‘the call’ asking us to stop our life trajectory and to take on a task with absolutely no certainty of success,” says Crane, who continues to work on humanitarian and atrocity law issues at the College of Law, including with the student-run Syrian Accountability Project. “We were in unchartered waters, yet we were drawn to the possibility of bringing justice to victims of horrific acts. This we did, and we took up the flaming sword of justice. It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to found these international courts.”

With no blueprint and little precedent, each prosecutor became a pathfinder. “The Founders” offers behind-the-scenes, first-hand stories of these historic journeys, the challenges the prosecutors faced, the obstacles they overcame and the successes they achieved. Contributions are made by the founders themselves, as well as former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Hans Corell, Leila Nadya Sadat, Michael Scharf, William Schabas and David Scheffer.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 24- February 5, 2018


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 24
February 5, 2018

Editor-in-Chief
James Prowse

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Samantha Smyth

Managing Editors
Rina Mwiti
Alexandra Mooney

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

Yemen

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

Israel and Palestine

Afghanistan

AMERICAS

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

WORTH READING


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “warcrimeswatch – War Crimes Prosecution Watch” group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to warcrimeswatch+unsubscribe@case.edu.

Syria Deeply: New Syria peace talks begin in Sochi, no cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta, and Turkey may extend Operation Olive Branch

Syria Deeply
Jan. 30th, 2018
This Week in Syria.

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

Sochi talks: The Moscow-sponsored “Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue” began in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Monday. These are the first Syria negotiations to be held in Russia, though Moscow has previously led the trilateral talks in Astana.

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura is attending the talks, where he is expected to lead a new constitutional commission that will be set up at the two-day Sochi talks, according to Reuters.

Last week, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News that around 1,600 participants were expected to take part in negotiations, but a number of delegations have since said they would boycott the Sochi talks.

The Syrian Negotiation Commission – the opposition’s main negotiating bloc – said on Friday that it would not be attending the Sochi congress, AFP reported. Many other Syrian opposition groups have said they will boycott the congress. However, members of the Moscow platform, “a dissident faction of the opposition,” said it will attend, according to Al Jazeera.

Kurdish authorities have also said that they will boycott Sochi talks because of a continued Turkish assault on Afrin, according to Middle East Eye.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “The fact that some representatives of the processes currently taking place in Syria are not participating is unlikely to stop this congress from going ahead, and is unlikely to seriously undermine the importance of the congress,” he said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.

No cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta: After Syrian opposition reports of a cease-fire agreement in the Eastern Ghouta on Friday, fighting continued between pro-government and rebel forces over the weekend in the Damascus suburbs.

On Friday, a rebel official said that during recent U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Vienna, Russia said it would put pressure on the Syrian government to enforce a cease-fire in the area, Reuters reported. Damascus never acknowledged the cease-fire.

At least 23 aerial raids and 40 missiles targeted the city of Harasta and its outskirts and dozens of artillery and aerial raids targeted the city of Arbin on Monday, killing 34 civilians, including at least one child and one woman, in Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. SOHR said on Sunday that government bombardment in the area killed eight people between then and Saturday.

Operation Olive Branch: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made repeated threats to expand Turkey’s ongoing operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-controlled city of Afrin to other Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria.

On Friday, Erdogan said operations could extend eastward all the way to the Iraqi border, where the United States – Turkey’s NATO ally – has troops deployed. On Saturday, Turkey’s foreign minister called on the U.S. to withdraw its forces from Manbij ahead of a potential Turkish attack, but the commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, told CNN on Sunday that withdrawing from Manbij was “not something we are looking into.”

Erdogan later said that “step by step, we will clean our entire border,” in a speech following one of the first significant gains Turkish troops and allied rebels made since Operation Olive Branch began nine days ago. On Sunday, they seized Mount Barsaya, which is located near the Kurdish town of Afrin and overlooks the town of Kilis on the Turkish side of the border and Azaz on the Syrian side.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Turkish airstrikes between Sunday and Monday killed 13 people, including five children and three women, and injured another five, all from the same family in the village of Kobla in northeastern Afrin city.

On Friday, Turkish airstrikes damaged roughly 60 percent of the ancient Ain Dara neo-hittite temple, built by the Arameans in the first millennium B.C., in Afrin, according to the BBC. “The Turkish regime’s destruction of the Ain Dara Temple was a barbaric act, and a completion of the plan led by this regime to destroy the Syrian cultural heritage,” Mahmoud Hammoud, Syria’s director general for antiquities and museums, said, according to state-run news agency SANA.

Read our Daily Executive Summaries

f020b569-7455-410e-8ef8-f41b0077a844.png MOST POPULAR

This Week’s Top Articles

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DIPLOMACY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Analysis: Why Turkey Wants a ‘Secure Zone’ in Afrin

Turkey’s operation on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria aims to halt YPG expansion near Turkey’s border, facilitate refugee returns and empower Ankara-backed FSA forces, writes analyst Ömer Özkizilcik.

cryo2.jpeg?w=185&h=130&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

CIVIL SOCIETY

Syrian Conflict Isn’t Over, Don’t Forget the Syrians: Davos Voices

Syria experts at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos weigh in on what must be done to improve the humanitarian situation and alleviate the impact of war in Syria.

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

Community Insight

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

ARTICLES

Deeply Talks: The Future of Syria Is Female

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Alessandria Masi,  Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

To conclude our partnership with TIMEP, Syria Deeply’s latest Deeply Talks discussed the changing role of Syrian women in the humanitarian, media and public sectors and the future challenges women face in having a voice in traditionally male-dominated fields.

putin-tillerson-meeting-exxonmobil.jpeg?w=90&h=90&fit=crop&q=60&dpr=2

DISPLACEMENT

Idlib Women in Jeopardy. What Comes Next?

6827aefd-79dd-482b-9584-82c275-565c92dc808b2.jpg?w=68&h=68&fit=facearea&facepad=2&corner-radius=100&mask=corners&maskbg=transparent&fm=png32
Hind Kabawat,  Director of Interfaith Peacebuilding, CRDC, George Mason University

Attorney and Tanenbaum peacemaker Hind Kabawat writes about the deteriorating humanitarian situation for women in and around Idlib, where she cofounded the Jarjanaz and Darraya Women’s Peace Centre with the E.U. last year.

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.

International Nuremberg Principles Academy: Launch of Lexsitus Open Access Online Service for ICL

If this message is not displayed correctly, please click here.
Dear Madam, dear Sir,

The International Nuremberg Principles Academy – in co-operation with the Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP) – is pleased to announce the launch of Lexsitus, a new online service to support the learning of, and work with, legal sources in international criminal law.

Lexsitus offers visually integrated access to lectures, commentary, case law, preparatory works, and digests, at the level of every article of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. This includes more than 230 subtitled lectures (with full-text searchable transcripts) by a diverse Lexsitus Faculty of 50 experts, including Klaus Rackwitz, Director of the Nuremberg Academy.

On its landing page you find a user-friendly audio-visual tutorial, and introductions by leaders in the field such as Prosecutors Serge Brammertz (Vice-President of the Advisory Council of the Nuremberg Academy), Benjamin B. Ferencz, Richard J. Goldstone, and Mirna Goransky, Judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and LIU Daqun, Professors Morten Bergsmo and Narinder Singh, and Dr. Alexa Koenig.

Lexsitus seeks to contribute to ongoing and future efforts to develop capacity in international criminal law and international human rights law. It is also relevant to our discussions on dissemination of international law, proper access to law and thereby access to justice.

You find more information about Lexsitus here. We invite you to explore this new open access service, which is now part of the global commons.

If you have questions or feedback about Lexsitus, please send an e-mail message directly to lexsitus@cilrap.org.

The Nuremberg Academy and CILRAP are pleased to offer you this new service and invite you to discover Lexsitus.

Best regards,

International Nuremberg Principles Academy

Egidienplatz 23
90403 Nuremberg
Germany

Tel.: +49-911/231-10379
Fax: +49-911/231-14020
E-Mail: info@nurembergacademy.org
www.nurembergacademy.org

Click here to unsubscribe from the mailing list.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 23 – January 23, 2018


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 23
January 22, 2018

Editor-in-Chief
James Prowse

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Samantha Smyth

Managing Editors
Rina Mwiti
Alexandra Mooney

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

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

WORTH READING


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “warcrimeswatch – War Crimes Prosecution Watch” group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to warcrimeswatch+unsubscribe@case.edu.

Syria Deeply: News Deeply launches Women’s Advancement Deeply

Dear Syria Deeply community,
Because of your interest in our other News Deeply coverage, we want to share with you the launch of our newest platform, Women’s Advancement Deeply, which will cover the pursuit of economic equality for women, from securing gender-equal access to financial services to fighting for property rights and closing the pay gap. You can sign up for our newsletter here and also follow us on Twitter.

Since May 2016, we have covered issues affecting women and girls in the developing world and, as of today, the existing Women & Girls page will be archived and remain available for reference and exploration.

We’ll be working to launch other dedicated platforms in this space, and are currently exploring themes of maternal, sexual and reproductive health, as well as gender-based violence. If these topics are of interest to you, please email us – we would love your input as we scope new initiatives.

Women’s Advancement Deeply will take on the big questions about why the economic gender gap persists. We’ll provide a hub where those working to advance women’s rights can come together to understand the latest research in the field, share solutions that are working on the ground and learn how using a gender lens can help governments and investors make better decisions about how to spend their money.

We’ll combine specialist on-the-ground reporting with insights from our community of experts to help our readers understand what is, and what isn’t, working to make women’s economic advancement a reality.

To learn more about the launch and our coverage in 2018, please join us on Thursday, January 25, at 11:00 a.m. ET, for a 30-minute conversation with managing editor Megan Clement and senior editor Jumana Farouky on some of the crucial issues we’ll dig into in 2018, including the social, political and cultural barriers women and girls face in securing full economic equality. Our CEO and executive editor Lara Setrakian will join the call from the World Economic Forum in Davos, providing a look back at the biggest discussions of the week with a focus on gender. Register here.

If you are an expert on women’s economic advancement and would like to contribute to our coverage and help shape the platform, please complete this form. We look forward to working with you.
Warm regards,

Lara Setrakian
News Deeply CEO

Megan Clement
Women’s Advancement Deeply Managing Editor

Jihii Jolly
Women’s Advancement Deeply Community Editor

Visit Women’s Advancement Deeply
Copyright © 2018 News Deeply, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in at our website www.newsdeeply.com/syria

Our mailing address is:
News Deeply

246 5th Avenue

Suite 327

New York, NY 10001

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

International Center for Transitional Justice: In Focus – Designing Reparations Forms

Support Us
ICTJ In Focus
January 2018
In Focus ›
A Practitioners’ Perspective on Forms of Justice in Peru and Colombia
To mark the launch of our new publication, “Forms of Justice: A Guide to Designing Reparations Application Forms and Registration Processes for Victims of Human Rights Violations”, we sat down with Jairo Rivas about his work in designing reparations forms in Peru and Colombia.
Read More ›
Publications ›
Forms of Justice: A Guide to Designing Reparations Application Forms and Registration Processes for Victims of Human Rights Violations ›
Failure to Reform: A Critique of Police Vetting in Kenya ›
Other News
In the Philippines, Understanding Victims’ Perceptions of Reparations Forms
To mark the launch of our new publication, “Forms of Justice: A Guide to Designing Reparations Application Forms and Registration Processes for Victims of Human Rights Violations”, we sat down with Karl Gaspar to talk about his experience participating in the reparations process as a victim in the Philippines.
Read More ›
In South Africa, a Ruling in an Apartheid-era Murder Case Opens Paths to Justice
Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol died in South African police custody in 1971, and his family continues to demand justice. While police claimed Timol died by suicide, evidence indicated that he was tortured and murdered. The family’s tenacious efforts led to the reopening of an inquest into Timol’s death this year, with ICTJ senior program advisor Howard Varney representing the family.

The Pretoria High Court ruled in the family’s favor, finding that Timol did not kill himself but was indeed murdered while in police custody. ICTJ’s Sam McCann sat down with Varney to discuss the ruling, what it means to Timol’s family, and its significance for the fight for justice in South Africa.

Read More ›
Upcoming Events ›
February 10 – 12, 2018
Lemkin Summit to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities 2018 ›
Location: American University, Washington, D.C.
February 10 – 11, 2018
Human Rights Research and Documentation ›
Location: Columbia University International Affairs Building, 420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027 Room 802
Forward to a Friend
Do you know someone that may be interested in the ICTJ newsletter?
Copyright 2017 International Center for Transitional Justice
Unsubcribe from this newsletter.

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2018

World Report 2018 summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events from late 2016 through November 2017.

In his keynote essay, “The Pushback Against the Populist Challenge,” Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the surge of authoritarian populists appears less inevitable than it did a year ago. Then, there seemed no stopping a series of politicians around the globe who claimed to speak for “the people” but built followings by demonizing unpopular minorities, attacking human rights principles, and fueling distrust of democratic institutions. Today, a popular reaction in a broad range of countries, bolstered by some political leaders with the courage to stand up for human rights, has left the fate of many of these populist agendas more uncertain.

Report link: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/world_report_download/201801world_report_web.pdf

The Guardian: CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens

A Gulfstream jet from a quiet airport south-east of Raleigh flew captives to be tortured around the world. The government failed to act but local people have refused to let the issue die

Johnston County Airport terminal for Guantanamo Rendition CIA story

Ayear after he was released from captivity in Guantánamo, Binyam Mohamed received a letter from Christina Cowger, an agricultural researcher from North Carolina. Enclosed was a petition of apology signed by nearly 800 visitors to the North Carolina State Fair.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.
 Binyam Mohamed. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

It was “a small gesture”, Cowger acknowledged, but her 2010 letter came with a commitment. North Carolina Stop Torture Now, an organization she co-founded, had been conducting protests, petition drives and legislative campaigns seeking an official investigation into an obscure firm operating flights out of her local airport.

The firm, Aero Contractors, was the CIA front company that operated the Gulfstream business jet that delivered Mohamed to a secret prison in Morocco to be tortured.

Though few government officials supported such an investigation, she wrote, the group pledged “to work toward true transparency and accountability in the United States for the crimes against you and other survivors”.

Seven years later, Cowger sat in the front row of a makeshift hearing room in the Raleigh Convention Center as 11 volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture “upped the ante”, as she put it, on that pledge.

Over the course of two days, this “citizen-led truth seeking commission” called 20 witnesses to testify on the damage done by Aero’s rendition operations.

Former Guantánamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
 Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Photograph: Handout

One of those witnesses was Mohamedou Ould Slahi, whose Guantánamo Diaryopens as he is stripped, made to wear a diaper, and shackled aboard Aero’s Gulfstream in Amman, Jordan, in July 2002.

Appearing by Skype from his home country of Mauritania, Slahi faced questions from a panel that included a former chief prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal, a multi-tour veteran of the Iraq and Afghan wars, a Baptist minister, and a local social worker.

How, the commissioners asked, can we advance an accountability process our elected officials have shunned?

It is a question that North Carolinians have wrestled with before. In 1979, Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi party members opened fire at an anti-Klan rally in Greensboro, leaving five dead. State and federal trials ended in acquittals, and a civil lawsuit raised more questions than it answered about the actions of city officials and police during the event.

Now the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture aims to find a way forward from one of 21st-century America’s darkest episodes – the global operation to seize, interrogate and torture terrorism suspects that Aero Contractors facilitated from the Johnston County airport, a rustic, single runway airstrip 30 miles south-east of Raleigh.

Allyson Caison, a local realtor, first heard the CIA was running “a secret little operation” out of the airport around a Boy Scout campfire in 1996. The subject came up again in the early 2000s, when a relative who was a recreational pilot landed at the airport and marveled at its state-of-the-art runway.

She didn’t know that the “little operation” a former Air America pilot set up years ago in a nondescript blue hangar tucked into the pines employed more than 120 people, or that the Gulfstream jet she would hear taking off and landing was one of the most prolific spiders in what the Council of Europe has called a “web spun across the world” by the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation operations.

rendition story graphics Aero contractors
Pinterest
 Photograph: North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture

In April 2005, the New York Times ran a story titled “CIA Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights” that lifted the lid on Aero’s rendition flights. Later that year, 40 peace activists from St Louis joined Christina Cowger and other local residents to protest against the company’s role in the CIA’s torture program.

“It turned out I knew two of the three Aero principals well,” Caison said during a tour around the airport the day before the commission’s hearings convened. “These were prominent, well-respected business people in our community. Their children and mine were schoolmates. I baked their gingerbread houses for Christmas.”

From 2001 to 2004 Aero’s Gulfstream, operated under the tail number N379P, and a second, larger Boeing 737 Aero stationed at Kinston regional jetport in nearby Lenoir County, carried out scores of rendition missions. Together, they accounted for roughly 80% of all the CIA renditions during those years, landing more than 800 times in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Gulfstream was in and out of Guantánamo so often it earned the nickname the Guantánamo Express.

To drive with Caison around the airport is to get a sense of how much nerve this kind of neighbor-to-neighbor activism takes. In the gleaming new Johnston County airport terminal, the young airport manager greeted her with a wary handshake and a gently drawled apology that he could not attend the commission’s hearings.

Down the road, at the recently fortified automatic gate that blocks the access road to Aero’s hangar, there was no pretense of hospitality. It was lunch hour, and a line of cars was filing out the gate. Each slowed at the sight of Caison’s car. One driver, glaring, almost clipped her side view mirror as he inched past.

Allyson Caison.
Pinterest
 Allyson Caison. Photograph: L Siems

Caison said: “I really think we’ve changed some hearts and minds around here. People are quiet about it because of Aero’s long tentacles. But we’ve been persistent. It’s the strength of our little group. We’ve accomplished a lot.”

North Carolina Stop Torture Now has had an impact over the last 10 years. Recently released minutes of a closed 2007 meeting of the airport authority in Kinston, where Aero housed its larger 737 rendition jet, confirmed that Aero sold its hangar at the facility that year. When a member of the airport’s board asked its executive director why the company was leaving, the director “explained that Aero Contractors had not had the aircraft in the hangar for several months due to the negative publicity they were getting from Stop Torture Now”.

The campaign scored successes at state level and in Washington too. In Raleigh, the group pressed the governor and state attorney general to open a criminal investigation into Aero’s rendition operations. Told that the state had no jurisdiction, the group drew on a growing network of support from churches to press for legislation to make participating in CIA kidnappings, enforced disappearances and torture state crimes.

The bill twice stalled in committee, but attracted 12 bipartisan co-sponsors and brought the question of rendition for torture before religious congregations throughout the state.

Pressure is also credited with helping persuade Senator Richard Burr, then the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, to join in voting to declassify the executive summary of the Senate’s scathing report on the CIA torture program in 2014.

Although that report only examined the treatment of prisoners inside the CIA’s black sites around the world, its release sparked hopes for greater accountability over the rendition to bring suspects to interrogation.

Burr, now chair of the Senate’s intelligence committee, has made clear there will be no further official reckoning for the agency’s post-9/11 human rights violations, and has sought to recall and destroy all copies of the still-classified Senate report.

For the volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, this is where their responsibility begins.

“With no meaningful accountability from government leaders, it’s been left to citizens to keep this issue alive,” commission co-chair Jennifer Daskal, a law professor at American University, explained in a break in the hearings.

“We don’t have the power to prosecute, but we can offer an accounting of what happened, and of the costs, to prevent this from happening again.”

“I believe in accountability. I’ve done accountability,” said David Crane, who served as the founding chief prosecutor of the international tribunal that prosecuted Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes and who lives in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains.

“Torture is a clearcut issue: you don’t torture. The American people just need to know the raw facts, and many of those facts are right here in North Carolina.”

The commission invited Aero Contractors to give testimony at the hearings, but received no response. Invitations to the governor, attorney general and several Johnston County officials to attend or send representative to the hearings also went unanswered. Calls to the county manager and county commissioners seeking comment on the hearings and Aero’s operations were not returned.

Christina Cowger
Pinterest
 Christina Cowger: ‘The commission demonstrates by its very being that we are not helpless.’ Photograph: L Siems

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torturewill collect evidence through the spring, pressing for the release of public records from county and state officials and compiling research and testimony on the lasting harms inflicted by Aero’s rendition flights. It plans to release its final report this summer.

But the commission’s hearings also sharpened their sense of personal responsibility to repair the harm they see caused by Aero’s operations.

As a person of faith, I have to be involved in this,” Caison told the commission near the end of the hearing. “As a mom of two boys, I like to think that if my boys were kidnapped, renditioned and tortured, there would be another mom out there at the other end like me, trying to end an injustice that starts in her neighborhood.”

For Cowger, the priority now is to address the physical and psychological health of those who survived Aero’s rendition flights – a process that involves “acknowledgement, genuine apology, and some form of redress”.

“The commission demonstrates by its very being that we are not helpless,” she said.