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


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

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.

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


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Venezuela: A Storm of a Summer and Its Aftermath

By Max Cohen

Impunity Watch Special Features Editor

Edited By Yesim Usluca

Impunity Watch Senior Special Features Editor

It used to be one of the richest countries in South America. Now, citizens are fleeing in droves to any country that will have them. The money isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. And, the government is under the complete control of one man and his political allies. Over the past several months Venezuela has been embroiled by conflict as citizens have marched for change and the government has responded with a violent crackdown, which has only inspired more protests.

The first question on the minds of most is: How did this chaos come to be? Well, it began with an economic crash caused in part due to plummeting oil prices. Oil is Venezuela’s chief export, accounting for over ninety percent of the country’s export revenue, and without the billions that came from the state-owned oil company they could not sustain the social programs and food subsidies that oil money had funded. Because of years of borrowing from other countries, Venezuela has been left with massive debt, dwindling foreign currency, and a drastically drained reserve of funds, which has led imports for things such as medicine to be cut in half. Furthermore, inflation has made it more difficult for citizens to afford food, leading to a growing malnourishment problem. Price controls on goods sold within the country to make them more affordable have only made the problem worse by making them too cheap to justify the costs of production. However, these policies are politically difficult to repeal because they were put into place by the late Hugo Chavez, the still beloved predecessor of current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Then, in 2015, Venezuela’s opposition party won a supermajority in their Congress, the National Assembly.

In January 2016, Venezuela’s Supreme Court suspended the elections of a few opposition party lawmakers for alleged voting irregularities. However, the National Assembly continued to operate regardless of the Court’s order, leading the Court in March 2017 to declare the Assembly in contempt and in the process, effectively giving itself the power to legislate. Protesters took to the streets, and only a few days later the Supreme Court partially reversed its ruling by not taking the legislature’s powers. However, the Court did not address whether the National Assembly was still in contempt. The protests did not end however, as citizens continued to demand a new election to replace Maduro.

Venezuelans protest in La Castellana, a neighborhood in eastern Caracas. Photo courtesy of IRIN News.

Over the summer, as citizens came to the streets in massive numbers, their attempts at peaceful protests were met with excessive force and false arrests as government security forces attempted to quell the demonstrations. Approximately 120 people have died in the protests, and thousands have been arbitrarily detained as demonstrators have been tried in front of military courts, a process usually reserved for military crimes or terrorism. But, in a military court, Maduro could be assured of an outcome in his favor.

Planting evidence and unwarranted charges against civilians have been used to attempt to stifle dissent. One such incident involves Ana Rosa Cisneros, who was shopping at a pharmacy near a protest when she was arrested by the Venezuelan National Guard, and was detained for sixteen days. Now she must report to court monthly because of the charges levied against her.

Furthermore, conditions in the prisons where demonstrators, and those accused of doing so, are held are nothing short of horrific. In one prison called the Helicoid guards allegedly beat inmates, shocked them, and exposed them to tear gas-like chemicals. Prisoners in Venezuela deal with sexual abuse, and in one strange case were even forced to eat raw pasta with human feces in it. Illegal home raids by security forces are another tactic used by the government to intimidate people, with approximately forty-seven illegal raids occurring across eleven districts during the summer. In these raids, the security forces would break into people’s homes without any justification, legal or otherwise. They would search the houses, destroying property and using violence in the process, threaten the people living there, and leave hours later, sometimes outright stealing things as they left.

Wuilly Arteaga, an opposition activist, plays his violin during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro. Photo courtesy of Shaw Global News.

Brutality towards protesters has also been a common feature of the government’s response to the demonstrations. One famous incident of brutality by security forces involved Wuilly Arteaga, a protestor who was injured during the protests while playing songs on his violin, including Venezuela’s national anthem. Arteaga gained international celebrity after a video went viral of him crying over a violin broken by government security forces. However, there was a bright side as he received numerous violins from several people, including celebrity salsa singer Marc Anthony. Then in August, after being arrested at a demonstration, Mr. Arteaga was detained for over two weeks, during which time he was allegedly beaten and tortured by the guards. Around the same time, the government released a video in which Arteaga said that he was not mistreated in jail and that the government did not break his violin. According to Arteaga however, the video was doctored, and many of his statements in it were coerced. In a more tragic tale, a young man, David José Vallenilla, was killed after being shot three times in the chest at point blank range by a soldier for hurling rocks over a fence at the La Carlota airbase. In an ironic twist of fate, it turned out that Mr. Vallenilla was the son of Maduro’s former boss from when the Venezuelan leader was a bus driver. Even worse, these are only some of many stories just like them among those who have protested in Venezuela.

Despite the deaths, injuries, and unlawful detentions, protests continued and even became more impassioned after Maduro called for the election of a constituent assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution. Maduro even brought in the military, putting 232,000 soldiers out on the streets, to ensure everything went off without a hitch. But, in the days preceding the vote, millions of people across the country engaged in a two-day strike. Furthermore, even after Maduro declared protests during voting to be a crime punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years, people came to the streets to voice their opposition to Maduro and express their frustration at a vote that many predicted would be fraudulent. Only a few weeks earlier, over seven million citizens had participated in an unofficial vote rejecting the constituent assembly, which was deemed “unlawful” by the government. Venezuela’s opposition party even refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly election before it took place, and thus did not submit any candidates from their party. In a result surprising no one, the pro-government constituent assembly won in an election, where there was no rejection option, that the CEO of the company suppling Venezuela’s voting machines confirmed was fraudulent. Results were reportedly off by at least one million people, and may be off as much as half of the eight million who purportedly voted in the election.

As a result, the Constituent Assembly will govern Venezuela as a legislature until their constitution is rewritten, giving Maduro complete control over the country indefinitely. Among its members are Maduro’s own wife and son, as well as other allies of the embattled president. The United States (U.S.), along with many other countries have stated that they do not recognize the result of this election. The only countries who have recognized the election thus far are allies of the country such as Bolivia and Cuba.

Former Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Throughout the troubles in Venezuela, the only government official in Maduro’s administration willing to stand up to Maduro was the former Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, speaking out against her government on the issue of human rights. Her public dissent began when she condemned the Venezuelan Supreme Court for attempting to take away the National Assembly’s powers. Furthermore, after reports of the fraud committed in electing the Constituent Assembly, she vowed to investigate, only to be fired by the Constituent Assembly a few days later, something which had also been attempted by Venezuela’s Supreme Court earlier in the summer. Both times that she was fired, Diaz attempted to continue with her job. The first time she was successful in returning to work and even charged the former head of Venezuela’s National Guard with human rights abuses. But, after being fired by the Constituent Assembly she was prevented by security forces from even entering her building. The Constituent Assembly’s new Attorney General, Tarek Saab, is considered an ally of Maduro and has allegedly turned a blind eye to human rights abuses. Diaz’s change of position towards Maduro’s administration came about because of a multitude of factors including the state of the country, the kidnapping of her children, and the persecution that she felt coming towards her from other parts of the government. Previously she had also been banned from leaving the country and her assets had been frozen by the government. But since being fired, she has fled the country and is now in hiding. Recently she has supplied the U.S. with evidence compromising top officials in Maduro’s government concerning various forms of corruption, including evidence of graft linked to food imports. As recently as November 16th, she accused Maduro, before the International Criminal Court, of being responsible for crimes against humanity amounting to over 8,000 murders since 2015.

Opposition leaders have also been continually outspoken against the abuses of Maduro’s government, only to be met with retaliation. In April, the government had told opposition leader Henrique Caprilles that he was banned from doing any political work for fifteen years. Then in May, he was banned from leaving the country just as he was about to attend a meeting with the United Nation’s (U.N.), Human Rights Council to discuss the turmoil embroiling his country. Two opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, were taken from their homes in August and jailed on suspicion that they were planning to leave the country and had violated the terms of their agreements by making political statements. Both men were under house arrest at the time, and have since been released back into house arrest. Lilian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo Lopez, was also banned from leaving the country after 200 million bolivars, the equivalent of $11,000, were found in her car. Tintori claims that the cash was from personal funds to help pay for her grandmother’s medical care. All of this came right before Tintori was scheduled to go to Europe to attend meetings to convince European leaders to institute sanctions against Venezuela and the Maduro government.

Opposition members have not been the only victims of the government’s authoritarian acts. In October 2017, three journalists, two of them from Europe, were arrested as they prepared a report on the conditions in a Venezuelan prison. Furthermore, in June, an American citizen was imprisoned for alleged weapons charges. However, many believe it was due to the U.S.’s stance on the Venezuelan government’s authoritarian acts.

In late July, the opposition had also attempted to replace the Venezuelan Supreme Court with appointees of their own, an action that the current pro-government Court declared invalid and inferred that such an action could be treason. One appointee was detained by the government and others were allegedly threatened by government forces. A few of the justices appointed to an alternative Supreme Court created by the National Assembly, were later forced to take refuge in the Chilean Embassy.

The U.N. has also been a steady force standing against Venezuela to the extent that it can. It has denounced the government’s moves from the retaliation against figures like Luisa Ortega Diaz, to denouncing the government’s abysmal handling of human rights. The U.N. has also issued a report documenting the various human rights abuses by the Venezuelan government referring it to the U.N. Human Rights Council for action. However, Venezuela is still currently a sitting member of the council and would be involved in any decision by the body.

Now only one other question remains; what happens next? Two governments currently exist in Venezuela. The official Constituent Assembly, which has all the power, and the National Assembly, which, although it still meets, has done little since August other than to publicly protest Maduro’s government’s actions. The National Assembly though, is that in name only, with no resources, and few lawmakers willing to show up to conduct “business.”

In mid-October, there was another round of voting in the nation’s gubernatorial elections, in which those aligned with Maduro won handily. The opposition has alleged fraud, but none of the evidence thus far pans out those claims. However, even though Maduro’s allies won by a sizable margin without inflating the vote count, Venezuela’s most recent elections were far from fair. Just hours before the vote, the government-aligned National Electoral Council moved many pro-opposition polling places leaving half a million people with no idea where to vote. When they attempted to find out by texting a special number, the government would text them back reminding them who the Socialist candidate for their region is. The government told people that its electoral system enabled them to know who had voted, and public-sector employees were brought to the polls by their employers and threatened with firing if they did not vote. The few wins received by the opposition party were rendered almost pointless by Maduro’s demand that, to take office, any elected candidate had to take an oath before the Constituent Assembly and “subordinate” themselves to it.

Russia, a longtime ally of Venezuela since the Soviet Era, has since agreed to restructure Venezuela’s debt payments just as it appears the country is headed for default. A default would mean an even greater disaster in terms of severe shortages of food and medicine. It would endanger not only Venezuela’s economy, but potentially the world economy at large. Additionally, default would result in an immense amount of litigation, and possible seizures of the government’s overseas assets, particularly Citgo which is the American subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. China, another major lender to Venezuela, has shown no interest in lending more money to them, some theorized at the time due to concerns over Maduro’s longevity in his position.

The U.S. has reacted to the Venezuelan crisis much differently, instituting sanctions on the country’s political leaders as well as inclusion of the country in the latest version of President Donald Trump’s now infamous travel ban. Other financial and economic sanctions have also been a part of the U.S.’s action, such as barring any new financial deals with either the government or the state-run oil company PDVSA, which as a result will make it difficult for PDVSA to refinance its debt. However, the U.S. has not yet issued a ban on Venezuela’s main industry, crude oil trading. As the U.S. is Venezuela’s biggest customer of oil, a sanction on the product, if instituted, would do incredible damage to the country’s economy. The European Union has also banned arms sales to the country, and instituted a system to freeze assets and put in place travel restrictions on Venezuelan officials. The U.S.’s involvement in attempting to get Maduro to step down however, has not gone unnoticed and Maduro has made the country the proverbial “boogeyman,” blaming it for the current political and economic instability.

In late November 2017, Maduro replaced the head of the state-run oil company with a general and former housing minister, Manuel Quevedo, with little experience in the industry. Around fifty officials at the company have been arrested in what the government claims is an attempt to clear the organization of corruption. In addition to continuing to clear corruption, Quevedo will also oversee the difficult process of restructuring the company’s debt. Quevedo is also accused of committing human rights violations during the anti-Maduro protests. However, some speculate that Maduro’s true motive may be to clear the field of powerful potential political rivals and tighten control over the country’s only major source of money.

Approximately 27,000 Venezuelans in 2016 and 52,000 thus far in 2017 have applied for asylum. That is only a fraction of those fleeing the country during its most recent economic and political crisis. In the neighboring state of Columbia alone, the estimates range from 300,000 to 1.2 million Venezuelans living there. Also, in Argentina, the number of Venezuelans starting new lives there has jumped from 1,911 in 2012 to 12,859 in 2016. With 8,333 in the first quarter of 2017 alone, it does not appear to be on track to decrease any time soon. Furthermore, Chile too has seen a massive increase, with the average number of visas issued to Venezuelans rising from 758 to 8,381. The mass exodus becomes even more serious as one reflects on that fact that a majority of those leaving are the kind of well educated professionals that Venezuela needs to hang onto if it is going to climb out of its current economic hole.

Countries around the world have slapped Venezuela with sanctions, and will probably continue to do so as the situation there worsens. Protests have dwindled in size out of fear from the government’s now unchecked power. People will continue to flee the country’s dire political and economic conditions for other countries. And, as the morally crushed opposition sinks, Maduro’s grip on the country will grow stronger and eventually stabilize his hold on power. With the stabilization of Maduro’s hold on power, Venezuela’s allies, as Russia did in early November 2017, will be more willing to help the country economically, but even they cannot save it now. The economy will continue to fester and rot as the government keeps the policies preventing growth in place, and may even worsen as oil as a fuel source declines in usage due to energy saving technologies and global action on climate change.

For any lasting change to occur, it will have to come from the people. Standing up to Maduro’s regime will be an enormous risk, but it is one that citizens will need to take if they want to realize the greater rewards that come with true freedom. Waiting and hoping for things to get better is not an option because things are primed to only get worse. It is only through action that things will truly get better.

 

For more information, please see:

Aljazeera – Venezuela’s crisis explained from the beginning – 14 December 2017

Aljazeera – Venezuela: UN warns of possible crimes against humanity – 11 September 2017

Amnesty International – Venezuela: Repression taken into people’s living rooms as home raids surge – 30 October 2017

Bloomberg – Venezuela’s Empty Elections – 19 October 2017

Business Insider – ‘The tipping point’: More and more Venezuelans are uprooting their lives to escape their country’s crises – 2 December 2016

CBS – Voting machine firm: Venezuela vote rigged “without any doubt” – 2 August 2017

CNN – Controversial Venezuela vote to be investigated, attorney general says – 3 August 2017

CNN – Deadly election day in Venezuela as protesters clash with troops – 30 July 2017

CNN – Putin extends lifeline to cash-strapped Venezuela – 15 November 2017

CNN – Trump administration announces new travel restrictions – 25 September 2017

CNN – U.S. hits 10 more Venezuelan leaders with sanctions – 9 November 2017

CNN – UN: Venezuelan protesters endure excessive force, other rights violations – 8 August 2017

CNN – Venezuela’s high court dissolves National Assembly – 30 March 2017

CNN – Venezuela: How paradise got lost – 27 July 2017

CNN – Venezuelans launch 2-day strike against Maduro as US slaps sanctions – 27 July 2017

CNN – Venezuela’s Leopoldo Lopez returns to house arrest – 6 August 2017

CNN – Venezuelan protester shot dead at point-blank range by soldier – 23 June 2017

Fox – EU adopts sanctions against Venezuela – 13 November 2017

The Guardian – ‘At home, we couldn’t get by’: more Venezuelans flee as crisis deepens – 17 July 2017

The Guardian – I gave US ‘compromising’ evidence on Venezuela officials – ex-chief prosecutor – 13 October 2017

The Guardian – ‘I will be back’: Violin-playing face of Venezuela’s protests injured in clashes – 22 July 2017

The Guardian – Trump’s latest travel ban: what’s new, who’s covered, and why now? – 25 September 2017

Human Rights Watch – Questionable Elections in Venezuela – 23 October 2017

Independent – Venezuela’s president accused of crimes against humanity – 16 November 2017

LA Times – Driven by unrest and violence, Venezuelans are fleeing their country by the thousands – 19 October 2017

The Local – Journalists including Italian, Swiss arrested over Venezuela prison report – 8 October 2017

Miami Herald – Venezuela’s opposition leader barred from leaving the country – 18 May 2017

NBC – Venezuela’s New Constitutional Assembly Ousts Anti-Maduro Prosecutor Luisa Ortega – 5 August 2017

New York Times – How Venezuela Fell Into Crisis and What Could Happen Next – 27 May 2016

New York Times – Venezuela’s New Leaders Begin Their March Toward Total Control – 4 August 2017

New York Times – Venezuelan Court Revises Ruling That Nullified Legislature – 1 April 2017

New York Times – Venezuelan Opposition Denounces Latest Vote as Ruling Party Makes Gains – 16 October 2017

New York Times – Venezuela Tries Protestors in Military Court ‘Like We Are in a War’ – 12 May 2017

New York Times – Venezuela Votes for Governors in a ‘Deficient Democracy’ – 14 October 2017

PBS – Venezuelan opposition wins supermajority in National Assembly – 9 December 2015

Reuters – Activist Tintori says she is barred from leaving Venezuela – 2 September 2017

Reuters – Maduro taps major general to lead Venezuela’s deteriorating oil industry – 26 November 2017

Reuters – Slain Venezuelan protester’s father appeals to ‘friend’ Maduro – 23 June 2017

Reuters – Trump slaps sanctions on Venezuela; Maduro sees effort to force default – 25 August 2017

Reuters – Venezuela jails opposition leaders in new crackdown on opponents – 1 August 2017

teleSUR – Supreme Court Declares Opposition’s Naming of Judges Invalid – 21 July 2017

U.N. News Centre – Human rights violations indicate repressive policy of Venezuelan authorities – UN report – 30 August 2017

U.N. News Centre – Venezuela bans Attorney General from leaving country; UN rights office voices concern – 30 June 2017

U.N. News Centre – Venezuela: UN human rights chief regrets opposition leader being blocked to travel – 19 May 2017

Washington Post – In Venezuela, prisoners say abuse is so bad they are forced to eat pasta mixed with excrement – 24 June 2017

Washington Post – Report: More than 500 people were killed in two years in Venezuelan government’s anti-crime campaign – 5 October 2017

Washington Post – Venezuela’s democracy is fake, but the government’s latest election win was real – 17 October 2017

Washington Post – A young Venezuelan made his violin an instrument of resistance. The government hit back – 28 August 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duterte’s War on Drugs in the Philippines

By Brian Kim

Impunity Watch Special Features Editor

Edited By Yesim Usluca

Impunity Watch Senior Special Features Editor

On June 30, 2016, Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the Philippines’ 16th president. After beating three opponents, Duterte won the presidential election by sixteen million votes with his “change is coming” message. Throughout the campaign, Duterte was referred to as “the Punisher” for his tough policies against alleged criminals and drug dealers.

When first elected to his six-year term, Rodrigo Duterte faced a number of pressing issues. Although the nation of ninety-eight million people was considered one of Asia’s best-performing economies, the sluggish growth since the end of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship was visible to its citizens. With 60% of the total labor being employed by small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many Filipinos still faced significant financial issues. With its capital, Manila, dominating the economy, terrible traffic and deteriorating infrastructure made the city unlivable.

Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with the outgoing President Benigno Aquino. (Photo courtesy of Ted Aljibe)

Aside from policy issues, Duterte quickly formed his government to begin implementing his initiatives. He surrounded himself with a very capable economic team who could stabilize and build on the current economy. His other cabinet picks included a wide array of politicians with great records. Furthermore, he selected the national police chief who is known for his tough approach to criminality.

Although there were a number of other pressing issues facing the country, President Rodrigo Duterte was most famously elected to “eradicate” drugs, crime and corruption in six months. During his time as the mayor of Davao City for twenty-two years, although challenged by some, he is credited for turning the city from the Philippines’ most deadly into one of its safest.  In the city of 1.5 million, Duterte conducted an operation to execute suspected criminals in the street. As a candidate for the Philippines’ 2016 presidential elections, Duterte vowed to kill 100,000 criminals while in office in order to control the country’s crime problems.

At his election victory event in Davao City, he encouraged ordinary citizens to kill by saying “do it yourselves if you have guns, you have my support.” After he took office, he went further and again urged his citizens to kill drug addicts as “getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” He blatantly stated that he did not care about human rights or due process in his country if it could eliminate the drug and crime issues in the Philippines.

Since taking office, Duterte ordered his police force to eliminate criminals. By rewarding police officers who killed drug lords with cash prizes, police killings in the Philippines rose 400% nationwide.  In fact, Duterte promised to protect the police from prosecution if they killed suspected drug dealers. This began his six-month campaign to fight against the drug problems in the Philippines.

When Duterte was first elected to office, around 1,027 people were killed during police operations based on the national police report data gathered from July 1 to September 5, 2016. With over 15,000 arrests and 686,000 surrendering voluntarily to police, the war against drugs had a huge impact on its citizens from the beginning. At the time, according to records, there were at least 1,500 pending cases under the category of “found dead body, under investigation.” Despite the increased number of police killings in the country, the national survey showed around 91% of Filipinos having a “high degree of trust” with their new government.

Towards the end of September 2016, President Duterte’s government demoted a high-profile politician from serving as the head of a committee investigating Duterte’s extrajudicial killings. Senator Leila de Lima, a former Justice Secretary, had led the opposition against the government’s war on drugs. Senator de Lima had claimed that over 3,000 have been killed in the eleven weeks since Duterte was sworn into office. Among the many deaths, Maria Aurora Moynihan, daughter of British baron Anthony Moynihan, was regarded as one of the highest profile victims. She was found shot dead with a sign over her body reading “drug punishers to celebrities, you’re next.” In a recent investigation, hitman Edgar Matobato testified under oath that Duterte ordered him to assassinate criminals while serving as the mayor of Davao City. He further claimed that Duterte himself had killed an agent and that the President’s own son was a drug user.

Although Duterte’s government justified the removal of Senator de Lima by stating that she was using the committee for “personal political vendettas,” many strategists believe that it was due to the recent incident with Matobato and his testimony.

Moreover, soon after Matobato’s testimony, President Duterte released a list of 1,000 “narco-politicians” and other officials with suspected drug links. Many analysts believed that the list indicated that the anti-drug campaign would be longer than six months and that Duterte was ready to ask for an extension.

Since Senator de Lima’s removal from her post, many began to doubt the country’s democracy. Human Rights Watch stated that Senator de Lima’s removal was a “craven attempt to derail accountability for the appalling death toll from the abusive war on drugs.”

In October 2016, President Duterte gave a speech in Manila which included police statistics on his drug war operation. In his speech, he claimed that two policemen were dying everyday due to the war with illegal drugs. However, based on the official data, only thirteen police officers were killed in a three-month period. During this time, numerous reports came out claiming that Duterte was exaggerating statistics to make a claim for his campaign. In fact, on July 25, 2016, President Duterte, during his inaugural address to the nation, claimed that there were 3.7 million “drug addicts” in the Philippines. However, based on a survey conducted by the Office of the President’s Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in 2015, the Philippines has fewer than half the number of “drug addicts” stated by Duterte. Based on DDB data, about a third of the 1.8 million drug users had taken drugs only once in the previous thirteen months. The records also showed that around 860,000 consumed drugs, such as crystal meth, or shabu, which are considered highly addictive drugs.

Rodrigo Duterte appoints Aaron Aquino as the head of the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency. (Photo courtesy of EPA)

In his address in September 2016, Duterte claimed that the number of “addicts” would rise to four million and declared that the anti-drugs operations in his country would go on until June 2017.

In addition, a booklet handed out by Duterte’s government in September 2016 at a regional summit in Laos stated that 75% of the country’s “heinous crime” is drug-related. However, per the booklet, the definition of heinous crimes include murder, rape, human trafficking and treason, not drug crimes.

Keeping his promise, the anti-drug campaign extended into 2017 and the Philippine police released additional statistics. According to newly obtained information, the government performed over 40,000 anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to January 7, 2017. During this time, over 2,000 drug abusers were killed and around 44,000 people were arrested for drug-related offenses.

Furthermore, the police visited six-million houses during this period to persuade suspected abusers to submit themselves to a drug rehabilitation program. Based on these visits, over one-million people surrendered. The police further recognized that over 4,000 suspects were killed by vigilante-style killings, which is considered the most controversial feature of Duterte’s campaign. Finally, around thirty police officers and three soldiers were killed during the six-month period.

Many supporters of President Duterte and his campaign viewed these statistics as positive figures as the country vows to turn its tide on drug related crimes. However, many human rights organizations raised serious concerns over how the campaign was being carried out in the country.

The campaign came to a brief halt in January 2017 when rogue officers killed a South Korean businessman, Jee Ick-joo. Following the death of Mr. Ick-joo, President Duterte stated that he was “embarrassed” that the officers engaged in kidnapping which led to the South Korean’s death. Duterte’s police chief, Ronald de la Rosa stated that the police “will dissolve all anti-drug units in the police.” Although the killings did not stop entirely, around sixty-nine people were killed in March, which is at a much slower pace than previous rate of killings.

 

After the killing of Jee Ick-joo, President Duterte has tapped the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead the anti-drug campaign. Since the agency took over the campaign, Duterte was reported to take a “hands-off” approach when dealing with the drug war. He went even further and instructed the agency to not provide reports to him and left it completely up to the agency to execute the operation.

Despite the brief pause, President Duterte solidified his campaign in September 2017. In a vote of 119 to 32 in the country’s congress, the Philippines government reduced the annual budget of the Commission on Human Rights from $17 million to just $25.

The opposition members believed that this was the government’s retaliation against the Commission on Human Rights for being critical of President Duterte’s war on drugs. Phelim Kine, deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, accused the government of attempting to eliminate independent institutions from investigating President Duterte’s possible examples of abuse of power. Congressman Edcel Lagman, who opposes the budget cut, stated that the President is “virtually imposing the death penalty on a constitutionally created and mandated independent office.”

As President Duterte’s anti-drug war continued, in September 2017, the President’s eldest son, Paolo Duterte appeared before the Senate and denied any connection to a seized shipment of $125 million worth of drugs from China. Many opposition members alleged that Paolo Duterte assisted in easing the entry of the drugs, but the President’s son denied the allegations. President Duterte has repeatedly stated that he will resign as president if any of his family members were involved in corruption.

The international community has been critical of President Duterte’s war on drugs. Recently, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) called upon Duterte’s government to end all extrajudicial killings in the country. The organization cited “several credible reports and documentation” showing that many extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, and internal displacements were occurring. Moreover, as an organization with a consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the group cited that “the number of individuals suspected to be involved in illegal drugs who apparently fell victim to extrajudicial or summary killings during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte ranges from 8,000 to 12,000 dead.”

In addition, earlier in November 2017, many human rights experts at the United Nations released a joint statement insisting Duterte’s government to cease any attacks and killings under the president’s war on drugs.

Conversely, President Duterte was also vocal in the international stage. At the 31st Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in November 2017, Duterte shared harsh words with Canada’s Justin Trudeau for commenting on his war on drugs campaign. Duterte characterized the comments made by the Canadian prime minister as “insulting” and said that “I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off.”

Last year, Duterte made headlines for insulting former President Barack Obama when he raised serious concerns about Duterte’s campaign and its human rights violations. After the comments were made by the former president, Duterte announced that he would break all ties with the United States. However, since President Donald Trump took office, the relationship has regained its strength.

President Donald Trump and President Duterte met during a bilateral meeting at the ASEAN Summit. During the visit, President Trump did not mention Duterte’s drug war. Instead, Trump praised Duterte’s hospitality. The White House stated that the meeting primarily focused on ISIS, illegal drugs, and trade. However, the Philippines government stated that the two leaders talked at length about the Philippine’s war on drugs. Unlike former U.S. leaders, President Trump did not mention human rights issues. The two men spoke previously over a phone call where President Trump commended Duterte on his anti-drugs operations. Moreover, during the call, Trump allegedly criticized his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and stated that he “did not understand” the drug issues facing the Philippines.

The recent reports out of the Philippines still showed a strong support for President Duterte’s war against drugs. Since the beginning of his pledge to control drugs and crime in the country, international human rights organizations reported that around 13,000 people have died from extrajudicial killing in the country. However, Duterte remains a very popular figure in the country as most are not impacted by his campaign. Statistics show that seven out of ten Filipinos still support Duterte’s war on drugs. Many believe that it is because the killings are happening in the poorer parts of the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting at the ASEAN Summit. (Photo courtesy of New York Times)

In an address to his country, Duterte instructed the Philippine National Force to stop all operations related to the campaign. Although the killings have not stopped completely, it is seen as a positive step towards stopping extrajudicial killings in the country. Following the recent changes, President Duterte appointed a new chief to the Philippines’ anti-drug agency, PDEA, Chief Aaron Aquino. Since Chief Aquino began his position, only one suspect had been killed in 1,341 operations.

Under Chief Aquino’s leadership, the agency vowed to wear body cameras when conducting operations to show that they are following the law. In a recent statement, he stated that he hoped the operations would be transparent and asked “the media to join in on the operations so they will see everything from the very start of the operations to the end.”

The PDEA has stated that they have arrested more than 400 people in the month of October and apprehended around $1 million worth of illegal drugs. Although the Philippines National Police (PNP) withdrew from leading Duterte’s anti-drugs operations, Chief Aquino noted that the PNP is still being consulted on “high level” operations. This is partly due to the shortage of officers available to PDEA as the PDEA has around 2,000 officers compared to the country’s 165,000 police officers.

President Duterte recently stated that if the drug problems worsen, he is willing to put the PNP in charge of the operations once again.

 

For more information, please see: 

ABC – Philippines: Commission on Human Rights budget cut to almost nothing amid Duterte’s drug crackdown – 13 September, 2017

ABS CBN – Int’l lawyers’ group urges Philippines to end killings, rights abuses – 30 November, 2017

Al Jazeera – Philippines: Inside Duterte’s killer drug war – 8 September, 2016

BBC – Duterte drug war: Philippines cuts rights body’s budget to $20 – 12 September, 2017

BBC – Philippine anti-drug agency chief vows ‘rule of law’ – 23 November, 2017

CNBC – Doubts grow over democracy in the Philippines after Senator Leila de Lima’s ousting – 22 September, 2016

CNBC – Trump does not publicly rebuke Duterte for drug war killings – 13 November, 2017

CNN – Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated as Philippines president – 30 June, 2016

The Diplomat – Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’ in the Philippines: By the Numbers – 9 January, 2017

The Guardian – Rodrigo Duterte calls Justin Trudeau’s questions about war on drugs an ‘insult’ – 14 November, 2017

The Guardian – Thousands dead: the Philippine president, the death squad allegations and a brutal drugs war – 2 April, 2017

Huffington Post – Duterte Deploys Questionable Data To Justify The Philippines’ Drug War – 24 October, 2016

The Independent – Philippines cuts its human rights budget to £15 – 13 September, 2017

NPR – Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte Sustains Support For Deadly War On Drugs – 13 November, 2017

Time – Rodrigo Duterte Has Been Sworn In as President of the Philippines – 30 June, 2016