Jurist: First It’s the Muslims – An Evolution to Dictatorship

JURIST Guest Columnist David M. Crane of the Syracuse University College of Law discusses some alarming similarities between the early days of the Trump administration and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler…

How did a great country with a strong and respected place in the world, a center for culture and tolerance, elect a man who would plunge the world into what a commentator called “a place of anguish and fear”? This is a question many historians and policy makers asked themselves about Germany in the 1930’s.

The manner in which Adolf Hitler came to power initially was legitimate and within the constitutional bounds of German law. An obscure former corporal in the German army, he ran for the highest political office in his country on a platform of nationalism, essentially declaring it time to make “Germany great again.” Stung by the humiliating terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany retreated inward burdened by reparations and eventual economic depression; this liberal democracy struggled to redefine itself in a post-WWI world. Hitler’s speeches declared that Germany could be a great country again, with a strong people, who could move forward to reclaim their historic place in Europe. All this rang true to a defeated people.

Hitler’s rhetoric in those days formed the murky beginnings of a far darker political dynamic, but the German people — Dem Deuctshevolk — shop workers, shopkeepers and farmers, looked beyond this darker theme and focused on a more promising future in a proud and assertive Germany. As he ran for Chancellor, Hitler focused on the economic issues of the time, promising to restore the German economy and bring back jobs. “German business first” was what a German citizen liked to hear.

Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, barely more than eight years after he was released from a Bavarian prison for the Beer Hall Putsch. The first year of his rise to power was a heady time where money poured into infrastructure and rebuilding the German army, in blatant violation of the Versailles Treaty. The concept of a people’s car, a Volkswagen, became a reality to be driven on the world’s first interstate road system, called the autobahn. German citizens saw jobs, better pay, and a brighter future.

Then the nibbling at Germany’s democratic principles began, subtle at first, but picked up over the next few years, and by the time of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, led to a state policy to shift power from the people to one person, a Fuehrer. Backed by the Reichstag, new laws were passed shifting the power to a single executive. Additionally, as this happened, Adolf Hitler began to raise the stakes against perceived enemies of the state by using fear to cause the German people to give away their freedoms one at a time to fight the threat — Bolsheviks, Slavs, and Jews. Claiming a conspiracy to keep Germany weak, various minorities were singled out as a threat to the country and its people. It was this existential threat from within and outside the country that Hitler built upon a fear so much so that the citizens of Germany turned to their leader, their Fuehrer, to protect them.

The intellectual elite of Germany and much of the middle class at first stood back, amused, embarrassed, disbelieving that this proud nation of culture, of tolerance, of openness would elect this small little man who ranted and raved about a great German nation, a Reich that would last a thousand years. They could not believe that he would last long politically and stood aside in the early years thinking that the political system in place would cause his demise. By the time they realized the shift of almost complete power to one man had actually happened, it was too late. They had only one choice: swear allegiance or leave. Some left when they still could, but most stayed and accepted their national fate.

I have faced down dictators most of my professional life. To understand my adversary I have studied the twentieth century’s dictators, how they came to power, their psyche, and their methods of destroying their own citizens. There are patterns, similarities, regarding despots, dictators, and thugs who rise to and hold power in their countries. Their track record is horrific with the destruction of over 95 million human beings at the hands of these dictators in the last century.

Understanding the similar conduct of largely ordinary men rising to absolute power can help us in many ways: from investigating and prosecuting them for violations of domestic and international crimes, identifying those politicians or political movements trending toward despotism, to prevention and counter measures to blunt their move to power. Liberal democracies today need to understand the past, the present trends, to protect our futures. The consideration of these traits are instructive today in the United States and elsewhere.

So what are those similarities among despots and dictators? First in a country where a dictator comes to power, there is an anger towards the establishment, a long term disappointment and lack of trust in their government.They use this loss of faith in the centralized government to start building a political base to gain power. Dictators want to “drain the swamp,” to clean house, to start over.

Second, the rising dictator uses fear to shift that frustration away from their policies to what is called “a boogey man.” Dictators for a century all used a “boogey man” to focus their citizenry away from their absolute power to a threat outside the country. The Three Pashas in Turkey blamed the Christian Armenians for the loss of the Ottoman Empire; Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews for weakening Germany; Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung focused on Western capitalism; and the Ayatollah of Iran blamed the Great Satan of America for their economic problems. Outsiders who were different, who had a different religion became an internal and external threat and were either accounted for and interned or deported. Those who sought admission to their country were banned for who or what they were.

Third, dictators view the press as their enemy and initially seek to limit press access to their regimes, then ban or control the press entirely. They consider the press an enemy of the state and take appropriate action. The liberal press is blamed for factual distortions. The dictator declares they are not using real facts and fashion their own truths, what you would call today “alternative facts.” Joseph Goebbels stated that “if you lie to the people long enough, they will believe it as the truth.” In a dictatorship the truth is the first casualty.

Fourth, a dictator surrounds himself (yes, they are all men) with only those people who tell him what he wants to hear, not what he needs to hear. The truth becomes dangerous to the government and to those who know it. The dictator does not want to know the truth, they fear the truth and those who work with and for the dictator fear knowing and telling them the truth. They could lose their influence, power, jobs, even their lives, as well as their family’s lives if they are truthful. It’s a downward paranoid spiral.

Fifth, the dictators of the twentieth century also suffered from some type of psychological disease or defect. From paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, and narcissism these men slipped farther and farther away from reality the longer they stayed in power. A perfect illustration is when Joseph Stalin fell dying on the floor in his bedroom and laid there for fourteen hours, the doctors and handlers were too afraid to declare him dead in fear of the repercussions of even saying, let alone knowing that he had died.

Sixth, dictators over time consider the law only as a guide, to be broken, modified, or ignored. The longer in power the more they feel they are above the law and take action according to their own whims. A political cult develops around them. They become above all men. Society is what the dictator says it is. The national identity becomes the dictator. Where once government workers or members of the armed forces swore allegiance to the law, they now must swear allegiance to the dictator himself without question. The refusal to do so is expulsion or death.

In the United States we now have a President who fits several of these traits and has acted accordingly — all within two short weeks as President. The surprising thing is how easily he has been able to do this without any institutional resistance. America is not used to someone of this caliber. We sit back stunned, cowed, or in quiet glee as this new President begins to “make America great again.” Is he becoming America’s first “dictator”? This remains to be seen.

Our only counter to this “new type” of President is the Constitution of the United States. The founders of this nation contemplated a Trump and put in the necessary checks and balances to ensure that America did not create a king or dictator. The power was reserved to the people, us; and all those elected answer to that people, not the other way around. The other two branches of government will be critical to our republic with this power grabbing new President. They must do their constitutional duty and pay heed to the law and to the people to counter his seeking absolute power.

Another point, the recent singling out of Muslims seeking entry into our country from several countries appears to be, and is touted to be, a national security issue protecting our country. Beware when our federal government tells you the reason they are doing something “in the name of national security.” The results were: “The Red Scare,” Japanese internment camps, McCarthyism, unauthorized medical testing, the electronic surveillance program, torture, secret camps, and Guantanamo, to name a few. It is easier to govern a people when they are afraid. Fear is the life blood of a dictator. Singling out a people to blame because they are different and can possibly cause us harm, hoping to play upon our fears is just a first step to despotism.

In times of real or perceived crisis we must hold tight to our Constitution, not push it away as a hindrance to making our country safe. Thomas Jefferson throughout his life looked to the people to keep the United States on track, our leaders honest, and our focus on the rule of law. Even in the Declaration of Independence he hinted that it is the people who shape that government and have the right and the obligation to change that government should it challenge our constitutional rights.

It is heartening to see people in the United States and around the world who are standing up to the new President’s policies. Make no mistake, we have a man in power who manifests the traits of a dictator. A citizenry who raise the banner of the rule of law holding our elected officials accountable to our Constitution, and not to a man, will eventually cause the Trump administration to reign in their policies or face legal consequences. If we do not, I fear for America. Remember Germany…

David M. Crane is a Professor of Law at the Syracuse University College of Law. He is the former Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, 2002-2005. He is also the founder of Impunity Watch, the Syrian Accountability Project and the IamSyria Campaign.

Suggest citation: David M. Crane, First It’s the Muslims: An Evolution to a Dictatorship, JURIST – Academic Commentary, Feb. 3, 2017, http://jurist.org/forum/2017/02/David-Crane-evolution-to-dictatorship.php


This article was prepared for publication by Sean Merritt, an Assistant Editor for JURIST Commentary. Please direct any questions or comments to him at commentary@jurist.org<hrheight=’1′></hrheight=’1′>

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST’s editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 22- January 8, 2018

Case School of Law Logo

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf
War Crimes Prosecution Watch
Volume 12 – Issue 22
January 8, 2018
PILPG Logo
Editor-in-Chief
James Prowse
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


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Los Alamos Daily Post: Three New War Crimes Now Recognized By ICC

HSNW News:

The Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Dec. 14 in New York has added three new war crimes to the Rome Statute.

Belgium had proposed these amendments to the Statute, which is the founding treaty of the ICC, as early as 2009.

The new war crimes added to the Rome Statute:

  • Use of biological and toxin weapons;
  • Use of weapons causing injuries by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays; and
  • Use of laser weapons causing permanent blindness.

Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that these weapons kill without discrimination or inflict very severe suffering. The fact that the use of these weapons has been elevated to the level of war crimes strengthens international law, and would make the use of these weapons during armed conflicts more difficult.

“The inscription of these new crimes in the Statute of Rome ensures also legal certainty to the victims and gives a specific recognition to their pain,” Belgium says.

Belgium notes that in the course of the long negotiations leading to this diplomatic success, Belgium always privileged dialogue and transparency in order to foster consensus.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders said he was “proud that Belgium was able to bring this difficult project to a good end.” He noted that criminalizing the use of these weapons is based on values, which are at the heart of the priorities of Belgian diplomacy.

Source: Homeland Security News Wire

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 21 – December 26, 2017


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 21
December 26, 2017

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

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


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International Center for Transitional Justice: Year in Review 2017

Explore our global impact in 2017
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2017 was a tumultuous year for justice, full of setbacks and successes. Through it all, ICTJ stood with those seeking to break the cycle of massive human rights violations and lay the foundations for peace, justice, and inclusion.
Go to Year in Review
Dear friends,

2017 has been a difficult year for those of us working in the human rights field. We have seen the resurgence of illiberal powers and populism coupled with a growing disdain for human rights across a wide swath of capitals, including some which have abruptly switched sides. At the same time, some traditional supporters of human rights organizations have pulled back their support.

Against this challenging background, I am proud to report that ICTJ continues to push forward for justice, for victims, and for accountability. We have adopted a new strategic plan that is built around the proposition that in these difficult times ICTJ can make a difference in contexts around the world by working more creatively and more efficiently with a wider variety of partners.

Thus, despite the current morass in Syria, instead of waiting for a far-off transition, we have engaged deeply with victim groups. These efforts have resulted in a new approach to documentation of the many shocking violations in the country. Focusing on the destruction of schools, this documentation will be presented in Geneva to a Panel of Conscience, composed of high level international officials, in March 2018. It will allow the world to hear the voices of victims and their quest for justice in a much more direct way. This approach will bring the plight of victims to a wider audience in Europe and beyond.

ICTJ continues to play a unique role in the peace process in Colombia, ensuring that justice remains at the heart of the process. We provide support in a myriad of ways through constant engagement with civil society and the parties to the peace agreement. Juan Mendez, former ICTJ President, has continued to serve as ICTJ’s representative on the Selection Panel for the judges who will serve on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. ICTJ serves as a key and trusted interlocutor for all.

In Tunisia, the landscape remains difficult, but our team, composed largely of women, has worked tirelessly and earned trust from all sectors of society. I had the honor of attending the public hearings of the Truth and Dignity Commission, which electrified the nation and the region. ICTJ’s support helped the hearings capture the imagination of not just the Tunisian public, but the world.

There is much else that ICTJ has done over the last year that are highlighted in our Year in Review gallery. We have addressed the consequences of impunity in a range of countries, from the Philippines to Myanmar as well as the struggle for justice in Nepal, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire. ICTJ has worked extensively on the critical questions of peace and justice in a variety of ways, and conducted groundbreaking research on reparations, on truth-telling and on broader transitional justice themes as well. We continue the struggle to ensure that women are included in transitional justice processes.

Finally, we have raised our voice on the question of racial justice in the United States. We seek to help activists, policy makers, and the general public in the United States understand the relevancy of transitional justice experiences around the globe, closing the year with our Annual Lecture on Transitional Justice (co-sponsored with NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice), with a conversation between Darren Walker, Sherrilyn Ifill, and myself. This discussion, along with our other work in this regard, has opened new pathways for ICTJ to contribute to this important discussion in its own backyard.

In a difficult context, ICTJ is grateful for the generous support of our allies in the donor and international communities. Due to their support, and the tireless efforts of our staff, ICTJ has adapted to new realities and made contributions to justice efforts across a range of countries with innovation, determination, and continued refection on how we can do our work more effectively.

As we continue to adapt, ICTJ is expanding its network of supporters by asking likeminded individuals who share our commitment to justice and human rights to consider making an annual gift to ICTJ. Please click here to make your gift and help us continue our work across society and borders.

Best wishes for the holidays and the New Year,

David Tolbert, President
International Center for Transitional Justice

 

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ASP 2017: Day Nine Summary – Marathon diplomatic negotiation criminalizes aggressive war at ICC

Assembly of States Parties 2017
Marathon diplomatic negotiation criminalizes aggressive war at ICC

Summary Day Nine
Assembly of States Parties 2017

In the very early hours of 15 December, 123 states reached consensus on bringing justice one step closer for victims of aggressive wars. 
For the first time since the post-WWII trials in Nuremburg and Tokyo, an international court may be able to hold leaders individually criminally responsible for the crime of aggression, at times referred to as the ‘Crime against Peace’.

Get all the updates from the final day of ASP, Day Nine, here.

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MEET THE NEW ICC JUDGES
States elect five women and one man to serve nine year terms as ICC judges.
As five of the six outgoing ICC judges are women, the Coalition campaigned to ensure that female candidates were nominated by states to ensure fair gender representation on the ICC bench.
We urged states to seek out the very best and most qualified female candidates to uphold this fundamental standard.
NEED TO KNOW: ASP 2017

Day One: UN Secretary General, ICC President and Prosecutor call for global justice effort

Day Two: Judges’ elections rule the day

Day Three: Elections’ finale, general debate commences

Day Four: General Debate dominates; Talks on Crime of Aggression activation

Day Five: NGOs enter the fray, justice policy talks ahead of Rome Statute 20th

Day Six: State cooperation crucial for an effective ICC

Day Seven: Building better institutions for global justice

Keep up to date with our daily summaries from ASP 2017 plenary discussions, side events, and other key developments, as well as related news coverage and publications. Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #ASP16 for real time updates..

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ASP 2017: Background, documents & more
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War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 20 – December 11, 2017

 


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 20
December 11, 2017

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

Yemen

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

Israel and Palestine

Iraq

Syria

Afghanistan

AMERICAS

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

WORTH READING


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Business Day: Dutch businessman convicted of Liberian war crimes arrested in Cape Town

Picture: ISTOCK

Picture: ISTOCK

The Hague — A Dutch businessman, convicted in April of selling weapons to ex-Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor, was arrested in SA on a Dutch warrant, officials said on Friday.

“Blood timber” trader Guus Kouwenhoven was sentenced as an accessory to war crimes for providing arms to Taylor’s government in violation of a UN embargo. He has been living in Cape Town and had refused to return to the Netherlands for trial, citing health problems. He was not present at the trial.

Dutch prosecution spokesman Bart Vis said Kouwenhoven would appear before a judge in SA on Friday and a court there would rule later on the Dutch extradition request.

Known in Liberia as “Mister Gus”, Kouwenhoven ran two timber companies from 2000 to 2003 and used them as cover to smuggle arms, according to the Dutch court that sentenced him to 19 years in prison in April 2017.

At the time, Liberia was in the grip of a civil war between then president Taylor’s government and several rebel factions. Liberia’s string of conflicts since the 1990s left an estimated 250,000 people dead. Thousands more were mutilated and raped, and all sides in the conflict used child soldiers.

Taylor stepped down in 2003. He was arrested in 2006 and, in 2012, sentenced to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone by the UN’s Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Reuters

North Carolina News WNCN: Smithfield-based company accused of flying terror suspects across globe

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – The CIA is accused of using Aero Contractors, based out of Smithfield, to move terror suspects all over the globe.

Aero Contractors is accused of moving terror suspects from all over the world to secret camps for interrogation.

The flights have been called the “torture taxi.”

If you have been to downtown Smithfield chances are the bright yellow trim at Crickets Diner caught your attention.

What is hidden from your sight, tucked behind the trees and across a field, is an airplane hanger.

The hanger is owned by Aero Contractors, the company said to be transport arm for the CIA.

“I believe there is a large body of evidence that Aero Contractors has been involved in illegal activity, conspiracy to kidnap, assistance to kidnapping and transport of helpless victims to torture,” said Christina Cowger with the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.

According to a 2007 investigation, state officials were more than aware of the operations of Aero Contractors.

In fact, several state legislators asked the attorney general to launch a separate investigation.

There have been no direct allegations that employees of the company were engaged in the torture of terror suspects, but there are allegations that they moved suspects to secret camps all around the globe.

Cowger claims that is a violation of the law. She also says the state and federal government are complicit by Aero to rent space in a taxpayer funded building.

“No, I don’t think it is appropriate that our tax dollars are used to fortify the corner of the airport that Aero Contractors is housed at, I think it is deliberate effort to cover up and conceal from the public what Aero Contractors is doing,” Cowger said.

On the far side of the airport the fence has seen better days, allowing anyone to walk right onto the runway.

A stark contrast to the entrance of Aero.

Cowger says the fence and other security equipment were paid for by you the taxpayer.

CBS North Carolina was turned away at the gate when reporter Richard Essex attempted to take a look.

David Crane, a former intelligence officer and federal prosecutor, claims 9/11 pushed the U.S. into the dark, slippery shadows of interrogation.

“The United States did not torture individuals until after 9/11. It was against policy, and it just wasn’t the way we did business,” Crane said.

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is hosting two days of testimony here in Raleigh and are expected to issue a report next summer.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 19 – November 27, 2017


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 19
November 27, 2017

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

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

Afghanistan

AMERICAS

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives


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Opinio Juris: Reflections on the Mladić Verdict – A High-Point for the ICTY’s Legacy and Perhaps Hope for Victims of Other Conflicts

by Jennifer Trahan

[Jennifer Trahan is an Associate Clinical Professor at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.]

As Jens Ohlin has written, a highly awaited verdict came out Wednesday, November 22, sentencing Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS), to life in prison for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed from 1992-1995.

The verdict was not unexpected given Mladić’s lengthy trial, and that his involvement as commander of the troops who committed the Srebrenica massacre was recorded on well–known news footage.  Wire intercepts of his communications were until recently hanging on display on the walls of the Potočari memorial near Srebrenica, in the former battery factory that had also housed UN peacekeepers.

This high-level verdict is an extremely significant one for the ICTY.  Mladić was convicted of:

  • genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995;
  • persecution, extermination, murder, deportation and inhumane act of forcible transfer in municipalities throughout Bosnia;
  • murder, terror and unlawful attacks on civilians in Sarajevo; and
  • hostage-taking of UN personnel.

The only count of which he was acquitted was the “greater genocide” theory—genocide in additional municipalities in Bosnia in 1992.  The verdict is subject to appeal, as is the sentence.

These were extremely brutal crimes with large numbers of victims—over 8,300 alone in and around Srebrenica, over 13,000 in Sarajevo, after a multi-year campaign of sniping and shelling its citizens.  The ICTY’s proceedings were extensive, thorough, (and lengthy).  Trial commenced in May 2012, and according to the ICTY, there were 530 trial days, 592 witnesses, and nearly 10,000 exhibits introduced into evidence.

While the verdict is coming late in the day no doubt for some victims and their families (for example, 22 years after the Srebrenica massacre), this is not entirely the ICTY’s fault.  Mladić spent nearly 16 years on the run, and was only captured and sent to The Hague in 2011.

Well-done trials of international tribunals also take time, particularly when so many victims and so many crimes are involved.  Funder states often complain about the high costs of international trials, but these costs pale in comparison to peacekeeping expenditures that might have been required had high-level perpetrators not been indicted and apprehended.  And, if one measures the number of crime scenes involved or number of victims whose crimes were adjudicated, then costs seem not nearly as high.  States’ representatives and tribunal critics who make these cost arguments should reflect:  would they really like to argue to remaining family members that justice for their loved ones is not worth it?

Victims may or may not feel some “closure” at this verdict.  Complete closure is of course impossible, as no one can restore their loved ones.  But hopefully surviving victims and family members of those who did not survive will take some measure of solace from the verdict.

As Marko Milanovic has written, denial of crimes and partial denial of crimes is still a pervasive problem among certain communities in the former Yugoslavia (particularly in Repŭblika Srpska and Serbia), and today’s verdict is not anticipated to change that.  Yet, establishing the facts, hearing witness testimonies, and introducing documentary evidence is extremely significant in its own right, and helps create a solid record that makes denial harder, and perhaps will make it gradually less and less plausible.

Finally, the Mladić verdict can also give us hope for future prosecutions—that justice is sometimes delayed, but remains possible and one needs to remember this.  For years (when I was a junior attorney at Human Rights Watch) there was only an “arrest Mladić and Karadžić campaign,” and we had no idea if these two fugitives from justice would ever be apprehended.  It took years of concerted pressure and economic leverage from the US and the EU, but the arrests did occur, and the trials did occur.  So, as we look on as mass crimes continue today in other countries (such as Syria and Myanmar), and the geopolitical roadblocks to seeing any kind of comprehensive justice solutions, we should remember this long trajectory that the ICTY’s work took, and the need to stay the course.

International Center for Transitional Justice: In Focus – Challenging Impunity in Haiti

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ICTJ | Justice, Truth, Dignity
ICTJ InFocus
November 2017

In Focus ›
Can the UN’s New Mission in Haiti Work with Activists to Challenge Impunity?
Last month, the United Nations established a new mission in Haiti, focused on strengthening rule of law institutions and human rights reporting. Can it work with activists to challenge impunity? We sat down with Isabelle Clérié, a Haitian civil society organizer, to talk about the mission, what it can accomplish, and how the past is understood in the country.
Read More ›

Publications ›

Other News
ICTJ Course Examines the Place for Justice in Peace Negotiations
From Syria to Colombia and beyond, how do societies navigate the pursuit of justice in peace processes? That question animated ICTJ’s annual Intensive Course on Transitional Justice and Peace Processes, which this month gathered 31 participants from nearly 20 countries in Barcelona to discuss the place of justice in negotiations to end conflict. Go behind-the-scenes with our instructors and participants.
Read More ›
Amid Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar, Where Does Transitional Justice Stand?
During the past month, over 400,000 members of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim community have been driven from their homes as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign led by the military. What lies at the root of the current violence, how is it connected to political transition, and does transitional justice have a role to play? ICTJ’s Anna Myriam Roccatello answers those questions and more.
Read More ›

Upcoming Events ›
December 07 – 09, 2017
Present Past: Time, Memory, and the Negotiation of Historical Justice ›
Location: Columbia University, New York City

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Quartz: Robert Mugabe is reportedly under house arrest as situation in Zimbabwe looks increasingly like a coup

Harare, Zimbabawe

Zimbabwe’s longtime leader president Robert Mugabe is reportedly under house arrest after soldiers took over the state broadcaster on Nov. 15 in a move that has all the classic hallmarks of a coup, although the army insists it’s not one.

There is a strong military presence on the streets of Harare and Zimbabwe’s parliament and the president’s offices have also been cordoned off. Universities deferred exams and asked students to stay home.

No one has heard from Mugabe or his wife Grace Mugabe since tanks were spotted rolling into Harare on Nov. 14. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (livestream) reported that the first couple is under house arrest. The country’s finance minister Ignatius Chombo and several ministers loyal to Grace Mugabe’s faction have been detained, according to Reuters.

Zimbabweans woke up on Wednesday morning local time to discover that leaders of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had taken control of the state broadcaster with a promise to restore order to the country, but insisted that it was not a military coup.

Around 1am local time, major general Sibusiso Moyo on behalf of the ZDF, came on air in camouflage fatigues, announcing that president Robert Mugabe and his family are “safe and sound” with their security “guaranteed.”

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” said Moyo.

“As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

Image uploaded from iOS
Major general Sibusiso Moyo on ZBC. (screen shot)

But in a message to the international community, Moyo said: “We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict.”

The takeover of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in Harare comes after around 48 hours of unease in the country, after the ZDF’s top officer, general Constantine Chiwenga challenged president Mugabe’s treatment of former war veterans from the country’s independence struggle and, significantly, the sacking of vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Chiwenga was called treasonous by Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

On Tuesday, army tanks and trucks rolled into the capital city Harare heightening tension in a country that has never experienced political intervention from its armed forces since independence in 1980. After hours of uncertainty about the reasons for show of military force in the city, soldiers eventually took control the broadcaster.

Moyo’s Wednesday statement seemed determined to ensure that the country, which has been ruled by president Mugabe for all the 37 years since independence, would not descend into chaos. He called on war veterans, traditional leaders and other security services to play a “positive role in ensuring peace, stability and unity” in the country.

But he also warned, “Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country, therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”

After the announcement, the TV stations have returned to showing videos of martial music.

Lynsey Chutel reported from Johannesburg. Additional reporting by Yinka Adegoke in New York City.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Volume 12, Issue 18 – November 12, 2017


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 18
November 12, 2017

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

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

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


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

Jurist: Gassing International Law

JURIST Guest Columnist David M. Crane of the Syracuse University College of Law discusses recent harmful developments regarding the restriction of chemical weapons in international law…

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should not ignore or walk away from the alleged use of any prohibited weapon, such as chemicals, as it signals it is permissible to violate the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and erodes international norms related to such weapons. Further, it signals that countries with deep ties to P5 (U.K., U.S., France, Russia, China) are outside the scope of UNSC authority, therefore creating a bigger issue of eroding the international authority of the UNSC and jeopardizing the foundation of international law.

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Russia vetoed the resolution extending the mandate of the investigators probing chemical weapons attacks in Syria. [JURIST report] [Meeting Record] Following the chemical attack in 2015, Russia and America created the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to investigate the presence/use of chemical weapons in Syria, which found 27 active production facilities. In its most recent report late last month, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had verified the destruction of 25 of the 27 chemical weapons production facilities declared by Syria and continued to prepare an inspection to confirm the current condition of the last two. The vote on the resolution was in advance of the JIM investigative report (presented Thursday October 26). The report sought to identify the party responsible for a deadly April 4 attack in the rebel-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib that killed and sickened scores of civilians allegedly using sarin gas. Shortly after that attack, the United States launched an airstrike on a Syrian air base and accused the al-Assad regime of carrying out the gas attack.

This action by Russia is primarily concerned with the sovereignty of Syria and stresses the maxim that you cannot enter a sovereign territory without concrete evidence of wrong doing. Further Russia believes they face possible retaliation by Syria and/or rebel groups present in Syria. Finally, Russia is concerned that there has been a blurring of lines between the conflict against Syria and the conflict against ISIS. Additionally Russia is supporting the regime and has economic ties to Syria. They do not want the US to gain any influence in Syria.

The media and various member states are concerned that the UNSC is impotent in assisting in Syria due to the P5 structure. The UNSC and the UN system are shouldering the blame for little progress in Syria. The broader discussion criticizes the entire UN system as being outdated and ineffective.

The UN is not impotent, as it has facilitated international cooperation on the conflict, resulting in ceasefires, the initial formation of JIM, condemnation of acts, and investigation of potential war crimes. Further, the UN is serving its purpose as a neutral forum for these discussions. Syria has not simply become a battlefield upon which America and Russia are fighting, nor are we seeing a return to interstate war. Therefore, the UN is working as a forum for these issues. Further negotiations need to be based on interests and relationships as nationalistic and realist strategies fail within the cooperative international organizational model.

The UN must continue to negotiate towards extending the investigation in Syria, and the UNSC should never turn away from condemning, investigating, and helping to eliminate the proliferation of chemical weapons. Ceasing any further condemnation or investigation signals to the world that the use of chemical weapons brings no accountability. If there are no ramifications for the use of chemical weapons, the CWC could become irrelevant. All State Parties to the CWC have agreed to disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold, any facilities which produce chemical weapons, and any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.

The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction.

A unique feature of the CWC is its incorporation of the ‘challenge inspection,’ whereby any State Party in doubt about another State Party’s compliance can request the Director-General to send an inspection team. Under the CWC’s ‘challenge inspection’ procedure, States Parties have committed themselves to the principle of ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections with no right of refusal.

To lose this feature would create an incredibly dangerous world without any oversight into weapons production and use. Losing the global norm that chemical weapons are taboo could reintroduce them to warfare. Also, allowing chemical weapons leaves open the race to innovate biological weapons as well. Do we want to go in this direction in the 21st Century?

An inadequate international response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime will only increase the risk that the world’s most dangerous, indiscriminate, and inhumane weapons will be used to commit atrocities in the future, erode the integrity of the CWC, and undermine the authority of the Security Council. International peace and security would be undermined.

David M. Crane is the founder of the Syrian Accountability Project and the IamSyria Campaign. He is the Founding Chief Prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal in West Africa called the Special Court for Sierra Leone and a Professor at Syracuse University College of Law.

Suggested citation: David M. Crane, Gassing International Law, JURIST – Academic Commentary, Nov. 6, 2017, http://jurist.org/forum/2017/10/David-Crane-international-blackmail.php