[Campaign for International Justice] International Inquiry Needed to Address Alleged War Crimes in Sri Lanka

International inquiry needed to address alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka

14 October 2010

Amnesty International has declined an invitation to appear before Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and calls again for an international inquiry into the evidence of war crimes and other abuses during the civil war.

In a joint letter released on Thursday, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group announced that they would not appear before the Commission, saying it did not meet international standards for independent and impartial inquiries.

”Amnesty International would welcome the opportunity to appear before a credible commission of inquiry aimed at securing accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific.

”We believe effective domestic inquiries are essential to human rights protection and accountability. But the LLRC falls far short of what is required.”
 
Like its predecessors, the LLRC exists against a backdrop of continuing government failure to address accountability and continuing human rights abuses.

Amnesty International documented Sri Lanka’s long history of impunity and the failed Presidential Commission of Inquiry in its 2009 report Twenty Years of Make-believe; Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry.
 
”The LLRC’s mandate, its composition, its procedures, and the human rights environment in which it is operating all conspire to make a safe and satisfactory outcome for victims of human rights violations and their families extremely unlikely,” said Madhu Malhotra.

”Amnesty International is particularly concerned about the lack of any provisions for witness protection and the fact that former officials who have publicly defended the Sri Lankan government against allegations of war crimes serve on the commission.”

Amnesty International has received numerous credible reports from witnesses that both the government security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) committed serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the armed conflict, particularly in the final months of the war.

Some of their testimony was included in Amnesty International’s 2009 briefing Unlock the Camps; Safety and Dignity For The Displaced Now. But the LLRC’s mandate does not require it to investigate these allegations, which include summary executions, torture, attacks on civilians and civilian objects, and other war crimes.

”The hundreds of civilians who sought to testify before the LLRC in Killinochchi in September did so without guarantees of protection or any real hope of justice. Their willingness to come forward shows the need of Sri Lanka’s war survivors for news about what happened to missing relatives and for justice,” said Madhu Malhotra.

”If the Sri Lankan government is serious about accountability and reconciliation, it must be serious about truth and justice for these people. Any credible commission must be given adequate scope and resources to allow for individuals to receive a fair hearing and sufficient authority to ensure redress. It must also treat all witnesses in a safe and humane fashion.”

Amnesty International said it remains committed to contributing to any genuine effort in Sri Lanka to find a just way forward from the decades of civil war and human rights abuses.

Read More
Sri Lanka: International inquiry needed to address alleged war crimes (Joint Letter to the Lessons Learned & Reconciliation Commission, 14 October 2010)
Sri Lanka: Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka: Safety and dignity for the displaced now (Briefing paper, 10 August 2009)
Twenty Years of Make Believe, Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry (Document, 11 June 2009)

www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amnesty-Internationals-Campaign-for-International-Justice/135454306496834
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cmpn4IntJustice

[Campaign for International Justice] Moldova Commits to International Justice

Moldova commits to international justice

14 October 2010

Moldova has taken a welcome step towards tackling gross human rights violations by ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, said Amnesty International. 

”It is good to see that Moldova has committed  to international justice and working to end impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” said Christopher Keith Hall, Senior Legal Adviser in the International Justice Project.

Wednesday’s ratification follows more than 10 years of campaigning by Amnesty International Moldova and other civil society groups. Moldova is now the 114th state to ratify the Rome Statute.

”Slowly but surely more countries are ratifying the Rome Statute and the impunity gaps that have denied justice to untold numbers of victims of these horrific crimes are being closed,” said Christopher Keith Hall.

However, Amnesty International  expressed concern about the number of countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, but have not yet fulfilled their commitments to the Court. 

Many countries that have ratified have yet to implement the Rome Statute effectively into national law or to enter into supplementary agreements with the Court on privileges and immunities, victim relocation and enforcement of sentences.

”Ratification is a major step, but only a first step,” said Christopher Keith Hall. “In particular, national law reform is vital to ensure that Moldova can cooperate fully with the Court and that its national courts can fulfil their obligations to investigate and prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Français Español

Campaign for International Justice
Amnesty International
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
United Kingdom

www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amnesty-Internationals-Campaign-for-International-Justice/135454306496834
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cmpn4IntJustice

Peace Negotiations Watch

PEACE NEGOTIATIONS WATCH

Friday, October 15, 2010
Volume IX, Number 38

In this issue:

CONFLICT UPDATES

Bosnia
Burma
Georgia
Kashmir
Kenya
Nepal
Somaliland
Sudan: Darfur
Sudan: Southern Sudan
Tanzania
Thailand
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Bosnia

Izetbegovic Vows to Protect Bosnia Unity Amid Serb Ambitions
World Bulletin, October 6, 2010
Bakir Izetbegovic, the newly elected Bosniac member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, expressed his determination to achieve a unified Bosnia with a strong central government respectful of all ethnic groups.  He said that nationalist sentiments in the Republika Srpska can be contained by reason and negotiation.  He also underscored the Bosniac commitment to playing a lead role in the dialogue on constitutional reform and European integration.

Fuele Tells Bosnian Leaders to Embrace Reforms
Balkan Insight, October 8, 2010
European Union (EU) Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele, urged new Bosnian leaders to cooperate and begin implementing reforms.  Bosnia is lagging behind in the EU integration process compared to other Balkan states.  He strongly recommended that the issue of EU accession be placed at the center of the government’s political agenda, starting with reforms to increase the efficiency of the state.

Secretary Clinton Embarks on Balkans Diplomacy Tour
Voice of America, October 8, 2010
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started her Balkans tour in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Secretary Clinton will reaffirm the United States’ support for Bosnia’s peace and relative stability while also urging EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) integration.  She is scheduled to meet with Valentin Inzko, the United Nations (UN) High Representative for Bosnia, the newly elected members of the state Presidency, and possibly with Milorad Dodik, Republika Srpska’s new President.

Burma

Six Parties Form Pro-Democracy Alliance
The Irrawaddy, October 5, 2010
Six Burmese opposition parties have formed an alliance to increase the strength of pro-democracy parties in the upcoming election.  The National Democratic Force, the Shan Nationals Democratic Party, the Rakhin Nationals Development Party, the Chin National Party, the Union Democratic Party, and the League for Democracy and Peace have joined this alliance.  The parties hope that the alliance will increase their financial and human resources, thereby increasing the chances that their candidates will be elected.  The leaders of the six parties have urged the Burmese people not to boycott the election, despite the call for boycott made by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) earlier this year.

Aung San Suu Kyi Launches Legal Battle Over Elections
BBC, October 5, 2010
Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers have launched a lawsuit in the Supreme Court in Rangoon to challenge the junta’s decision to dissolve the NLD.  The lawyers argued that the Electoral Commission (EC) lacks the authority to abolish the NLD because the NLD had never registered with the EC.  Although critics say that the legal action is mainly symbolic, a lawyer for Suu Kyi stated that the NLD wanted to show it had not given up fighting for democracy.

The Junta-Backed Yuzana Company’s Workers Are Armed for Civil War With the Kachin Independence Organization
Kachin News, October 6, 2010
The junta has armed and trained workers of the Yuzana Company in Kachin State to prepare them for a civil war against the Kachin Independence Organization.  Awng Wa, chairman of the Kachin Development Networking Group, expressed concern that Yuzana workers may use threats to coerce the local population to vote for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).  In addition, company sources said that military leaders had ordered workers to transport 200,000 ethnic Burmese people to the area prior to the November 7 election to outnumber the native Kachins and vote for the USDP.

Georgia

NATO Chief Says Alliance Committed to Georgia Membership
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, October 1, 2010
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that NATO remains committed to granting membership to the Republic of Georgia, praising the country for its contributions in Afghanistan.  The comments came at the opening ceremony for a new NATO liaison office in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.  NATO leaders agreed in 2008 to grant membership to Georgia but have not granted pre-membership status following Georgia’s 2008 war with Russia.

Georgia: No Link Between Russian Pullout and WTO Vote
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, October 8, 2010
Georgian Vice President Nika Gilauri has denied any relationship between Georgia’s pending vote on Russia’s application to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Georgia’s demand that Russia remove its forces from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Gilauri said that Georgia will support Moscow’s bid to join the WTO if it makes customs checkpoints in Abkhazia and South Ossetia transparent, as required by the WTO.

Kashmir

India Names Mediators to Hold Kashmir Dialogue
BBC, October 13, 2010
The Indian government has appointed three mediators in an attempt to begin a dialogue with people in Indian-administered Kashmir.  According to Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the government hopes to start a sustained dialogue with all Kashmiris, including political parties.  The mediators include an Indian journalist, a bureaucrat, and an academic on Kashmir.  Both the hard-line and moderate faction leaders of the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference of Kashmir have dismissed the move as meaningless, calling the mediating team another offensive “joke” played on Kashmir by the Indian government.

Dialogue With India to Focus on Kashmir: Qureshi
Pakistan Observer, October 13, 2010
In a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Kashmir must be at the top of the agenda for any future engagements with India.  He added that Pakistan is not interested in another “photo session” and that it is time for a results-oriented dialogue.  Qureshi condemned the violence against Kashmiri civilians by Indian security forces, calling it a violation of basic human rights.  He insisted that Pakistan will continue to provide moral, diplomatic, and political support to the people of Kashmir.

Kenya

PNU and ODM Near Deal on Law Team
Daily Nation, October 9, 2010
Party of National Unity (PNU) Member of Parliament (MP) Abdikadir Mohammed gave up his chairmanship of the Legal Affairs and Justice Commission and his post as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice in order to sit on the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC).  The dispute over who should chair the CIOC has renewed animosity between the PNU and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).  The ODM party, which has a majority in the House, has said that it is unfair for a PNU MP to chair more than one powerful committee that will monitor the implementation of laws.

We Are Running Out of Time, Justice Minister Warns Members of Parliament
Daily Nation, October 9, 2010
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo called on Parliament to institute special procedures to simultaneously table multiple bills in order to meet the deadlines for implementing the new laws.  Kilonzo is particularly concerned that the Judicial Service Commission, the Commission on Revenue Allocation, and the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution have not been set up in time to meet the schedule.

Cabinet Team to Draft Rules to Guide ICC Probe
Daily Nation, October 10, 2010
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo announced that a Cabinet subcommittee is set to draft regulations that will govern how the International Criminal Court (ICC) will record statements from government officials.  Following the controversy over Kenyan officials’ initial rejection of the ICC’s request for interviews without a judge present, Judge Kalpana Rawal has been appointed as a witness to the interviews.  The ICC will interview Provincial Commissioners, police officers, and district commissioners who were posted in the areas affected by the post-election violence.  Kilonzo also announced that the subcommittee would review security meeting minutes to determine whether security chiefs ordered the killing of civilians.

Nepal

Twenty-Seven Parties Talk Constitution
The Kathmandu Post, October 5, 2010
The Chairman of the Constituent Assembly called a meeting of twenty-seven parties in the Assembly to discuss their differences in the constitution-drafting process, including the model of government to be implemented.  Major points of disagreement include the balance of power between the President and Prime Minister and the manner of electing the posts.

No PM in Nepal Despite Twelve Rounds of Polls for Post
Press Trust of India, October 10, 2010
Nepal’s Parliament has failed to elect a Prime Minister for the twelfth time in a row.  The sole candidate, Ram Chandra Poudel from the Nepali Congress (NC), remained adamant about not quitting the race despite another abstention by the Maoists and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist.  Poudel received a total of eighty-nine votes, the lowest number of votes registered thus far.

Three-Party Meet Inconclusive
Republica, October 10, 2010
The Maoists, NC, and CPN-UML have failed to reach an agreement to end the political stalemate in Nepal.  In a meeting at the Maoist parliamentary party office on October 10, the NC again rejected the Maoist request to withdraw its prime ministerial candidacy.  The Maoists in turn declined the NC’s request of a packaged political deal that includes the integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants and the return of property seized by the Maoists.

Somaliland

President Siilanyo Meets British Delegates
Somaliland Press, October 4, 2010
Delegates of the British government met with Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud Siilanyo to discuss development in Somaliland.  At the meeting, Siilanyo re-stated his commitment to combating terrorism and piracy and stressed the need for cooperation with neighboring countries to work on security and stability.

Sudan: Darfur

Sudan and Darfur Rebels Agree to End Direct Talks Within Two Weeks
Sudan Tribune, October 6, 2010
The Government of Sudan and the Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM) agreed that peace talks would start from where they left off last August and would aim to settle all outstanding issues within two weeks.  Following these direct negotiations, the mediation will draft the final peace agreement.  The mediation expressed the hope that any agreement signed by the Government of Sudan and LJM will also serve as a basis for discussion with other rebel groups.

UN Members Confront Sudan Over Darfur Violence
Associated Press, October 8, 2010
During the U.N. Security Council delegation visit, British Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant disputed statistics presented by the governor of North Darfur that showed a decrease in violence over the past few years.  Grant countered the government’s information with statistics indicating that violent deaths had more than doubled in the past year.

Negotiating Parties in Doha Score Progress
Sudanese Media Center, October 11, 2010
The Government of Sudan and the LJM recently deliberated issues of power sharing and transitional justice in the Doha Peace Talks.  Sudanese government spokesman Omar Adam Rahama stated that the negotiators have made progress on reconciliation, justice, and compensation mechanisms.  Rahama reiterated the commitment of both parties to reach sustainable peace for Darfur.

Sudan: Southern Sudan

Kadhafi Warns Against ‘Contagion’ of Sudanese Partition
AFP, October 10, 2010
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi warned at the Arab-African summit that a vote for independence in Southern Sudan could lead to partition of other African states.  Attendees of the summit also expressed concerns relating to regional security and stability following the referendum.  Participants adopted a declaration that underscored their respect for Sudanese sovereignty and rejected the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Tensions Rise Ahead of Sudan Vote
Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010
While the UN and world leaders are increasing diplomatic efforts to ensure a peaceful referendum, leaders in Sudan are escalating their rhetoric, stressing the dangers of conducting the referendum without first resolving technical issues.  A number of technical issues remain ahead of the referendum, including registering voters and determining criteria for voter eligibility.  Several UN diplomats have expressed the belief that delaying the referendum by no more than one month in order to iron out the technical issues could prevent the outbreak of another war.

Khartoum Rejects Deployment of UN Troops on North-South Sudan Border
Sudan Tribune, October 11, 2010
The Sudanese government has asked UN officials not to deploy peacekeeping forces along the north-south border, saying such action is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Southern Sudan’s President Salva Kiir recently requested peacekeeping forces to be installed ahead of the referendum.  While the UN may consider the request, it is unclear whether they will accede to the appeal, as it is currently beyond the UNMIS mandate.

Tanzania

Tanzania the Best Governed Country in EA Says Mo Ibrahim Foundation
The East African, October 6, 2010
Tanzania was voted the best-governed state in East Africa and ranked 15th among the 53 African states by the 2010 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance.  This index assesses progress made by African states in terms of overall governance, safety and the rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development.  However, Tanzania’s high index score does not match its lagging performance on the Millennium Development Goals.  Tanzania ranks low in every indicator measured as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

EU Observers in Tanzania for Polls
EUbusiness, October 7, 2010
The EU will send 68 observers to Tanzania for the state’s general elections to be held on October 31, 2010.  This monitoring team will observe all aspects of the elections, including electoral campaigns, preparations for the vote, ballot counting, and results.  The observers will also assess the overall management of the elections, as well as media coverage and participation of women.  While Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister welcomed EU monitoring, he also warned against interference in the polls, stressing that the observers’ mission is to observe and report their findings, rather than regulate the process.  The incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete is expected to win despite strong opposition.

Tanzania Women Politicians Feel Sidelined by Media Ahead of Elections
The Citizen, October 9, 2010
Civil society in Tanzania has called on the media to provide equal coverage of male and female politicians for the upcoming general election.  Tanzanian media coverage of female politicians is currently negligible compared to that of male politicians, who dominate the news both as sources and as the subjects of news articles.  Female politicians complain that the media does not seek out their views, which limits their ability to campaign and reach out to voters.  If the disparity in media coverage is not addressed, Tanzania may fail to reach the 2015 goal of gender parity in political decision-making set by the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development.

Thailand

Thailand Extends Emergency Decree
UPI, October 5, 2010
The Thai government has decided to extend the state of emergency in Bangkok and three surrounding provinces for an additional three months past the original October 6 end date.  According to a government spokesperson, the decree was extended in response to the continued instability in the capital.

Thai Leader Defends Crackdown as Way to Ensure Stability
New York Times, October 7, 2010
While acknowledging that human rights violations may have occurred, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva defended his government’s emergency policies, saying that the actions were necessary to ensure safety and stability in Thailand.  Abhisit compared his government’s policies to those of other democratic states, and reaffirmed his commitment to remedying human rights violations that have occurred as a result of them.

Thousands of Thai “Red Shirts” Demand Prisoner Release
Reuters, October 10, 2010
At least 7,000 anti-government protesters gathered in Bangkok on October 10 to demand that the government release protesters detained after the violent protests in May.  The protest was the second biggest gathering since September, when some 10,000 people came together as a sign of the revival of the “Red Shirt” movement.  The gathering took place despite the continuation of the state of emergency that has permitted the detention of nearly 175 activists.

Uganda

Uganda LRA Rebels Extend Reach With New Attacks
Reuters, October 8, 2010
The Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) presence has increased in the northern region of the Central African Republic, as evidenced by increasing violent attacks on the civilian population in the region.  On October 4, five civilians were killed in the northern town of Moanda.  It is estimated that the LRA has 300 to 400 active combatants in the area.  The instability has discouraged foreign investment in the mineral resources of the country and has added to the decline in regional security.

Army Recovers 30 Guns in Kaabong
Daily Monitor, October 8, 2010
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UDPF) has confiscated 30 sub machine guns and 105 rounds of ammunition from Karimojong warriors in Kaabong District.  In addition to confiscating the weapons, the Ugandan army has also attempted to block the corridors of illegal arms exchange between the Kaabong District and other countries such as Sudan and Kenya.  The recovery of weapons is part of a long-term disarmament effort in the region.

Uganda’s Army Under Scrutiny for Rights Abuses in Karamoja
The East African, October 11, 2010
The UDPF has been accused of human rights violations including murder, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention in connection with their disarmament campaign of the Karimojong in the Karamoja district of Northern Uganda.  In the early 1990s the Karimojong, a nomadic people, often used deadly force in their cattle raids in Northern Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan.  In order to control violence in the region, the UDPF lead a largely successful disarmament campaign that significantly decreased the presence of militant forces in the region and reduced the illegal exchange of weapons.

Zimbabwe

World Bank Not Yet Ready to Fully Engage Zimbabwe Government- Official
Voice of America, October 8, 2010
The Zimbabwe World Bank Manager, Peter Nicholas, announced that while the World Bank may provide US$2.7 million to Zimbabwe to help rehabilitate the country’s failing water and sanitation infrastructure, it will not start funding major projects in Zimbabwe until it decreases its US$6.7 billion debt.  The Zimbabwe Finance Minister and Economic Planning Minister have encountered difficulty obtaining international assistance with Zimbabwe’s debt due to a failure to address human rights transgressions.

Harare Residents Express Anger Over Delayed Constitutional Outreach Meetings
Voice of America, October 8, 2010
Harare residents have expressed considerable anger and frustration following the cancellation of several outreach meetings of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Revising the Constitution in September.  The Committee has also failed to release dates when these meetings will be rescheduled, further contributing to this frustration.  Harare Residents Trust Coordinator Precious Shumba stated that the delays are intended to deny residents their democratic rights, and that Harare residents and civil society groups are considering holding protests to demand the meetings be held.

Zimbabwe’s Unity Government in Trouble
Voice of America, October 8, 2010
Experts have expressed concern over the stability of the Zimbabwe government amid accusations by Prime Minister Tsvangirai that President Mugabe violated the constitution by unilaterally appointing provincial governors.  Tsvangirai has refused to recognize any of Mugabe’s appointments and called upon Mugabe to return the country to constitutional rule.

Peace Negotiations Watch is a weekly publication detailing current events relating to conflict and peace processes in selected countries.  It is prepared by the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) and made possible by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ploughshares Fund.

Public International Law & Policy Group
888 16th Street, NW
Suite 831
Washington, DC 20006
www.pilpg.org
Copyright (C) 2010 PILPG All rights reserved.

[Amnesty International] Universal Jurisdiction: UN General Assembly Should Support This Essential International Justice Tool

On 05 October 2010, Amnesty International’s issued “Universal jurisdiction: UN General Assembly should support this essential international justice tool”, (available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/IOR53/015/2010/en).

In this paper Amnesty International provides some additional information to that provided in the UN Secretary-General’s analytical report concerning 44 state reports (U.N. Doc.A/65/181, of 29 July 2010), as well as information on legislation and practice in some states which have not submitted reports to the Secretary-General with regard to Res.64/117 on “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction”.

In particular, the organization brings to the attention of states information compiled and analyzed in its September 2001 722-page global study of state practice concerning universal jurisdiction in approximately 125 states, its review of universal civil jurisdiction, a study of state practice concerning aut dedere aut judicare published in February 2009 and its recent steps to update the September 2001 global study in its No safe haven series on universal jurisdiction. In addition, Amnesty International notes some of the extensive information available from intergovernmental organizations, international criminal courts and other international organizations that is not discussed in the Secretary-General’s analytical report.

Campaign for International Justice

Amnesty International

1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW

United Kingdom

www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amnesty-Internationals-Campaign-for-International-Justice/135454306496834

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cmpn4IntJustice

Human Rights Council Fails Victims of Gaza Conflict

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT

AI Index: MDE 15/023/2010

30 September 2010

Human Rights Council fails victims of Gaza conflict

The UN Human Rights Council’s weak response yesterday to the continuing failure of both the Israeli and Hamas authorities to genuinely investigate violations of international law committed during the 2008-9 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel amounts to a betrayal of the victims, Amnesty International said today.

Having considered on Monday a report by a Committee of Independent Experts highlighting the inadequacies of domestic investigations into allegations of violations – including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity – identified in the September 2009 report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone, the Human Rights Council adopted a seriously flawed resolution that fails to establish a clear process for justice.

Instead of meaningfully supporting the long quest of the conflict’s victims for justice by taking action towards an international justice solution, the Human Rights Council merely renewed the Committee’s mandate and asked it to present another report in March 2011.

Amnesty International sees little value in the decision to extend the work of the Committee. Both sides have had adequate time to investigate the crimes and they are failing to do so. This is unlikely to change in the next six months. The Council’s decision will only further delay justice for victims who have already been waiting more than 20 months since the end of the 22-day conflict.

The Committee’s report supported Amnesty International’s evaluation that the domestic investigations carried out by both the Israeli government and the de facto Hamas administration in Gaza do not meet the required international standards of independence, impartiality, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness. In its conclusions, Amnesty International called on the Council to:

  • recognize the inadequacies of the investigations conducted by Israel and the Hamas de facto administration;
  • call on the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to urgently seek a determination from the Pre-Trial Chamber on whether the Court has jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed during the Gaza conflict;
  • call on states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the conflict before their national courts by exercising universal jurisdiction;
  • refer the Committee’s report to the Council’s parent body – the General Assembly; and
  • request that the Secretary-General place the report before the Security Council.

By ignoring such recommendations, Amnesty International believes that the Human Rights Council has once again put politics before human rights and the victims of gross violations of humanitarian and human rights law.

Amnesty International is also concerned that the resolution failed to recognize or properly address the responsibility of the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza. Hamas was a party to the conflict and the UN Fact-Finding Mission levelled accusations of violations against it and other Palestinian armed groups. The report of the Committee of Independent Experts addressed both the violations alleged to have been committed by Hamas and the investigations they said they had undertaken.

Yesterday’s resolution addressed only the investigations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and urged the Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission, established by the PA, to consider alleged violations in Gaza. However the PA Commission, which is based in the West Bank, made clear in its report (submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2010) that they have been unable to access the Gaza Strip and unable to undertake any investigations in Gaza into the firing of indiscriminate weapons by Palestinian armed groups into southern Israel.

Earlier this week Amnesty International called for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to urgently seek a determination by the Pre-Trial Chamber on whether the Court has jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict.

Amnesty International also reiterated its call for all states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by both sides during the conflict before their national courts by exercising universal jurisdiction.

Background

Resolution A/HRC/15/L.34 regarding “Follow-up to the report of the Committee of independent experts in international humanitarian and human rights law established pursuant to Council resolution 13/9” was passed on 29 September 2010 by the Human Rights Council in its 15th session.

A total of 27 member states of the Human Rights Council voted in favour of the resolution and one voted against it (the USA). Nineteen states abstained, including all EU states that have a seat on the Council.

The resolution is available at:

http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/15/L.34

The report of the Committee of Independent Experts is available at:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/15session/A.HRC.15.50_en.pdf

Amnesty International’s assessment of the Israeli and Palestinian investigations is available at:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/022/2010/en

Campaign for International Justice

Amnesty International

1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW

United Kingdom

www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amnesty-Internationals-Campaign-for-International-Justice/135454306496834

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cmpn4IntJustice

War Crimes Prosecution Watch, Vol. 5, Issue 13 – September 27, 2010

Volume 5, Issue 13 – September 27, 2010

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Central African Republic & Uganda

Darfur, Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo (ICC)

Kenya

AFRICA

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Special Court for Sierra Leone

EUROPE

European Court of Human Rights

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA

United States

TOPICS

Terrorism

Piracy

REPORTS

NGO Reports

UN Reports

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONS

General

  • Thailand

◦                                   Bangkok Post: Peace Panel Adviser on Truth, Justice and the Way Forward

  • The Solomon Islands

◦                                   Solomon Star : RSIPF Strives for a Positive Future

◦                                   Solomon Star: Sikua: Positive Response to Police Early Retirement Scheme

  • Nepal

◦                                   The Himilayan : NHRC Expresses Concern

  • Honduras

◦                                   UN News Centre: Honduras: Ban Renews Support for Reconciliation Moves After Last Year’s Coup

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia

COMMENTARY AND PERSPECTIVES

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.  If you do not want to receive future issues of War Crimes Prosecution Watch, please email warcrimeswatch@pilpg.org and type “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

ICC Should Decide on Gaza Conflict Investigation

ICC should decide on Gaza conflict investigation

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/icc-urged-decide-gaza-conflict-investigation-2010-09-27

27 September 2010

Amnesty International has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to decide on whether it can investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 2008-9 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

The Human Rights Council must make the same call after it considers today a report by a committee of independent experts highlighting the continuing failures of both the Israeli and Hamas authorities to investigate violations of international law that were documented more than a year ago by a UN fact-finding mission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone.

“Both Israeli and Hamas authorities have been given adequate time and opportunity to ensure justice for the victims, yet they are both failing to do so,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy, Amnesty International. “An international justice solution must now be found.”

Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority (PA) has ratified the Rome Statute. However, in January 2009, the PA declared that it accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction over all crimes committed in the territory of Palestine since July 2002.

If that declaration is valid, under the ICC’s rules it would cover all crimes committed during the conflict, both in Gaza and in southern Israel.

“Victims have waited long enough,” said Widney Brown. “It’s now time the ICC Prosecutor sought a decision on whether the Palestinian declaration submitted in 2009 allows him to act. If the Pre-Trial Chamber determines that the ICC has jurisdiction, the Prosecutor should open an investigation into crimes committed by both sides during the Gaza conflict, without delay.”

Amnesty International has called on national authorities of all states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in the Gaza conflict before their national courts on behalf of the international community, said Widney Brown, noting that all states can prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity – regardless of where they are committed.

Amnesty International also urged the Human Rights Council to:

  • recognize the failure of the investigations conducted by Israel and the Hamas de facto administration to comply with international law and standards;
  • call on states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the conflict before their national courts by exercising universal jurisdiction;
  • refer the Committee’s report to the UN General Assembly – and request that Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, place the report before the Security Council.

Campaign for International Justice
Amnesty International
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
United Kingdom
www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice

Time for International Justice Solution for Gaza Conflict Victims

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT
AI Index: MDE 15/021/2010

23 September 2010

As the Human Rights Council prepares to consider next Monday, 27 September, a report by a UN Committee of Independent Experts into domestic investigations into the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel which ended on 18 January 2009, Amnesty International calls on the UN body to seek an international justice solution for the victims.

The report issued earlier this week supports Amnesty International’s evaluation that the domestic investigations carried out by both the Israeli government and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza into alleged violations of international law committed by both sides have failed to meet the required international standards of independence, impartiality, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness.

Israel’s investigations, undertakenand overseen by the military, including some involved in the military operation in Gaza, have lacked independence, appropriate expertise and transparency. At least 65 military probes have been closed without opening criminal investigations; they include probes into Israeli attacks on UN facilities, civilian property and infrastructure, medical facilities and personnel, attacks using white phosphorus and other attacks in which many civilians were killed and injured.

In Gaza, the Hamas de facto administration has failed to mount credible investigations into alleged violations by its forces and other Palestinian armed groups, including the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel that killed three civilians and injured others during the conflict.

More than one year has passed since the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, identified allegations of grave violations of international law, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, committed by both sides and recommended that the government of Israel and the relevant authorities in the Gaza Strip be given six months to undertake good faith investigations.

Amnesty International considers that the domestic authorities have been given more than adequate time and opportunity to ensure justice for victims. Their failure to do so requires an international justice solution.

Although neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority have ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), on 22 January 2009, the Palestinian Minister of Justice on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) submitted a declaration to the ICC accepting its jurisdiction over crimes “committed on the territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002.” The declaration would potentially cover all crimes documented in the Fact-Finding Mission report in both Gaza and Israel.

Irrespective of the status of the ICC’s jurisdiction, Amnesty International notes that under international law all states can and should investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the conflict before their national courts by exercising universal jurisdiction over crimes under international law.

Amnesty International is therefore calling on the Human Rights Council to:

  • recognize the failure of the investigations conducted by Israel and the Hamas de facto administration to comply with international standards;
  • call on the ICC Prosecutor urgently to seek a determination by the Pre-Trial Chamber on whether the ICC has jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict;
  • call on states to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by both sides during the conflict before their national courts by exercising universal jurisdiction;
  • refer the Committee’s report to the Council’s parent body, the General Assembly; and
  • request that the UN Secretary-General place the report before the Security Council.

Background

The UN Committee of Independent Experts was established by Human Rights Council resolution 13/9 adopted on 25 March 2010. It was chaired by Professor Christian Tomuschat, an international jurist and expert on international human rights and international humanitarian law, and also included Judge Mary McGowan David, a former justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and consultant for the ICC and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Param Cumaraswamy, a jurist and human rights expert. The Committee met Palestinian bodies charged with carrying out investigations in both the West Bank and Gaza, but the government of Israel refused to co-operate with it.

On 21 September 2010 the Committee of Independent Experts released an advanced version of their report (available at:http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/15session/A.HRC.15.50_AEV.pdf). Christian Tomuschat summarized the report’s finding by saying that the investigations by the Israelis and Palestinians “remain incomplete in some cases or fall significantly short of meeting international standards in others”

The Committee challenged both the impartiality and transparency of the Israeli investigations. It was not clear to the Committee how many of the 36 specific incidents documented in the UN Fact-Finding Mission’s report of September 2009, including some alleged to involve war crimes, Israel had actually investigated. The Committee also noted that, to date, the Israeli investigations had resulted in just one conviction (relating to credit card fraud) and three indictments, all of which involve low-ranking soldiers. In addition, the Committee concluded that Israel had not conducted investigations into decision-making at the highest levels about the design and implementation of the Gaza operations.

The Committee also robustly criticized the investigations undertaken by the Hamas de factoadministration in Gaza noting that these did not serious address the recommendations of the UN Fact-Finding Mission and dealt inadequately with the firing of indiscriminate weapons into southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups.

Finally, the Committee made a generally positive evaluation of investigations conducted by the Independent Investigation Commission established by the PA into violations of international human rights law by public officials in the West Bank, but noted that these had yet to result in any criminal proceedings. The PA was not a party to the 22-day conflict and the Commission was not able to investigate the firing of indiscriminate weapons into southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

According to the Rome Statute, the ICC has the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the ICC determines that it is unable to act on the PA’s declaration, the UN Security Council has the ability to refer the situation to the ICC Prosecutor.

On 26 February 2010 the UN General Assembly called on the Secretary-General to report to it within a period of five months on the Israeli and Palestinian investigations. However, neither of the reports released by the Secretary-General on 26 July and 11 August constituted a substantive assessment of the domestic investigations.

International Justice Project
Amnesty International
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
United Kingdom