Silencing the Women’s Rights Movement in Iran

Courtesy of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

This report examines the Islamic Republic’s attempt to dismantle the women’s rights movement leading up to and following the June 12, 2009 presidential election. Members of the movement – from part-time volunteers to world-renowned human rights defenders – have been faced with a stark choice – cease their activism in order to protect themselves, their families and livelihoods, or continue their activism at the risk of facing criminal allegations, arbitrary arrest and detention, interrogation, torture and even death. Many have fled the country.

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Peace Negotiations Watch

PEACE NEGOTIATIONS WATCH

Friday, August 6, 2010
Volume IX, Number 28

In this issue:

CONFLICT UPDATES
Afghanistan
Burma
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kashmir
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Nepal
Somaliland
Sudan: Darfur
Sudan: Southern Sudan
Tanzania
Thailand
Uganda
Water Diplomacy
Zimbabwe

Afghanistan

Afghanistan Says It’s ‘Shocked’ by Leaked U.S. Documents

CNN, July 27, 2010
The Afghan government released a statement that officials were shocked by the 90,000 leaked documents of United States (U.S.) military and diplomatic papers on the war in Afghanistan.  In response to documents claiming that Pakistan has provided support to the insurgency, the former head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, General Hamid Gul, said the reports were false.  Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani released a statement that the leaked documents do not accurately represent the current realities on the ground.

Taliban Congratulates Dutch on Withdrawal from Afghanistan

DutchNews, July 29, 2010
The Taliban in Afghanistan released a statement congratulating the Netherlands’ government and citizens for withdrawing from Afghanistan.  The Taliban also said they hope that other countries with troops in Afghanistan will follow suit.

Burma

Than Swe May Free Suu Kyi before Election: Former Spy

The Irrawaddy, July 26, 2010
A former Burmese counter-intelligence officer believes General Than Swe may free Aung Sun Suu Kyi prior to the scheduled November release date.  The junta extended Suu Kyi’s detention for an additional eighteen months last year.  The General may release her and possibly other political prisoners as a last resort if the international community exerts strong pressure on the ruling junta to hold democratic elections.  The former counter-intelligence officer also reported that the junta had led a disinformation campaign through Burmese diplomats regarding Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition, including disseminating reports that Suu Kyi was unwilling to negotiate with the military.

North Korean Foreign Minister Meets with Burmese Foreign Minister amid Nuclear Worries

Antara News, August 1, 2010
The Korean Central News Agency reported that a delegation led by Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun met with Burmese Foreign Minister U Nyan Win in Burma on July 29.  During the talks both parties discussed developing friendly relations, as well as addressing international and regional issues of mutual concern.  Burma severed ties with North Korea in 1983 after North Korean operatives attempted to assassinate the South Korean President while he was visiting Burma.  Recent reports suggest that Burma may be developing a nuclear weapons program with North Korean assistance.  The United States has continued to express concern about military ties between the states.

Burma Official Media Hail Top Leader India Visit

Xinhua, August 1, 2010
Burma’s state-media called Senior-General Than Shwe’s recent five-day visit from July 25 – 29, to India a milestone of bilateral cooperation and friendship between the two states.  General Than Shwe met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil, signing five significant agreements.  The agreements include a treaty on mutual assistance in criminal matters, and four Memoranda of Understanding on Indian grant assistance for the implementation of small development projects and bilateral cooperation in science, technology, and information.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Nearly 90,000 People Uprooted by Clashes in Eastern DR Congo, UN Reports

UN, July 30, 2010
Local authorities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are reporting that almost 90,000 people have been displaced as a result of military operations in the region.  Violence between the national army (FARDC) and the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) resulted in the death of six civilians, dozens of civilians injured, and robbing and looting of villages.  In response, the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) set up temporary base of operations and is delivering aid.

Kashmir

Kashmir Opposition Locks Up Ministers Inside Secretariat

Hindustan Times, July 29, 2010
Party Members of the Legislative Assembly locked the Chief Minister and numerous employees inside the Secretariat in an effort to show how many Kashmiris feel under he imposed curfew.  Authorities imposed the curfew following clashes between military forces and protestors over the death of a boy killed by police forces.

Dialogue only Way to Resolve India-Pak Disputes: Qureshi

The Indian, July 30, 2010
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated that India and Pakistan agreed to restart talks because they viewed dialogue as the only way to resolve issues in dispute.  Qureshi encouraged focusing on Pakistani areas of concern, including Kashmir and water concerns.

Haqqani Calls for Result-Oriented India-Pak Dialogue over Kashmir

The Indian, July 30, 2010
Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani urged India to engage with Pakistan in a results-focused dialogue with the goal of resolving the Kashmir issue.  He also said that Pakistan is committed to resolving the issue and is looking for the same commitment from the Indian government.

Kenya

No Poll Results Delay, IIEC Pledges

The Standard, August 4, 2010
Final referendum results will be released within forty-eight hours of the vote, according to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).  IIEC Chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan said that new election technology implemented since the 2007 election will allow for increased transparency and efficiency of referendum results.  Provisional results will be transmitted electronically but the final official result will be determined by the receipt of physical forms.

Kenya Votes ‘Yes’ to New Constitution

Reuters Africa, August 5, 2010
Preliminary results from more than half of polling stations indicated that Kenyans voted by a significant margin in favor of the new Constitution in the referendum held yesterday.  Higher Education Minister William Ruto, one of the leaders of the No campaign, publicly accepted the result but said that sixty percent of registered voters had abstained or voted no, indicating that there was support for amendments to the document.  The vote appeared to be peaceful, with no major incidents reported at polling stations.

Church has not Lost Credibility Over Vote, Says Njue

Daily Nation, August 5, 2010
The Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, John Cardinal Njue, said the Church respects that Kenyans voted to approve the new Constitution, but that the result does not mean that the Church has lost credibility.  Cardinal Njue asserted that the Church would continue to press for changes to clauses in the new Constitution regarding kadhi courts and abortion.  The Church praised the IIEC for running a peaceful referendum process and called for continued peace following the vote.

Kyrgyzstan

Donors Pledge $1.1 Billion to Kyrgyzstan

VOA, July 27, 2010
In an effort to strengthen the country after June’s ethnic violence, international donors have pledged $1.1 billion in aid to Kyrgzystan.  Over half of the aid will be distributed before the end of 2010 to support the caretaker government and to promote stability for the upcoming elections.  Kyrgyzstan’s economy was expected to grow 5.5 percent in 2010, but is now forecasted to decline by 5 percent.

Troops Disperse Protestors in Kyrgyzstan

The Associated Press, August 5, 2010
Kyrgyz government forces dispersed hundreds of anti-government protestors near Bishkek, raising fears of further instability in Kyrgyzstan.  The protestors, supporters of former presidential candidate Urmat Baryktabasov, were stopped by authorities entering the capital and were not permitted to proceed.

Nepal

“UML to Remain Neutral in Next PM Run-Off”

NepalNews, July 30, 2010
The Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Jhana Nath Khanal, reaffirmed his party’s decision to remain neutral in the third round of elections for the post of prime minister.  Khanal said that the CPN-UML would not support a majority government, as only a consensus government could ensure peace in Nepal.

Madhesi Front Nay to Dahal

The Kathmandu Post, July 31, 2010
The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) rejected a letter of commitment from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (UCPN – M) and reiterated its commitment to neutrality in the second run-off election for the position of prime minister.  The UCPN-M’s letter refused to accept the UDMF’s demands for political pluralism and a single state for the Madhesi.

NC Submits its Stand on Madhesi Demands; Denies Single Madhes State

eKantipur, August 1, 2010
In response to demands issued by the UDMF, the Nepali Congress (NC) party submitted a letter in an attempt to win UDMF support in the second runoff for prime minister.  The UDMF represents 82 seats, which could be decisive in electing a prime minister.  The NC rejected UDMF demands for a single Madhes state, responding instead that self-determination rights needed to be elaborated in more detail.

Somaliland

Somaliland’s Silanyo Takes Oath in Show of Democracy

Reuters, July 27, 2010
In a move that furthers Somaliland’s legitimacy as an independent state, newly-elected President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo has been officially sworn in following a largely peaceful democratic election.  The outgoing president, Dahir Rayale Kahin, expressed his support for the newly-inaugurated Silanyo.

New Somaliland President Names Cabinet

Voice of America, July 28, 2010
Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo has named and appointed 26 ministers and deputies as his cabinet following his inauguration as president of Somaliland.  According to Silanyo, it is the smallest Cabinet in Somaliland’s history.  Silanyo also reiterated his commitment to building and strengthening Somaliland’s economy.

Time for Jaw-Jaw, Not War-War in Somaliland

IRIN, July 28, 2010
The International Crisis Group says the new President of Somaliland, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, must begin negotiations to end the violence that has displaced thousands.  Fighting between government forces and Sool Sanaag and Cayn, an armed opposition group in the eastern Sool region, may be stopped only if their marginalization is addressed and community elders take a significant role in negotiations.

Sudan – Darfur

Darfur Peace Process Reaches Critical Juncture

All Africa, July 27, 2010
UNAMID official Ibrahim Gambari told the UN Security Council that there were encouraging signs pointing towards a possible deal to end the conflict in Darfur.  He noted that the peace process in Darfur has reached a critical point, with the security situation deteriorating just as prospects for a negotiated settlement have improved.

Peace Deal Signed Between SLA-FREES and JRM

All Africa, July 28, 2010
Two Darfur rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army-FREES (SLA-FREES) and the Justice and Reform Movement (JRM), signed a peace deal on July 28.  Both groups are splinter organizations: JRM from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and SLA-FREE from the Sudan Liberation Amy (SLA).

Darfur Rebels Say Government Implementing New Security Plan

Sudan Tribune, July 30, 2010
Two senior Darfur rebel figures claimed that the establishment of a new commission by Sudanese President Bashir to oversee Darfur strategy is in reality a new security and military campaign aimed at dismantling the IDP camps.  They cautioned that the commission may attempt to force the return of IDPs, and alleged that the government was behind recent violence in several IDP camps.

Thousands of Darfur IDPs Flee Violent Clashes in Camp

Sudan Tribune, July 31, 2010
Clashes between IDPs opposed to Darfur peace talks and others supporting the talks resulted in the death of eight people and injuries to dozens more in the Kalma IDP camp.  Three supporters of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), the only rebel group engaged in peace talks with the Sudan government, were killed.  South Darfur’s Governor Abd-al-Hamid Musa Kasha accused the Sudan Liberation Army’s (SLM) Nur faction of attacking in effort to derail the Doha peace process.

Sudan – Southern Sudan

Sudan’s NCP Hints at Delaying the 2011 Referendum Over Border Demarcation

Sudan Tribune, July 30, 2010
A senior official of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Ibrahim Ghandour, suggested that the 2011 referendum on secession might have to be delayed until the border demarcation process is complete.  He also commented that a failure to reach a border agreement before the referendum could lead to a new conflict.  This week, the Government of Southern Sudan representative on the border commission, Riak Degol, said that an agreement on the border would be impossible to complete before the January referendum.

South Sudan’s Kiir Says Referendum Must Take Place With or Without Borders

Sudan Tribune, August 1, 2010
President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit announced that the referendum on Southern Sudan’s secession will occur on January 9, 2011, whether or not the North-South border is demarcated at that time.  Kiir made his remarks in front of a crowd of thousands during the commemoration of Martyrs Day on July 30, referencing the comments made by NCP senior official Ibrahim Ghandour earlier in the week.  The U.S. States Department spokesman, PJ Crowley, told reporters that under the CPA, Southern Sudan is entitled to a referendum and the U.S. administration is working hard to help officials in Juba prepare.

Kiir Rules Out South Declaring Independence Unilaterally

Sudan Tribune, August 1, 2010
In an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Salva Kiir Mayardit ruled out declaring independence unilaterally.  Kiir reaffirmed Southern Sudan’s commitment to the 2011 referendum, a part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  Kiir’s comments stand in contrast to Southern Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar, who told the southern parliament that a unilateral declaration of independence was an “uncomfortable” option that could not be ruled out.

Tanzania

Tanzania to Hang Blood-Drinking Killer of Albino Girl

Reuters, July 28, 2010
The killer of a five-year-old albino girl has been sentenced to death by hanging.  On July 27, the Mwanza High Court convicted fifty-year-old Kazimiri Mashauri of killing the girl and severing her legs.  The first albino member of the Tanzanian Parliament, Al Shaymaa Kwegyir, welcomed the conviction, noting that the ruling should serve as a lesson for others.  He also noted that this is the second conviction for the killing of an albino, and murders of the albino population in Tanzania have declined in recent months.

Activists Unhappy With Death Penalty Against Albino Killers

The Citizen, July 29, 2010
Human rights activists are concerned by the death penalty imposed recently on the convicted murderer of a five-year-old albino girl.  Representatives of the Legal and Human Rights Centre and the Southern African Human Rights Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Network insisted that capital punishment is detrimental to the nation, and called for the government to deal with the root causes of albino killings rather than kill perpetrators.

Tanzanian Island of Zanzibar Votes for Unity Government

Associated Press, August 1, 2010
In order to avoid violence following the general elections in October, Zanzibaris voted preemptively on July 31 to form a unity government.  Approximately two-thirds of Zanzibari voters supported unity.  In a unity government, the winning party in October will take the presidency, and the two runners-up will each claim a vice-presidency.

Thailand

Thai Court Issues Warrant for Thaksin

AFP, July 29, 2010
Thailand’s Supreme Court issued a new arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  The warrant alleges a false declaration of assets to the National Anti-Corruption Commission while in office, and is the latest in a series of warrants issued against him.  The charges against Thaksin include terrorism for the role of his supporters in the violent street protests that took place in April and May.  Thaksin has been out of the country to avoid serving a prison term since he was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006.

Thailand’s Red Shirts Stage New Protest in Bangkok

Associated Press, August 1, 2010
Several hundred Red Shirt protesters peacefully protested at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on July 29 in defiance of the ongoing state of emergency in the Thai capital.  The Red Shirt protesters sought to remind the public of the spring protests in which nearly ninety Red Shirts died and to urge government accountability for the deaths.

Uganda

LRA Victims Want Justice From the ICC

New Vision, July 29, 2010
Victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) met with a team from the Uganda Coalition on the ICC on July 26.  The victims explained that they have waited too long for justice and asked the ICC to arrest top LRA rebels immediately.  Worldwide, 111 countries have committed to apprehending LRA suspects and sending them to the ICC to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Three Kenyan Men Charged with Uganda Bomb Attacks

BBC, July 30, 2010
Three Kenyans have been charged with three counts of terrorism, ten counts of attempted murder, and the murder of seventy-six people during the July 11 bombing in Kampala, Uganda.  The men will appear in court again on August 27, but will not enter pleas until the Directorate of Public Prosecutions moves the case to the High Court.  Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamist group with links to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Terrorists Now Target Ugandan Embassies

Daily Monitor, August 1, 2010
An American-based terror monitoring group intercepted a video from al-Qaida-linked militants indicating that they may be targeting Ugandan and Burundian embassies throughout the world.  The video raised security concerns in Uganda about another possible terrorist strike, and all countries that host embassies of Uganda are on high alert to ensure their security.  The Coordinator of Intelligence Agencies in Uganda, General David Tinyefuza, promised to stop any terror attacks and emphasized the country’s determination to keep residents of Uganda safe.

Water Diplomacy

Water Dispute Increases India-Pakistan Tension

The New York Times, July 20, 2010
A move by India to build a hydroelectric dam to meet its increasing demand for electricity has caused concern in Pakistan that India, the upriver nation, could change the water flow and affect Pakistan’s agriculture industry.  The dispute over water threatens to renew conflict between the two states, and anger over the dam has already gripped anti-India nationalists in Pakistan.  The construction of dams on the Indus River system is governed by a fifty-year-old treaty that allows for India’s new project but raises concerns over the release and manipulation of water flow.

Arab Ministers Agree on Water Security Strategy

Ammon News, July 1, 2010
Arab water ministers met in Cairo to strategize on a water security plan in anticipation of an international water conference scheduled for 2012 in Marseille, France.  Nineteen Arab states have water shortages, and the plan addresses funding for water projects, including investment in water desalination.  Another emergency meeting is scheduled for September to finalize and endorse the strategy.

Protest Against Water Shortage Turns Violent

The Times of India, July 7, 2010
After ten days without water, residents of Mayur Vihar in east Delhi took to the streets to protest water scarcity in the area.  Five hundred protesters destroyed buses and cars and clashed with police, injuring eight policemen.  Police have so far arrested fourteen people as a result of the violent protests.

Zimbabwe

South Africa Continues to Mediate for the Unity Government

Voice of America, July 27, 2010
The top Zimbabwe mediator in South Africa was sent to Harare this week to meet with top officials in the unity government to help mediate the rising tensions between the parties. The visit was intended to reinvigorate negotiations in preparation for the South African Development Community summit in Namibia next month.

Mugabe Lashes Out at West Over Zimbabwe Sanctions

Reuters, August 1, 2010
In a public address during a family funeral, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe implied that western nations are conspiring to drive him out of power through financial sanctions and travel restrictions.  Mugabe reiterated the importance of his plan to force all foreign forms to transfer 51% of their assets to Zimbabweans, a proposal that has deeply divided Zimbabwe’s ruling coalition.

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.

Peace Negotiations Watch

PEACE NEGOTIATIONS WATCH

Friday, July 30, 2010
Volume IX, Number 27

In this issue:

CONFLICT UPDATES

Afghanistan
Burma
Cameroon: Southern Cameroons
Cyprus
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Georgia
Kashmir
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Nagorno Karabakh
Nepal
Philippines
Somaliland
Sudan: Darfur
Sudan: Southern Sudan
Tanzania
Thailand
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Afghanistan

UN Security Council Hails International Conference on Afghanistan

Xinhua, July 24, 2010
The United Nations (UN) Security Council released a statement congratulating the Afghan government on the recent international conference in Kabul, which included national governmental, regional, and international representatives.  The representatives met and discussed strengthening regional and international cooperation, Afghan leadership and governance, security, and economic growth.  The UN Security Council stated that the conference is another step in the political, economic, and security improvement process in Afghanistan, as well as the peace process.

Burma

ASEAN Urges Burma to Hold Free, Fair Election

The Irrawaddy, July 19, 2010
Foreign ministers of nine of the ten states forming the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took a rather unusual stand on the eve of their annual conference by urging Burma, the tenth member, to hold free and fair election and offering to send observers to the elections.  Such a statement from states known for their strict policy of non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs, often leading to overlooking violations of human rights, demonstrates the deep concern of ASEAN members regarding Burma.

Burma Upgrades Military With North Korean Advice

The Irrawaddy, July 23, 2010
Following North Korean advice, Burma recently upgraded its military equipment to improve the rapid deployment of its forces, providing increasing evidence of existing ties between Burma and North Korea.  Other instances illustrating the increasingly close ties between Burma and North Korea include a memorandum of understanding regarding joint military exercises between the two armies, North Korean assistance in defense matters, and the recent rumors regarding the import of nuclear weapons.  The Burmese military is also seeking North Korea’s input on the upgrade of its people’s militias, which are part of the regime’s “People’s War Strategy.”

India Welcomes Burma Military Leader

CNN, July 25, 2010
Indian officials welcomed the top leader of the Burmese Junta on July 25.  General Than Shwe’s five-day visit aims to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between both states.  Bilateral trade between both states has reached almost one billion dollars in the past few years, with several Indian companies investing in Burma’s energy sector.  The visit comes several days after the United States (U.S.) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India and neighboring countries to pressure Burma to comply with UN human rights resolutions and nonproliferation agreements.

Cameroon: Southern Cameroons

Prisoners? What Prisoners? Asks Cameroon Minister

Radio France International, July 12, 2010
Cameroonian Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma Bakary refused to confirm or deny whether members of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) are currently imprisoned in Cameroon.  The SCNC alleges that fifty of its members are currently detained without trial.  Bakary asserted that the Government of Cameroon will not negotiate with the SCNC as long as it advocates for secession from Cameroon.

Cyprus

Proposals on Famagusta

Famagusta Gazette, July 19, 2010
During a public speech, Greek Cypriot President Christofias presented a three-part proposal to revive peace negotiations.  In hopes of facilitating a quicker dialogue between Greek and Turkish Cyprus, the first part of the proposal seeks to combine three divisive topics, including property, territory and immigration, into one.  The second seeks to implement UN Security Council Resolution 550, and to give the UN administrative power over the fenced-off areas of Varosha in Famagusta.  The third looks to convene an international conference to address internal issues in Cyprus.  Christofias contended that the package of proposals is balanced and is in the interest of the international community.

Turkey and Northern Cyprus Sign Long-Awaited Water Deal

Hurriyet, July 21, 2010
On July 19, Turkey and Northern Cyprus signed a 450 million dollar water project agreement.  The water deal envisions the construction of an undersea pipeline between Turkey and Cyprus which would be capable of delivering seventy-five meters of water.  The agreement is aimed at enhancing the lives of Turkish Cypriots, but Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek suggested that the water would benefit the entire island of Cyprus should a lasting peace be achieved.

Christofias’ Proposals Not Serious

Cyprus Mail, July 25, 2010
Turkish Cypriot Kudret Ozersay, the Special Representative for Turkish Cyprus at UN-sponsored talks, accused Greek Cypriot President Christofias of pitching a package of proposals that he knew was unfeasible and repetitive.  Ozersay explained that two of the proposals mirrored past ideas that Turkish Cyprus had already rejected and that the third proposal was not politically practical.  Ozersay also reaffirmed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’s commitment to the UN framework for negotiation.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo:Militia Leader Ordered Back To Jail

The New York Times, July 23, 2010
After the International Criminal Court (ICC) suspended the trial of Congo militia leader Thomas Lubanga on July 8 due to what the judges termedthe prosecutor’s abuse of process and ordered his release, the ICC appellate judges’ panel halted his release.  They stated that his release might prevent the trial from resuming in the future.  Lubanga plead not guilty and was standing trial for charges of using children under 15 years old to fight for his Union of Congolese Patriots militia during the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 1999-2003 war.

Georgia

EU Launching Talks on Closer Ties With Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia

Radio Free Europe, July 15, 2010
The European Union (EU) has announced the beginning of talks with Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia for formal association agreements on political and economic issues.  EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that talks on association agreements usually take between one and four years, and include the possibility of visa-free travel and free-trade regimes.

Abkhazia Does U-Turn Over Geneva Talks

Radio Free Europe, July 24, 2010
Prime Minister of Abkhazia Sergei Shamba announced that Abkhazia would send a delegation to attend the next round of mediation.  Abkhaz presidential-administration head, Nadir Bitiyev, said previously that Abkhazia would not attend the next round of talks because international mediators were unwilling to pressure Georgia to sign an agreement on the non-resumption of hostilities.

Separatist Abkhazia, S. Ossetia Leaders Meet With Venezuela’s Chavez

Radio Free Europe, July 24, 2010
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met with separatist leaders Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia and Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia in Caracas on July 23 to discuss the development of cooperation between Venezuela and the two regions.  Venezuela is the fourth country, along with Russia, Nicaragua, and the island state of Nauru, to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent.  Venezuelan officials signed a series of agreements establishing foreign diplomatic relations and other potential future cooperation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Kashmir

US Rejects Pak’s Request to Mediate in Talks with India to Resolve Kashmir, Water Issues

TheIndian, July 20, 2010
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated during a meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that the U.S. will not mediate between Pakistan and India on the issues of Kashmir and water rights.  Regarding the water dispute, Clinton stated that each country should efficiently manage its own water resources before asking for more from the other country.  Clinton also commented that Pakistan and India, the two countries involved in the disputes, must resolve the issues themselves, and that the U.S. encourages both governments to continue their recently renewed talks and engagement.

Water Dispute Increases India-Pakistan Tension

The New York Times, July 20, 2010
A water dispute between India and Pakistan continues after Pakistan’s May filing with the international arbitration court against India’s planned hydroelectric dams.  With both countries’ populations expanding, India is currently building one of several planned large hydroelectric dams to help maintain and increase India’s energy resources.  Pakistan fears the dams will increase India’s control of Pakistan’s water resources for agricultural use, which makes up a large percentage of Pakistan’s employment and economy.  The water dispute is a sticking point in the negotiations and renewal of peace talks between Pakistan and India, which once focused squarely on Kashmir.

Kenya

Kenyan MP Ditches Bill after Defecting

Capital News, July 20, 2010
Member of Parliament (MP) Jamieck Kamau said he will not go forward with a bill in Parliament to postpone the referendum on the Proposed Constitution.  Mr. Kamau indicated that the President told him the contentious portions of the document would be dealt with after the new Constitution is passed.

Poll Chaos Witnesses Flown Out

Daily Nation, July 20, 2010
Earlier this month, the ICC flew out three key eye-witnesses to the post-election violence of 2007.  The ICC decided to take the witnesses under its protection because the government had not dedicated enough funding to its witness protection program.  The Kenya National Commission for Human Rights said that threats against eye-witnesses have been on the rise.

Police are County’s Most Corrupt Institution – Index

Daily Nation, July 22, 2010
According to the Transparency International Bribery Index, which reviews levels of bribery in government institutions of five East African states, the Kenyan police are the most corrupt institution in the state and the third most corrupt state body in the region.  Kenya was ranked the third most corrupt state overall.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz Interim Gov’t Amends Election Law

Xinhua, July 21, 2010
Kyrgyzstan’s caretaker government amended Kyrgyzstan’s election laws by presidentially signed decree.  The changes bring Parliament’s seat count to 120 from 90.  Further changes include: limiting each party to no more 65 seats; setting 21 as the minimum age for candidate eligibility; and announcing the upcoming parliamentary election date 90 days before the election.  The decree also requires Kyrgyz citizens to present validated documents of residency in addition to proof of a registered permanent residence.

South Kyrgyzstan Forces May Have Used Torture: UN Rights

AFP, July 21, 2010
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay stated that acquired information shows that military and police forces in Kyrgyzstan have used torture, ill-treatment, and illegal and indiscriminate detention in response to June’s ethnic violence.  The ill-treatment has been mainly of Uzbek men and threatens the peace process, said Pillay.

Kyrgyz Police Detain Ex-President’s Brother

The Associated Press, July 22, 2010
Kyrgyz police detained the brother of deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Wednesday night outside of Jalal-Abad, where June’s ethnic violence occurred.  He was arrested on charges of contributing to and inciting the ethnic violence, which left hundreds of Uzbeks dead and resulted in over 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons.  The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced that they would send an international police force to Kyrgyzstan’s southern region to advise local police.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Obama Pick for U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan on the Defensive at Senate Hearings

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, July 22, 2010
The U.S. nominee for Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza, previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and as the U.S. co-chair of the Minsk Group.  His selection has upset many Armenian officials and diaspora groups.  At his July 22 nomination hearing, U.S. senators questioned Bryza intensively about his delayed condemnation of Azeri troops’ attack on UNESCO-protected gravesites in Julfa, his inability to efficiently deliver funds to assist Nagorno-Karabakh, and his role in the dismissal of former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans.

Too Early for a Karabakh Referendum – EU Envoy

News.az, July 26, 2010
EU Special Envoy on the South Caucasus Peter Semneby indicated that a referendum would be inappropriate at this stage in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations.  Semneby encouraged the parties to adhere to the Minsk Group principles for resolving the conflict.

Samvel Nikoyan Draws Similarities Between Kosovo and Karabakh Issues

PanArmenian.net,July 26, 2010
The decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia was lawful may have implications for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.  Armenian Vice Speaker of Parliament Samvel Nikoyan and former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovhannisian have both highlighted the similarities between the situations in Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nepal

No Winner in Nepal Run-Off Election

The Hindu, July 23, 2010
Neither candidate for the prime ministerial post obtained a majority of the votes in the July 23rd run-off election.  The two candidates, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress Vice-President Ram Chandra Paudel, failed to win by majority principally because the members of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-UML) and several Madhesi parties refrained from voting.  Another prime ministerial election is planned to take place on August 2.

“UML Won’t Partake in Prime Ministerial Run-Off Until Consensus Government Ensured”

NepalNews, July 23, 2010
CPN-UML leader Bharat Mohan Adhikari declared that his party would not vote in the second prime ministerial election without assurance that it would result in “a national consensus government.”  Adhikari insisted that his party had withdrawn the candidacy of Jhala Nath Khanal for the sake of such national consensus because, although Khanal would have obtained a majority of votes in the election, he had failed to achieve a two-thirds majority.

Madhesi Parties Set Conditions for Support as House Prepares for Prime Ministerial Run-Off

NepalNews, July 23, 2010
The Unified Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of Madhes-based parties, revealed three main conditions its constituents have set for their support in the prime ministerial election, without officially pledging their support to any of the candidates.  First, the UDMF insisted that the future government should comply with past agreements regarding the autonomy and right to self-determination of the Madhesi province, and should not set up the State Restructuring Commission without consulting Madhesi parties.  Second, the UDMF called for the drafting of the new Constitution to be completed within the Constituent Assembly’s tenure.  Finally, with regard to the peace process, the UDMF proposed a schedule for the integration of People Liberation Army (PLA) fighters, the dismantling of Young Communist League (YCL) camps, and the return of seized properties.

Philippines

Government Reviewing Peace Process Before Talks

Reuters, July 16, 2010
The government of President Benigno Aquino expects to hold informal talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by October 2010.  In preparation, the government is reviewing the peace process that has been facilitated by Malaysia since 2001.  Norway and the EU will soon join Malaysia on the monitoring team in Mindanao.  Norway continues to facilitate talks between the government and the Maoist National Democratic Front (NDF).  President Aquino has linked the need for peace to economic development, and aims to return 25,000 displaced persons to Mindanao before the end of his first 100 days in office.

General Mabanta Vows that Military Operations Against Insurgents Will Comply With the Law

PhilStar, July 26, 2010
The new Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Civil Relations Service (CRS), Brigadier General Jose Mabanta Jr., has said that all military operations against insurgents will comply with existing laws.  Mabanta promised that all operations would be documented and all searches would be initiated under warrants.  His statement came in response to complaints that allege extra-judicial killings and other violations of human rights on the part of the AFP.  Mabanta is working under a three-year deadline to end the insurgency.

Somaliland

Somaliland Clashes Displace Thousands

All Africa, July 23, 2010
Several thousand people in northern Somalia have been displaced in recent weeks by clashes between Somaliland troops and a new rebel group, Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC).  The rebel group wishes to liberate these three regions from the government of Somaliland.  During campaigns before the June election, President Silanyo pledged to start negotiations with the SCC.

Inauguration of President-Elect Silaanyo to be Attended by Djibouti and Kenyan Delegations

Somaliland Press, July 25, 2010
The inauguration of President-Elect Silaanyo will be attended by delegations from Djibouti and Kenya, only a week after a former Kenyan minister called for the administration to recognize Somaliland as a country.

Sudan: Darfur

Darfur Rebels and U.N. to Sign Deal to Protect Children

Reuters, July 20, 2010
Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a deal with UNICEF on Wednesday to protect children from being used as solders in the Darfur conflict, and from sexual violence.  Both rebel forces and government-sponsored groups have reportedly recruited children to fight during the course of the Darfur conflict, though the agreement did not specifically mention such recruitment.  UNICEF will have access to JEM locations to verify compliance.

LJM and Sudanese Government Agree to a Ceasefire

AFP, July 22, 2010
Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), the only rebel group that is currently party to the peace process, signed a ceasefire that follows the March framework.  Qatari mediators continue to extend an invitation to the other rebel groups to re-join the negotiating table.

Sudan Softens Stance on Adding More Darfur Rebel Groups to the Negotiations

Sudan Tribune, July 22, 2010
A spokesperson for the Sudanese government’s delegation to the Doha peace talks says the government is making “real efforts” to bring the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and JEM to the talks.  Regarding the progress of the talks, he named the security arrangement committee and the justice and compensation committee as the only two committees that have not achieved progress thus far in Doha.

Sudan Summons UNICEF Representative to Protest JEM Pact

Sudan Tribune, July 25, 2010
The Sudanese foreign ministry conveyed a strong disagreement to a recent deal UNICEF signed with the JEM and demanded that UNICEF back away from the agreement.  The agreement signed this week allows the UN to access JEM bases to check that child soldiers are not recruited.

Sudan: Southern Sudan

Sudan’s Peace Partners to Begin Post-Referendum Negotiations Next Week

Sudan Tribune, July 23, 2010
Vice President of Southern Sudan Riek Machar has announced that negotiations on post-referendum issues are expected to begin on July 27 in Khartoum between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).  The NCP and SPLM have signed an agreement on the guiding principles for the negotiations and have recommitted themselves to the January 2011 referendum.  The negotiations will include issues concerning oil production, transport, marketing, assets, debts, security, international treaties, and currency.

Sudanese Opposition Reject Meeting with Bashir to Discuss Referendum

Sudan Tribune, July 25, 2010
Several opposition parties have rejected a meeting invitation from President Bashir to discuss the upcoming referendum in Southern Sudan.  Eight opposition parties released a statement accusing President Bashir of trying to stall the referendum process.  Deputy Secretary General of the SPLM Yasir Arman said that opposition leaders believed that the meeting should also cover other issues such as the crisis in Darfur, economic conditions, democratic transformation, and political freedom.

African Union Drops Resolution Barring Arrest of Sudanese President in Continent

Sudan Tribune, July 26, 2010
Delegates at the African Union summit in Uganda have agreed to remove draft language from a resolution that would have instructed member states not to cooperate with the ICC.  At the opening of the summit, Malawian President Mutharika said that the ICC arrest warrant for President Bashir was “undermining African solidarity.”  The non-cooperation wording was removed from the draft resolution after South Africa and Botswana opposed its inclusion.  Chad, an ICC member state, chose not to arrest President Bashir during his recent visit to the state.

Tanzania

CHADEMA Announces Candidate for October Presidential Elections

The Citizen, July 22, 2010
The Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) has named Dr. Willibrod Slaa as its presidential candidate for the general election to be held October 31.  Many believe that Dr. Slaa will pose a healthy challenge to President Kikwete.  Dr. Slaa’s signature issue is the battle against official corruption.

Transparency International Lists Tanzanian Police Force among Top Ten Most Corrupt in East Africa

The Citizen, July 23, 2010
Transparency International’s East African Bribery Index (EABI) 2010 includes Tanzania’s Judiciary and Police Force among the ten most corrupt institutions in East Africa.  The report called the National Police Force the most corrupt institution in Tanzania, and the fifth most corrupt in the region.  The report found that nearly forty-one per cent of its interactions with the public were characterized by an expectation of or demand for bribery, and almost sixty-five per cent resulted in payment of a bribe.

Kikwete in Kampala for AU Summit

Daily News, July 25, 2010
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete arrived in Kampala on Sunday afternoon to attend the 15th African Union (AU) Summit.  The Summit will address maternal, infant and child health.  Kikwete is scheduled to facilitate a progress report on the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) launched in September 2009.

Thailand

Thai Government Lifts Emergency in More Provinces

Reuters, July 20, 2010
The Thai government said it was lifting the state of emergency in three provinces, but that it would remain in effect in sixteen others.  A government spokesman said that signs of unrest in the sixteen provinces justified keeping the state of emergency in effect, but that for the other three provinces there are no signs of unrest, and the government has enough forces to maintain peace.  The state of emergency, which came in the aftermath of violent protests earlier this year, gives the government power to ban most political gatherings, detain suspects without charges, and censor the media.

Thailand’s Democrat Wins First Local Election After Red Shirt Rally

Xinhua, July 25, 2010
According to an unofficial tally by the Election Commission, the elite-backed Democrat Party candidate won the by-election for a vacant seat in Parliament for Bangkok’s Constituency 6.  The opposition Puea Thai Party accepted the result and defeat of its candidate, who is a Red Shirt leader detained on terrorism charges after the protests.  The turnout rate in the election, the first after recent protests, was approximately fifty percent.

One Dead, 10 Wounded in Bangkok Bomb Blast
AFP, July 25, 2010
A bomb exploded on Sunday at a bus stop in central Bangkok, killing one person and wounding ten.  The explosion occurred just hours after the parliamentary by-election, where initial results indicated that the Red Shirt candidate lost to the ruling Democrat Party’s candidate.  The site of the blast is in the same area occupied by the Red Shirts during their protest in May.

Uganda

Army Rescues 10 From LRA

The New Vision, July 22, 2010
The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) reported that it rescued eight women and two children from Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR).  The UDPF sent 150 soldiers to search for and arrest LRA leader Joseph Kony in the CAR.  Maj. Victor Opera, the UDPF 4th division intelligence officer, estimates that 200 LRA rebels are currently hiding in the Congo.

Ugandans Edgy Over US Move Against LRA

Institute for War & Peace Reporting, July 22, 2010
In May 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill that requires producing a strategy regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict by November.  Many Ugandans, while thankful for U.S. support, are worried that it could lead to increased violence and civilian deaths.  Ugandans are skeptical because none of the LRA leaders for whom the ICC issued arrest warrants five years ago have been apprehended, and the ICC relies on cooperation from states to execute the arrest warrants.  Although the U.S. strategy is currently uncertain, it will likely attempt to respond to humanitarian needs while also providing military, economic, and intelligence support to eradicate the LRA rebels.

Uganda President Calls for Africa to Fight Terror

Huffington Post, July 25, 2010
At last week’s AU summit in Kampala, Uganda, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged the African leaders present to work with Uganda to eradicate terrorists from the continent.  Al-Shabab, a Somali militant group associated with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the July 11 bombings in Kampala.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who attended the AU summit, pledged continued U.S. support for peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.  Holder also said an FBI forensic team is assisting Ugandan officials with the ongoing investigation.

Zimbabwe

Mugabe’s Party Sees Possible 2011 Zimbabwe Elections

Reuters, July 20, 2010
Analysts believe Zimbabwe’s next elections could be two years away, despite President Robert Mugabe’s more optimistic prognostications.  Supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai, currently Mugabe’s political rival in the power-sharing government, publicly say they will be ready for elections in 2011, but privately believe that further electoral and other political issues will need to be resolved first.

Civic Groups Warn of Potential Political Violence in 2011

Voice of America, July 23, 2010
Civic groups have warned the AU that Zimbabwe’s next elections could be violent without sweeping electoral reforms.  President Mugabe’s party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), says it is ready for the ballots, hoping that it will end the current unity government and allow for a one-party outright winner.

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

[Campaign for International Justice] Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Accountability Must be Paramount as UN Considers Investigations on Gaza Conflict

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT

AI Index MDE 15/017/2010

26 July 2010

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Accountability must be paramount as UN considers investigations on Gaza conflict

Amnesty International has reiterated its urgent call for accountability for alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by the parties to the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel as the UN Secretary-General prepares to assess domestic investigations.

Between 27 December 2008 and the 18 January 2009, around 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel – three of the Israelis and the majority of the Palestinian fatalities were civilians. In September 2009 a UN-mandated Fact-Finding Mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone published its findings (the Goldstone Report) which concluded that both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups had committed grave violations of international law, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the conflict. The UN General Assembly resolution of 2 November 2009 (A/Res/64/10) endorsed the Report of the Fact Finding Mission and, in line with the Report’s recommendations, called on the Israeli government and the Palestinian side to undertake “independent, credible” investigations in conformity with international standards into the serious violations reported by the Mission. The General Assembly also asked the UN Secretary-General to report back to it with an assessment of the Israeli and Palestinian investigations after three months. After an initial assessment on 4 February 2010, the General Assembly, in a second resolution passed on 26 February 2010, requested that the Secretary General evaluate the investigations again within a further five months.

As this five-month period draws to a close, Amnesty International continues to be concerned about the limited extent of the domestic investigations, which have so far failed to be conducted consistently with international law and standards requiring prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations. The organization is also concerned that neither of the parties have demonstrated a genuine commitment to ensure that if those investigations produce sufficient admissible evidence, each suspect will be prosecuted in a fair trial without the possibility of the death penalty and that full reparations will be provided to the victims. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the establishment of an independent committee of experts to assist the Secretary General in his assessment of the domestic investigations. On 25 March 2010 the Human Rights Council established separately a Committee of Experts which will report to the Council in its 15thsession in September 2010.

If the respective parties fail to conduct investigations that meet international law and standards, Amnesty International considers that the international community will need to assume the responsibility to ensure justice, truth and full reparations to the victims. If so, one means to achieve this would be for the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

A year and a half after the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel ended, the victims have yet to obtain justice, truth or full reparations; the perpetrators on both sides have yet to be held to account.

The international community must not fail in its duty to ensure that these objectives are achieved if the parties to the conflict show that they are unable or unwilling to achieve them.

Amnesty International continues to be concerned that the independence and impartiality of the Israeli investigations is severely compromised by the fact that all these investigations have been carried out by army commanders or by the military police. In addition, these inquiries are overseen by the Military Advocate General (MAG), whose office cannot be considered a disinterested party as it provided legal advice to Israeli forces on their choice of targets and tactics during the 22-day conflict.

The Israeli authorities have periodically released some, but only partial, information about their investigations. This lack of transparency has impeded independent scrutiny of these investigations. According to the Israeli authorities, criminal investigations by the military police were opened into 47 incidents. Around 100 other incidents involving alleged violations of the laws of war by the Israeli forces during its 22-day military offensive in Gaza however, were considered only in operational debriefings – which the Israeli military terms “command investigations”. The army commanders conducting these debriefings do not have the necessary expertise to investigate alleged crimes under international law, and cannot be considered independent. Also, problematically, these debriefings are confidential. If a commander should decide to refer an incident for criminal investigation, self-incriminatory testimony given by soldiers in the debriefing would not be admissible in court. Further, when the debriefings are closed without being referred for criminal investigation – as has been the case in the vast majority of cases thus far – it is not possible for independent experts to review the proceedings or the evidence behind the decision not to open a criminal investigation.

To date, just one case considered by the Israeli inquiries has yielded a criminal charge, trial and conviction. This relates to a case of looting in which an Israeli soldier stole a Palestinian’s credit card. Criminal charges have been filed in two additional cases which have yet to be concluded – one concerns the alleged use of a nine-year-old boy as a “human shield” by two Israeli soldiers and the other the killing of two women for which one Israeli soldier has been charged with manslaughter. According to the latest official update on investigations (published on 19 July by the Israeli government) the military police are still investigating allegations against Israeli forces relating to the al-Sammouni family, concerning not only a large number of civilian fatalities and injuries but also the denial of medical and humanitarian access to wounded family members.

The latest official update also states that the Military Advocate General decided in three additional incidents to employ disciplinary measures rather than take legal action against members of the Israeli military. These incidents include another case of a Palestinian civilian being used as a “human shield”; a missile strike on the Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque which resulted in a large number of civilian casualties; and the Israeli forces’ shelling on 15 January 2009 of the main compound of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza City in which hundreds of civilians were sheltering.

Some of the incidents the Israeli military has decided do not warrant criminal investigation are cases which appear to have been serious violations of international humanitarian law and which Amnesty International maintains require effective, independent investigation. These include Israeli attacks on UN facilities, civilian property and infrastructure, attacks on medical facilities and personnel, and incidents in which large numbers of civilians were killed and injured as a result of reckless conduct, disregard for civilian lives and consistent failure on the part of Israeli forces to distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian objects.

Despite enduring concerns expressed by Amnesty International over Israel’s extensive use of white phosphorus in Gaza, the Israeli government’s January 2010 update contends that there are “no grounds to take disciplinary or other measures for the IDF’s [Israeli Defence Force] use of weapons containing phosphorous”. This is despite the fact that throughout Israel’s 22-day military operation in Gaza Israeli forces repeatedly fired artillery shells containing white phosphorus into densely populated residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians. The July update reports that after the shelling of the UNRWA compound “the IDF immediately imposed revised restrictions on the use of smoke-screening munitions containing white phosphorous near sensitive sites (including the requirement of a several hundred meters buffer zone). These restrictions were in place through the remainder of the Gaza Operation.” But Amnesty International notes with concern that these restrictions failed to prevent white phosphorus shells causing further deaths and injuries to civilians in Gaza (including in an UNRWA school in Beit Lahiya, struck by white phosphorus shells on 17 January 2009).

In a potentially positive development, the July update states that Israel’s Chief of General Staff has “ordered the establishment of a clear doctrine and orders on the issue of various munitions which contain white phosphorous” and that “the IDF is in the process of establishing permanent restrictions on the use of munitions containing white phosphorus in urban areas.” The nature and extent of these restrictions are not clearly explained. Given the inadequacy of the restrictions the Israeli authorities say they implemented in the last few days of their military operation in Gaza in 2008/9, Amnesty International considers that they must immediately prohibit absolutely the use of such weapons in densely populated residential areas.

Other Israeli attacks which resulted in civilian injuries and deaths have been dismissed as “operational errors” and the soldiers involved have not been criminally charged or disciplined.

As regards the Palestinian side, the information available to Amnesty International indicates that the Hamas de facto administration has failed to mount any credible investigations into the alleged war crimes and other serious violations of international law committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. Documents submitted to a UN official in Gaza on 2 February 2010 by the Ministry of Justice indicated that Hamas had: 1) established a 12-person governmental committee (headed by the Hamas de facto Minister of Justice) to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Goldstone Report; 2) established a three-person independent international committee of experts in international law to guarantee the transparency and impartiality of the steps taken by the government; 3) commissioned the public prosecutor in Gaza to investigate all alleged violations of international law reported to him. However, these documents focus on alleged violations by the Israeli military and fail to address adequately the firing of indiscriminate rockets by Palestinian armed groups into southern Israel which killed three civilians and injured others during the conflict.

The Goldstone Report found that “these attacks constitute indiscriminate attacks upon the civilian population of southern Israel and that, where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into a civilian population, they constitute a deliberate attack against a civilian population. These acts would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity” (A/HRC/12/48, paragraph 108).

In respect to the firing of indiscriminate rockets and mortars, the response from Hamas stated: “All Palestinian armed groups have published declarations that they did not target civilians but rather that they targeted military targets but tried to avoid civilian targets”. This contradicts statements made by armed groups, including Hamas’ military wing, before and during the conflict in which they claimed responsibility for rocket attacks, which they stated were directed at civilian towns and which killed or injured civilians and damaged civilian homes.

Armed groups have an obligation to respect applicable international humanitarian law. The firing of indiscriminate rockets by Palestinian armed groups into Israel between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 killed three Israeli civilians and caused further civilian injuries and damage to civilian property. Whether these attacks were intended to hit military or civilian objects, the use of unguided projectiles which could not be directed at specific targets, placed the civilian population at risk and violated international humanitarian law.

Since February 2010, Amnesty International has received no further information that would indicate that Hamas is undertaking credible investigations into alleged violations by Palestinian actors during the conflict, or that there are any attempts by Hamas to charge and prosecute those responsible.

As the Palestinian Authority (PA) was not a party to the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, Amnesty International has not called on them to conduct investigations. The PA did establish a Committee of Investigation in January 2010 however and made preliminary submissions to the UN Secretary General on 29 January 2010. On 12 July 2010, the Committee’s report was submitted to the UN.

Chad Must Arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir During Visit

21 July 2010

Amnesty International has called on the Chadian authorities to arrest wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court, after it was reported that he arrived in Chad on Wednesday to attend a meeting of regional leaders.

“Chad should not shield President al-Bashir from international justice”, said Christopher Hall, Amnesty International’s senior legal advisor. “His visit to Chad is an opportunity to enforce the arrest warrant and send a message that justice will prevail.”

An arrest warrant for President Omar al Bashir was issued by the ICC on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

If it were not to arrest him, Chad would violate its obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which it ratified in November 2006.

President al-Bashir has arrived in Chad to take part in a meeting of leaders and heads of state of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), which will start in Chad on Thursday 22 July 2010.

Amnesty International has called on all members of the international community to ensure full accountability for crimes under international law committed in Sudan.

For more information, please see:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/chad-must-arrest-sudanese-president-omar-al-bashir-during-visit-2010-07-21

Cambodia Urged to Follow Khmer Rouge Conviction with More Prosecutions

26 July 2010

Amnesty International has urged a special court to redouble its efforts to prosecute Khmer Rouge-era criminals, following the landmark conviction on Monday of a notorious prison camp commander of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“Achieving a conviction in Case 001, the first case to be heard by Cambodia’s Extraordinary Chambers, is a historic moment but still only the first step towards justice for the almost two million who died as a result of the massive crimes committed under Khmer Rouge rule,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific programme.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a special joint international-Cambodian court, on Monday convicted Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for his role in mass executions, torture and other crimes. He will serve 19 years out of a 35-year sentence.

Of the 14,000 people believed to have been imprisoned at the S-21 Security Office (also known as Tuol Sleng) headed by Duch in Phnom Penh from 1975-1979, only some 12 survived. The rest were tortured to death or executed.

Amnesty International expressed concern that beyond this case, only a few suspects have been identified for possible prosecution by the Extraordinary Chambers.

“This falls short of fulfilling the Extraordinary Chambers’ mandate to prosecute those most responsible for grave crimes committed under Khmer Rouge rule,” said Donna Guest.

“Identifying only five or ten people as allegedly responsible for the massive atrocities does not do enough to satisfy the justice that Cambodians deserve and are entitled to under international law.”

A decision on whether to indict five people charged in the second case, Case 002, will be made later this year. Duch is also named in Case 002 and the others accused are former leading Khmer Rouge politicians: head of state Khieu Samphan; Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; Minister of Social Affairs Ieng Thirith and Nuon Chea, a senior Communist Party of Kampuchea officer known as “Brother No 2”.

Cases 003 and 004 were filed by the Office of the Co-Prosecutors in September 2009 despite strong opposition by the Cambodian Co-Prosecutor, naming five suspects on 40 incidents of murder, torture, unlawful detention, forced labour and persecution. On filing these cases, the acting International Co-Prosecutor stated that no more cases would be pursued by the Office.

“Progress on the third and fourth cases could be undermined by political interference from Cambodian officials who openly oppose more prosecutions, and by disagreements between the Cambodian and International Co-Investigating Judges,” said Donna Guest.

Amnesty International called for the Co-Investigating Judges to complete their work on the existing cases and for the Co-Prosecutors to review their overall strategy in order to fully implement their legal mandate.

Amnesty International also urged the Cambodian government and the United Nations (UN) to ensure that all the efforts already put into the Extraordinary Chambers will provide a lasting legacy to strengthen the national justice system and the rule of law.

The Extraordinary Chambers’ mandate, as set out in the Agreement between the UN and the government of Cambodia, and in the Law establishing the Chambers, is to “bring to trial senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea and those most responsible for the crimes and serious violations of Cambodian laws related to crimes, international humanitarian law and custom and international conventions recognized by Cambodia,” committed during the Khmer Rouge period.

Twenty-two civil parties, including former detainees and relatives of victims of the atrocities committed at the notorious S-21 Security Office, gave testimony at Duch’s trial. The Extraordinary Chambers reports that more than 31,000 people visited the court to observe the trial hearings.

Duch was sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment, reduced by five years because the Extraordinary Chambers found that he had been illegally detained by the Cambodian Military Court, and a further 11 years’ reduction for time already served.

Cambodia still has a weak national justice system that fails to provide justice for large sections of the population.

The lack of effective rule of law perpetuates serious human rights abuses, such as violence against women, including sexual violence, and forced evictions of thousands of people living in poverty across Cambodia.

For more information, please see:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/cambodia-urged-follow-khmer-rouge-conviction-more-prosecutions-2010-07-26