Murder of Human Rights Lawyer Sparks Protests in Kiev

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

KIEV, Ukraine – A well-known human rights lawyer and activist was murdered just days after helping to block an influential Ukrainian judge’s nephew from being released from jail.

A Photo of Iryna Nozdrovska Adorns her Coffin. Photo Courtesy of Efrem Lukatsky.

Iryna Nozdrovska’s body was discovered in a river by a passerby in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev on January 1st. She had been stabbed multiple times.

Nozdrovska rose to fame in Ukraine for her role in preventing the release of the driver who ran down her sister while under the influence of drugs and alcohol in 2015.

Dmytro Rossoshansky was sentenced to seven years in jail this past May for the death of Svitlana Sapatanyska, Nozdrovska’s sister. Rossoshansky ran down Svitlana while she walked to work. He was found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Rossoshansky had served just eight months of his sentence before applying for amnesty. Nozdrovska spearheaded a public campaign to bring awareness to the case and help prevent Rossoshansky from being released. His application was denied in December.

Nozdroska received several death threats before and after the original trial as well as during the hearing on appeal this past December. Rossoshansky’s father told Nozdrovska at the appeal “this will end badly for you.” Nozdrovska was steadfast in her efforts despite these threats, and said of the case, “I will win…if it costs me my life.”

A rally outside the police headquarters drew hundreds of supporters on January 2 in Kiev in response to Nozdrovska’s murder. The protesters called for an investigation into her death.

Nozdrovska’s murder comes at a time when calls for reform in the criminal system have risen. A staggeringly low 0.5 percent of Ukrainians said that they trusted Ukrainian judges in a survey conducted in 2016.

Mykhailo Zhernakov, a former judge and the current director of a judicial reform group, Dejure, said, “It’s almost a cliché case, where a relative of a judge avoids punishment and the person who tries to fight this injustice is herself punished in the most horrible way.”

Corruption is deeply rooted in Ukraine’s court-system. Nozdrovska’s struggle for justice and ultimate victory for her sister became a symbol in Ukraine for the fight against corruption.

The governments’ response to the murder is “a test of our society’s ability to protect female activists and to ensure justice as a whole,” the Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin said.

Despite her mother’s murder, her daughter, Anastasia Nozdrovska, is studying law at university in Kiev. “She always fought injustice in this country. She wanted me to be a fighter, too,” Nozdrovksa said.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Ukraine Murder Probe Over Lawyer Nozrovska’s Death – 2 January 2018

The Guardian – Killing of Lawyer Sparks Protests Against ‘Criminal System’ – 4 January 2018

The New York Times – In Ukraine, a Successful Fight for Justice, Then a Murder – 9 January 2018

NY Daily News – Funeral Held for Lawyer Found Stabbed in River – 9 January 2018

Irish Times – Ukraine Claims it has Caught Killer of Campaigning Lawyer – 9 January 2018

Syria Justice and Accountability Centre: Race to the Ballot Box – UN Must Learn from Past Mistakes, Avoid Pre-Mature Elections in Syria

SJAC Update | December 12, 2017
Syrians cast their vote in a controversial presidential election in 2014. Although the government claimed voter turnout was at 73%, many observers criticized the process and said the results were illegitimate. | Photo from Wikimedia

Race to the Ballot Box: UN Must Learn from Past Mistakes, Avoid Pre-Mature Elections in Syria

Last week, the eighth round of UN-sponsored peace negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition began in Geneva. Leading the talks, Syria Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura prioritized discussion of elections. In March 2016, de Mistura had proposed an 18-month timeline for the election date, and the issue has continued to be on the top of his agenda. His emphasis on elections is likely a strategic one. Elections would symbolize a turning point in the conflict and signal that recovery is on the horizon. It would also lessen an overwhelming obstacle in the negotiations – who will lead in post-conflict Syria – by leaving the decision to the Syrian public. Despite these benefits, the Special Envoy should bear in mind lessons-learned from past transitional elections and avoid prioritizing a short-term win over adherence to best practices.

Some scholars argue the promise of early elections is vital to peace and democracy in post-conflict settings because they facilitate peace settlements, encourage international actors to contribute peacekeeping forces, and expedite democratization processes. But elections also carry a number of risks, particularly in unstable post-conflict contexts:

  1. Renewed violence: In transitional elections, security issues are a primary concern. Early elections in the absence of demobilization or disarmament efforts increases the likelihood that one side to the conflict will reject the results and return to armed conflict. This is especially true when there is no means of power-sharing and government institutions have not been rebuilt. In 2010, a presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire descended the nation into a renewed civil conflict after losing candidate Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power and forces loyal to each candidate took up arms.
  2. Inaccessible ballot locations: Insecurity and violence will also prevent voters from going to the polls. Moreover, some 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the war began. Ensuring that displaced peoples have a safe, confidential, and practical means of voting will require resources, infrastructure, and coordination with states that are hosting refugees. Without security at ballot boxes or an opportunity for the displaced to vote, the results of any election will be skewed and seen as illegitimate.
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The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is a Syrian-led and multilaterally supported nonprofit that envisions a Syria where people live in a state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law. SJAC collects, analyzes, and preserves human rights law violations by all parties in the conflict — creating a central repository to strengthen accountability and support transitional justice and peace-building efforts. SJAC also conducts research to better understand Syrian opinions and perspectives, provides expertise and resources, conducts awareness-raising activities, and contributes to the development of locally appropriate transitional justice and accountability mechanisms. Contact us at info@syriaaccountability.org.

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China Banned Travel to North Korea Ahead of Trump Visit

Brian Kim
Impunity Watch 
Reporter, Asia 

BEIJING, China – On Tuesday, November 7th, the Chinese government banned tourism to the North Korean capital Pyongyang. This order was issued right before President Donald Trump’s first official visit to China.

The statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang. Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.

Based on numerous sources, Chinese tour groups based out of the border city of Dandong have been ordered to stop all trips to Pyongyang. The companies were also ordered to run only one-day trips to the North Korean city opposite of Dandong called Sinuiju. Previously, the Chinese tour companies were allowed to run three-day or longer trips to North Korea.

The government did not provide a reason for this recent ban. Although some believe that it is because there aren’t many people traveling to Pyongyang, many believe that it is connected to increasing sanctions against North Korea.

With 80 percent of all foreign visitors to North Korea coming from China, the experts believe that it will have an impact with the North Korean economy. Currently, tourism is one of few ways North Korea is able to earn hard currency. Moreover, a think-tank in South Korea has reported that tourism generates around $44 million in annual revenue for the North. In 2012, around 237,000 Chinese visited North Korea.

During his two-day trip to China, President Trump discussed with Xi Jinping on a number of issues. Most importantly, the two leaders discussed North Korea’s nuclear missile tests.

Earlier this year, the United States banned all travel to North Korea after the death of a 22 year-old student, Otto Warmbier. The University of Virginia student was held in North Korea for more than a year and died soon after arriving back to the United States.

For more information please see:

Reuters – Exclusive: China curbs tourism to North Korea ahead of Trump visit – 7 November, 2017

Independent – China ‘bans tourism to North Korea’ day before Trump visit – 7 November, 2017

Newsweek – CHINA BANS NORTH KOREA TOURISM ONE DAY BEFORE TRUMP ARRIVES – 7 November, 2017

Plague Outbreak in Madagascar Continues to Spread

By: Adam King
Impunity Rights News Reporter, Africa

WHO health worker tends to patient. Photo courtesy of Rijasolo/Agence France-Presse.

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar  — The Pneumonic Plague, a disease considered by many to be nonexistent, continues to ravage large parts of Madagascar. As CNN reports, 124 people have died from the Plague so far with estimates of upwards of 1,200 people infected. The World Health Organization provides a thorough summary of the current outbreak.

“Since August 2017, Madagascar is experiencing a large outbreak of plague affecting major cities and other non-endemic areas. From 1 August through 30 October 2017, a total of 1801 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of plague, including 127 deaths, have been reported by the Ministry of Health of Madagascar to WHO. Of these, 1111 (62%) were clinically classified as pneumonic plague, including 257 (23%) confirmed, 374 (34%) probable and 480 (43%) suspected cases. In addition to the pneumonic cases, 261 (15%) cases of bubonic plague, one case of septicaemic plague and 428 cases (24%) where the type has not yet been specified, have been reported (Figure 1). As of 30 October, 51 of 114 districts of Madagascar have been affected (Figure 2 and 3). Since the beginning of the outbreak, 71 healthcare workers have had illness compatible with plague, none of whom have died.”

While 127 deaths seems to be low, a continued trend in the current direction could reach epidemic levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not ascribe a  certain numerical figure to an epidemic, but rather where an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts.” That appears to be how this strain of plague is being characterized.

“Pneumonic plague is more virulent or damaging and is an advanced form characterized by a severe lung infection that can be transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets such as through coughing or sneezing, for example. The incubation period is short, and an infected person may die within 12 to 24 hours.”

WHO does not believe that the infection will spread beyond Madagascar’s borders.

“WHO and the Malagasy government have stepped up screening at airports but say the infection is more likely to spread within Madagascar than it is to spread to other countries. But international spread is not a big threat, because pneumonic plague shows up quickly after someone is exposed to the bacteria. Exit screening at airports — like checking for fever — can help stop people from carrying the infection abroad.”

The difference between the widely known bubonic plague and the pneumonic version that is currently in Madagascar is the method of transference. Pneumonic is much more dangerous because it can be spread through contact between infected and uninfected people. Bubonic is transmitted from the bite an infected animal, which in the case of the plague in centuries ago in Europe, such as a rats or mosquitoes.

Despite these numbers, some opine that the outbreak is waning and new cases are on the decline.

“The large plague outbreak that began in Madagascar in August appears to be waning, according to government case counts and local news reports… A World Health Organization spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic, confirmed reports in Malagasy media that both deaths and new cases were declining and most hospitalized patients had recovered.”

For more information, please see:

NBC News — ‘Unusually Severe’ Plague Strikes 1,800 in Madagascar’ — 3 November 2017

The New York Times — ‘Deadly Plague Outbreak in Madagascar Appears to Wane’ — 2 November 2017

World Health Organization — Plague – Madagascar — 2 November 2017

BBC News — ‘124 dead, nearly 1,200 infected with plague in Madagascar’ — 25 October 2017

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — ‘Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice’ — 18 May 2012

International Center for Transitional Justice: In Focus – Grassroots Truth Telling in the US

ICTJ World Report
October 2017
In Focus ›
Is the United States Ready for a Truth-Telling Process?
Fania Davis thinks the time has come for a truth-telling process about racial injustice in the United States, and she is working to make it a reality. We sat down with her and her colleague, Jodie Geddes, to discuss their vision for a national process, what they hope it would achieve, and what they have learned from their conversations with local leaders so far.
Read More ›
Publications ›
Justice Mosaics: How Context Shapes Transitional Justice in Fractured Societies ›
Media and Transitional Justice: A Dream of Symbiosis in a Troubled Relationship ›
Other News
To Prevent Enforced Disappearances, Rethink the Justice and Security Equation
With enforced disappearances on the rise, ICTJ President David Tolbert says the path to prevention is clear: the international community must reorder its priorities and change its approach. The disproportionate attention on counterterrorism takes us further away from accountability and prevention, Tolbert writes. He urges the international community to lead the way in unequivocally censoring governments that use enforced disappearance as a political tactic — and ensuring there can be no impunity for this crime.
Read More ›
A Noble Dream: The Tenacious Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala
Bring General Rios Montt and other high ranking members of the military to trial in the Guatemalan courts for genocide? In 1999 it was a noble dream for justice, but one with little apparent possibility of ever coming true. Walk the long path to justice that led to this historic trial.
Read More ›
Upcoming Events ›
October 17 – 22, 2017
22nd Workshop in Budapest: Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production ›
Location: Budapest, Hungary
November 09, 2017
Reckoning with Racial Injustice in the United States ›
Location: NYU School of Law’s Lipton Hall, 110 West Third Street New York, NY 10012
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Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Skype and WhatsApp

Matthew Sneed
Impunity Watch Reporter, The Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – On September 20, Saudi Arabian officials announced that the kingdom was lifting its ban on video calling apps such as Skype and WhatsApp. Apps such as these were previously banned under the country’s Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), when the government argued that it was trying to “protect society from any negative aspects that could harm the public interest.”

Saudi Arabia lifts its ban on voice internet apps such as Skype and WhatsApp. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

The decision is motivated by Saudi Arabia’s economic interests as the look to expand their revenue sources. While the countries financial strength lies in oil, it hopes the removal of the ban will spark technology entrepreneurship in the region. The nation’s Information Ministry supported the decision and stated, “Digital transformation is one of the key kick starters for the Saudi economy, as it will incentivize the growth of internet-based businesses, especially in the media and entertainment industries.”

The goal to promote long term development may damage local companies in the telecommunications industry. Saudi Telecom, Etihad Etisalat, and Zain Saudi, the three main telecom operators in Saudi Arabia, will likely see a decrease in their revenue from phone calls and texts made by the millions of expatriates in the country. Ghanem Nuseibeh, the founder of the Cornerstone Global Associates management consultancy stated, “Any phone company would rather have people using their telephone lines but this is an important message from the Saudi government that they have to move into the 21st century and not be left behind.”

Prior to its removal, Saudi citizens used virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around the ban. The VPNs tricked the computer into thinking it was someplace else so that it could access the apps banned by the nation’s internet laws. Many are happy this method is no longer needed. One anonymous international student was happy she could now easily talk to those outside the country, “It feels like we can communicate with the outside world,” because “Sometimes it felt like we had no connection here.” The ban was supposed to be officially lifted at midnight on September 21, but some citizens claim they could already access the apps on the mobile devices prior to that date.

The government still imposes tight regulations over other aspects of the internet. Websites that feature gambling, pornography, or that are critical of government actions remain banned. The country often still appears on “internet enemies”, the list compiled by Reporters Without Borders names countries who restrict internet access.

For more information please see:

BBC – Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls – 20, Sept. 2017

The Telegraph – Saudi Arabia lifts ban on skype and whatsApp voice calls – 20, Sept. 2017

Independent – Saudi Arabia set to lift ban on video calling apps Skype and WhatsApp – 20, Sept. 2017

Reuters – Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls – 20, Sept. 2017

Violations Documentation Center in Syria: The Monthly Statistical Report on Victims, June 2017

The Monthly Statistical Report on Victims, June 2017
Violations Documentation Center in Syria – VDC
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June 2017 Statistical Report on Victims, full report.
التقرير الإحصائي الشهري ، حزيران 2017، التقرير كاملا
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Coalition for Justice in Liberia: Warlords who transformed themselves to blend in the society

 

Dr Agnes Reeves Taylor, BSc, MSc, MA, LLM, PhD: Lecturer/ MBA & PhD Supervisor at London School of Commerce, Coventry University 

 

 

 

 

The ex-wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor has appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to face torture charges.

Agnes Reeves Taylor, 51, is suspected of ordering and carrying out torture between 1989 and 1991, during a civil war in the West African state.

She is to be tried at the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, on 30 June.Up to 250,000 people are believed to have been killed in Liberia’s civil war, which ended in 2003.: Read More click link:

 

 

U.S. charges ex-Liberian defense minister, war criminal. 
U.S. charges ex-Liberian defense minister with lying in citizenship bid

A former Liberian defense minister, said by the United States to be a war criminal, has been arrested in New Jersey and charged with lying on his application to become a U.S. citizen about his past role in seeking control of the West African country.

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Liberian rebel leader arrested in Pennsylvania
A Liberian national, living near Philadelphia since the late 1990s, has been charged with gaining U.S. asylum by lying about his role as the rebel commander “Jungle Jabbah” who allegedly committed civil war atrocities including murder and conscripting child soldiers, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

Mohammed Jabbateh, 49, who lives in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, was indicted on two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury.

Read More click link:

    courtesy: digital first media file photo

 

 

 

A Former Commander of Liberian Rebels Is Arrested in Switzerland
A Former Commander of Liberian Rebels Is Arrested in Switzerland
MONROVIA, Liberia — The Swiss authorities have arrested a former commander of a Liberian rebel military faction who is accused of ordering civilian massacres, rapes and other atrocities in northern Liberia during the nation’s first civil war from 1989 to 1996

 

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Court Decision Could Allow Early Release of Human Rights Criminals

By: Max Cohen
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – On May 3, the Argentinian Supreme Court rendered a decision allowing Luis Muina, convicted of human rights abuses, to have his sentence reduced. The decision was based on an Argentinian law, known as the “2×1″ law, which mandates that, after an initial two years, every day that a person spends in pretrial detention counts as two as part of the overall sentence. The court found that, under the “most favorable law” legal principle, which dictates that defendants should benefit from laws which would lessen their sentences, that it should apply to him retroactively.

Thousands of people in Argentina protest the ruling of their Supreme Court which could allow human rights abusers to go free early. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

In the week that followed there were protests in Argentina, as many reportedly feared that the decision would free other human rights criminals. However, the country’s Congress quickly responded to the decision by passing a law rescinding the 2×1 law’s protections for those who had committed human rights abuses during the country’s military dictatorship from 1976-1983. Currently there are 350 former military officers who could have potentially benefitted if the decision is allowed to stand.

Critics point to the Court’s decision as an example of how Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s government has toned down its efforts to seek justice for the atrocities committed during the dictatorship. It should be noted that two of the justices who ruled in favor of the decision were appointed by President Macri.

Whether the Argentine government’s solution will work is set to be tested within the next month as their Supreme Court is set to issue decisions on other cases involving human rights criminals.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian – Fury in Argentina over ruling that could see human rights abusers walk free – 4 May, 2017

New York Daily News – Argentines unite against law helping human rights abusers – 10 May, 2017

New York Times – Argentines Fight Court’s Leniency for Human Rights Crimes – 13 May, 2017

Human Rights Watch – Making Sense of Argentina’s Ruling on Dictatorship-Era Crimes – 15 May, 2017

War Crimes Prosecution Watch: Newsletter


FREDERICK K. COX
INTERNATIONAL LAW CENTER

Founder/Advisor
Michael P. Scharf

War Crimes Prosecution Watch

Volume 12 – Issue 3
April 17, 2017

Editor-in-Chief
James Prowse

Technical Editor-in-Chief
Samantha Smyth

Managing Editors
Rina Mwiti
Alexandra Mooney

War Crimes Prosecution Watch is a bi-weekly e-newsletter that compiles official documents and articles from major news sources detailing and analyzing salient issues pertaining to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes throughout the world. To subscribe, please email warcrimeswatch@pilpg.org and type “subscribe” in the subject line.

Opinions expressed in the articles herein represent the views of their authors and are not necessarily those of the War Crimes Prosecution Watch staff, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law or Public International Law & Policy Group.

Contents

AFRICA

CENTRAL AFRICA

Central African Republic

Sudan & South Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo

WEST AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Lake Chad Region — Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon

Mali

EAST AFRICA

Uganda

Kenya

Rwanda (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)

Somalia

NORTH AFRICA

Libya

EUROPE

Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Domestic Prosecutions In The Former Yugoslavia

MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Iraq

Syria

Yemen

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal

War Crimes Investigations in Burma

Israel and Palestine

AMERICAS

North & Central America

South America

TOPICS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Terrorism

Piracy

Gender-Based Violence

Commentary and Perspectives

WORTH READING


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International Center for Transitional Justice: In Focus – Traditional Justice Stories from Around the World

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ICTJ World Report
April 2017

In Focus

“Things that Money Alone Cannot Buy:” Defining Reparations in Cases of Sexual Violence

Money alone cannot compensate sexual violence committed on a massive scale, particularly when such crimes are accompanied by other forms of violations affecting entire communities. ICTJ’s Cristián Correa examines how rehabilitation, education, and acknowledgement can bring victims closer to full restitution for their suffering.

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Activists: Strong Civil Society is Key to Hopes of Stability in Africa’s Great Lakes

A new ICTJ report argues that in Africa’s interconnected Great Lakes region, each country’s attempt to provide justice for past violations offers lessons for similar processes in others. We gathered civil society activists from across the region to discuss which strategies have worked for them, which have not, and opened up about the greatest challenges they face in securing justice.

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UN Inquiry in Myanmar Is a Moment of Truth for Aung San Suu Kyi’s Commitment to Justice

For decades, successive Myanmar political and military leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s, have flatly denied what millions of their citizens know: that the military has committed and continues to commit human rights violations. A new UN inquiry into those crimes is provides a moment of truth for Suu Kyi’s commitment to justice, writes ICTJ’s Aileen Thomson.

Read More…

 

Publications

Victims Fighting Impunity Transitional Justice in the African Great Lakes Region

In many countries of the African Great Lakes region, state-led approaches to transitional justice have been created by wide-ranging agreements or policies that have been later forgotten or only partially implemented.

View Report

From Rejection to Redress: Overcoming Legacies of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Northern Uganda

Women and girls in Northern Uganda were victims of various forms of sexual violence, crimes whose consequences endure today.

View Report

More Publications

Upcoming Events

April 18 – 20, 2017

2017 Global Philanthropy Forum: Trust and Legitimacy—Solving Problems Together Location: Washington, DC View Details

May 09, 2017

‘Adjudicating Rights’ – Manuel Cepeda in conversation with Octavio Ferraz and Sandra Fredman Location: University of Oxford View Details

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Ecuador Will Hold Presidential Runoff

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Quito, Ecuador—In a closely watched election, the Electoral Commission of Ecuador announced that a presidential runoff will be held on April 2nd. Left-wing party candidate Lenin Moreno did not meet the 40% of votes needed to win the election.

Conservative party members demonstrate outside the National Electoral Council. (Picture Courtesy of The New York Times)

Unlike in the past when results have been announced the same night, this election took four days for the results to be released. The delay according to the National Electoral Council President, Juan Pablo Pozo, “blamed the numerical inconsistencies in 5.5% of the ballots.” They also stated that the delay in arrival of the ballots from remote regions of Ecuador led to the delay, including ballots from consulates abroad. The final results are still not accounted for but Lenin Moreno has won 39.3% of the votes—just short of what was needed to win the election.

Lenin Moreno has been running on a platform of increasing employment opportunities and higher education for all. He is a close ally of current president, Rafael Correa. Guillermo Lasso is a former banker running for the right wing party. Mr. Lasso is hoping to create jobs with foreign investment. It is believed that the other conservative candidates will endorse his candidacy.

Concern has been expressed by many, including the presidential candidates, regarding the length of time it took for the results to be released. Mr. Lasso and his supports are claiming fraud in the elections. But there has been no evidence to support irregularities. Hundreds of his supporters were demanding a runoff outside of the National Electoral Council office in Quito. Current president, Correa, released a statement in response to the fraud claims stating that the conservative party was using the fraud allegations to prompt violence.

In other elections through out Latin America, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Peru, conservative leaders have won the presidential office replacing leftist parties.

For more information, please see:

BBC—Ecuador Will Hold Run-Off Poll to Choose New President—23 February 2017.

The New York Times—Ecuador to Hold Runoff in Tense Presidential Election—23 February 2017.

The Wall Street Journal—Ecuador’s Presidential Election Heading to Runoff—23 February 2017.

US News Week—Official: Ecuador’s Presidential Election Headed to Runoff—21 February 2017.

Human Rights Activist Attacked in Medellin

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia — Late on Sunday, February 12, human rights defender and well known activist, Yudy Andrea was attacked in her home in Medellin and was critically injured. Yudy’s daughter was also injured in the attack.

Colombia has seen a rise in attacks against human rights activists. (Photo Courtesy of Colombia Reports)
Colombia has seen a rise in attacks against human rights activists. (Photo Courtesy of Colombia Reports)

It is believed that local gang members were the culprits behind the attack, but no suspects have been detained. The suspects went to Ms. Andrea’s home and moments after she opened the front door she was shot in the face and head. Her injuries are severe and currently remains in the hospital. In addition, her eleven-year-old daughter was shot in the leg but was able to escape. Ms. Andrea has been an active defender of rights in the Belen neighborhood of Medellin. A note was left by the suspects that stated, “death to snitches.” This attack comes after a rise in the number of urban paramilitary inspired violent acts, which had only taken place in rural areas. Many of the targets have been human rights activist, leftist party members, and journalists. Local community members have issued an early warning for all human rights leaders to take precautions in the area although no imminent threats are known.

This is not the first human rights activist attacked in recent days. Last month, well known Afro-Colombian human rights leader, Emilsen Manyoma, was killed along with her partner Joe Javier Rodallega. Both were tied up and decapitated in a rural jungle area near a highway. They had been outspoken critics of right-wing paramilitary groups, international mining, and agribusiness interests. Additionally, she created a truth commission documenting attacks on human rights.

Colombia is known for attacks against human rights defenders. In 2016, there were at least 85 murders according to the human rights organization, Front Line Defenders.

For more information, please see:

Colombia Reports—Colombia Human Rights Leader Attacked in Medellin—14 February 2017.

El Colombiano—Herida a Bala Una Líder de Altavista—14 February 2017.

El Espectador—Atentan Contra Una Líder de Derechos Humanos en Altavista, Medellín—13 February 2017.

TeleSUR—Colombian Human Rights Leader Assassinated—18 January 2017.

 

Mining is Exacerbating Drought in Bolivia

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Report, South America

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA—Environmental and Land rights organizations have released reports claiming that the boom in the mining industry has exacerbated the severe drought hitting Bolivia. Bolivia is currently facing a water shortage. President Evo Morales declared a state of emergency in late November due to the shortage.

Frustrated citizens protest the water shortage in Bolivia. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)
Frustrated citizens protest the water shortage in Bolivia. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

Although the drought has severely impacted the water supply, the mining companies have further reduced the water supply, according to Environmentalist. Mining companies use an estimated 100,000 cubic meters of water on a daily basis which is the same amount of water used by the capital. As the mineral market continues to increase, the mining companies, regardless of the shortage of water, will increase the water intake. Hector Cordova, a mine engineer stated that “mining companies would continue to put an increase in profits ahead of drought-relayed consequences.” The mining companies have diverted water supplies and contaminated the water supply—an accusation the president of Bolivia denies. Reports have shown that the groundwater reserves are now below fifty percent.

Bolivia is currently facing the worst drought in over 25 years leading to water cuts in the country. The capital city is receiving water for three hours every three days. In the Corque municipality seventy percent of the population does not have drinking water. The drought has affected 177,000 families and has threatened both the agriculture and cattle industry. The President has allocated funds to local governments to drill wells in order to transport water.

The water shortage has caused frustration among residents. The leaders of the Federation of Town Councils held water and city official’s hostage demanding a resolution to the water shortage.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera—Bolivia Declares National Emergency Amid Drought—21 November 2016.

Reuters—Bolivia Declares State of Emergency Due to Drought, Water Shortage—21 November 2016.

Reuters—Mining Projects, Big Plantations Mean Bolivia’s Drought Hurts More: Campaigners—28 November 2016.

Al Jazeera—Is Mining to Blame for the Drought in Bolivia?—7 December 2016.

David M. Crane Helps Draft UN General Assembly “Syrian Accountability Center” Resolution

UPDATE: According to Reuters, the UN General Assembly passed the resolution “to establish a special team to ‘collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence’ as well as to prepare cases on war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the conflict in Syria” on Dec. 21, 2016. The vote was “105 in favor, 15 against and 52 abstentions. The team will work in coordination with the U.N. Syria Commission of Inquiry.” Read more.

Evidence that war crimes have been committed during the five-year-old Syrian Civil War is hard to ignore. TV images, photographs, news reports, and social media posts from the front lines and throughout Syria have documented the torture of political enemies, the use of chemical weapons, sexual violence as a weapon of war, indiscriminate aerial attacks on civilian centers, the siege of cities, attacks on humanitarian efforts, and more.

Not all of this documentary, eyewitness, or anecdotal evidence can be used to bring justice to those who have perpetrated crimes against humanity or war crimes, but in cases where it will be useful to future prosecutors, it must be carefully collected, filed, and analyzed. There are a number of ongoing documentation efforts, one of the most thorough being that of David M. Crane, Professor of Practice at Syracuse Law, INSCT Faculty Member, and Founding Prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Over the past five years Crane has kept track of the evidence of atrocities with help from his students in the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP).

Now Crane is pushing the international community to make further use of his, and others’, documentation by helping to draft a resolution, which is being brought before the United Nations General Assembly, to establish an “International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes Under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic Since March 2011.”

The UN General Assembly is expected to vote on the resolution on Dec. 21, 2016. The vote’s outcome is hard to predict. Although many in the international community recognize and condemn Syrian atrocities, that does not mean there is political will to create a postconflict justice mechanism for the people of Syria. As The New York Times explains, “The International Criminal Court, whose reason for being is to try the worst perpetrators of the world’s worst war crimes, has no jurisdiction over Syria, which is not a member of the court [and efforts] by the United Nations Security Council to refer the conflict in Syria to the court have been blocked by Russia.”

Nor is there currently any appetite, the article continues, to set up a special tribunal like the one in which Crane prosecuted former Liberian President Charles Taylor, helping to bring justice to the people of Sierra Leone. But, as Crane says, “We have to be seen to be doing something for the people of Syria!”

Specifically, the proposal suggests the UN assist Syrian justice by developing what Crane calls an “accountability center” to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence of alleged war crimes, such as that being collected by the SAP. Work done by the accountability center would be “in accordance with international standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes.”

“I proposed this effort to the ambassadors of Qatar and Lichtenstein in September and briefed a dozen ambassadors in November,” explains Crane. “The resolution, which I helped draft, is the result of these conversations. The accountability center concept is a way to standardize the collection of evidence and to build a solid, legally supportable case against those who are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.”

Although its backing would carry a great deal of weight, The New York Times reports that “the United States has not said whether it supports the measure [but it] is separately funding a group of lawyers who are collecting evidence that can be used in future legal proceedings.” Nevertheless, the resolution has received support from one of the most influential, US-based rights organizations. On Dec. 19, 2016, Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, wrote a letter urging governments “to support the UN General Assembly resolution … The creation of such a mechanism could deter those contemplating further atrocities against civilians in Syria. Potential perpetrators need to know that the world is watching and they may one day find themselves behind bars. This is fully within the General Assembly’s authority.”

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Resolution: International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes Under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic Since March 2011 (Proposed by Lichtenstein)

http://un-report.blogspot.com/2016/12/liechtenstein-unga-draft-resolution-on.html

The General Assembly,

¶1 Guided by the Charter of the United Nations,

¶2 Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic,

¶3 Recalling the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, in particular Human Rights Council resolution S-17/1 that established the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,

¶4 Welcoming the ongoing work carried out by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and recalling its reports1 and the recommendations contained therein,

¶5 Expressing its appreciation for the work carried out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism and recalling its reports2 and the conclusions contained therein,

¶6 Recognizing the work of Syrian and international civil society actors in documenting violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights law in the Syrian Arab Republic during the conflict,

¶7 Noting with concern the impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights law committed during the conflict, in the Syrian Arab Republic which has provided a fertile ground for further violations and abuses,

¶8 Recalling the statements made by the Secretary-General, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council that crimes against humanity and war crimes are likely to have been committed in the Syrian Arab Republic,

¶9 Noting the repeated encouragement by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Security Council to refer the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic to the International Criminal Court,

  1. Emphasizes the need to ensure accountability for crimes involving violations of international law, in particular of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, some of which may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, through appropriate, fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the domestic or international level, and stresses the need to pursue practical steps towards this goal to ensure justice for all victims and contribute to the prevention of future violations;
  2. Stresses the need for any political process aimed at resolving the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic to ensure credible and comprehensive accountability for the most serious crimes committed in the country to bring about reconciliation and sustainable peace;
  3. Welcomes the efforts by States to investigate and prosecute crimes within their jurisdiction committed in the Syrian Arab Republic, in accordance with their national legislation and international law, and encourages other States to consider doing the same and to share relevant information to this end with other States;
  4. Decides to establish an “International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011” under the auspices of the United Nations to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of such crimes and prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings in accordance with international standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes;
  5. Requests the Secretary-General, in this regard, within 20 working days of the adoption of this resolution, to develop Terms of Reference of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism with the support of OHCHR, and requests further that the Secretary-General undertakes without delay the steps, measures and arrangements necessary for the speedy establishment and full functioning of the Impartial and Independent Mechanism, initially funded by voluntary contributions, in coordination with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and building on existing capacities, including recruiting or allocating impartial and experienced staff with relevant skills and expertise in accordance with the Terms of Reference;
  6. Calls upon all States, all parties to the conflict as well as civil society to cooperate fully with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to effectively fulfill its mandate, and in particular to provide it with any information and documentation they may possess pertaining to the above-mentioned crimes as well as any other forms of assistance;
  7. Requests the United Nations system as a whole to fully cooperate with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and to promptly respond to any request, including access to all information and documentation, and decides that the Mechanism closely cooperate with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in all aspects of its work;
  8. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution within 45 days of its adoption and decides to revisit the question of funding of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism as soon as possible.

( This article was originally published by Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and can be found here.)