ICTJ: World Report January 2017 – Transitional Justice News and Analysis
ICTJ World Report
Prosecuting the Plundering of Natural Resources in Eastern DRC to Stem ViolencePotential political interference, poor evidence gathering and difficulty accessing remote areas are some of the main challenges to prosecuting economic and environmental crimes related to armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Overcoming these challenges was the focus of a two-day workshop for judges and prosecutors in Goma and Bukavu, organized by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), in collaboration with the United States Institute for Peace.
AFRICAIn Uganda, the trial of Dominic Ongwen, ex-child soldier and commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, continued as the prosecution presented its case. In Cote d’Ivoire, soldiers staged a two-day mutiny that came to an end earlier this month, but turmoil reportedly persists In The Democratic Republic of Congo, a deal struck last month requiring President Joseph Kabila to step down after elections this year risks unraveling if politicians do not quickly reach compromises on implementing the accord, according to Catholic bishops mediating the talks. The United Nations reports that it recorded a significant increase in the number of human rights violations committed over the past year, and that state security forces were the main perpetrators. In Kenya, an audit of the criminal justice system released by Chief Justice David Maraga, shows a high number of poor people are being jailed compared to the rich. The report further faults the police for carrying out shoddy investigations, saying some of the cases leading to jail terms should not have ended up in courts. In The Gambia, new president, Adama Barrow, returned to his country afternoon, after former president Yahya Jammeh entered exile after his refusal to accept election results. Barrow pledged to launch a “truth and reconciliation commission” to investigate possible crimes committed by the outgoing leader of 22 years. A human rights abuses complaint against WWF, the world’s largest conservation organization, based on activities in Cameroon is to be examined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) in an unprecedented step.
AMERICASIn Colombia, the government continues negotiations with the largest remaining rebel group, the ELN. The surrender of child soldiers of the FARC guerrilla group will begin on February 1, Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace announced. U.S. federal agents have arrested a Guatemalan immigrant suspected of involvement in the massacre of about 250 villagers in 1982 during Guatemala’s civil war. In the United States, President Donald Trump used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.” In Chile, Undersecretary of Human Rights Lorena Fries said that torture remains a problem in Chile, along with a lack of transparency that prevents justice for the victims of crimes committed under General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. In El Salvador, victims demanded justice on the 25th anniversary of the country’s peace accords. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a former guerrilla leader during the civil war, announced a plan for 2017 to launch a “second generation of the accords” and called on Salvadorans to continue to “cultivate and defend” peace with hopes of moving the country forward from a bloody past.
ASIAIn Nepal, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s term seeks extension of its tenure by one year, saying that additional time is needed to complete the given assignments.. A United Nations human rights envoy is visitingMyanmar amid growing international concern over allegations against the military, including reports of rights abuses in western Rakhine State. In The Philippines, the country dropped six notches in the 2016 Corruption Index country ranking published recently by Transparency International, as president Duterte continues his drug war. Thailand is considering legislation aimed at criminalizing torture and other human rights abuses.
EUROPEIn Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radovan Karadzic’s ex-advisor Jovan Tintor went on trial for charges of unlawful detention, torture, beating, making people do forced labour and murdering Bosniak and Croat victims at several locations including detention camps. Four former police officers were also charged with war crimes. They are allegedly responsible for the murders of eight Yugoslav People’s Army soldiers who were captured after their military vehicle broke down in Sarajevo in April 1992.
MENAIn Tunisia, public hearings of the Truth and Dignity Commission continued, with victims testifying to the events of the 2011 revolution and labor struggles against the regime’s abuses. In Syria, the United Nations warned that sabotaging water supplies is a war crime as more than five million people continued to face shortages following an attack on the capital’s supplies. In Egypt President Abdel-Fattahal-Sisi will pick a chairman and members of a new media council under a law passed on Monday, giving the body the power to fine or suspend publications and broadcasters and give or revoke licences for foreign media. Human rights organisations and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have repeatedly criticised media freedoms in Egypt, which jailed the second most journalists of any country in the world in 2015, according to the CPJ. In Bahrain prosecutors extended by two weeks the detention of Shiite opposition leader and leading activist Nabil Rajab over spreading “false information” about the Sunni-ruled kingdom, his lawyer said. About 100 migrant passengers are feared drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after their boat sank off the coast of Libya. It is unclear what the nationalities of the migrants involved are.
As the refugee crisis deepens, does action on transitional justice issues have to wait for peace? A new paper explores what sort of consultation and documentation work can be done now, while conflict is ongoing, to shape outcomes moving forward.