Police Uncover More Than 150 Cases of Rape and Assault in Remote Norwegian Municipality

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – More than 150 instances of rape and assault have been uncovered by police in a remote region in Norway.

Sign for Tysfjord Municipality in Norway. Photo Courtesy of Tore Meek.

An investigation was conducted by police beginning in June 2016, after a Norwegian newspaper published accounts from 11 men and women who said they were assaulted. The police report documents 151 assaults spanning the period of 1953 to 2017.

Approximately 90% of the suspects and victims are part of the indigenous Sami community, who originally inhabited northern Scandinavia. The Sami community now lives in parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The community has an estimated population of 40,000 to 60,000.

The crimes span several generations, with some of the assaults dating back to 1953. The most recent crime occurred this past August. All of the crimes took place in a rural municipality called Tysfjord, which has a population of only 2,000.

Forty-three of the assaults were rapes, including of three children. Sexual intercourse with children under fourteen years of age is alleged to have occurred in 40 of the cases. The youngest victim is four years old.

Ninety-two suspects have been identified. They range in age from ten to eighty.

The Sami Parliamentary Council is an elected body representing the Sami people’s interests in Norway. Its president, Vibeke Larsen, called the scandal “a national tragedy” and urged Norwegian authorities to assist.

Larsen cited mistrust of the police as one of the reasons for the crimes going unreported. The Sami “don’t trust the police as much as the Norwegians do,” Larsen said. The Sami people have been told to become “good Norwegians and leave their own culture, language and symbols behind. That’s why they have distrust in the system.”

Head of Nordland County, Tone Vangen, acknowledged that the police “didn’t do a good job”, but also noted that the mechanisms within the Sami environment make it more difficult for police to investigate such crimes.

Anne Lindboe, ombudsman for the children involved, said “there has been a huge failure in the whole safety net that should have been around the children who have been subjected to abuse in Tysfjord.”

The police have acknowledged the mistakes made and stated that one of the aims of the investigation is to instill greater trust of Norwegian police in the Sami community.

Two people have been charged in ten cases so far, but many have been dropped due to the statute of limitations expiring.

For more information, please see:

CNN – Norway Police Uncover 150 Cases of Rape and Assault in Remote Region – 29 November 2017

Time – Rape and Child Sex Abuse in Remote Area Have Gone Largely Unreported and Uninvestigated, Police Say – 29 November 2017

USA Today – Norway Reeling After Multiple Rapes, Sex Assaults Uncovered Near Lapland – 29 November 2017

The Independent – Norwegian Police Uncover More Than 150 Rapes , Including of Children in Remote Region – 30 November 2017

European Parliament Members Join #MeToo Movement

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

BRUSSELS, Belgium – As part of a campaign to speak out against sexual harassment and assault, several Members of the European Parliament have recently joined the viral #MeToo movement.

Members of the European Parliament Display ‘#MeToo’ Placards. Photo Courtesy of Patrick Seeger. 

At a meeting in Strasbourg, France to discuss sexual harassment, men and women from across parliament displayed placards in front of them with the phrase “#MeToo.” Several members spoke out about their experiences and discussed ways to combat the problem.

The #MeToo movement originated in the late 90s, when activist Tarana Burke, program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equality, was a youth camp director. She spoke with a young child about the heinous sexual abuse she had been subjected to and came up with the mantra “me too” as a statement of strength and solidarity.

The movement has gained worldwide attention in recent weeks following the torrent of accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Actress Alyssa Milano recently revitalized the statement, and it has since taken off on social media.

The debate in Europe comes amid contentions that European authorities are not doing enough to address sexual harassment, assault and rape.

“At least one in every three women has been victim of some sort of physical or sexual violence,” European Commissioner for Trade Cecelia Malmstrom said during the debate. “But these statistics do not tell enough personal stories, and the reason we are debating this today is of course because of the global movement of #MeToo.”

Terry Reintke, a Green Party parliament member, said “Me too. I have been sexually harassed, just like millions of other women in the European Union, and I think it’s about time that we say that we should not be ashamed, but that the perpetrators should be ashamed.”

Many victims are afraid to make official complaints because of the stigma associated with coming forward and for fear that their careers may be ruined if they do.

Members of Parliament wrote a letter addressed to Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, calling for external investigations into sexual harassment at the institution in response to allegations. The letter also demands that gender awareness and harassment training be provided to all parliamentary staff.

Several lawmakers also support adoption of the Istanbul Convention. This would require members to establish comprehensive systems aimed at preventing sexual violence against women.

The convention has thus far been ratified by 15 of the EU’s 28 member states.

For more information, please see:

CNN – An Activist, A Little Girl and The Heartbreaking Origin of ‘Me Too’ – 19 October 2017

BBC News – EU Parliament Members Demand Action on Sexual Harassment – 25 October 2017

The Independent – MeToo: Members of the European Parliament Protest Against Sexual Harassment – 25 October 2017

The New York Times – A #MeToo Moment for The European Parliament – 25 October 2017

2 Detectives of NYPD Indicted for Rape

By Sarah Purtill
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

NEW YORK CITY, New York – On September 15, two New York City detectives stopped a car in Brooklyn under the pretense of searching its occupants for drugs. In particular, the drug at issue was marijuana. The detectives were dressed in plain street clothes and were driving an unmarked vehicle. Inside the car they stopped was an 18-year-old woman and two men.

The detectives searched the vehicle for drugs and asked the woman to lift her skirt “to make sure there is nothing under there.” The woman’s lawyer, Michael David, says “She was petrified, so she showed it. She said, ‘See, I’m not hiding anything.” Immediately after lifting her skirt, the detectives ordered the woman to get out of the car. She was then placed in handcuffs, put in the backseat of the detectives’ car and was told she would be driven to the 60th precinct. The precinct was about a mile and a half from where the woman was pulled over.

According to the woman, the detectives never drove to the precinct. Instead, they drove to a parking lot of a Chipotle that was nearby. It was at that point, the woman said the detectives raped her. She alleges that 45 minutes after, she was shoved out of the detective’s vehicle, not that far from the 60th precinct. The woman called her mother, who took her to Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park Brooklyn. Her attorney has called the incident a kidnapping. “I don’t think a gang rape has ever been reported in the history of the N.Y.P.D,” Mr. David said.

Two NYPD Detectives have been indicted on the rape of an 18-year-old woman. Photo Courtesy of Spencer Platt. 

The woman has become weary from waiting for weeks for some kind of action by prosecutors. “She was getting more frustrated by the day, this has been going on for six weeks already, and it just seemed she was crying for help,” Mr. David said. He adds that she has been crying and is depressed and that this alleged crime has placed a strain on the relationship she has with her parents.

Both the detectives, Edward Martins and Richard Hall, have been suspended without pay during the investigation. These actions are usually reserved for officers who have been charged with crimes. At this point, both of the officers has been indicted by a grand jury for the alleged rape as well as for bribery. The charge for bribery stems from telling the woman they would let her go if she did what they wanted. The detectives had been stripped of their guns and put on “modified duty” after the allegations emerged.

So far, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office has declined to comment. Mark A. Bederow, the attorney for Detective Martins said, “We are going to vigorously contest these charges in a court of law, rather than the court of public opinion.” “We look forward to defending any charges in a court of law rather than in the court of public opinion,” Bederow, said. The detectives’ supervisor has also been placed on modified duty after the woman’s allegations emerged. The detectives were also demoted to police officers last week.

Hall and Martin are said to be turning themselves in early next week, says sources of New York Daily News. The sources say this surrender is likely part of an agreement between the prosecution and detectives because they are not considered a flight risk.

For more information, please see:

Fox News – 2 NYPD Detectives Suspended Amid Probe of Rape Allegations – 28 October 2017

New York Daily News – Two NYPD Detectives Indicted In Rape of 18-Year-Old Woman They Busted For Pot – 27 October 2017

New York Times – Indictment Issued in Case of 18-Year-Old Who Said 2 Officers Raped Her – 27 October 2017

New York Times – Brooklyn Prosecutors Investigating Rape Charge Against Detectives – 1 October 2017

UK Supreme Court to Rule on Abortion Ban in Northern Ireland

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

LONDON, England – Activists in Northern Ireland are urging lawmakers in the United Kingdom to overturn the current restrictions on abortion in the country.

A Protestor at a Rally in Belfast. Photo Courtesy of Charles McQuillan. 

In June, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Council (NIHRC) was unsuccessful in its efforts to convince judges that the rights of sexual assault victims and women with fatal fetal abnormalities were being violated.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will hear evidence from the United Nations Human Rights Committee beginning on Tuesday, November 7th. The hearing is scheduled to last three days and end with a vote. The Supreme Court in London is the final court of appeal. Ireland will hold a referendum in 2018 regarding its strict abortion laws.

Criminalization of abortion began in 1861 with the passage of the Offences against the Person Act. Abortion is currently still illegal in Northern Ireland, but a provision was added in 1945 that allows for termination of a pregnancy if there is a threat to the life of the mother. Those who break the law face life imprisonment.

Human rights activists believe that the strict laws strip women of their fundamental human rights. Nathalie Lieven, lead counsel for the NIHRC said that “The impact of the criminal law in Northern Ireland does amount to inhuman and degrading treatment by the state.”

In 2016, the legislature voted against allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormality.

Ms. Lieven says that the laws cause “trauma and humiliation” and criminalize those who are already in “exceptionally vulnerable position(s).”

The NIHRC has provided testimony from women who have been denied abortion to bolster their case. Ashleigh Topley was four-and-a-half months into her pregnancy in 2013 when she was told by doctors that her baby’s limbs were not growing and that the baby would die. Ms. Topley was forbidden from terminating the pregnancy. Her baby girl’s heart stopped when she went into labor after thirty-five weeks.

A poll conducted by Amnesty International found that the majority of citizens favor a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy given certain factors. 85% of citizens in Northern Ireland would support the choice for abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape, 81% if there is a diagnosis of fetal abnormality and 89% if a woman’s health is at risk.

Colm O’Groman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland, stated that the public shows strong support for “women making their own decisions about their pregnancies.” He points to the poll as evidence that the issue is not as divisive as the media portrays it.

“Public support varies on the precise gestational limits but it remains solidly behind women making their own decisions about their pregnancies,” said O’Groman.

Litigation regarding the law was initiated by NIHRC is 2014 and has been ongoing ever since.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian – Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Northern Ireland Abortion law – 23 October 2017

BBC News – Abortion Laws ‘Punish Sex-Crime Victims’ – 26 October 2017

Reuters – UK Supreme Court Hears Attempt to Change Northern Ireland Abortion law – 24 October 2017

The Washington Post – Rights Group Challenges N Ireland Abortion ban at top Court – 24 October 2017

Sexual Abuse and Slavery Being Used as Weapons Says Human Rights Group

By: Adam King
Impunity Rights News Reporter, Africa

Women and children face fears of sexual violence. Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

DAKAR, Senegal — A recent report by Human Rights watch released on October 5, 2017 details the horrific ordeals of the plight of women in the Central African Republic.  Women in the region have been subjected to repeated instances of rape and sexual slavery.  The repeated violence is the result of a coup that took place in the country in 2013;

“Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have been uprooted in a conflict that broke out after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in early 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.”

It’s clear, according to Human Rights researcher Hillary Margalois, that the violence against women is calculated and intentional;

“Armed groups are using rape in a brutal, calculated way to punish and terrorize women and girls…Every day, survivors live with the devastating aftermath of rape, and the knowledg[e] that their attackers are walking free, perhaps holding positions of power, and to date facing no consequences whatsoever.”

This targeting has a directly negative effect on the women involved.  Women may not feel as if they have effective recourses against the treatment, which may lead to underreporting of the violations against them, “Due to stigma, under-reporting by survivors, and security-related restrictions on research, the full number of sexual violence incidents by armed groups during the conflict is undoubtedly higher.”

The stigma discussed is not just that of being the victim of rape or sexual exploitation.  There are also cultural factors at play that can affect women twice over, social and familial. A woman can be forced to bear shame from the violence against her and be ridiculed by family and community members;

“Stigma and rejection also present significant barriers to women and girls disclosing rape or seeking help. Survivors said their husbands or partners abandoned them, family members blamed them, and community members taunted them publicly after rape…Only 11 of the 296 survivors interviewed said they had tried to initiate a criminal investigation. Those who had informed authorities faced mistreatment including victim-blaming, failure to investigate, and even demands to present their attackers for arrest. Three survivors said that their relatives had been killed, beaten, or threatened with death when they confronted members of an armed group responsible for their rapes.”

The stigma attached to the violence, coupled with shame and ridicule, leave these women with little options to pursue justice.  The threat alone of repeated physical violence or even death is enough to deter women from seeking out help.  As a result, many of the aftereffects resulting from the violence and rape leave permanent afflictions;

“Women and girls often said they suffered incapacitating physical injury and illness, including HIV, because of rape, as well as suicidal thoughts and loss of livelihoods or access to education. Most had not received post-rape medical or mental health care – including medication to prevent HIV and unwanted pregnancy – due to a lack of medical facilities, the cost of services or transport to facilities, and misconceptions about available services.”

Violence against women in conflict zones is unfortunately a rather frequent occurrence in Africa.  Women and children tend to be the most vulnerable and do not have the means to seek effective redress. The United Nations has spent considerable time and resources in identifying and trying to address the problem head-on. There have been regional initiatives that attempt to empower tribunals to conduct investigations into allegations of sexual violence and bring those responsible to justice.  The Special Criminal Court (SCC) is backed by close to 20 non-governmental and international human rights organizations. The challenge, however, is to convince surviving victims that pursuing justice is a possibility and that it doesn’t result in further intimidation or violence from the perpetrators.

For more information, please see:

Reuters — ‘Rape, sexual slavery are weapons in Central African Republic war – report’ — 05 October 2017

Human Rights Watch — ‘Central African Republic: Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War’ — 05 October 2017

Human Rights Watch — ‘Central African Republic: Support the Special Criminal Court’ — 16 November 2016

Amnesty International — ‘Global campaign targets rape in conflict zones’ — 23 November 2012

United Nations — ‘Rape: Weapon of War’ — June 2008

Italian Officers Suspended Amid Rape Allegations

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

ROME, Italy – Two Italian Carabinieri officers have been suspended amid allegations they raped two US students in Florence.

Outside Florence Nightclub Where Officers Picked up Students. Photo Courtesy of Time.

On Friday, September 8, Italy’s defense minister Roberta Pinotti attended a forum on women’s issues in Milan where she stated that “investigation is still underway, but there is some basis in respect to the allegations.”

The rapes reportedly occurred in the early morning hours of September 7th.

Earlier, the women, ages 19 and 21, spent time at a nightclub in Florence. Patrol cars were called to the scene to investigate a fight that had broken out at the club. Two of the three patrol cars departed after the fight had been handled.

After the women were unsuccessful in their efforts to find a taxi, the remaining officers, who were in uniform at the time, offered to drive them home. Witnesses confirmed seeing the women enter the patrol car.

Upon arriving to the residence, the officers allegedly raped the women before they could reach their rooms. The women told investigators they were too frightened to scream during the assault.

Prosecutors in Florence are investigating the incident and have conducted DNA tests to verify the accusations. The results of those tests are pending.

The United State Embassy in Rome declined to comment on the situation “due to the sensitive nature of this case and to protect the privacy of those involved.”

The accused officers have been suspended on a precautionary basis while the investigation continues. The Carabinieri provincial officer command stated that the suspension is separate from the Florence prosecutors’ investigation into the criminal allegations.

In addition to the rape charges, the officers face disciplinary charges from driving the women home without notifying superiors.

“Rape is always a serious matter. But it’s of unprecedented seriousness if it is committed by Carabinieri in uniform, because citizens turn to them and to their uniform to have assurances and security” Pinotti said at the women’s forum.

The paramilitary Carabinieri are one of two of Italy’s main police forces, the other being the state police. The Carabinieri report to the Defense Ministry.

“If this is true, and I hope that light is shed on the matter as soon as possible, then it would be an act of unheard of gravity” said Tullio Del Sette, head of the army.

For more information, please see:

Time – 2 U.S. Students say They Were Raped by Policemen in Italy – 8 September 2017

New York Times – Two American Students Accuse Italian Police of Rape – 9 September 2017

Reuters – U.S. Students’ Rape Allegation has ‘Some Basis’, Minister Says – 9 September 2017

Washington Post – 2 Italian Police Suspended After Alleged Rape of US Students – 9 September 2017

Violence Erupts in India after Guru is Sentenced to 20 years for Rape

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NEW DELHI, India – On Friday, August 18th, India’s spiritual guru was sentenced to 20 years in prison. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation announced that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of raping two of his followers. Two women accused Singh of rape at the headquarter of his sect. In India, the minimum sentence for rape is seven years.
Singh’s followers are protesting their leader’s 20 year prison sentence in northern India. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Singh, leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, has an immense following in Haryana and Punjab states. He is an influential figure in the country as thousands consider him as a cult icon. Also known as “the guru of bling,” he is the star of five films and many popular music videos. He currently has 3.75 million Twitter followers and claims to have 60 million worldwide followers. On his website, Singh’s work is described as a “social humanitarianism and selfless services to others.”

On the day of his sentencing, thousands of troops were deployed to control Singh’s supporters. Since the conviction, 30 people were killed and 200 were injured when clashes occurred across northern India. Many followers came out to the streets and smashed cars, torched buses and attacked police officers. An army officer stated that the troops were deployed because “the police couldn’t control the situation.”

His followers mostly sit at the bottom of the social hierarchy in India. They have relied on Singh and his sect for basic needs, such as food, medicine, and a sense of equality.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the Indian people on his monthly address that India was the home of “Gandhi and Lord Buddha.” He went on to condemn the violence.

Singh is also facing murder charges in connection with the death of a reporter.

NYT – Violent Protests in India Turn Deadly After Guru’s Rape Conviction – 25 August, 2017

The Guardian – Indian states in lockdown for guru’s rape sentencing after deadly protests – 27 August, 2017

CNN – Indian guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 20 years for rape – 28 August, 2017

NPR – After ‘Guru Of Bling’ Sentencing, Indian State Stays On Alert For Violence – 28 August, 2017

Turkish Bill Clearing Men Accused of Raping Underage Girls Passes First Parliament Vote

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish parliament approved a preliminary bill which would clear men accused of raping underage girls if they marry her.

Thousands protested a new bill that would clear men accused of raping underage girls (Photo courtesy of Digital Journal)

The bill, which was brought to parliament by President Erdogan’s party, was preliminarily approved on the evening of November 17th. The parliament will debate the bill a second time on November 22nd before casting their final vote.

The Turkish government stated that the bill is designed to pardon men only on the basis of sex that is “without force or threat,” and if the offense was committed before November 11, 2016.

There has been strong opposition to the bill in many parts of the country, including by members of parliament, with many protestors stating that it is an encouragement for rape. Critics of the bill declare that it “legitimizes rape and child marriage,” and that it “lets off men who are aware of their crime.” Parliament member Ozgur Ozel stated that “sexual abuse is a crime” which does not require consent. He added that “seeking the consent of a child is something that universal law does not provide for.”

It is anticipated that approximately 3,000 men accused of assaulting a girl under 18 will have their convictions repealed if the bill is passed. On Saturday, November 19th, thousands of people attended a demonstration in Istanbul protesting the bill. The crowds, wielding banners stating “#AKP take your hands off my body,” shouted anti-government slogans, declaring “we will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately.” Further mass protests are expected if the bill passes following Tuesday’s vote.

The UN Children’s Fund stated that it was “deeply concerned” over the bill. The Fund’s spokesman indicated that “these abject forms of violence against children are crimes which should be punished as such, and in all cases the best interest of the child should prevail.”

The government has defended the bill by stating that its aim is not to excuse rape, but to “rehabilitate” men who may not have realized the unlawfulness of their sexual relations or to prevent underage girls who have sex from “feeling ostracized by their community.” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated that the bill “is not an amnesty for rape,” and that the country has very “serious punishments for rape.” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag indicated that the bill could help couples who want to marry after engaging in consensual relations. He stated that when a child is born from a non-official union, the mother and child are subjected to financial difficulty because the father will be arrested after the doctor informs the prosecutor.

Turkey has experienced a steep increase in violence against women in the past decade, with 40% of women reporting sexual or physical abuse.

For more information, please see:

Euro News—When is rape not a crime? Turkey considers proposal for controversial sexual abuse law—18 November 2016

Anadolu Agency—Turkish justice minister clarifies law changes—18 November 2016

Ahram Online —Thousands rally against Turkey child sex conviction bill—19 November 2016

BBC News—Turkish bill clears men of statutory rape if they marry—18 November 2016

TRT World—Proposed bill sparks debate in Turkey—18 November 2016

 

Bangladesh Executes Financial Backer of Islamist Party for War Crimes

by Zachary Lucas
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Mir Quasem Ali, a former media tycoon, was executed after being convicted of war crimes during the Bangladesh’s war for independence in 1971. Ali was a financier to the largest Islamist Party in the country, the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Mir Quasem Ali was Tried and Convicted of War Crimes in 2014 (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

Ali was formally arrested in 2012 and charged in mid 2013. The charges involved murder and torture, including the abduction and murder of a young man in a torture chamber. Throughout the trial Ali proclaimed his innocence and stated that the charges were unjustifiable. Ali was found guilty on 8 charges, two of which carried the death sentence, in 2014 before the International Crimes Tribunal that was set up to try war criminals from the 1971 conflict.

A five-member appellate court upheld the decision of the trial court and the sentences. The Supreme Court rejected a final appeal earlier in the week. Ali did not seek presidential pardon which requires an admission of guilt. Ali was hanged at 10:30 PM on Saturday. His body was driven from the prison in an ambulance early Sunday morning to his home village in Manikganj for burial. Family members had requested his body be buried in Dhaka but government officials refused.

Following the execution, a security operation was staged to prevent violence. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that security operations were underway to keep the peace including deployment of paramilitary border guards and more police in Dhaka. The opposition party proclaimed the trial to be “political vengeance” and stated they would stage protests on Monday.

Both the Jamaat-e-Islami party and human rights experts around the world have questions the integrity of the International Crimes Tribunal set up shortly after the current Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, came to power. Ali, who was the former head of the Diganta Media Corporation, is the latest in members of the opposition party to be executed at the tribunal. Since 2010, six opposition leaders have been executed, five of whom were from the Jamaat-e-Islami party. As a total, 24 people have been sentence to death at the tribunal.

The war in 1971 began when self-determination groups in East Pakistan revolted against Pakistani leadership which led to armed conflict. The war became a hot spot during the Cold War as the United States, former Soviet Union, and People’s Republic of China were involved in the conflict. The end of the conflict led to Bangladesh gaining independence from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Hasina says the conflict left 3 million dead and over 400,000 women were raped. Pakistani forces and Jamaat-e-Islami supported militias were accused of systematic executions and rape during the war. Pro-Pakistani militias were accused of setting up detention centers were liberation supporters were tortured, including one at Chittagong, that Ali was accused of running.

For more information, please see:

BBC — Bangladesh hangs Islamist Mir Quasem Ali for 1971 war crimes — 4 September 2016

The Daily Star –Review binned, death stays for Quasem — 30 August 2016

The Hindu —  Bangladesh executes Jamaat leader Mir Quasem Ali — 4 September 2016

Time — Bangladesh Court Upholds Death Sentence of Islamist Leader Convicted of War Crimes — 30 August 2016

Yahoo — Bangladesh executes 5th Islamist party leader for 1971 war — 3 September 2016

United Nations Foreign Aid Workers Gang Raped by South Sudanese Soldiers

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa 

JUBA, South Sudan– Foreign aid workers were gang raped by South Sudanese soldiers in the bathroom of a hotel in Juba.  The attack that happened on July 11th is being called a turning point for foreign aid workers in the country that was considered safe until the attack.  Calls for help were made to a United Nations compound that was nearby, but there was no response.

The Terrain Hotel where the foreign aid workers were hiding before they were attacked.  (Photo Courtesy of NPR)

“The soldiers just came to the bathroom where all the girls were hiding and they just picked us out of the bathroom one by one,” says one women who was at the hotel.  Despite the violence from the civil war this unusual attack has created shock waves in the humanitarian aid community.  Some organizations are evacuating their staff while others are reducing their activities in the area.

The United Nations were not the only one’s who did not show up to save the aid workers.  The trapped aid workers also called the United States Embassy and private security firms.  The reported reason for their failure was the fact that the streets were too dangerous from clashes that were happening outside the hotel.

The aid workers were eventually rescued, but only after 5 of them had been raped for hours.  Many civilians have also reported being raped in South Sudan.  Some of these civilians were raped while under United Nations Peacekeepers watch.  The international attention brought to the gang rape of aid workers may force change that works to prevent the further spread of sexual and gender based violence in South Sudan.  While the gang rapes were happening, over 300 people were killed during 4 days of fighting.

For more information, please see: 

New York Times Live – Shock in South Sudan as foregin aid workers gang raped by soldiers – 24 August 2016

News Deeply – Aid Worker Attacks Expose Ongoing Assault of Women in South Sudan – 24 August 2016 

NPR – Gang Rape of Aid Workers In South Sudan Is A Turning Point – 23 August 2016

Women Raped in Camp in South Sudan While U.N. Peacekeepers Allegedly Standby

By Samantha Netzband

Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

JUBA, South Sudan –Dozens of women have been sexually assaulted by government soldiers at a United Nations camp in South Sudan. The camp has over 30,000 displaced persons. Those attacked were Nuer women who had sought shelter from the continued fighting in South Sudan.  Many have been injured and two women have died from their injuries.

Young girls carry luggage in an United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) IDP camp on June 20, 2014 in Juba. According to UNMISS spokesperson Ariane Quinter, the UNMISS will be closing the IDP (Internaly Displaced Persons) site and relocating them to a new site in Jebel Area due to the congestion at the current site in Tomping. June 20 marks the World refugee day, according to statistics over 1.3 million people have been displaced from their homes due to the current conflict. AFP PHOTO / CHARLES LOMODONG (Photo credit should read CHARLES LOMODONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Young girls at the UN Camp in Juba, South Sudan.  (Photo Courtesy of the New York Times)

It is reported that many United Nations Peacekeepers witnessed the attacks and did nothing to stop them.  Both the South Sudanese government and the United Nations did not deny the assaults that happened; and, Chantal Persaud, a spokesman for the United Nations in South Sudan, said there was at least one incident where United Nations Peacekeepers stood by and watched.  South Sudanese soldiers were allowing the women to leave the camp to gather food and perform other tasks and then attacking the women when they returned to the camp.  The rapes included gang rapes of underage women of more than 10 men each.  The assaults may also be racially motivated many of the soldiers who are assaulting the Neur women are members of the Dinka ethnic group which is diametrically opposed of the Neur group.

The United Nations has now made a statement saying that if the United Nations Peacekeepers stood by and watched as the women were assaulted there will be severe consequences.  United Nations Peacekeepers are deployed to protect civilians and are even allowed to use lethal force if necessary.  The United Nations has increase security in the camp in order to prevent further attacks from happening.

For more information, please see: 

All Africa – South Sudan: Report: Soldiers Raped Women Outside UN Camp – 28 July 2016

Breitbart – South Sudan: Soldiers Rape UN Camp Girls by the Dozen While Peacekeepers Watch – 27 July 2016

New Europe – Dozens Raped near UN Camp in South Sudan – 28 July 2016

New York Times –  Dozens of women have reportedly been assaulted and raped at U.N. camp in South Sudan – 28 July 2016

Dutch Woman Arrested in Qatar After Reporting Rape

by Zachary Lucas
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DOHA, Qatar – – A Dutch woman was arrested after making a rape claim to local authorities in Qatar following her alleged rape. The woman has been held since mid-March and could face charges of having sex outside of marriage.

Dutch Woman Was Arrested After Alleging Rape in Doha (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

A Dutch woman, who’s identity has not been revealed and was referred to as “Laura” by the Dutch foreign ministry, was on holiday in Doha when the incident occurred. Laura was having drinks at a bar in a hotel with friends. After one of the drinks Laura stated she felt “unwell.” She woke up the next morning in an unfamiliar apartment and realized she had been sexually assaulted.

Laura immediately reported the incident to local authorities and was subsequently arrested. She has been detained by Qatari authorities since mid-March and could face charges of adultery and alcohol-related offenses. Laura’s attorney, Brian Lokollo, says that no charges have been officially filed and that she will appear before a judge on June 13. The alleged assailant has also been arrested and denies the rape allegations. He stated that the sex was consensual and that she had asked for money. Laura denies those accusations.

Adultery, or having sex outside of marriage, is a crime in Qatar like many other Gulf Arab nations. Under Qatar’s Penal Code, “anyone who copulates with a female above sixteen without compulsion, duress or ruse is convicted to no more than seven years in prison. The same penalty is also imposed on the female for her consent.”

Qatar’s former justice minister, Najeeb al-Nauimi, says to convince a judge her defense will have to prove that there were “no voluntary actions” between her and the alleged assailant. Even evidence that would suggests she walked next to the alleged assailant might give a judge doubt to the actions not being voluntary. Signs of force would need to be proven.

There have been similar incidents in the Gulf Arab region. In 2013, a Norwegian woman reported a rape in the United Arab Emirates and was subsequently arrested, charged, and convicted of indecent behavior, perjury and alcohol consumption. She received a sentence of 16 months, but was later pardoned and returned home.

For more information, please see:

Aljazeera-Qatar: Dutch Woman Who Alleged Rape to Appear in Court-12 June 2016

BBC-Dutch Woman Arrested in Qatar After Making Rape Claim -11 June 2016

CNN -Dutch Woman Jailed in Qatar After Reporting Rape May Face Charges – 12 June 2016

The Guardian-Dutch Woman Arrested in Qatar After Reporting Rape to Appear in Court-12 June 2016

A Call to end Sexual Violence

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil—The alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl from a Favela in Brazil has stirred numerous protests. Thousands of protesters have poured to the streets of Brazil condemning the alleged rape, causing individuals and groups to stand up against gender violence and the “machismo” attitude against women in Brazil.

A protester in Sao Paulo. (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

In Rio De Janeiro, about 2,000 individuals chanted and held signs against rape with slogans such as “No means No.” In Sao Paulo, hundreds gathered for a simultaneous protest. The protesters’ goal is to end gender violence and to call upon the government to act. The alleged rape of the 16-year-old girl has highlighted the deeply rooted acceptance of violence against women in Brazil. Crimes against women have been dismissed by the public. Brazil has the fifth highest rate of femicide. Studies have shown that 7.5% to 10% of women in Brazil will report an incident of sexual violence. Protest coordinators want to let women know they do not have to be silent but to report the crime.

Coincidentally, in Argentina, protests against gender violence have also taken place. Thousands gathered in the streets of Buenos Aires to voice their condemnation of the alleged rape of the 16-year-old girl in Brazil and of the killing of three 12-year-old girls in Argentina. The slogan for the protest was “Not one less.” In Argentina, 275 gender based killings occurred last year. In 30% of the cases the attacker was a current partner of the victim, and an ex-partner in 49% of cases. Social media is proving to be an outline for victims of crime and to raise awareness through out Latin America.

A short video of the alleged gang rape of the 16-year-old girl in Brazil surfaced on twitter. It showed 30 to 33 men boasting about the rape. She was naked, drugged and semi-unconscious in the video. The video received hundreds of likes and blamed the girl for the rape. The girl in a statement stated that she had gone to her boyfriends and woke up the next day in a different location surrounded by men raping her. The family of the girl allege her boyfriend was behind the rape in order to punish her. Some arrests have been made since the video became public, but police continue to search for the rest of the men involved.

For more information, please see:

CNN—Brazilian Teen Speaks out About Brutal Gang Rape—30 May 2016

CNN—2 men Arrested, 4 Sought in Brazilian Gang Rape, Government Says—31 May 2016

The Guardian—Brazil and Argentina Unite in Protest Against Culture of Sexual Violence—3 June 2016

Fox Latino— Thousands March in Argentina to Protest Violent Attacks on Women—4 June 2016

SBS—Thousands Protest at Brazil Rape Culture—4 June 2016

Syrian Revolution Digest – Thursday 12 July 2012

THE COMMENTARY IN THIS PIECE DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF IMPUNITY WATCH.  

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

More UN Shenanigans To Come?

The UN will have a chance to revisit the Syria situation again. Coming after so many conferences, high level talks and joint statements, a failure to produce concrete plan under Chapter VII will be unforgivable.

Wednesday July 11, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 78. The Breakdown: the killed include 5 women and 16 members of the Palestinian Liberation Army who were kidnapped two weeks ago, but their bodies were found only today. Despite their refugees status in Syria, most Palestinians are sympathetic with the Syrian revolutionary movements, and many have joined the ranks of the local resistance, in Daraa, Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Lattakia. Elsewhere, 22 martyrs fell in Homs, 12 in Damascus Suburbs, 9 in Daraa, including three soldiers killed by loyalists as they tried to defect, 5 in Deir Ezzor, 4 in Aleppo, 4 in Idlib, 3 in Hama, 2 in Lattakia and 1 in Raqqah.

News

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Of course, Assad is willing to accept a ceasefire now. And of course he wants to start with the hardest hit areas. Ceasefire will give Assad’s armies a chance to regroup and reconsider their strategy. Pullout of loyalist troops from certain regions, like rural Aleppo and certain parts of Idlib, might allow Assad a face-saving solution to surrender areas that he can no longer control while appearing to cooperate with the international community.

On a more macabre level, the move could also pave the way for the use of WMDs against the local resistance – a possibility that many local activists continue to dread knowing that Assad is capable of any depravity.

But, and for the time being, Assad can enjoy the re-legitimating aspect of Annan’s new plan. After all, he is now seen as a cooperative figure, and Annan insists on equating him with the resistance by asking the UN to send a message to the regime and the opposition alike that “there will be ‘consequences’ if they don’t comply with demands for an immediate cease-fire.” But, so long as the consequences do not include military strikes, neither side will likely give a damn.

Still, it will be interesting what sort of resolution will pass soon.

Video Highlights

Activist Khalid Abou Salah continues to distinguish himself from traditional opposition figures by his political acumen and growing popular appeal. In this video clip, he calls on the Kurdish revolutionaries in the city of Kobani, and elsewhere, to pay no mind to the bickering of traditional Kurdish parties and keep standing by their Arab revolutionary compatriots until the revolution achieves its goals. By wrapping himself both in the Revolutionary and Kurdish flags, he did more than any traditional opposition figure from either side to appeal to both Arabs and Kurds http://youtu.be/5neI8C6srlM Salah hails from Homs city and is a moderate Islamist in his political views. He only recently left the country and over the last few weeks, he attended a conference of pro-revolution Islamic religious scholars in Istanbul and the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris, where his address was the most clear of all.

A tank takes part in the pounding of the Damascene suburb of Zabadanihttp://youtu.be/kdtJBJ6bWpY , http://youtu.be/QNSItkS21Vs Sounds of daytime clashes in the Suburb of Saqba http://youtu.be/VzqfR_iJnSc , http://youtu.be/KkpfPy_2fcw

Sounds of nighttime clashes in Al-Qadam Neighborhood in Damascus Cityhttp://youtu.be/XHAZsLhjPY0 , http://youtu.be/twqEYBTMNbk Clashes continue until dawn http://youtu.be/6UNZN6vBowM Clashes take place in the neighborhood ofDafalshawk as well http://youtu.be/Z0ZDlgBEg6Y and in Al-Tadamonhttp://youtu.be/1jkODHYzJjk

The maniacal pounding of Old Homs continues: Jouret Al-Shayahhttp://youtu.be/sNc8bHT612Y , http://youtu.be/a_qsQ0Ey9pE ,http://youtu.be/uJTQf745I84 , http://youtu.be/hs2qmGF6UZE ,http://youtu.be/Xek1STLDj_4 , http://youtu.be/1ns1KlUdeLM ,http://youtu.be/kAeqlHG4prU Tanks keep pounding their way through the neighborhood ofQarabis http://youtu.be/AnxnasghKXo , http://youtu.be/kYyA5oBl2jQ And the neighborhood gets pounded by heavy artillery http://youtu.be/CQ9XIbAukR0 ,http://youtu.be/VzrJJ1Kyycs , http://youtu.be/XiujwHCc-SM Khaldiyeh is pounded as well http://youtu.be/hkHc2QAtX0A , http://youtu.be/lu5NiZX75BY

The pounding of nearby Rastan is as intense http://youtu.be/LCKiCESMa6c ,http://youtu.be/5WBp9cwLSc0 , http://youtu.be/hzBuGFNTdXw Two children among the dead http://youtu.be/rXTgCkXDIHg

Foreign correspondents take part in documenting the shelling of the city of Eizaz in Aleppo Province http://youtu.be/susQV4-sCOo The tanks and artillery taking part in the pounding are hidden in the tree lines outside the city http://youtu.be/s5O70e5GWEE

The pounding of Mouhassan in Deir Ezzor Province http://youtu.be/H6RoXcPNS4w ,http://youtu.be/NEJjUeGtlL0 , http://youtu.be/cvo5_aABdcc