Human Rights violations alleged against the Republic of Benin

By: Wendy Neeley

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Benin – On December 20, 2022, Eric Noudehouenou filed an application against the Republic of Benin with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Noudehouenou alleges several human rights violations against the respondent parties and asserts that many of these violations and actions were prohibited by previous judgments of the court. The allegations include violations of “respect for life and physical and moral integrity”, the “right to a fair trial”, the “right to freedom of opinion and expression”, the “right to freely associate with others”, and the “right to participate freely in the conduct of public affairs of one’s country”.

Noudehouenou filed the application on behalf of himself and other citizens of the Republic of Benin. Notably, the application states that Noudehouenou has been given power of attorney for Reckya Madougou. Madaougou was arrested while protesting the presidential election in 2021 which was prohibited by an earlier judgment of the court.

People gathered outside the court showing support for Reckya Madougou during her trial. Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

Benin is a West African country formerly known as Dahomey. It is underdeveloped and is ranked among the world’s poorest countries, but it has seen significant economic growth over the past few years. Although it is one of Africa’s more stable democracies, there is still some political unrest, as evidenced by the protests that resulted in the arrest of Madougou.

The application filed by Noudehouenou requests that the court enforce the judgments that would have prevented the 2021 Presidential Election and erase all of the effects of the election. He claims that not acting with urgency on the matter will cause irreparable harm. Additionally, the application calls for the suspension of Madougou’s detention. The circumstances around the arrest and trial have some questioning the conviction of acts of terrorism. Additionally, the application claims that Madougou is being held in appalling conditions and has not been allowed to communicate with her lawyers privately.

After reviewing the application, the court found that they can no longer take any measures regarding the 2021 Presidential election since it has already occurred, and the measures sought are not moot. Additionally, the court found no justification for the request for the suspension of the detention warrant for Reckya Madougou. Accordingly, and absent any further proceedings, she will be required to carry out her sentence of twenty years of imprisonment.

For further information, please see:

ACtHPR – Houngue Eric Noudehouenou v. Republic of Benin, 20 Dec. 2022

BBC News – Benin country profile – 16 Jan. 2023

BBC News – Reckya Madougou: Opposition leader jailing damages Benin democracy – laywer – 12 Dec. 2021 

Reuters – Benin opposition leader sentenced to 20 years in prison – 11 Dec. 2021 

IACHR Calls Honduras to Protect Human Rights Defenders After at Least Five Murders this Year

By: Marie LeRoy

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

HONDURAS — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demands that Honduras investigate the murders of Human Rights Defenders “effectively and with due diligence” after yet another vicious murder this year.

Picture of activist in Guapinol, Honduras protesting open pit mining. Security forces look on from across the river. Picture curtesy of Ignatian Solidary Network.

At least five human rights activists, who focused on environmental rights, have been reported to have been murdered this year in Honduras. According to the IACHR, some of the activists have been targeted because of their involvement in the protests against the “operation of an open-pit oxide mine” in an aera in Guapinol, Honduras that had been designated as an “forest reserve”. Open pit mining can pollute rivers and contaminate water which directly effects the rural communities in Honduras relying on the river. The activists claim that the mining allowance was illegally granted because of the “forest reserve” status of the land and therefore should be stopped. The mining company and local authorities have responded to these protests by allegedly targeted around thirty-two leaders of these environmental groups and “falsely accusing them of crimes”.

Local police and prosecutor in Honduras have attempted to attribute these deaths to incidences of local violence unrelated to the Human Right Defenders’ protests. Some reports by the local police have stated that the victims’ deaths were a result of a “botched mugging” although the victims were found with their cellphones and money.

The lack of efforts by the police, prosecutors, and authorities to investigate and protect these Human Rights Defenders, and to even attempt to “cover up” the crimes, has not gone unnoticed. Human Rights Defenders in Honduras have had a longstanding history of being violently targeted in attempts to silence them in their opposition and their organizations. The way in which these Human Rights Defenders’ have been routinely targeted include acts of intimidation, including intimidating messages, harassment, and death threats, to outright acts of violence, including acts up to and including murder.

These acts on Human Rights Defenders can result in fewer and fewer individuals willing to advocate for these causes as well as similar important causes. The effects of the decline in advocacy seeps into every aspect of life, polluting and decaying entire communities’ quality of life until Human Rights in general are a thing of the past. The IACHR demands Honduras “take all measures necessary to protect the rights to life, integrity, and safety of human rights defenders” to ensure the continuation of advocacy in Honduras.

For further information, please see:

Aljazeera – UN calls for probe into killing of two Honduran environmentalist- 12 Jan. 2023

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Honduras: IACHR condemns killing of at least 5 land defenders and calls on the State to investigate them diligently and effectively – 14 Feb. 2023

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Honduras: Local activists & UN call for investigation after murder of 2 human rights defenders—17 Jan. 2023

IACHR- Press Release IACHR Condemns Murders of Right Defenders in Honduras- 14 Feb. 2023

The Guardian – Honduran environmental defenders shot dead in broad daylight – 11 Jan. 2023 – Honduras: Violent attacks & murder of human rights defenders—9 Feb. 2023

Sentence and Conviction of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Signals Bealrus’ Efforts to Deter Human Rights Activists

By: Nathanael Linton

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

            On March 3, 2023, Ales Bialiatski, among other human rights activists, was sentenced by the Lieninski District Court of Minsk, under presiding Judge Maryna Zapasnik, to serve long-term prison terms. Mr. Bialiatski won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 for his “courageous work and dedication to promoting human rights and democracy in Belarus.” He founded the organization Viasna to “provide support to incarcerated demonstrators and their families” who opposed Belarus’ constitutional amendments made in 2016 to keep then-and-current President Alexander Lukashenko in power.

Ales Bialiatski in cage enclosure during trial. Photo courtesy of Viasna

Mr. Bialiatski is currently serving ten years for being found guilty of “smuggling by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code, and for “financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. However, this is not his first time being sentenced by the Belarusian government. In 2011, he was sentenced to three years for alleged tax invasion, and again in 2021 for protesting current President Lukashenko’s administration for human rights violations committed by the Belarus government. To date, Mr. Bialiatski has been in Belarusian custody since July 14, 2021.

Human rights activists and opponents of the current Belarusian government have stated that the imprisonment of human rights activists is “politically motivated.” In his defense, Mr. Bialiatski argues that “the activities of Viasna has been completely legal and comply with all international obligations of the Republic of Belarus.” However, Judge Zapasnik has found the allegations against Bailiatski, as well as the other high-level leaders of Viasna organization, to be “fully proven.” During their detainment, Mr. Staradubets, a spokesperson for Viasna, states that the conditions in which Mr. Bialiatski and others are being kept should be considered “torture.” According to Staradubets, ‘We call [it] torture because

they’re being held for several months in a 19th-century building, poorly lit cells with no fresh air, no sunlight, poor food, [and] little to no healthcare.” However, when confronted with allegedly imprisoning activists as a form of oppression, Mr. Lukashenko simply argues that all government opponents, including Mr. Bialiatski, were incarcerated for breaking the law. The recent decision now sends him to a medium-security penal colony.

            The incarceration of Mr. Bialiatski though is not the first time Belarus makes headlines for its troubling human rights issues. According to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Council of Europe, Belarus made headlines after their 2020 presidential elections in which “various peaceful protestors were arrested, and other individuals reported missing.” The right to life is being troubled by Belarus’ numerous deprivations of liberty. These individuals’ sacrifices should not be in vain, especially those of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In a country such as Belarus, whose actions have been condemned by various international bodies, work should be done to prosecute Belarus for its egregious and hostile actions toward workers of human rights. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Bialiatski, his family, and all other human rights activists who still fight for justice despite their current conditions.


For further information, please see:

BBC News – Ales Bialiatski: Nobel Prize-winning activist sentenced to 10 years in jail – 3 Mar. 2023

Council of Europe, Commissioner of Human Rights – Press Statement: Belarus: today’s conviction of Nobel Laureate Bialiatski and other human rights defenders is a blatant attack against justice – 3 Mar. 2023

Council of Europe, Commissioner of Human Rights – Press Statement: Human rights violations in Belarus must stop immediately – 21 Sept. 2020

PBS News – Belarusian court sentences Nobel laureate Bialiatski to 10 years in prison – 3 Mar. 2023.

U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights – Press Statement: Sentencing of Human Rights defenders in Belarus – 3 Mar. 2023

Viasna – Viasna leadership receives from 7 to 10 years in jail – 3 Mar. 2023

Wall Street Journal – Nobel Laureate and Activist Ales Bialiatski Sentenced to 10 Years in Belarusian Prison – 3 Mar. 2023

Complaint filed in ECOWAS Court of Justice Against Liberia for Failure to Act upon TRC Recommendations

By: Chezelle McDade

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

The Doe Regime in Liberia resulted from the successful coup by Samuel Doe against then-President William Tolbert on April 12, 1980. Doe and his Armed Forces of Liberia (“AFL”) suspended the Liberian Constitution and created an authoritarian regime. Doe’s former ally, Charles Taylor, led a revolt against Doe in 1989 which resulted in Doe’s death and the end of his regime in 1990.  Civil war immediately erupted in Liberia among the warring rebel factions. One attack, which has been called the worst single atrocity in Liberia’s first civil war, occurred on July 29, 1990, at a Lutheran church housing thousands of men, women, and children who were displaced by the war. Troops loyal to the late President Doe bulldozed the doors to the church and proceeded to gun down and hack to death approximately 600 men, women, and children.


A survivor of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Massacre displays her disfigured hand as the result of injury she sustained from the massacre. Photo Courtesy of Front Page Africa, James Harding Giahyue

Between 1989 and 2003 there were two civil wars in Liberia. Upon their conclusion and pursuant to the Accra peace agreement of 2003, an independent national commission on human rights was created as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Act which was passed in May 2005. The task of the resulting Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (the “TRC”) was to conduct investigations, inter alia, of gross human rights violations from January 1979 to October 2003. The TRC was operational from February 20, 2006, until June 22, 2009, and issued its final, consolidated, unedited report on June 30, 2009. The TRC concluded that several individuals and entities, including the AFL were liable for violations of Humanitarian and Human Rights laws and provided recommendations on accountability through prosecution.

On the basis of the TRC report and the testimony of survivors, a complaint was filed in 2018 against the former colonel of the AFL, Moses Thomas, for his role in the massacre. Summary judgment was granted and damages in the amount of $84 million dollars assessed. Thomas subsequently fled to Liberia, where he currently resides without limitations due to the Liberian Government’s lack of action. On October 4, 2022, the Center for Justice and Accountability along with a pro bono co-counsel filed a complaint with the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (“ECOWAS”) on behalf of the Global Justice and Research Project (“GJRP”), a Liberian NGO, along with three survivors of the Lutheran Church massacre. The Complaint alleges violations of several articles within various human rights charters and the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and that the Liberian Government failed to conduct the official investigation into the Lutheran Church Massacre, identify those responsible and prosecute as advised by the TRC. The Hearing is scheduled for February 16, 2023, and a decision regarding this remains pending.


For further information, please see:

United States Institute of Peace – Truth Commission: Liberia – 20 Feb. 2006

United States Institute of Peace – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia – Final Report – 3 Dec. 2009

Front Page Africa – US Court Orders Thomas to Pay $84m to Victims of Lutheran Church Massacre; An Angry Thomas Condemns the Ruling – 22 Aug. 2022

Jane W. v. Moses Thomas Complaint – 12 Feb. 2018

Application to ECOWAS Court – 29 Sept. 2022

First American ICC Case: What is Going on in Venezuela?

By: Alessa Rodriguez

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela is a rarely talked about South American country handling corruption and instability that is impacting its people so much that the ICC has been investigating the government since 2018. It is currently being led by Nicolas Maduro, and since his presidency the country has been repressing its citizens from speaking up as to the conditions of their country. Six ICC countries have asked the prosecutor to investigate the potential crimes in Venezuela, the first time countries have jointly asked for an investigation into another ICC member country and one of the first cases in the Americas region.

Protestor wearing sign saying “there is no food.” Photo Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.

The violations and crimes being alleged are part of a widespread and systematic attack against the population. The allegations include crimes against humanity of imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty; torture, rape, and other forms of sexual violence; persecution against identifiable groups on political grounds by civilian authorities, members of armed forces, and government supporters.

Such commanders and superiors should have known about the crimes and did not take measures to prevent or repress them, they may have committed the abuses and covered them up, allegations say. Between 2016 and 2019 police and security forces killed nearly 18,000 people for alleged resistance to authority, the people were seen as government opponents, so agents executed them during raids after anti-government protests. The UN has also concluded that the authorities and pro-government groups had committed the violations, amounting to crimes against humanity.

In April 2021, the Human Rights Watch documented new cases, alleging that there is a pattern of systematic abuses that have led to international inquiries. A court filing from June of that year concluded that the authorities were unwilling to investigate or prosecute the cases because the domestic government had shielded people from criminal responsibility and that those proceedings have not been conducted independently. It has been determined that the Judiciary, Venezuela’s Supreme Court, has stopped functioning as an independent branch of government and is complicit in the abuses.

As of now, there is still no real conclusion to the investigation, nor has there been any trials.


For further information, please see:

Council on Foreign Relations – Instability in Venezuela – 6 Jan. 2023

Human Rights Watch – News – Venezuela: ICC Investigation Opens – 3 Nov. 2021

ICC – Investigations – Venezuela – Situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – Feb. 2018