The UN court in The Hague said it plans to hand down the final verdict in December this year in the trial of former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, who is appealing against his initial conviction for genocide and other wartime crimes.At a status conference in the Radovan Karadzic case at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on Wednesday, presiding judge Theodor Meron said the plan was that the final verdict will be handed down in December.The first-instance verdict in 2016 – against which both Karadzic and the Hague prosecutors have appealed – sentenced the former Bosnian Serb political leader to 40 years in prison for genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.Karadzic was acquitted of committing genocide in 1992 in seven other Bosnian municipalities, however.In his appeal, Karadzic requested a new trial, claiming procedural flaws in the first-instance trial and arguing that incorrect conclusions were made by the judges.The prosecutors’ appeal asks for Karadzic to be sentenced to life in prison, and convicted of the 1992 genocide charges.Karadzic’s lawyer Peter Robinson asked at Wednesday’s status conference if judge Meron could give a bit more information about the date of the final verdict, to which the judge replied that he could not, but said there was “a plan” for it to be handed down in December.Karadzic told the status conference that he felt well and that his back was no longer causing him problems, and thanked judge Meron for the provision of a laptop which meant he no longer had to sit “uncomfortably, using a desktop computer”.Meron said that Karadzic’s request to use Skype to communicate with his family will soon be granted.According to Meron, the UN detention centre in Scheveningen where Karadzic and other Hague defendants are held will also soon solve its problem with allowing “Balkan specialties”.Karadzic said the food issue was problematic because “almost nobody in prison eats the main meal because of cultural differences”.The former Bosnian Serb political leader was arrested in Serbia and transferred to The Hague in 2008.Source:Balkan InsightLEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE
It may seem odd that the National Security Strategy discusses accountability for mass atrocities on the same page as defeating transnational terror. What could justice have to do with fighting terrorists? More than you might think.Despite the United States pouring billions of dollars into its erstwhile War on Terror, violent extremism continues to threaten American security interests. The U.S. needs a preventive approach, which tackles the problem before would-be militants take up arms, and reduces the need to fund kinetic operations down the road.Transitional justice can disrupt processes that transform individuals and groups into violent extremists and deny terrorists the ability to reap propaganda victories from their tactics. Amplifying support for transitional justice can be the first step in adopting a more comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that targets the disease instead of the symptoms.After a period of intense violence, societies face a window of opportunity in which former grievances can and should be addressed. This might include holding trials, implementing a truth commission, offering amnesties, issuing reparations, and undergoing legal and institutional reforms – a collection of mechanisms under the umbrella of transitional justice. The U.S. has a vested interest in seeing post-conflict governments implement such programs.Take Iraq’s de-Baathification debacle. The scheme to purge former officials in Saddam Hussein’s regime was an abject failure – instead of achieving justice, its discriminatory angle stoked sectarian in-fighting and contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. Injustice, or incomplete or poorly-implemented justice regimes, as in Iraq, can dangerously devolve into violent extremism.A just society is less vulnerable to terror. Where terrorism seeks to divide societies by sowing fear and distrust, transitional justice aims to strengthen communities by restoring unity and faith in government. Some consensus has formed that human rights violations and state fragility are commonly exploited by terrorists. Transitional justice can close off some of the gaps in fragile states where violent extremism thrives.Chief among these gaps, fragile states are often deeply divided. Studies have shown that social marginalization — which can be underscored by inter-group conflict — is a common driver of violent extremism. Transitional justice programs provide the means for reconciliation among rival factions and an avenue for peaceful conflict resolution to proceed. This might mean bringing victims and perpetrators face-to-face to engage in dialogue or crafting a new collective narrative that de-emphasizes communal divisions. Social integration can support de-radicalization processes and prevent past wrongs from compelling victims to pursue extremist violence.Second, fragile states tend to lack legitimacy. Individuals or groups excluded from political participation or subjected to systemic discrimination are more likely to lose faith in their governments and rebel against them. By bringing past abuses to light and condemning them in the public space, transitional justice mechanisms provide nascent post-conflict states with a reputation for human rights protections and inclusive government. Previously persecuted individuals might then believe courts are more effective than car bombs at addressing grievances.Success is possible. Although not without its critics, Rwanda’s post-genocide transitional justice process has become a model in the field. Today, the country experiences significantly lower rates of terrorism than its neighbors, which may be attributable in part to its efforts at achieving unity and reconciliation.By addressing grievances that might drive individuals to join violent extremist groups, well-tailored transitional justice processes can help seal off pathways of radicalization that sustain terrorist groups and allow them to emerge where fragility appears. By fulfilling victims’ needs, resolving intercommunal conflicts, and reinforcing state legitimacy, transitional justice can actively undermine the ability of terrorist organizations to take advantage of fragile states.To take this approach, the U.S. must invest more in its non-military tools. It could support grassroots peacebuilding organizations, contribute to global reparations funds, put diplomatic pressure on regimes resisting calls for justice, or send legal advisers to assist governments in designing and implementing transitional justice programs or criminal justice reforms.The U.S. needs to support these initiatives on a wider scale. The president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 only explicitly mentions transitional justice as an objective for Iraq and Syria. A preventive approach cannot overlook the Venezuelas and Nigerias of the world — fragile states where the time for justice is ripe, momentum exists on the ground, and intervention now could mitigate a foreseeable violent relapse.As the U.S. reconciles its commitment to human rights with today’s security challenges, policymakers should recognize the harmony that exists between U.S. interests in countering terrorism and promoting transitional justice. It’s worth a try.Image: A man stands in front of a destroyed building in an outer neighborhood of the Old City in West Mosul on November 6, 2017 in Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesSOURCE: JUST SECURITYLEAGUE OF JUSTICE
A Burundian activist has been jailed for five years accused of preparing reports on human rights abuses for a banned organisation, militant and legal sources said on Tuesday.Nestor Nibitanga, who was convicted and sentenced on Monday, "long ran our office in Gitega" in central Burundi, said Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, the exiled president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODEH).This association was the main rights movement in the country until the regime shut it down after a political crisis erupted in 2015."He was sentenced on Monday morning by the Mukaza high court (in the capital Bujumbura) to five years of penal servitude for having continued to submit reports on human rights once APRODEH had been struck off by the government," Mbonimpa told AFP.Nibitanga's lawyer, Fabien Segatwa, confirmed the sentence to AFP, but stressed that his client had for three years been working with the Burundian National Network of human rights organsations, which is still authorised to function. In this capacity, he should not have been convicted, Segatwa said.Nibitanga was arrested in Gitega on November 21, 2017, by the National Intelligence Service (SNR) and transferred to Rumonge prison in the southwest, where he has been held since."Those in power pursue the repression of independent civil society, but in any case, we didn't expect anything else from a judiciary that takes orders from the executive," Mbonimpa told AFP."At least he wasn't tortured and killed like other activists or (political) opponents arrested by this regime, even if he copped a free jail term," added the APRODEH chief, who was seriously wounded in an attempt on his life in August 2015.Burundi plunged into political crisis after the ruling party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term in office, which his foes said was banned by the constitution.The mandate was criticised by opposition politicians, civil society, the Roman Catholic Church, but Nkurunziza's followers foiled a coup bid and he was duly re-elected.Several human rights activists have been jailed in recent years, including Germain Ruvakuki, who was last April sentenced to 32 years for "insurrection", because he was a member of one of the civic bodies that led street protests against Nkurunziza's third term in 2015.At the beginning of June, the 54-year-old Nkurunziza announced that he would not stand for another term in office in 2020.His announcement came just after the adoption of a new constitution under which the head of state could remain in office until 2034.Source: News 24LEAGUE OF JUSTICE
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia has released thousands of prisoners as a new prime minister reverses decades of security abuses. No-one knows how many were tortured.But some of those torture victims are now talking openly - to the media, to their relatives and to their friends - about what happened to them after they were jailed, in many cases for protesting against the government.Their stories raise a hard question for the government: how will it address the injustices committed by security forces behind prison walls?Since coming to power in April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 41, has made peace with Eritrea, ended a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and announced plans to sell shares in state-owned firms to promote growth and create jobs.Abiy acknowledges that many prisoners suffered abuses, which he has denounced as acts of “state terrorism”.He has not, however, announced plans to investigate abuses committed by the security forces or set up a process for victims to seek redress. But he has preached forgiveness.“I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts. To close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,” Abiy said in his inaugural address.Rights groups that have documented the torture - from psychological torment to the use of water and ceiling hooks - say there must now be a greater focus on justice.“Despite all the reforms, there have yet to be any detailed commitments regarding investigations into abuses or justice for victims,” said Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch.Since late 2015, when protests against ethnic marginalisation and inequality began, tens of thousands of people were detained, according to Human Rights Watch.The attorney general’s office and government spokesman Ahmed Shide did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment.Source: ReuterLEAGUE OF JUSTICE
August 15, 2018, 12:36 pm
today in history
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.