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War Crimes

    April 04, 2017

    By Syria campainger Leen Hashem

    Today, ministers and representatives of over 70 countries and humanitarian organisations are attending the “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference in Brussels. The conference focuses on gathering additional funds and assistance for Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries and discussing the reconstruction of Syria “once a genuinely inclusive political transition is firmly underway”.

    It is reassuring to see the international community come together to support Syrians who fled the violence in Syria and sought refuge in neighboring host countries. However, Syrian refugees continue to face serious challenges including restrictive access to health services, employment and protection. The international community should ensure the rights of Syrian refugees through meaningful responsibility-sharing by guaranteeing funding for refugee protection; and by significantly increasing the number of resettlement places and other admission pathways.

    April 03, 2017

    Senior Crisis Adviser Donatella Rovera blogs from Mosul, Iraq. Follow Donatella on Twitter @ DRovera.

    When they heard that there would be airstrikes on their neighborhood in eastern Mosul, Wa’ad Ahmad al-Tai and his family did exactly as they were told.

    “We followed the instructions of the government, which told us, ‘Stay in your homes and avoid displacement,’” he said. “We heard these instructions on the radio. … Also leaflets were dropped by planes. This is why we stayed in our homes.”

    Shortly afterward, the bombs came raining down. As the terrified al-Tai family huddled together, the house next door collapsed on them. Six people were killed there on the morning of Nov. 7, 2016, including Wa’ad’s 3-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.

    As I traveled through eastern Mosul earlier this month, I heard versions of this story again and again from families who had lost relatives in airstrikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Filled with rage and grief, Mosul residents described how they were expressly told to stay in their homes and were then bombed inside them.

    May 24, 2016

    This speech was delivered at the World Humanitarian Summit on 24 May 2016 by Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. 

    Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

    When thinking of how best to use my time here today, one option I seriously considered was to observe a three minute silence to mourn the demise of international norms and humanitarian law.

    These are arguably the darkest times since the formation of the United Nations. Conflict is driving displacement and wreaking devastating consequences on civilians who are literally caught in the crossfire.

    I come to this Summit straight after seeing and hearing first-hand the horrific tales of displaced people in Iraq and south-east Turkey – two windows into a shameful worldwide story.

    The stark truth is that from Syria to Nigeria, Afghanistan to South Sudan, Burundi to Ukraine, conflict zones have become a free-for-all. The norms put in place to protect us are treated with complete and utter disdain.

    June 24, 2015

    By Netsanet Belay, Africa Director, Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International. Follow Netsanet on Twitter @NetsanetDBelay

    As the International Criminal Court (ICC) opens its Assembly of States Parties – the periodic gathering of all the countries who have ratified the Court’s statute – in The Hague today, it does so with a bloody nose.

    The Court was yet again met with contempt this month by South Africa’s failure to cooperate with its arrest warrants for one of its longest running fugitives, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

    On 15 June, South Africa’s government failed to obey an order from its own high court to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country. The order had been made while the court decided whether to compel the government to fulfil its international and constitutional obligations to uphold two ICC warrants for the arrest of Sudanese President al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader, who was visiting Johannesburg for an African Union Summit, faces seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as three counts of genocide in Darfur.

    June 04, 2015

    By Christoph Koettl, Founder and editor of Amnesty's Citizen Evidence Lab. Follow Christoph on Twittwr @ckoettl

    With citizen journalism and the availability of new technologies growing exponentially, human rights investigators are able to locate and review evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity at a speed never before imagined. Amnesty International’s Christoph Koettl explains how it’s done.

    In March 2014 a grainy cell phone video came across my desk that seemed to show a Nigerian soldier murdering an unarmed man in broad daylight. It took me a day and a half to pinpoint the location of this apparent war crime to a specific street corner in Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno and a city of more than 500,000 people.

    Confirming the location of an incident is a crucial step in the authentication process, so finding this fact was highly relevant to reference the footage in a report we published on 31 March 2014, exposing war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Nigerian military and Boko Haram.

    May 26, 2015

    By Tarek Chatila, Montreal-area activist and writer for Amnesty Canada’s Isr/OT/PA co-group

    In March, Amnesty International released the report ‘Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict’, which focuses on the firing by Palestinian armed groups of thousands of unguided rockets and mortars towards Israel, during the fifty day war.

    May 23, 2015

    By Tarek Chatila, Montreal-area activist and writer for Amnesty Canada’s Isr/OT/PA co-group

    In March, Amnesty International released its report entitled ‘Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.’ Coming just two weeks before Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is part of the ‘Nowhere to run for life, safety, justice’ campaign which demands accountability for human rights violations carried out by all parties during Israel’s operation in Gaza, codenamed ‘Protective Edge.’

    May 23, 2015

    By Lama Fakih, AMnesty International Crisis Resposne Team. Follow Lama on Twitter @lamamfakih

    As the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen resumed earlier this week, after a brief ceasefire, hospitals across the capital were getting ready to treat an influx of the wounded despite dwindling supplies of medicine and fuel. Doctors were going over detailed lists of needed medications, recruiting volunteer staff, and making black-market deals for overpriced diesel and fuel to keep generators and ambulances running. Some staff were taking up residence in the hospital to avoid the time and cost of travel to and fro.

    But despite their best efforts, the needs of the war wounded far outweigh the services these medical workers can provide. Sanaa’s publicly-run Kuwait Hospital was one of several hospitals where staff said they had to send patients away, because essential equipment had become inoperable without electricity or fuel for generators.

    November 09, 2014

    By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    Nearly three months have passed since the latest conflict came to an end, but the piles of rubble and empty shells of family homes in Gaza serve as painful reminders of the death and destruction that resulted from Israel’s latest military operation there in July and August this year.

    Mohammad Akram al-Hallaq’s three grandchildren were watching cartoons in the television room when the three missiles struck on 20 July. The walls collapsed in an avalanche of rubble, crumbling into piles of dust and rocks above and below them. None of the children survived. Eight people, all civilians, including four children from another family living in the building were also killed.

    November 03, 2014

    By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, in northern Iraq

    Unlike in nearby villages recently captured by the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), not a single villager has returned to Barzanke.

    As I go from house to house, it becomes clear why. There is nothing for the residents to return to; virtually all the houses have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

    Some were seemingly bombed from the air by US forces, others may have been struck by the Peshmerga as they tried to dislodge the IS fighters who had seized the area last August, but most were evidently blown up from inside.

    Some Peshmerga had previously told me and another human rights investigator that it was their own colleagues who had blown up the houses because the villagers supported IS.

    November 27, 2012

    By Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme

    Damage to an apartment building in Rishon LeZion, outside Tel Aviv, from rockets fired from Gaza © Amnesty International.

     

    It was dawn when we arrived in Israel to begin our investigation into rocket attacks from Gaza which by the end of the latest flare in violence had left six Israelis, including four civilians, dead, at least 40 injured and 300 more treated for shock.

    Up in the sky oddly shaped vapour trails made us wonder if these were the remnants of the “Iron Dome” missiles – used to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups which this time reached as far north as Tel Aviv.

    A child is digging in the rubble of the destroyed al-Dalu family house in Gaza City © Amnesty International

    The following is a firsthand account by Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, reporting from Gaza. The ceasefire came into effect at 9pm on November 21 November.

    The children are playing outside again, despite the torrential rain. They were stuck indoors during eight days of relentless Israeli bombardments.

    By the time that ended in excess of 160 people were dead - including more than 30 children and scores of other unarmed civilians.

    For the duration of the onslaught they were stuck indoors - at home, seeking refuge with relatives or in schools which the UN refugee agency turned into temporary shelters for thousands of families forced from their houses by the bombings.