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Crimes Against Humanity

    August 25, 2015

    A Guatemalan court’s decision to try former Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity through a lawyer and behind closed doors opens a new avenue for justice but highlights the deep flaws of the country’s justice system, which has so far failed to bring justice to his victims, said Amnesty International.

    The conditions of his trial were decided due to the 89-year-old former president’s fragile health, according to news reports. The trial is due to start in January 2016.

    “Today’s ruling clearly shows that when justice is delayed for so long, there is a very high risk that those responsible for crimes such as mass killings and disappearances will be able to get away with it,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “If authorities in Guatemala would have dealt with the shocking catalogue of crimes committed under Ríos Montt’s rule as they should have, instead of repeatedly delaying the process, the country would not find itself in this situation.”

    July 20, 2015

    The bombing occurred at around 12 midday in Suruç, a town on Turkey’s border with Syria and close to the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani / Ayn Al-Arab in Syria.

    According to a statement from the Turkish authorities shortly after the blast, 27 people had been killed and close to 100 people were receiving treatment for injuries, some of them life threatening.

    Amnesty International condemns the bombing, which appears to have been carried out in a way that maximises the number of civilian casualties. Such attacks show contempt for the right to life and breach the most basic principles of international law. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

    The bombing appears to have targeted the Amara Cultural Centre in the centre of Suruç. At the time of the bombing, young people from Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) who had come to Suruç on the way to provide humanitarian aid in Kobani, were making a press statement. 

    July 18, 2015

    The opening on Monday of the trial against former Chadian President, Hissene Habré, in Senegal will put an end to 25 years of impunity and give hope to the tens of thousands of victims of human rights violations and crimes under international law committed under his watch, Amnesty International said.

    Habré is being tried by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes committed while he was in power between 1982 and 1990. This is the first time a court in one African state will try the former leader of another African state.

    “The trial against Hissène Habré is a major milestone for justice in Chad and in Africa. For many victims, this day will mark the end of a 25-year-long wait,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher, who worked on Chad during Habré’s presidency.

    July 08, 2015

    Russia’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution on the Srebrenica genocide is an affront to the families of the victims of the massacre and will hinder attempts at reconciliation between the communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Amnesty International.

    “The massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995 revealed the tragic flaws in the UN’s response to the Bosnian war. Twenty years on, the UN Security Council’s failure to recognise the killings as genocide is an insult to the memory of the dead,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This resolution was about much more than just recognizing Srebrenica as a genocide. It was also about the acknowledging the urgent need to provide justice to the victims and long-term support to survivors, including survivors of sexual violence, and clarifying the fate and whereabouts of the over 8,000 still missing from the war.”

    July 01, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  2 July 2015

    New research and weapons analysis by Amnesty International in Yemen bring into sharp focus the high price civilians continue to pay amid the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition’s airstrikes all over the country and demonstrate a failure to abide by the requirements of international humanitarian law.

    Amnesty International researchers investigated eight airstrikes in different parts of the country, including multiple strikes in the capital, Sana’a, on 12 and 13 June and in Tai’z on 16 June. In total, the eight incidents killed 54 civilians (27 children, 16 women and 11 men) including a one-day-old infant, and injured 55, (19 children, 19 women and 17 men).

    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 15, 2015

    The South African governments shocking failure to heed to its own court order and arrest Bashir is a betrayal to the hundreds of thousands of victims who were killed during the Darfur conflict, Amnesty International said today. 

    The North Gauteng High Court ruled this afternoon that the South African government’s failure to detain Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution and that the government should have arrested him upon his arrival in the country pending a formal request from the ICC. 

    However, he was apparently allowed to leave this morning despite an interim order that he be prevented his departure. 

    “South Africa’s role was clear from the day president Omar Al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the ICC to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa. 

    June 13, 2015

    South Africa must immediately arrest Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal (ICC), Amnesty International has said today. Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the wanted list of the court, is reportedly on his way to South Africa to attend the 25th AU Summit currently underway in Johannesburg.

    “Al-Bashir is a fugitive from justice. If the government of President Zuma fails to arrest him, it would have done nothing, save to give succour to a leader who is accused of being complicit in the killing, maiming, torture of hundreds of thousands of people in a conflict that has blighted the lives of millions and destroyed the hopes and aspirations of an entire generation,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    May 04, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST 5 May 2015

    Sheer terror and unbearable suffering has forced many civilians in Aleppo to eke out an existence underground to escape the relentless aerial bombardment of opposition-held areas by government forces, according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.

    April 24, 2015

    (Bangui) – The Central African Republic's National Transitional Council has taken decisive action for justice for the victims of atrocities by adopting a law to establish a Special Criminal Court within the national justice system, 23 Central African and international human rights organizations said today.

    The draft law, which the government sent to the transitional parliament on February 6, 2015, was adopted by an overwhelming majority on April 22 during a plenary session. The special court will investigate and prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic since 2003.

    “By approving the Special Criminal Court, National Transition Council members said that ‘enough is enough’ with impunity and showed that they firmly stand on the side of justice for the victims who lost their lives or suffered atrocities,” said the human rights organizations. “There is no time to lose for the government and its international partners to ensure that the Special Criminal Court is up and running as soon as possible.”

    April 13, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST 14 April 2015

    At least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok school girls.

    February 02, 2015

    An Amnesty International researcher on the ground in eastern Ukraine has gathered gruesome evidence of civilian deaths and casualties inflicted by both sides in the bloody conflict in the towns of Donestk and Debaltseve over the last few days.

    The evidence was collected on the spot in the immediate aftermath of shelling and includes interviews with eyewitnesses and casualties in hospital.

    The reported violations include an attack on a humanitarian aid line, a market place in Donestk and indiscriminate shelling of homes and streets in Debaltseve.

    “This evidence reveals the horror of the bloodshed suffered by civilians, who are being killed and injured because both sides are firing unguided rockets and mortars in heavily populated areas. Such attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    January 29, 2015

    The protection of civilians must be central to today’s discussions at the African Union summit on how to tackle the growing threat of Boko Haram, said Amnesty International.

    The situation in north-east Nigeria, including the possibility of the deployment of a regional force against Boko Haram, is expected to be part of the AU’s Peace and Security Council talks this evening, and Amnesty International is calling for African leaders to ensure that the protection of civilian in north east Nigeria is at the top of the agenda.
    “In the face of Boko Haram’s bloody onslaught the protection of civilians is the key priority. Ultimately it is the responsibility of Nigeria’s authorities to take all feasible measures to protect the civilian population including by assisting with an evacuation of those who wish to flee and transporting them to safer areas,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director.  

    January 18, 2015

    The impending transfer of Dominic Ongwen, alleged former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a step towards justice for the victims who have suffered brutality at the hands of the LRA for more than two decades, said Amnesty International today.

    “This is a significant development in the pursuit for justice. The LRA abducted, killed and mutilated thousands in Uganda and committed atrocities, including the use of child soldiers and sexual slavery,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.

    “It’s been almost a decade since arrest warrants were issued against LRA leaders. The impending transfer of Dominic Ongwen to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes finally paves the way for survivors of LRA atrocities in northern Uganda to see justice done.”

    January 14, 2015

    Satellite images released by Amnesty International today provide indisputable and shocking evidence of the scale of last week’s attack on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga by Boko Haram militants. 

    Before and after images of two neighbouring towns, Baga (160 kilometres from Maiduguri) and Doron Baga (also known as Doro Gowon, 2.5 km from Baga), taken on 2 and 7 January show the devastating effect of the attacks which left over 3,700 structures damaged or completely destroyed. Other nearby towns and villages were also attacked over this period. 

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