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War Crimes

    February 05, 2016

    The Iraqi authorities’ failure to protect Sunni civilians from a wave of reprisal attacks by Shi’a militia last month is another example of widespread impunity for what are clearly war crimes, said Amnesty International today.

    Abductions, killings and burning of homes and property of the Sunni community in and around the city of Muqdadiya started on 11 January after appalling bomb attacks that killed at least 27 civilians, carried out by the armed group calling itself Islamic State.

    The Iraqi authorities failed to stop reprisal attacks by Shi’a militias and have subsequently failed to effectively investigate or bring a single person to justice. Scores of Sunni men in Muqdadiya and surrounding areas are still unaccounted for and are feared dead.

    “Instead of holding Shi’a militias to account the authorities have turned a blind eye to this shocking rampage. In some cases abductions and killings took place in full view of local authorities, who failed to intervene,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    February 01, 2016

    The reinstatement of a senior Nigerian military general implicated in the mass murder of hundreds of detainees underlines the monumental failure of the government to stamp out impunity for war crimes at the highest level, said Amnesty International.

    Last June, Amnesty International named Major General Ahmadu Mohammed, along with eight other senior commanders, calling for an investigation into their possible criminal responsibility for war crimes including the deaths of more than 8,000 of detainees.

    Major General Ahmadu, was in charge of 7 Division and was in command of operations when the military executed more than 640 detainees following a Boko Haram attack on the detention centre in Giwa barracks on 14 March 2014. He was retired in 2014 for unrelated reasons, but reinstated this month.

    An in depth report exposed a range of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by the military in the course of operations against Boko Haram. It found that, since March 2011, more than 7,000 were starved, suffocated, and tortured to death in military detention camps. A further 1,200 were rounded up and unlawfully killed.

    December 14, 2015

    Twenty years after the signature of the peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, resolving the thousands of cases of enforced disappearances still remains utopic while discrimination and a shameful lack of political will still block access to justice, truth and reparation for victims, said Amnesty International.

    While the Dayton peace agreement, signed on 14 December 1995 in Paris, did in fact bring an end to the armed conflict that had killed more than 100,000 people since 1992, leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina have since failed to show a full commitment to justice and reparation.

    “Leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina must immediately unblock access to justice, truth and reparation for war crimes, including for victims of sexual violence. These fundamental steps would allow the country to advance by finally laying to rest grievances of the past,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    December 10, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  11 December 2015

    Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces have carried out a series of air strikes targeting schools that were still in use, in violation of international humanitarian law, and hampering access to education for thousands of Yemen’s children, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. The coalition forces are armed by states including the USA and UK.

    The briefing ‘Our kids are bombed’: Schools under attack in Yemen, investigates five air strikes on schools which took place between August and October 2015 killing five civilians and injuring at least 14, including four children, based on field research in Yemen. While students were not present inside the schools during the attacks, the strikes caused serious damage or destruction which will have long-term consequences for students.

    November 25, 2015

    UK should stop selling air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia-led forces

    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition used a British-made missile to destroy a Yemeni ceramics factory, a civilian object, on 23 September, 2015, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today, based on field research and interviews with eyewitnesses at the scene.

    The attack on the factory in the Sana’a governorate, which appeared to be producing only civilian goods, killed one person, and was in apparent violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), the laws of war.

    This strike, using a British missile supplied in the 1990s, undermines the claim of Ministers that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s use of UK military equipment is consistent with IHL, and that the UK monitors such compliance “very carefully”. The organizations are unaware of any credible coalition investigation into this or other apparently unlawful airstrikes for possible IHL violations.

    November 10, 2015

    A draft United Nations Security Council resolution prepared by New Zealand which seeks to promote renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by cutting out the International Criminal Court is seriously misguided, Amnesty International said today.

    The draft resolution calls on Israel and Palestine to “to refrain from referring… a situation concerning Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories to the International Criminal Court.”

    “You cannot have long-term peace without justice. The scale of injustice felt on both sides plays a key role in maintaining the cycle of violence. New Zealand’s proposal would deny thousands of Palestinian and Israeli victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the only chance to have their day in court,” said Jonathan O’Donohue, International Justice Legal Adviser at Amnesty International.

    October 06, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST  7 October 2015

    Damning evidence of war crimes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which is armed by states including the USA, highlights the urgent need for independent, effective investigation of violations and for the suspension of transfers of certain arms, said Amnesty International in a new report published today. 

    ‘Bombs fall from the sky day and night’: Civilians under fire in northern Yemen examines 13 deadly airstrikes by the coalition in Sa’da, north-eastern Yemen, which killed some 100 civilians, including 59 children. It also documents the use of internationally banned cluster bombs. 

    “This report uncovers yet more evidence of unlawful airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, some of which amount to war crimes. It demonstrates in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser who headed the organization’s fact-finding mission to Yemen.

    October 02, 2015

    The UN Human Rights Council’s failure to open an international investigation into violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights law, committed as part of the devastating conflict in Yemen marks a dark day, said Amnesty International.

    The Council today adopted a resolution tabled by Saudi Arabia on behalf of Arab states involved in the conflict and the Yemeni government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which fails to establish an international mechanism to investigate such violations and abuses by parties to the conflict.

    “This resolution reflects a shocking failure by the Human Rights Council to meet its obligation to ensure justice and accountability, and sends a message that the international community is not serious about ending the suffering of civilians in Yemen,” said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “It was drafted by Saudi Arabia, which is leading the military coalition that has itself committed serious violations of international law in Yemen, with evidence pointing to war crimes.”

    October 01, 2015

    Mass murder, gang rapes and house-to-house searches by Taliban death squads are just some of the harrowing civilian testimonies emerging from Kunduz as Afghan forces today claimed to have regained control of key areas of the northern city, Amnesty International said.

    The organization has spoken to numerous people, the majority of them women, who have fled Kunduz since Monday, when the Taliban launched a sudden assault on the city. Women human rights defenders from Kunduz spoke of a “hit list” being used by the Taliban to track down activists and others, and described how fighters had raped and killed numerous civilians.

    “The harrowing accounts we’ve received paint a picture of a reign of terror during the Taliban’s brutal capture of Kunduz this week. The multiple credible reports of killings, rapes and other horrors meted out against the city’s residents must prompt the Afghan authorities to do more now to protect civilians, in particular in areas where more fighting appears imminent,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    October 01, 2015

    A crucial resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council today offers the victims of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict the prospect of finally getting the truth and justice they deserve, Amnesty International said.

    The resolution was adopted without a vote today at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, following the publication earlier this month of a UN report into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights by all sides during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict.  

    “The adoption of this resolution is a turning point for human rights in Sri Lanka, and crucially recognizes terrible crimes committed by both parties during the armed conflict. Although far from perfect, if the resolution and the underlying commitments of Sri Lanka’s government are implemented in good faith it presents an opportunity for victims to finally get the truth and justice they have been waiting for,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

    September 30, 2015

    •        At least 1,600 civilians killed by Boko Haram in last 4 months
    •        More than 3,500 civilians killed by Boko Haram in 2015
    •        Nigeria yet to investigate military abuses
    •        Almost 400 civilians and dozens of security personnel killed by Boko Haram in Cameroon since January 2014

    Despite advances by the military, attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have claimed the lives of at least 1,600 people since the start of June, bringing the death toll to at least 3,500 civilians in 2015 alone, said Amnesty International as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) discusses a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the conflict.  

    “The number of people killed so far this year is truly shocking with more than 3,500 civilian fatalities in less than 300 days,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

    September 29, 2015

    The Taliban are exposing civilians to danger during the conflict in Kunduz by hiding in people’s houses and conducting door-to-door searches for Afghan security personnel or government staff, Amnesty International said.

    With fighting ongoing in Kunduz as Afghan security forces try to recapture the provincial capital, reports from local residents indicate that Taliban fighters have hidden in people’s houses to blend in with the civilian population. Government officials have also confirmed at least 16 civilian casualties, but the actual number could be much higher with the UN trying to confirm reports of at least 110 civilians killed.

    “Civilians are bearing the brunt of the horrific violence that is unfolding in Kunduz. By hiding in the residential homes Taliban fighters are exposing civilians to attacks. There are also reports of Taliban conducting house-by-house searches looking for people linked to the Afghan security forces or government,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    September 28, 2015

    The Taliban and Afghan security forces must ensure that civilians are protected in accordance with international law and that nobody is targeted in reprisals against their work, Amnesty International said as fighting intensifies in the northern Kunduz province.

    Heavy fighting is ongoing in Kunduz after the Taliban launched a major assault on the provincial capital this morning. There are unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties and the Taliban taking over official buildings, including a public hospital.

    “The Taliban have many times in the past showed their callous disregard for human life and civilians often suffer the brunt of their attacks. As fighting rages in Kunduz, all sides must ensure that civilians and civilian objects are protected according to international humanitarian law, which governs all parties to an armed conflict,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Deliberately targeting civilians not directly participating in hostilities, as well as indiscriminate attacks or disproportionate attacks, would amount to war crimes.”

    September 25, 2015

    The international community must use the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to establish an investigation into violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses committed by all sides in Yemen, said Amnesty International six months after the country’s descent into a bloody conflict.

    The organization is urging the creation of a UN Commission of Inquiry into violations and abuses committed by all parties to the Yemen conflict, at the current Human Rights Council session in Geneva which concludes on 2 October.

    More than 2,100 civilians, including at least 400 children, have been killed in the conflict. Across the country, a desperate humanitarian crisis is escalating and more than 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes. 

    “In the six months since the Saudi Arabia-led coalition began their campaign in Yemen, all sides have displayed a callous disregard for civilian life,” said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    September 16, 2015
    War crimes: Boko Haram shoots, burns and slits throats of hundreds of people Authorities detain more than 1,000 people - dozens die in inhumane conditions More than 130 men and boys disappeared at hands of security forces New satellite images show destruction of civilian property by security forces

    Boko Haram has slaughtered nearly 400 civilians in northern Cameroon, while a heavy-handed response by security forces and inhumane prison conditions have led to dozens more deaths, Amnesty International said in a report launched today.

    Based on three research missions in 2015, the report, Human rights under fire: attacks and violations in Cameroon's struggle with Boko Haram, documents how Boko Haram has killed at least 380 civilians since January 2014.

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