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War Crimes

    November 19, 2012

    As the Rwandan-backed M23 armed group advanced towards Goma and fighting resumed today around the capital of North Kivu province, combatants on all sides of the escalating conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo must take steps to safeguard civilians from attack, Amnesty International said.

    Tens of thousands of civilians have already fled – including many who were previously displaced – and the humanitarian and security situation has deteriorated dramatically since fighting between M23 and the Congolese army (FARDC) resumed some 30 km north of Goma on 15 November.

    "The advance towards the gates of Goma places thousands more civilians at risk," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.

    "All parties to the conflict must protect civilians from attack and respect international humanitarian law, as hostilities get closer to densely populated areas."

    Since the M23 was created in April 2012, Amnesty International has documented numerous human rights abuses attributed to its fighters – including unlawful killings, forced recruitment of children and young adults, and rape.

    November 19, 2012

    As the conflict escalates between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, Amnesty International is calling for an international arms embargo and for the immediate deployment of international monitors.

    Since 14 November, dozens of civilians in Gaza and three Israeli civilians have been killed. Both sides have been violating international humanitarian law, according to information gathered by the UN, local human rights organizations and Amnesty International.

    “International monitors with the ability to investigate human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law need to be on the ground as soon as possible in both Gaza and Israel to carry out independent, impartial assessments of violations by both sides,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    October 09, 2012

    The Congolese government must take urgent steps to stop the violence in the east of the country and hold to account all who have committed human rights abuses, Amnesty International said, as the DRC prepares to host a major gathering of Francophone leaders.
     
    The Francophonie Summit – a biennial gathering of French speaking nations - will be hosted from the 12 -14 October in Kinshasa, as violence in the east is escalating, resulting in widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    “Human rights abuses continue unabated and with total impunity,” says Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    An Amnesty International delegation has recently returned from eastern DRC, where delegates documented cases of rape, summary killings, forced recruitment of civilians including children, looting and illegal taxation by different armed groups.

    October 05, 2012

     As a large contingent of armed forces and armed militias surround Bani Walid in preparation for a possible assault, Amnesty International has called on the Libyan authorities to avoid unnecessary and excessive use of force in the city and to ensure that medical and other essential supplies are allowed into the city.

    On 25 September, Libya’s parliament, the General National Congress authorized the Ministries of Interior and Defence to use force if necessary to arrest suspects including those responsible for the alleged torture and killing of Omran Shaaban, credited with capturing Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi on 20 October 2011.

    It also called for the release of other detainees held in Bani Walid and set a deadline for implementation of 10 days.

    Following the decision, members of the Libyan army, Libya Shield forces and armed militias from various parts of the country, including Misratah, surrounded Bani Walid, about 140 kilometres south-east of Tripoli.

    September 19, 2012

    Civilians, many of them children, are the main victims of a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian army, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    The briefing paper (and accompanying video footage) is based on first-hand field investigations carried out in the first half of September by Amnesty International into attacks which killed 166 civilians, including 48 children and 20 women, and injured hundreds in 26 towns and villages in the Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama regions.

    The briefing paper provides fresh evidence of a pattern which has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.

    September 14, 2012

    The Egyptian government should immediately withdraw its invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and arrest him if he travels to Cairo, Amnesty International said today.

    Omar Al-Bashir is due to meet President Mohamed Morsi and other top Egyptian officials as part of a two-day visit beginning on 16 September.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants for Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010, charge him with criminal responsibility on 10 counts, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture and rape.

    “If Egypt welcomes Omar Al-Bashir it will become a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of genocide”, said Marek Marczyñski, Amnesty International Justice Research, Policy and Campaign Manager.

    “Egypt should not allow Omar Al-Bashir to enter its territory, and must arrest him if he arrives.”

    September 13, 2012

    Afghanistan’s Parliament must delay its vote to appoint a new national intelligence director until it carries out a thorough and transparent investigation into claims of his involvement in numerous alleged acts of torture and other grave human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

    On 15 September legislators in Kabul are due to vote on President Hamid Karzai’s proposal to appoint Assadullah Khalid as the new director of Afghanistan’s state intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

    Khalid has been linked to numerous cases of torture and unlawful killings in the past decade while he served as Governor of Afghanistan’s Ghazni and Kandahar provinces.

    “Any nominees for senior posts in Afghanistan’s government must be subject to stringent screening before being appointed, specifically when – as in Assadullah Khalid’s case – they face allegations of committing or overseeing serious human rights violations and crimes under international law,” said Polly Truscott, Deputy Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    A chequered past

    September 05, 2012

    Abdullah al-Senussi, military intelligence chief for Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, should have been surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today amid reports that Mauritanian authorities had extradited him to Libya.

    In June 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Senussi, as well as Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, on two counts of crimes against humanity – murder and persecution – allegedly committed in the eastern Libyan port city of Benghazi in February 2011.

    Al-Senussi had been in Mauritanian custody since March 2012, when he was arrested at the airport in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott.

    In July, Mauritania’s Minister of Justice asserted to Amnesty International that al-Senussi had entered the country illegally and was being held in good conditions. He added that the Mauritanian government was considering extradition requests made by Libya and France and the surrender request by the ICC. It has not been possible to determine whether he has had access to a lawyer, an independent doctor of his own choice and ICC staff.

    August 28, 2012

    Amnesty International condemns the brutal killing of some 17 people who took part in a music party in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sunday night 26 August. According to reports there were two or three women among the dead; some of the victims were shot dead and others were beheaded.

    The Afghan government accused the Taleban of the act and stated that the area where the incident happened was under the control of the Taleban. However, the Taleban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Amnesty International has so far been unable to verify independently the government’s claim or the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, it appears from the reports that none of the victims were actively engaged in fighting, which makes their killing a war crime - if carried out by a party to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

    August 22, 2012

    Civilians are enduring a horrific level of violence in the battle between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters for control of Aleppo - the country’s largest city and commercial capital, Amnesty International said in a new briefing on Syria.

    The 11-page briefing is based on first-hand field investigations by Amnesty International during the first half of August.

    The briefing documents the Syrian government forces’ increasingly frequent air and artillery strikes against residential areas, resulting in often indiscriminate attacks which seriously endanger civilians. 

    “The use of imprecise weapons, such as unguided bombs, artillery shells and mortars by government forces has dramatically increased the danger for civilians”, said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who recently returned from Aleppo.

    August 22, 2012

    1982 was a dangerous time in El Salvador.

    The civil war had begun two years earlier, and in rebel-held areas, the national army saw everyone - peasant farmers, babies, women and the elderly - as legitimate military targets.

    By 1982 the armed forces had already committed a string of massacres across the country.

    In August that year, the Salvadoran armed forces launched a major offensive across the northern San Vicente region – an area considered by the military as a guerrilla stronghold. As news of the offensive spread, communities in San Vicente began to flee in fear for their lives. Many of those who stayed on to tend the crops were the elderly, women and young children.

    They had stayed thinking they would be safe at home.

    No-one could imagine what was about to come.

    August 07, 2012

    ‘Turning Syria’s most populous city into a battlefield will have devastating consequences for civilians’ - Christoph Koettl

    Amnesty International has warned that both sides fighting in Aleppo may be held criminally accountable for their failures to protect the civilian population, as the organisation released new satellite images showing the extent of heavy weapon use in the city.
     
    The satellite images - from Aleppo and the surrounding area - show an increased use of heavy weaponry, including near residential areas. Amnesty said they raise urgent concerns over the assault on the beleaguered Syrian city. (The images can be downloaded from http://www.flickr.com/photos/48074201@N08/sets/72157630930467626).

    Some of the images reveal more than 600 probable artillery impact craters from heavy fighting between Syrian armed forces and armed opposition groups in the nearby town of Anadan. An image from 31 July shows probable artillery impact craters next to what appears to be a residential housing complex in Anadan.

    August 03, 2012

    The investigation announced by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the alleged unlawful killings of 14 members of the al-Berri clan must be carried out in an “impartial, independent and comprehensive” manner and its results should be referred to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Amnesty International said today.

    Fahad al-Masri, the FSA’s Head of Central Media, condemned the killings in a televised interview on Wednesday and said the FSA had opened an investigation into the incident and those responsible would be held to account.

    Members of the Sunni pro-government clan were shown in social media video, allegedly filmed by the al-Tawhid Brigade of the FSA, being shot dead after being ordered out of a clan  “hospitality” building by the fighters in Bab al-Nairab neighbourhood in the city of Aleppo.

    The head of the clan, Ali Zein al-‘Abdeen Berri (known as Zayno Berri), was reportedly killed in the shootings.

    July 31, 2012

    Mali must halt its slide into human rights chaos and open investigations into dozens of cases of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and torture documented by Amnesty International.

    In a report released today following a ten day mission to Mali in July 2012, Amnesty International details brutal abuses committed by soldiers loyal to the military Junta against soldiers and police officers involved in an attempted counter-coup on 30 April 2012.

    In the days that followed the attempted counter-coup dozens of soldiers were arrested and taken to Kati military camp, 20 kilometres north of Bamako, the capital. They were held for more than 40 days in appalling conditions and subjected to torture and sexual abuse. Twenty one detainees were abducted from their cell at night and haven't been seen since.
     
    “The Malian authorities have a duty to investigate all the cases we have documented. Those responsible for these brutal efforts to avenge the attempted counter-coup must be held accountable for their actions,” said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    July 31, 2012

    The assault by government forces on the city of Aleppo is the culmination of months of a brutal crackdown against dissident voices, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    The new report All-Out Repression is based on first-hand field investigations by Amnesty International in Aleppo city at the end of May.

    It documents how security forces and the notorious government-backed shabiha militias routinely used live fire against peaceful demonstrations, killing and injuring protesters and bystanders, including children, and how they hunted down the wounded, medics who treated them, and opposition activists.  

    “The current onslaught on the city of Aleppo – which puts civilians even more at grave risk– is a predictable development which follows the disturbing pattern of abuses by state forces across the country,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who recently spent several weeks investigating abuses in northern Syria, including in Aleppo.

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