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War Crimes

    March 25, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 26 March 2015

    Palestinian armed groups displayed a flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians by repeatedly launching indiscriminate rockets and mortars towards civilian areas in Israel during the conflict in July and August 2014, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict provides evidence that several attacks launched from inside the Gaza Strip amount to war crimes. Six civilians in Israel, including a four-year-old boy, were killed in such attacks during the 50-day conflict. In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian attack, 11 children were among 13 Palestinian civilians killed when a projectile fired from within the Gaza Strip landed in the al-Shati refugee camp.

    March 17, 2015

    Eyewitnesses to an alleged chlorine gas attack last night in Idlib, northern Syria, have told Amnesty International about the horrific death of an entire family, including three children younger than three years of age.

    Scores of other civilians were exposed to toxic chlorine gas in two apparent chemical weapons attacks allegedly carried out by government forces in and around the town of Sermine, Idlib, last night, eyewitnesses said.

    “These horrific attacks that resulted in civilians, including small children, suffering excruciating deaths, are yet more evidence that the Syrian government forces are committing war crimes with impunity. The situation in Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court as a matter of urgency,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    March 16, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 17 March 2015

    A new report by Amnesty International provides damning evidence that Syrian government forces unlawfully killed scores of civilians in a series of aerial attacks on the city of al-Raqqa in November 2014 which violated international humanitarian law. Some of the attacks may amount to war crimes.

    Al-Raqqa under attack: Syrian air force strikes against civilians documents a series of airstrikes between 11 and 29 November that led to the deaths of up to 115 civilians, among them 14 children. They included attacks on a mosque and a busy market crammed full of civilians and other buildings not being used for military purposes.

    “Syrian government forces have shown flagrant disregard for the rules of war in these ruthless airstrikes. Some of these attacks give every indication of being war crimes,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.

    February 23, 2015

    New eyewitness testimonies gathered by Amnesty International indicate that the Egyptian Air Force failed to take the necessary precautions in carrying out an attack which killed seven civilians in a residential neighbourhood in the Libyan city of Derna on 16 February.

    The incident is one in a string of horrific acts – some of which amount to war crimes – in recent weeks that show how civilians are increasingly bearing the brunt of reprisal attacks as violence in Libya escalates.  

    In the latest incident on 20 February, according to the Libyan authorities 42 people were killed, including civilians, in bombings targeting military and civilian targets in the eastern city of Qubbah. A group calling itself Barqa Province of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in retaliation for the Egyptian airstrikes.

    “Civilians in Libya are in mortal danger as retaliatory attacks by all sides spiral even further out of control in the aftermath of the horrific murder of the 21 Egyptian Copts,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International. 

    February 17, 2015

    A Ukrainian soldier is seen atop an armoured vehicle at the entrance to Debaltseve amid clashes earlier this month.© MANU BRABO/AFP/Getty Images

    Debaltseve’s possible capture by pro-Russian separatists must not result in widespread detainee abuse, Amnesty International urged amid reports that the Ukrainian military had partly lost control of the key railway hub town in eastern Ukraine.

    Video has emerged this afternoon apparently showing dozens of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering to armed groups as they closed in on Debaltseve. According to media reports, between 4,000 and 8,000 Ukrainian troops may be encircled in the town.

    “There is a history of separatist armed groups torturing or otherwise ill-treating captured pro-Kyiv soldiers. Some reports are as recent as 9 February near Debaltseve. Such acts would be war crimes,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “We urge all sides in the conflict to treat any detainees humanely according to the Geneva Conventions.”

    January 28, 2015

    New evidence shows that the Nigerian military were repeatedly warned of impending Boko Haram attacks on Baga and Monguno which claimed hundreds of lives, and failed to take adequate action to protect civilians, said Amnesty International.

    According to a senior military source and other evidence gathered by Amnesty International, commanders at the military base in Baga regularly informed military headquarters in November and December 2014 of the threat of a Boko Haram attack and repeatedly requested reinforcements. Other military sources and witnesses have told Amnesty International that the military in Monguno had an advanced warning of the Boko Haram attack on 25 January.

    “It is clear from this evidence that Nigeria’s military leadership woefully and repeatedly failed in their duty to protect civilians of Baga and Monguno despite repeated warnings about an impending threat posed by Boko Haram,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director.  

    January 13, 2015

    An artillery strike on a bus that killed 10 civilians and wounded 18 in eastern Ukraine must be investigated urgently as it could amount to a violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    An unguided Grad artillery system was apparently used in the strike, but at present it is unclear where the attack came from. It hit a civilian bus which was passing through a military checkpoint controlled by pro-Kyiv forces in the town of Volnovakha.

    “The world needs to know the truth about this tragic incident. It must be investigated thoroughly, impartially and independently, as a possible violation of the laws of war,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.  

    “Those responsible for this incident either failed to take steps to protect civilians, as demanded by international humanitarian law, or it was a deliberate act which would constitute a war crime.”

    December 12, 2014

    The recent wave of attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other armed groups in Afghanistan are reprehensible acts which underscore the new Afghan government’s urgent responsibility to protect the right to life, Amnesty International said today.

    The most recent assault, a suicide bombing at Isteqlal High School Theatre in Kabul on Thursday evening, killed one and injured around a dozen civilians who were watching a play. It added to the rising toll of lives lost and hundreds of injuries in armed attacks in different parts of the country in recent weeks.

    “Targeting civilians for attack is reprehensible and a clear violation of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes. It is crucial that those responsible are brought to justice,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.  

    “One of the core responsibilities of the Afghan authorities is protecting civilians against such violent attacks. The onus is now on the new administration to bolster the security response and regain the trust of the Afghan people.”

    December 11, 2014

    The failure of the Central African Republic authorities and the United Nations to effectively investigate war crimes is perpetuating the cycle of violence and fear in the country, Amnesty International said in a report today.

    Central African Republic: Impunity is fuelling violence, based on a mission to CAR by Amnesty International researchers, details how some leaders and members of armed groups have continued to commit further atrocities and defy the rule of law. This is despite Amnesty International publishing evidence last July that raised reasonable suspicion of the involvement of a number of them in serious abuses including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    “The failure to hold accountable those implicated in the killing of civilians, the use of child soldiers and the burning of villages means they are not only able to walk free, but also to continue terrorising the population without fear of repercussions,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.  

    December 08, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  9 December 2014

    Air strikes on landmark buildings at the tail end of the Israeli military’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in August 2014 were a deliberate and direct attack on civilian buildings and amount to war crimes, says Amnesty International today.

    “Nothing is immune”: Israel’s destruction of landmark buildings in Gaza provides evidence that attacks on four multistorey buildings during the last four days of the conflict were in contravention of international humanitarian law and calls for them to be independently and impartially investigated.

    “All the evidence we have shows this large-scale destruction was carried out deliberately and with no military justification,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Both the facts on the ground and statements made by Israeli military spokespeople at the time indicate that the attacks were a collective punishment against the people of Gaza and were designed to destroy their already precarious livelihoods.”

    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 06, 2014

    The killing of a schoolboy and an 18-year-old during shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Wednesday highlights a larger pattern of indiscriminate attacks which could amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    “Both Ukrainian government and separatist forces must immediately stop carrying out indiscriminate attacks in violation of the laws of war,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia director of Amnesty International.

    “These continuing civilian deaths – a predictable result of such attacks – are inexcusable and those responsible on both sides must be held accountable.”

    During a research mission in late September and early October, Amnesty International documented more than 20 recent civilian deaths due to shelling and rocket fire in the eastern Ukrainian towns of Donetsk, Avdiivka, and Debaltseve. Most of the deaths, which took place in residential neighbourhoods, appeared to be the result of indiscriminate attacks, with the attacking forces using weapons that could not be targeted with sufficient accuracy to distinguish between civilian and military objects.

    November 05, 2014

    The deaths of two children killed by shelling while they played football on a school playing field in eastern Ukraine must be immediately, fully and impartially investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    Four other youths were wounded in the attack, which came as separatists and pro-Kyiv forces accused each other of breaking a ceasefire agreement.

    “We have witnessed both sides in this conflict ignoring their legal obligations and failing to protect civilians and this is the latest tragic example of the consequences,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Today’s shocking attack in Donetsk must by fully investigated. If it is found to constitute a war crime, those responsible must be brought to justice.”

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667#236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

     

    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.

    October 29, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT 30 October 2014

    Lawless militias and armed groups on all sides of the conflict in western Libya are carrying out rampant human rights abuses, including war crimes, according to a new briefing from Amnesty International.

    Rule of the gun: Abductions, torture and other abuses by militias in western Libya provides evidence that armed groups have possibly summarily killed, tortured or ill-treated detainees in their custody and are targeting civilians based on their origins or perceived political allegiances.

    Likewise, satellite images released today by Amnesty International show that fighters on all sides in the conflict have displayed an utter disregard for civilian lives, with indiscriminate rocket and artillery fire into crowded civilian neighbourhoods damaging homes, civilian infrastructure and medical facilities.

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