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War Crimes

    February 11, 2014

    The USA must charge or extradite a former Guatemalan soldier involved in a massacre in his home country, Amnesty International said.

    Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes was sentenced to 10 years in prison for omitting to mention his membership of an army unit which killed more than 200 people in the town of Dos Erres in 1982, while applying for citizenship in the USA.

    “In addition to immigration violations, Sosa Orantes has a case to answer for war crimes. The US authorities must extradite him to Guatemala or prosecute him in the USA for crimes against international law,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Guatemala researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Governments across the world have a responsibility to ensure those suspected of having committed human rights abuses face justice, wherever they are.”

    Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s researcher on Guatemala, is available for interviews in English and Spanish.

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Amnesty International’s press office: +44 207 413 5566, press@amnesty.org

    January 24, 2014

    New evidence of the slaughter of women, children and the elderly gathered by Amnesty International underscores the extreme dangers faced by the Muslim minority in the Central African Republic. The organization is calling for a more robust peacekeeping effort to protect civilians outside of the capital.

    More than 50 Muslims were killed in two attacks investigated by Amnesty International in villages north-west of the capital, Bangui. The victims include at least six children, five women, and three old men. Two girls, aged seven and 18 months, were the youngest victims; the oldest was 70.

    “International peacekeeping forces are failing the Muslim community,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis advisor in Bangui. “Scores of people were left unprotected from vicious anti-balaka reprisals at a time when such attacks were entirely predictable.”

    Both attacks were carried out by Christian anti-balaka militias, which now wield effective power in many of the towns and villages northwest of the capital.

    December 18, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 19 December 2013

    War crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said at the close of a two-week mission to the country.

    The organization is calling for the rapid deployment of a robust UN peacekeeping force with a clear mandate to protect civilians – and sufficient resources to do so effectively.

    “Our in-depth research on the ground in the Central African Republic over the past two weeks has left no room for doubt that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed by all parties to the conflict,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Central Africa expert.

    “Crimes that have been committed include extrajudicial executions, mutilation of bodies, intentional destruction of religious buildings such as mosques, and the forced displacement of massive numbers of people.”

    The three-person Amnesty International delegation has documented the violations and abuses that have taken place since violence erupted on 5 December in the capital, Bangui, with an early morning attack by anti-balaka militia.

    November 17, 2013

    The international community must keep up pressure on the Sri Lankan government to address its human rights crisis, Amnesty International said as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo draws to a close.

    Steve Crawshaw, Director of the Office of Amnesty International Secretary General, said from Colombo:

    “Sri Lanka may well regret having hosted the Commonwealth summit which has proved a PR disaster for the government. Most of the focus has rightly been on the country’s appalling human rights record.

    “The challenge for the international community is now to keep up the pressure on the Sri Lankan government. Those responsible for past violations, including war crimes, must be held accountable, and ongoing human rights violations stopped irrespective of rank - victims and survivors must see justice done. The past week has provided clear examples of the government’s repressive tactics”

    October 21, 2013

    Today’s European Court of Human Rights decision is a missed opportunity to ensure that the Russian state accepts responsibility for the murder of tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war during the Second World War, Amnesty International said.

    Some of the relatives of the more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war and civilians who were killed during the 1940 Katyn massacre brought the case against Russia. But the Court found it was unable to determine the adequacy of an earlier investigation into the massacre because it took place before the adoption of the European Convention of Human Rights in 1950.

    “Russian authorities are sitting on a wealth of information about the whereabouts of victims’ remains, the circumstances of these killings, and potentially the identities of those who were killed. They have a duty to reveal the truth of what happened at Katyn to the relatives of the victims,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    August 29, 2013

    In recent days, a number of governments have signalled their intention to take military action against the Syrian government, which they hold responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attacks of 21 August. Scores of civilians, including many children, were apparently killed in the attacks on the outskirts of Syria’s capital, Damascus.

    Amnesty International neither condemns nor condones such an armed international intervention. It also takes no position on the legality or moral basis for any such action. In situations of armed conflict, Amnesty International focuses on ensuring that warring parties respect international humanitarian law and human rights.

    August 21, 2013

    In response to the publication of a series of videos apparently showing that chemical weapons have killed scores of civilians, including many children, on the outskirts of Syria’s capital Damascus, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

    “The allegations of use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, which Amnesty International has not been able to verify independently, underscore the urgent need for the United Nations team currently in Syria to have a full mandate and unimpeded access to all locations to investigate these and any other incidents of alleged use of chemical weapons.”

    “What would be the point of having a UN team of experts in the country if they are not allowed to access the sites of the alleged attacks, collect samples and investigate?”

    “The Syrian authorities who claim no responsibility should immediately facilitate the visit of the UN team to Eastern Ghouta and other locations”.

    June 18, 2013

    Afghanistan’s security forces must do everything in their power to avoid and account for civilian casualties, Amnesty International said today as the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) handed over responsibility for maintaining security in the country.

    The organization also calls on the Afghan authorities to investigate allegations of civilian casualties amid operations carried out by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

    “The ANSF are obliged under international law to ensure accountability for their actions and to provide remedy for civilian casualties of military action,” said Polly Truscott, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Program.

    According to UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) civilian casualties from ANSF operations increased in 2012, however ANSF leadership has been reluctant to acknowledge let alone take for responsibility for civilian casualties when they occur. Numbers of civilian casualties by ANSF may therefore be under-reported.

    June 11, 2013

    New satellite imagery and eyewitness testimonies from rebel-held areas in Sudan’s Blue Nile State show that Sudanese military forces have resorted to brutal scorched earth tactics to drive out the civilian population, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “We had no time to bury them”: War crimes in Sudan’s Blue Nile State documents how bombings and ground attacks by Sudanese military forces have destroyed entire villages, left many dead and injured, and forced tens of thousands to flee — with many now facing starvation, disease and exhaustion.

    Evidence gathered by Amnesty International indicates that villages in the Ingessana Hills, an area held for a time by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – North (SPLA-N) — endured multiple scorched earth offensives in 2012. Witnesses also described bombing attacks as recent as April 2013 that killed children and other civilians.

    Satellite imagery of the Ingessana Hills, showing the destruction of several villages:

    June 04, 2013

    Today’s International Commission of Inquiry report on Syria’s grave human rights situation is yet further evidence to prompt the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International said.

    The report, released at the UN in Geneva today, confirmed there are reasonable grounds to believe that “limited quantities of toxic chemicals” were used during four separate attacks last March and April, although it affirms it has not been possible to “determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrators.”

    It also calls on the Syrian authorities to allow full access to experts in order to reach conclusive findings on the issue.

    “How many more reports need to be published on Syria for the world to wake up and take action to stop the bloodshed of civilians?” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    May 30, 2013

    Attacks by armed groups on humanitarian organizations amount to war crimes and must end immediately, Amnesty International said following the brutal assault by unidentified armed men on an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in eastern Afghanistan.

    “Organizations like the ICRC must be able to carry out their crucial lifesaving work without the fear of violence hanging over them. This attack is an affront to humanity,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Those responsible for the assault in Jalalabad must be brought to justice and tried in accordance with international law and standards.”

    Unidentified gunmen and at least one suicide bomber attacked the ICRC office in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, on 29 May, killing one Afghan security guard and wounding another ICRC staff member.

    May 17, 2013

    Argentina’s former military leader, Jorge Rafael Videla, has died in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity committed during his time in office.

    “Argentina led the way in the prosecution of those responsible for the torture, killing and disappearance of thousands of people during the many military governments across Latin America,” said Mariela Belski, Director of Amnesty International in Argentina.

    “We urge Argentina and other countries in the region to continue with their efforts to bring all those responsible for the terrible crimes committed during the region’s darkest years to justice. There is still much work to be done."

    Former military president Jorge Rafael Videla, 87, died this morning in the Marcos Paz prison in Buenos Aires.

    Last year, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his part in the systematic kidnapping of children during the country’s military regime between 1976 and 1983.

    May 02, 2013

    The Israeli authorities must immediately remove a new outpost set up yesterday by Israeli settlers in the Nablus district of the occupied West Bank, Amnesty International said today.

    The new outpost was set up following the killing of Evyatar Borovsky, a resident of the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, on Tuesday.

    Borovsky, a civilian who was carrying a gun at the time of the attack, was stabbed and killed by a Palestinian man who was wounded and later arrested by Israeli forces.

    Following the killing, settlers unleashed a wave of violence against Palestinian civilians and their property in the northern West Bank, stoning vehicles and burning hundreds of trees.

    “We deplore all deliberate attacks on civilians, including settlers. But this killing must not be used as an excuse for further violations of the human rights of Palestinians,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “The authorities in Israel must urgently remove the new settler outpost and prosecute all those responsible for the violence in the West Bank.”

    April 18, 2013

    Victims and family members are still waiting for the Indonesian authorities to provide them with truth, justice and full reparation almost eight years after the end to the devastating Aceh conflict, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    The report, “Time to Face the Past”, documents the failure of local and central authorities to establish the truth of what happened during the years of violence which left between 10,000 and 30,000 people dead, many of them civilians. Many of those who had their lives torn apart by the conflict are still suffering immensely.

    “The Indonesian government’s failure to provide genuine truth, justice and reparation for victims and their families is causing immense suffering for people in Aceh today,” Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director, said.

    “Family members still do not know what has happened to disappeared loved ones and are struggling to get by, while those responsible walk free. The situation is breeding resentment that could sow the seeds of a future return to violence.”

    April 17, 2013

    The decision by Israel's military not to launch criminal investigations into some 65 cases of  "alleged misconduct" by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during Operation "Pillar of Defense", last year's eight-day armed conflict in the Gaza Strip, is another step which strengthens impunity, said Amnesty International, as some of the cases closed could amount to serious violations of international humanitarian law and potentially war crimes.

    In its update of 11 April, Israel's Military Advocate General Corps said it had decided to close inquiries into about 65 of the incidents it had examined from the conflict, which lasted from 14 to 21 November. At least 15 further incidents are still being examined. The update did not give details on most of the cases closed, making it impossible to fully assess the implications of these decisions.

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