GlobalJustice Weekly: Sri Lanka lags on justice | Russia chemical veto | Activists on trial in Turkey

Tamil protesters demand a UN inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka © Press Association/Arun Sankar K

Sri Lanka not dealing with war crimes allegations

United Nations Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff stated on Monday that Sri Lanka is nowhere near to where it should be in dealing with allegations of war crimes and other rights violations from its decades-long civil war.

“Challenges remain; and the slow progress, even on pre-conditions for transitional justice, seriously erodes trust in the government’s capacity to decisively move forward with reforms,” noted Mr. de Greiff, urging the authorities to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, demilitarise the North and East, resolve remaining land disputes, and cease harassment and surveillance by security and intelligence personnel of human rights defenders and social actors.

President Maithripala Sirisena previously agreed in 2015 to investigate alleged war crimes in the final phase of a 26-year civil war. The government requested a two-year extension to fulfill that commitment. However, analysts have said that much of the process has been delayed amid worries the government will lose popularity among Sinhala Buddhists, Sri Lanka’s majority community.

 

Russia vetoes investigation into chemical attacks in Syria 

Russia has used a veto to end a US-drafted resolution that would have extended by a year an investigation of who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria, a move that Amnesty International has deemed 'equivalent to a green light for war crimes'. 

Britain, France and the United States have accused President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of carrying out the 4 April attack on the opposition-held village, killing scores of people, including children.

The panel, whose mandate expires in November, is the only mechanism for establishing accountability for chemical weapons atrocities in Syria. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in a press briefing last Wednesday that the panel was a “very important tool, a tool addressing the problems of accountability,” and that “we fully support their activities.”

 

Turkey trials of human rights activists begin

The trial of 11 human rights activists has begun in Turkey, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director and chair. Charges against the human rights defenders carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

“From the moment of their detentions, it has been clear that these are politically motivated prosecutions aimed at silencing critical voices within Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director. Ten activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, were arrested on 5 July, whilst Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested a month earlier. They are accused of 'membership of a terrorist organization'.

Following today's decision by a court in Istanbul to conditionally release eight of the human rights defenders while their trial continues, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said: “Today, finally, we celebrate that our friends and colleagues can go back with their loved ones and can sleep in their own beds for the first time in almost four months."

However, Amnesty International's Turkey Chair Taner Kılıç is being kept in jail, charged with 'membership of the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization'. This charge is based on the allegation that he downloaded and used the ByLock messaging application, claimed to have been used by the Gülen movement to communicate.

analysis of the caseS and indictment

 

ICC investigations

DRC: African leaders have called for strengthened military intervention at the the Eighth High-Level Meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DRC. Meanwhile, the trial of Ntaganda has stalled due to lack of available defense witnesses.

Uganda: Director of legal services at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Timothy Nabaasa Kanyogonya, has denied knowledge of allegations during the trial of Dominic Ongwen that military commanders of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces committed atrocities in northern Uganda.

Libya: Month-long United Nations-backed talks aimed at bridging differences between rival Libyan factions ended on Saturday with no significant proposal so far. Talks are set to resume, although no date has yet been given for this. 

 

Preliminary examinations 

Burundi: Burundi is set to leave the ICC and Roman Statute this week, prompting some to contemplate what this means for the commitment of the international community to global justice.   

Afghanistan: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned attacks on Friday at mosques in Kabul city and Ghor Province during prayers. He emphasized that those responsible must be swiftly brought to justice.

Nigeria: The Presidential Investigation Panel to review the compliance of the armed forces has called on human rights lawyers representing Boko Haram suspects to come forward and present their cases before the panel.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

The Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice in The Hague has expressed serious concern regarding the recent allegations about former ICC Prosecutor Ocampo

A conference entitled 'The ICC and International Cooperation: The Challenges of Asset Recovery' has been held in Paris, gathering senior state officials, officials of ICC, national and international experts, representatives of international organisations, and members of civil society to discuss the issue.

Delegates have taken up drafts on ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ and ‘Provisional Application of Treaties’, as the UN Sixth Committee (Legal) reviews the International Law Commission Report at its sixty‑ninth session.

 

Around the world 

The criminal trial against former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and his former intelligence chief Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez resumed on October 13 in Guatemala. They face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the context of 15 documented massacres.

A Dutch citizen will go on trial in the Netherlands next Monday on charges he committed war crimes in Ethiopia in the 1970s. He is accused of the incarceration, torture and murder of opponents of former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Médecins Sans Frontières has reported that Rohingya girls as young as nine are being raped as they flee Myanmar into Bangladesh. The charity says that dozens of them have been given medical and psychological support at Kutupalong health facility’s sexual and reproductive health unit.

A 'Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and his Accomplices to Justice' will be launched in Gambia this weekend. The launch follows two strategy sessions in Banjul, involving Jammeh's victims and Gambian and international NGOs. 

A new hearing for Anglophones in Cameroon will go ahead today in front of the Military Court of Yaounde. At least 150 people charged in the Anglophone crisis still remain in prison.