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Former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, was captured in Serbia on May 26 after evading arrest for almost 16 years. He is awaiting transfer to The Hague, where he will stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He faces charges of genocide in connection with the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995. His capture is a positive step towards ending impunity for genocide, Al Jazeera reported.

Bernard Munyagishari, a former Hutu militia leader suspected of masterminding the Rwandan genocide, was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo after evading capture for nearly 17 years. He is wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. “The prosecutor [Justice Hassan Bubacar Jallow] hailed the DRC authorities for their co-operation in executing the warrant of arrest, despite the hurdles encountered in tracking down the fugitive,” the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said. The ICTR indictment states that Munyagashari helped prepare and plan the 1994 genocide.

Satellite images provided by the Enough Project have confirmed that the Sudanese government has been attacking Abyei. “Images show the destruction of a southern-aligned base at Todach by tanks or other armored vehicles, fires burning at the town of Dungop, and the presence of northern attack aircrafts and bombers capable of reaching Abyei town within an hour. Images also show that a former Misseriya encampment at Goli has largely been vacated, confirming reports of Misseriya movements further south.” The Satellite Sentinel Project produced a ‘human security crisis alert’ detailing their findings.

Photo: BBC.co.uk

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Libya set the stage for a full-blown test of the Responsibility to Protect principle, adopted by the UN in 2005. The Economist published an in-depth article discussing the positives and negatives of the application of R2P in Libya, and the power politics that accompanies it.

Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara has reiterated that his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, must be tried for crimes committed during the deadly standoff that followed last year’s disputed election. Ouattara told France 24: “Justice must be rendered. Impunity must be ended in Ivory Coast. Especially for war crimes; crimes against humanity. These are very serious matters.”

After a preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court had been committed in Côte d’Ivoire since 28 November 2010. The case has been assigned to pre-trial chamber II.

Photo: justiceinconflict.com

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has found two Croatian generals guilty (Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač) and acquitted one (Ivan Čermak) of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war for acts committed by Croatian forces during Operation Storm between July and September 1995. The three officers were sentenced to 24 and 18 years’ imprisonment respectively. The court found the crimes were committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise whose objective was permanent removal of the Serb population by force or threat of force, which amounted to and involved deportation, forcible transfer, and persecution through the imposition of restrictive and discriminatory measures, unlawful attacks against civilians and civilian objects, deportation, and forcible transfer.

Rwandan Ambassador to the United States James Kimonyo, speaking to students and faculty of California Baptist University as part of the 17th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, called for genocide denial to be fought internationally, AllAfrica.com reported. “Denial is the last stage of genocide and it could be the beginning of another cycle of genocide, if left unchecked or stopped,” Kimonyo told the audience.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a compromise bill (H.R.1473) to fund the government until the end of the 2011 fiscal year. Save Darfur reported that, unfortunately, the Complex Crises Fund, which has enabled the United States to more effectively respond to situations where mass atrocities are occurring or likely to occur, was reduced by 20 percent compared to last year’s level. The Civilian Stabilization Initiative, which runs programs to mitigate conflict, was also reduced, by more than 70 percent. Funding allocated to the Civilian Stabilization Initiative serves to prevent violent conflict in areas critical to U.S. interests, inlcuding Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Photo: un.org

A former bourgmestre (mayor) of Kabarondo Commune in Rwanda, Tito Barahira, has been arrested in France on six indictments, including genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide, AllAfrica.com reports. “We definitely commend this arrest, especially as we are going into the difficult days of commemorating our dear ones that were killed in cold blood during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi,” John Bosco Siboyintore, the acting head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit, said.

Auschwitz Institute instructor Sheri Rosenberg published an article in the Gulf Times of Qatar titled “The responsibility to protect: Libya and beyond.” Rosenberg, who is director of Cardozo Law School’s Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and also its Human Rights and Genocide Clinic, writes that “it is unquestionably positive that the world powers have reacted to protect innocent lives, as the reality and threat of massacres in Libya was apparent to all,” but she is careful to emphasize that “the use of military force is a last resort and not the poster child of the evolving international policy doctrine known as the Responsibility to Protect.”

Nicholas Kristof, writing about the Libyan intervention in the New York Times, argued that the world must not forget that “Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.” Kristof writes that it has been rare for major powers to intervene militarily for predominantly humanitarian reasons, but he hopes the Libya intervention will give more teeth to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

A humanitarian crisis is still looming in the Ivory Coast, the BBC reports. Continued fighting has resulted in necessary supplies decreasing for many civilians. Reuters Africa reported that after France’s intervention last week, Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to step down as president despite having lost elections last year, has continued to negotiate his possible departure.

Photo: therealtimer.com

The intervention in Libya shows a shift in thinking about mass atrocities, Michael Abramowitz writes in the Washington Post. Abramowitz, director of the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, argues that the decision to act in Libya followed reflection in the international community about the failures to prevent genocide in the 1990s in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Over the past 20 years, new policies and mechanisms by civil society and governments that strengthen our collective capacity to prevent and respond to genocide include the creation of an office of genocide prevention.”

Rwanda applauded the life sentence given to former senior government official Jean-Baptiste Gatete for his involvement in mass killings during the 1994 genocide, Agence France-Presse reported. “He got a deserved sentence. Gatete is the symbol of death and destruction in this country. In eastern Rwanda he is known as the Butcher of Murambi,” Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugaram said.

Amnesty International has warned of a “human rights catastrophe” in Côte d’Ivoire. “Côte d’Ivoire is facing a major humanitarian crisis. The parties to the conflict must immediately stop targeting the civilian population,” said Salvatore Saguès. “The international community must take immediate steps to protect the civilian population.” Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara reached the commercial capital of Abidjan raising the alarm.

Photo: Amnesty International

Khmer Rouge war criminal Kaing Guek Eav (Duch) appealed his 35-year sentence in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the New York Times reported. During his trial Duch admitted to overseeing the torture and killing of 16,000 people as the Khmer Rouge chief prison warden. He is the  is the only person so far to be tried by the UN-backed tribunal set up to investigate and prosecute officials of the Khmer Rouge.

The United Nations Human Rights Council’s decisive action on Iran and Côte d’Ivoire sends a clear message that ongoing violations in those countries should end, according to Human Rights Watch. The decision to appoint an expert to investigate rights abuses in Iran was the first time the Council created a post dedicated to a particular country since the Council was created in 2005. The Council also took strong action to address the human rights crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. “The steady crescendo of abuses including targeted killings, enforced disappearances, politically motivated rape, and indiscriminate shelling continues to claim many lives,” said Julie de Rivero of Human Rights Watch. “Establishing a Commission of Inquiry for Côte d’Ivoire sends a strong signal to all parties to the conflict that they will be held accountable for their actions.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a message marking the 17th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, observed on April 7. Said Ban: “The recognition of the collective failure of the international community to come to the assistance of the people of Rwanda, and to shield the victims of the wars in the Balkans, led to the endorsement by the 2005 World Summit of the responsibility to protect.” The Secretary-General also stated that “preventing genocide is a collective and individual responsibility.”

Photo: un.org

The Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies has released a paper titled “Applying the Ethnic Rebellion Model and Risk Assessment Model to Conflict in Myanmar,” by Lina Gong, Manpavan Kaur, and Alistair D.B. Cook. The paper discusses the use of early warning models in genocide prevention and applies two accepted models to the case study of Myanmar. The application of the models shows that “the internal ethnic conflict is likely to continue and there exist trigger or accelerating factors for genocide to occur.” The report also assesses the effectiveness of the early warning models which need to be addressed in order to make them more effective in conflict and genocide assessments.

Photo: Genocide Intervention

 

The Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies has released a paper titled “Applying the Ethnic Rebellion Model and Risk Assessment Model to Conflict in Myanmar,” by Lina Gong, Manpavan Kaur, and Alistair D.B. Cook. The paper discusses the use of early warning models in genocide prevention and applies two accepted models to the case study of Myanmar. The application of the models shows that “the internal ethnic conflict is likely to continue and there exist trigger or accelerating factors for genocide to occur.” The report also assesses the effectiveness of the early warning models which need to be addressed in order to make them  more effective in conflict and genocide assessments.

Photo: Genocide Intervention

The International Crisis Group has released an open letter to the UN Security Council on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.  The letter expressed the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the country and urges the Council to “swift action to halt the fighting and prevent ethnic cleansing and other mass atrocity crimes”.

The United States Holocaust Museum has released a paper on speaking out against rape as a weapon of genocide. The paper noted that for the first time ever, following the conflict in Rwanda, an international tribunal handed down a judgement for genocide including the crime of rape. “Perpetrators assault women as a way to assault the past, present, and future of targeted groups.”  Women must continue for inclusion of a gendered perspective into efforts to respond to conflict, particularly genocidal violence the paper stated.

Ernest Gakwaya, alias Camarade, and Emmanuel Nkunzuwimye, two Rwandan men accused of taking part in the 1994 Genocide have been arrested in Belgium reports AllAfrica.com.

The Libya conflict has reopened the R2P debate on Burma, Irrawaddy.com reports.  Burma is ravaged with geopolitical problems and a mounting humanitarian crisis.  France and US warships with humanitarian aid were rejected from landing in Burma in 2008 by the Burmese regime.  At the time, many in the UN argued that a legitimate case of intervention under R2P was justified as the regime’s refusal fell under the loosely worded R2P mandate.  More recently though, in early 2010, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana reported to the UN’s Human Rights Commission and called for a Commission of Inquiry into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

Photo: Guardian

Victims of Europe’s last remaining communist leader, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, are preparing to sue him for crimes against humanity, including persecution, illegal detention, and torture, the Epoch Times reported. Proceedings were initiated after last December’s presidential elections, during which hundreds of protesters were arrested and abused, including presidential candidates, human rights activists, and journalists. “The lawsuit contains charges of torture, abduction, kidnapping, and murder.”

The legal implications of Libya’s no-fly zone have been featured regularly in recent media. In Foreign Policy Journal, David Hillstrom published an article, titled “The Libyan No Fly Zone: Responsibility to Protect and International Law,” discussing whether the international community’s actions are legal, given UN approval, the stance taken by the Arab League, and the participation of token Arab states in the coalition. Meanwhile Foreign Affairs published an article by Michael W. Doyle, “The Folly of Protection: Is Intervention Against Gaddafi’s Regime Legal and Legitimate?” assessing the notion of the Responsibility to Protect and the legal and ethical dilemmas that will plague policymakers in weeks and months ahead.

Disputes along the North and South Sudan border continue. On March 16, the UN secretary-general’s advisers on genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect “expressed grave concern at the increase of tensions in Abyei” between Missireya Arabs and Ngok-Dinka ethnic groups. The statement underscored the responsibility that both governments share in ensuring that civilians are protected. This responsibility, the two advisers emphasized, extends to “all person in Abyei, irrespective of their ethnicity or religion.”

Photo: Enough Project

The UN Security Council passed resolution 1973, authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya from pro-Gaddafi forces. The BBC released an article analyzing the text of the resolution. The overriding aim of the resolution is to halt the fighting and implement a cease-fire. The resolution further creates a no-fly zone over Libya.

In recognition of the resolution, Libya’s foreign minister held a press conference in which he stated: “Libya has decided an immediate cease-fire, and the stoppage of all military operations.” But many countries are skeptical, as reported by the Telegraph and the Associated Press. American Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States must see “action on the ground,” not just words concerning the cease-fire.

Officials announced that the leaders of Britain, France and Germany, and the chiefs of the United Nations and Arab League, would join other world leaders for an emergency summit on Libya in Paris this Saturday.

Disputes between ethnic groups in the Sudanese border region of Abyei could escalate to full-scale conflict, UN genocide officials warned on Friday. UPI.com reported that clashes between the groups have left more than 100 people dead and displaced at least 20,000 people.

Human Rights Watch stated that the three-month campaign of organized violence by security forces under the control of Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast may amount to crimes against humanity: “A new Human Rights Watch investigation in Abidjan indicates that the pro-Gbagbo forces are increasingly targeting immigrants from neighboring West African countries in their relentless attacks against real and perceived supporters of Alassane Ouattara, who is internationally recognized as having won the November 2010 presidential election.” The Associated Foreign Press reported that Gbagbo said on Friday he would open talks on the situation with his rival Ouattara.

Photo: Human Rights Watch

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