International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Columbia’s Peace Deal Didn’t Bring Peace

Columbia’s peace deal with the country’s largest rebel group, FARC, allowed the government’s program for aerial ratification of the Cocoa plant to continue uninterrupted.

In 2014, the U.S. halted its sponsorship of Columbia’s original program, which used a chemical called glyphosate, a herbicide that would destroy the coca plants used to make cocaine, but also was known to cause cancer. Since the U.S. withdrew support, the number of plantation’s growing the plants exploded, with over 358,000 acres of farmland harvesting the plant used to make cocaine.

Columbian authorities have warned coca farmers in guerrilla held areas that if they do not stop producing the plant, they will re-expose them to the dangerous chemical through ariel spray.

What We Can Learn About ISIS From The LRA

Although ISIS has been seemingly successful in recruiting willing and enthusiastic members to fight for their cause. However, what is addressed far less are members who have been coerced into militant action on behalf of ISIS. Is it possible to turn the unwilling into willing members?  Eleanor Beaver  uses Joseph Kony and the LRA as an example, focusing on their kidnapping and coercion of children into extremists.

Kony created a “religious universe”. His political movement required abductees to fill the ranks and to carry out his heinous demands. Survival of the abductees was nearly impossible unless they were to immerse themselves in Kony’s ideology. A study showed that 44 percent of former abductees remember expressing loyalty to Kony at the time.

ISIS has had to take similar measures. They have no allies in the muslim world, and their actions are  hard to rationalize using even jihadist methodology. Like the LRA, ISIS “shatters taboos”, using rebellion against cultural fears and norms as a way to prove their righteousness and authority.

Once inside, abductees of both the LRA and ISIS were/are taught and held to the strict laws of the organization. Those who disobeyed orders or broke laws were condemned with harsh punishment.

For captives, the rules become “lifelines”. They offer order in chaos, and obeying them offers safety from violence. By using apocalyptic rhetoric, organizations like the LRA and ISIS can coerce their captives to be militants, claiming that the only way to be safe and “pure” is to follow their ideology.

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ISIL Child Soldiers

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LRA Child Soldiers

The US Knew Helping Saudis in Yemen Could be a War Crime

After another billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia was approved this past week, “renewed scrutiny” of a similar deal made last year has surfaced. On Monday, Reuters published a report on last year’s deal made by the Obama administration, “despite warnings that it could implicate the US in war crimes.

On Saturday, Saudi led airstrikes in Yemen killed at least 140 people. This “prompted” a review by the US on its support of the Saudi Arabia’s efforts. US National Security Council spokesman stated regarding Saturday’s airstrikes that US support of Saudi Arabia is not a ‘blank check’. The US did press Saudis to limit civilian damage and “provided lists” of areas not to bomb. However, government lawyers “stopped short of concluding” that US support would fund Saudi war crimes because it could open the US to accountability.

A New Technology Helps Germany identify the last of the Nazi War Criminals

A new technology developed by german police and prosecutors is helping to identify and prosecute the last living Nazi war criminals. A 3D model of a  concentration camp is viewed by those in question through virtual reality goggles. “Legally, the question is about intent: must a suspect have known that people were being taken to the gas chambers or shot? This model is a very good and very modern tool for the investigation because it can help answer that question,” says Jens Rommel, who is head of the federal office that is investigating Nazi war crimes. Rommel and his team are investigating “a few dozen” suspects, and believes that many are alive and could go to court if their case is strong enough. Over the past two years, Rommel has used the 3D goggles to put together cases against Johann Breyer, who is accused for the killing of 216,000 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz, and against Reinhold Hanning, who was convicted in June for 170,000 murders in Auschwitz. This technology is another effort by the German justice system to recognize the atrocities of the Holocaust.

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Ralf Baker of the Bavarian Police with the virtual reality glasses and a picture of the 3D model.

Obama Faces Decision Regarding Victims of 9/11 and Saudi Arabia

On Friday, September 26th President Obama faces an important decision regarding the families of 9/11 victims. A bill, passed earlier this month by the senate and the house of representatives, would allow the families of victims to sue Saudi Arabia for the attacks. If President Obama does not veto the bill, it will become law by midnight September 26th.

Obama has been hesitant about the legislation, and is expected to Veto the bill. Passing the bill could “the bill would open up the US and its diplomats to legal retaliation around the globe”, and could worsen relations between the US and Saudi Arabia, a strong US ally in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell of US debt holdings worth billions of dollars if the US were to pass the bill. Many efforts were made the past summer by lobbyists for Saudi Arabia to gain support for vetoing the bill.

If President Obama is to veto the bill, Congress could over ride the bill with a two thirds majority vote.

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President Obama with Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

 

 

Human Rights Watch Reports on Unaccompanied Minors Detained in Greece

Between June 27th and July 6th 2016, Human Rights Watch commissioned a report regarding unaccompanied minors in Northern Greece. In the first 7 months of 2016, over 3,300 unaccompanied minors, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, were registered by Greek Authorities.

Greece is largely unprepared for the substantial flow of migrants that have crossed its borders over the past year, and lacks a comprehensive system for child asylum seekers. However, this does not excuse the Greece’s abuse and neglect of unaccompanied minors

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Moria Detention Center, Greece

within the current system. In the system currently at use, all unaccompanied minors experience prolonged arbitrary detention. Detention centers are police operated,  and children sleep in cells. Extensive reports of  abuse include unsanitary conditions, abusive treatment, and a lack of critical care and services; including medical treatment, phycological counseling, legal aid, interviews and explanations in a language that is understood by the child, education and recreation, and awareness and familiarization with state assigned legal guardian. Despite  violating international and national law regarding separation of minors and adults, children have been reported being forcibly held in the same cells as adults, heightening the risk to minors of sexual violence and general abuse.

Under International and Greek Law, detention of unaccompanied minors is an option only in exceptional cases. Greek authorities have blamed their violations of the law, claiming arbitrary detention is for temporary protection within the child’s best interest. Prolonged detention has become practice, on average, children are being held for one to two months within detention centers, striped of their basic rights, and prone to many forms of abuse.

Human Rights Watch has called on Greece to change their protocol, stating that “unaccompanied minors should not be detained based solely on immigrant status.” Detention should only occur in exceptional circumstances, and for a far shorter maximum period of time then is and has been in practice. HRW demands that Greece invest immediately in sufficient and sustainable alternatives to detaining unaccompanied minors. HRW suggest that Greece ends the practice of automatic detention and assess each case individually based on need. HRW also states that Greece needs to urgently improve conditions within detention centers to include interpretation services, information about purpose of detention for minors, counseling, legal aid, and education and recreation materials. HRW calls for an alternative to detention, and that all children are familiarized with their given legal guardian. HRW calls on the EU and European Commission to make the asylum process for unaccompanied minors more urgent, and to speed up processes regarding family reunification. HRW calls on the EU to allocate sufficient funding to NGO’s working specifically with displaced children, urgently support reunification, and amend a more intensive emergency relocation plan for unaccompanied minors.


 

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Two of my good friends, both unaccompanied minors posing as adults, who would assist our NGO with construction every day.

This past summer I spent 8 weeks in Thessaloniki, Greece working in Syrian refugee camps. During that time, I met many unaccompanied minors. In many cases, I heard stories of families that could not afford to leave their country together, and had a “Sophie’s Choice” type of situation; they would have to choose one person to go. Often times, they would send their oldest son, or the child who could speak english.

While some were young children who had traveled with friends or relatives, many  were boys between the ages of 15 and 18 who were posing as adults. They would do so to avoid detention centers, the exploitation of unaccompanied minors, and in hopes of maintaining their dignity and little freedom they had left. They would often times group up with other unaccompanied minors doing the same thing, to share a tent, food, and for general companionship and protection. Instability, the effects of trauma, and depression were particularly high within these groups. These boys are especially vulnerable to human trafficking, police brutality, and to physiological/emotional issues.

Cluster Munition Coalition Convenes for 6th Annual Meeting

On September 7th, the 6th annual meeting of the Cluster Munition Coalition convened in Geneva.  Human Rights Watchcmc-syria-graphics2, a co- founder of the international Cluster Munition Coalition published a report on the convention the following day. The 55 states in attendance condemned the use of cluster munition in Syria. Reports of at least eight cluster munition attacks came out during the three day time period in which the meeting was held. Civilians, including children, were victims of the attacks.

The 55 states in attendance devised  a declaration that would “condemn the use (of cluster munition) by any actor.” The 119 states have signed the treaty, and 100 have ratified it. The United States is not one of them. During the three day convention, President Obama visited Laos. He announced that the US would supply $90 million to assist in clearance efforts of cluster munition in Laos over the next three years. On August 30th the last US producer of cluster munitions, Texron Systems, ended its production of the weapons. Although the president did not confirm the end of US production and storing of cluster munitions, this decision “clears the path” for the US to halt further engagements with the weapon.

The Cluster Munition Conventions on September 5th “outlined key elements” for any legislation regarding the treaty. Although only 27 states have succeeded in “national implementation measures, including legislation, to carry out provisions of the treaty”, other advancements, including the US’s commitment to Laos, exemplify the growing influence of the Cluster Munition Coalition.