International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: crimes against humanity

President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs

rodrigo-duterte-philippine-national-police-getty-640x480

President Duterte of the Philippines has continued his war on drugs by officially banning smoking cigarettes in all public locations or face a fine in violation. Now this doesn’t seem that bad, but Duterte has only been in office since June 30, 2016 and already over 3,500 people have been killed. This is because Duterte is waging war on both drug dealer and drug users. In September, Duterte gave a speck likening himself to Hitler, and saying “Hitler massacred three million Jews … there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Duterte has been working out eliminate all drug dealers and user in the Philippines and has given his support to the civilian population to kill the addict and drug dealers themselves, with the promise they will not be prosecuted. Many have come out to criticize Duterte for his remarks, Ronald Lauder, the World Jewish Congress President and Phil Robertson who is the Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch. Duterte is entering dangerous grounds,which could get him tried by the ICC, for a president just past his first 100 days.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/30/rodrigo-duterte-vows-to-kill-3-million-drug-addicts-and-likens-himself-to-hitler

Crimes Against Humanity in Burundi

France International News released an article explaining that Burundi has committed crimes against humanity, and could potentially result in genocide in the near future. President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi is going to be seeking a third term in office, which is the main reason for the recent increase in violence. Experts authorized by the UN human rights office have been examining the crimes being committed in Burundi that are mainly done by state officials protecting the current regime. The crimes committed include the torture, killing, sexual abuse, and disappearance of thousands.  A major concern of the experts, is that this increasing violence will escalate to an ethnic war due to the history of Burundi and its surrounding nations.  International intervention and aid is being called upon in order to prevent another mass genocide. 

burundi-955px

The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) is warning the international community that surrounding states are struggling to appropriately accept the some 300,000 refugees that have fled from Burundi. The surrounding countries need aid in providing proper shelter, education, and health care for the refugees, many of which are children and women.  The count of 300,000 refugees has just recently been surpassed and will continue to rise if nothing is done to resolve the tension in Burundi. The UN Human Rights Council, which Burundi serves on, is questioning whether or not Burundi should remain an active member. 

burundi-refugees

Banality of Evil

“The Banality of Evil”

I remember first hearing this phrase and thinking how can evil be ordinary? It gives many great comfort to think that people are born inherently evil, that your neighbor, friend, colleague, would never be this caricature of evil. But that is not the truth, and the truth is a terrifying reality. Normal people can do more damage than the person holding the gun, The Nazis proved that. The bureaucratic officials of Nazi German were a well-oiled machine where one signature at the bottom of an insignificant piece of paper could send thousands to their death. It was so easy to blame the figurehead of the movement, Hitler, but he never pulled a trigger (except on himself). The power behind Hitler was the fire he ignited with his rhetoric and promises, and to a severely economically depressed Germany, his words sounded like salvation. People still question why anyone would follow a man like Hitler, but they didn’t follow the man, they followed the promise of a future that Hitler promised. Hitler made the masses proud to call themselves German once again after humiliation in WWI. People could have felt they had an obligation to the man who raised their country back up, they could have whole-heartedly believed in his rhetoric. The important thing to remember is that without the support of the masses, the ordinary people, no dictatorship or genocide would ever happen; they would have no army, no followers to fill their ranks, no support for their cause.

The Role of Women in Militant Groups

The world is very familiar with the brutality and ruthlessness that ISIS reserves for enemies and non-believers. Groups like ISIS and Boko Haram are able to recruit new members using methods of medieval cruelty through current technology. Men have very clear roles in their organizations. Unclear are the roles and recruitment of women. Unlike al Qaeda, ISIS prioritizes the establishment of caliphate and a society. Integral to this creation is the presence of women. While jihadi chiefs have a clear strategy for dealing with male enemy (kill them), women victims are often captured and forced to join the organization to build the caliphate. Often women are sent to slave warehouses and lined up and displayed for ISIS fighters to choose among them; the woman’s future either marriage or sex slavery. Human Rights Watch found “a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces,” which is considered war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity. These methods are ISIS’ way of actively building social structures, but unfortunately for the women, many of whom have seen horrors, these social structures are the future of a society not worth living in.

Unfortunately with the existence of ISIS, there will be the existence of abuse of women because of the values that ISIS holds. The only way to protect these women will be to end ISIS, a difficult feat.

To read more about this issue click here and here.

Kenyatta apologizes to Kenyan public for past wrongs

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya delivered an official apology to the Kenyan public during a state of the nation address this past Thursday. He apologized for the wrongs committed by his own government and of governments past, mentioning the post-election violence of 2007-2008, as well as the 1984 massacre of hundreds of Kenayan-Somalis.

The International Criminal Court just recently dropped charges against President Kenyatta for warcrimes committed during the period of post-election violence because of a lack of evidence and cooperation by the Kenyan government. But, the report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Kenya “recommended that the president apologize to the public within six month after receiving it. Kenyatta received the report on May 2013”.

During his speech, Kenyatta announced that he had requested that the Ministry of Finance set up a fund of $110 million to be used throughout the next three years for “restorative justice”. President Kenyatta has yet to announce what exactly he plans for the fund to do or accomplish, but it is his first public apology for the crimes committed following his election.

The apology earned Kenyatta a standing ovation from the members of Kenyan parliament, although the reactions of the public have been mixed. Some do not accept the apology at all, while the majority tend to feel that it is “better late than never”. Apologies can provide the acknowledgement of past atrocities that is important for rehabilitation of a society and victims, but it will be interesting to see the true impact of Kenyatta’s statements, if any at all.

Impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

2118453159The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been a zone of political upheaval and armed conflict for the better part of the last twenty years, and as such its population has been subjected to blatant instances of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as indications of genocide. Regardless of recent relative stabilization in the country, two provinces continue to struggle with atrocity. Thousands of people are continually displaced from the two Kivu provinces, and civilians are being raped and massacred while their homes and schools are destroyed and looted. The Mai Mai militia has perpetrated many of the rapes, killings, mutilations, and abductions in the past two decades of conflict, and on January 6, of 2011, a Congolese arrest warrant was issued for the the militia’s leader, Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka.

In a blatant show of impunity, Sheka openly traveled to Goma in July of 2011 for health treatments and ran for parliament in November, conducting his campaign across the country’s Walikale territory. There are suspicions that Sheka, along with other war criminals in the region, are kept abreast of all military operations, participate in the exploitation of regions to trade their resources, and receive arms and ammunition when needed.

Typically, this would be a case for the International Criminal Court, especially when we consider the country’s signing and ratification of the Rome Statute in 2002. Unfortunately, the legislation of the ICC was never successfully implemented in the DRC due to the neglect of the transitional government in power at the time and the tabling of subsequent proposals. Instead, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide have been adjudicated by a system of military tribunals since 2002. In response to concerns for the legal rights of those involved in the tribunals, the DRC gave the 12 provincial Courts of Appeals the power to hear cases concerning atrocities in 2013. The ICC is also working to utilize temporary legislation in the country to adjudicate the crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The DRC has seen little progress in the pursuit for justice within the country. Proposals for specialized tribunals like those established in Cambodia have been abandoned, and the government has largely ignored the crimes committed before the signing of the Rome Statute. All of this demonstrates that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is struggling with a significant impunity problem, and the absence of justice will continue until national and international leaders shift their focus to prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide.

I wonder how the justice system in the DRC would evolve were the ICC to reach out to the current government regarding the lack of permanent national legislation supporting the charter of the court, or if stronger powers in the international community were to voice support for the establishment of specialized tribunals to address acts of atrocity and to adjudicate perpetrators of such crimes. Impunity is a national problem that is perpetuated throughout all levels of the government, and it will likely take international voices to change the landscape of justice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Curious Case of Dominic Ongwen: Child Soldier turned LRA Leader

As we discussed in class, Dominic Ongwen was abducted at age 10, and forced to become a child soldier in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. As the global Kony 2012 campaign asserted, Kony’s LRA thrived off of the kidnapping and manipulation of many young children—forcing hundreds of impressionable youths to commit heinous crimes on behalf of Kony, who is portrayed as “a godly person” (Invisible Children). As many of these blog posts contend, Ongwen’s adult actions (which he will be tried for by the ICC) consist of seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, to echo the sentiments of many of my classmates, “Ongwen is the first person to be tried for the very same crimes for which he was a victim,” introducing an inherent complexity to his case (ckeefe2016’s post). Will it be possible for the ICC to rectify that fact moving forward, and to determine a truly appropriate sentence for him? Will they be able to determine if Ongwen was really responsible for his actions, or if his extensive childhood trauma as a child soldier has forced him to this terrible fate?

Today, data has been collected from “87 war-torn counties,” leading to an estimate that “300,000-500,000 children are involved with fighting forces as child soldiers” (Harvard School of Public Health). These children are forced to commit unspeakable atrocities from age 7, and are even sometimes “injected with drugs to curb their inhibitions against committing violence” (Harvard School of Public Health). According to the Irish Forum for Global Health, “even when being compared to other children that lived through civil wars and have witnessed the brutality of war, former child soldiers suffer from markedly higher levels of psychological disorders” (IFGH). All three of the articles cited above assert that it is critical for child soldiers in the post-conflict environment to receive treatment, in order to overcome the enduring scars from their traumatic experiences. Perhaps the most problematic discrepancy in these international justice cases is the divide between former child soldiers that receive amnesty and mental health care, while others are prosecuted for their crimes. Ongwen is undoubtedly responsible for countless heinous atrocities he committed as Kony’s right-hand man, and should rightfully be punished to the fullest extent of the law for his wrongdoings. However, it becomes troublesome to think that he may have received amnesty if he had not been manipulated from such an early age. Further, this case poses many interesting problems due to the difficulty of assessing the state of mind of Ongwen when he committed these unspeakable atrocities and due to the lack of relevant jurisprudence for the ICC.

The Nuremberg Precedent

This article has a thorough discussion of the Nuremberg Trials and their use – or rather failure to use – international law.  I think it is important to not only appreciate the trials as a crucial first step in the establishment of individual accountability and the move towards international justice, but also to understand the ways in which the trials fell short.  The decision to hold a trial at all was incredibly important in setting a precedent of retribution rather than revenge, but it should also be noted that there were several areas in which the trials did not conform to legal norms.  “Crimes against humanity,” one of the changes, was not defined until after the war.  There is absolutely no doubt that such crimes were committed, that people should be held responsible for those crimes, but use of retroactive law goes against legal and democratic principles dating back to the Magna Carta.  Justice requires a fair trial that conforms to legal standards, but the use of ex post facto laws is complex in the case of the Nuremberg trials.  If an atrocity is so extreme that international law has not officially defined it, should it not be punished?  Absolutely not.  There seems to be no choice but to invoke a naturalist use of international law, defining the law by what’s inherently right and wrong rather than by what’s codified.  However, one must also consider that one of the most important purposes and goals of prosecution is deterrence of future crimes.  If perpetrators are not aware that their actions are in direct violation of an international law, that they can and will be prosecuted, there is no chance for their crimes to be deterred.  As the move from impunity towards prosecution and justice is still very new, there is much potential for progress to be made, and understanding the complexity of the past will clarify the best path for the future.

Impunity for Crimes of Sexual Violence

Throughout this course, there have been many discussions about the different systems of justice and their effectiveness in establishing peace and reconciliation in post-conflict societies: the ICC, local judiciaries, hybrid courts, and even truth commissions. However, in many case studies, one of the main criticisms of these institutions is that they fully acknowledge crimes of sexual violence in their respective justice, peace and/or reconciliation proceedings.

In the case of the ICC, sexual violence is considered a crime against humanity based upon Article VII of the Rome Statute. On March 7, the ICC convicted Germain Katanga to four counts of war crimes and one crime against humanity for his part in killing more than 200 people in a province of north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.However, Katanga has been cleared of charges for sexual violence and the use of child soldiers. The initial ICC investigations found that women who survived the 2003 massacre had been raped or kept as sex slaves but they did not have sufficient evidence to convict Katanga of carrying out these crimes. While it is clear that the ICC investigates crimes of sexual violence, they still have yet to convict any criminals of such crimes. It is possible that Katanga’s case mirrors that of Thomas Lubanga, who was only convicted of conscription of child soldiers. Despite evidence suggesting involvement in other atrocities, the ICC decided to move forward with their prosecution based on evidence that was already available to them. Even if this is true for Katanga’s case, however, should the ICC be criticized for not taking the additional time to collect further evidence that would ensure Katanga was held accountable for crimes of sexual violence?

In addition to analyzing the ICC, it is also important to discuss how sexual violence has been acknowledged domestically, particularly in Rwanda’s Gacaca courts. The HRW’s report on the ‘Barriers to Justice for Sexual Crimes’ states that 2001 Gacaca law discouraged women from testifying about their experience of sexual violence due to the social and procedural obstacles they faced in reporting the crime, the public nature of the Gacaca process, and the lack of security and confidentiality protections for witnesses. This causes additional barriers for investigators considering the hesitation of witnesses to report these crimes and difficulties in providing sufficient evidence to ‘prove’ that a victim was subject to sexual violence when there is an absence of witnesses to ‘validate’ the victim’s testimony. Furthermore, there are inconsistent verdicts of trials involving sexual violence due to lack of definition of rape or sexual torture under Rwandan laws. Genocide judgments applied the terms “rape” and “sexual torture” inconsistently, and none of the post-1994 judgments invoke a definition of rape or defilement.

What is particularly surprising about the lack of convictions for sexual crimes in Gacaca courts is the fact that the ICTR’s judgement in Prosecutor v. Akayesu held Jean-Paul Akayesu accountable for prohibiting rape as a part of a systematic attack against a civilian population, essentially establishing that sexual violence can be punishable as a crime against humanity. These differences are likely based on the lack of capacity for Gacaca courts, in addition to the stigmatization of rape culture in Rwanda and the public nature of the Gacaca process. However, in light of the Rwandan Senate’s report on the ICTR stating that it “did not include Rwandan prosecutors and judges despite having the requisite qualifications”, one must also question the stigma of sexual violence in Rwandan culture in comparison to justice institutions that are perhaps forcing particular principles of justice to initiate change.

While this is only one case study, it is important to note that other domestic proceedings have largely ignored crimes of sexual violence including South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Historical Clarification Commission of Guatemala. There is no doubt that obstacles to reporting, investigating, and proving crimes of sexual violence in courts are a result of the lack of capacity and resources of courts and commissions to thoroughly address such cases (especially considering the gravity and breadth of atrocities that have occurred). However, it is evident that there are sociocultural barriers that are perpetuating the impunity of sexual violence as a crime against humanity. If such impunity continues in these conflicts in both domestic and international peace/justice institutions, to what extent is reconciliation and justice actually achieved for victims?

Can the ICC Prosecute Boko Haram?

August of last year Boko Haram, a terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, made headlines when the International Criminal Court (ICC) reported that there was reason to believe that the group had committed crimes against humanity. According to a UN News Centre article at the time, the report detailed that the group had launched systematic attacks that resulted in the death of over 1,200 Christian and Muslim civilians since July 2009. More recently, on March 2nd, Boko Haram killed at least 90 people in two separate bomb attacks in northern Nigeria. Last month, according International Christian Concern and Associated Press, Boko Haram attacked a secondary school that left approximately 100 people dead.

Boko Haram’s indiscriminate attacks towards civilians leave little room for debate; the group should be tried for crimes against humanity. As a part to the Rome Statue, the ICC has the right to investigate the group, as well as the allegations that the government has not done enough to prevent the attacks.

AP Photo/Jossy Ola

AP Photo/Jossy Ola

The challenge lies, however, in Boko Haram’s decentralized command structure which makes identifying perpetrators extremely challenging. The leadership of group lies with a 30-person Shura council, with each member overseeing the activity of a cell of militants focused on a particular geographic areas. Members outside of the Shura council are generally unaware of the operations of other cells. As such, cells can operate independently from the concerns and vulnerabilities of other cells. Details on its leadership structure are scarce and a continued source of frustration for investigators.

The secretive and cell-like structure of the organization are clearly designed to avoid compromising the organization if a member or cell is captured. The group’s focus on local grievances, its decentralized structure, and secretive nature make the possibility of prosecution, let alone peace negotiations, seem unlikely. In such a situation, the ICC will need to create new and innovative ways to gather evidence in order to indicted Boko Haram’s worst perpetrators. What may be even more concerning, however, is how dependent the ICC’s success at indicting such perpetrators may be linked to the government’s ability to end the group’s activity.

Sectarian Violence in Myanmar

rohingya

Recent attacks on the Rohingyas in the Rhakine state of Myanmar (also known as Burma) highlight many of the difficulties the country and the international community continue to face as Myanmar transitions from decades of military rule to democracy. According to recent BBC and Radio Free Asia articles, there is strong evidence that more than 40 Rohingya Muslims were killed, in two “serious” incidents of violence between January 9th and 13th. At least 40 Rohingya Muslims, including men, women, and children, were killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local police and ethnic Rakhines Buddhists. These attacks are one of many incidents of sectarian violence that have flared up since 2012.

Myanmar began its transition from 50 years of military rule to democracy in 2011, and has since then experienced rapidly evolving reforms, according to the International Centre for Transitional Justice. However, incidents as the one noted above, highlight the difficulty of holding individuals accountable for past and current human rights violations. This is especially troubling when local officials are often instigating local violence. It is a troubling dilemma for the international community; how does one hold a transitioning government accountable for human rights abuses without upsetting the progress it has made towards democracy?

Homophobia as a crime against humanity

In a historic move for international law, a US judge ruled in August that a prominent American evangelist can be tried for crimes against humanity due to his advocacy for the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill. Scott Lively has admitted to influencing the Ugandan bill as well as Russia’s more-recent “gay propaganda” law and has argued that homosexuals are to blame for Nazi atrocities. The ruling is new for international law because it defines LGBTQ individuals as a class against which discrimination and unfair treatment is not acceptable.

In his humorous take on global homophobia, Jon Stewart references the seemingly common news of homophobia coming out of Africa. Beyond the Ugandan law, Nigeria recently passed a law that makes most interactions between gay people criminal, a majority of African countries have outlawed homosexuality, and Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, recently went head-to-head with President Obama over the issue (In French, English coverage here).

While Africa’s problems with LGBTQ people haven’t won the region many allies in the West, Sall’s comments reflect a commonly-held belief that acceptance of homosexuality would be an unwelcome Western import. But if, in a few years or decade, acceptance of homosexuality became a new international norm, would leader like Sall in Senegal, Jonathan in Nigeria, and Putin in Russia be at risk of prosecution?

Kofi Annan tells Kenyans not to vote for candidates indicted by the ICC

Kofi Annan (the former UN secretary general) is urging Kenyans to not vote for politicians who are going to go on trial at the ICC. The vote is in March 2013, and two candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, are going to be tried. (Earlier blogs here mention this alliance).

Both candidates are actually running together, in hopes of showing that Kenyans are united. Kenyatta and Ruto were both indicted by the ICC of crimes against humanity in the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis. Ruto was also charged for corruption. Because of this indictment, most leaders of other governments won’t want to work with them.

Annan’s recommendation was based on the fact that a leader needs to be able to meet with other heads of state and be trusted by them. “When you elect a leader who cannot do that, who will not be free or will not be easily received, it is not in the interests of the country and I’m sure the population will understand that,” Annan said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20602232

Chemical weapons in Syria

There has been rising concern that Assad will use chemical weapons (or that they would lose control of them to other groups). The concern has been enough that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have both spoken up about. Secretary Clinton called it the “red line”. If crossed, she said that “those responsible would be held to account”.

I can’t help but be reminded of the Halabja massacre. In the Halabja massacre, several thousands of Kurdish people (mostly civilians) were killed by chemical weapons (by Iraqi government forces). Officially, this has been named an act of genocide against the Kurdish Iraqis. Even without targeting a specific group, it has still been defined as a crime against humanity by the Parliament of Canada.

Syria has said that they have chemical weapons, but said that they were there in case of invading forces. However, there is obviously still the very concerning possibility that they could be used on the Syrian people.

Concerning the situation in Syria, reports are saying that the USS Eisenhower is on the Syrian coast and ready for intervention. This intervention could happen “within days”.

This action by the United States actually follows a decision by NATO to arrange for the Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems in Turkey on the Syrian border. This is because of concern for the Turkey, as well as the northern parts of the Syrian border (these are controlled by the rebels).

Chemical weapons in Syria http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/05/us-nato-syria-clinton-idUSBRE8B40OE20121205

USS Eisenhower by Syria http://rt.com/usa/news/us-eisenhower-syria-military-369/

Halabja massacre http://www.hrw.org/reports/1991/IRAQ913.htm

ICC will try Boko Haram, if necessary

In what appears to be a very brief summary of a report leaked from the office of ICC prosecutor Bensouda, VOA News is reporting that the ICC “Suspects Boko Haram of Crimes Against Humanity.”  Assuming this is true, the ICC will be threatening Nigerian officials with intervention unless the government prosecutes the crimes that have killed thousands of Christians and Muslims.

While it is good news for the international justice front that the ICC is acknowledging these crimes and seems ready to prosecute them, if necessary, they do not yet recognize the government’s role in any killings: “the report said there is no indication that those alleged acts were part of a ‘state or organizational policy to attack the civilian population'”.  Regardless of what authority prosecutes these crimes, the trials will be closely watched for evidence of one-sided justice prevailing, as it has so many times in the past.

ICC Warrant Unsealed for Wife of Former Côte d’Ivoire President

 

This past Thursday, the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant issued for Simone Gbagbo, the wife of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. The warrant was initially issued in February of this year. She has been indicted on four counts of crimes against humanity during the post-election violence in 2010 – murder, rape, other forms of sexual violence, and other inhumane acts and persecution, specifically as an indirect co-perpetrator with her husband.

She is the first woman to be indicted by the ICC.

The arrest warrant details how President Gbagbo’s forces “targeted civilians they believed were supporters of Alassane Ouattara,” his challenger in the 2010 election. It says Simone Gbagbo was “ideologically and professionally very close to her husband” and participated in a plan to keep her husband in power. “Although not elected, Simone Gbagbo acted as an alter ego for her husband, exercising the power to make State decisions,” the ICC warrant asserts, according to a report by AllAfrica.

She is currently being detained in northern Côte d’Ivoire, facing independent counts of genocide and embezzlement. According to Agence France-Presse, the ICC has asked its Registry to prepare for her transfer to The Hague. Her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, is also facing four counts of crimes against humanity and is currently awaiting trial in The Hague as well.

Does Amnesty Have A Place In Myanmar?

With Barack Obama making the first presidential trip to Myanmar, I think think the time is right to talk about transitional justice in that country. Though Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, there have been attempts by other countries to refer its leaders to the Court for crimes against humanity (noticeably, the EU called for a referral after leaders blocked foreign aid for a cyclone that had killed over 75,000 people), and the government has been widely seen over the past several decades as extremely oppressive and insensitive to human rights. Among the many reported abuses are systematic rapes in the military, the facilitation of widespread human trafficking, and violence against political opposition, all of which contribute to the UN referring to the situation as a “systematic [violation] of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

However, as indicated in Obama’s visit, the country is currently undergoing a relatively rapid transition to democracy. Over the past two years, President Thein Sein has taken the reigns of the country and has somewhat facilitated a shift in control from the military junta to an “army-managed, quasi-democracy.” Indeed, Obama focused his visit on placing pressure on the country to carry out full democratic reforms—sanctions on most imports from Myanmar were lifted and it was announced a USAID program for Myanmar would resume its assistance. He did so while making it clear that the country is far from being a true democracy and is currently in the shadow of an abusive military regime.

Although Myanmar’s government seems to be reforming itself and facilitating the country’s own transition (before Obama’s visit, about 500 prisoners were given amnesty), how will the country reconcile with the regime’s extremely serious past abuses that amount to crimes against humanity? Of course, other countries have managed to do well while having political leaders who held ties to abusive regimes, but are trials a necessary first step? Is accountability essential for transition in Myanmar’s case? Even if there will inevitably be a push back against the past regime, is it not true that continuing with cooperation (and even amnesty) is the best way for the government to peacefully continue the transition to democracy?

Sri Lanka and the Best Transitional Justice Joke Ever

As I was researching our homework project for this week, I came across a super interesting article on Sri Lanka and Transitional Justice.

I found this blogpost particularly approachable, and it was especially helpful in supplementing the knowledge I’d just gained from watching the assigned documentary. Of course, it ends with a coarse toilet joke that is entirely inappropriate (and still embarrassingly funny), but the material isp resented in an intelligent and compelling fashion.

Perhaps the most valuable quote was the following: “The situation in Sri Lanka approximates a scenario of total victory. It appears that, despite international pressure, most believe that any justice the commission metes will be little more than victor’s justice”

The failures of the Sri Lankan truth commissions makes me wonder if the international community should intervene to ensure adequate justice is served on both sides of the ball. What do you guys think?

“UN General Assembly Condemns Syria Crackdown”

As of just a few hours ago the UN General Assembly gathered and voted  (137 to 12) on a non-binding resolution calling for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to abide by the Arab League’s plan.  I follow U.S ambassador Susan Rice on twitter and she posted the news to her twitter feed as it was happening.  The article I have attached uses a lot of the wording and phrasing we have been speaking about in class, most notably is the section which discusses the accusation of “crimes against humanity.”  The article reads, “For his part, Ban Ki-moon, the UN general-secretary, said crimes against humanity had probably been committed by Syrian forces, echoing concerns of Navi Pillay, the UN’s human rights chief, who has called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.”

I think it is important to note that Russia and China once again voted against a passing of a resolution. In the case of a general assembly vote I do not think their votes are as crippling as they have been when it comes to the Security Council, but it is important to note that they have maintained their stance. However, the article does end on a hopeful note. France has declared they are willing to try to compromise with Russia in order to pass a Security Council vote. Hopefully Russia and France can come to a compromise that still has some teeth to it in order to help the Syrian people. We have discussed in class that China has largely been following Russia in its voting when it comes to this specific case.

“UN General Assembly Condemns Syria Crackdown”