04 March 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


Can this woman open a new chapter for human rights in Tunisia?
The Guardian, 04 Mar 2019

When Sihem Bensedrine, the head of Tunisia’s truth and dignity commission, tried to give a speech in parliament last year, she was drowned out. Politicians banged on the wooden desks and yelled, some standing up to hurl accusations and gesture in her direction. As the drumbeats got louder, Bensedrine left the chamber. The MPs applauded.
Labelled a “respectable campaigner to some and intriguing opportunist to others” by news outlet Jeune Afrique, Bensedrine was recently blamed for the “failure of transitional justice” by the Tunisian prime minister, Youssef Chahed.

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Here’s how perpetrators of crimes in Syria are being prosecuted
The Washington Post, 04 Mar 2019

Eight years after the onset of the civil war, international justice has done little for Syria, but Syria has done a lot for international justice. Strategic accountability efforts are yielding important results. Sweden, France, and especially Germany are at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting Syrian perpetrators of international crimes. These states are flexing their ability to use universal jurisdiction, whereby perpetrators of international crimes can be prosecuted in these states irrespective of their citizenship or where their crimes were committed.

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Family of dual US-Saudi citizen being held in Saudi Arabia believes he has been tortured
CNN, 04 Mar 2019

A dual US-Saudi citizen being held in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Walid Fitaihi, reportedly has been beaten, tortured and jailed, a source familiar with the situation tells CNN, confirming the belief by the doctor's family. The US State Department confirmed Fitaihi's detainment in Saudi Arabia and that it has raised Fitaihi's case with the Saudi government. Fitaihi is a physician who came to the US in the 1980s for school and then worked here.

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Assad wants to be back in the Arab fold. The U.S. stands in the way.
The Washington Post, 03 Mar 2019

Efforts by Arab states to reengage with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, now that he has prevailed in the war, have been put on hold after a push by the United States to deter its allies from renewing ties with his government.
A decision late last year by the United Arab Emirates to reopen its embassy in Damascus and overtures being made to Assad by other Arab states gave rise to expectations that he would soon be welcomed back into the Arab fold, eight years after the rebellion against his rule isolated him from most Arab countries.

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