16 Jan 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


Decades On, Kosovo Massacre Village Awaits Justice
Balkan Insight, 15 Jan 2019

Bilall Avdiu takes his steps gently in a narrow lane of the Kosovo village of Reçak/Racak, revisiting the place where Serbian forces caught and nearly killed him two decades ago. The 72-year-old miraculously escaped death in a crowd of others on January 15, 1999, when Serbian forces entered the village and killed 44 of his neighbours.

“I and most of my neighbours had gathered on a farm. There were around 30 of us,” he began.

“When Serbian forces arrived, they took us outside, laid us down on the earth and started beating us. We heard some of them on the radio, saying: ‘Where should we kill them, here or up in the hill?’” Avdiu recalled.

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Laurent Gbagbo case: Ivory Coast leader's acquittal rattles ICC foundations
BBC News, 15 Jan 2019

As the first former head of state to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Laurent Gbagbo was a glittering trophy for a prosecution team with a glaringly sparse cabinet.

For an institution dreamt up to hold the world's most powerful to account, the former Ivorian president's extradition to The Hague was a signal the ICC was up to the challenge. Great expectations make the failure even more bitter for a prosecution still reeling from the dramatic collapse of the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former DR Congo vice-president whose conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity was overturned.

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The Rohingyas' Plight: What Options Under International Law?
The Diplomat, 15 Jan 2019

The plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, has attracted widespread international attention. However, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has failed to take action, hindered by Russia’s and China’s use of their veto powers. The UNSC’s inaction has not stopped other international actors from stepping up. Recently, the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber gave the green light for further examination into the atrocities suffered by the Rohingya, affirming the ICC’s plausible basis for jurisdiction despite Myanmar not being a party to the Rome statute. The ICC Prosecutor has launched a preliminary examination, and actively invited civil society and victims to participate in the process.

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Kosovo court facing tough challenges in search for justice
ABC News, 14 Jan 2019

Two decades after Kosovo's 1998-99 war of independence, a court in The Hague has summoned a small group of former freedom fighters for questioning about their roles in the bloody campaign.

The orders to appear in The Hague haven't been confirmed by the prosecutor preparing cases for the court, who declined to be interviewed, but they have been widely publicized in Kosovo, where the court is viewed with suspicion by many.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, himself twice acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a U.N. court, met Sunday with two fellow former fighters preparing to face questioning in The Hague.

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Improving Prospects for a Peaceful Transition in Sudan
Crisis Group, 14 Jan 2019

What’s new? Protests across Sudan flared up as the government cut a vital bread subsidy. Economic grievances are fuelling demands for political change, with protesters calling on President Omar al-Bashir, in power since 1989, to resign. Authorities have responded with violence, killing dozens and arresting many more.

Why does it matter? In the past, President Bashir and his government have been able to ride out popular demonstrations. But these newest protests, demanding Bashir resign because of economic mismanagement and corruption, have spread to loyalist regions and coincide with rising discontent in his party.

What should be done? Foreign governments influential in Khartoum should continue to publicly discourage violence against demonstrators, with Western powers signalling that future aid and, in the U.S.’s case, sanctions relief are at stake. They should seek to improve prospects for a peaceful transition by creating incentives for Bashir to step down.

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Hundreds rally in Sudan’s capital for al-Bashir’s ouster
The Washington Post, 13 Jan 2019

Hundreds of protesters marched in and around Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Sunday, the fourth week of unrest that began over skyrocketing prices and a failing economy but which now calls for the ouster of autocratic President Omar al-Bashir.

Images circulated by activists online showed marches taking place in Khartoum and its northern twin cities of Omdurman and Bahary, despite security forces firing tear gas at the crowds. One group, hundreds strong, appeared to have reached Bahary’s main train station.

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