27 Feb 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on international criminal justice


Ukraine President’s associate quits in corruption probe ahead of vote
EURACTIV, 27 Feb 2019

A confectionary magnate who came to power following the 2014 Maidan protests, Poroshenko trails in the election race, according to latest polls, and critics accuse him of not doing enough to tackle entrenched corruption.In a programme on Monday, investigative journalist network Bihus.Info accused the son of Oleh Gladkovsky, deputy secretary of the Ukrainian Security and Defence Council, of involvement in smuggling military equipment from Russia and selling it to the local armed forces at inflated prices.Both the son, Ihor Gladkovsky, and father deny that. But Poroshenko’s main challengers in the 31 March presidential election race seized on the report, and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko accused him of treason for harbouring corruption in government ranks.Corruption involving the armed forces is a particularly sensitive subject in Ukraine, which is fighting a war in the east against Kremlin-backed separatists that has cost around 13,000 lives since 2014. 

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Global indifference to human rights violations in MENA fuelling atrocities and impunity
Amnesty International, 26 Feb 2019

The international community’s chilling complacency towards wide-scale human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has emboldened governments to commit appalling violations during 2018 by giving them the sense that they need never fear facing justice, said Amnesty International as it published a review of human rights in the region last year.The report Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa:a review of 2018 describes how authorities across the region have unashamedly persisted with ruthless campaigns of repression in order to crush dissent, cracking down on protesters, civil society and political opponents, often with tacit support from powerful allies.
Jamal Khashoggi’s shocking killing in October 2018 sparked an unprecedented global outcry, spurring a Saudi Arabian investigation and even prompting rare action from states such as Denmark and Finland to suspend the supply of arms to Saudi Arabia. However, key allies of the Kingdom, including the USA, UK and France, have taken no such action and, as a whole, the international community has failed to meet demands by human rights organization for an independent UN investigation capable of delivering justice.

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An amnesty for crimes against humanity? Guatemalan proposal stirs outrage.
The Washington Post, 24 Feb 2019

For years, it was dangerous to speak of the horrific abuses by security forces during this small country’s 36-year civil war. The army and its allies remained powerful well after the conflict that had claimed 200,000 lives. But then Guatemala stunned the world by starting to prosecute former military officers for genocide and other crimes.Now the Guatemalan Congress is considering a bill that would grant amnesty to perpetrators of crimes against humanity. It would free more than 30 convicts, mostly former military officers, and invalidate current and future trials for crimes linked to the 1960-1996 war. The bill, which is expected to be back on Congress’s agenda next week, has prompted outrage from Guatemalan civil society groups and organizations representing the indigenous, who make up 40 percent of the population but more than 80 percent of the victims of wartime abuses.  
The measure has also alarmed the United Nations and the U.S. government. Robert Palladino, deputy spokesman at the U.S. State Department, said last week that Washington was “deeply concerned” about the measure.  The legislative push comes as other Latin American countries are finally reckoning with the counterinsurgency tactics used by military forces against civilians during the Cold War. In Argentina, hundreds of human rights abusers have been convicted in the past 15 years. In El Salvador, where an amnesty law was struck down in 2016, 18 military officers are on trial for the massacre of nearly 1,000 people in El Mozote in 1981 — one of the worst atrocities in Latin American history.

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Central African Republic: Justice Vital to Peace
Human Rights Watch, 22 Feb 2019

The peace accord between the government of the Central African Republic and armed groups that was signed on February 6, 2019 should not deter or displace efforts to deliver justice for the gravest crimes committed during the conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. The accord to end a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives was negotiated by the African Union during 18 months of talks with the groups, while they continued to carry out brutal attacks on civilians. Violence in the northern and eastern parts of the country has intensified in recent months, including multiple attacks on camps for internally displaced people. About 1.2 million people are displaced by fighting across the country.

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