06 January 2021 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice

Articles

Trump’s Blackwater pardons ‘an affront to justice’: UN experts
Al Jazeera, 31 Dec 2021

US President Donald Trump’s pardons of four Blackwater contractors convicted of killing civilians in a 2007 Baghdad massacre is a violation of United States obligations under international law, UN experts said on Wednesday. “The Geneva Conventions oblige states to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes, even when they act as private security contractors,” Jelena Aparac, head of the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries, said in a statement.

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Why Joe Biden Should Help the Rohingya People of Myanmar
Time , 06 Jan 2021

In a report of more than 400 pages published in September 2018, the FFM ultimately determined the situation in Myanmar to be a genocide, as did Fortify Rights in July that same year. Those findings, in part, led The Gambia to file an historic genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019. That trial is ongoing. Nevertheless, much remains to be done. And from the Oval Office, President Biden will be in a prime position to help. The Biden administration should do what President Trump and Secretary Pompeo failed to do: act swiftly to formally designate the violations against Rohingya as genocide and crimes against humanity. Evidence already collected by the State Department points to those crimes, and such a designation would support ongoing international accountability efforts, including the case at the ICJ, which Democrat and Republican members of Congress have highlighted as a priority.

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‘A Multitude of Sins’: Federal Judge Blocks Last-Minute Trump Attempt to Wreck International Criminal Court
Law and Crime , 05 Jan 2021

A federal judge in New York City dealt a severe blow to the outgoing Trump administration’s last-minute efforts to derail the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an opinion and order released late Monday. U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, issued an injunction against President Donald Trump’s controversial June executive order sanctioning ICC prosecutors for investigating torture, rape and other war crimes allegedly committed by CIA officers and members of the U.S. Military. In a 34-page opinion and order, the judge determined that the Trump administration restrictions likely unconstitutionally “prohibit or chill” speech to a significant degree in order “to obtain and exert leverage” over ICC prosecutors “so as to induce [the ICC] to desist from their investigation of U.S. and allied personnel.”

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Syria: ‘Identified gaps, inconsistencies’ raise questions over elimination of chemical weapons
UN News , 05 Jan 2021

“Identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies” that remain unresolved, have brought into question the true extent of the elimination of chemical weapons during Syria’s bloody conflict, the UN disarmament chief told the Security Council in her briefing on Tuesday. 

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Syrian detainees' families forced to pay huge bribes to corrupt officials - report
The Guardian , 04 Jan 2021

Report says arrest and extortion of Syrian population is major source of funding for Assad regime. Families of detainees in Syrian prisons are routinely forced to bribe officials to be allowed to visit them or to win their release, according to a report that reveals the vast scale of extortion in the detention system. The sums involved – rising as high as £2m in one jail - are likely to be helping senior members of the Assad regime avoid sanctions, a survey of more than 1,200 former prisoners and family members suggests.

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Yemen: Fatal airport attack ‘potentially amounts to a war crime’ – UN envoy
UN News , 01 Jan 2021

 On the last day of a year that has continued to brutalize the war-torn people of Yemen, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths condemned a “despicable attack” on the country’s newly formed government as they arrived at Aden airport on Wednesday. “Targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure is a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law”, Mr. Griffiths said on Thursday. “A transgression of such magnitude potentially amounts to a war crime”. 

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Too Polarized to Reconcile? The Struggle for Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka
Ground Views , 01 Jan 2021

In Sri Lanka, the challenge to achieve transitional justice lies not in the process alone but also in coming to terms with the ultimate goal. In a post-war context, what is the ideal? As a multi-ethnic society where do we aspire to be? If we do not embrace reconciliation, is the dream to remain as we are now, deeply and destructively divided?

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