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April 2016
Editor-in-Chief: Nicola Giovannini
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 Highlights

Ministerial Sub-Regional Consultation in Senegal to foster effective implementation of UNGA resolution banning Female Genital Mutilation
 

On 26-27 April 2016, the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood of Senegal and No Peace Without Justice, in partnership with the Inter-African Committee for Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) and the national associations COSEPRAT and La Palabre, convened a Sub-Regional Ministerial Consultation in Dakar, Senegal, aimed at fostering the implementation of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 69/150 calling for a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation (FGM).
 
The Ministerial Consultation, which was held under the high patronage of the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood of Senegal, was organised with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Participants included ministers and high-level government representativesparliamentarians and civil society activists from Senegal and other 14 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo) as well as representatives of UN agencies and other international organisations and diplomatic missions.
 
The Conference concluded with the adoption of a Final declaration calling on to ''recognise and promote the fundamental role of legislation and other normative frameworks implementing the prohibition of FGM through the criminalization of this human rights violation". As highlighted by the Final Declaration, it is essential to ensure that the prohibition of FGM is reflected in all areas and at all levels, including professional codes of conduct, standards of education, training and vocational assessment. The document notes that this should maximize the potential of the ban on FGM by allowing a coordinated and comprehensive response to the needs of victims. Moreover, national authorities should ensure the provision of adequate and integrated services that meet legal as well as medical and psychosocial needs of victims of FGM.

Participants also stressed the need to ensure sufficient budgetary allocations at local, national, sub-regional, regional, and international level, in order to implement the ban on FGM in all its aspects, including prevention, response and evaluation. The final declaration further calls for the recognition and inclusion of FGM as a form of violence against children in all national and sub-regional laws, agreements, policies and procedures related to the prevention of child abuse; the establishment of a mechanism for coordination and sharing of information between governments, parliaments and civil society in the sub-region in order to harmonize legislation, regulatory frameworks, and national policies to prevent, respond to and enable the evaluation of cross-border practices of FGM.
 
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War crimes in Bangladesh: NPWJ calls for exclusion of death penalty and full respect of fair trials guarantees
 

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) are deeply concerned about the latest death sentences handed down against two key leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). We continue to deplore that, as in previous trials before the ICT, the judicial proceedings which have led to these verdicts have been marred by serious violations of due process rights and international fair trial standards. These major flaws include the blatant inequality of arms between the defence and the prosecution, intolerable pressures by the prosecution on witnesses, and a concerning lack of relevant evidence to substantiate the charges and individual criminal responsibility of both convicts (including during the appeals before the Bangladeshi Supreme Court).
 
These latest judgments further confirm the inability and unwillingness of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) and the Bangladesh judicial system in general to apply international standards in the enforcement of crimes under international law and to provide credible and legitimate accountability to the massive atrocities committed during the nine-month conflict in 1971, from which Bangladesh traumatically emerged as an independent State and which haunt the country to this day. We call on the Bangladeshi Government to institute an immediate moratorium on the death penalty handed down against Mr Nizami and Mr Quasem Ali and others convicted by the ICT and to give effect to the promise of real justice for victims that it made when ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court some five years ago. We also look to the international community to take concrete steps to ensure that Bangladesh complies with its international human rights and other treaty obligations.
 
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Vacation of Ruto and Sang charges signals crucial need for overhaul of ICC investigations and witness protection mechanisms
 

On 5 April 2016, Trial Chamber V(A) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided, by majority, Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia dissenting, to vacate the charges and terminate the case against Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and former broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang. This decision is clearly a major setback in the process to ensure redress for the hundreds of thousands of Kenyan victims and to signify that the days of rewarding violence with political power in Kenya are over. We’re clearly disappointed, having worked so closely with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on initial information collection in early 2008. But this is nothing compared to how the victims of the crimes in this case must be feeling.
 
As highlighted by the ICC judges’ ruling, the troubling incidences of systematic witness interference (including through bribery and intimidation) and intolerable political meddling are key factors that led to this decision. It is impossible to know whether the evidence the Prosecutor might have had in less hostile circumstances would have been sufficient to sustain the charges. By vacating the charges, at least the door has been left open for future prosecutions either at the ICC or in national courts. The possibility for justice is still there; the vacation of these charges at this time has not stripped the ICC of jurisdiction, nor of the possibility that charges may be brought against any of those initially charged with the commission of crimes during the post-election violence in 2007-8.
 
More must be done to avoid this occurring in the future. This ruling further demonstrates that the court was unprepared to deal adequately with the challenges it encountered in its Kenya investigations, especially when politically powerful people are involved, and the decision’s discussion on the political environment highlights the need for stronger support for the ICC from its States Parties and others.
 
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Alison Smith is Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program of No Peace Without Justice

 NPWJ events

SALAM and NPWJ convene conference to highlight sectarian division and discrimination of Shia in Bahrain
 

As part of their efforts to promote and protect Human Rights and democracy in the Middle East and in Bahrain in particular, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, in cooperation with No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), organised a two-day conference to shed light on sectarian division and discrimination of Shia in Bahrain, which was held on 22-23 April 2016 at the Brussels Press Club Europe. The conference, which brought together NGOs representatives, human rights defenders, researchers and religious leaders, aimed to explore creative and practical solutions that can effectively contribute to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against members of Bahraini Shia.
 
As highlighted by Nicola Giovannini (NPWJ) in his opening remarks: “Using and cultivating sectarianism as a political instrument has been a common trend in Bahrain. This divide-and-rule strategy was adopted by the regime to delegitimise genuine demands of reforms as driven by particular or sectarian interests (and thus negate their national scope). Critically, this has also been reflected or translated into discriminatory practices and policies targeting (and thus segregating) the Shia community in Bahrain which composes the majority of the population. A State that wants to be considered as democratic cannot rely on such system which nurtures sectarian division. The purpose of this conference is to promote meaningful reforms aimed at ensuring that all Bahrainis, independently of their religious belief or community, are considered and consider themselves first and foremost as citizens of a state, equal in rights before the law and with an equal say in the matters related to the governance of public life”.
 
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Syrian Civil Society Recommendations on Accountability, SGBV, Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights
 

On Monday 28 March 2016, a roundtable with Syrian Civil Society organisations hosted by No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) from 26-28 March concluded with a public event in Gaziantep at which participants presented their recommendations to the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC). Following formal receipt of the recommendations by a representative of the SOC, there was a discussion on the recommendations and the issues they raise by roundtable participants and those present at the public event.
 
The roundtable follows on from a workshop NPWJ held in February that looked at promoting accountability through UN Mechanisms, as well as focusing more specifically on SGBV, Women and Children.  NPWJ worked with six Syrian civil society representatives to present their experiences and recommendations to a larger group of Syrian civil society organisations, who discussed, refined and finalized the recommendations through a participatory process.
 
The recommendations that emerged are directed to those involved in the negotiations and the constitutional process and other relevant actors. They cover what action is needed now and what is needed during and after the transition process. They call for consultation with all segments of Syrian society.
 
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 NPWJ on Radio Radicale

Have Breakfast with No Peace Without Justice
 

No Peace Without Justice and Radio Radicale, the foremost Italian nationwide all-news radio, have an ongoing partnership to provide news and information on our activities to a broad Italian audience. This partnership features an in-depth weekly program on NPWJ’s current campaigns and activities. The program is broadcast in Italian every Friday morning immediately before the main news summary.

Listen to the last episodes

 NPWJ press releases

Bahrain: NPWJ joins civil society call for the unconditional release of Zainab al-Khawaja
12 April 2016

War crimes in Bangladesh: NPWJ calls for exclusion of death penalty and full respect of fair trials guarantees
Brussels – Rome, 8 April 2016

Vacation of Ruto and Sang charges signals crucial need for overhaul of ICC investigations and witness protection mechanisms
Brussels - Rome, 6 April 2016

Šešelj decision unacceptable and intolerable: NPWJ and NRPTT call for an appeal to overcome glaring shortcomings
Brussels - Rome, 1st April 2016

Syrian Civil Society Recommendations on Accountability, SGBV, Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights
Gaziantep, Turkey, 28 March 2016

Syria: NPWJ and its Syrian partners submit recommendations for consideration at the 26th Session of the UPR Working Group
Geneva, 24 March 2016

Bahrain: NPWJ supports visit of opposition leaders in Brussels to promote meaningful democratic reform and respect of human rights
Brussels, 17-18 March 2016

Syria: NPWJ joins civil society renewed calls for Bassel Khartabil’s release on 4th anniversary of detention
17 March 2016

 NPWJ in the news


 

Forum sous-régional ministériel au Sénégal pour mettre fin aux MGF
CCTV, Afrique Infos, 29 April 2016

Forum ministériel sous-régional au Sénégal pour mettre fin aux MGF
CCTV / Afrique Infos, 29 April 2016

Faible sanction sur l’excision au Sénégal. Seuls huit jugements en 17 ans
Mouhamadou BA, Rewmi, 27 April 2016

Sénégal : Plaidoyer pour la criminalisation des mutilations génitales féminines
APA / Star Africa, 27 April 2016

Conférence de Presse (extrait) sur la Conférence Ministérielle sous-régionale de Dakar
Senego TV, 26 April 2016

Ouverture à Dakar d’une conférence sous-régionale contre les mutilations génitales
APA / Star Africa, 26 April 2016

Seuls huit jugements en 17 ans pour pratique de l'excision au Sénégal
APA / Star Africa, 26 April 2016

Pour rayer l'excision de la carte: Une Consultation ministérielle sous régionale s'ouvre à Dakar
Ieral, 26 April 2016

Excision: Seuls 8 cas jugés en 17 ans au Sénégal
Sen360, 26 April 2016

Dakar hôte d’une consultation sous-régionale sur l’élimination des mutilations génitales
Ligne Directe (Sénégal), 26 April 2016

Des ministres de la sous-région en consultation sur l’interdiction des Mutilations génitales féminines, Pana - 24 avril 2016
PANA, 24 April 2016

Brussels Conference Launches Book Revealing Shocking Facts about Discrimination against Shia in Bahrain
AhlulBayt News Agency, 24 April 2016

Consultation Ministérielle Sous Régionale sur la mise en œuvre de la Résolution onusienne 69/150 interdisant les Mutilations Génitales Féminines
Thiey Dakar, 23 April 2016

Outrage at UN court's 'rewriting' of Balkans wars
Jo Biddle, AFP, 1 April 2016

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