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June 2016
Editor-in-Chief: Nicola Giovannini
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 Highlights

ICC / Bemba case: NPWJ welcomes sentencing to 18 years imprisonment as a landmark step forward for victims of sexual violence
 

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome today’s sentence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a considerable step towards redress for victims of the brutal conflict that took place in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003. This decision is also a landmark in the fight to end crimes of sexual violence in conflict, being the first time that rape and sexual violence as a war crime and a crime against humanity have come to trial at the ICC.
 
As reflected by the nature of charges brought against Bemba, crimes of sexual violence against women, men, and children were significantly brutal in the Central African Republic and were used as a means to terrorise civilian population. It is significant that several of those victims have been represented at the Bemba trial: as much as trials such as this can and do contribute to the rule of law and deterrence nationally, regionally and internationally, we should never forget that they represent a chance for the people of CAR to have justice done, and to see justice being done. We also recognise that Mr Bemba is the first individual being charged before the Court with command responsibility, under Article 28 of the Rome Statute, for failure to act. This judgment sends an unequivocal message to military commanders that they must act when they suspect crimes have been or are about to be committed by troops under their control: failure to do so will engage their own criminal responsibility.
 
Two days ago, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict was observed for the first time across the world. It provided an opportunity to remember that sexual violence as a weapon of war continues to be a widespread and devastating crime committed in total impunity in numerous conflict-affected countries, from Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bosnia to Syria and Sudan.  Accountability and redress for these past and ongoing human rights violations must be put at centre stage if there is to be any hope for reaching lasting stability, reconciliation and peace in affected countries. Everyone should consider today’s sentence a wake-up call in that respect.
 
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Alison Smith is Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program of No Peace Without Justice

Bahrain: NPWJ and NRPTT strongly condemn suspension of main opposition party Al-Wefaq
 

On 14 June 2016, a Bahraini court issued an order suspending the activities of the main opposition party Al-Wefaq on charges of "creating "an environment for terrorism, extremism and violence” in the country. Al-Wefaq, whose offices have been closed and its assets frozen, will be unable to operate pending a judicial decision on its full dissolution on 6 October 2016. The announcement comes 2 weeks after a Bahraini Appeals Court extended from four to nine years a prison sentence imposed on Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of Al Wefaq, overturning a trial court's decision to acquit Sheikh Salman of advocating the overthrow of the government by force. Furthermore, also on 14 June Bahraini security forces re-arrested prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab on charges of "spreading false information".
 
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) firmly condemn the alarming decision by the Bahraini authorities to suspend the main opposition party in the country, which has consistently called for peaceful protest, condemned all forms of violence and advocated for a fair and just democratic political system in Bahrain through the establishment of a genuine constitutional monarchy. Today’s shocking and unprecedented ruling is part of an escalating crackdown aimed at criminalising free speech and eliminating any peaceful and dissenting opposition voices in the country. It also blatantly demonstrates that the Bahraini regime is determined to close any avenue or prospect of dialogue to advance democratic reform, rule of law and respect of human rights in the country.
 
This is clearly a highly dangerous move that can only further increase political instability and fuel social unrest and disunity. As stated by Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right, in his opening speech to the 32 session of the Human Rights Council, currently meeting in Geneva, repression will not eliminate people’s grievances but it will increase them. The international community cannot remain silent in front of what is rapidly becoming the realisation of the worst possible scenario for Bahrain: the establishment of a state of tyranny and repression where civil and political rights of the majority of Bahraini citizens are negated.
 
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* Niccolò Figà-Talamanca is Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice

 NPWJ events

UNPO, SADF and NPWJ organise roundtable discussion on Roundtable Discussion on the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord
 

On 17 June 2016, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) and No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), organised a roundtable discussion with civil society actors aimed at discussing the 1997 Peace Accords between the Bangladeshi government and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS). The event saw the participation of Mr Ushatan Talukder, the only MP of Bangladesh's National Parliament representing the indigenous community, as well as Mr Mangal Kumar Chakma, representative of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) (CHT United Peoples' Party), the only political organization representing the indigenous Jumma people.
 

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, which came after years of conflict and negotiations, include a number of provisions that the Bangladeshi Government was to implement to better protect the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), a group of eleven different tribes collectively known as Jumma people (Highlanders) and who amount to approximately 850,000 individuals. Despite several attempts and the insistence of the indigenous community, almost 19 years later, many provision of the Accords lie unimplemented. The Jumma people have yet to be officially recognised as indigenous and their distinctive culture and traditions are threatened by the settlement of a large number of Bengali people from other parts of the country, which in only 60 years have passed from 2% to 50% of the region's population.

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Press preview of the painting “Angels of Syria” in Brussels
 

 

On 30 June 2016, the Representation Office of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SOC) in Brussels convened a press presentation on the occasion of the first exhibition in Europe of the painting called Angels of Syria”, which is hosted at the Koninklijk Atheneum E.Hiel in Brussels.
 
The piece of art is a collaborative work between Hossam al-Saadi, Hussam Alloum, Abduljaleel al-Shaqaqi and Ahmed al-Dulli who wanted to protest against the killing of Children in Syria. It is considered one of the most important paintings in the World, given its huge size (22m x 21.5m) and content. The painting shows a face of a Syrian child and contains the names of the 12490 children that had been killed during the war in Syria at the time it was completed (in 2014). The names were documented by the Violations Documenting Center (VDC), the NGO founded by Razan Zaitouneh, who was honoured by the European Parliament Sakharov Prize 2011.
 
Participants to the press presentation included Hossam Al-Saadi, one of the artists behind this work and a member of SOC, Joe Buelens, Welcome Refugees Group Grimbergen, and Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca, Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice.
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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 Wednesday evening at 23.30.

Listen to the last episodes

 NPWJ press releases

ICC / Bemba case: NPWJ welcomes sentencing to 18 years imprisonment as a landmark step forward for victims of sexual violence
Brussels-Rome, 21 June 2016

UNPO, SADF and NPWJ organise roundtable discussion on Roundtable Discussion on the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord
Brussels, 17 June 2016

Bahrain: NPWJ and NRPTT strongly condemn suspension of main opposition party Al-Wefaq
Brussels – Rome, 15 June 2016

Bahrain: NPWJ and NRPTT strongly condemn sham trial and increased prison sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman
Brussels – Rome, 30 May 2016

NPWJ joins 57 NGOs welcoming proposed aid air drops in Syria
27 May 2016

ADHOC: “The roots and causes of Islamic violence? Secularism is the solution”
Brussels, 22 May 2016

NPWJ urges Uganda to stand up for justice and not grant impunity to President al-Bashir
Brussels-Rome, 12 May 2016

 NPWJ in the news


 

West Africa: Ecowas Member Communities and Experts On Female Genital Mutilation Lay Strategies for the Way Forward
The Pont (Banjul) / AllAfrica, 15 June 2016

NPWJ Firmly Condemns Sentence Issued against Sheikh Ali Salman
Bahrain Mirror, 1 June 2016

Bangladesh's Motiur Rahman Nizami to hang
Al Jazeera / Reuters, 5 May 2016

Bangladesh court rejects Islamist leader's final death sentence appeal
The Guardian / Reuters, 5 May 2016

Bangladesh's Motiur Rahman Nizami to hang
By Aljazeera/ Reuters, 5 May 2016

Bangladesh court rejects Islamist leader's final death sentence appeal
By Aljazeera/ Reuters, 5 May 2016

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

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