Peacemakers Trust posts news, reports or announcements of interest to people studying or working in the field of dispute resolution, conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Inclusion of an item on the media watch blog does not imply endorsement or agreement of Peacemakers Trust with views expressed by authors of posted items.
… fragments from a series of first-person accounts … collected to mark the 20th anniversary of Rwanda’s 100 days of slaughter. Taken together, they give extraordinary insight into the psychology of atrocity: how so many ordinary people – friends, neighbours, doctors, teachers, priests – could take part in the bloodletting.
They also hint at the moral complexity underlying Rwanda’s efforts to balance truth and reconciliation, justice and forgiveness…
Twenty years later, old resentments fester alongside new.
President Yoweri Museveni should have long rendered his apology for the spate of abuses committed during the anti-insurgency campaign in the north and north-eastern part of the country by some reprobate elements in NRA/UPDF, state minister for water resources, Betty Bigombe has said.
Museveni made the apology at the NRA/NRM 28th Liberation Day anniversary in Mayuge district headquarters, expressing shock at the “shameful” atrocities that sullied the reputation of an army whose near impeccable disciplinary record had been integral in its successful guerrilla war…
When asked what the apology meant given her role in various peace initiatives, Bigombe said the move is a good gesture because those affected by the atrocities “always demand for justice to be done”.
Large-scale corruption and economic crimes often go hand in hand with mass human rights abuses in authoritarian countries. The two are mutually reinforcing: Dictators gain and maintain power—and perpetuate impunity—through a combination of violent repression and the distribution of patronage and graft opportunities. The plunder of public wealth serves as both an incentive for retaining power by force, and a means of rewarding those who carry out or cover up regime crimes. Despite this connection, the mechanisms of transitional justice have not adequately dealt with the legacy of authoritarian corruption nor remedied its far-reaching socioeconomic effects.
Named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2007 by Time magazine, Youk Chhang turned the misfortune and suffering of his childhood under the Khmer Rouge into a documentation centre detailing genocide under the Pol Pot regime which took around 2 million lives.
The Documentation Centre of Cambodia houses over 500,000 documents and 6,000 photographs, making it the largest archive of its kind. According to Chhang, it was an important source of evidence contributing to the establishment of the Cambodia Tribunal in 1997.
During his brief visit to Bangkok, Prachatai talked to Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia and a genocide survivor about reconciliation, forgiveness and the future of Cambodia.
A Dutch Supreme Court judgment finding the state liable for the deaths of three Muslim men amid the Srebrenica genocide marks a significant victory in the decades-long search for accountability, Amnesty International said today.
“Nearly two decades on from Srebrenica, this Dutch case marks the first time an individual government has been held to account for the conduct of its peacekeeping troops under a UN mandate,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
According to the court, Dutch troops serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica sent three Bosniak Muslim men away from a “safe area” on 13 July 1995. This effectively handed them over to Bosnian Serb forces, who went on to kill some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys; many of their bodies have still not been found.
An interesting discussion recently broke out on twitter about whether the Security Council could refer the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons — and only the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons — to the ICC…
NEW York – A proposed amnesty law before Thailand’s parliament should exclude people who ordered or carried out human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. The Thai government should affirm that prosecuting those responsible for rights abuses, regardless of rank or affiliation, is critical to promoting human rights, the rule of law, and lasting reconciliation in Thailand.
Deliberation on the government-sponsored draft of Amnesty Bill in Parliament yesterday was punctuated by much heckling, heated arguments, and displays of completely different narratives of what exactly happened in 2010 crackdown – the central issue that the Amnesty Bill was designed to resolve.
OTTAWA — Five years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic apology for the Indian residential school system, the words ring hollow for some who hoped they would represent a new relationship between the federal government and Aboriginal Canadians.
Christopher Keith Hall, who has died aged 66 after suffering from cancer, was a leading light in the formation of the international criminal court (ICC). As senior legal adviser of Amnesty International, he headed its international justice project and was a co-founder of the coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) behind the ICC.
The idea of such a court had lingered since the precedent of the international military tribunal in Nuremberg after the second world war. Then, in the 1990s, when the UN security council was unwilling to take strong action to prevent atrocities it set up two ad hoc courts – the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda – to at least warn the perpetrators of war crimes that they could not count on impunity. This reinforced the idea of a standing criminal tribunal to deliver international justice.
Amnesty International, led by Christopher, immediately became involved in the diplomatic negotiations culminating in the 1998 Rome Conference that adopted the ICC statute. He worked to ensure that the court would not only materialise, but would have the powers needed for maximum possible effect.
Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt’s conviction of genocide is a historic moment in a country still healing from a brutal, three-decade civil war and his trial offered Guatemala’s oppressed indigenous communities their first chance to be heard, human rights activists said.
“We have people say: ‘We want to know what happened to our family,’ ” said Phuong Pham, a research scientist at Harvard (pictured in Cambodia in 2008). Pham and fellow Harvard researcher Patrick Vinck have been conducting surveys of Cambodians’ attitudes toward trials of former Khmer Rouge officials. The trials — Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia — are currently under way.
In the months leading up to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the radio station Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines blanketed the country with anti-Tutsi propaganda, inciting its Hutu listeners to “exterminate the cockroaches.” During the genocide, the station took on an even more active role, reading out lists of people to be killed and their locations.
The role played by the station only became widely understood outside of Rwanda after the violence was over. Three of its former executives were eventually indicted by a U.N. tribunal for their part in the genocide, but what if the world had been monitoring Milles Collines before the killing started?
That’s the idea behind Hatebase, a new initiative from the Sentinel Project, a Canadian group that aims to use social media and other technology to identify early warning signals for ethnic conflict.
In Guatemala next month, the former dictator Efraín Rios Montt will become the first head of state ever tried on genocide charges in a domestic court. Not all such efforts to prosecute crimes against humanity have proceeded peacefully.
Still, the quest to bring war criminals and vicious leaders to justice in international or domestic courts is part of a global trend toward greater accountability for human rights violations.
But do trials help secure peace after war, civil conflict and repression? Does the threat of prosecution make dictators more reluctant to step down? Would it be better for democracy if survivors could forgive perpetrators and move on?
Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians don’t trust each other but almost everyone agrees the relationship is important, Reconciliation Australia says.
The organisation’s Barometer 2012 report, which surveys the relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous people, says there has been little significant change in attitudes nationally.
The survey found we don’t trust each other and only about half of those surveyed felt proud of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, Reconciliation Australia co-chair Tom Calma says.
“Most people surveyed did not believe the relationship was very good and only half of those believe it was improving,” Dr Calma said.
However, it was a different story in a second survey, which found vast improvements in attitudes among indigenous and non-indigenous people working in organisations with a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
When the Wabanaki tribes and the State of Maine signed an agreement in the spring of 2011 to create a Maine/Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Process to heal the past abuses of Indian children in the state child welfare system, they envisioned a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of the process. Now the TRC members are calling for a day of prayer to help prepare them for the difficult work ahead.
The Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission announced in a press release that A Day of Reflection, Meditation and Prayer will take place on February 11 when people all over the state will be asked to pause at 11 a.m. to think about the importance of the TRC process and how everyone can support its three-part objective to uncover the truth, promote healing, and make recommendations for the best child welfare practices.
Khartoum — UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mashood Baderin, vowed to support Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) in its efforts to achieve reconciliation in the western Sudan region.
The expert started Sunday a 7-day visit to Khartoum and Darfur region where he is expected to meet national and regional officials and civil society groups as well as foreign diplomats and UN representatives.
'Peace walls' and the Belfast agreement have brought temporary calm, but are not a solution for the long term.
Belfast, NI – While the Northern Ireland peace process should rightfully be considered a success, that doesn’t mean that the country does not suffer from many of the same problems as other, less successful, postwar countries.
Senegal is putting Habre, former dictator of Chad, on trial for human rights abuse through the order of the The International Court of Justice.
“The holding of these proceedings will show that Africa can try Africa”. Earnestly the justice will be sought as Habre is seen as a symbol of impunity. His previous lawyer argued and successfully influenced the Senegalese authorities not to extradite him. The cooperation of the African Union (AU) and Senegal ought to be celebrated.