Rohingya refugees walk through rice fields after crossing the border from Myanmar into Palang Khali, Bangladesh, October 19, 2017.

© 2017 Jorge Silva/Reuters
(Brussels) – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) order on January 23, 2020, directing Myanmar to prevent all genocidal acts against Rohingya Muslims is crucial for protecting the remaining Rohingya in Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said today. The court unanimously adopted “provisional measures” that require Myanmar to prevent genocide and take steps to preserve evidence.

Myanmar’s military committed extensive atrocities against the Rohingya, including murder, rape, and arson, that peaked during its late 2017 campaign of ethnic cleansing, forcing more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. In September 2019, the United Nations-backed International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found that the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar “may face a greater threat of genocide than ever.” 

“The ICJ order to Myanmar to take concrete steps to prevent the genocide of the Rohingya is a landmark step to stop further atrocities against one of the world’s most persecuted people,” said Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Concerned governments and UN bodies should now weigh in to ensure that the order is enforced as the genocide case moves forward.”

The order follows Gambia’s November 11, 2019 application to the court alleging that abuses by Myanmar’s military in Rakhine State against the Rohingya violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and urgently seeking provisional measures. The ICJ held hearings on Gambia’s provisional measures request in December.

The ICJ provisional measures order is legally binding on the parties. In November, Myanmar explicitly recognized the ICJ’s authority and in December, Aung San Suu Kyi, representing Myanmar before the ICJ in her capacity as foreign minister, acknowledged the court’s role as a “vital refuge of international justice.”

The court unanimously ordered Myanmar to prevent all acts under article 2 of the Genocide Convention, ensure that its military does not commit genocide, and take effective measures to preserve evidence related to the underlying genocide case. The court has also ordered Myanmar to report on its implementation of the order in four months, and then every six months afterwards.

The order does not prejudge the question of the court’s jurisdiction to deal with the merits of the case, the case’s admissibility before the court, or the merits of Gambia’s allegation that Myanmar has violated provisions of the Genocide Convention. A case before the ICJ can take years to reach a resolution. 

Under article 41(2) of the ICJ Statute, the court’s provisional measures orders are automatically sent to the UN Security Council. Such an order will increase pressure on the council to take concrete action in Myanmar, including through a binding resolution to address some of the indicators of genocidal intent outlined in the comprehensive 2018 report of the international fact-finding mission.

For example, the Security Council could pass a resolution directing Myanmar to lift restrictions on Rohingya’s freedom of movement, eliminate unnecessary restrictions on humanitarian access to Rakhine State, repeal discriminatory laws, and ban practices that limit Rohingya access to education, health care, and livelihoods. Thus far, the Security Council has not taken significant action on Myanmar, in part because of Russia and China’s apparent willingness to use their vetoes to shield Myanmar’s government and military.

“The ICJ order brings increased scrutiny of Myanmar’s horrific brutality against the Rohingya and raises the political cost of the UN Security Council’s weak response to the crisis so far,” Singh said. “China and Russia should stop blocking the Security Council from taking action to protect the Rohingya.”

Even with a deadlocked Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres could bring the matter of Myanmar before the council under article 99 of the UN Charter. On September 2, 2017, Guterres wrote a letter to the Security Council president urging the council to “press for restraint and calm to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,’’ and for “full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and the continued presence and safety of the United Nations partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need without disruption.”

Other UN bodies should take steps to reinforce the order, Human Rights Watch said. The UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly could pass resolutions calling on Myanmar to comply with its terms. This could spur other countries to take concrete action in their bilateral relations with Myanmar.

In filing the genocide case, Gambia has the backing of the 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. On December 9, 2019, the governments of Canada and the Netherlands, both parties to the Genocide Convention, announced that they considered it “their obligation to support the Gambia before the ICJ, as it should concern all of humanity.” On January 9, 2020, the British government welcomed Gambia’s case against Myanmar. Other parties to the convention should press Myanmar to comply with the court’s order, Human Rights Watch said. If Myanmar fails to act, Gambia could raise Myanmar’s non-compliance with the Security Council under article 94 of the UN charter.

“The growing global support for Gambia’s case raises the stakes for Myanmar to engage in the ICJ process in a meaningful way and change its approach to the Rohingya,” Singh said. “The Myanmar government cannot hide behind its powerful friends or the banner of sovereignty to escape its responsibilities under the Genocide Convention.”

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

A grave in Kosovo: “Unidentified.”

© FRED ABRAHAMS ⁄ HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

This week marks 20 years since the end of the Kosovo war. What began as systematic Serbian state oppression led to attacks by an ethnic Albanian armed group, a vicious government response, and 78 days of NATO airstrikes.

Civilians paid a hefty price. In Kosovo, Serbian and Yugoslav forces rampaged through villages burning homes, executing men, and raping women and girls. Roughly 850,000 Kosovo Albanians were forcibly expelled.

Human Rights Watch’s main report on the conflict found “a coordinated and systematic campaign to terrorize, kill, and expel the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo that was organized by the highest levels of the Serbian and Yugoslav governments.” Serbian authorities tried to hide those crimes by moving hundreds of bodies to Serbia and dumping them in mass graves.

These were not the conflict’s only crimes. The ethnic Albanian insurgency known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) also abducted and murdered Serbian, Roma, and Albanian civilians during and after the war. NATO forces used cluster munitions and its attacks killed about 500 civilians, some in legally dubious strikes.

Today, 1,653 people remain missing from the war: 1,092 Albanians, and 562 Roma and Serbs.

Justice is mostly missing, too. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic for his role in Kosovo, but he died during trial. Six of his senior co-conspirators were convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo, three of whom were granted early release after serving two-thirds of their sentences. One of the six, police chief Vlastimir Djordjevic, whom the ICTY found guilty of coordinating the body-removal operation, is eligible for early release this month. 34 NGOs from Serbia and Kosovo have opposed that until he shares information about the location of missing persons.

Other senior security officials credibly implicated in war crimes have eluded justice. A Belgrade-based war crimes court has focused on low- and mid-level perpetrators, and ignored many of the most serious Kosovo crimes, including the removal of bodies. The European Union, which Serbia aspires to join, has not made war-time accountability a top demand.

Meanwhile, senior leaders of the KLA accused of killings and body transfers to Albania remain  at-large, some in high government posts. A new court in The Hague offers hope for justice, and Serbia’s protection of war criminals does not justify attempts to undermine that chance.

Some people advocate a turn of the shoulder: let wounds heal with time. The EU has focused on negotiations to normalize Kosovo-Serbia relations. As important as that dialogue is, justice is a critical medicine for lasting health.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Sir John Chilcot's report on lessons to be learned from the 2003 invasion of Iraq has taken seven years to produce. David Cameron has said it should not be about "punishing" British soldiers, but holding senior people to account. However, 13 years of numerous inquiries and criminal investigations into alleged war crimes by UK military personnel in Iraq have so far produced little in terms of criminal accountability, especially for senior military and political figures.

The mother and son of Baha Mousa hold pictures of him at their house in Basra on September 7, 2011.

© 2011 Reuters

Now that Chilcot's report is out there will be many calls to put senior people on trial for 'war crimes' – including at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. But the ICC is not in a position to do this concerning the actual decision to invade Iraq. The court does not have the authority – yet - to prosecute people for the crime of 'aggression', such as the unlawful military invasion of another country.

But the ICC, which the UK helped establish, does have jurisdiction over 'war crimes' committed during a conflict or military occupation itself. While the ICC is designed to be a court of last resort, its prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has opened a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes by UK nationals in Iraq. Bensouda's office will consider whether the gravity of war crimes — provided there is evidence for them —warrant its involvement and, crucially, whether the UK authorities are willing and able to properly investigate and prosecute war crimes themselves.

Allegations of war crimes by some UK soldiers quickly surfaced after the invasion, but more than a decade on we are little advanced in knowing the whole truth about these claims, let alone in seeing anyone put on trial. Two public inquiries into specific incidents were forced on reluctant British governments by UK courts.

The first, in 2011, found that Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel receptionist, had died in British custody in Basra in 2003 after suffering at least 93 injuries over two days of abuse, including food and water deprivation.

The second, the Al Sweady inquiry in 2014, dismissed allegations of deliberate murder of detainees in a 2004 incident, but still found that UK interrogators had committed serious abuses against Iraqis – including deprivation of food and sleep and sight – that have all previously been found to constitute torture. Hundreds more allegations of abuse of detainees by UK nationals have been submitted to various courts, including the ICC.

So far, many of these allegations have not been properly investigated. It seems the only UK conviction for war crimes in Iraq is of Corporal Donald Payne, who received a one-year prison sentence in 2006 after pleading guilty to the war crime of inhumane treatment in connection with the death of Baha Mousa. In 2010 the government set up the Iraq Historic Allegations Team to conduct criminal investigations into alleged war crimes, but six years on there are still no new prosecutions. The findings of serious abuses in the Baha Mousa and Al Sweady inquiries did not result in new prosecutions.

UK authorities have also shown little interest in investigating whether senior military and political figures are criminally liable for any war crimes. This is despite a powerful new law of 'command responsibility' enacted in UK law in 2002, which states that military and civilian commanders should be held criminally liable for war crimes committed by people within their chain of command when they knew, or should have known, of the crimes but failed to take necessary measures to prevent them or ensure they were investigated. For civilians – for example politicians commanding the armed forces - the test is whether they knew of the crimes or 'consciously disregarded' information about them.

Given that some of the crimes allegedly carried on for years, that some allegations were published by the British media early on during the occupation, and even that the International Committee of the Red Cross' concerns about abuses in UK detention reached the desks of ministers, one would expect investigations into criminal liability of senior figures to have been launched. But there is no evidence this has happened.

The UK's previous investigative failures suggest it's more important than ever for senior figures to be held accountable after Chilcot. It is vital that UK authorities now launch prompt and thorough investigations into these grave allegations – without governmental interference – both to clear the innocent, and hold those responsible to account. The UK authorities also need to show themselves genuinely willing and capable of investigating senior military and political figures and, if the evidence warrants, prosecuting them for command responsibility for war crimes. The UK clearly has the law and the resources to bring about these prosecutions. But if it is not willing to do so, the ICC could step in.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

 

On May 30, 2016, judges at the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system will deliver their verdict in the trial of former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré. Habré faces charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes, and the prosecutor has asked the court to hand down a life sentence. The chambers were inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, the period when Habré was president.

The trial began on July 20, 2015 and ended on February 11, 2016, after testimony from 93 witnesses and final arguments. It was the first trial in the world in which the courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. It was also the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial in Africa. Universal jurisdiction is a principle of international law that allows national courts to prosecute the most serious crimes even when committed abroad, by a foreigner and against foreign victims. The New York Times has called the case “a milestone for justice in Africa.”

The following questions and answers provide more information on the case.

  1. Who is Hissène Habré?
  2. What are the charges against Habré?
  3. What crimes fall within the jurisdiction of the court?
  4. Why did it take so long to bring Habré to justice?
  5. What was the role of the Chadian government in bringing about Habré’s prosecution?
  6. How did the chambers carry out their investigation?
  7. Why was Hissène Habré the only person standing trial?
  8. What about Idriss Déby, Chad's current president?
  9. What were Habré's rights before the Extraordinary Chambers?
  10. Habré and his chosen lawyers refused to cooperate with the chambers. What effect did that have?
  11. How did the trial proceed?
  12. What were some of the highlights of the prosecution's evidence?
  13. What was the defense lawyers' strategy?
  14. How was information about the trial disseminated? 
  15. What is the maximum punishment Habré could receive if found guilty?
  16. What was the victims' role in the trial?
  17. Will the victims receive reparations?
  18. Can there be an appeal? 
  19. How are the Extraordinary Chambers structured and administered?
  20. How were the prosecutors and judges assigned?
  21. What about the trial in Chad of Habré-era security agents?
  22. How are the chambers funded?
  23. What will happen to the Extraordinary Chambers after the trial? 
  24. What were the key steps in the campaign to bring Habré to justice?
  25. What is the significance of Habré's prosecution under universal jurisdiction?
  26. How does this trial fit into critiques of the role of international justice in Africa and claims that universal jurisdiction cases target Africans?
  27. Why wasn’t Habré prosecuted in Chad?
  28. Why couldn’t the International Criminal Court prosecute Habre?

 

1. Who is Hissène Habré?

Habré was president of the former French colony of Chad from 1982 until he was deposed in 1990 by Idriss Déby Itno, the current president. Habré has been living in exile in Senegal ever since.

A 714-page study by Human Rights Watch documented evidence of Habré’s government’s responsibility for widespread political killings, systematic torture, and thousands of arbitrary arrests. The government periodically targeted civilian populations, including in the south (1983-1985), and various ethnic groups such as Chadian Arabs, the Hadjerai (1987) and the Zaghawa (1989-90), killing and arresting group members en masse when the administration perceived that the groups’ leaders posed a threat to Habré’s rule.

A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habré's government of systematic torture and said that 40,000 people died during his rule. Most abuses were carried out by his political police, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), whose directors reported directly to Habré. The four successive directors belonged to Habré’s inner circle, some to the same ethnic group, Gorane anakaza, and one to the same family as Habré.

The United States and France supported Habré as a bulwark against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, who had expansionist designs on northern Chad. Under President Ronald Reagan, the United States gave covert CIA support to help Habré take power in 1982 and then provided his government with massive military aid. The United States also used a clandestine base in Chad to organize captured Libyan soldiers into an anti-Gaddafi force in the late 1980s. Despite the abduction of the French anthropologist Françoise Claustre by Habré’s forces in 1974 and the murder of Captain Pierre Galopin, who went to Chad to negotiate her release in 1975, France also supported Habré against Gaddafi after he took power, providing him with arms, logistical support and information, and carrying out military operations “Manta” (1983) and “Hawk” (1986) to help Chad push back Libyan forces.

2. What are the charges against Habré?

On July 2, 2013 the four investigating judges of the Extraordinary Chambers indicted Habré for crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes. On February 13, 2015, after a 19-month investigation, the judges found sufficient evidence for Habré to face charges of crimes against humanity and torture as a member of a “joint criminal enterprise” and of war crimes on the basis of his “command responsibility.” Specifically, they charged Habré with:

  • The practice of murder, summary executions, and kidnapping followed by enforced disappearance and torture, amounting to crimes against humanity, against the Hadjerai and Zaghawa ethnic groups, the people of southern Chad and political opponents; 
  • Torture; and
  • The war crimes of murder, torture, unlawful transfer and unlawful confinement, and violence to life and physical well-being.  

3. What crimes fall within the jurisdiction of the court?

The chamber’s statute gives it competence over the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture as defined in the statute. The definitions generally track those used in the statutes of the International Criminal Court and other international tribunals. The crimes must have taken place in Chad between June 7, 1982, and December 1, 1990, which correspond to the dates of Habré’s rule.

4. Why did it take so long to bring Habré to justice?

The advent of the trial, almost 25 years after Habré’s fall, is entirely due to the perseverance of Habré’s victims and their allies in nongovernmental groups. When Habré was arrested in July 2013, the Toronto Globe and Mail lauded “one of the world’s most patient and tenacious campaigns for justice.” The New York Times wrote that the “Habré case has stood out because of determined victims who were advised and supported by Human Rights Watch and other advocates.” Habré was first indicted by a Senegalese judge in 2000, but for the next 12 years the Senegalese government of former President Abdoulaye Wade subjected the victims to what the Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 117 groups from 25 African countries described as an “interminable political and legal soap opera.” It was only in 2012, when Macky Sall became president of Senegal and the International Court of Justice ordered Senegal to prosecute Habré or extradite him, that progress was made toward the trial. 

5. What was the role of the Chadian government in bringing about Habré’s prosecution?

Habré’s supporters claim that Deby’s government is behind the effort to prosecute him. However, since the victims’ first complaint in 2000, it has been the victims and their supporters who have pressed the case forward, overcoming one obstacle after another. The Chadian government has long expressed its support for Habré’s prosecution, and in 2002 it waived Habré's immunity from prosecution abroad, but it did not otherwise contribute to advancing the case in a meaningful way until it agreed to help finance the court and cooperated with the investigating judges during their four missions to Chad in 2013 and 2014. More recently, the Chadian government seemingly cooled toward the chambers, particularly in Chad’s refusal to transfer additional suspects or to allow Habré-era agents convicted in a separate proceeding in Chad (see below) to testify at Habre’s trial. 

6. How did the chambers carry out their investigation?

The investigating judges began with access to a considerable amount of evidence collected in the years since Habré’s fall, including prior Belgian and Chadian investigations into Habré’s alleged crimes.

A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habré's government of systematic torture and said that 40,000 people died during his rule. In addition, the chambers’ judges obtained the extensive file Belgian investigators prepared on Habré during four years, which contains interviews with witnesses and “insiders” who worked alongside Habré, as well as DDS documents.

Most important, the chambers’ four investigating judges conducted their own thorough 19-month investigation, and for the most part relied on evidence they developed themselves.

On May 3, 2013, Senegal and Chad signed a “Judicial cooperation agreement” to facilitate the chambers’ investigation in Chad.

The investigative judges conducted four missions (“commissions rogatoires”) to Chad - in August - September 2013, December 2013, March 2014, and May - June 2014. They were accompanied by the chief prosecutor and his deputies as well as police officers. During their visits, the judges gathered statements from 2,500 direct and indirect victims and key witnesses, including former officials of the Habré government.

The judges took copies of DDS files that Human Rights Watch had recovered  in 2001. Among the tens of thousands of documents were daily lists of prisoners and deaths in detention, interrogation reports, surveillance reports, and death certificates. The files detail how Habré placed the DDS under his direct control and kept tight control over DDS operations. Analysis of the data for Human Rights Watch revealed the names of 1,208 people who were killed or died in detention and 12,321 victims of human rights violations. In these files alone, Habré received 1,265 direct communications from the DDS about the status of 898 detainees.

The judges also appointed experts on data analysis, forensic anthropology, handwriting, the historical context of Habré’s government and the functioning and command structure of Habré’s military.

7. Why was Hissène Habré the only person standing trial?

The Chadian victims’ goal in seeking justice in Senegal since 2000 has been a trial of Habré, the head of state who directly controlled the security apparatus and had primary responsibility for his government’s actions. The victims also filed cases in 2000 in Chad against other officials of Habré’s government who were still in Chad.

Under article 3 of the chambers’ statute, the Extraordinary African Chambers can prosecute “the person or persons most responsible” for international crimes committed in Chad during Habré’s rule. In July 2013, the chief prosecutor requested the indictment of five additional officials from Habré’s administration suspected of being responsible for international crimes. These are:

  • Saleh Younous and Guihini Korei, two former directors of the DDS. Korei is Habré’s nephew;
  • Abakar Torbo, former director of the DDS prison service;
  • Mahamat Djibrine, also known as “El Djonto,” one of the “most feared torturers in Chad,” according to the National Truth Commission; and
  • Zakaria Berdei, former special security adviser to the presidency and one of those suspected of responsibility in the repression in the south in 1984.

None of them was brought before the court, however. Younous and Djibrine were convicted in Chad on charges stemming from the complaints filed by victims in the Chadian courts (see below), and Chad refused to extradite them to Senegal. Berdei is also believed to be in Chad, though he is not in custody. The locations of Torbo and Korei are unknown. As a result, only Habré was committed to trial.

8. What about Idriss Déby, Chad’s current president?

President Déby was commander in chief of Habré’s forces during the period known as “Black September,” in 1984, when a murderous wave of repression was unleashed to bring southern Chad back into the fold of the central government. In 1985, Déby was removed from this post, and after a period of study in a military school in France, he was appointed a defense adviser until he left Chad in 1989 to take up arms against Habré.

It is important to note that Article 10 of the chambers’ statute provides that “[t]he official position of an accused, whether as Head of State or Government, or as a responsible government official, shall not relieve him or her of criminal responsibility….” The chambers were thus free to pursue charges against President Déby even though he is currently a head of state, but they did not.

9. What were Habré’s rights before the Extraordinary Chambers?

The process before the Extraordinary Chambers was governed by its own Statute and the Senegalese Code of Criminal Procedure. Habré was entitled to a fair trial in accordance with international law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights outline the minimum guarantees that must be afforded to defendants in criminal proceedings.

In accordance with those standards, the chambers’ Statute provides a number of rights to defendants, including:

  • the right to be present during trial;
  • the presumption of innocence;
  • the right to a public hearing;
  • the right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense;
  • the right to counsel and legal assistance;
  • the right to be tried without undue delay; and
  • the right to examine and call witnesses.

10. Habré and his chosen lawyers refused to cooperate with the chambers. What effect did that have?

Many defendants facing trial for alleged crimes under international criminal law – such as Slobodan Milošević, Radovan Karadžić and Charles Taylor– asserted that they did not recognize the authority of the tribunal or that they would not cooperate, or have sought to use the trial as a platform to present their version of events.

The burden always remains on the prosecution to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if the accused decides to not cooperate in their own trial, that inevitably undermines the exercise of their right to an effective defense, which includes the ability to challenge the evidence against them and the opportunity to call into question the prosecution’s case.

After Habré’s lawyers refused to appear at the opening of the trial in July 2015 because they consider the court to be illegitimate, the court appointed three Senegalese lawyers to defend him and adjourned for 45 days so they could prepare. The first day back, on September 7, Habré was brought in to the court by force, kicking and screaming. After that, he was brought into the courtroom for each session before the doors to the public opened. The three court-appointed lawyers played an active role in questioning each witness and challenging the prosecution’s case, but were handicapped by Habré’s refusal to cooperate with them. Habré has remained silent, as is his right, even when the prosecutor tried to question him in line with standard criminal trial procedure in civil law jurisdictions.

11. How did the trial proceed?

The chambers sat for 56 days and heard from 93 witnesses. The trial examined evidence regarding alleged crimes committed during various periods in Chad under Habré: attacks against the Hadjerai ethnic group (1987), the Zaghawas (1989), and southern populations including the so-called “Black September” in 1984; the arrest and torture of political prisoners, and the treatment of prisoners of war. Some of the most moving testimony came from survivors, who described their experience in prisons and camps. Among the other witnesses were experts on that period in Chad, the president of the 1992 Chadian truth commission, former members the DDS, the Belgian judge who carried out a four-year investigation into a complaint filed against Habré in Belgium, a French doctor who treated 581 torture victims, researchers from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and forensic, statistical and handwriting experts.

The witnesses, after presenting their testimony to the court, were questioned, in turn, by the prosecutor, the civil party lawyers and Habré’s court-appointed lawyers. The judges, in a departure from the French civil law “inquisitorial” model, generally did not put many questions to the witnesses. 

12. What were some of the highlights of the prosecution’s evidence? 

  • Four women sent to a camp in the desert north of Chad in 1988 testified that they were used as sexual slaves for the army and that soldiers had repeatedly raped multiple women. Two were under 15 at the time. One testified that Habré himself had also raped her. 
  • Other survivors testified that rape of women detainees was frequent in the DDS’s Locaux prison in N’Djaména.
  • Ten witnesses testified that they had personally seen Habré in prison or were sent to prison personally by Habré.
  • Prison survivors said that corpses were kept rotting in jail cells until there were considered to be enough to be taken away.
  • Survivors described the main forms of torture, in particular the “arbatachar,” which involved tying all four of a prisoner's limbs behind their back to interrupt the bloodstream and induce paralysis.
  • Bandjim Bandoum, once a top DDS agent, testified about the agency’s inner workings. He explained that when reports on detainees were sent to the presidency, they came back with annotations: E for “executer - execute”; L for “liberer - set free” or V for “vu - seen.” “Only the president could request a release," he said.
  • A court-appointed handwriting expert confirmed that it was Habré who responded to a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross for the hospitalization of certain prisoners of war by writing “From now on, no prisoner of war can leave the Detention Center except in case of death.”
  • Patrick Ball of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group presented a study of mortality in Habré’s prisons, based on the DDS’s own documents, concluding that prison mortality was “hundreds of times higher than normal mortality for adult men in Chad during the same period” and “substantially higher than some of the twentieth century’s worst POW contexts” such as German prisoners of war in Soviet custody and US prisoners of war in Japanese custody.
  • Experts from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team carried out exhumations at a number of potential mass grave sites. In Deli, in southern Chad, the site of an alleged killing of unarmed rebels in September 1984, the experts located 21 bodies, almost all military-age men, most of whom were killed by gunshot. In Mongo, in the center of Chad, the experts uncovered 14 bodies from another 1984 massacre.
  • Clement Abaifouta, the president of the Association of Victims of the Crimes of the Hissène Habré Regime, testified that he was forced to bury the bodies of deceased detainees in mass graves.
  • Souleymane Guengueng, the founder of the victims’ association, showed the court crude eating utensils he had carved in jail.
  • Robert Hissein Gambier, who survived five years in prison, earning the nickname “The man who runs faster than death,” said that he counted 2,053 detainees who died in prison. He brought wooden sticks to demonstrate how his head was squeezed as torture.
  • Abdourahmane Guèye, a Senegalese merchant imprisoned in Chad, testified that his release was won through diplomatic negotiations between the Senegalese and Chadian governments. His Senegalese companion, Demba Gaye, died, according to DDS documents, after being placed in the “cell of death” in the Locaux prison.
  • Mahamat Nour Dadji, the child of a close adviser to Habré, testified that the DDS director arrived at their home in Habré’s car saying, “The president needs you.” Dadji was detained with his father, who was never seen again.
  • Bichara Djibrine Ahmat testified that in 1983 he was taken with 149 other Chadian prisoners of war to be executed. Only he survived to take the truth commission 10 years later to find the mass grave. 

13. What was the defense lawyers’ strategy?

The court-appointed lawyers tried to show that Habré himself was not involved in committing crimes, and challenged the credibility of a number of witnesses, particularly those who implicated Habré directly. They asserted that the accusations against Habré were part of an exaggerated media and political campaign originated by Amnesty International and the Chadian truth commission, and then taken up by Human Rights Watch with the support of the current Chadian government.

The lawyers said that Habré was a patriot, committed to defending Chad against Libyan aggression and secessionist rebels. (“If it were not thanks to President Habré, Chad would not be Chad today, but a province of Libya.”) Habré’s response was to combat insurgents but not civilians. The DDS was not under his authority, but under the Interior Ministry. 

14. How was information about the trial disseminated?

The trial was recorded in its entirety, except for some technical problems. It was streamed live on the internet and broadcast on Chadian television. Almost all the sessions have been posted to the internet. Human Rights Watch considers this a major success in ensuring that the trial was meaningful to, and understood by, the people of Chad and Senegal. The landmark nature of this trial made it all the more important that it was available for viewing by the widest possible audience.

The chambers, through a consortium of non-governmental organizations from Senegal, Belgium and Chad that received a contract from the court, undertook outreach programs to both Chad and Senegal. The consortium has trained journalists in both countries, organized public debates, created a website and produced materials to explain the trial.

Human Rights Watch was part of a separate consortium of non-governmental organizations that facilitated the travel of Chadian journalists to Senegal to cover the trial, and the travel of Senegalese journalists to Chad during the pre-trial proceedings.

15. What is the maximum punishment Habré could receive if found guilty? 

If Habré is found guilty, the chambers could impose a sentence of up to life in prison. This is the punishment requested by chief prosecutor Mbacké Fall in his closing statement on February 10. The prosecution also requested the seizure of Habré’s property frozen during the inquiry - two small bank accounts and a property in an upscale Dakar neighborhood.

If Habré is sentenced to prison, he could serve that sentence in Senegal. However the statute also provides that he could serve it “in one of the African Union member States with which Senegal has entered into an agreement concerning the execution of prison sentences.”

16. What was the victims’ role in the trial?

Victims were permitted to participate in proceedings as civil parties. More than 4,000 victims registered as civil parties. Two teams of lawyers represented the civil parties, questioning witnesses, presenting evidence and participating in the closing statements.

The victims also left their mark on the trial through their long campaign for justice as well as their dramatic testimony. An opinion article in The New York Times reflected that “[n]ever in a trial for mass crimes have the victims’ voices been so dominant.”

17. Will the victims receive reparations?

Under its statute, in the event of a conviction, the chambers may order reparations against the accused. These can be paid into a victims’ fund, which can also receive voluntary contributions by foreign governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations. Reparations from the victims’ fund will be open to all victims, individually or collectively, whether or not they participated in Habré’s trial.

The chief judge, Gberdao Gustave Kam, has said that if Habré is found guilty, there will be a second set of hearings on damages for the civil parties

In July 2013, after the chambers arrested Habré, President Déby said that the Chadian government would compensate survivors and relatives of those who died. There is also a Chadian court judgment ordering the government to make reparations (see below). Chad’s responsibility under international law to provide reparations to victims of gross human rights violations is separate and distinct from reparations against the accused. 

18. Can there be an appeal?

Whether Habre is found guilty or acquitted, all parties in the trial – that is the prosecution, the accused and the victims with respect to their civil interests, could appeal. Although Habré does not recognize the Chambers’ authority, the court-appointed lawyers could lodge an appeal on his behalf. If an appeal is lodged by any party, an Extraordinary African Appeals Chamber would be constituted to hear the appeal. 

19. How are the Extraordinary Chambers structured and administered?

The Extraordinary African Chambers were created inside the existing Senegalese court structure in Dakar. The chambers have four levels: an Investigative Chamber with four Senegalese investigative judges, an Indicting Chamber of three Senegalese judges, a Trial Chamber, and an Appeals Chamber. The Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber each have two Senegalese judges and a president from another African Union member state.

The chambers also have an administrator to ensure the smooth functioning of their activities and to handle all non-judicial aspects of the work. The administrator’s responsibilities include financial management of personnel, outreach and media information, witness protection and assistance, and judicial cooperation between Senegal and other countries, such as Chad. The administrator since the opening of the chambers has been Aly Ciré Ba, a Senegalese magistrate.

20. How were the prosecutors and judges assigned?

The prosecutors and investigative judges were nominated by Senegal’s justice minister and appointed by the chairperson of the AU Commission. The president of the Trial Chamber is Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso. 

21. What about the trial in Chad of Habré-era security agents?

On March 25, 2015, a Chadian criminal court convicted 20 Habré-era security agents on charges of murder, torture, kidnapping and arbitrary detention, based on complaints filed by the same group of victims in 2000 but that were stalled until Senegal created the extraordinary chambers. During the Chad trial, about 50 victims described their torture and mistreatment at the hands of DDS agents. The court sentenced seven men to life in prison, including Saleh Younous, a former director of the DDS, and Mahamat Djibrine, described as one of the “most feared torturers in Chad” by the Truth Commission. Both men were also originally wanted for possible indictment by the chambers, but Chad declined to transfer them. Most of the 20 gave their testimony to the chambers when they visited Chad, but the Chadian government also refused to allow them to travel to Senegal to testify at trial. The Chadian court acquitted four others.

The Chadian court ordered the Chadian government to pay half of the US$125 million in reparations to 7,000 victims and those convicted to pay the other half. The court also ordered the government, within a year, to erect a monument to those who were killed under Habré and to turn the former DDS headquarters a museum. These were both among the long-standing demands of the victims’ associations. One year after the court decision, the Chadian government has not implemented any of these compensatory measures. 

22. How are the chambers funded?

The chambers are funded in large part by donor countries. In November 2012, Senegal and donor countries agreed to a budget of €8.6million (US$11.4 million at the time) to cover Habré’s trial. Commitments were made by: Chad (2 billion CFA francs or US$3,743,000), the European Union (€2 million), the Netherlands (€1 million), the African Union (US$1 million), the United States (US$1 million), Belgium (€500,000), Germany (€500,000), France (€300,000), and Luxembourg (€100,000). The Netherlands has also given extra support to the Outreach consortium. In addition, Canada, Switzerland, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have provided technical assistance. A Steering Committee chaired by the African Union and consisting of Senegal and the donors receives and approves periodic reports from the administrator.

23. What will happen to the Extraordinary Chambers after the trial?

The Extraordinary African Chambers will be dissolved once the judgment in the case of Hissène Habré is final.

24. What were the key steps in the campaign to bring Habré to justice?

In January 2000, inspired by the London arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, a group of Chadian victims filed a complaint against Habré in Senegal. In February of the same year, a Senegalese judge indicted Habré on charges of torture, crimes against humanity, and “barbaric acts.” However, after political interference by the new Senegalese government of President Abdoulaye Wade, which was criticized by two UN human rights rapporteurs, appellate courts dismissed the case on the ground that Senegalese courts lacked competence to try crimes committed abroad.

Other Habré government victims, including three Belgian citizens of Chadian origin, then filed a case against Habré in Belgium in November 2000. The Belgian authorities investigated the case for four years, then indicted Habré in 2005 and sought his extradition. A Senegalese court ruled that it lacked competence to decide on the extradition request.

Senegal then turned to the African Union, which in July 2006 called on Senegal to prosecute Habré “on behalf of Africa” before its own courts. President Wade accepted the AU mandate and Senegalese law was amended to give the country’s courts explicit universal jurisdiction over international crimes, including torture and crimes against humanity. However, Wade contended that Senegal needed full up-front international funding of €27.4 million (US$36.5 million) before beginning any prosecution. Three years of halting negotiations over the trial budget ensued, until Senegal and donor countries finally agreed in November 2010 to a budget of €8.6 million (US$11.4 million) for Habré’s trial.

Just days before the budget agreement, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled that Habré should be tried before a “special ad hoc procedure of an international character.” In January 2011, the AU responded to the ECOWAS court ruling by proposing a plan for special chambers within the Senegalese justice system with some judges appointed by the AU. Senegal rejected the plan, and in May 2011, withdrew from negotiations with the AU over creation of the tribunal.

In July 2011, Senegal’s foreign minister ruled out holding Habré's trial in Senegal. The Chadian government then announced its support for extraditing Habré to Belgium to face trial.

In 2011 and 2012, Belgium issued three more extradition requests, which were not properly transmitted by the Senegalese authorities to its courts.

On July 20, 2012, in response to a suit brought by Belgium, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest judicial organ, found that Senegal had failed to meet its obligations under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and ordered Senegal to prosecute Habré “without further delay” if it did not extradite him.

The new Senegalese government of Macky Sall reacted quickly to the ICJ decision, expressing regret that Habré’s trial had not taken place sooner and reaffirming its commitment to begin proceedings quickly. Negotiations resumed between Senegal and the AU, ultimately leading to an agreement to create the Extraordinary African Chambers to conduct proceedings within the Senegalese judicial system. On December 17, the Senegalese National Assembly adopted a law establishing the special chambers. On February 8, 2013, the Extraordinary African Chambers were inaugurated in Dakar.

25. What is the significance of Habré’s prosecution under universal jurisdiction?

As demonstrated by the Habré case, universal jurisdiction is an important safety net to ensure that suspects of atrocities do not enjoy impunity in a third state when they cannot be prosecuted before the courts of the country where the crimes were allegedly committed or before an international court. There has been an increase in the use of universal jurisdiction over the past 20 years, notably but not exclusively by courts in European countries. To strengthen the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes, it is critical for courts on all continents to use universal jurisdiction. The African Union has encouraged its member states to adopt legislation to give their national courts universal jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and has taken steps to initiate a network of national prosecutors working on war crimes cases. Several investigations have been opened in South Africa and Senegal on the basis of universal jurisdiction.

26. How does this trial fit into critiques of the role of international justice in Africa and claims that universal jurisdiction cases target Africans?

Habré’s trial is an important step forward in African states taking responsibility to prosecute serious international crimes. However, the Habré trial does not negate the importance of the ICC and the use of universal jurisdiction by non-African states, including European courts, for crimes committed in Africa. These tools are often the only available hope for justice for African victims.

International justice has been applied unevenly. Powerful countries and their allies have often been able to avoid justice when serious crimes are committed on their territories, notably by failing to ratify the ICC treaty and wielding their political influence at the UN Security Council.

Nongovernmental organizations have actively campaigned for African governments to work to improve international justice and its reach —as opposed to undermining it— to limit impunity for atrocities. 

27. Why isn’t Habré prosecuted in Chad?

Chad never sought Habré’s extradition, and there are serious doubts that Habré could have gotten a fair trial in Chad, where he had been sentenced to death in absentia for his alleged role in a 2008 rebellion. In July 2011, President Wade threatened to expel Habré to Chad but, days later, retracted his decision in the face of an international outcry over the risk that Habré would be mistreated or even killed. 

28. Why couldn’t the International Criminal Court prosecute Habré?

The International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction over crimes committed after July 1, 2002, when its statute entered into effect. The crimes of which Hissène Habré is accused took place between 1982 and 1990.

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

(Dakar, September 4, 2015) – The trial of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture will begin in earnest on September 7, 2015.

Video

Act 1 of the Hissène Habré Trial

The long-awaited trial of Hissène Habré, was adjourned almost as soon as it was opened, as an outburst from the former dictator of Chad caused a scene in the courtroom.

When the landmark trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system formally opened on July 20, Habré had to be removed from court after an outburst. Habré’s lawyers then refused to appear and the trial was adjourned, giving new court-appointed lawyers time to study the case.  

“After 25 years of campaigning and 45 days waiting patiently, the survivors will finally get their day in court,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch who has worked with the victims since 1999. “Hissène Habré may try to create more disturbances, but he does not get a veto on whether he should be tried, or if the victims get justice.”

Habré has refused to communicate with the court-appointed lawyers, and it is expected that he will try to have them taken off the case. The president of the court, Gberdao Gustave Kam, has made clear, however, that in keeping with Senegalese law and international practice, the lawyers are needed to safeguard the rights of the accused and the integrity of the proceedings.

Habre is accused of tens of thousands of political killings as well as systematic torture during his rule, from 1982 to 1990. The trial is the first in the world in which the courts of one country prosecute the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes.

Habré is standing trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system. The chambers were inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, the period when Habré ruled Chad. Judge Kam, of Burkina Faso, president of the Trial Chamber, will hear the case along with two senior Senegalese judges.

The trial is expected to last two months, with about 100 witnesses and victims expected to testify.

“If I get a chance to look Hissène Habré in the face, I will do it without fear,” said Fatimé Sakine, 53, a secretary who was subjected to electroshocks and beatings during 15 months in prison from 1984 to 1986 and who is in Dakar for the trial. “I want to know why we were kept rotting, why so many of my friends were tortured and killed.”

“This case is a milestone in the fight to hold the perpetrators of atrocities accountable for their crimes, in Africa and in the world,” Brody said. “It's taken many years, and many twists and turns, but in the end a group of tenacious survivors have shown that it was possible to bring their dictator to justice.” 

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

(Dakar, July 17, 2015) – The trial of Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré is a victory for the victims of his government. The trial began in Senegal on July 20, 2015, almost 25 years after he was overthrown.  

Video

Hissène Habré Finally Facing Justice

The trial of Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré is a victory for the victims of his government. The trial will begin on July 20, 2015, almost 25 years after he was overthrown.

 
“The opening of Hissène Habré’s trial, 25 years after he fled Chad, is a tribute to the survivors of his brutal rule who never gave up fighting for justice,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch who has worked with the victims since 1999. “This case warns despots everywhere that if they engage in atrocities they will never be out of the reach of their victims.”

Habré is charged with crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes. The trial will be the first in the world in which the courts of one country prosecute the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes.

 
Habré will stand trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system. The chambers were inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, the period when Habré ruled Chad. Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso, president of the Trial Chamber, will hear the case along with two senior Senegalese judges.

The trial is expected to last three months, with about 100 witnesses and victims expected to testify.

Habré, through his lawyers, has said that he does not want to appear in court. Under Senegalese law, however, the court president can require his appearance. 

“I have been waiting for this day since I walked out of prison almost 25 years ago, “ said Souleymane Guengueng, who nearly died of mistreatment and disease in Habré’s prisons, and later founded the Association of Victims of Crimes of the Regime of Hissène Habré (AVCRHH). “I want to look Hissène Habré in the face and ask him why I was kept rotting in jail for three years, why my friends were tortured and killed.”

Habré is accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture. After he was deposed by the current president, Idriss Déby Itno, in 1990, Habré fled to Senegal. Habré was first arrested in Senegal in February 2000, but Senegal refused to prosecute him then or to extradite him to Belgium in 2005. It was only in 2012, when Macky Sall became president of Senegal and the International Court of Justice, acting on a suit by Belgium, ordered Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré that progress was made toward the trial with the creation of the Extraordinary African Chambers. The chambers indicted Habré in July 2013 and placed him in pretrial custody. After a 19-month investigation, judges of the chambers found that there was sufficient evidence for Habré to face trial.

“This case is a milestone in the fight to hold the perpetrators of atrocities accountable for their crimes, in Africa and in the world,” Brody said. "It's taken many years, and many twists and turns, but in the end a group of tenacious survivors showed that even a dictator can be brought to justice." 

On March 25, a court in Chad convicted 20 top security agents of Habré’s government on torture and murder charges. 

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international justice program since it was founded in 2001, has worked at Human Rights Watch since 1991. He started working on international justice issues in 1994 when Human Rights Watch attempted to bring a case before the International Court of Justice charging the government of Iraq with genocide against the Kurds. Dicker later led the Human Rights Watch multi-year campaign to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC). He continues to be closely involved on issues that are important at the ICC. He has also spent the past few years leading advocacy efforts urging the creation of effective accountability mechanisms. He monitored the Slobodan Milosevic trial in The Hague and made many trips to Iraq before and at the start of Saddam Hussein's trial. A former civil rights attorney in New York, Dicker graduated from New York University Law School and received his LLM from Columbia University.

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

© ArchOneZ/VectorStock

This week, United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Congressman Jim McGovern introduced a resolution to the US House of Representatives to challenge corruption at the highest levels around the world: an International Anti-Corruption Court. This novel idea, first proposed by Judge Mark Wolf in 2012, is worth considering given the desperate need to develop new mechanisms to address corruption’s severe, transnational impacts on human rights and the enduring challenge of holding kleptocrats accountable for their crimes.

Corruption can ravage societies and be stubbornly difficult to uproot. Allowed to fester, corruption breeds poverty, violence, and instability that can spread well past a country’s borders. The World Economic Forum estimates that 5 percent of the world’s GDP is lost to corruption, and the International Monetary Fund blames it for US$1 trillion in lost tax revenue.

And corruption can rob people of their rights. It can lead to failing healthcare and education systems, lack of access to clean water – all problems that force countless people to leave their homes and countries in pursuit of better lives. It can also corrode government itself, as corrupt officials often shield themselves from accountability by hijacking the judiciary and abusively silencing critics.

High-level corruption can cross borders. As the “Luanda Leaks” recently exposed, it often implicates a dizzying network of far-flung companies, well-connected individuals, and countries – from foreign companies greasing palms for lucrative contracts to accounting firms scrubbing books and legal systems that allow corrupt officials to launder their dirty money.

Time will tell whether an international anti-corruption court is the right tool to take on these international networks and deliver justice to corruption’s victims. But for now, it’s a discussion worth having.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir speaks during a press conference after the oath of the prime minister and first vice president Bakri Hassan Saleh at the palace in Khartoum, Sudan March 2, 2017.

© 2017 Reuters
(Khartoum) – Sudan’s leaders say that they will cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which could mean that former president Omar al-Bashir will finally face justice for grave international crimes in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said today. Transferring the five Sudanese under ICC arrest warrants to the court would be a major step toward accountability after years of obstruction and would signal the new transitional government’s commitment to achieving justice for all victims of abuses across Sudan.

“Victims and their families have waited more than 15 years for justice for widespread atrocities committed in Darfur,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Now they may finally see former president al-Bashir and the other ICC suspects in court.” 

Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, announced the commitment on February 11, 2020. He told journalists at peace negotiations with rebel groups to end Sudan’s civil wars that the parties had agreed the ICC would be among the four mechanisms for transitional justice in Darfur, which will also include a special criminal court and truth and reconciliation in Sudan.  

“We agreed that everyone who had arrest warrants issued against them will appear before the ICC. I’m saying it very clearly,” he was quoted as saying.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the Sovereign Council confirmed the government’s commitment to cooperate with the ICC during meetings in Khartoum with Roth and Mausi Segun, the organization’s Africa director, on February 12.

General Abel Fattah al-Burhan, who chairs the Sovereign Council, told Human Rights Watch: “We agreed no one is above the law, and that people will be brought to justice, be it in Sudan or outside Sudan with the help of the ICC.” He added: “[O]ur colleague announced yesterday…we will cooperate fully with the ICC.”

Al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019 after months of protests in Sudan, which government security forces dispersed violently, killing hundreds since December 2018 alone. Under Sudan’s power-sharing deal signed on August 17, 2019, the transitional government is headed by an 11-member Sovereign Council for a period of three years, followed by elections.

The transitional authorities had earlier insisted on trying al-Bashir in Sudanese courts instead of handing him over to the ICC. In December, al-Bashir was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of corruption and money laundering, but those did not relate to human rights violations or the grave international crimes for which he faces ICC charges. Sudan’s authorities have begun investigations into various other crimes and human rights violations since 1989, when al-Bashir’s government came to power.

At the ICC, al-Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes, and three counts of genocide. These relate to allegations of murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, intentional attacks on the civilian population, pillage, and rape committed between 2003 and 2008 in Darfur.

There are outstanding ICC arrest warrants for four other Sudanese suspects for war crimes and crimes against humanity: Ahmed Haroun, former state minister for humanitarian affairs and former governor of Southern Kordofan state; Abdulraheem Mohammed Hussein, the former defense minister; Ali Kosheib, a militia leader; and Abdallah Banda Abakaer, leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur.

The transitional government should urgently invite ICC officials to Sudan to discuss terms of cooperation and how to move forward with the prosecutions, Human Rights Watch said.

Based on research in Darfur in 2004 and 2005, Human Rights Watch found that the highest levels of the Sudanese leadership were responsible for creating and coordinating the government's counterinsurgency policy in Darfur, which deliberately and systematically targeted civilians in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

In 2005, the United Nations Security Council mandated the ICC prosecutor to investigate crimes in Darfur under Resolution 1593. Since Sudan is not a member of the ICC, the prosecutor could not act without a request by the Security Council, or Sudan itself. The previous government, led by al-Bashir, obstructed all cooperation with the court, even though the Security Council had required its cooperation under Resolution 1593.

“For years, the al-Bashir government paralyzed prospects of accountability for crimes in Darfur,” Roth said. “Sudan’s new leadership will mark a new chapter of respect for human rights and justice by having the ICC suspects face justice.”

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

It was a year ago that you started pursuing the unique approach to holding Myanmar accountable in the ICJ. How did that come about?

The idea of a country without any connection to the crimes bringing a case to the International Court of Justice had never been done before, even though, technically, any member state of the 1948 Genocide Convention could do so. The fact that it was Gambia – a small African country recovering from 20-plus years of dictatorship – and not a big, rich country makes its leadership even more inspiring.

It’s now more than two years since Myanmar’s latest ethnic cleansing campaign began, and military atrocities against the Rohingya go back years. Why have there been no consequences until now?

Myanmar’s longstanding brutal treatment of ethnic Rohingya is exactly the kind of crisis that the International Criminal Court (ICC) was created to address. The ICC tries individuals for grave international crimes, while the ICJ adjudicates disputes between countries.  But since Myanmar isn’t a member of the ICC, only the UN Security Council could refer the situation to the ICC. That hasn’t happened because China has acted as Myanmar’s ally and protector, and as permanent member of the Security Council, can veto any resolution.  The implied threat of a Chinese veto has managed to stifle criticism of Myanmar’s egregious human rights record and kept the situation from being referred to the ICC.

You needed to find a country to bring the case before the ICJ. How did that work?

When we first started raising this, at the UN in New York and in Canada and with other countries that had spoken out on genocide against the Rohingya, they said, what a creative, interesting idea – it’s not going to happen. We reached out to countries that had ratified the Genocide Convention in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Then, out of nowhere, the West African nation of Gambia made public their intention to move ahead. I wish we could claim credit! Gambian Minister of Justice Abubaccar Tambadou’s vision, moral courage and leadership in seeking justice for the Rohingya is truly inspirational. Gambia demonstrated to the world that there was a state brave enough to take on Myanmar’s brutal ethnic cleansing campaign and risk China’s wrath in doing so.

Gambia’s decision to step forward gave new life to our efforts to reach out to countries around the globe, because now we were asking them to support Gambia in moving forward.

Gambia is just emerging from two decades of brutal dictatorship. Why did it take this on?

Gambian Justice Minister Tambadou had worked as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, prosecuting cases from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. When he unexpectedly found himself in Bangladesh, sent at the last minute to represent his country at the annual conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, he met with Rohingya refugees at Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar camp. He says that after listening to story after story, it was clear that they had experienced genocide. And he felt morally compelled to do something about it.

Rohingya refugees gather in an open field at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine State on August 25, 2019. 

© 2019 K M Asad/LightRocket via Getty Images

What was it like being in The Hague for the ICJ hearing in December?

We brought a couple of Rohingya activists to The Hague and experiencing the moment with them was really moving. They felt they were finally being recognized by the world court because their government tried to erase them, which brought heartbreak but also power.

Outside the court building, there were demonstrations, a lot of shouting and chanting by both Rohingya and Myanmar government supporters. The decision of de facto Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to defend the military in person before the court brought an extra level of scrutiny – as well as more demonstrators and media.

The Rohingya activists said they felt betrayed by Suu Kyi, who had spent many years under house arrest by the then-military government for her pro-democracy activism. They told me that they once hoped she would be their protector, but she was protecting the military instead.

What’s the significance of Aung San Suu Kyi defending Myanmar’s military in court?

The fact that she went to The Hague and personally spoke in defense of the military’s actions against a minority community means she has owned the military’s atrocities in court before the entire world. She has aligned herself with the perpetrators rather than the victims.

Gambia's Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou and Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi attend a hearing in a case filed by Gambia against Myanmar alleging genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya population, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands December 10, 2019. 

© 2019 Reuters/Yves Herman

What does the court’s order mean for the Rohingya? For international justice?

The ICJ directed Myanmar to prevent genocide, and this could have a real impact in protecting the 600,000 Rohingya who remain in the country. Additionally, the ICJ process means Rohingya survivors and activists have a platform for their experiences to be recognized.

The ICJ order is a powerful reminder that Myanmar should not rely on powerful countries – notably China – to escape its responsibilities under the Genocide Convention and other international treaties. It also brings hope that so long as countries like Gambia are willing to step up, international justice can prevail.

Can the court’s order be enforced?

The ICJ has made a legally binding ruling, but enforcing it, given Myanmar’s track record, could prove difficult. The world needs to raise the political cost of non-compliance for Myanmar and show them countries are watching. Human Rights Watch will be urging governments to use their diplomatic leverage with Myanmar to improve the Rohingya’s situation. We will also promote resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly to send a strong message to Myanmar to abide by the court’s order. The Security Council, too, could play an important role in enforcing the order, but because of China’s veto power I’m not holding my breath. In that regard, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who issued a strong statement in support of the ICJ ruling and has urged the Security Council to act on the Rohingya crisis in the past, could be a key player.

Rohingya refugees at a camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, January 1, 2019.

© 2019 AP Photo

What’s next?

Now the ICJ will hear submissions from both sides about the merits of the case, that is, whether or not Myanmar committed genocide against the Rohingya. It’s a pretty long road and will take years to unfold, and no outcome is certain. But this court order, and the court requirement that Myanmar report regularly on its implementation of the order – every six months -- makes clear that the court is taking the matter very seriously and its scrutiny isn’t going away. And that could go a long way to helping protect the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar.

You woke up at 3:30 a.m. in New York to hear the ruling and finalize Human Rights Watch’s response. Was it what you expected?

It all feels surreal. I had a feeling the court would hand down a favorable ruling, but that the 17 judges ruled unanimously is simply incredible. It adds to the weight of the order. There was a moment of panic before everything starts, and I started thinking, what if they rule against Gambia? What would we tell our Rohingya partners? And there’s also the logistics – getting our news release out quickly, answering media calls, and commenting on social media to explain to the world this important victory for the Rohingya, Gambia and international justice.

When, at the end of the ruling, the chief judge said “unanimously,” then hearing him say it four times over – that really drove the point home.

If you had told me a year ago that we would be in this place, I’d have said you were crazy. But that’s our job, right? To do our part to make things happen and help survivors get the justice they deserve.

Author: Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

In a major ruling, the U.N. International Court of Justice at The Hague has ordered Burma to “take all measures within its power” to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocide. The court issued the ruling Thursday, calling the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Burma, also known as Myanmar, “extremely vulnerable” to military violence. The court ordered Burma to report regularly to the tribunal about its progress. The ruling is a sharp rebuke of Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who last month asked the court to drop the genocide case against Burma. Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent over a decade fighting against the Burmese military that she is now defending. For more on the ICJ ruling, we speak with Reed Brody, counsel and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch. “This is the most important court in the world intervening in one of the worst mass atrocity situations of our time while the atrocities are still happening,” says Brody. “It doesn’t really get more significant than that.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! In a major ruling, the U.N. International Court of Justice at The Hague has ordered Burma to “take all measures within its power” to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocide. The court issued the ruling Thursday, calling the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Burma, also known as Myanmar, quote, “extremely vulnerable” to military violence. The court ordered Burma to report regularly to the tribunal about its progress.

The ruling is a sharp rebuke of Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who last month asked the court to drop the genocide case against Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Prize laureate. She spent over a decade fighting against the Burmese military, was imprisoned by them. She’s now defending them.

Gambia brought the genocide case to the International Court, accusing Burma of trying to, quote, “destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence.” The Burmese military killed and raped thousands of Rohingya and forced more than 700,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh in a brutal army crackdown in 2017.

This is Rohingya refugee Enamul Hassan reacting to the court’s ruling from Bangladesh.

ENAMUL HASSAN: [translated] For a long time the government of Myanmar tortured our Rohingya people. They tortured too much, raped our mothers and sisters, killed our men. After a long time, Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Rohingya people in the ICJ court. By the grace of Allah, we got a rule on behalf of the Rohingya people. And for that, we are very grateful to the Gambian government. Now we wait to go back to our country with our rights.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we go to Alicante, Spain, where we’re joined by Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, via Democracy Now! video stream.

Reed, can you talk about the significance of the ruling of the International Court of Justice?

REED BRODY: Well, you know, this is the most important court in the world intervening in one of the worst atrocity — mass atrocity situations of our time, while the atrocities are still happening. So, it doesn’t really get more significant than that. As you mentioned, there are 700,000 Rohingyas who have been displaced into Bangladesh. There are hundreds of thousands in camps in Myanmar. Now, their situation obviously doesn’t just change overnight. But as a young Rohingyan poet said, “My brothers and sisters, the door to justice has opened today.” So I think, you know, this is a huge decision. And as you said, it’s a huge rebuke to Aung San Suu Kyi and to the military in Burma.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain Aung San Suu Kyi’s position? I mean, she is a Nobel peace laureate. She has long now defended the Burmese military in its genocide against the people, the Rohingya Muslims, and actually went to The Hague to testify on the military’s behalf — the military which imprisoned her and she fought against for decades.

REED BRODY: Well, obviously, she has thrown her lot in with the military. And I think she’s showing domestic public opinion that she hates the Rohingya as much as, you know, many others do. I mean, let’s remember that this is one of the most hated, persecuted minorities in the world. And I was reminded by this decision of the genocide conviction in Guatemala against Ríos Montt, in which the highland Mayan Indians, among the most marginalized people in the Americas — not as marginalized as the Rohingya — you know, were recognized as a group, and their rights were protected as victims of genocide. And I think the same thing is happening today. Aung San Suu Kyi never mentioned, and the government of Myanmar, in their response to yesterday’s ruling, never uses even the word “Rohingya.” But the court, the International Court of Justice, the highest court in the world, said the Rohingya are a group, and they’re entitled to protection from genocide. I think that’s — you know, that’s a major moment, not just for the Rohingya, but for international justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, what is the enforcement mechanism? I mean, this court, the International Court of Justice, a part of the U.N., what does this mean?

REED BRODY: Well, theoretically, the decisions are binding, and they’re transmitted to the Security Council. Now, we know that the Security Council, China has a veto, and so the Security Council will not enforce the judgment. But the court did — first of all, the court established a reporting requirement. It said every — it said the first — in four months, the government of Burma has to account for what it’s doing, and then every six months thereafter. So it’s almost like a court supervision of what’s going on. The General Assembly can take it up. The Human Rights Council in Geneva can take it up. I think whether Myanmar applies this decision is going very much to depend on the international pressure that will come. I mean, they were told not to destroy evidence. Well, we can see, and we have seen in the past, through aerial photos, where they’re destroying evidence. So, this is going to be — you know, it’s obviously going to take a lot, but there is an enforcement possibility and a mechanism that’s going to depend on international pressure.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about Gambia bringing this case, the speed with which the ICJ ruled? And what about other cases in the world where so many have died — for example, in Syria, what’s happening with the Uyghurs in China? Have any of these cases been brought, or even what U.S. is doing in the Middle East and in the Iraq War, etc., in the killing of Qassem Soleimani?

REED BRODY: Well, of course, you know, in terms of Gambia, I have to say, as you know, I work in Gambia, and I work closely with the attorney general there. And Gambia took this case actually on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to protect the Moslems, Rohingya. And the attorney general of the Gambia happened to have been a prosecutor of the Rwandan genocide, and he felt that he was seeing the same thing happen, and he took the lead. And he has a wonderful back story that really legitimizes this very rare instance of South-South solidarity, Gambia, little Gambia, sticking up for a minority all the way across the world.

It’s interesting that you mention China and the Uyghurs, because when — the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which should be standing up, as well, for the minority in China; instead, because of China’s not only military might, but also China has the unprecedented campaign by China to silence international critics — it was the topic, actually, of Human Rights Watch’s world report last week. The OIC, Muslim countries in the world, actually adopted a statement praising China for how they care for the Muslim minority. So, in many ways, this is a question of political balance of power. In this case, Burma’s power is not the same internationally as China’s.

The case of Syria, you know, again, there’s a veto with Russia. Syria has not ratified these conventions. And Russia can veto, and China can veto, any accountability mechanism at that level. Now, there are a lot of cases around the world where individual countries, in France, Germany and other places, have arrested and are prosecuting people, Syrian officials who have engaged in repression. But, of course, it’s not the same as going to the state and going to the top.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much for being with us, Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Nepalese war victim, Pabitra Sunakhari, shows a photograph of her son as she speaks to a journalist in Birendranagar, Surkhet District, Nepal on February 2, 2017.

© 2017 PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images
(Geneva) – Recent steps taken by the government are a serious setback on Nepal’s transitional justice process, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and TRIAL International said today.

The organizations expressed concern about the decision to appoint commissioners to the two transitional justice commissions without adequate consultations, and without amending the legal framework to make it consistent with international human rights law and Supreme Court of Nepal rulings.

“Nepal’s political leaders know that a transparent process is essential to ensure justice and accountability for egregious rights violations during the conflict, but they keep trying to protect those responsible for the abuses,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “If the political leadership continues to evade responsibility, they leave little choice but for victims to approach courts outside the country.”

On January 18, 2020, a five-member committee formed by the government to recommend names for commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) submitted its nominations. The committee sent the names forward despite longstanding demands by victims’ groups and civil society for the government to first amend the transitional justice legal framework to ensure that it complies with Nepal’s international obligations and is responsive to victims’ concerns.

Instead, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs on January 13 hastily convened provincial consultations on the transitional justice laws lasting just three hours, which allowed little time for meaningful participation by victims’ groups and civil society.

“The government’s decision to carry out another rushed and secretive set of consultations fails to give due respect to the long-standing demands of victims and civil society,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia-Pacific director. “It also makes it very difficult to take seriously the statements of political leaders that they are committed to supporting a victim-centred and human rights compliant process.”

Victims’ groups and human rights organizations have rejected these appointments and consultations, and have reiterated that they will not support a transitional justice process that is opaque, non-consultative, and undermines the victims’ right to truth, justice, and reparations.

In addition, in its secretariat meeting earlier this week, the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) nominated Agni Sapkota as the speaker of the Federal Parliament. Sapkota, a member of parliament and the party standing committee, has been accused of responsibility for the abduction and killing of Arjun Lama in 2005 in Kavre. The case is the subject of proceedings including before the Supreme Court of Nepal.

NCP should reconsider Sapkota’s nomination as speaker of the parliament until there is a thorough and independent investigation, the organizations said.

“Nepal authorities should not appoint to high office people that are under investigation for human rights abuses, when they could interfere with that investigation,” said Audrey Oettli, Program Manager at TRIAL International. “Such appointments are yet another illustration of the government’s unwillingness to demonstrate a basic commitment to holding perpetrators of conflict-era rights abuses accountable.”

In March 2008, the Supreme Court directed the police to register a case against Sapkota for abducting and killing Lama and to carry out an investigation. The police did not comply. In 2010, Australia and the US rejected visa applications from Sapkota in light of the allegations of serious human rights violations.

When Sapkota was appointed information communication minister in May 2011, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement expressing concern, saying that states have a responsibility “to ensure that the name of a person is fully cleared following a thorough investigation before any appointment to a high public office is announced.”

The ICJ, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and TRIAL International have repeatedly expressed concern about the transitional justice process. An effective transitional justice system requires strong legal foundations consistent with international law and standards, and the political will to address the demands of victims of the conflict, the organization said.

Concerns raised about the legal framework include: disparities between the definitions of specific crimes under international law and human rights obligations and violations under national and international law; inadequate provisions to ensure that serious crimes under international law are subject to criminal accountability, including punishment proportionate to the seriousness of the crimes; and a reliance on compensation at the expense of other forms of reparation and remedy for conflict survivors and their families.

The government should amend the the 2014 Transitional Justice Act to make it consistent with the Supreme Court’s rulings and international human rights standards, the groups said. It should initiate a genuine consultative and transparent process for the appointment of commissioners. And it should conduct credible and impartial investigations instead of appointing people accused of conflict-era crimes to high public offices.

“The government and the political parties in Nepal are increasingly showing that they are unwilling and incapable to deliver truth, justice, and reparations to the conflict victims domestically,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia director at Amnesty International. “Their signal of impunity will further push the victims and activists to seek justice internationally under universal jurisdiction. Instead of putting those suspected of criminal responsibility into positions of power, the government should bring them to justice in fair trials.”

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Opposition supporters flee Conakry’s main stadium on September 28, 2009, after security forces stormed and opened fire on rally participants.

These photos are taken from footage given to Human Rights Watch.

Guinea’s Justice Minister Mohamed Lamine Fofana has announced his government’s “unequivocal” support for the start of the trial to hold the alleged perpetrators of the September 28, 2009 stadium massacre accountable. The minister spoke at a review this week of Guinea’s human rights record at the country’s third Universal Periodic Review which is overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The minister explained the first brick for the construction of the courtroom in which the trial will take place has already been laid and that the proceedings are to commence in June 2020, after construction is completed in May.

The announcement raises new hopes in what has been a halting judicial process. “Since that day we cry and then we dry our tears and hope that we will have justice,” one victim interviewed for a video produced by Human Rights Watch said during a 10-year commemoration of the massacre and rapes.  

Video

Guinea: A Decade Later, No Justice for Massacre

Families of victims of the September 2009 massacre by Guinea’s security forces are still awaiting justice 10 years later, 6 human rights groups said today.

On September 28, 2009, security forces opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of protesters clamoring for free and fair elections. At least 150 people died and hundreds were wounded. More than 100 women were raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence on September 28 or in the aftermath of the events.

The opening of the long-awaited trial would attract positive global attention and send an important signal that these types of crimes committed in Guinea and beyond will not be tolerated.

But the trial’s progress could face new obstacles in view of the government’s crackdown on protests opposing a new constitution that could allow President Alpha Condé to run for a third term in the 2020 presidential elections. Indeed, past episodes of political instability significantly slowed progress on the 2009 stadium massacre investigation.

The victims and their loved ones have waited for justice for more than 10 years. If the government is serious about at last ensuring justice for one of the most brutal episodes in Guinea’s history, it will follow through with the important commitment made in Geneva.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Rohingya refugees watch ICJ proceedings at a restaurant in a refugee camp on December 12, 2019 in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

© 2019 Allison Joyce/Getty Images
(Bangkok) – The Myanmar government faced increasing pressure during 2019 for international justice for its human rights violations against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020. Respect for free expression and assembly also declined sharply during the year as the authorities escalated their use of repressive criminal laws.

“Myanmar’s failure to hold its military accountable for atrocities against the Rohingya is finally turning the wheels of international justice,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Two international courts are now examining whether Myanmar committed genocide and who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.”

In the 652-page World Report 2020, its 30th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the Chinese government, which depends on repression to stay in power, is carrying out the most intense attack on the global human rights system in decades. He finds that Beijing’s actions both encourage and gain support from autocratic populists around the globe, while Chinese authorities use their economic clout to deter criticism from other governments. It is urgent to resist this assault, which threatens decades of progress on human rights and our future.

Myanmar appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on December 10-12 to respond to a complaint filed by Gambia for alleged violations of the Genocide Convention. Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejected the genocide allegations, claiming that there was no orchestrated campaign of persecution despite considerable evidence of military atrocities against the Rohingya.

In November, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the ICC prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes against humanity, namely deportation, other inhumane acts, and persecution against Rohingya in Myanmar since October 2016. The court had already confirmed its jurisdiction over the crime of deportation and other related crimes, which it ruled was completed in Bangladesh, an ICC state party.

Almost one million Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh after fleeing the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign that began in August 2017. The estimated 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar live in dire conditions, subjected to government persecution, violence, extreme restrictions on movement, and deprivation of food and health care.

Armed conflict between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups intensified in 2019 in Shan, Kachin, and Rakhine States. In Rakhine State, the government ordered an internet blackout, which began on June 21 and included four townships affected by intensified fighting between the military and the ethnic Rakhine armed group, the Arakan Army. Civilians in embattled areas were increasingly endangered by severe aid blockages, indiscriminate artillery attacks, and forced displacement.

The United Nations-backed Fact-Finding Mission ended its work in September, handing over evidence of serious crimes by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya, Kachin, Shan, and Karen ethnic minorities to the newly operational Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), to continue collecting evidence.

Freedom of expression and the media remained under dire threat in Myanmar in 2019. In May, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were released from prison on a presidential amnesty after serving over 700 days in pretrial detention and prison. However, more than 250 people faced criminal lawsuits in 2019 under various laws restricting freedom of expression. Protesters were often targeted under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, which requires prior approval for an event.

Farmers across the country also faced difficulties with rights-repressing laws. In March, the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law came into effect, requiring anyone occupying land classified as “vacant, fallow, or virgin” to apply for permits, with prison terms for failure to comply.

“Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy government promised to overturn repressive laws enacted during military rule,” Robertson said. “Instead they are using those laws to attack their critics and have even introduced new repressive legislation.”

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am