France slams UN for silence on Syria

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has spoken out against the UN Security Council for failing to take a strong stand on the ongoing unrest in Syria. Speaking to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, Juppe said , " Crimes against humanity are being committed in Syria and the leaders of the regime will have to answer for them. The silence of the Security Council is unacceptable. ” His statement comes as Russia, a long-standing ally of Syrian President Assad, has sent a delegation of lawmakers to the country to try and broker talks between the opposing sides. See our earlier posts:...

Cluster bomb companies ejected from London arms fair

Two Pakistani companies have been expelled from the 2011 Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London, after it was found that they were promoting the use of cluster munitions. Cluster bombs have been banned by the UK since the ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty in 2008, which has been signed by over 100 countries. The DSEI stated that, "(We) can confirm that the Pakistan Ordnance Factory stand and Pakistan's Defence Export Promotion Organisation pavilion have both been permanently shut down after promotional material was found … containing...

Britain amends universal jurisdiction law

Britain has amended a law that allowed ordinary citizens to press charges against suspected foreign war criminals or torturers. Under universal jurisdiction, British courts were able to prosecute foreign citizens accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity, although the crimes were committed in another country. The principle of the law is rooted in the belief that certain crimes — such as genocide, hostage-taking and torture — are so serious that they must be addressed wherever a suspect can be detained. The amendment, passed by the Queen on Thursday, has made it more difficult for...

Dutch state responsible for 1947 Indonesian massacre

A court in the Netherlands has ruled that the Dutch state is responsible for a massacre in Indonesia committed by its troops in 1947. The Hague court had decided that the Dutch state was liable for compensation to be paid to relatives of victims despite the act having taken place more than 60 years ago. The massacre took place in the Java village of Rawagede, where an estimated 150-400 men and boys were shot dead by Dutch troops. The events took place as Indonesia fought for independence from colonial rule, which was recognized in 1949. Speaking from The Hague on Wednesday, Judge Daphne...

ICC not doing enough on government accountability for atrocities - HRW

Human Rights Watch released a report Thursday calling for the International Criminal Court to do more to hold senior government officials accountable for atrocities and improve its credibility. The 50-page report stated that the ICC had not gone far enough in prosecuting war criminals and ensuring justice was delivered, calling for additional cases to be opened. Elizabeth Evenson, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch said , "The ICC's first investigations have too often bypassed key perpetrators and crimes. By failing to project an effective and coherent strategy through...

UN prosecutor seeks to punish Serbian fugitive aides

The Chief UN Prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia called for an investigation into how war crimes fugitives managed to evade justice for so long. Speaking with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Belgrade, Serge Brammertz praised Serbia on capturing all war crimes suspects, particularly Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic and the last fugitive Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic who was captured in July. However, he went on to say that serious questions need to be asked on how they managed to evade capture for so long and called for those that helped them to be prosecuted. General...

New Libyan regime pledges to investigate war crimes

The National Transitional Council of Libya has said that they would investigate allegations of “serious abuses” conducted by their forces. The statement comes after Amnesty International released a report Tuesday that claimed both sides in the Libyan conflict had committed war crimes. From Benghazi, the council's executive committee said that they "strongly condemns any abuses perpetrated by either side" and will “fully investigate” all allegations. "The NTC is firmly committed to human rights and the rule of law, both international and local." London-based watchdog Amnesty International...

Arab League urges Syria to end repression

The Arab League demanded Syria end its brutal crackdown of peaceful protest on Tuesday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria could descend into "civil war" and criticised Assad's regime for failing to "listen to the voice of the people." The Turkish Prime Minister recently embarked on a tour of Arab Spring states emerging from the shadow of repressive dictators. Currently in Egypt, Erdogan is due to visit Tunisia and Libya shortly. The UN estimate on the number of protesters killed was raised to 2600 on Monday at the UNHRC. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated, “the situation in Syria is still dire.” Amid such casualty figures and harrowing tails of torture and abuse by Syrian security forces, the appointment a three member panel to investigate the allegations was announced on Monday. However it remains uncertain how the investigation will take place, as President Assad has not granted the panel permission to visit the country.

Liam Fox: UK "most rigorous" on arms exports

Speaking at the world's largest arms fair, held in London, the British Defence Secretary Liam Fox defended the UK's export licensing procedures as "amongst the most rigorous in the world" Fox added, " Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are mandatory considerations for all export licence applications, which we consider on a case-by-case basis. " When conditions change we act swiftly to revoke licences that do not meet our strict criteria - just as we did earlier this year as the events in the Middle East and North Africa unfolded." " We will not compromise our values . But let...

Haitian lawyers condemn impunity for Sri Lankan soldiers

In a letter to the United Nations, the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) severely condemned the lack of adequate inquiry and prosecution of Sri Lankan soldiers accused of systematically raping Haitians women and girls as young as 7, whilst posted as UN peacekeepers in 2007. Ezilo Dantò, HLLN president writes, “In 2007, it was discovered and reported that girls as young as 13 were having sex with U.N. peacekeepers for as little as $1 in Haiti.” “Moreover, Sri Lankan soldiers were accused of systematically raping Haitian women and girls, some as young as 7 years old .” “If only a dozen UN peacekeepers were punished for sexual abuse and rape, then that means, for instance, most of the 114 Sri Lankan soldiers deported back to Sri Lanka from Haiti in 2007 for sexual abuse and rape in Haiti did not get punished ,” “Humanitarian aid workers and UN peacekeepers accused of sexually abusing and sexual trafficking children in Haiti should have their names and their country’s identities exposed so that this matter may be cleaned up once and for all .” However, Brigadiear Nihal Hapuarachchi, spokesperson for the Sri Lankan Army is reported to have stated the matter is closed. A full inquiry was carried out and those soldiers who were found guilty were prosecuted he asserted.

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