Category Archives: crime & impunity

IACHR Holds Colombia Responsible for Unsolved Killing of Human Rights Defender

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holds a hearing on Colombia
Credit: CIDH

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) recently published its merits report in a case concerning the 1988 extrajudicial killing of Colombian human rights defender Valentín Basto Calderón, which has gone unsolved. See IACHR, Merits Report No. 45/17, Case 10.455, Valentín Basto Calderón et al. (Colombia), 25 May 2017. Bystanders Pedro Vicente Camargo, who was also killed, and his daughter Carmenza, who was injured, were also included as victims in the petition to the IACHR. At a time of armed conflict when State agents and paramilitaries frequently assassinated human rights defenders and community leaders, State agents had threatened Basto Calderón and harassed his family members. The State then failed to conduct a thorough and timely investigation of the events. See id. at para. 1. The International Justice Resource Center (IJRC) submitted an amicus curiae brief to the IACHR to provide supplementary analysis on this case, with a focus on Colombia’s obligations specific to human rights defenders. The Colombian Commission of Jurists represented the petitioners before the IACHR. In holding Colombia responsible for violations to the rights to life and humane treatment, among others, the IACHR took special note of the State’s specific obligations to protect and respect the rights of human rights defenders. Read more

Pardon of Former Peruvian President Fujimori Raises Legal Questions

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Credit: Cobot156 via Wikimedia Commons

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), two United Nations special rapporteurs, and one UN working group recently condemned Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s decision to issue a humanitarian pardon on December 24, 2017 to former President Alberto Fujimori, who was convicted and sentenced in 2009 to 25 years in prison for murder, kidnapping, and crimes against humanity during his presidency; the IACHR and the UN human rights experts question whether the decision meets international human rights legal requirements, and asserts that it undermines the efforts of victims and witnesses who brought Fujimori to justice. [IACHR Press Release; OHCHR Press Release; HRW: Pardon] See Resolución Suprema No. 281-2017-JUS (2017) [Spanish Only]. The pardon, issued officially for humanitarian reasons due to Fujimori’s health, absolves Fujimori of his convictions and releases him from his sentence. [IACHR Press Release] Peru is obligated under international human rights law to investigate alleged rights violations and punish perpetrators, and not to implement pardons or amnesty laws that undermine the rights to a fair trial and to judicial protection. [IACHR Press Release; OHCHR Press Release]

Some Peruvians and UN experts believe that the pardon was politically motivated because of a potential connection between Fujimori’s pardon and the cancelled impeachment proceedings against President Kuczynski; the impeachment proceedings were dropped just three days after the impeachment hearing of President Kuczynski, who survived a removal vote with the help of a 10-person coalition that crossed party lines to abstain from the removal vote, led by Fujimori’s son Kenji Fujimori. Seven of the 10 lawmakers communicated with Fujimori leading up to the vote. [Reuters; HRW: Pardon; OHCHR Press Release] President Kuczynski’s decision triggered street protests and unrest in Peru. [OHCHR Press Release; Guardian: Pardon] Read more

UN Committee Considers State Officials’ Immunity for Grave International Crimes

United Nations General Assembly hall
Credit: UN Photo/Sophia Paris

The Sixth Committee – an intergovernmental committee that considers legal questions in the United Nations General Assembly – finished late last month its consideration of a draft article that asserts State officials do not have immunity from the prosecution of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of apartheid, torture, and enforced disappearance in a foreign criminal jurisdiction; the debate arose from a draft article from the International Law Commission (ILC), a group of international legal experts who prepare draft conventions and codify existing rules of international law. The ILC will put forth the draft article as a recognition of existing State practice or as a proposal for a future international convention. See ILC, About the Commission. [UN Press Release: Debate Ends] The Sixth Committee debated the contents of the ILC’s most recent report released during its 69th Session, which included the ILC’s draft of its provisionally adopted Article 7 on international crimes for which immunity from rationae materiae jurisdiction (subject matter jurisdiction) does not apply. See International Law Commission, Report of the International Law Commission at its sixty-ninth session, UN Doc. A/72/10, 4 August 2017, para. 140.

The draft of Article 7 originated from the report of a special rapporteur – a member of the ILC – appointed to address the issue of State officials’ immunity. Some ILC members expressed disagreement with the special rapporteur’s position that States’ practice supports the finding of exceptions to State officials’ immunity – the substance of Article 7. The ILC provisionally adopted the text with only 21 of the 34 members voting in favor of it. [UN Press Release: Immunity] The Sixth Committee’s two-day discussion on the draft law mirrored many of the arguments that were debated within the ILC before its provisional adoption of Article 7, namely whether the basis for the Article is supported by customary international law, whether procedural requirements may address impunity, the balance between prosecution of State officials and State sovereignty, and the ILC’s view of Article 7’s function as either the codification of existing law or the development of law. See Report of the International Law Commission, at VII.C., 180–183. [UN Press Release: ImmunityRead more

News Clips- September 1, 2017

Journalists are briefed at the UN on the situation in Yemen
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Civil Society

  • On Friday, the German government shut down a left-wing extremist website connected to violence at the Group of 20 summit meeting in July. [New York Times]
  • On Wednesday, human rights groups called for the establishment of an independent inquiry into alleged abuses taking place in Yemen. [Guardian]

Corruption

  • On Sunday, the Constitutional Court in Guatemala issued a temporary injunction blocking President Jimmy Morales’ order to expel Iván Velásquez, the head of the United Nations International Committee against Impunity in Guatemala. [Al Jazeera]
  • This week, it was reported that the government of Mexico has allegedly made ongoing attempts to silence a prominent advocate who has spoken against corruption and impunity. [New York Times]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Friday, violent clashes occurred in northern India in response to a spiritual leader’s conviction of rape; at least 30 people have been killed. [New York Times]
  • On Friday, gunmen, claimed by ISIS, attacked a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan killing at least 20 people. [New York Times]
  • On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council renewed the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for one year in response to concerns about Hezbollah near Israel’s border. [New York Times]
  • On Thursday, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, announced that Tal Afar is free from ISIS after an 11-day battle. [New York Times]

Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

  • Last week, the International Organization for Migration condemned Facebook for failing to monitor traffickers using the site to broadcast abuse of migrants and using the videos to seek ransom from victims’ family members. [Reuters]
  • On Thursday, the United Nations representatives reported that more than 27,400 Rohingya migrants have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25. [Reuters]
  • On Monday, leaders from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, and Niger agreed to work together on aid and border control to stem the influx of migrants. [Guardian]

News Clips- May 26, 2017

United Nations Security Council discusses South Sudan
Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Civil Society

  • On Wednesday, after eight weeks of protests, the death toll in Venezuela rose to 56 people. [LA Times]
  • On Wednesday, anti-government protesters in Brazil set fire to a ministry building, and in response, President Michel Temer gave the army policing power to restore order. [Reuters]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Wednesday, a bombing in Somalia, claimed by al-Shabaab, killed five and injured six civilians. [Reuters]
  • On Tuesday, two United Nations peacekeepers were killed in Mali. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, at least 22 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester, Britain. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, a United Nations report concluded that soldiers in South Sudan responsible for killing more than 100 civilians between July 2016 and January 2017 may be liable for war crimes or crimes against humanity. [Newsweek]

LGBTI

  • On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court in Taiwan ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, allowing Taiwan’s legislature two years to amend its laws. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, 100 men were arrested in Indonesia in a raid on a gay sauna. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, 27 men were arrested in Bangladesh based on suspicions that they are gay. [Washington Post]

Activities of International Bodies

  • On Wednesday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created three new thematic units: the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Unit on Memory, Truth, and Justice; and Unit of the Rights of Older Persons. [IACHR Press Release]
  • On Wednesday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched guidelines for the proper investigation of unlawful killings. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • This week, a panel supported by the United Nations publicly released a draft of a treaty that would ban the possession and use of all nuclear weapons. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, the European Parliament passed a resolution requesting a United Nations-led investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia. [HRW]

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

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