The Kosovo Peacekeeping Mission, a “Total Failure”?

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On Wednesday, 13 July, the Human Rights Advisory Panel submitted a report about the United Nation Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). In this report, the Panel, whose role is to issue recommendations to the UNMIK, described the Kosovo peacekeeping mission as a “total failure”.

The report strongly criticizes the UNMIK’s handling of civilian grievances in Kosovo, including its failures to investigate disappearances and killings as well as negligence in the mass poisoning of hundreds of displaced Roma which were left in squalid United Nations camps built on land contaminated with lead.

According to the panel, “now that the Panel has concluded its mandate, putting an end to an eight-year process of issuing admissibility decisions, opinions, and recommendations, the Panel is forced to proclaim this process a total failure”.

This conclusion is a source of embarrassment for the United Nations, which regularly assails governments for a lack of accountability and defends victims whose human rights have been violated in conflict zones around the world.

The Panel ends its report  apologizing « profusely to the complainants for its role in this sham ».

The United Nations Peacekeeping Department, which oversees UNMIK, said that UNMIK « values the work of its advisory panel » but emphasizes the fact that the Panel is not a Tribunal.

UNMIK officials had no immediate comment on the report.

Event: ICC Performance Indicators – Debriefing on the Glion Retreat

International Criminal Court New PremisesDate: Tuesday, 24 May, 17:00 – 18:30

Venue: The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Sophialaan 10, 2514 JR The Hague

In partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland to the Netherlands, The Hague Institute for Global Justice will host a debriefing on the International Criminal Court Retreat on Performance Indicators which took place in Glion, Switzerland, at the beginning of April. The aim of this debriefing is to share the objectives and outcomes of the retreat with a broader public and to generate a valuable discussion on the topic of performance indicators.

In 2014, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute requested the ICC to “intensify its efforts to develop qualitative and quantitative indicators that would allow the Court to demonstrate better its achievements and needs, as well as allowing States Parties to assess the Court’s performance in a more strategic manner”.

It reaffirmed its interest in the following year.  To assist the Court in this complex exercise, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, in cooperation with the ICC and the Open Society Justice Initiative, hosted an informal retreat in Glion, Switzerland, on 6-8 April 2016.

The discussion was based on the 2015 Report of the Court on the development of performance indicators.

Speakers:

  • Ms. Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi – Judge, President of the International Criminal Court
  • Mr. Jürg Lindenmann – Ambassador, Deputy Director of the Swiss Directorate of International Law
  • Mr. James Goldston – Executive Director of the Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Moderator: Mr. Lyal Sunga – Head of the Rule of Law Program, The Hague Institute for Global Justice

If you wish to register, click here.

Amnesty: Report on the Legal and Institutional Implications of the Merged and Expanded African Court

Amnesty InternationalIn June 2014, the African Union (AU) adopted the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human rights (Malabo Protocol), which extends the jurisdiction of the yet-to-be established African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) to crimes under international law and transnational crimes.

While the ACJHR can play a vastly positive role in a continent persistently afflicted by the scourge of conflict and impunity for crimes under international law, there are a number of concerns and implications arising from the proposal to expand its jurisdiction.

This report, written by Rachel Murray in collaboration with Amnesty International, looks at how the expanded jurisdiction will affect relevant stakeholders, including victims of gross violations of human rights, the AU, and Civil Society Organisations. It is hoped that this publication will generate frank and open discussion amongst the relevant stakeholders on the implications of the Malabo Protocol.

UN Ordered to Lift Suspension of Sexual Abuse Report Whistleblower

Anders Kompass, representante del Alto C

Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN Dispute tribunal has ordered the United Nations to immediately lift the suspension of a whistleblower who disclosed the alleged sexual abuse of children by peacekeeping troops in Africa to the French authorities.

The judge said that the decision to suspend Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was “prima facie unlawful” and ordered the UN to lift his suspension immediately to prevent further damage to his reputation.

Kompass leaked an internal UN report on the alleged sexual abuse of children by French troops in Central African Republic to French prosecutors last summer. The French immediately mounted an investigation and revealed last week they were investigating up to 14 soldiers for alleged abuse.

In his statement to the UN dispute tribunal, Kompass stated that he informed his boss – the deputy high commissioner – last July that he had leaked the report in order for the French to mount an investigation. The UN disputes this.

Nine months later on 17 April this year, he was suspended by the high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and put under investigation for leaking confidential information – including the names of victims and staff members who conducted the interviews with the children.

The confidential internal report leaked by Kompass contained interviews by a UN official and a member of Unicef with a number of children, aged between eight and 15, who say they were sexually abused at a camp for internally displaced people in Bangui, the capital of CAR, by French troops last year.

The order of the dispute tribunal on Wednesday means Kompass’s suspension will be lifted temporarily while an internal management review takes place into the handling of the case.

How Israel Defence Forces Behaved in Gaza War

Gaza July 2014

Gaza July 2014

The army veterans’ organization has released a report called “Breaking the Silence” containing testimonies of 60 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and officers who fought during Operation Protective Edge last July and August. According to the group, the testimonies are indicative of a general principle that governed the entire military operation: minimum risk to the Israeli forces, even if it meant civilian casualties.

The rules of engagement basically established that “Anyone found in an IDF area, which the IDF had occupied, was not a civilian. That was the assumption,” one of the soldiers stated.

An armored infantry soldier reported that, at some point, it was understood that any home which Israeli forces entered and used would be destroyed afterward by large D9 bulldozers. “At no point until the end of the operation … did anyone tell us what the operational usefulness was in exposing [razing] the houses,” he said. “During a conversation, the unit commanders explained that it wasn’t an act of revenge. At a certain point we realized this was a trend. You leave a house and there’s no longer a house. The D9 comes and exposes [it].”

There were also several reports of shooting at civilians. A woman who was clearly unstable and no threat was reportedly ordered by the battalion commander to walk westward, toward an area where tanks were stationed. When the woman approached the tank force, she was machine-gunned to death.

The detailed testimonies in the report include other practices that some units adopted during Operation Protective Edge.

The full report is available here.

Independent Report into the Proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh

ICT Bangladesh

The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh

Last week, an independent report into the proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh was published. The comprehensive evidence-based report by Geoffrey Robertson QC is the first of its kind and concludes that the Tribunal’s proceedings fall seriously short of international standards.

Since its inception, the International Crimes Tribunal, which has passed a number of death sentences on opposition political leaders for crimes allegedly committed in the 1971 civil war in East Pakistan, has been the subject of significant criticism from both those who have appeared before it and numerous legal experts. All of whom have concluded that the ICT does not adhere to internationally recognised standards.

According to the 126-page report, the major concerns about the ICT are that the Tribunal lacks impartiality, it allows for the death penalty to be imposed without providing a higher standard of procedural safeguards, it permits trials in absentia and there are concerns about witness tampering and intimidation.

Further, the Tribunal appears to have no rules about admissibility of evidence: many of the convictions have been based on hearsay, and in effect, on guilt by association. The Tribunal does not provide the basic guarantees required by international human rights treaties; the rules about providing adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence have been consistently breached, and most notably, defendants are excluded from enjoying the constitutional protections available to all other Bangladeshi citizens. Continue reading