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 Universal jurisdiction is becoming an essential tool in the fight against impunity, everywhere in the world, but in also in Ukraine

 

Dear friends,

War broke out in Ukraine at the end of February. Everyday, horrifying news is reaching us, filled with images of desolation and horror. This war has caused millions of civilians, the majority of whom are women, children, and vulnerable people, to urgently flee leaving many of their belongings behind. What is happening in Ukraine as shaken the world. This conflict, provoked by Russia against a European state, is an assault on international law in several respects.

Since the beginning of the war, civil society actors have been on high-alert for the commission of war crimes by combatants. TRIAL International has decided to actively explore how to make its legal expertise available, alongside other non-governmental organisations, in relation to the possible filing of war crimes complaints. For its part, AIJA (International Association of Young Lawyers) has decided to produce a series of videos, entitled "Talk with...about human rights", the first installment of which is dedicated to TRIAL International. In this video, Elsa Taquet, legal advisor and coordinator of our work in Ukraine, explains the work of our organisation in an interview with François Barre from AIJA.

Today, the importance of using universal jurisdiction as a tool to fight impunity for international crimes is no longer in question. On April 4th, we released the UJAR 2022, an annual report on universal jurisdiction published by TRIAL International in collaboration with Civitas Maxima, the Center for Justice and Accountability, ECCHR, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and REDRESS. The UJAR documents landmark cases related to universial jurisdiction in the year 2021 and highlights legal developments in more than 60 cases across 16 national jurisdictions. The introductory section is dedicated to sexual violence in times of conflict. As a powerful tool to fight against impunity for international crimes, universal jurisdiction should serve as an effective legal procedure for victims of conflict-related sexual violence. Unfortunately, when it comes to sexual violence, this is not yet the case in practice. Out of the 125 charges of international crimes included in the UJAR 2022, only 17 addressed conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.

A concrete example of the effectiveness of universal jurisdiction in practice is the recent indictment issued in Germany on March 3rd, 2022 of Bai L., an alleged former member of the Junglers, a death squad active in The Gambia during the presidency of Yahya Jammeh. Bai L. is accused of committing crimes against humanity, and his trial is due to begin soon in Celle.

In the DRC's Kasai Central region, the victims' hope that those responsible for mass crimes committed in several villages between April and May 2017 by a militia linked to the Kamuina Nsapu armed insurgency will be held accountable by the Kananga Military Court is strengthened by the upcoming opening of a mobile trial in Bana Ba Ntumba. The four lawyers representing the 250 civil parties were trained by TRIAL International.

In order to continue our work with victims, to make their voices heard and to pursue our fight against impunity in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world, TRIAL International needs your help. To support our work, you can make a donation here. Thank you for your support and loyalty, and enjoy reading this newsletter!

 


 

The TRIAL International team

 

PS: Do you know that by subscribing to a monthly donation of just 10 CHF your impact is doubled? You become a crucial player in ending impunity for international crimes and you enable us to accompany victims in the long run! 

 

 

 

 

 

TRIAL International

Talk about Human rights with AIJA - Elsa Taquet, Legal Advisor, explains the work of TRIAL International

 

AIJA, the International Association of Young Lawyers, has decided to launch a series of videos about human rights in collaboration with TRIAL International. In the first part, Elsa Taquet, legal advisor from TRIAL International, speaks with François Barre about the activities of our organisation, especially in light of our 20th anniversary in June.

 

Watch the video

Universal Jurisdiction - The UJAR 2022 is out!

Highlights of 2021 cases related to universal jursidiction

 

With developments in more than 60 cases across 16 national jurisdictions, the year 2021 saw universal jurisdiction play an increasingly important role in bringing justice to victims of international crimes. TRIAL International, in collaboration with Civitas Maxima, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), ECCHR, FIFDH and REDRESS, published the Annual Report on Universal Jurisdiction (UJAR 2022) on April 4th, 2022. While welcoming the significant developments in many cases based on universal jurisdiction in 2021, the UJAR highlights the distance that remains to be covered in order to bring justice to victims of sexual violence in times of conflict.

 

Read more

 

Gambia - Alleged "death squad" member charged in Germany

A breakthrough for victims of abuse under Yahya Jammeh's regime

 

The indictment in Germany, announced on March 3rd, 2022, of an alleged former member of the Junglers, a Gambian "death squad," on suspicion of crimes against humanity is an important step for Gambian victims and international justice. The trial of Bai L., accused of committing serious crimes during the presidency of Yahya Jammeh, is expected to begin soon in Celle, Germany.

 

Read more

DRC - Kasai-Central

Trial opens for militia suspected of mass crimes

 

A mobile court trial opened on April 12th in Bana Ba Ntumba, Democratic Republic of Congo, to prosecute those allegedly responsible for numerous atrocities committed during an attack on several villages from April to mid-2017 in the Dimbelenge territory of Kasai-Central. Belonging to a militia associated with the Kamuina Nsapu insurgency, the defendants are indicted by the Kananga Garrison Military Court for war crimes and are suspected of having committed looting, destruction of public and private property, murder and rape on the civilian population. TRIAL International has been following this case since 2020 and four lawyers trained by the organisation represent the approximately 250 victims of these crimes. The verdict is expected in the next two weeks. This is an encouraging signal in the fight against impunity of armed groups in the DRC.

 

Read more

 


 

 

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