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 Newsletter - March 2016

 

NEPAL

Real Rights Now campaign launch

 

TRIAL is launching a year-long campaign to prompt Nepal to follow UN decisions and provide justice to victims.

 

In 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) has rendered decisions on five cases submitted by TRIAL against Nepal. Although they are positive steps forward, these decisions have so far failed to translate into tangible reparations for victims and their families, due to a lack of political will.

 

The campaign, named Real Rights Now, calls on the government to reverse this pattern and uphold the victims’ rights by following the HRC decisions.

 

Real Rights Now is led in collaboration with three partner organizations: REDRESS, Advocacy Forum and JuRI Nepal. A website, launched on 26 February, details the victims’ stories and their long quest for justice.

 

Take part in the campaign! Visit the website or relay our tweets and Facebook posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRC

Under threat for helping women victims of sexual violence

 

The hospital of Panzi in the province of South Kivu is regularly attacked for its action in favor of victims of sexual violence. On 7 March, TRIAL has filed a complaint for its chief nurse before the United Nations.

 

The systematic use of rape as a weapon of war is one of the worse scourges of the DRC conflict. The hospital of Panzi, headed by the now-famous Dr Mukwege, works tirelessly to care for women victims of sexual violence.

 

Unfortunately, like so many other human rights defenders in the DRC, Dr Mukwege and his staff have been the target of violence for years. His chief nurse was notably kidnapped, sequestered and raped in 2013, and attacked again the next year. Fearing for her life, she has now taken refuge in Uganda.

 

The inertia of the Congolese justice has led TRIAL to file a complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, asking the DRC to recognize these crimes and provide truth and reparation to the victims.

 

On the occasion of the screening of The Man Who Mends Women at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, TRIAL highlights the necessity to fight impunity for sexual violence, in the DRC and everywhere else.

PUBLICATION

Universal jurisdiction annual report is out

 

Following the success of its previous edition, TRIAL and its partner NGOs ECCHR, FIDH and FIBGAR have published their second annual report on universal jurisdiction.

 

 

Make way for Justice #2 presents 40 influential cases of 2015 involving universal jurisdiction, from the sentencing of a Syrian rebel in Sweden to the trial of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre in Senegal.

 

An essential tool for all legal practitioners, this report is also aimed at anyone interested in international justice. The cases it presents show that universal jurisdiction does have a prominent role to play in the fight against impunity.

 

Make way for Justice #2 highlights the enormous potential of universal jurisdiction, which, incidentally, is the only legal remedy for victims of the Syrian conflict,” explains Valérie Paulet, a legal expert at TRIAL and author of the report. “States must therefore allocate it sufficient resources so that the atrocities committed on a daily basis do not remain unpunished.”

 

Read the report

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

Improving access to justice for victims of sexual violence

 

Last month, TRIAL held a two-days training for judges, prosecutors and other practitioners on the investigation and prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence.

 

Over 20’000 individuals have been victims of wartime sexual crimes. But social stigmatization, shame and fear of reprisal often deter them from filing a complaint and upholding their rights. In spite of international and domestic efforts to fight impunity for these crimes, very few of them have come forward to claim justice.

 

To encourage the victims to do so, legal proceedings must adapt to their vulnerability and address their specific needs in order to prevent re-traumatization. For this reason, TRIAL has conducted a training session for judicial and prosecutorial staff members, sharing the best practices when working with victims of sexual violence.

 

During the training, participants had the chance to share their experiences and to apply their newly acquired knowledge on practical cases.

 

Education on and understanding of sexual violence are crucial to improve the victims’ confidence in the judicial system and subsequently to fight impunity for sexual crimes.

 

 

MEXICO

UN call for change remains unanswered

 

A year ago, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) examined the implementation by Mexico of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

 

It observed the existence of a situation of widespread disappearance in the country and the lack of effective measures to eradicate it.

 

This month, TRIAL and other civil society organizations submitted a report to the CED, pointing out that its recommendations mostly remained dead letter.

 

No unified database of the disappeared persons has been set up, preventing coherent, nationwide search strategies. The transnational mechanism dealing with migrants disappearance, thought a positive measure, presents worrying loopholes in its regulations and has, so far, not been implemented. Forensic operations aiming at finding and identifying the remains of disappeared persons remain widely inefficient. Finally, thousands of relatives are still being denied assistance and redress.

 

TRIAL and its partner organizations continue to monitor progress and call once again on Mexican authorities to address the needs of the disappeared persons’ close ones.

 

 

 

 

ALGERIA

10 years of impunity

 

On 28 February 2006, Algeria adopted an amnesty law barring any pursuit of criminals, torturers, or other persecutors of the civil war. Ten years later, impunity still reigns.

 

The “Implementation Decree of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation” adopted at the end of the civil war cast a veil on the atrocities committed by security forces – including those constituting international crimes.

 

This law remains in force today and still hampers thousands of victims in their quest for justice. National security and the fight against terrorism are consistently used to deny them truth and closure.

 

There are only two possible avenues of redress. On the one hand, victims may appeal to international human rights protection bodies, notably the United Nations Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Committee. Since the adoption of the law in 2006, TRIAL has successfully brought approximately twenty cases of enforced disappearance and torture before these institutions.

 

Alternatively, thanks to universal jurisdiction, third states can arrest and judge Algerian criminals located within their territory. Several criminal complaints were filed on this basis in Switzerland against individuals suspected of war crimes or torture, including General Nezzar. The case against the latter is under examination.

 

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