National Prosecutions


The President of Ivory Coast has pardoned 800 people, many of whom were accused of fomenting violence during post-election violence in 2010-2011. Simone Gbagbo, the former first lady who is accused of organizing street fighters when her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to accept his electoral defeat in 2010, was among those granted amnesty.

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Indigenous peoples are still some of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities around the world. In a conflict, they are often some of the most affected as their resource-rich territories are coveted by powerful and violent groups, their identity and loyalty perceived with mistrust, and their basic humanity and rights questioned by warring parties. Outside conflict zones, indigenous groups have been forced to battle the slow erosion of their languages, cultures, and traditions while struggling against the effects of centuries of genocide, colonialism, and exclusion.


The Syrian government has started to update civil registries to reflect deaths among its incarcerated population. Mass arrests and torture were allegedly used by the regime of Bashir al Assad to suppress anti-government protests that swept the country in 2011. For years, families who had a loved ones arrested had no news about their whereabouts or status. As the government updates the registries, activists fear the news of hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths may follow.


The government of Myanmar recently appointed four supposedly independent commissioners to investigate atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims by the military last year. However, at least half of the commissioners have a questionable track record on human rights, adding to the suspicion the commission is a fig leaf to placate the international community. Myanmar’s government has persistently said that last year’s military campaign against Muslim civilians in the north of the country was a legitimate military operation targeting insurgents.


One-time warlord and former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba has returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the first time in the 11 years to submit his candidacy for the president. He spent the last decade in The Hague where he was on trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes that his militia committed in the Central African Republic. He was initially found guilty on both counts, but upon appeal the court ruled he was not criminally liable for crimes committed by his troops.


A confidential report sent to the United Nations (UN) Department of Peacekeeping Operations claims that senior Sri Lankan officers accused of war crimes have been deployed to UN operations in Mali, Lebanon, Darfur, and South Sudan. The report, authored by the South Africa-based International Truth and Justice Project, claims that a number of the senior Sri Lankan commanders were involved in abuses during the final phase of war with Tamil rebels in 2009.


Ivory Coast’s Supreme Court has overturned an acquittal ruling for former first lady, Simone Gbagbo. Simone, the wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo, was acquitted last year after being accused of involvement in the shelling of a market district of Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital Abidjan, during the 2011 civil conflict that followed her husband’s refusal to acknowledge his electoral defeat. Laurent is currently in detention at the International Criminal Court and is being tried for alleged crimes against humanity during the post-election unrest.


Iraqi judges frequently ignore defendants credible claims of confession under torture, according to a recent statement by Human Rights Watch. Concern around the use of torture by Iraqi security forces on Islamic State suspects has increased considerably since the government’s mass arrests of alleged supporters of the terrorist group.  Multiple lawyers for defendants say that even when forensic reports confirmed that suspects had been tortured, judges refused to respond in any way. Iraq is a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture.


On Monday Zimbabwe goes to the polls for the first time since the ouster of long-time autocrat Robert Mugabe last year. Emmerson Mnangagwa is leading in the polls, but in the Matabeleland region voters say they cannot vote for him based on his role in a series of massacres in the region in the mid-1980s. In a four year campaign of terror between 10,000 and 20,000 people were killed by the north Korean-trained Firth Brigade, ostensibly in an effort to stamp out rural support for anti-government rebels.


Earlier this month, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered the opening of an outreach program for victims in Palestine. The program aims to establish continuous interaction between the court and victims in order to inform the population about ICC procedures. The ICC prosecutor opened a preliminary examination in January 2015, but she has still not indicated if she intends to open a full investigation. In May, the Palestinian Authority referred to the ICC all alleged Israeli crimes committed on Palestinian territory since the conflict in Gaza in 2014.