Tag Archives: UN

Nuon Chea: Khmer Rouge Not “Bad People”

The Number Two leader of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime told a court he and his comrades were not “bad people,” denying responsibility Monday for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during their 1975-1979 rule.

Nuon Chea’s defiant statements came as the U.N.-backed tribunal began questioning him for the first time since the long-awaited trial of three top regime leaders began late last month.

Nuon Chea and two other Khmer Rouge leaders are accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture stemming from the group’s reign of terror. All have denied wrongdoing.

Via the Associated Press.

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George Clooney’s Satellites Help International Criminal Court Investigation

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is compiling evidence of possible war crimes in southern Sudan, allegedly directed by the same man, Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, an ICC prosecutor wants to apprehend for alleged crimes eight years ago in Darfur. An ICC memo outlines the Darfur crimes and says Mr. Hussein is “currently central to the commission of similar crimes” along the border between the north and south, including the killings of thousands of civilians.

A significant part of this investigation is based on data from the Satellite Sentinel Project, a network of private satellites and analysts organized by George Clooney in partnership with John Prendergast’s Enough Project. The satellites have snapped pictures of Sudan since December 2010. “We are the antigenocide paparazzi,” Mr. Clooney told TIME.

The investigation comes as ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested an arrest warrant for Mr. Hussein with respect to war crimes from August 2003 to March 2004. Mr. Hussein allegedly engaged in war crimes by dispatching troops and militias to Darfur that killed tens of thousands of civilians to suppress rebellion in the region.

The ICC is building a case that Mr. Hussein is behind the killing of civilians over the past year. The North is seeking to secure control over those oil-rich regions along the border between the north and south.

The ICC investigation memo says evidence suggests that military forces from North Sudan and their militias committed “grave crimes.” Military forces under Mr. Hussein’s command are conducting military operations in these areas and utilizing proxy militias to carry out atrocities. The memo cites the deaths of at least 2,000 civilians since early this year. Tens of thousands have been displaced, the memo adds.

The ICC memo cites Mr. Clooney’s satellites capturing images of the results of bombing of villages in late May that resulted in the displacement of 30,000 people, as well as pictures of the movement of northern artillery and thousands of troops in Karmuk.

The fact that the ICC is investigating Mr. Hussein’s role in possible atrocities in the South does not necessarily mean he will face arrest.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Donate $340,000 to Somali Children

Brad Pitt. Angelina Jolie.

Image by Bildbunt via Flickr

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who was recently recognized for her work as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, have donated $340,000 to the Humanitarian Initiative Just Relief Aid, which goes toward healthcare for homeless children in war-torn Somalia.

The country is experiencing its worst famine in sixty years; it has taken the lives of 29,000 children under the age of five.

On October 3, Ms. Jolie honored a Yemeni aid group and the U.N. Refugee Agency Awards in Switzerland, where she spoke about her ten years of experience with the refugees.

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Investigating Judge at Khmer Rouge Tribunal Resigns

Mass grave number five at Choeung Ek, a Khmer Rouge killing field outside Phnom Penh. Photo by Lindsay.

A German judge tasked with probing new Khmer Rouge cases at Cambodia‘s U.N-backed tribunal has announced his resignation.

Siegfried Blunk said he was resigning because government objections to further prosecutions linked to the 1975-79 regime made his position untenable.

The court has so far completed one trial, jailing Kaing Guek Eav last year for thirty years for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people.

A second trial involving the regime’s four most senior surviving leaders is under way and expected to start hearing testimony before the end of the year.

Mr. Blunk, the tribunal’s international co-investigating judge, faced criticism in recent months for bowing to political pressure to drop the two last cases.

Cambodian authorities have objected to pursuing new suspects; prime minister Hun Sen said prosecutions beyond the second trial were “not allowed.”

A statement from Mr. Blunk, released through the court, said such government comments against the investigations had cast doubt over his reputation.

Last week, Human Rights Watch called for Mr. Blunk and his Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng to step down.

Mr. Blunk and Mr. You have been under fire since announcing in April that they concluded investigations into the third case without quizzing the two suspects.The judges also raised eyebrows in August when they said they had “serious doubts” about whether the three suspects in case four fell under the court’s jurisdiction.

Different judges oversee the actual trial.

The Khmer Rouge was responsible wiping out a quarter of Cambodia’s population through starvation, overwork, and execution.

 

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Georgian President Addresses U.N. about Georgia-Russia Relations

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia addressed the United Nations, accusing Russia of violating human rights, international law, and a 2008 ceasefire between the countries.

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia. (Photo courtesy of the UN)

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia (Photo courtesy of the UN)

Thousands of people were displaced when a five-day war erupted between Georgia and Russia on August 7, 2008 after Georgia tried to retake control of South Ossetia.

Saakashvili claims that dozens of terrorist attacks targeting Georgia are directly linked to Russian secret services.

Russia’s deputy justice minister, Georgy Matyushkinl, said Russia’s involvement was in response to illegal and deliberate attacks launched by Georgia.

Europe’s Human Rights Court has received over 1,900 complaints related to the Georgia-Russia conflict since 2008. Most of them have been against Georgia.

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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Judges Reassigned

An enlargeable relief map of Cambodia

Image via Wikipedia

Following requests from the President of the Trial Chamber and the Supreme Court Chamber in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni has reassigned Cambodian judges in the Trial Chamber and Supreme Court Chamber.

Judge You Ottara has been appointed as a regular judge of the Trial Chamber, replacing Judge Thou Mony, who has been appointed as a reserve judge of the Trial Chamber. Judge Mong Monichariya has been appointed as a regular judge of the Supreme Court Chamber, replacing Judge Sin Rith, who has been appointed as a reserve judge of the Supreme Court Chamber.

Via ECCC.

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Uruguayan Troops Filmed Assaulting Haitian Man

Uruguayan troops on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti are being investigated after a cell phone video revealed what appears to be a young local man being physically and sexually assaulted by at least five troops.

Video captured on a cell phone show graphic images of physical and sexual abuse by Uruguayan peacekeeping troops. (Photo Courtesy of Aljazeera).

Video captured on a cell phone show graphic images of physical and sexual abuse by Uruguayan peacekeeping troops. (Photo Courtesy of Al Jazeera).

The one-minute video shows a half-naked man  about eighteen years old being pinned down and physically assaulted on a mattress by several Uruguayan troops wearing camouflage.

If found guilty, those involved could face dishonorable discharge from the navy and lose their retirement rights.

The U.N. began the peacekeeping mission in Haiti in 2004 after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was exiled. Tensions between the locals and the peacekeepers have been on the rise in the past couple of years.

Local residents have begun demonstrations calling for the ousting of all U.N. peacekeepers.

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Human Rights Chief Condemns European Participation in U.S. War on Terror

CIA floor seal

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On September 1, Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, released a statement condemning European nations for aiding and committing countless crimes against humanity during the past decade in collaboration with the U.S.’s War on Terror.

Hammarberg accused several E.U. nations, including Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Sweden, of participating in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency‘s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program, which has deeply violated human rights. Hammarberg said European governments were “deeply complicit” in U.S. counterterrorism strategies, including pervasive torture techniques.

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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Denies Prosecution’s Request for Third Trial

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Photo by Lindsay

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has denied the prosecutor’s request to proceed with a politically sensitive trial request.

The investigating judges said the international prosecutor, Andrew Cayley,  failed to follow procedure when requesting that unnamed suspects be interviewed for their crimes as members of the Khmer Rouge regime. Cayley had filed the request without the backing of his domestic counterpart, Chea Leang, who believes the suspects are outside the ECCC’s jurisdiction.

Cayley can appeal the judges’ decision.

Meanwhile, the ECCC is about to get underway with Case File 002, which will see four top commanders of the Khmer Rouge regime on trial for crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes.

Via Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

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420,000 Women Raped Annually in Democratic Republic of Congo

Satellite image of Democratic Republic of the ...

Image via Wikipedia

According to an upcoming report in the American Journal of Public Health, more than 420,000 women are raped annually in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC is still suffering the effects of a civil war that officially ended in 2003; however, rebel factions have terrorized the civilian population since that time. Rape is a common weapon against women and men, young and old.

Throughout most of the country, women who are raped are disowned by their families, so many try to hid their rape rather than speak about it. When perpetrators are arrested for rape, they receive light sentences and often escape from jail, says a March report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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