Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ICC welcomes Bosco 'Terminator' Ntaganda's surrender

Bosco Ntaganda in  eastern  DR Congo in January 2009Bosco Ntaganda has been wanted by the ICC since 2006
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has welcomed Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda's surrender to stand trial on war crimes charges.
Known as "The Terminator", Gen Ntaganda surrendered on Monday to the US embassy in Rwanda after seven years on the run.
The ICC said it was in contact with the relevant authorities to arrange for his immediate transfer to The Hague.
He denies committing atrocities during the long-running conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The DR Congo government says Gen Ntaganda crossed into Rwanda on Saturday.


Many will see this as a positive development for international justice, and for efforts to end the culture of impunity that has blighted eastern DR Congo for much of the past two decades.
Bosco Ntaganda appears to be the first fugitive from international justice to try to hand himself over to the ICC voluntarily. "The Terminator" had spent years defying an international arrest warrant.
So why the change of heart? Perhaps he felt his days in the bush were numbered. Gen Ntaganda's faction of the M23 rebel movement appears to have lost out after in-fighting in recent weeks.
Perhaps he lost the support of powerful backers inside the Rwandan establishment. In a previous incarnation, as a senior figure in the CNDP rebel movement, Gen Ntaganda had enjoyed support from elements within the Rwandan military.
But Rwanda has always denied backing the M23 rebellion. If Bosco Ntaganda does stand trial, many will be eager to hear what he has to say on that subject.
'Most wanted'
"I think justice now has a chance to prevail, now that he has handed himself in," DR Congo's ambassador to the UK, Kikaya Bin Karubi, told the BBC's Newsday programme.
"The most wanted criminal in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has seen that he has no other option now, and the best option for him is to go and face the music."
Neither the US nor Rwanda recognise the ICC.
However, the US state department said on Monday that it was in contact with the ICC and the Rwandan government to arrange his transfer to The Hague.
"The ICC welcomes news of Bosco [Ntaganda's] surrender," the ICC chief prosecutor's office said, AFP news agency reports.
"This is great news for the people of the DR Congo who had to suffer from the crimes of an ICC fugitive for too long," it added.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Gen Ntaganda in 2006. He faces 10 counts of conscripting child soldiers, murder, terrorising communities and using rape as a weapon of war.
The charges - which he denies - relate to his time as the leader of a militia in the north-eastern DR Congo between 2002 and 2003.

'The Terminator' at a glance

  • Born in 1973, grew up in Rwanda
  • Fled to DR Congo as a teenager after attacks on fellow ethnic Tutsis
  • At 17, he begins his fighting days - alternating between being a rebel and a soldier, in both Rwanda and DR Congo
  • In 2006, indicted by the ICC for allegedly recruiting child soldiers
  • He is in charge of troops that carry out the 2008 Kiwanji massacre
  • In 2009, he is integrated into the Congolese national army and made a general
  • In 2012, he defects from the army, sparking a new rebellion which forces 800,000 from their homes
Since then Gen Ntaganda has fought for other rebel groups in the region, as well as the Congolese army.
Most recently he was believed to be one of the leaders of the M23 rebel group, which is fighting government troops in the east of the country.
The United Nations believes the M23 group is backed by the government of neighbouring Rwanda, though Rwanda denies this.
On Sunday, the DR Congo government said Gen Ntaganda, who comes from the Tutsi ethnic group, had fled to Rwanda after he and some of his followers were apparently defeated by a rival faction of the M23 group.
BBC East Africa correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse says that if Gen Ntaganda does reach the ICC, many will be hoping he can shed light on the accusations of Rwanda's involvement in the Congolese conflicts, including the backing of the M23 rebels.
Eastern DR Congo has been riven by conflict since 1994, when some of the ethnic Hutu groups accused of carrying out the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda fled across the border.
Gen Ntaganda appears to have been throughout the long conflict, fighting for both rebels and government armies.
His military career started in 1990, at the age of 17, when he joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels, now the ruling party in Kigali.
In November 2008, international journalists filmed him commanding and ordering rebel troops in the village of Kiwanja, 90km (55 miles) north of Goma in DR Congo, where 150 people were massacred in a single day.
In 2009, he was integrated into the Congolese national army and made a general following a peace deal between the government and rebel troops he commanded.
However, he defected from the army last April, accusing the government of failing to meet its promises.
It is not clear why Gen Ntaganda chose this moment to surrender, but there are suggestions the split in the M23 movement has made him vulnerable.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Outrage over Sudan plan to train judges to amputate criminals' limbs - CNN.com

Outrage over Sudanese plan to train judges to amputate criminals' limbs

By Netsanet Belay, special to CNN
Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government to rethink its policies on corporal punishment.
Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government to rethink its policies on corporal punishment.

  • Sudan threatens to train judges to cut off hands, legs of convicted criminals
  • Deputy Chief Justice says doctors who refuse to carry out amputations will be punished
  • Belay: Sudan must put an end to the use of cruel, inhuman punishments
Editor's note: Netsanet Belay, an Ethiopian national, is Amnesty International's program director for Africa. A trained human rights lawyer, he has worked for more than 10 years promoting and defending human rights at local, national, regional and global levels. He spent more than two years in prison in Ethiopia for his activism.
(CNN) -- Sudan's Deputy Chief Justice recently made the alarming announcement that his government might start training judges to cut off the hands and legs of convicted criminals, if doctors refuse to carry out amputations as punishment.
Abdul Rahman Sharfi said non-cooperation over the use of such amputations would be punished.
Adopting a defiant posture, he denied his government had ever stopped the use of one of the most severe forms of "hudud" punishments, which are based on an interpretation of Islamic law.
Sharfi revealed that 16 people had been subjected to amputations since 2001, although the first reported case was that of Adam al-Muthna, 30, whose right hand and left foot were amputated by three doctors on 14 February.
Netsanet Belay of Amnesty International
Netsanet Belay of Amnesty International
Al-Muthna had been found guilty of highway robbery.
The amputation prompted a public outcry, particularly by the Sudanese Doctors' Union, which complained that doctors were horrified to have to break the Hippocratic Oath -- to protect patients, and not harm them -- in order to comply with government orders.
Amputations are just one form of cruel punishment carried out in Sudan.
Since 2005 thousands have been sentenced on counts of adultery, which carries the punishment of flogging, and, in some cases, stoning.
Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul was 23 years old and the mother of a six-month-old infant when she was sentenced to death by stoning on counts of adultery by a Sudanese judge last July.
He didn't mind that she didn't have a lawyer to defend herself, or that she didn't understand what "stoning" meant.
The second woman to be sentenced to death by stoning in 2012, she spent two months shackled, alone with her baby, in Omdurman prison, near the capital Khartoum.
Both women were eventually released on appeal, following intense campaigns by Sudanese and international human rights organizations on their behalf.
Others, though, are less fortunate.
Almost every day in Sudan, someone is given 20 to 100 lashes on a court order for minor offenses, and following a summary trial. Many such floggings are carried out in public.
These punishments are cruel, inhuman, degrading and may amount to torture.
They are a clear violation of international human rights law and Sudan's own international commitments, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
They are highly controversial within Sudan, which explains in part why the authorities have been unable to enforce them systematically. But for those affected, the suffering is real -- and revolting.
As Sudan reviews its constitution, it is imperative that the authorities respect their international commitments, and address the issue of corporal punishments and the death penalty as a matter of priority.
Such cruel punishments can no longer be tolerated. And laws need to be enforced and respected to put an end to them once and for all.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Norway immigration officials lose Ethiopia case / News / The Foreigner — Norwegian News in English.

The Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) was defeated in Oslo District Court following judges’ decision against sending seven-year-old Nathan Eshete and parents Asfaw and Zinash back to Ethiopia.

What has become a high-profile case due to extensive media and public attention has been dragging on since early 2012 after the UNE turned down the Eshetes’ asylum application once and for all.
The father of now seven-year-old Nathan came to Norway some 12 years ago. The family was informed their application for asylum was refused last April for a final time. They have since lived under the threat of deportation.
Nathan has attended school in Norway, has Norwegian friends, and speaks the language. Asfaw Eshete decided to take the UNE to court over the decision, made some three months after Norway signed a return-come-forced-repatriation deal with EthiopiaThe case began towards the end of February this year.
In their ruling, Oslo District Court judges stated they believe that the UNE has not taken sufficient account of Nathan's strong association with Norway.
The court concluded that the interests of the child were not properly considered and weighed against immigration control considerations in the decision by the UNE.
UNE officials had argued that Nathan’s association was to be considered to his parents, primarily and not to Norway. The UNE has four weeks in which to appeal the decision.
Tuesday’s defeat, though potentially not final, comes just over three months since Norway lost its deportation case against siblings Abbas and Fozi Butt in Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights.