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War Crimes

    April 16, 2013

    Posted at 0001hrs (GMT) 17 April 2013

    The UN Security Council and African Union (AU) must take immediate action to halt indiscriminate attacks in Southern Kordofan, Amnesty International said in a new report that highlights the urgent need for humanitarian access to the conflict-affected areas.  

    Indiscriminate bombings, lack of humanitarian assistance and massive displacement which has severely disrupted agricultural production, have all conspired to place civilians in the areas controlled by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) in Southern Kordofan, in an extremely precarious situation.

    This will only get worse in the next few months as food supplies are dwindling and the impending rainy season makes roads impassable.

    “The international community continues to watch this catastrophe unfold as the humanitarian situation worsens in conflict-affected areas of Southern Kordofan. It’s time for some concerted action,” said Khairunissa Dhala, Amnesty International’s South Sudan researcher.

    April 09, 2013

    A recent spike in civilian deaths in Afghanistan highlights the urgent need for all parties to the conflict to take greater precautions to avoid civilian casualties, Amnesty International said today.

    On Monday, at least nine civilians were killed and 20 injured after a bus hit a roadside bomb in Wardak province, in the east of the country. It is believed the Taliban are responsible for the attack.

    A day earlier at least 12 civilians, including 10 children, were reportedly killed in the eastern province of Kunar in NATO airstrikes launched during a drawn-out fire fight between international (ISAF) and Afghan forces and the Taliban.

    “It is imperative that NATO/ISAF fully investigate all allegations of civilian casualties resulting from their operations and deliver remedies, including prosecuting those suspected of violations. They must also provide compensation before troops withdraw next year, to avoid a legacy of unresolved claims,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director

    February 01, 2013

    The Malian army has committed serious human rights breaches plus violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) during the ongoing conflict against armed groups in the country, including extrajudicial executions of civilians, according to evidence gathered by Amnesty International during a 10-day mission to the West African state.

    A new briefing based on the mission also outlines concerns that Islamist armed groups have committed of serious human rights abuses and violations of IHL, including unlawful killings and the recruitment of child soldiers.

    Additionally, there is evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike carried out as part of a joint operation by the French and the Malian armies in order to stop the offensive of the Islamist armed groups.

    “As fighting is continuing in Mali, all parties to the conflict must ensure that they respect international humanitarian law – and in particular to ensure the humane treatment of captives while taking all necessary precautions to minimize harm to civilians,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s Mali Researcher.

    January 18, 2013

    Until the full truth is uncovered about the Katyn massacre the Russian authorities have an on-going obligation under international law to investigate this war crime that has gone unpunished since the Second World War, Amnesty International said today.  

    As the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is considering the case brought against Russia by some of the relatives of more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war who were killed during the 1940 Katyn massacre, Amnesty International submitted its legal opinion on the case this week.  

    “For nearly 50 years, first Soviet and then the Russian authorities denied their responsibility for the murder of tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war,” said Marek Marczynski, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “They dragged their feet with the investigation into the mass murder for nearly 15 years after that until finally in 2004 they decided to close it in secret proceedings, quoting national security interest for doing so.”

    January 15, 2013

    Myanmar must take all possible steps to avoid civilian casualties in Kachin state, Amnesty International said after three people were killed in air strikes which were reportedly carried out by the armed forces in the region.

    The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) equally must ensure that they do not position potential military targets near civilian areas, and that they fully respect international humanitarian law.

    On 14 January, three civilians including one young teenager were killed in an air strike which was reportedly carried out by the Myanmar armed forces in the Kachin town of Laiza. Four others, two children and two women, were injured in the same attack.

    Laiza, a town on the border with China, is used as the de facto headquarters of the KIA.

    “Both the army and the KIA must ensure that civilians caught in the conflict area are protected. The three tragic deaths in Laiza shows that there are real concerns that civilian lives might be at risk if indiscriminate fire is used,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    November 27, 2012

    By Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme

    Damage to an apartment building in Rishon LeZion, outside Tel Aviv, from rockets fired from Gaza © Amnesty International.


    It was dawn when we arrived in Israel to begin our investigation into rocket attacks from Gaza which by the end of the latest flare in violence had left six Israelis, including four civilians, dead, at least 40 injured and 300 more treated for shock.

    Up in the sky oddly shaped vapour trails made us wonder if these were the remnants of the “Iron Dome” missiles – used to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups which this time reached as far north as Tel Aviv.

    November 19, 2012

    As the Rwandan-backed M23 armed group advanced towards Goma and fighting resumed today around the capital of North Kivu province, combatants on all sides of the escalating conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo must take steps to safeguard civilians from attack, Amnesty International said.

    Tens of thousands of civilians have already fled – including many who were previously displaced – and the humanitarian and security situation has deteriorated dramatically since fighting between M23 and the Congolese army (FARDC) resumed some 30 km north of Goma on 15 November.

    "The advance towards the gates of Goma places thousands more civilians at risk," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.

    "All parties to the conflict must protect civilians from attack and respect international humanitarian law, as hostilities get closer to densely populated areas."

    Since the M23 was created in April 2012, Amnesty International has documented numerous human rights abuses attributed to its fighters – including unlawful killings, forced recruitment of children and young adults, and rape.

    November 19, 2012

    As the conflict escalates between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, Amnesty International is calling for an international arms embargo and for the immediate deployment of international monitors.

    Since 14 November, dozens of civilians in Gaza and three Israeli civilians have been killed. Both sides have been violating international humanitarian law, according to information gathered by the UN, local human rights organizations and Amnesty International.

    “International monitors with the ability to investigate human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law need to be on the ground as soon as possible in both Gaza and Israel to carry out independent, impartial assessments of violations by both sides,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    October 09, 2012

    The Congolese government must take urgent steps to stop the violence in the east of the country and hold to account all who have committed human rights abuses, Amnesty International said, as the DRC prepares to host a major gathering of Francophone leaders.
    The Francophonie Summit – a biennial gathering of French speaking nations - will be hosted from the 12 -14 October in Kinshasa, as violence in the east is escalating, resulting in widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    “Human rights abuses continue unabated and with total impunity,” says Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    An Amnesty International delegation has recently returned from eastern DRC, where delegates documented cases of rape, summary killings, forced recruitment of civilians including children, looting and illegal taxation by different armed groups.

    October 05, 2012

     As a large contingent of armed forces and armed militias surround Bani Walid in preparation for a possible assault, Amnesty International has called on the Libyan authorities to avoid unnecessary and excessive use of force in the city and to ensure that medical and other essential supplies are allowed into the city.

    On 25 September, Libya’s parliament, the General National Congress authorized the Ministries of Interior and Defence to use force if necessary to arrest suspects including those responsible for the alleged torture and killing of Omran Shaaban, credited with capturing Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi on 20 October 2011.

    It also called for the release of other detainees held in Bani Walid and set a deadline for implementation of 10 days.

    Following the decision, members of the Libyan army, Libya Shield forces and armed militias from various parts of the country, including Misratah, surrounded Bani Walid, about 140 kilometres south-east of Tripoli.

    September 19, 2012

    Civilians, many of them children, are the main victims of a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian army, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    The briefing paper (and accompanying video footage) is based on first-hand field investigations carried out in the first half of September by Amnesty International into attacks which killed 166 civilians, including 48 children and 20 women, and injured hundreds in 26 towns and villages in the Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama regions.

    The briefing paper provides fresh evidence of a pattern which has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.

    September 14, 2012

    The Egyptian government should immediately withdraw its invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and arrest him if he travels to Cairo, Amnesty International said today.

    Omar Al-Bashir is due to meet President Mohamed Morsi and other top Egyptian officials as part of a two-day visit beginning on 16 September.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants for Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010, charge him with criminal responsibility on 10 counts, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture and rape.

    “If Egypt welcomes Omar Al-Bashir it will become a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of genocide”, said Marek Marczyñski, Amnesty International Justice Research, Policy and Campaign Manager.

    “Egypt should not allow Omar Al-Bashir to enter its territory, and must arrest him if he arrives.”

    September 13, 2012

    Afghanistan’s Parliament must delay its vote to appoint a new national intelligence director until it carries out a thorough and transparent investigation into claims of his involvement in numerous alleged acts of torture and other grave human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

    On 15 September legislators in Kabul are due to vote on President Hamid Karzai’s proposal to appoint Assadullah Khalid as the new director of Afghanistan’s state intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

    Khalid has been linked to numerous cases of torture and unlawful killings in the past decade while he served as Governor of Afghanistan’s Ghazni and Kandahar provinces.

    “Any nominees for senior posts in Afghanistan’s government must be subject to stringent screening before being appointed, specifically when – as in Assadullah Khalid’s case – they face allegations of committing or overseeing serious human rights violations and crimes under international law,” said Polly Truscott, Deputy Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    A chequered past

    September 05, 2012

    Abdullah al-Senussi, military intelligence chief for Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, should have been surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today amid reports that Mauritanian authorities had extradited him to Libya.

    In June 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Senussi, as well as Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, on two counts of crimes against humanity – murder and persecution – allegedly committed in the eastern Libyan port city of Benghazi in February 2011.

    Al-Senussi had been in Mauritanian custody since March 2012, when he was arrested at the airport in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott.

    In July, Mauritania’s Minister of Justice asserted to Amnesty International that al-Senussi had entered the country illegally and was being held in good conditions. He added that the Mauritanian government was considering extradition requests made by Libya and France and the surrender request by the ICC. It has not been possible to determine whether he has had access to a lawyer, an independent doctor of his own choice and ICC staff.

    August 28, 2012

    Amnesty International condemns the brutal killing of some 17 people who took part in a music party in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sunday night 26 August. According to reports there were two or three women among the dead; some of the victims were shot dead and others were beheaded.

    The Afghan government accused the Taleban of the act and stated that the area where the incident happened was under the control of the Taleban. However, the Taleban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Amnesty International has so far been unable to verify independently the government’s claim or the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, it appears from the reports that none of the victims were actively engaged in fighting, which makes their killing a war crime - if carried out by a party to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.


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