This week in focus:
Violations Amounting to Possible Atrocities Committed in the DRC
Completing its investigation in the Mai-Ndombe province, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found that the mass killings occurring between 16-18 December 2018 were planned, intentionally targeting the Banunu ethnic community. Tensions between the Banunu and Batende communities were heightened over disputes over the burial of a Banunu chief on Batende land.
The attacks occurred in four locations, and left a confirmed 535 people killed, 111 injured, and displaced 19,000, 16,000 of whom crossed the border into neighboring Republic of Congo. OHCHR’s spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, said the reported figures were “likely an underestimate,” as the agency believes the bodies of more victims were thrown into the Congo River.
The OHCHR also indicated that the DRC had deployed police forces in the region, as there were indications of rising tensions between the groups, but they left prior to the attacks, in a “clear absence of preventative action.” The situation between ethnic groups remains tense, with the OHCHR appealing for accountability measures, as well as MONUSCO urging the Government to take action to prevent further violence and protect civilians.
(Yumbi after the attacks. Image by UNJHRO.)
What to Watch:
Philippines: Philippines won’t cooperate with ICC probe, says Panelo (Philstar Global)
The Philippines formally leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 17 March, but the decision to do so is not without criticism. Lacking the two-thirds vote from the country’s Senate to make such a decision valid, there are questions over the move’s legality as there are also two petitions to prevent the country’s withdrawal before the Supreme Court. In spite of the uncertainties over whether or not the Philippines will remain a State Part to the ICC, the Court began a preliminary examination into alleged crimes against humanity, a process which could lead to a formal investigation, trial, and sentencing. Presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, stated that the Philippines government would not cooperate with the ICC, claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction.
South Sudan: UN Investigators Propose Hybrid Court for South Sudan (VOA)
This week, the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) investigative body on South Sudan reported it identified violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. In order to prevent further destabilization in the country, the HRC urged South Sudanese officials to create a hybrid court, or other accountability mechanism as soon as possible to try and maintain the fragile state of the most recent peace agreement. In another threat to the peace agreement, officials announced training and establishing a unified army would present a challenge, delaying the transitional unity government.
But Also Don’t Miss:
The UN Special Rapporteur claims the government is unwilling to seek accountability for crimes against the Rohingya, suggesting an independent tribunal be formed for the situation if it cannot be brought before the ICC.
UN and other officials continue to acknowledge the crisis in the Anglophone region, noting its roots in the exclusion and representation of its people both politically and socially.
Human Rights Watch research suggests FARC commanders in Colombia are attempting to whitewash the group’s recruitment of child soldiers and its sexual abuse of female members.
The International Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute released a joint report on the Nigerian elections, describing acts of intimidation and violence by state officials.
The Norwegian Refugee Council reports that attacks against civilians see impunity, as the international community remains largely focused on Hodeidah.
The head of the UN International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) announced that investigators are moving closer to prosecuting for mass atrocity crimes, collecting nearly a million records.
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