This week in focus:
Ethnic tensions climbing in Mali
Last weekend, a massacre in the village of Ogossagou, central Mali left more than 160 dead and dozens more wounded. Tensions between the Fulani herding community and local farmers have grown over the past several months with, “violence across communal lines and by so-called ‘self-defense groups’ apparently attempting to root out violent extremist groups”, said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In response to the attack, the UN dispatched a team comprised of human rights specialists, child protection experts, and members of MINUSMA (UN Peacekeeping’s Operation in Mali) to investigate the events surrounding the killings, and offered to help to “bring the perpetrators to justice in order to break the circle of impunity” in the ongoing ethnic conflict. The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, also announced that the Court would also send a delegation, as the crimes could possibly fall under its jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, humanitarian organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross, call for restraint from actors on both sides, as there is fear that further violence will worsen the already fragile security situation. Over the past several years, Mali has been on the edge of instability and conflict, facing religious and ethnic conflicts, as well as infiltration and growth of extremist groups. Regional actors, such as Adama Gaye, West African analyst and former director of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc, are skeptical of the country’s ability to protect its populations, saying “it [the state] is no longer there; there is no state protection to ensure safety and its presence in those areas.”
“People have concluded that there is even a risk of genocide – they are using the word genocide regarding the Fulanis … it’s a very serious situation,” said Gaye. It is a reminder to the international community of the importance of its obligations under the RtoP norm, and that the crisis in Mali merits more international attention in order to prevent atrocities.
(image via AFP)
What to Watch:
Israel/Gaza: Gaza Rocket Sets Off Daylong Battle Between Hamas and Israel (New York Times)
On Monday 25 April, a rocket allegedly launched from Gaza by the Hamas struck a home in central Israel, wounding seven people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in visit to the United States, declared his government would respond forcefully to the attack. Later this day, Israeli warplanes struck back at Hamas targets, and both sides exchanged fire along the border. The strikes tapered off in the evening after a ceasefire was announced, avoiding an escalation in the conflict.
Yemen: Yemen: Four years on, fears of further violations with no end in sight to brutal conflict (Amnesty International)
Four years after the beginning of the Yemeni war, Amnesty International says it has documented violations amounting to war crimes by all parties to the conflict. In order to protect the civilian population, the organization is urging for the suspension of all arms transfer to the Saudi and UAE-led coalition, especially from France, the UK and the US. 25 NGOs also called on Germany to extend its moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, asking the country use its current Presidency in the UN Security Council to work toward a better protection of the rights of civilians, and ensure accountability for all parties responsible for violations of international law.
On Wednesday 27 April, the Saudi-led coalition conducted another airstrike on a hospital, reportedly killing seven civilians. The coalition has faced repeated criticism for its targeting of hospitals and civilians possibly amounting to war crimes. The UK government is also currently investigating suggestions that British Special Forces witnessed war crimes by the coalition, along with the training of child soldiers.
But Also Don’t Miss:
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution for Burmese authorities to end its violations of international law, with particular reference to sexual and gender-based violence.
Human Rights Watch documented the indiscriminate use of force against civilians, including arson, rape, kidnapping, and 170 deaths by state and armed force over the past six months.
Amnesty International has called on the international community to support Costa Rica’s efforts to receive and protect people fleeing the human rights crisis in Nicaragua. Nearly 42,000 refugees are already in the country.
Ahead of the Arab League meeting in Tunisia, the international community continues to urge the country to refuse entry to or arrest Sudanese President al-Bashir.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) called on the international community to establish an international court in northeast Syria in order to prosecute ISIS members for their alleged crimes.
Call for Internship Applications
The ICRtoP Secretariat in New York City is accepting internship applications for Summer 2019. Interested parties should submit their application before Monday, 1 April, and can find more information by clicking here.
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