France

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Kigali Genocide Memorial (Photo: Janet Anderson)
10 May 2016 by Janet H. Anderson Kigali (Rwanda)

Two Rwandans will go on trial today in Paris for genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial of Octavien Ngenzi and Tite Barahirwa - both former mayors from the south east of the country – is France’s second in a series of up to a potential twenty suspects, in connection with the 1994 genocide. Former spy chief Pascal Simbikangwa was convicted in March 2014 to 25 years in jail in the first ever judgment by a French court relating to the Rwandan genocide. But in October last year the French case against a notorious side-arm-carrying priest Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was dismissed to widespread criticism.

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Refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos in September 2015 (Photo: Flickr/Ben White - CAFOD)
08 March 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Parallel to calls for the establishment of an international tribunal to address alleged war crimes committed in Syria [IJT-169], many European countries say they have stepped up screening procedures to weed out possible war criminals amid the influx of Syrian refugees. The Netherlands, which has been somewhat of a pioneer in this regard, last week announced that in 2015 they denied asylum to 10 Syrian nationals because they are suspected of committing war crimes. But past experience points to a wide gap between identifying potential perpetrators and actually bringing them to justice.

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24 September 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

Despite successes, national war crimes units still rely too heavily on local counterparts, says a Human Rights Watch report comparing three EU members that use universal jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. For the 109-page report ‘The long arm of justice’, Leslie Haskell looked at how war crimes units in the Netherlands, Germany and France operated and what could be learnt from them. HRW chose the Netherlands for having the oldest and most robust unit, and France and Germany for having units less than five years old.