local jurisdiction

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Interior of Ramincu Sarat prison in Romania (Photo: IICCMER)
09 February 2015 by Isabelle Wesselingh, Bucharest (Romania)

The first trial of a Communist-era prison commander charged with crimes against humanity [IJT-168], in a case the media have dubbed “Romania's Nuremberg”, raised great expectations. But after a few months, many people in the country still struggling to reconcile with its past have voiced disappointment.

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Ex-dictator General Efrain Rios testifying during his trial in Guatemala (Photo: Flickr/Elena Hermosa/trocaire)
09 February 2015 by Stephanie van den Berg

The trial of ex-dictator Efraín Ríos Montt [IJT-153] resumed last month in Guatemala after his 2013 genocide conviction was annulled on a technicality. The trial was set back to where it left off on 19 April 2013, when the tribunal had heard all prosecution witnesses but still needed to hear some defence witnesses and closing arguments. But just a few days after restarting, the trial ground to a halt again and was quickly suspended with no outlook on when it could resume.

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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. 

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24 September 2014 by Christopher Stephen, Tripoli (Libya)

Just when The Hague thought it was finished with Libya, the International Criminal Court finds itself preparing fresh investigations for the strife-torn country.

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24 September 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

Last week, Belgium arrested and indicted Liberian Martina Johnson on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged participation in Operation Octopus, a brutal battle for capital city Monrovia in 1992. This is the first-ever indictment for international crimes during the country’s first civil war, lasting from 1989 to 1996. Human rights organizations say Johnson was a close confidante of former Liberian president Charles Taylor and served as a general in his National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL). 

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08 October 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

A recent ruling by a Netherlands court on the responsibilities of peacekeepers has implications for future operations worldwide, says researcher Lenneke Sprik, who specializes in the laws governing peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions.

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22 October 2014 by Isabelle Wesselingh, Bucharest (Romania)

For the first time since the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu a quarter-century ago, a Communist-era prison commander faces charges of crimes against humanity. The landmark trial of Alexandru Visinescu could help Romanians come to terms with their country’s totalitarian legacy. Survivors of the grisly Ramnicu Sarat prison in eastern Romania waited for decades to see the former chief appear before judges.

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05 November 2014 by David Bergman

A spate of rulings against leaders of Bangladesh’s biggest Islamist opposition party for atrocities during the war in 1971 shows the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) forging ahead – despite continuing criticism from outside the country.

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05 November 2014 by Una Hajdari, Pristina (Kosovo)

Kosovo was rocked last week by accusations in the country’s leading daily, Koha Ditore, that top officials from the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which prosecutes corruption and war crimes cases, took bribes to release two defendants.  

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05 November 2014 by Nidzara Ahmetasevic

Criticism in Bosnia of national war crimes prosecutions has been mounting, with victims’ organizations saying Sarajevo is not doing enough to bring all perpetrators in the bloody 1992-1995 conflict to justice and the European Union last month noting an “unsatisfactory pace”. 

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