With many hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the violence in Syria, the focus—as it should be—has been on finding them safety, shelter and aid. But some governments are also looking to hold those responsible for the underlying mass murder and torture to account for their crimes. This requires an proactive approach, with appropriate laws to pursue suspects, skilled professionals to investigate these crimes and strong political will to support accountability efforts.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Afghans fled to the Netherlands to escape the dire situation in their own country. But they weren't the only ones who left. Senior government officials, including agents of the secret service - the dreaded KhAD - who had engaged in human rights violations also landed on Dutch soil.
It was a warm, sunny Sunday, July 6, and the Netherlands was celebrating the victory of its football team in the quarter finals of the World Cup. Hardly anybody was paying attention as the Dutch authorities put three Congolese men, whose asylum applications had been turned down by the Netherlands’ highest court a week earlier, on a plane and sent them back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When they arrived in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, the men were immediately taken to prison.
Secretary of State John Kerry called the collapse of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks “reality-check time” for the peace process. That reassessment should include the self-defeating U.S. policy of opposing steps toward justice and accountability in the name of negotiations.
Ten years after the UK joined in the invasion of Iraq, the repercussions continue to hit at the heart of the establishment. This week a law firm and a leading international justice organization jointly sent a 250-page submission to the International Criminal Court, asking the prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged war crimes by UK nationals in Iraq, including the possible responsibility of senior military and political figures.
As the Kenyan authorities’ stubborn refusal to carry out their primary responsibilities to provide justice have made clear for victims of Kenya’s post-election violence, the ICC is their only hope for redress.