Twenty-five years ago, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Over the course of one weekend, some two million jubilant East Germans breached the Wall and crossed into West Berlin to greet family, friends, and countrymen from whom they had been forcibly separated for more than twenty-eight years.
The European Union staunchly supports the International Criminal Court. It advocates universal ICC membership to extend the reach of justice for grave abuses and to contribute to “peace and the strengthening of international security.” Yet EU member states are pressing Palestine not to seek ICC membership.
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.
The Italian Navy’s twitter feed contained joyous news last week: a pregnant mother among the 90 people rescued from the sea by a Navy frigate had given birth on board to a little girl, Yambambi. Over that weekend more than 1,600 people were rescued.
An Italian naval vessel made a grim discovery in the Mediterranean Sea last month. Alerted that a 20-meter fishing vessel was in distress, the crew located and began evacuating the 600 or so migrants on board. The Italian navy captain told the BBC that his crew had also found dead bodies packed in a hold on the ship.
Europe is in a grumpy mood these days. The scale of voter disenchantment with the EU was manifest in May’s European Parliament election results, with Eurosceptic parties topping the polls in France, the UK and Denmark and winning seats in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden and elsewhere.
It’s been a bad month for media freedom in Hungary. It started with a May 25 Constitutional Court decision that website operators are responsible for any comments to blog posts or news commentary that may violate the media law.