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Universal Jurisdiction Provides Opening for Justice for Long-Ignored Crimes

(Stockholm) – The opening of a landmark trial in Sweden on August 10, 2021 of an Iranian citizen accused of participating in the mass execution of political prisoners is an important moment for victims long denied recognition and justice. On July…
A human rights exhibition on Iran during the international campaign to demand justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre, held near the French National Assembly in Paris, November 14, 2017.
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Leaders Show Little Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Last week, an appeals panel of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) upheld the 2017 genocide conviction of Bosnian Serb wartime military commander Ratko Mladić. Chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz said of Mladić, “His name…
A woman among the graves of victims of the Srebrenica genocide, at the memorial cemetery in Potocari, near Srebrenica, Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
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On February 6, the European Commission will present its new strategy for the enlargement of the EU. People in the Western Balkans may greet the news with scepticism. But if the EU institutions and states are really willing to end the EU…
Roma refugees from Kosovo drink water at the Vrela Ribnicka camp in Podgorica, Montenegro on October 13, 2012
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Slobodan Praljak convicted of crimes against humanity in Bosnia

Media outlets around the world seized on the dramatic suicide of convicted Bosnian Croat war criminal Slobodan Praljak, who drank poison in court and died on November 29. But focus should remain on the horrible crimes – the…
Slobodan Praljak apparaît à la télévision lors de la diffusion du procès en appel à La Haye (Pays-Bas) de six officiers croates de Bosnie accusés de crimes de guerre à l’encontre de musulmans lors du conflit de Bosnie en 1992-1995. Photo prise à Mostar (B
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Yugoslav Tribunal’s Final Trial Highlights Need for National Justice

(Brussels) – The conviction of Ratko Mladic, once known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” for genocide and other crimes on November 22, 2017, shows that justice catches up with those responsible for horrific atrocities, Human Rights Watch…
Mejra Dzogaz cries near the graves of her family members at the Memorial Center in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 6 km north-west of Srebrenica, on April 7, 2014. Dzogaz lost her three sons, husband and father in the Srebrenica massacre.
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Summary These cases are important. We need to know that these trials are happening because these are the crimes we are fleeing. —Hassan, Syrian refugee in Germany, February 2017 Over the last six years the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of an…
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Efforts to bring those responsible for atrocities in Syria before European courts are starting to bear fruit, notably in Swedish and German courts, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. While various authorities in Europe have opened…
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Small Case in Sweden a Worthy Start

The photograph is disturbing. A young man in military fatigues is standing on dead bodies looking victorious. The posture of the Syrian soldier, with a grin suggesting pride and his military boot on a victim’s chest, suggests domination…
Stockholm District Court, where most of Sweden’s war crimes cases are adjudicated.
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Seeking justice for the ongoing grave human rights abuses in Syria has proven largely elusive. Now the shield of impunity is beginning to crack. Several countries, including Sweden, Germany, and France are in the process of investigating some…
Syrian Man Carries Children After Barrel Bomb Attack
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Refugee Crisis and Universal Jurisdiction Cases in Europe

What’s the basis for European courts to try atrocities committed in Syria and Iraq? What is universal jurisdiction? Does universal jurisdiction mean that every country can investigate any grave international crime committed in Syria and Iraq? What…
Syrian Man Carries Children After Barrel Bomb Attack
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Video, Q&A Highlight Cases Spurred by Syrian, Iraqi Refugees

(Brussels) – Human Rights Watch released a question-and-answer document and video on October 20, 2016 that highlight the groundbreaking investigations and prosecutions in European countries of people accused of kidnappings, ill-treatment, and torture in…
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Refugees Assist Investigations in France, Germany and Sweden

As Bashar al-Assad’s forces ramped up their bombing campaign on rebel-held territory over the past year, his government may not have realized that they were cracking its shield against accountability for crimes committed in the Syrian conflict since 2011…
Shelters burning in Iqdah displaced persons camp near the closed Turkish border north of Aleppo after ISIS took over the camp on April 14.
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It was just a bolt of pink cotton lying on the floor of a school gym but more than 20 years later, it haunts me still – soldiers tore off strips of that cloth, blindfolded dozens of men, trucked them to a nearby field, shot them, and buried all but a…
Two Bosnian Muslim women cry over a coffin July 10, 2005 with remains of their relative in a factory hall in Potocari where 610 victims of Srebrenica massacre wait for the funeral.
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National Courts Should Step Up Efforts on Wartime Atrocity Cases

(Brussels) – The conviction of Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Republic of Srpska, for his role in the Srebrenica genocide and other grave crimes shows that persistence can deliver justice, Human Rights Watch said today. …
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"[T]housands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers’ eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson. These are truly scenes…
A woman cries near the coffin of her relative among 136 newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
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Almost 20 years after Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) upheld the convictions of five men for genocide for what is considered the worst…
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By most measures, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is the gold standard for international justice. With 69 convictions, it has brought to justice many of the people behind the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s Balkan…
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A public debate at the UN on April 10 will serve up a revisionist denial of the worst killings in Europe since the end of World War II: the ethnic slaughter in the former Yugoslavia that horrified the world in the 1990s. While the session's ostensible…