In the News

News Update

April 14, 2015

By Kay Jacobson, News and Policy Associate

Syria and Iraq: Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, has acknowledged the allegation of ISIS’ perpetration of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Iraq and Syria. However, she clarified that because neither Syria nor Iraq are ICC participating nations, they are outside the court’s jurisdiction.  Any investigation would require jurisdiction being granted through the Security Council or non-participating nations.

Kenya: Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist terrorist group based in Somalia, attacked a Kenyan university resulting in the death of at least 147 people, mostly Christians. The militants separated Muslims from Christians and killed the Christians over a 15-hour period. Leslie Lefkow, Deputy Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, posits that the increase in civilian targeted violence and death tolls by al-Shabaab are in response to the Kenyan government’s deployment of military troops in Somalia in 2011.

India: Sikhs for Justice, a Canadian human rights group, has submitted a Memorandum of Law to the Canadian Attorney General calling for the arrest and trial of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for crimes of torture and genocide in India in 2002. Modi, former Chief Minister of the western Indian state Gujurat, gained his role as Prime Minister in 2014 despite the same allegations by oppositional parties. Modi is scheduled to visit Canada this week. Under Canadian law, any perpetrator of torture can be charged, surpassing any state immunity.

Russia: The United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a report requesting the removal of laws “limiting free speech and targeting homosexuals” and emphasized the need to respond to crimes of torture and racism within the country. Many of the abuses documented were perpetrated by “ultra-nationalist, racist and neo-Nazi groups.” The report also urged Russia to adhere to its UN pact regarding violence in Ukraine and Crimea.

Bangladesh: This South Asian nation executed a former senior official of the Islamist party for charges of crimes against humanity committed in 1971 during the Pakistan-Bangladesh war of independence. The former assistant secretary general was executed for heading a militia group that killed 120 unarmed farmers, despite the disapproval of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights. This is Bangladesh’s second execution of a senior official for crimes against humanity during the war of independence in which more than three million people died.