Posts Tagged ‘investigation’

Third Anniversary of Kem Ley’s Murder in Cambodia: the real culprit?

July 12, 2019

Mourners observe Kem Ley's funeral procession in Phnom Penh, July 24, 2016.

Mourners observe Kem Ley’s funeral procession in Phnom Penh, July 24, 2016.- AP Photo

Two dozen nongovernmental organizations on Tuesday 9 jult 2019 demanded that Cambodia’s government establish an independent and impartial commission to investigate the murder of prominent political commentator and rights campaigner Kem Ley, a day ahead of the third anniversary of his death. Kem Ley was shot to death in broad daylight on July 10, 2016 while having a morning coffee at a Caltex gas station in the capital Phnom Penh, days after publicly criticizing Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family for abuse of power.

Authorities charged a former soldier named Oeuth Ang with the murder and sentenced him to life in prison in March 2017, but many in Cambodia do not believe the government’s story that Kem Ley was killed by the man over a debt. In May, Cambodia’s Supreme Court rejected Oeuth Ang’s appeal for reduction of sentence and upheld his life imprisonment term. The day of Oeuth Ang’s sentencing, Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), New York-based Human Rights Watch and London-based Amnesty International highlighted multiple issues they said had not been adequately investigated during his trial and called for a probe into Kem Ley’s killing that adheres to international standards.

On Tuesday, 21 other groups joined the three NGOs in reiterating that call and questioning why the government had failed to take meaningful action in the case. “It has been three years since significant gaps were highlighted in the investigation and trial of Kem Ley’s case, which need to be remedied through an independent, impartial and effective investigation,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s director for Asia and the Pacific.

The 24 NGOs noted in Tuesday’s statement that 164 organizations had signed a joint letter to Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng calling for the creation of an independent Commission of Inquiry into Kem Ley’s case, citing the “flawed investigation” into his killing and “lack of progress in subsequent investigations” of suspected accomplices.

Soon after Kem Ley’s funeral, and fearing for their safety, his wife Bou Rachana—then pregnant—fled with her children from Cambodia to neighboring Thailand to seek asylum in a third country. They spent over a year and a half in Thailand before being granted permission to settle in Australia in February last year.

Debbie Stothard, the secretary-general of Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said: “The Cambodian authorities’ ongoing failure to identify and prosecute the masterminds behind Kem Ley’s murder shows that an independent investigation is urgently needed to deliver justice to his family and to make progress towards ending impunity for the killing of human rights defenders in Cambodia,” she said.

Tuesday’s statement called Kem Ley’s killing “an alarming reminder of Cambodia’s culture of impunity” in cases of killings and harassment of rights defenders, labor leaders, journalists, members of the political opposition and others critical of Hun Sen’s regime.

Sok Ey San, spokesman of Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), dismissed Tuesday’s statement as “politically motivated” and said it was “filled with groundless allegations.”

The call by the 24 NGOs came as police in Phnom Penh charged youth activist Kong Raiya and three of his family members with “incitement of social unrest” after arresting them for selling T-shirts bearing Kem Ley’s portrait and urging people to wear them on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of his murder. Am Sam Ath, deputy director of the Cambodian rights group LICADHO, told RFA’s Khmer Service that police arrested Kong Raiya, his wife and his parents-in-law on Tuesday along with his six-month-old baby, who was later released to family members.

See also Global Voices of 17 July: : https://globalvoices.org/2019/07/17/cambodian-activists-arrested-for-commemorating-the-anniversary-of-political-analyst-kem-leys-death/

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/probe-07092019170518.html

Bangladesh policeman ‘escapes’: a tale of incompetence that amounts to impunity

June 10, 2019

web-Moazzem Hossain Officer-in-Charge of Sonagazi police station in Feni

File photo of Moazzem Hossain Dhaka Tribune

Former Officer-in-Charge (OC), Moazzem Hossain, stands accused of having had a role in the murder of Feni madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi. The way the authorities bumbled his arrest warrant is told in more detail below by the Dhaka Tribune on 9 June 2019. Understandably human rights defenders raise questions about the role of the police and criticize the home minister who has confirmed that the officer in question is ‘on the run’.

…It took over a week for the authorities concerned to send copies of the arrest warrant for the former Sonagazi OC, to Feni and Rangpur police stations. But dilly dallying over sending the warrants to concerned police ranges was ‘just to help the OC flee,’ claimed some human rights defenders.

Deputy inspector of police of the Rangpur range, Debdas Bhattacharya, yesterday said they have received the warrant and OC Moazzem remains absent from his office without any prior permission. The top police official also said proper procedure was not followed in sending the warrant to Rangpur police and that he would speak to Feni police about acting according to procedure. It also took over a week for the Feni police to receive the warrant from the tribunal in Dhaka even though the warrant was issued on May 27. Kazi Moniruzzaman, superintendent of Feni Police, said the last location of OC Moazzem was in Rangpur. “Upon receiving the warrant on June 3, it was sent to the Rangpur range,” he saidd….

Noted human rights defenders slammed the government and police authorities for ‘indirectly allowing’ OC Moazzem to go into hiding, and accused the police of helping him flee the country. “When people like OC Moazzem go into hiding, a police official accused of negligence in duty in a sensational murder case that shook the whole nation,  some quarter has surely assisted him by dragging out his arrest procedure,” said Dr Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. “With his statement that Moazzem is on the run, the home minister is trying to make fools of the people. Action should be taken against everyone involved in the process, for negligence, if Moazzem is not arrested and is not placed on trial immediately,” he said.

Former Ain O Salish Kendra director Nur Khan Liton also found the slow process of delivering the arrest warrant, to be a bid to help Moazeem flee. “When an official of a law enforcement agency gets involved in a crime and we see  authorities slowing down the process of apprehending him, instead of meting out strict and speedy punishment, it indicates the process has been slowed down to help him/her flee from being put behind bars,” he said.

……
Supreme Court lawyer Syedul Haque Sumon, who filed the case against Moazzem, said Moazzem has fled taking advantage of police procrastination. “If he flees the country, police will have to take responsibility for that, ” he said, adding: “The inspector general of police should have initiated the required actions himself, considering the sensitivity of the case, but he did not. Since the warrant has now been received by police in both Feni and Rangpur, it is their responsibility to arrest Moazzem and produce him in court.”

[Case proceedings: According to the case details, Nusrat went to Sonagazi model police station to file a case against Sonagazi Islamia Fazil (Degree) Madrasa Principal Sirajuddaula on March 27 for sexually assaulting her the day before. Moazzem recorded a video of her statement without her consent, asking her offensive and insulting questions. The video then surfaced on various social media platforms. It was alleged that Moazzem had put up the video. Moazzem, whose voice was heard on the video, had also appeared unconcerned about Nusrat’s complaints and said the sexual assault was not a major incident. He asked Nusrat to go home, and assured her of taking steps in accordance with her written complaint. However, no action was taken against Sirajuddaula. Nusrat, 18, an Alim examinee, was set on fire by Sirajuddaula’s followers on April 6 for refusing to withdraw the rape attempt case her family had filed against him. She died from the injuries four days later.

On April 10, Moazzem was withdrawn from his post as OC and transferred to the Armed Police Battalion, after Nusrat’s family said he had not been cooperating with them. On April 11, Supreme Court lawyer Syedul Haque Sumon saw the video on social media, which prompted him to file a petition against Moazzem for breaking the law. Barrister Sumon then filed a case against Moazzem under the Digital Security Act on May 15. The Dhaka Cyber Tribunal ordered the OC’s arrest on May 27 when the PBI found the allegations against him to be true. Later, OC Moazzem filed a bail petition with the High Court. The hearing for the case is scheduled for June 11.]

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2019/06/09/home-minister-oc-moazzem-on-the-run-arrest-taking-time

 

Marielle Franco: one year after her killing in Rio

March 13, 2019

A long piece in Open Democracy of 12 March provides more details and links tentatively the murder to the State:

Three moments have been key in unravelling the truth regarding this political crime. The first, the detention in December 2018 of Marcello Moares Siciliano, also a counselor in Rio de Janeiro. He was identified as the supposed intellectual author of the crime and he is being directly accused of being involved in the murder. The State Prosecutor and the Police searched his home and found material connected to the murder that also pointed towards two ex-military police officers who were also detained as possible complices.

The second, in January of this year, was the major revelation that these two military police officers have dark connections to Flavio Bolsonaro, the son of president Jair Bolsonaro, who is currently a senator. The accused are suspected to be members of the militia group ‘Escritório do Crime’, one of the most dangerous criminal groups currently in the west of Rio de Janeiro.

The third, is the unexpected arrest of a military police officer and another ex-police officer only a few days before commemorating one year since her murder. One is accused of pulling the trigger, and the other of driving the vehicle used for the attack. These appear to be the first concrete results of a complex investigation that remains plagued with uncertainty that would confirm the Brazilian state’s role in the murder…

What is certain is that the investigation has also suggested a link between Marielle’s opposition to the militarisation of Rio de Janeiro and her murder. She had discovered some worrying conexions, which could imply her death was caused by powerful mafias that wished to silence her. The complexity and the difficulty of clarifying the events surrounding her death show there are powerful interests impeding the investigation.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/democraciaabierta/who-killed-marielle-1-year-later-few-answers/

Other members of the UN’s Khashoggi investigation team named

January 26, 2019

The United Nations’ human rights office in Geneva confirmed on Friday a Reuters report that three-member team of international experts would conduct an inquiry into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/26/u-n-rapporteur-agnes-callamard-to-investigate-kashoggi-murder/]. The other two panel members – in addition to Agnes Callamard – are British barrister Helena Kennedy and Duarte Nuno Vieira, a pathology expert and professor at the department of legal and forensic medicine and ethics and medical law at Coimbra University, Portugal.

The trio will visit Turkey from Jan 28-Feb 3 and plan to report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June, it said.

There was no word on whether the panel would seek access to Saudi Arabia or whether the kingdom would cooperate. The Saudi diplomatic mission in Geneva did not respond to inquiries. On 29 January Human Rights Watch stated that the team has in fact requested to visit Saudi Arabia. HRW added that” Once Callamard presents her findings to the Human Rights Council, UN member states should explore avenues for holding to account everyone responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, from the operatives who dismembered him with a bone saw to any officials who ordered or organized the killing.”

Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/un-names-members-of-international-inquiry-on-khashoggi-murder-11166718

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/29/un-rights-expert-independently-investigates-khashoggi-murder

U.N. Rapporteur Agnes Callamard to investigate Kashoggi murder

January 26, 2019

A UN special rapporteur told Reuters on Thursday 24 January 2019 she will travel to Turkey next week to head an “independent international inquiry” into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/18/in-spite-of-khashoggi-riyadh-wants-to-be-the-capital-of-media/]

Earlier on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was time for an international investigation and that President Erdogan had ordered preparations to be made. “I will be heading an independent international inquiry into the killing of Saudi journalist Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, commencing with a visit to Turkey from 28 January to 3 February 2019,UN Special Rapporteur  on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said in an email reply to Reuters in Geneva.

My findings and recommendations will be reported to the U.N. Human Rights Council at the June 2019 session,” she said.

[Callamard, a French academic who is director of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression initiative at Columbia University in New York, reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva and has a global mandate to investigate executions. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/agnes-callamard/]

Two years after murder of Salwa Bugaighis in Libya, still no investigation

June 28, 2016

Salwa Bugaighis was the first woman to call for the ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi. After she cast her ballot in the 2014 election, men in hoods and military uniforms stormed into her home and killed her on 25 June.[ https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/human-rights-lawyer-salwa-bugaighis-killed-in-libya/]

Two years later, her killers remain at large and the article by BANISH AHMED in Thinkprogress of 28 June 2015 “Activists Inspired By Libyan Human Rights Lawyer Want To Know Why No One Is Investigating Her Murder” remains as valid as it was last year.

Salsa Bugaighis CREDIT: KARAMA

The fear of violence made voters in Libya cautious about heading to the polls during elections last June, but Salwa Bugaighis, a human rights lawyer who returned to the country to fight for its democratic future after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, insisted that the risk was worth it.

“My people, I beg of you, there are only three hours left,” she wrote to her Facebook followers at about 5:45 in the evening to urge Libyans to head to the polls before they closed.

Members of the armed militants groups vying for power stormed through her neighborhood. Gunshots from a skirmish between militants and the army troops sent to protect a polling station were audible in a telephone interview she gave to a Libyan TV network from her home.

Still, Bugaighis was not shaken.

“These are people who want to foil elections,” she told the al-Nabaa network of the militants. “Benghazi has been always defiant, and always will be despite the pain and fear. It will succeed.”

Despite these risks, Bugaighis ventured out to the polls, and, while there, posted an image of herself casting her ballot on Facebook.

It was back at her home after voting that the dangers she well knew caught up with her. Men in hoods and military uniforms stormed into Bugaighis’ home and opened fire on her. Shot several times, she was taken to a hospital in critical condition where she died.

There was an immediate outcry against her death, and scores of women inspired by Bugaighis’ fight for justice, stability, and gender equality in her homeland took to the streets.

While Hibaaq Osman was not among those who braved the violent streets of Benghazi to honor Bugaighis, she has continued to carried the torch for her friend and fellow activist.

“When the protests against Qaddafi started in Benghazi, it was Salwa who was with the first women to join the demonstrations in front of the courthouse,” Osman, who heads Karama, a Cairo-based rights organization, said in an email to ThinkProgress. “That was everything about Salwa — fearless, ready to go against the grain and do what she believed was right.”

Only two weeks after the ouster of Qaddafi in April 2011, Libya held its first conference on women’s rights, organized by Bugaighi. She landed a seat on the governing body established to steer the country towards democracy, and used it push for an electoral quota that would guarantee women’s inclusion in the legislative bodies that followed. She helped found organizations dedicated to human and women’s rights. Her mission was clear: Bugaighis wanted Libya to emerge as a true democracy, one in which women would have a voice, until then, been allowed only a marginalized role in their society.

All that she had worked for seemed to be falling apart in June 2014, however. Rival militant and political groups, plus a renegade general, were the cause of violent, and many Libyans were skeptical of that their country’s fledgling government could provide security – or that it would effectively manage the country’s wealth.

The growing disillusionment was evident at the polls: more than a million fewer had registered to vote than in country’s first election in 2012, and only half of them actually cast ballots. Five people were killed and 30 injured when Islamist militant attacked a security agency in Benghazi.

In the attack on Bughaighis’ home, her husband, an elected member of a local municipal council, was abducted during the attack on their home and is still missing.

No investigation has yet been conducted into the attack on Bughaighis, although rights groups including Amnesty International called one for one soon after her death.

“We believe that Salwa Bugaighis may have been targeted for both her political activism and her role in promoting women’s rights,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the organization’s Middle East and North Africa Director said in a statement at the time. “Attacks on security personnel and state institutions pose severe obstacles to the functioning of the justice system, but that is no excuse for Libya’s failure to protect activists. The authorities must put in place protective measures to prevent other critical voices being brutally silenced.”

The Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace made similar appeals. In an interview with the BBC, Zahra Langhi, with whom Bugaighis founded the organization, said that that her colleague had received pointed threats that forced her to leave the country for three months before the election.

“She had to evacuate all of her sons and take them to a safe place in Amman,” Langhi said, “because she was too much involved in the political process she had to pay a very high price, which she was aware of.”

Still, Langhi said she urged Bugaighis to try to protect herself.

“When I said, ‘Be careful, Salwa,’ she said, ‘We have to struggle inside Libya until the last moment. They will not threaten us and shut us all up. We will have to struggle for it.’” Langhi recalled. “And she was calling on everybody, until the last moment, [saying] ‘Please participate and protect the ballots.’”

When asked who she thought killed Bugaighis, Langhi said, “I think everybody is involved. Those who don’t want a peaceful Libya, who want Libya to continue as a militarized society. Those who do not want to see a democratic Libya are a part of it. Even if they’re against each other.”

One year later, various rights’ organizations have renewed their calls for an independent investigation into who killed Bugaighis.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has taken note of the case, and will send a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Libya.

“That’s a good sign, but it needs to happen,” Shelby Quast of Equality Now said in a phone interview, adding that the delay in justice “is promoting impunity.”

According to Libya Body Count, which tracks the numbers of those killed by armed groups in Libya, nearly 900 people have been violently killed so far in June. More than 2,800 were killed in 2014.

While Bughaighis’ case is one of thousands, it stands out as a particularly egregious one.

“It [shows] the impunity with which people are acting,” Quast said, “because they can come in and so brutally assassinate someone who was a public figure, who did have a following. While we’re pushing for justice for Salwa, she represents a growing number of women and human rights defenders who are being targeted, threatened, and murdered.”

In May, Mark SImonoff, the Minister Counselor for Legal Affairs for the U.S. Mission to the U.N. said at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, pointed to Bughaigis’ death as evidence of a broader phenomenon.

“Many of the individuals and institutions with the most critical roles to play in exposing and preventing violence against civilians –- including journalists, human rights defenders, judges and prosecutors, female activists, and the country’s human rights commission –- have been singled out for intimidation and brutal violence for simply attempting to provide key services to the Libyan people,” he said. “Other murders, such as the killing of prominent human rights leader Salwa Bugaighis last June on the day of national elections, have a clear political purpose, even as it has been impossible to identify those responsible.”

In investigating Bughaigis’ murder, many hope that similar cases can also see justice.

Hibaaq Osman poses with Salma Bugaighis at UN Commission on the Status of Women conference held in March 2014 in New York, NY.

Hibaaq Osman poses with Salma Bugaighis at UN Commission on the Status of Women conference held in March 2014 in New York, NY. CREDIT: KARAMA

“The pressure that the Justice For Salwa campaigns has exerted is now building the political will to find not just Salwa’s killers, but to investigate and prosecute the many more politically motivated murders that Libya has suffered,” Hibaaq Osman said. “That is why we say that justice for Salwa is justice for all.”

Osman and many others continue the fight Bugaighis died fighting, though Libya has only become more unstable since its last elections. Militant groups have only promulgated in the last year and become more brazen in their attacks. ISIS, the Islamist group that calls itself the Islamic State, has gained a foothold in the country. Rule of law is in no better a state, with two parliaments vying for power against one another. A dramatic loss in oil revenue has put Libya “on the verge of economic and financial collapse,” according to one U.N. official.

And yet, those who worked alongside or were inspired by Salwa Bugaighis’ bravery and mission continue her fight.

The attack on her life made “Salwa a martyr to the cause of a free and just Libya,” according to Osman. “It showed the world the depths to which her killers would stoop – to murder in cold blood a women who had urged her supporters to ‘fight peacefully by using their votes.’ It has left me and Salwa’s colleagues more determined to work for her ideals in Libya and across the region, to honor her memory.”

Source: Activists Inspired By Libyan Human Rights Lawyer Want To Know Why No One Is Investigating Her Murder | ThinkProgress

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salwa_Bughaighis

A symposium on the 1965 massacre in Indonesia is not enough to address impunity

April 23, 2016

As the main author of a book on “Indonesia and the Rule of Law” published as far back as 1987 (Pinter Publishers ISBN 0-86187-919-8; International Commission of Jurists) I cannot be but very interested in the way the Indonesian government deals with the mass atrocities that took place in 1965. It had promised in the elections (Nawacita) to investigate and this is also laid down in its National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2015-2019. Under the title “Indonesia: What next after symposium on 1965 massacre, Mr. President?” the Asian Human Rights Commission on 21 April comments on the half hearted start the Government made with a symposium held on 18 and 19 April 2016 in Jakarta. The government, represented by the President’s advisory body, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the Press Council, and also representatives from other government institutions attended the symposium. Read the rest of this entry »

Exceptional response from NGO world on killing of Berta Cáceres

March 7, 2016

A group of over 50 international organizations has written to the President of Honduras to express their shock over the recent killing of Berta Cáceres [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/berta-caceres-human-rights-defender-assassinated-today-in-honduras/], to demand an international investigation and the immediate protection of Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist, who witnessed her assassination. Here is the letter and signatories in full: Read the rest of this entry »

Laos: UN experts on two-year-old disappearance of human rights defender Sombath Somphone

December 24, 2014

Wouldn’t it be a truly nice Christmas gift if the Laos government would finally undertake a serious investigation into the disappearance of  human rights defender Sombath Somphone, who was last seen in December 2012. That is what a group of United Nations independent experts urged today, 23 December 2014:

It is high time for the authorities of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to voluntarily request international assistance with the aim of shedding light on Mr. Somphone’s fate and whereabouts, two years after his disappearance,” the experts said in a news release. “International law makes clear that the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has the duty to carry out an independent, thorough, credible and effective investigation,” they added. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/sombath-somphone/]

(The situation of human rights in Laos is due to be assessed next month through the Universal Period Review process, which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, the process provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve their human rights situation.)

Along with Mr. Kiai, the experts speaking out on Laos today include the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst; and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and the protection of the right to freedom of expression and opinion, David Kaye.

United Nations News Centre – Laos: UN experts appeal for help to probe two-year-old disappearance of rights defender.

Remembering Clyde Snow, unusual human rights defender

September 26, 2014

img1

Only now did I see the tribute paid by filmmakers Paco de Onis and Pamela Yates to the American forensic anthropologist turned human rights defender Clyde Snow who passed away on 16 May 2014.  Clyde was a tall Texan with an easygoing manner that masked a tenacious commitment to finding the truth and advancing justice through the science of forensic anthropology, applied to the exhumation of victims of mass atrocities. As Clyde often said, “the bones tell stories.”  And these were stories that often helped land the perpetrators of heinous crimes in prison, from Argentina to Guatemala, the Balkans, Rwanda and beyond.

Clyde’s work lives on through the crack forensic anthropology teams he formed in Argentina, Guatemala and Peru, two of which are featured in the films “State of Fear” (Peru) and “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” (Guatemala).

This Saturday 27 September there is a memorial service in Norman, Oklahoma, where he lived with his wife Jerry.