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ETHIOPIA: The UN needs to investigate massacres of civilians in war and non-war zones

ETHIOPIA: The UN needs to investigate massacres of civilians in war and no-war zones

By Willy Fautre

The European Times (16.02.2022) – https://bit.ly/3gR8iZ3 – An independent UN inquiry commission needs to investigate the innumerable killings of civilians that have been perpetrated on the margin of the frontal conflict opposing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) since November 2020, including in the Afar, Amhara, Benishangul and Oromia regions. The EU-Africa Summit in Brussels this week should also address this issue.

In addition to data collection about war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the Tigray region, it is urgent to map massacres of civilians of other ethnic groups all over the country, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators. In this regard, the Amhara and Afar regions should be prioritized but tragedies also took place in other places.

After the 3 November 2020 attack of a federal military base in the Tigray region, Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive in the rebellious region.

During this war, the TPLF troops have killed non-Tigrayan civilians in their own region, invaded parts of the Amhara and Afar regions where they have perpetrated crimes against humanity, and used sexual violence as a war weapon. A few examples.

November 2020: In Maikadra, 600 to 1200 Amhara victims in the Tigray region

Less than a week after the conflict began, a community comprised largely of ethnic Amharas was targeted by a Tigrayan youth group known as “Samri,” close to the TPLF.

On 9 November 2020, at least 717 people in the town of Maikadra (Tigray Region) were brutally murdered in homes they shared with fellow seasonal workers and their families. The victims were largely Amhara.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigated the mass killing and declared in its report: “Before retreating from the advance of the ENDF, the local militia and police security apparatus joined forces with members of the Samri group to carry out door-to-door raids and kill hundreds of people they identified as ethnic ‘Amharas and Wolkait origin’, by  beating them with sticks, stabbing them with knives, machetes and hatchets, and strangling them with ropes’.

The EHRC then estimated that at least 600 civilians were killed but that the death toll could be higher.

Some other estimates of those killed in Maikadra range as high as 1,200, including bodies discovered in mass graves near Abune Aregwai Church, according to the US 2020 Report Human Rights Report.

August 2021: In two months, 300 cases of sexual violence in the Amhara region

Sexual violence has been used by TPLF combatants as a weapon of war, according to a report prepared by the Amhara Association of America for Amnesty International.

Between August and September, over 300 instances of sexually-based gender violence (SBGV) were reported, including 112 incidents of rape, in the North and South Gondar zones of the Amhara region, though the actual figures are believed to be significantly higher.

Victims have reported not only the physical and emotional trauma that coincides with sexual violence. They have also faced social stigmatization, venereal diseases and (the threat of) unwanted pregnancy.

August 2021: Amharas killed in the Oromia region

In August 2021, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) killed more than 200 people in the Oromia region, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Most of them were Amharas, who had often faced similar attacks in the past.

September 2021: In two days, 120 civilians were killed in the Amhara region

In a village 10 km from the town of Dabat (Amhara region), fighters loyal to the TPLF killed 120 civilians over two days, local officials told Reuters.

Chalachew, the Gondar city spokesperson, said that he had visited the burial area in the village and that children, women and elderly were among the dead. He said the killings occurred during the Tigrayan forces’ “short presence” in the area.

January-February 2022: Massacres in other regions

In this year only, about one thousand homes were burnt down in Benishangul-Gumuz, Metekel zone. In the recent past, 300 civilians were killed in the same region, 80 in January 2021 and 220 in December 2020, as reported by Reuters.

In February 2022, 300 Amharas were first killed in Kiramu (Oromia region, Welega zone) and some days later 168 more, according to a governmental source. Moreover, according to the opposition media outlet Ethio 360, a dozen families with children were captured by an OLF rebel group in the Shewa zone, Oromia region, on the road to Addis Abeba, and a number of them were executed.

In the news in February 2022: UN Deputy Secretary-General in the field

In an article of The Ethiopian Herald, Mengisteab Teshome wrote that the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, had recently visited towns and villages controlled for a short period by the TPLF.

The Deputy Secretary-General has observed vandalized and damaged public and private facilities, witnessed mass burial committed by fighters of the terrorist group in Afar and Amhara states; particularly in Kombolcha and South Wollo zone of Amhara State, reported FBC,” he wrote.

In another article of The Ethiopian Herald dated, Solomon Dibaba wrote:

According to the education sector annual report released by the Ministry of Education in 2021, a total of 7000 schools were destroyed in Amhara and Afar in a single year. Out of this, 455 were destroyed in Afar pushing 88,000 children totally out of school. Through shelling conducted by terrorist TPLF, 240 persons have been killed in a single shelling incident out of which 107 were children.

A report of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

In November 2021, the EHRC published a 33-page well-documented report titled “Amhara region: Redress and recovery for areas in South Gondar and North Wollo zones affected by the conflict/ The violations and abuses may amount to war crimes.”

The report covers the period July-August 2021. The investigation mission held 128 interviews and 21 focus group discussions with survivors, victims, local civil administration and security officials, CSOs and humanitarian organizations.

The Commission found that at least 184 civilians had been killed and many suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the war. TPLF fighters were found to have willfully killed scores of civilians in towns and rural areas they captured and systematically committed large scale looting and destruction of public and private properties.

In his conclusions, the EHRC Chief Commissioner called on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligation not to target civilians and civilian buildings. He also recommended that the perpetrators of such violations be held accountable.





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RUSSIA: Sexual abuse of minors: 18 and 12 years of prison for 2 Orthodox clerics

Credo (08.11.2021) – https://credo.press/239598/ – Hieromonk Spiridon (his real name in the world being Yuri Abramov), who headed the parish of the church of the Holy Prophet Elijah in the village of Amurzet, Oktyabrsky district, Jewish Autonomous Region (Birobidzhan Diocese of the ROC MP), was sentenced for sexual abuse of dozens of boys.

Hieromonk was sentenced to 18 years in a maximum security colony and his accomplice-beller to 12 years, reports IA “REGNUM” (https://regnum.ru/news/accidents/3417150.html) on November 8 with reference to the press service of the prosecutor’s office of the region.

According to the prosecutor’s office, two crimes of Hieromonk Spiridon are qualified under Article 132 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (sexual violence committed by a group of persons by prior agreement). Actions against 51 more children were evaluated under articles 151 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (involvement by a teacher of a minor in the commission of antisocial actions – systematic use (drinking) of alcoholic and alcohol-containing products, intoxicating substances) and 134 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (sexual intercourse and other sexual acts with a person under the age of sixteen). The bell ringer was accused of five episodes of sexual violence.

“In the court session, the defendants pleaded partially guilty. Meanwhile, the state prosecutor in the criminal case has provided sufficient evidence to confirm the charge against him,” the prosecutor’s office stressed.

The rector of the ROC MP temple in Amurzet, who was also a member of the United Russia party, and the bell ringer of the same church were arrested on suspicion of debauchery two years ago. At that time, shocking details of what the rector of the temple was doing were actively spread on social networks. It was possible to document the illegal activities of the cleric of the Moscow Patriarchate through the joint efforts of several law enforcement services.

Photo credits: Credo





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FRANCE seeks to establish age of consent at 15 for sexual relations

France’s government wants to set the age of sexual consent at 15 and make it easier to punish long-ago child sexual abuse, amid growing public pressure and a wave of online testimonies about rape and other sexual violence by parents and authority figures.

 

By News Wire

 

France24 (12.02.2021) – https://bit.ly/3rMIgJQ – “Finally!” was the refrain Wednesday from victims and child protection activists who have long pushed for tougher laws and greater societal recognition of the problem.

 

France’s lack of an age of consent — along with statutes of limitations — have complicated efforts to prosecute alleged perpetrators, including a prominent modeling agent, a predatory priest, a surgeon and a group of firefighters accused of systematic sexual abuse.

 

Calling such treatment of children “intolerable,” the Justice Ministry said “the government is determined to act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”

 

“An act of sexual penetration by an adult on a minor under 15 will be considered a rape,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said Tuesday on France-2 television. Perpetrators could no longer cite consent to diminish the charges, he said, though exceptions would be made for teenagers having consensual sex.

 

The change still needs to be enshrined in law, but the announcement is a major step.

“It’s very good that there is this revived debate, that there is an idea of a minimum age (of consent), said Fatima Benomar, whose group Les Effrontees has pushed for stronger laws against sexual abusers. “This will make adults more responsible.”

 

An effort to set France’s first age of consent three years ago in the wake of the global #MeToo movement failed amid legal complications. But it has gained new momentum since accusations emerged last month of incestuous sexual abuse involving a prominent French political expert, Olivier Duhamel. That unleashed an online #MeTooInceste movement in France that led to tens of thousands of similar testimonies.

 

The Justice Ministry is in discussions with victims’ groups about toughening punishment of incestuous abuse and extending or abolishing the statute of limitations on sexual violence against children, because it creates such deep trauma that it can take decades for victims to speak out. The law currently allows child victims to file complaints until they are 48.

 

The ministry also says it wants “to ensure that victims of the same perpetrator do not receive different legal treatment,” which could broaden the scope to prosecute those accused of abusing multiple people over decades.

 

Legal time limits have hampered French authorities’ ability to investigate an influential cardinal, Philippe Barbarin, convicted then acquitted of covering up for a predatory priest; modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, an associate of disgraced late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, accused of an array of sex crimes; and surgeon Joel le Scouarnec, convicted after accusations he sexually abused more than 300 children over decades, as well as other less-prominent cases.

 

One of Brunel’s alleged victims, former model Thysia Huisman, welcomed the proposed reform, even though it’s too late for her to seek justice for the rape she says she suffered as a teenager.

 

“It feels empowering, and that’s really important,” she said. “I thought nothing was ever going to change.”

 

Huisman came forward and testified to police in hopes of eliciting change and encouraging other alleged victims to speak out. “It’s really important to me, as a victim, a survivor, that we came forward as a group,” she said.

 

France’s highest court considered a case Wednesday involving a woman who said multiple firefighters raped her when she was between the ages of 13 and 15. A lower court downgraded the charges to sexual assault, but her lawyers want them reclassified as rape.

 

Under current French law, sexual relations between an adult and a minor under 15 are banned. Yet the law accepts the possibility that someone under 15 is capable of consenting to sex, leading to cases where an adult is prosecuted for sexual assault instead of rape, and therefore faces a lighter prison sentence.

 

In the Duhamel case, the Paris prosecutor opened an investigation into alleged “rapes and sexual abuses by a person exercising authority” over a child following accusations in a book by his stepdaughter that he abused her twin brother in the 1980s, when the siblings were in their early teens.

 

Duhamel, saying he was “the target of personal attacks,” stepped down from his many professional positions, including as a TV commentator and head of National Foundation of Political Sciences. The foundation manages the prestigious Sciences Po university in Paris, whose director Frederic Mion resigned this week amid the fallout from the affair, which entangled multiple people among France’s elite.

 

Since the Duhamel accusations surfaced, searing accounts of alleged incestuous abuse filled social networks. Other prominent figures in French cinema and politics have also been accused. The movement spawned an offshoot #MeTooGay wave in France of long-suppressed testimonies of sexual abuse by older men.

 

The World Health Organization says international studies show that one in five women and one in 13 men report having been sexually abused as a child.

 

Photo Credits : Thomas Samson, AFP

 

 

 





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WORLD: A report on conflict-related sexual slavery denounces…

A report by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (2020)

See https://bit.ly/2M9pVHr

 

Table of contents

 

Glossary

Foreword

Executive Summary

Key Findings

Recommendations

Overview of the Research

  1. Defining Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery
  2. Links Between Armed Conflict and the Incidence of Sexual Slavery

III. The Evolution of Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery: Incidences of Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery from World War Two to the Contemporary Geopolitical Context

 

  1. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery in the Context of World War Two: Japan’s “Comfort Women”
  2. Evolution of the Context in which Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery Occurs
  3. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery as a Tactic of Terrorism
  4. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery in Humanitarian Emergencies
  5. State-Sponsored Sexual Slavery
  6. Gaps and Opportunities to Address Sexual Slavery in International Humanitarian, Criminal, and Human Rights Laws, the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and Policies on Preventing Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism

 

  1. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery in International Human Rights, Humanitarian, and Criminal Laws
  2. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda
  3. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery in Policies on Preventing Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism
  4. Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery and Peace Processes, Post Conflict Resolution, and Transitional Justice
  5. Highlighting the Initiatives of Women’s Rights Organizations and Civil Society Groups in Condemning, and Demanding Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery

 

  1. Marginalization and Stigma Experienced by Victims/Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery
  2. Survivors and Women’s Rights Organizations’ Advocacy for Accountability and Efforts to Address the Impacts of Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery during World War Two
  3. Survivors and Women’s Rights Organizations’ Advocacy for Accountability and Efforts to Address the Impacts of Contemporary Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery
  4. Challenges in Holding Key Actors Accountable for the Full and Effective Implementation of the WPS Resolutions and International Laws on Conflict-Related Sexual Slavery
  5. Conclusion and Recommendations

 

Executive summary

 

Conflict-related sexual slavery is a widespread, systematic, institutionalized, and deliberate human rights abuse committed by militaries under government supervision, state-sponsored militia groups, non-state armed groups, violent extremist groups, and criminal networks alike. Causing tremendous and long-lasting harm to women, girls, and entire communities, sexual slavery is used as a weapon of war, a wartime strategy, or a tactic of terrorism to recruit and retain fighters, fund operations, instill fear, destroy communities, and promote ideology.

The context in which conflict-related sexual slavery is occurring has evolved since World War Two. The rise of violent extremist groups and criminal networks has contributed to the widespread use of the bodies of women and girls as a form of currency in the political economy of war. Forced displacement, refugee crises, and humanitarian emergencies as a result of armed conflict have further exacerbated insecurity for women and girls, increasing their vulnerability to sexual slavery.

Survivors of sexual slavery are not a homogenous group—each individual experience is unique and affected by geography, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion, among other intersecting factors. Yet survivors across conflict contexts often face high levels of stigmatization and marginalization from their communities and families. In spite of this, many survivors have broken the barrier of silence and actively advocate for accountability and reparations from perpetrators, dispelling the narrative that survivors of conflict-related sexual slavery are passive victims without agency. In the absence of effective action taken by global and national policymakers to address conflict-related sexual slavery, survivors—with the support of women’s civil society—call for accountability, justice, relief and recovery services, protection, and prevention of reoccurrence.

Although international human rights, humanitarian, and criminal laws and policies on preventing violent extremism and countering terrorism recognize and condemn conflict-related sexual slavery, significant gaps persist when it comes to consistent, coherent, and specific efforts at prevention, protection, accountability, and relief and recovery for survivors. The failure to address conflict-related sexual slavery through Bender-responsive peace processes, post-conflict resolution, and transitional justice mechanisms contributes to a reoccurrence of the crime, along with continued impunity for perpetrators and inadequate redress for survivors.

The Women, Peace, and Security resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council provide a critical framework to improve the global response to conflict-related sexual slavery.

 

However, it is essential to strengthen specific policies, provisions, and programming on conflict-related sexual slavery for the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security resolutions, including National Action Plans. Localization of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 is an important instrument to ensure that the needs of survivors of sexual slavery are met and to prevent the reoccurrence of the crime, through context-specific, survivor-centered conflict resolution initiatives developed in partnership with women’s civil society.

The coinciding 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, and the 20th anniversary of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal for the Trial of Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery in 2020 present a critical opportunity to highlight the need to step up the response to sexual slavery, particularly justice and reparation for survivors as well as prevention efforts. It is a unique moment for survivors, women’s rights organizations, and civil society groups worldwide to demand that the United Nations, Member States, regional organizations, the International Criminal Court, and the International Court of Justice take concerted action to end sexual slavery in collaboration with civil society, the media, academia, faith-based institutions and other key stakeholders.

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), coordinated a global research to analyze historical and contemporary incidences of sexual slavery, from World War Two to the present geopolitical context. The overall goal of the research is to promote synergies in the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda, international humanitarian and human rights laws, and policies to prevent and counter violent extremism to improve the prevention of, protection from, accountability mechanisms for, and relief and recovery for survivors of sexual slavery. To ensure that this research reflects the voices of survivors of sexual slavery and women’s civil society on the ground in conflict-affected communities, the research team produced three case studies: one on sexual slavery during World War Two in Asia and the Pacific, and two on more recent incidences of sexual slavery in Uganda and Iraq respectively. Key informant interviews and focus group discussions with survivors of conflict-related sexual slavery, women’s rights activists, local and national government officials, human rights lawyers, and grassroots peacebuilders in Korea, Uganda, and Iraq, along with global policymakers were conducted.

 

This advocacy brief summarizes the key findings and recommendations of the global research and case studies. The full-length global research and case studies will also be made available. GNWP hopes that this research will inform and strengthen the global response to conflict-related sexual slavery and survivor-centered implementation of the WPS Agenda. Critically, this research will serve as a key advocacy tool for victims and survivors of sexual slavery and their families, and civil society activists.

Picture credits : UNICEF Crna Gora

Continue reading…





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HAITI: Lifetime ban for football chief

Players demand end to sexual abuse in sport.

 

HRW (24.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/37kfGqH – Football’s lifetime ban for Haitian soccer federation president Yves Jean-Bart is an important step forward to protect children and young women athletes in sport from sexual abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. The International Federation of Association Football (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA) decision should be followed by swift action to sanction other abusers and their accomplices, criminal prosecutions in Haiti and other jurisdictions, and ongoing therapeutic support for survivors.

 

After reports by The Guardian and Human Rights Watch and pressure from Haitian rights groups Kay Fanm, Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (SOFA), the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), and others, over the past seven months, FIFA investigated serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Jean Bart, also known as “Dadou.” FIFA’s Ethics Committee handed him the maximum punishment in football on Friday, November 20, 2020.

 

“FIFA’s decision is a vindication for all the courageous survivors of abuse and witnesses who came forward to report sexual abuse,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “As Human Rights Watch has documented, they faced personal threats and stigma in society. FIFA’s punishment is an important signal that if you are an abuser in football, your days are numbered.”

 

Jean-Bart had been president of the Haitian Football Federation (Fédération Haïtienne De Football, FHF) since 2000. Following their investigation into evidence of systematic sexual abuse of female players, FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Jean-Bart guilty of “having abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors.” He is now banned from the sport for life in Haiti and internationally, and fined 1 million Swiss francs (approximately US$1.1 million). He can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and has said he will.

 

Survivors of sexual abuse in Haiti told Human Rights Watch that they want justice for abuses by the president but also football sanctions for all officials who aided and knew about abuses in the national football academy.

 

“Playing for Haiti, I gave my heart,” one women’s national team player told Human Rights Watch. “Without us players, you don’t have a game. I am so happy Dadou can’t abuse his power and stop us from achieving our dreams anymore.”

 

Since May, Human Rights Watch has worked together with the international football players’ union FIFPro, who provided lawyers and support for athletes, helped to interview witnesses, and collected evidence of systemic human rights abuses in Haitian football, including confiscation of players’ passports, labor rights abuses, grooming child athletes for sexual exploitation, and threats to kill witnesses and survivors.

 

Jean-Bart has been Haiti’s football federation president since 2000 and was re-elected to a sixth term in February. Jean-Bart has publicly denied all allegations and successfully sought to have a judge in Haiti purportedly “clear” him of all charges and exonerate him. That a judge made this pronouncement the day before Jean-Bart’s lifetime ban is testament to the power he wields in Haiti and the challenge survivors face in taking on Jean-Bart and his allies. In August, Human Rights Watch documented threats and attacks on witnesses and whistleblowers, which could prevent them from coming forward with evidence of abuses.

 

FIFA’s statement signals other sanctions against abusers and officials who knew about or facilitated abuses in the Haiti federation could come soon:

 

“The aforementioned ethics proceedings are part of an extensive investigation concerning Mr Jean-Bart, as well as other officials within the FHF, who were identified as having allegedly been involved (as principals, accomplices or instigators) in acts of systematic sexual abuse against female football players between 2014 and 2020. The proceedings are still pending with respect to other FHF officials.”

 

It is essential for FIFA to discipline others who took part in sexual abuse and to remove them from football, Human Rights Watch said. FIFA needs to ensure ongoing therapeutic and logistical support for players, and enforcement of any bans and fines.

 

“In addition to protecting survivors and witnesses, FIFA should exercise its authority to ban and sanction all officials implicated in sexual abuse or threatening or menacing witnesses during its investigation,” Worden said. “In its best form, football is fun, empowering, and healthy for young people and FIFA should do its part to ensure player safety.”

Photo: Am 14. Mai 2020 halten Frauen vor dem Gerichtshof im haitianischen Croix-des-Bouquets Schilder hoch und fordern Gerechtigkeit während der Anhörung von Yves Jean-Bart, dem Präsidenten des haitianischen Fußballverbands. Wie der Guardian berichtet, haben Betroffene und ihre Familien Jean-Bart des sexuellen Missbrauchs von jungen Spielerinnen im Centre Technique National beschuldigt. © 2020 Associated Press (Dieu Nalio Chery).


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