Deaths rise in Duterte drug war | Abuses persist in Burundi

Civil society is calling for an end to the bloodshed and for justice for Filipino civilians.© AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Deaths rise in Duterte drug war

Last week marked one of the bloodiest yet in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines, as police raids left over 90 people dead and the president renewed his warning of deadly police force against all human rights activists protesting his anti-drug campaign, prompting members of global civil society to reassert the importance of protecting civilian life in the country. More than 12,500 people have been killed since Duterte took office in June 2016.

Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine directly called on the president of the ICC member state to retract his remarks lest further violence ensue. Amnesty International Campaign Manager Michael Hayworth meanwhile emphasized the role of governments in speaking out and assisting in ending violence and securing justice: “The Australian government along with other governments in the region can send a loud and clear message to President Duterte that this sort of behaviour, these killings are completely unacceptable.”

 

No human rights improvements in Burundi 

As the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) prepares to make its assessment next month on whether killings, torture, and abductions, among other abuses allegedly being committed in Burundi, amount to international crimes, the UN Commission of Inquiry on the situation this week reported that human rights abuses have shown no sign of improvement, including against rights defenders.

The head of the UN Commission, which will present its findings to the UNHRC, stated, "To this day, the main opposition party leaders as well as many journalists and other members of civil society are still in exile; some are the objects of international arrest warrants issued by the Burundian authorities. There are continuing reports of disappearances. Dead bodies are also still regularly discovered."

Burundian human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa noted the prevalence of incendiary language in the situation, pointing in particular to state rhetoric pitting supporters against those protesting the constitutionality of the Burundian president’s current third term. Violence related to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s reelection in 2015 is the subject of an ongoing ICC preliminary examination in Burundi.

 

ICC investigations

Libya: The Libyan National Army says they have arrested Al-Werfalli following his ICC arrest warrant. They have not yet given any indication of whether he will be handed over to ICC.

Uganda: The EU has doubled its funding to communities holding South Sudanese refugees. This follows the news that the number of refugees in Kampala has surpassed the one million mark.

Kenya: Three civilians have been beheaded and several homes have been set alight by al-Shabaab militants in Lamu County. This attack follows several other related incidents in the region.  

CAR: The government is planning to hold further peace talks with rebel factions, but Human Rights Watch and other human rights organisations have expressed grave concerns about the rapid deterioration of the security situation the country.

 

ICC preliminary examinations

Palestine: Officials have expressed that the Palestinian Authority will resume its campaign for recognition by international agencies and institutions and pursue claims against Israel at ICC, regardless of the outcome of Trump administration effort to jumpstart peace talks with Israel.

Afghanistan: A UN investigation has confirmed that a murderous attack in Mirzawalang by Taliban and IS insurgents earlier this month may amount to a war crime. UNAMA has verified allegations of at least 36 deaths.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

NGO AfriForum has vowed to continue fighting for justice following South Africa's decision to grant Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

The Kachin National Organization (KNO) has called on the Government of Myanmar to ratify the ICC Rome Statute, and is urging countries under the jurisdiction of the ICC to also increasure pressure for it to do so. 

American author Bryan Stevenson has planned the construction of a Memorial to Peace and Justice in Alabama. Six acres of land owned by the Equal Justice Initiative will memorialize the 4,000 victims of 'racial terror lynching' in the American South.

 

Around the world

Serbia: Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has requested that the UN allow Serbian citizens convicted of war crimes to serve their sentences in Serbia, due to alleged 'inhumane conditions' elsewhere. 

Turkey: Eight human rights defenders and two consultants have been arrested and detained on the island of Buyukada, charged with 'aiding an armed terrorist organisation'. Six of the human rights defenders are being kept in pre-trial detention whilst others have been released but are under a travel ban.

Argentina: Civil society groups have threatened to pull out of sustainable development talks in Buenos Aires after concerns that negotiating governments are refusing guarantees on human rights standards. Representatives of 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries were involved in the discussions.