No turning back on independence referendum says Kurdish President

Iraq’s Kurdish leader said on Thursday that there was no turning back on a bid to achieve an independent Kurdish state, reports Reuters. The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani told Reuters that the timetable for independence after a vote in September “was flexible but not open-ended.” The referendum is thought to be a deciding factor in what happens with the status of the city of Kirkuk, which Kurdish Peshmerga defended from Islamic State in 2015. Mr Barzani stressed that the people of Kirkurk would decide their fate, adding, “Whatever the people of Kirkurk...

7 soldiers convicted in Congo over massacre

A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday convicted seven soldiers for shooting people at close range who they accused of being militia members. The massacre was filmed in a video that was broadcast widely earlier this year, clearly depicting the soldiers shooting people, including young women at very close range. The sentencing comes as last month the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish an international inquiry. The UN and human rights groups have long criticised the Congolese government for not holding perpetrators of such crimes to account. Two army majors were...

War crimes-accused former Serbian soldier dies before trial ends

A former Serbian soldier accused of war crimes due to his alleged involvement in a massacre of over 100 Kosovo Albanians, has died before the conclusion of his trial in Belgrade. Milojko Nikolic, one of the men on trial for allegedly murdering over 100 ethnic Albanian civilians in the Kosovo villages of Cuska, Ljubenic, Pavlan and Zahac during the spring of 1999, died on Wednesday in Belgrade. Nikolic was one of 11 former members of the 177th Yugoslav Army Intervention Squad charged with war crimes in the case, and the process against him will now be suspended. Read more on Balkan Insight .

Palestine dismayed by Modi's snub during Israel visit

The Palestinian Authority expressed concern over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision not to meet President Mahmoud Abbas during his trip to Israel. Modi was welcomed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a 3 day visit to Israel. Speaking to Aljazeera, Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister Tasir Jaradat, said, “We expected him [Modi] to visit both Israel and Palestine. To play an important role between two sides and to be able to spread the message of peace one should visit both.” India was formerly a leading member of the Non-Aligned Movement of developing countries that...

Netherlands confirms intent to prosecute those responsible for shooting down MH17 over Ukraine

The Dutch foreign ministry confirmed that those suspected of shooting down the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine will be tried under Dutch law. The decision follows attempts by Russia to block an international court form being set up over the incident. Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said that the Dutch–led investigative team will continue to operate during the “prosecution phase.” The investigation team, which includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, found that the plane was downed by a Russian made rocket fired from territory in Ukraine that was held by pro-Russia...

Former judge to lead UN team collecting war crimes evidence in Syria

The United Nations Secretary-General has announced the appointment of a former French judge to lead a legal team in Geneva that will investigate evidence of war crimes being committed in Syria. Catherine Marchi-Uhel was appointed by UN secretary general António Guterres to head the investigative body known as the “International Impartial and Independent Mechanism”. It was created after an UN General Assembly decision last year, and has the mandate "to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and...

Catalonia will declare independence ‘immediately’ after referendum

Catalonia’s ruling coalition said the region would declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a referendum to be held in October if voters backed secession, in a draft bill proposed on Tuesday. Gabriela Serra, a member of the coalition that governs Catalonia told AFP that "if the majority of votes are for creating a Catalan republic, obviously independence will have to be declared immediately". The declaration comes despite Spain’s Constitutional Court blocking a resolution by Catalonia's parliament which called for the referendum to take place and opposition from Madrid’s...

EU tells Myanmar to protect free speech

Responding to the detention of three journalists in Myanmar last week, the European Union urged the government to protest free speech and ensure journalists were not subject to "intimidation, arrest or prosecution". "It constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society," the EU said in a statement. "We therefore call on the government of Myanmar to provide the necessary legal protection for journalists to work in a free and enabling environment without fear of intimidation, arrest or prosecution." The military attempted to justify the detention by saying the journalists had...

Former Venezuela security chief to face human rights abuse charges

The National Guard of Venezuela’s former chief has been charged with “serious and systematic” human rights violations reports the Atlantic . Antonio Benavides was removed from his security chief post in June after his troops were captured on film firing at protestors. Although Mr Benavides was soon reassigned to a position as head of Venezuela’s Capital District government, the state prosecutors’ office announced the charges levelled against him last week. Mr Benavides has previously been sanctioned by the US government, after violent clashes between security forces and protestors in 2014...

Allegations of war crimes by Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul

The Iraqi military may have carried out executions of civilian men and boys fleeing Mosul as they sought to recapture the city from the Islamic State, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week. “As Iraqi forces are poised to retake the entire city of Mosul, allegations of unlawful killings and beatings significantly raise concerns for the civilians there who have been living under ISIS control,” said deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch Lama Fakih. “Iraqi forces are promising liberation, but they need to find out what’s happening now and stop any abuse.” HRW stated that numerous...

Pages