Rwanda expresses concern at early release of genocide convicts

The Rwandan government said it was “concerned and worried” after two people convitced over their role in the 1994 genocide have been granted early releases from their prison sentences. Ferdinand Nahimana and Emmanuel Rukundo, convicted to 30 years and 23 years respectively, have been held in prison in Mali, following their sentencing. However, the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has reportedly allowed both men to be considered for early release as they have “demonstrated some signs of rehabilitation”. The move has angered some with Rwanda’s Minister for Justice and...

Thousands evacuated from Aleppo under new agreement

After days of negotiations and stalled deals, a new agreement has led to the evacuations of thousands of civilians from eastern Aleppo, according to latest reports. The BBC reported that 4,500 civilians had left the besieged region so far on Monday, as they left to other opposition held areas to the west of Aleppo. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusogulu said that 20,000 people had been evacuated so far and that efforts were continuing. Buses also left the Shi'ite Muslim villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, north of Idlib, which have been surrounded by opposition forces, as part of the newly...

UN Human Rights Commission warns of genocide in South Sudan

The head of the UN Human Rights Commission, Yasmin Sooka, warned this week that South Sudan was "on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war" where genocide was a strong possibility. Addressing the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, Ms Sooka said a "Rwanda-like" genocide could be prevented if 4000 UN peacekeepers were deployed to protect civilians. UN investigators who recently visited the country said "a steady process of ethnic cleansing is already under way in some parts of the country," she added. See video here .

US blocks arms deal with Saudi Arabia over Yemen

The United States announced that it will block the transfer of a set of precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia, over concerns regarding civilian casualties in the conflict in Yemen. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said the United States has “long expressed some very significant concerns about the high rate of civilian casualties”. He made the statement as the Obama administration announced the sale of about 16,000 guided munitions kits by Raytheon is to be blocked. The contract is estimated to have been worth $350 million, reports the New York Times. However, other military...

PKK offshoot claims responsibility for Istanbul attack

A group aligned to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack in Istanbul, Turkey which killed 38 people, injuring 155. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) made its claim in a statement published on its website on Sunday, which said "the latest bombings were in reprisal for ongoing violence in the south-eastern Turkey and for the continuing imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan." TAK has previously claimed responsibility for a number of attacks mainly in the Kurdish region of Turkey, including the Ankara attack which killed 37. See here and here .

Prosecutors call for life sentence for Ratko Mladić

Prosecutors at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) called for former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić to be handed a life sentence, as they delivered their closing arguments at his genocide trial. “The time has come for Ratko Mladić to be held accountable for each of his victims and all the communities he destroyed,” said Alan Tieger, stating that anything less would be “an insult to the victims, living and dead, and an affront to justice”. “Nobody can even imagine the depth of suffering for which Mladić is responsible,” he added. Mr Mladić faces charges of...

French court upholds sentence for Rwandan genocide convict

A French court has upheld a 25 year prison sentence for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity to a former Rwandan intelligence agent. Pascal Simbikangwa was originally found guilty of genocide in a 2014 trial, leading to the former presidential guard member lodging an appeal. His prosecution was the first in France over the 1994 genocide, which left around 800,000 people dead. The decision was praised by Alain Gauthier, head of the Civil Plaintiffs Collective for Rwanda, who said the move "legitimises the fight we've been leading for 20 years without any glory". It comes amid a...

Afghan Taliban calls for direct talks with US

The Afghan Taliban has called for direct talks with the United States and recognition of its political office in Qatar, as part of a series of proposals put forward this to work towards a political solution. Voice of America reported Qatar-based Taliban spokesman, Sohail Shaheen, as stating “there is need for America and its allies to come to the table for direct talks with the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban) for negotiating an end to the occupation”. He went on to add that official recognition of the Taliban office in Qatar and the removal of senior Taliban members from a UN black list were...

UN passes resolution on Syria as government gains ground in Aleppo

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate end to the hostilities in Syria and access for humanitarian aid, as fighting continues to rage in Aleppo between the Syrian government and opposition forces. The resolution was passed 122 votes to 13 as the Syrian army grew closer to recapturing east Aleppo, in a massive offensive that has Russian backing. "This is a vote to stand up and tell Russia and Assad to stop the carnage," said US Ambassador Samantha Power. Canada’s Ambassador to the UN Marc-Andre Blanchard said the resolution is "a reminder that above...

Rwandan genocide convict arrested in Malawi

Malawian police arrested a resident who had been previously convicted of committing genocide in Rwanda but had been living in the country for the past 13 years. "Yes, we effected the arrest of Vincent Murekezi today on instructions from the director of public prosecutions," the police chief spokesperson James Kadazera told AFP . Mr Murekezi was convicted in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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