Survivors of sexual violence have the right to transformatove reparations
On the occasion of the 19th Anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, Impunity Watch, UN Women and Oxfam Guatemala organised a forum on the importance of transformative reparation for women survivors of sexual violence, on 29 October 2019 in Guatemala City. Impunity Watch presented its most recent publication on transformative reparation guidelines for survivors of sexual violence.
Impunity Watch organises a public forum in Guatemala on the right to transformative reparation for survivors of sexual violence
On the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, Impunity Watch, UN Women and OXFAM Guatemala are holding a public forum on 30 October 2019 to examine the importance of this resolution and the rights of survivors of sexual violence in conflicts, justice and transformative reparation. During the event Impunity Watch will launch its new report on dignified and transformative reparation guidelines for survivors of sexual violence
Download the full report
Event: Big Latin America Debate II: The Kingdom and its Neighbours
Co-Organisers: Impunity Watch, Both ENDS, Free Press Unlimited, CNV International, Hivos, Vice Versa and Nicaragua Platform NIMD
Speakers: Thijs Berman, Dr. Eva van Roekel, Dr. Fabio de Castro, Joël Vrijhoff, Pamela Kalkman, Marlies Stappers, Edwin Koopman, Marit Maij, Prof. Barbara Hogenboom, Achraf Bouali, Bram van Ojik, Sadet Karabulut
Date: Monday 14 October 2019 from 15.00 - 17.30 hours
Place: Lange Poten 10, 2511 CL, Den Haag
Spoken Language: Dutch
Seminar: The truth about the migrant caravans in Central America
Co-Organisers: Impunity Watch and the International Institute of Social Sciences (ISS)
Speaker:Bartolo Fuentes, Honduras
Date: Monday 30 September 2019 from 15.30 - 17.00 hours
Place: ISS, Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX Den Haag, room 3.01
Spoken Language: Spanish, some whisper translation available
In Memory of Ralph Sprenkels
Last week we heard the devastating news that our valued former colleague and friend, Ralph Sprenkels, passed away. We still cannot fully comprehend that Ralph is no longer with us. His passing is a tremendous loss, first and foremost, for his family, loved ones and friends, but also for all those who had the privilege to work with him or who were witness to his incredible work. Our heartfelt sympathies and deepest solidarity.
Impunity Watch brings together Guatemalan and international experts to discuss strategic litigation for the protection of human rights and social transformation
Impunity Watch organised an international seminar on “Strategic Litigation for Protection of Human Rights and Social Transformation” on 22-23 August in Guatemala City. National and international experts focused on successful strategic litigation cases, lessons learned from Guatemala as well as best practices that could be applied in other contexts.
Impunity Watch sensitises Burundian communities on women’s leadership and rights; prioritises victim participation in transitional justice in the DRC
Throughout the month of August 2019 our gender team in Burundi co-organised with our local partner Association Dushirehamwe two trainings for local communities on women’s leadership and their rights. In addition, we organised a workshop on the role of victims in transitional justice processes in South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Joint Press Release: The Supreme Court of Justice must respect the independence of the Guatemala Constitutional Court
Several international organisations express their concern over the constant attacks against the independence of the Constitutional Court. They said that the recent complaint presented by the Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Republic against Magistrates Bonerge Mejía, Gloria Porras and Francisco De Matta Vela is unjustified and violates article 167 of the Amparo Law, which states that “Magistrates of this Court cannot be prosecuted for the opinions expressed in the exercise of the position.”
Read the full press release in English and Spanish.
Syrian activists and international experts examine violations of property rights in Syria; look into ways to address them
Impunity Watch and PAX for Peace co-organised a two-day expert meeting on property rights in Syria on 16-17 July in The Hague, bringing together 35 Syrian activists and international experts. Participants extensively discussed the legal obstacles and threats to Housing, Land and Property (HLP) Rights in Syria and brainstormed on the way forward and possible next steps to address the existing challenges.
Joint Press Release: Guatemala's Supreme Court of Justice must guarantee judicial independence of Judge Pablo Xitumul
In a joint press release issued on 8 July 2019, international organisations urged the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice to dismiss the complaint filed against Judge Pablo Xitumul and to reject future unfounded legal actions aimed at discrediting and intimidating judges who fulfilled their duties and challenged existing power structures.
Read the full press release in Spanish
Guatemalan judge dismisses charges in the Maya Achi sexual violence case
On 21 June 2019, Guatemalan Judge Claudette Domínguez ruled that there was insufficient evidence to send six former members of the Civil Defence Patrols to trial for sexual violence against 36 Maya Achi women in Rabinal committed between 1981 and 1985 - when State violence against indigenous communities was at its worst. The victims are set to appeal the decision on 26 June.
Victims and survivors demand justice on the National Day Against Enforced Disappearance in Guatemala
Victims and survivors of the armed conflict in Guatemala commemorated the National Day Against Enforced Disappearance on 21 June 2019. A Mayan ceremony was led by an Ajq´ij, a spiritual leader, to remember and honour the 45,000 victims who were forcibly disappeared by the State of Guatemala during the internal armed conflict. Following the ceremony, victims and survivors held a press conference during which they demanded justice for the cruel crime committed against their loved ones.
Civil Society activists to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Victims should be at the heart of any justice process
Connecting civil society activists and victims at the grassroots level with international policy leaders is an essential component in the fight against impunity and in ensuring more efficient justice processes. This direct engagement paves the way for solid advocacy for victims’ rights and helps policymakers better understand local needs and aspirations. In line with this approach, Impunity Watch hosted a civil society meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet on 16 May 2019 in The Hague.
Joint Press Release: The Government of Guatemala Should Guarantee the Protection and Access to the Historic Archive of the National Police
On 30 May 2019, international organizations issued a joint press release expressing their profound concern regarding the risks facing the Historic Archive of the National Police (Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, AHPN) in Guatemala, given the recent declarations of the Minister of the Interior, who announced that the terms of the agreement for the administration of the AHPN will be changed and the national and international public’s access to the information will be restricted because it contains information that is “sensitive for State security.”
Read full press release in English and Spanish
The path to justice continues for Maya Achi women
On 22 and 23 April 2019, the hearings of the intermediate stage of the case of sexual violence against 36 Maya-Achi women from the region of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz took place in High-Risk Court “A” in Guatemala City. The accused in this case are six former members of the Civil Defense Patrols (PAC for its initials in Spanish) from the indigenous region of Rabinal.
Iraqi women activists to create common narrative of SGBV in Iraq
Impunity Watch with its partner the Iraqi Al-Amal Association organised a five-day workshop in Beirut from 29 March 2019 to 2 April 2019 entitled: “Engendering Justice in Iraq.” Fifteen Iraqi women activists were trained on new techniques for interviewing, collecting testimonies, and storytelling for survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). Ultimately, the participants will contribute to producing common narrative of SGBV in Iraq, which will serve as an evidence base for a wide range of stakeholders working on transformative strategies to address impunity for SGBV in the country).
Impunity watch organises a forum on truth commissions in Latin America and international justice
Impunity Watch organised a forum on “Truth Commissions in Latin America and International Justice” on 4 March 2019 at the Museum of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (MUSAC) in Guatemala, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the report “Guatemala: Memory of Silenced” released by the country’s Commission for Historic Clarification (CEH in Spanish).
Hundreds march for truth and justice in Guatemala
More than 600 individuals from victim and survivor groups as well as local organisations participated in the “March for truth and Justice” on 25 February 2019; commemorating the Day of Dignity for Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict. They called for restoring the dignity of victims through justice, truth and reparations. They also voiced their objection to proposed amendment (No. 5377) to the National Reconciliation Law that would grant amnesty to perpetrators convicted of serious human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala.
Press Release | Guatemala: The Congress must refrain from passing the “Amnesty Law” today
The Hague, 13 March 2019 – Impunity Watch is deeply concerned about the possible passage of a proposed amendment to the National Reconciliation Law (or “Amnesty Law”) in the Congress of Guatemala today. Impunity Watch urges the international community to take a firm stance in the defence of the rule-of-law and human rights in Guatemala, and to publicly urge the legislature to refrain from approving these amendments.
Impunity Watch and partners organise Policy Forums in DRC to put transitional justice on the political agenda
On 26 and 28 February 2019, Impunity Watch and our Congolese partners organised two Policy Forums in the cities of Butembo and Beni in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Politico-administrative authorities, judicial authorities, and political actors gathered to discuss the results and recommendations from our research on transitional justice in the DRC.
Impunity Watch commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH)
In the framework of the 20th anniversary of the Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH), Impunity Watch cordially invites you to the Forum: Truth Commissions in Latin America and International Justice, which will be held on Monday, February 25 at 4 p.m. in the Greater Hall of MUSAC (9a.A. 9-79, zone). Members of the truth commissions of Colombia, Peru and Guatemala will be participating in the event. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. RigobertaMenchú will be delivering the opening remarks.
Impunity Watch releases new report on threats to judicial independence in Guatemala
On 13 February Impunity Watch presented the second report of the Observatory of Judicial Independence entitled: “Judges in High Risk [Courts]: Threats to Judicial Independence in Guatemala.” The Ambassador of the Netherlands Peter Derrek Hof had an opening speech in which he emphasized the importance of protecting judges to ensure judicial independence and rule of law. Speakers at the event also included Magistrate of the Supreme Court Delia Dávila; Judge of First Instance of the High-Risk Court Miguel Angel Gálvez; and expert Leonel González from the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA).
Sustainable Peace and Development after massive human rights violations: making the case for transitional justice
On 8 February, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the high-level international Task Force on Justice will meet to finalize its report on increasing access to justice for people and communities around the world—or reducing the “justice gap”—as an integral element of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Victims and civil society in guatemala reject a general amnesty for human rights violations
One hundred organisations of victims and civil society strongly reject the intent of the Guatemalan Congress to approve a general amnesty for all the convicted war criminals. This represents a setback in Guatemala and a threat to victims, prosecutors and judges.
Read the full statement here in English and Spanish.
Court hearings due in case concerning sexual violence against 36 Maya Achi indigenous women
The case of sexual violence committed against 36 indigenous women of the Maya Achi of community in Guatemala is in an intermediate stage. From 29 to 30 January 2019, hearings will be held against six former civil patrols (paramilitaries) accused of sexual violence and crimes against humanity against a group of Maya Achi women from the Rabinal region, during the internal armed conflict.
Read our informative note on the case in Spanish.
International organisations condemn the serious threats against democracy in Guatemala
In a joint statement issued on 9 January 2019, Impunity Watch together with other international organisations dedicated to the protection of human rights in Guatemala, strongly condemn the most recent series of actions taken by the Executive Branch, which have systematically violated the fundamental principles of democracy, separation of powers, independence of public institution, and respect for international norms.
The full statement is available in English and Spanish (original).
Impunity Watch and partners present the Akariho Karavugwa programme to the Burundian government
On 11 December 2018, in collaboration with our three partner organisations, THARS, MIPAREC and Association Dushirehamwe, Impunity Watch organised an official presentation of our Akariho Karavugwa programme to the Ministry of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, and the provincial and communal authorities of the programme intervention zones.
70th anniversary of the Genocide Convention
On 9 December 2018, we conmemorate the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This occasion provides a good opportunity to highlight the paramount importance of this international treaty for universal justice and to reflect upon the root causes of genocide, and the challenges that the international community and affected communities must face in the fight against racism, discrimination, and hate crimes.
Download our report on this important international instrument and its application in the genocide in Guatemala here, available in English and Spanish (original).
Video: The Path to Justice ('El Camino a la Justicia')
On 25 November 2018 we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On this occasion, it is essential to shed light on the efforts made by women to end violence against them, especially in conflict and post-conflict countries. Conflicts have different impacts on men and women victimising the latter and enclosing them under stereotypes. If the underlying reasons are not dealt with and root causes left unaddressed, violence continues after the end of the conflict, leaving the public sphere and arising in the private sphere instead. Guatemala is no exception.
Read more | The video is available in English and Spanish (original).
Policy Forum on transitional justice and dealing with the past in South Kivu, DRC
On 21 November 2018, Impunity Watch in partnership with CCJT and RACOJ organised a Policy Forum in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) bringing together provincial authorities and political actors from South Kivu Province. Participants discussed the findings and recommendations of Impunity Watch's research on transitional justice in the DRC. Attending political actors reflected on their role in the establishment, promotion and implementation of mechanisms and initiatives for dealing with the past. A similar forum was organized a week earlier in Goma for political actors from the North Kivu Province.
A short report on the Forum is available in English and French (original).
Guatemalan court sentences Santos Lopez to 5160 years in prison
On 21 November 2018, a Guatemalan court sentenced Santos Lopez, a former soldier, to 5,160 years in prison for the massacre of 171 people in the community of Las Dos Erres, in northern Guatemala, in 1982. This massacre was perpetrated by members of the Kaibiles, a special counterinsurgency force trained to kill in combat, and this is the third trial for this case.
Read our note on the trial in Spanish.
Policy Forum on transitional justice and dealing with the past in North Kivu, DRC
On 14 November 2018, Impunity Watch, in partnership with Pole Institute, organised a Policy Forum with provincial authorities and political actors from North Kivu Province in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The objectives of the Forum were to present the findings from Impunity Watch's research into transitional justice in the DRC, including the recommendations developed by the local population. The Forum also provided space to discuss the role that political actors can play in the establishment, the promotion and the implementation of mechanisms and initiatives for dealing with the past.
A short report on the Forum is available in English and French (original).
Policy Brief: Transformative reparations for survivors of sexual violence in post-conflict societies
On 20 November 2018, Impunity Watch published its latest Policy Brief on reparations for survivors of sexual violence in post-conflict societies In this Policy Brief, we present an analysis of the impact of sexual violence during the armed conflict in Guatemala and the limited measures of reparation offered by the State to the survivors of this great
Read more | The Polic Brief is available in English and Spanish.
The Genocide trial against former head of intelligence of Guatemala enters its final phase
With the judgment scheduled for 26 September 2018, the genocide retrial against the former Head of Intelligence of Guatemala, Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, enters its final phase. Rodríguez Sánchez faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against the indigenous Ixil people of Northern Guatemala, perpetrated while he was head of military intelligence under Ríos Montt's dictatorship from 1982 to 1983.
More information on the genocide trial can be found here in both English and Spanish.
Joint Letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Guatemala
In a letter to High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on 14 September 2018, 68 human rights organisations expressed grave concern about recent developments in the country including President Jimmy Morales’ decision not to extend the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The Guatemalan authorities subsequently barred the entry of CICIG’s Commissioner Iván Velásquez on 4 September 2018.
Read more | The letter is available in Spanish.
Joint statement on Guatemalan president's decision not to renew the CICIG mandate and barring the entry of Commissioner Ivan Velasquez into Guatemala
On 31 August 2018, President Jimmy Morales issued a decision not to renew the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Subsequently, on 4 September 2018, the Guatemalan authorities barred the Commissioner of the CICIG, Iván Velásquez, from entering the country.
Joint Statement: Guatemala must guarantee the protection and preservation of its national police archive
The Guatemala National Police Archive, which contains important information on enforced disappearances and human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict, is at risk of being mismanaged due to changes announced by the Government and the UNDP in Guatemala.
Read our joint statement (in Spanish) with other international organisations on the State's responsibility to protect archives that contain valuable information for truth seeking and justice.
New report on transitional justice in Guatemala
On 26 July 2018, Impunity Watch launched its monitoring report on transitional justice in Guatemala corresponding to the period 2014-2017. The report examines the main advances and obstacles in the policies of truth, justice and reparation over these last four years. It highlights the importance of the trials of genocide, the Embassy of Spain, Sepur Zarco, and recently Molina Theissen, but at the same time notes the State’s lack of interest in the finding of more than 45,000 victims of enforced disappearance, the absence of a national search plan, and the refusal of the Army to provide information about the disappeared.
20th anniversary of the Rome Statute: Interview with Gentil Kasongo of Impunity Watch
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court, IW researcher Gentil Kasongo was invited to discuss the complementarity between local initiatives of transitional justice in South Kivu (DRC) and the work of national and international jurisdictions. Published on JusticeInfo.net, Gentil discusses the findings of IW’s latest research report in our Great Lakes Dispatches series, Local Initiatives and Popular Expectations: Transitional Justice in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (June 2018).
The interview (in French) can be found here.
Impunity Watch organises a cross-regional workshop on mapping and addressing patterns and root causes of sexual and gender-based violence (S)GBV in Iraq
Aware of the need for and importance of a more comprehensive and deeper analysis of (S)GBV in Iraq, from 25 to 27 June 2018, Impunity Watch with Iraqi Al Amal Association and PAX, organised a training on mapping of patterns and root causes of (S)GBV in Iraq from 2003 to 2018. The training took place in Beirut.
Restricted access - promises and pitfalls of victim participation in transitional justice mechanisms
As victim participation becomes absorbed by transitional justice mainstream policy, the actual impact and effectiveness of particular victim participation measures and models remains uncertain and illusive. Simultaneously, in view of the myriad of political and socio-economic realities surrounding victims and victimhood in some of the most devastating conflict contexts of the past two decades, the idea of victims as empowered actors driving transitional justice is slowly giving way to processes wherein victims appear, in fact, as marginalised and disempowered.
Policy Brief: Genre et justice transitionnelle au Burundi : entre roles sexo-specifiques, hierarchies & dynamiques politiques
As part of our FLOW programme in Burundi, we conducted a research on the importance of integrating a gender dimension in the transitional justice process. We produced Policy Brief, in French, entitled: “Genre et Justice Transitionnelle au Burundi: entre rôles sexo-spécifiques, hiérarchies & dynamiques politiques (Juillet 2018)." [Gender and Transitional Justice in Burundi: between the gender-specific roles, hierarchies, and political dynamics].
Read More | The Policy Brief is available in French.
Women of Guatemala give dignified burial to 172 victims of the internal armed conflict
On 21 June 2018, the national day against enforced disappearance in Guatemala, women from the National Coordinator of Widows of Guatemala (CONAVIGUA) buried the remains of 172 unidentified victims of the internal armed conflict. The Foundation of Forensic Anthropology of Guatemala (FAFG) found these remains in the old military detachment in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, during exhumations that took place between 2004 and 2005.
Read more | For the full story in Spanish, please click here.
Local initiatives and popular expectations: transitional justice in South Kivu, DRC
Impunity Watch is pleased to announce the publication of a Research Brief entitled 'Local Initiatives and Popular Expectations: Transitional Justice in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo'.
Read more | The Research Brief is available in French.
Impunity Watch releases new report: Keeping the promise: addressing impunity in the Western Balkans
A new report by Impunity Watch entitled “Keeping the Promise: Addressing Impunity in the Western Balkans” finds that twenty years after the end of the conflict, impunity for the crimes committed in the 1990s is widespread and ingrained throughout the region. Measures taken in the area of transitional justice, such as prosecution, reparation, and institutional reform have by and large failed to tackle these structures of impunity. According to the report, to date, the Western Balkans continue to be a battleground of conflicting narratives, in which each side claims victimhood and blames the other for past abuses.
International Seminar: What is the future of reparations in Guatemala?
On 8 and 9 May 2018, Impunity Watch organised an international seminar on reparations in Guatemala. Fifteen years since the establishment of the National Reparations Program (PNR), the seminar sought to promote critical debate on reparations policies in Guatemala and to produce recommendations to develop an integral reparations plan for victims of human rights violations that were perpetrated during the internal armed conflict. Over 150 people participated in the seminar, including public officials, human rights defenders, victims, and members of the diplomatic corps.
Read More | Click hereto read to full public note in Spanish.
Joint Letter: Accountability, redress, and the future of Syria
In an open letter published today, 15 Non-Governmental Organizations are calling upon the EU and the UN to ensure that accountability and justice for victims will be at the forefront of any discussions surrounding the “future of Syria” at the “Brussels II Conference.”
Read the full letter
Iraqi activists meet Tunisian counterparts to discuss lessons learnt on dealing with gender-based abuse and violence
Since 2003, Iraq has been struggling to find a way to deal with its repressive past and violent present. Impunity Watch together with Iraqi Association Al Amal and PAX launched in 2016 a programme on “Engendering the Transition to Peace and Security in Iraq” that aims to map sexual and gender-based violence in Iraq, expose its root causes and enhance local capacity to address it. As part of this programme, the three organisations organised an exchange trip to Tunisia for a group of Iraqi activists and officials.
Leadership and participation of women in the justice sector in Guatemala
On November 28, 2017 Impunity Watch presented the report “Leadership and participation of women in justice of Guatemala” in the Judicial Palace to an audience of 70 people including judges, magistrates, public officers, members of women and human rights organizations, and reporters. The magistrate José Antonio Pineda Barales, president of the Judicial Body and the Supreme Court of Justice opened the event.
Policy Brief: Masculinities, violence against women in leadership and participation in transitional societies: Burundi and Guatemala
On the occasion of the 17th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, Impunity Watch, Oxfam Ibis, UNWOMEN and the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations convened a side event on masculinities, violence against women in leadership, and their participation in peace and justice within transitional societies. This latest Policy Brief provides a country-specific and thematic contribution for the side event aiming to tackle the persistent gap as regards gender norms, men and masculinities in the full implementation of UNSCR 1325.
Assessing the potential impact of the Kosovo Specialist Court
Assessing the potential impact of the Kosovo Specialist Court is an in-depth study authored by Dr. Gezim Visoka of Dublin City University and produced by PAX and Impunity Watch. The study presents a comprehensive assessment of the potentially profound positive societal effects of the work of the Court, as well as the risks that work poses to intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic relations and political stability in Kosovo. It recommends a wide range of actions to be implemented by key institutions in Kosovo, including an inclusive programme of outreach and public dialogue focused on the Court, and a whole-of-society approach to transitional justice.
You can download the report in Albanian,English or Serbian.
Breaking the cycle of division: Justice for all Iraqis
Together with PAX, Impunity Watch published an alert addressing the worrying trends observed in current stabilisation and transitional justice efforts in Iraq. As the military campaign against ISIS in Iraq reaches a critical stage, strategies to achieve justice for victims of grave human rights abuses tend to remain selective, ill-adapted to local needs and disconnected from stabilisation and reconciliation efforts. In the international and national debate on accountability in Iraq, emphasis is placed on ISIS crimes, while abuses and crimes by other perpetrators are hardly on the agenda.
Read More | Click here to read the full report and recommendations.
Blog Post- The Sepur Zarco trial: How to successfully litigate wartime sexual violence for a transformative impact?
During the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996), in the military base of Sepur Zarco, 15 indigenous q’eqchi’ women were forced to clean the soldiers’ clothes, cook, and serve them without pay, while being subjected to physical and sexual abuse for months or sometimes years on end, receiving anti-contraceptive pills and injections to prevent pregnancies. Today, on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we gain inspiration from the Sepur Zarco women.