On September 27th when the International Criminal Court in The Hague handed down a sentence of nine years in prison for Ahmad al Faqi al Mahdi for the war crime of destroying cultural heritage in Timbuktu, civic and religious leaders in the famed city of 333 saints were relieved that justice -- for once--had been done.
In our own lifetimes, in conflicts unfolding even today, atrocities have been planned and executed, leaving behind victims of widespread or systematic crimes. Societies across the globe have been deeply scarred and divided by crimes such as attacks on civilians, murder, using child soldiers and rape as a tool of war. Violence in one place inevitably causes instability in others. For some, this may seem a distant if disturbing fact, but for hundreds of thousands of others, it is their only reality.
The U.S. House of Representatives' recent resolution urging for the creation of a temporary UN criminal tribunal for Syria is a worrisome departure from American leadership in the field. For a number of reasons, this resolution and underlying strategy is ill-advised and does little to increase the chance that justice will come to the victims of atrocities in Syria.
Nine years since the first international warrant for his arrest, the warlord Bosco Ntaganda will today go on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He is charged with committing 18 counts of war crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), including murder, rape, pillage, and the conscription of child soldiers.
What filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer uncovered in his first film on the subject, The Act of Killing, and now in his follow up film, The Look of Silence, is the dirty little secret that this was a cover story to justify a ruthless military take over of the country. A bloodbath the United States wittingly and unwittingly supported.
After Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared the Philippines a second front in the war on terror ("Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines").The egregious human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and paramilitary forces are some of the most underreported atrocities in the media today.