Children of the Caliphate
October 27, 2014
(Foreign Policy) – They stand in the front row at public beheadings and crucifixions held in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s stronghold in Syria. They’re used for blood transfusions when Islamic State fighters are injured. They are paid to inform on people who are disloyal or speak out against the Islamic State. They are trained to become suicide bombers. They are children as young as 6 years old, and they are being transformed into the Islamic State’s soldiers of the future.
Nigeria: Victims of Abductions Tell Their Stories
October 27, 2014
(Human Rights Watch) - Women and girls abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram are forced to marry, convert, and endure physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, and rape in captivity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The group has abducted more than 500 women and girls since 2009, and intensified abductions since May 2013, when Nigeria imposed a state of emergency in areas where Boko Haram is most active. The 63-page report, “‘Those Terrible Weeks in Their Camp’: Boko Haram Violence against Women and Girls in Northeast Nigeria,” is based on interviews with more than 46 witnesses and victims of Boko Haram abductions in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, including with girls who escaped the April 2014 abduction of 276 girls from Chibok secondary school. Their statements suggest that the Nigerian government has failed to adequately protect women and girls from a myriad of abuses, provide them with effective support and mental health and medical care after captivity, ensure access to safe schools, or investigate and prosecute those responsible for the abuses.
Child soldiers still being recruited in South Sudan
October 26, 2014
(BBC) - It was a normal school day in May when Stephen and the 80 or so pupils were packed into classroom number 8 in South Sudan. But as the children listened to the words of their teacher, soldiers from the rebel forces surrounded the school’s pale-blue, concrete classrooms. Stephen describes being frozen with fear as the rebel fighters took him and more than 100 of his classmates. They were given no choice. They were now the latest young recruits, in South Sudan’s bloody civil war.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘abducts more women and girls’
October 23, 2014
(BBC) - Dozens of women and girls from two villages in Nigeria’s north-eastern Adamawa state have been abducted by suspected militants, residents say. The abductions have not been confirmed by the authorities, but residents say they took place a day after the military announced it had agreed a ceasefire with the Boko Haram group. The government hopes the Islamist group will free more than 200 girls seized in April as part of negotiations. Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce. Following Friday’s ceasefire announcement, the government said further talks with Boko Haram were due to be held this week in neighbouring Chad.
DRC ex-militia leader pleads innocence at ICC
October 22, 2014
(Al Jazeera) - Congolese ex-militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui has protested his innocence at an appeal hearing before the International Criminal Court, where he was acquitted nearly two years ago of war crimes charges. “From the beginning I pleaded not guilty. I never planned the attack on Bogoro,” Ngudjolo told the ICC appeals chamber on Tuesday. Ngudjolo, 44, is a former leader of the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI) militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and his acquittal in December 2012 was a first for the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal. Judges said at the time that prosecutors had failed to prove his commanding role in a 2003 attack by ethnic Lendu forces on Bogoro village in the vast African country’s northeast Ituri province, in which more than 200 villagers were slaughtered. Ngudjolo had faced charges including using child soldiers in the horrific ethnically-motivated attack.
South Sudan at ‘crossroads’ as it seeks to combat sexual violence, says UN official
October 20, 2014
(UN News Centre) - Sexual violence has become a key feature of the continuing conflict in South Sudan, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has declared, while affirming that the widespread use of rape could ultimately be stopped through greater political and legal efforts by the Government and civil society. In a press conference today at UN Headquarters following her first mission to South Sudan to assess the situation of sexual violence in conflict in the country, Ms. Bangura explained that in her 30 years of experience she had never seen anything like what she witnessed in the northern town of Bentiu, where hundreds of civilians were massacred in April of this year and many more were raped.
CAR: Violence and killings in capital Bangui threaten fragile peace
October 18, 2014
(Enough Project) - On September 15th the world looked on as the United Nations deployed its peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic and the United States reopened its embassy in the nation’s capital city Bangui. It was a day characterized by prospective hope and optimism, as US Secretary of State John Kerry vowed that the United States would join forces with international partners to help bring stability to a country that has become entrenched in sectarian fighting between the largely Christian Anti-Balaka militia and the Muslim Seleka rebels. Yet in Bangui, just one month later, the day is characterized not by hope and optimism, but rather by killings and chaos as the capital experiences a surge in violence… As the situations in Bangui worsens, it seems that the suffering knows no bounds. UN officials say that at least three children have been killed. One eight-year old boy was hit with a stray bullet, while two others were executed based on suspicions that they were spying. These latest events indicate that not only have children become a significant casualty of CAR’s armed conflict, but that they are also targeted recruits for the armed groups.
Sudan: Police Beat, Arrest Female Students
October 15, 2014
(Human Rights Watch) - Sudanese authorities should investigate reported abuses, including sexual abuse, of female Darfuri students during a government raid on an all-female dormitory. The authorities should release or charge all those remaining in detention. On October 5 and 6, 2014, government security forces forcibly evicted about 70 female students from the Zahra dormitory complex in Khartoum, beating and arresting many students. The police verbally and physically abused students, those who have been released told Human Rights Watch. Students who were arrested on both days were taken to the National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS) offices, where officers beat and interrogated them about their political affiliations before transferring them to the Omdurman prison for women.
Increased Levels of Violence Disproportionately Affect Children
October 15, 2014
(OSRSG-CAAC) - Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, alerted the General Assembly that in the past few months, the intensity of fighting has reached unprecedented levels in many conflicts. “Children are the primary victims,” the Special Representative said during the presentation of her annual report. “They have been killed, maimed, used and recruited, targeted and brutalized by armed forces and groups.” She urged the international community to come together to protect children in the face of new waves of extremism sweeping across Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and northern Mali. In addition, protracted conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as large scale emergencies in Syria, Iraq, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Gaza continue to take a dramatic toll on children.
International court tries to avert disasters, establish norms
October 14, 2014
(Cornell Chronicle) - Judge Sang-Hyun Song, president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), focused on the court’s preventive potential to make genocide, use of child soldiers and human rights violations unacceptable in an Oct. 9 campus talk.When Song was nine years old, armed conflict broke out in his home country of Korea and his family hid for three months during the Battle of Seoul. Song said he was “old enough to realize the horrors of war,” and his childhood experiences inspired him to devote his life to the “search for justice and improvement of society through the rule of law.” Joining the ICC in 2003, Song was again confronted with war atrocities, such as genocide and the use of child soldiers. He said the ICC is instrumental in preventing and deterring these crimes, but that’s a small task: “Changing the world for the better is really hard work.”