Daily Archives: November 30, 2012

Kyrgyzstan cracks down on the ICG in Osh

In case anyone was wondering why TN guest-author ‘Kaigyluu’ has opted to remain anonymous (or pseudonymous?), a statement by the International Crisis Group (ICG) today may provide some insights. It seems that Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (SCNS) has not only harassed five people who recently spoke with an ICG analyst in the country but also interrogated the analyst himself.

In their twelve years of presence in Kyrgyzstan, the ICG states that they have “never faced this level of harassment.” They also allege numerous violations of Kyrgyz law in the manner in which their analyst was treated:

He was denied access to a lawyer. The SCNS officers refused to identify themselves by either rank or name. He was not shown any documents authorising his detention and the search of Crisis Group’s vehicle. His laptop, notebook and other items were confiscated. The SCNS refused to provide him with documentation of any kind. Repeated attempts by Crisis Group’s lawyer to obtain these documents from the Office of the Prosecutor General in Osh have also failed.

For those who have read Kaigyluu’s recent posts (critiquing both local policies and international responses to the 2010 violence in Kyrgyzstan), it will be unsurprising that this harassment took place in Osh, the main city of Kyrgyzstan’s ethnically troubled south. Care will clearly need to be taken to ensure that the ICG’s local interlocutors are not exposed to further perils for having spoken with the Group’s analyst. However, these incidents were clearly meant to tamp down criticism of Kyrgyzstan’s default policy of punishing the victims of ethnic violence. It is to be sincerely hoped that they will have the opposite effect.

Two weeks after Gotovina, the ICTY acquits Haradinaj defendants

by Rhodri C. Williams

Just as the controversy surrounding the recent ‘Gotovina decision’ by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was beginning to subside, another bombshell. In this case (involving a re-trial), the Trial Chamber yesterday acquitted three Kosovo Albanians accused of torture and murder against Serbs and others in western Kosovo in the late 1990s, ordering their immediate release.

This decision will no doubt be turned inside out today in the blogosphere, and rightly so. Taken together with the recent Gotovina judgment, it is part of the swan song of an institution created with great hopes (mixed with a degree of healthy skepticism from some quarters) just as the great post-Cold War wave of belief in the restorative power of human rights and international justice arguably crested.

Having endured into the post 9-11 era (in large part due to inexplicable delays in acquiring its most prominent suspects), the Tribunal’s jurisprudence remain not only relevant to the development of broader international criminal law, but also – for better or for worse – to both the consolidation and destabilization of national narratives in countries forged in wars now fought an entire generation ago. For those who did not experience these wars but whose political reality remains shaped by them, the Court’s decisions on individual responsibility for past crimes are likely to be taken as evidence of collective vindication or collective stigmatization, raising a real risk that the legacy of the ICTY may be to perpetuate rather than lay to rest wartime animosities.

This in itself is not a critique of the ICTY. The Tribunal can hardly be blamed if far more is read into their decisions than either they or those who shaped their mandate ever intended. However, it does place a particular onus on the Court to be seen to act professionally and impartially. Observers such as Marko Milovanovic have argued that the Appeals Chamber failed this test in Gotovina, overturning a unanimous and comprehensive Trial Chamber decision by means of a rancorously split judgment only sixty pages long.

So what impact can Haradinaj be expected to have on the debate? At first blush, both the parallels and differences with the Gotovina judgment are striking.

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