In a judgement read out by presiding Judge Almiro Rodrigues, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Dragoljub Prcac, Miroslav Kvocka, Milojica Kos, Mladjo Radic and Zoran Zigic guilty of persecution, murder and torture and sentenced the first three defendants to five, six and seven years respectively.Mr. Radic was given 20 years, mainly for rape, and Mr. Zigic was sentenced to 25 years for murder and assault as well as for crimes committed in the Keraterm and Trnopolje camps.In rendering its judgement, the Tribunal said it decided “very early on in the trial” that there existed a widespread and systematic attack against the Muslim and Croat civilian population in the municipality of Prijedor between 26 May and 30 August 1992, and concluded that crimes of persecution, murder, torture and cruel treatment were committed in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje detention camps.”Operating on the pretext that they were seeking out possible criminal enemies, the camps were merely one more cog in the machine for persecuting the non-Serb population in Prijedor municipality,” the Court said in a summary of its judgement.”This cog was, of itself, discriminatory by definition. There were not any, so to speak, Serb detainees at Omarska and those who were accused of collaborating with the non-Serb enemies,” according to the Tribunal. “Each of you, in a different way, made it possible for the cog to turn.”Meanwhile at UN Headquarters in New York, a new report by the ICTY says that the reforms undertaken by the Tribunal over the past year will enable it to try – within a reasonable timeframe – all of the accused currently held at its detention facility in The Hague, as well as those soon to be arrested.The report also says that the arrest of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and the growing willingness of countries to work with the ICTY “augurs well for a substantial, sustained improvement in future cooperation with the International Tribunal.” It warns, however, that several high-ranking officials charged with serious crimes still remain at large and calls on countries to arrest and turn them over for prosecution.The report further stresses that countries’ domestic courts must also be involved in trying the “subordinates who carried out the orders” in the ongoing effort to build peace and reconciliation in the affected States.
The World Health Organization (WHO) decided to organize its “mop up” campaign after a family from Niger brought a sick child to the nearest clinic, which happened to be in Burkina Faso.”As a result of this case, and as part of the standard procedure for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the mop up campaign was planned, targeting 294,000 children in Niger and 218,000 in Burkina Faso,” spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York.Wild poliovirus cases are rare – just 483 cases worldwide were documented in 2001 – and mop up campaigns are an important part of the drive to eliminate polio, according to the spokesman.
In a report to the upcoming session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders, expresses concern at the increase in cases of violations against rights activists in the past two years. “The number of confirmed or alleged violations against people involved in defending human rights have increased over the past two years, including a rise in killings, death threats and acts of intimidation” Ms. Jilani says, adding “these violations are rarely investigated properly.”Ms. Jilani notes that the principal targets of violations are human rights defenders investigating past abuses and those striving for the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. “Journalists and religious leaders have also been targeted,” she adds.She warns, “The involvement of clandestine structures and groups and attacks against defenders and allegations of their links with state security forces is a matter of serious concern that must be addressed by the Government on an urgent basis.”The Special Representative says she is deeply disturbed by allegations concerning involvement of the National Civil Police and the military in attacks against human rights defenders. “The lack of control over military intelligence and the absence of a national civilian intelligence service make the task of investigating the alleged involvement of State agents in the violations against human rights defenders even more difficult,” she writes.Ms. Jilani says she hopes steps will be taken to prevent any resurgence of violence that could create a threatening environment for human rights defenders before elections later this year. She recommends the implementation of the peace agreements that ended 36 years of internal war as a necessary condition for a safe environment for human rights defenders and, in general, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Guatemala.
“It is reprehensible that armed and violent gangs are still acting in this manner in the northern part of Mitrovica, or any area of Kosovo,” the mission said in a statement. “UNMIK calls on all to repudiate them and their methods. They directly contradict the standards for Kosovo that responsible leaders are working to achieve.”The incident, in which one World Bank delegation member was slightly hurt, began when the delegation visited a local restaurant in mainly Serb north Mitrovica where, by chance, the ethnic Albanian Prime Minister of Kosovo, Bajram Rexhepi, paid a visit.Several unidentified people threw stones, damaging the windows. Mr. Rexhepi left and was not injured, but the delegation, while leaving by UN bus and cars, became disoriented and ended up at the North Mitrovica Hospital “where regrettably the incident continued,” UNMIK said in a statement issued after the incident on Saturday.A crowd of about 150 people gathered, the UN bus was damaged and two Kosovo police vehicles were burned. Eventually the delegation made its way safely to Regional Police Headquarters, where one member was treated for minor injuries.In today’s statement UNMIK reaffirmed that “the Prime Minister is Prime Minister of all Kosovo and can travel freely anywhere in its territory.”
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said during the past day rockets were fired from Lebanese territory and intensive bombing and shelling came from the Israeli side, with 15 incidents of firing close to UNIFIL locations. A position close to the village of Marwahin suffered one direct hit from the Israeli side causing material damage but no injuries. On the humanitarian front, UNIFIL said it continued to cooperate closely with the Lebanese authorities, and they have decided to set up a joint coordination centre for humanitarian activities in Tyre in the western sector, and Marjayoun in the eastern sector.As the situation in Lebanon persists, a UN spokesman said today that the safety and security of all UN personnel is a growing concern for the Organization, and contingency planning for evacuating non-essential staff and dependents of staff members has begun.So far, all UN staff and their dependents are accounted for, with the exception of one staff member and his spouse and the spokesman said all efforts are being deployed to locate them. Two staff members are reported wounded but their lives are not in danger, he added. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to ensure continuity of UNIFIL’s key functions, he said.