About Juliette Rousselot

Juliette Rousselot was the International Advocacy Assistant for the Science for Human Rights (SHR) program. In this position, she provided general support to the program, as well as advocacy support for country work on SHR projects, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the Crisis Prevention and Response work. She holds BAs in International Relations and Communication from the University of Southern California and an MA in International Affairs from the George Washington University. A native of France, she researches conflicts and conflict resolution in sub-Saharan Africa, French security policy and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs on the continent.
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13 Years of International Justice

Today we celebrate International Justice Day.

13 years ago, on July 17, 1998 2002, the Rome Statute came into effect, enabling the creation of the International Criminal Court. A few years later, signers of the Statute designated July 17 as International Justice Day, a day to all come together and celebrate the advances made in international justice – and reflect on ways in which we can strengthen the system and ensure no crimes are left unpunished.

Today, 116 countries have ratified the Rome Statute and are members of the ICC.  To date, three states – Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic – have referred situations in their countries to the Court, the Prosecutor of the ICC has initiated an investigation in Kenya, and the UN Security Council has referred the situations in Darfur, Sudan and Libya to the Court.  The Prosecutor is also in the process of conducting preliminary investigations in several countries, including Colombia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Meanwhile, trials are winding down at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is expected to render a verdict in the Charles Taylor case in the next few months, the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, which are expected to wind down in 2012 and 2013 respectively . SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

More Help Needed: Tweet for Rights in Rwanda

On June 24 we asked you to take action, now we need your help again.

In Rwanda, individuals are often forced to choose between their own safety and their rights to freedom of expression and association. For many years, the Rwandan government has stifled voices of criticism and opposition. 2010 saw an increase in the number of abductions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and the murders of a journalist and political opponent who dared to speak out against the government.

On June 24 we asked for your help in encouraging the Rwandan government to reopen investigations on the one year anniversary of the shooting of Jean-Leonard Rugambage, a journalist and deputy newspaper editor.

Now, we are asking you to add your voice to Amnesty’s in urging officials to reopen investigations into the killing of André Kagwa Rwisereka, vice president of the opposition Democratic Green Party, who was found beheaded one year ago on July 14. His killer has yet to be prosecuted.


Happy Birthday South Sudan!

Today, South Sudan becomes the world’s newest country. Back in January 2011, the people of South Sudan voted in a referendum mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and decided to secede from Sudan.

Sadly, South Sudan’s very first birthday is being overshadowed by ongoing conflict in many border areas, fueled by arms shipment from countries such as China, Russia and the USA to volatile regions of Sudan such as Southern Kordofan. For instance, analysis by Amnesty International has linked Russian-made aircraft to indiscriminate airstrikes in the past month that led to civilian deaths and injuries in the regional capital Kadugli and other areas in Southern Kordofan. Satellite imagery acquired by the Satellite Sentinel Project corrobates that analysis, proving that Russian-made aircrafts have been present in many areas where conflict and violence occurs on a regular basis.

In addition, the new Republic of South Sudan will have to overcome many challenges of its own—including its legacy of prolonged civil war and severe underdevelopment—in addition to the immense trials any new state faces. Continued fighting this year has left around 1,400 civilians dead and over 160,000 people displaced. Soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and other armed forced are continually met with impunity for the crimes they commit. Political opposition is stifled, and weaknesses in the justice system lead to human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests and detentions, prolonged period of pre-trial detention, denial of a fair trial, and poor conditions of detention. Women and girls are subjected to traditional practices that can cause both physical and emotional harm, and have little knowledge of their rights and access to justice. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Hope for Justice in Cote d'Ivoire?

New Amnesty report on Cote d'Ivoire

Between the months of January and April of this year, Amnesty International researchers spent more than two months in Côte d’Ivoire investigating and documenting the human rights abuses that have occurred since the November run-off election for the Presidency.

The result of their work is a report, released today, which outlines grave crimes committed by parties on both sides of the political contest, and continued violence associated with communal conflict in the west.

After what was widely recognized as a free and fair election in November, Alassane Ouattara was pronounced the new president, defeating incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step aside. Between December and April, military troops and militias loyal to each politician fought intensely for control of the country, leading to Gbagbo’s arrest on April 11 and Ouattara’s ascension to the presidency.


Continued Abuses in Sudan

In the midst of what feels like an exceptionally tumultuous time in the world and in the Middle East and North Africa particularly, it is easy to let certain issues fall by the wayside. With international intervention in Libya, continued clashes in Egypt, and the escalation of conflict in Bahrain, the people of Sudan cannot afford for the international community to forget about them.

In the past week, clashes between the South Sudan army and rebels have killed at least 70 people. Continued fighting over the disputed oil-producing region of Abyei threatens to derail peace talks between the north and the south.

The tense political climate has led Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party to take action to crush opposition. It has cracked down on opposition party members, students, and activists through violence and illegal detentions. This week the government threatened to silence internet-based dissent by using “cyber jihadists”.

Fighting in the Darfur region, where villages continue to be burnt down, has forced an estimated 66,000 people—mainly women, children, and the elderly—to seek safety in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps since January of this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The mass movement of IDPs to camps has placed “considerable strain” on resources and services, said Georg Charpentier, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, as arriving IDPs have led to increased demand for protection, food, and sanitation facilities.

Threats to the safety and wellbeing of the people of Sudan remain, and mounting political tension and violence related to the north-south split brings an increased risk of further human rights abuses in the upcoming months. We must keep up international pressure to continue to monitor and protect human rights in Sudan.

Take action to ensure accountability for crimes committed in Darfur

You can also take action now against the illegal detention of political dissenters and human rights advocates

Sara Harden, Africa Program, contributed to this blog post

Report from Cote d'Ivoire

After spending four weeks in Côte d’Ivoire investigating human rights violations, our research team just returned a few days ago with a gruesome report. Since the November 2010 elections, human rights violations – which have included extrajudicial executions, ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, disappearances and sexual violence – have been rampant.

These violations and abuses are being committed both the security forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the outgoing Ivoirian President, and the Forces Nouvelles (FN), loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the election.

One rape victim told our researchers:

On the 19 December, they came to my house in Abobo. They came in the middle of the night; I was sleeping with my husband and my children. They were hammering at the door. Our door is right on the street, we didn’t open. They then broke down the door, our door is made of wood. They came in, eight of them, four in plain clothes and four soldiers in military fatigues and balaclavas. Two of them took my husband outside and six of them came upon me. They told me to undress and when I didn’t, they came at me again. They all took turns raping me and threw my children to the floor, the children were crying. I was screaming. I don’t know what they were doing to my husband. After, I heard two gun shots. Then they left and I found my husband outside lying on his stomach. He was dead. The people who raped me and killed my husband told me that if I wanted to complain, I should go to Alassane Ouattara.

The political standoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara has also exacerbated long-standing inter-communal tension between ethnic groups in western parts of the country. For example, January 2011 clashes in Duékoué (an area about 500 km west of Abidjan) have resulted in roughly 40 deaths, an increasing incidence of rapes, and hundreds of homes and properties burned and looted, forcing an estimated 70,000 people to flee to other villages and makeshift internally displaced people (IDP) camps. Witnesses told Amnesty that ethnicity and alleged political affiliations were the reasons behind the attacks.

Throughout Cote d’Ivoire, impunity is the norm. As our research team reported, “The attackers are virtually never caught and the victims have no hope of obtaining justice and reparation.” This must end.

Read more about the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and stay tuned to find out how you can help.

Sara Harden, Africa Program, contributed to this blog post

Forgetting Darfur?

This posting is part of the Sudan Referendum Watch series

Lately, there’s been no shortage of news about Sudan. On January 9th, the people of South Sudan will vote in a referendum that will determine whether or not South Sudan becomes independent. Thousands of southern Sudanese who have been living in the north for decades are making their way back to South Sudan to participate in what is sure to a historic event.

But as we wait with impatience for the referendum and as we plan ahead for what is likely to be an independent South Sudan, let’s not forget about Darfur.

Civilians in Darfur continue to be faced with violence and are subjected to human rights violations on a regular basis. Humanitarian aid organizations struggle to reach the people who rely on the aid. Armed groups and militias continue to attack villages, leading to more death and more displacement. Human rights defenders are still being systematically targeted.

And these are just some examples of the ways in which the situation has been deteriorating over the past year. Just two days ago, rebel officials in Darfur announced that it was highly unlikely that a peace deal between the government of Sudan and the Darfuri rebel group the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), would be signed on December 19, as originally planned. While the international community focuses on the referendum and on the North-South dialogue, peace efforts in Darfur are  going nowhere.

So as we prepare ourselves for what might come next, let’s make sure that we remember the people of Darfur.

  1. Read our Sudan Referendum Briefing (pdf)
  2. Follow this weekly blogging series. For daily updates and breaking news, follow me or Amnesty on Twitter
  3. Look out for new materials, such as more maps and a resource guide, in the weeks running up to the referendum on January 9. New content will be posted on this blog or on our Sudan Country Page

Standing Up for Women in the DRC

This post is part of our Write for Rights Series

Yesterday, the UN Group of Experts on the DRC just released their newest report. In it, they describe how army units have been accused by local populations of “looting and burning entire villages and torturing and raping civilians in the course of their operations.” 
The recent mass rapes in the territory of Walikale this past August were a sharp reminder that this type of violence happens on a frighteningly regular basis in the DRC and at an equally frightening scale: at least 15,000 rapes were reported in the DRC last year – a figure which is likely to be much higher, as most survivors are too afraid of stigmatization and thus do not report the crimes.

What these rapes tell us is that both the DRC government and the United Nations have failed to protect civilians and to respond effectively to these crimes. Until we take the right action to ensure these crimes are effectively stopped, countless women will continue to be at risk of such violence.

This year, we’re highlighting the issue of sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC during our annual Global Write-a-thon. Starting tomorrow, the United Nations is rotating into the Presidency of the UN Security Council. So we’re asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to use that opportunity to ensure that measures aimed at ending widespread sexual violence in the DRC are implemented.

Here’s what you can do to make a difference:

1. Participate in a local write-a-thon event
2. Send an email to Secretary Clinton today
3. Tweet to Stop Violence Against Women

Good News for International Justice

For years, rebel group leader Callixte Mbarushimana has been living in France, enjoying impunity for heinous crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).   Callixte leads the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group operating in the eastern part of the DRC, that has been responsible for innumerable killings of civilians, rape, abductions of women and girls for sexual slavery, recruitment of child soldiers, destruction of villages and other human rights abuses.

But fortunately, Mbarushimana’s spate of good luck may be ending. On October 11, French police arrested him on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has charged him with five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts and persecution) and six counts of war crimes (attacks against the civilian population, destruction of property, murder, torture, rape and inhuman treatment). France’s actions have signaled its commitment to the ICC and to arresting war criminals.

In addition to France’s move, there are two other positive developments in the fight for international justice.  Moldova recently became the 114th country to join the ICC.  And the ICC trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is finally set to begin on November 22, 2010, despite his last-ditch effort to appeal his case as inadmissible.  Bemba is charged with two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) for his role in crimes committed in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

You can join us in the fight for international justice. Ask the US to support the ICC’s investigations.

Congress Seeks to Improve Prison Conditions Around the World

For years, we’ve documented horrendous conditions in prisons all around the world in our Annual Report. Detainees are often held in inhumane prison conditions, including overcrowding and inadequate food, water and medical care, and are often subjected to other forms of ill-treatment and torture. Family members and legal counsel are often barred from visiting, and juveniles can be detained with adults. Every day, prisoners around the world die in prison due to ill-treatment, in contravention of international human rights standards.

But I’m happy to report that the US Congress is finally paying attention. Just a little over two weeks ago, Senators Patrick Leahy and Sam Brownback and Congressmen Bill Delahunt and Joseph Pitts introduced the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2010 (S.3798 in the Senate and H.R.6153 in the House of Representatives).

On any given day, millions of people are languishing in foreign prisons, many awaiting trial not yet having been formally charged or proven guilty of anything, deprived of their freedom for years longer than they could have been sentenced to prison if convicted. Others convicted of crimes, often after woefully unfair trials, including for nothing more than peacefully expressing political or religious beliefs or defending human rights. Regardless of their status they have one thing in common. They are deprived of the most basic rights and necessities–safe water, adequate food, essential medical care, personal safety, and dignity.

Anyone who has been inside one of these facilities, or seen photographs or the press reports of what they are like, understands that I am talking about the mistreatment of human beings in ways that are reminiscent of the Dark Ages.

– Senator Patrick Leahy, introducing the bill on September 16, 2010

The bill would help ensure that countries receiving US assistance do not operate prisons and other detention facilities under inhumane conditions and would provide assistance to countries making significant efforts to improve conditions in their prisons. Most importantly, the bill would mandate that the US government reprogram, restructure or even decrease US assistance to countries unwilling to improve prison conditions.

So take action today by asking your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act. Your voice will help ensure that this Congress takes action on this important issue and that we don’t have to wait any longer to see improvements in prison conditions around the world.