Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova announced May 14 that her office is preparing war crimes cases against 41 suspects, on charges including "the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting." Venediktova has said that her office is investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects.
At least 35 people were killed May 10 when armed men raided an artisanal gold mining camp in Ituri province, in the conflicted northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local authorities at the rural commune of Mungwalu in Ituri's Djugu territory blamed the attack on the CODECO rebel militia. A four-month-old baby was among the dead. The militiamen also looted and torched homes at Camp Blanquette, and seized quantities of extracted gold. (AfricaNews) Informal mines in the eastern DRC provide much of the country's output of gold, cobalt and other minerals used in the global electronics industry.
Clashes between the Iraqi military and a local Yazidi militia have forced more than 3,000 people to flee the northern town of Sinjar. Fighting erupted May 1, when the military launched an operation to clear the area of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia with ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Many of those displaced are Yazidis who survived the 2014 Islamic State genocide against the ethnicity. They are now distributed in camps across Iraq's Kurdish region. In 2020, Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed a pact to restore their joint control to the autonomous Yazidi enclave, known as Ezidikhan. The deal has not been implemented until now, despite growing pressure from Turkey, which has carried out intermittent air-strikes on the Sinjar area. (WaPo, AP, TNH)
Forces in the Central African Republic, identified by witnesses as Russian mercenaries, "appear to have summarily executed, tortured, and beaten civilians since 2019," Human Rights Watch finds in a new report. On April 15, the United Nations announced it wil investigate the circumstances in which at least 10 people were killed in the CAR's northeast, with initial reports alleging involvement by Russian forces from the paramilitary Wagner Group. In the attacks three days earlier, up to 15 civilians were killed at the villages of Gordil and Ndah, some 1,000 kilometers northeast of the capital Bangui. Local officials and aid workers told AFP the attacks were carried out by elements of the "FACA [Central African Armed Forces] and their allies"—the term used by both the authorities and the UN for Russian mercenaries. HRW documents other such claims. On July 21, 2021, apparently Russian-speaking forces killed at least 12 unarmed men near the town of Bossangoa, some 300 kilometers north of the capital. HRW is calling upon the CAR's Special Criminal Court (SCC) or the International Criminal Court to "investigate these incidents as well as other credible allegations of abuse by Russia-linked forces with a view to criminal prosecution."
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim AA Khan on April 28 revealed a new strategy for the ongoing investigation into the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council. The ICC investigation focuses on accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Libya since the outbreak of the revolution against Moammar Qaddafi's government in February 2011. The investigation also covers three unexecuted arrest warrants issued by the ICC. The ICC began its investigation in March 2011. Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute. Therefore, the ICC derives its jurisdiction for this investigation from a unanimous reference by the Security Council in Resolution 1970.
The junta in Mali is accusing France of spying and subversion after the French military used a drone to film footage that Paris says shows Russian mercenaries burying bodies in a mass grave near a military base. The French government says the bodies were buried outside the base at Gossi, Tombouctou region, in a scheme to falsely accuse its departing forces of leaving behind mass graves. Video from the drone was released after pixelated images appeared on social media of corpses being buried in sand, with text accusing France of atrocities in Mali. France claims the bodies were brought to Gossi from Hombori, immediately to the south, where Malian troops and Russian mercenaries have been carrying out an operation against jihadist insurgents. The junta has acknowledged that 18 militants were killed in the operation. (The Guardian, AfricaNews, BBC News, Al Jazeera)
Rights groups in Malaysia are calling for the release of thousands of detained refugees and asylum-seekers, after a deadly incident in the northern state of Penang April 20. Six Rohingya refugees were reportedly struck by vehicles and killed when hundreds fled a detention center after breaking through barriers and attempted to escape across an adjacent highway.
A court created seven years ago to prosecute war crimes in the Central African Republic was due to open its first trial this month. But a no-show by defense lawyers means victims' associations and others pushing for justice will have to wait a little longer. The Bangui-based Special Criminal Court (SCC) is a hybrid tribunal composed of national and international jurists tasked with prosecuting war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. It took time to become operational because of staff recruitment challenges, insecurity, and limited resources. Arrest warrants have also not been executed, and the government has released high-profile suspects without SCC authorization. Its inaugural trial—set to resume in April—concerns three members of the 3R rebel group accused of involvement in a 2019 massacre. Rebel groups remain active across the CAR, which has one of the highest per capita humanitarian caseloads in the world.