The families of the men, women and children killed or disappeared during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet will finally have the official support of the state in their search for their missing kin. As Chile prepared to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the military coup on Sept. 11, President Gabriel Boric presented the country's first National Search Plan, aimed at finding and identifying the remains of those who are still missing. So far only 307 sets of remains have been found and identified out of 1,469 officially listed as having been "disappeared" or murdered by the dictatorship. The plan, announced on Aug. 30, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, includes an ongoing budget to explore sites where the victims may have been buried, and the use of new software to centralize and digitalize the information dispersed across the justice system, human rights organizations, and national archives. The move represents a significant if belated step forward in a country where, until now, it has been left to the victims' relatives and civil society groups to seek truth and justice. (The New Humanitarian)
Mali's military reportedly carried out air-strikes Aug. 29 against Tuareg militants in the desert north—an escalation that risks opening up another conflict front in the country, which is already embroiled in a long counterinsurgency war with jihadist rebels. The accusation was made by the Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015. The government claims to have struck jihadist positions in the Kidal region, but the CMA rebels charge that they were targeted. Two weeks earlier, the CMA also accused Malian forces and Russian Wagner Group mercenaries of attacking its followers in the Timbuktu region.
At least 43 people were killed Aug. 30 as government troops fired on protesters in Goma, capital of conflicted North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The protest against the the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) was organized by a religious sect, the Natural Judaic & Messianic Faith Towards the Nations, also known as Wazalendo. MONUSCO "peacekeepers" have faced repeated protests from local residents over their failure to protect civilians amid ongoing inter-factional fighting. The UN is demanding an investigation into the Goma incident, which Human Rights Watch called an "apparent massacre." In addition to the slain, 56 were reported injured and at least 222 arrested. (Jurist, AP, France24)
The US Department of State has announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials linked to the systematic "forced assimilation" of over a million Tibetan children in state-operated boarding schools. This decision is part of a broader strategy by the Biden administration to address China's treatment of its ethnic minorities, with a particular focus on the Tibetan and Xinjiang Uighur regions.
Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced Aug. 29 that it has formally charged former Algerian defense minister Khaled Nezzar in relation to war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during Algeria's civil war. In the indictment submitted to Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court, prosecutors said "Nezzar is accused of violating the laws of armed conflicts in accordance with the Geneva Conventions between 1992 and 1994 in connection with the civil war in Algeria and of committing crimes against humanity." The OAG alleges that Nezzar "condoned, coordinated or ordered" acts of torture committed by his subordinates.
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands affirmed on Aug. 25 that Palestinians are precluded from bringing legal action against Israeli military officers for their involvement in a deadly air-strike on the Gaza Strip in 2014. The high court upheld the decisions of lower court judges, ruling that former Israeli chief of staff Benny Gantz and former Israeli Air Force commander Amir Eshel are shielded from prosecution in the Netherlands due to their immunity status. The court ruled that this places them above legal reproach, regardless of the seriousness or nature of the alleged actions.
Amnesty International on Aug. 24 called for the application of "universal jurisdiction" against members of the Taliban accused of crimes under international law. Invocation of this doctrine would give any country the power to prosecute Taliban members for such violations. The statement came two days after a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which found that Taliban de facto authorities have been committing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and other forms of maltreatment against former members of Afghanistan's government and security forces. The report said that UNAMA has recorded at least 218 such extrajudicial killings in less than two years, from August 2021 to June 2023. Amnesty stated: "The new UNAMA report demonstrates an unending pattern of extrajudicial killings against members of the former government and security forces since Taliban's return to power in August 2021."
Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers attempting to cross the border from Yemen, according to an Aug. 21 report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report documented incidents between March 2022 and June 2023, based on interviews with migrants, satellite imagery, and social media posts. According to the report, Saudi border guards used explosive weapons such as mortars against migrants, and shot them at close range with live ammunition. Saudi border guards reportedly fired on people even when they complied with orders. HRW called the recent pattern of killings a change from "an apparent practice of occasional shootings" to "widespread and systematic killings."