The armed conflict in Colombia has up to now claimed a total of 6,073,453 officially recorded victims, according to a count by the government's Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation to Victims—constituting 12% of the population. The figure, based on records kept since 1985, includes all who have been registered as having suffered displacement, usurpation of lands or property, abduction, violence, threats. or loss of family members. Under the 2011 Law of Victims and Land Restitution, the state is obligated to compensate those who have suffered as a result of the armed conflict. The Victims' Unit records a total of 353,174 as having received compensation so far, including 8.992 victims of forced displacement. But the unit's director, Paula Gaviria, acknowledged that even those who have received reparations oten remain at risk. She said: "The government intends to address and repair a significant percentage of the victimized population, through a model that supercedes assistance and encourages the overcoming of the condition of vulnerability." (EFE, Feb. 7)
The African Union (AU) called Feb. 1 for African countries to "speak with one voice" against the trials of sitting heads of state in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The statement comes in relation to the trial of two current heads of the Kenyan government, Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy, William Ruto. The AU asked the UN Security Council to postpone the trials while the Kenyan leaders were still in power, but the resolution failed to get the required nine votes, making it the first resolution in decades to fail without a veto from one of the permanent members.
A boycott of the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics has been called by leaders of the Circassians, who are demanding that the 19th-century Czarist military campaign against their people in the region be officially recognized as a genocide. A delegation of Circassians from the diaspora—including Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Germany and the US—has travelled to the North Caucasus to visit the historic sites of their ancestors' homeland before the Games and raise awareness of their campaign.
A state prosecutor on Jan. 24 cleared Peru's imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori of charges that he was responsible for the forced sterilization of thousands of indigenous peasant women in the 1990s. Marco Guzmán Baca of Lima's Second Subprovinicial Penal Prosecutor also announced that no charges will be brought against former health ministers Alejandro Aguinaga, Marino Costa Bauer and Eduardo Yong Motta. Speaking to Comercio newspaper, he said his investigation failed to find a "hierarchical and rigidly vertical power structure" in the Health Ministry such as exists in the military. He also said that while the "physical integrity" of women had sometimes been improperly threatened, in no cases were sterilizations actually forced. The only charges will be brought against six doctors implicated in the death of a woman who was sterilized in Cajamarca. (Peru This Week, Jan. 25; Comercio, La Republica, Peru.com, Jan. 24)
Rights groups warn that Embera Chamí indigenous leader Flaminio Onogama Gutiérrez is at risk following the killing of his two nephews in southwestern Colombia. On Jan. 1, Berlain Saigama Gutiérrez and Jhon Braulio Saigama, themselves leaders at the Embera Chamí community of La Esperanza, El Dovio municipality, Valle del Cauca, were found stabbed to death. The bodies were discovered with multiple wounds and signs of torture in different places from where they had been abducted on Dec. 30 and 31. The presumed paramilitary gunmen who seized them first demanded to know the whereabouts of Onogama Gutiérrez. (Amnesty International, Jan. 17) A sample letter to send to Colombian authorities demanding action in the case is online at I Save Lives.
A team of lawyers, doctors and professors specializing in the prosecution of war crimes and forensic evidence issued a report (PDF) Jan. 20 including numerous photographs alleged to be "clear evidence'" of torture and systematic killings amounting to war crimes in Syria. The report is derived from almost 27,000 photographs which were obtained by a former military police officer in Syria who has since defected. The defector's role was to photograph the bodies of deceased individuals brought from detention facilities to a military hospital, which could reach up to 50 bodies a day. The report documents starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation, and other forms of systematic killings, and the majority of the victims are men aged between 20-40. The report stands by the defector's credibility, who was interviewed over three sessions in the previous 10 days. The report arrived just 48 hours before the Geneva II Conference on Syria is scheduled to commence in Switzerland on Jan. 22, with intense political posturing surrounding the UN backed conference.
Uganda's parliament on Jan. 15 retroactively approved military intervention in neighboring South Sudan—after President Yoweri Museveni reversed his initial denials and admitted Ugandan troops are fighting there. His administration spun it in terms of humanitarian intervention, with Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga telling parliament: "That a genocide was looming in South Sudan was a reality." (Zee News) But some say the intervention could only deepen the crisis, and undermine Uganda's supposed role as a moderator in the still-fruitless peace talks being brokered in Ethiopia by regional bloc IGAD. Aly Verjee, a senior researcher for the Rift Valley Institute, told IRIN: "If Uganda deploys more offensive forces to South Sudan, there is the risk the conflict escalates and the neutrality of IGAD's mediation is undermined. A split in the views of IGAD member states will not help the peace process."
The US Supreme Court ruled (PDF) Dec. 14 in Daimer AG v. Bauman that DaimlerChrysler AG (Daimler) does not have to face suit in California for alleged human rights violations by a subsidiary that took place entirely in Argentina. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled for Barbara Bauman, who represented 21 Argentine residents, allowing them to bring suit for the actions of Mercedes-Benz Argentina (MB Argentina), a Daimler subsidiary, during the nation's 1976-1983 "Dirty War." The plaintiffs claim that MB Argentina collaborated with state security forces to kidnap, detain, torture and kill certain MB Argentina workers that are either named as plaintiffs or were closely related to the plaintiffs. They argue that business activities in California by Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) as a subsidiary of Daimler should permit the filing of a lawsuit because of an important agency relationship between MBUSA and Daimler, but the Supreme Court held that Daimler is not amenable to suit in California for injuries allegedly caused by conduct of MB Argentina that took place entirely outside the US.