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France: trial for atrocities in Liberia

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  French trial of Kunti K for crimes against humanity in her alleged role as former commander of a Liberian armed group is an important step toward justice for victims of Liberia s first civil war Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights FIDH said today The trial is scheduled to begin on October 10 2022 in Paris and is a sign of France s commitment to holding those responsible for serious crimes to account Kunti K is accused of crimes against humanity committed during Liberia s first civil war which devastated the country between 1989 and 1996 Liberia s first civil war was marked by war crimes and widespread and systematic violations of human rights including deep and disturbing patterns of violence against civilians as warring factions massacred and raped civilians looted and forced children to kill and fight The full name of the accused has been withheld by French officials in accordance with national privacy laws This trial is an important step toward justice for victims amid the Liberian authorities failure to hold accountable those responsible for serious crimes during civil wars said Elise Keppler associate director for international justice at Human Rights Watch The Liberian authorities should take note these crimes can and should be prosecuted and a long recommended war crimes court should be established in the country without delay The Civitas Maxima organization filed a criminal complaint in France against Kunti K in 2018 after which he was arrested in Paris on suspicion of crimes against humanity and torture Before the trial Human Rights Watch and FIDH published a question and answer document with information on the defendant Kunti K the civil wars in Liberia the lack of accountability in Liberia for serious crimes committed and the need for Liberia to create a war crimes tribunal with the assistance of its international partners and the importance of the trial and the legal restrictions in France linked to the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad Kunti K s trial in France is possible because the country s laws recognize universal jurisdiction over the most serious crimes under international law Universal jurisdiction allows these crimes to be investigated and prosecuted regardless of where they were committed and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims This and other universal jurisdiction cases in Europe and the US on Liberian civil war era crimes have so far been the only opportunity for Liberian victims to see justice done However the use of universal jurisdiction in France is restricted by multiple legal barriers the groups said A recent decision by France s highest court on a crime against humanity case in Syria annulled based on one of these limitations the indictment of an alleged former Syrian agent who had sought asylum in France raising concerns that the country could become a safe haven for those responsible for serious crimes France s trial for the atrocities in Liberia reinforces the importance of the principle of universal jurisdiction to ensure that the worst crimes do not go unpunished especially when accountability is not achieved through other channels said Cl mence Bectarte lawyer which coordinates FIDH s Litigation Action Cluster France s laws need reform to ensure that justice can be a reality for more victims of the worst crimes and the country is not a safe haven for perpetrators
France: trial for atrocities in Liberia

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Human Rights Watch

French trial of Kunti K.

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for crimes against humanity in her alleged role as former commander of a Liberian armed group is an important step toward justice for victims of Liberia’s first civil war, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said today.

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The trial is scheduled to begin on October 10, 2022 in Paris, and is a sign of France‘s commitment to holding those responsible for serious crimes to account.

Kunti K.

is accused of crimes against humanity committed during Liberia’s first civil war, which devastated the country between 1989 and 1996.

Liberia’s first civil war was marked by war crimes and widespread and systematic violations of human rights, including deep and disturbing patterns of violence.

against civilians, as warring factions massacred and raped civilians, looted and forced children to kill and fight.

The full name of the accused has been withheld by French officials in accordance with national privacy laws.

“This trial is an important step toward justice for victims amid the Liberian authorities’ failure to hold accountable those responsible for serious crimes during civil wars,” said Elise Keppler, associate director for international justice at Human Rights.

Watch.

“The Liberian authorities should take note: these crimes can and should be prosecuted, and a long-recommended war crimes court should be established in the country without delay.” The Civitas Maxima organization filed a criminal complaint in France against Kunti K.

in 2018, after which he was arrested in Paris on suspicion of crimes against humanity and torture.

Before the trial, Human Rights Watch and FIDH published a question and answer document with information on: the defendant, Kunti K.; the civil wars in Liberia; the lack of accountability in Liberia for serious crimes committed and the need for Liberia to create a war crimes tribunal with the assistance of its international partners and; the importance of the trial and the legal restrictions in France linked to the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad.

Kunti K.’s trial in France is possible because the country’s laws recognize universal jurisdiction over the most serious crimes under international law.

Universal jurisdiction allows these crimes to be investigated and prosecuted regardless of where they were committed, and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims.

This and other universal jurisdiction cases in Europe and the US on Liberian civil war-era crimes have so far been the only opportunity for Liberian victims to see justice done.

However, the use of universal jurisdiction in France is restricted by multiple legal barriers, the groups said.

A recent decision by France’s highest court on a crime against humanity case in Syria annulled, based on one of these limitations, the indictment of an alleged former Syrian agent who had sought asylum in France, raising concerns that the country could become a safe haven.

for those responsible for serious crimes.

“France’s trial for the atrocities in Liberia reinforces the importance of the principle of universal jurisdiction to ensure that the worst crimes do not go unpunished, especially when accountability is not achieved through other channels,” said Clémence Bectarte, lawyer which coordinates FIDH’s Litigation Action.

Cluster.

“France’s laws need reform to ensure that justice can be a reality for more victims of the worst crimes, and the country is not a safe haven for perpetrators.”

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