This December marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Convoy of Death.” During Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, 2,000 prisoners who had surrendered to the US and the Afghan Northern Alliance were shot or suffocated to death in sealed truck containers while being transferred by Northern Alliance forces. The dead prisoners – some of who had been tortured - were then buried in a mass grave in a northern Afghanistan desert at Dasht-e-Leili.
Earlier this week, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda was chosen to be the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She will be the second person, and the first African, to hold this position. Bensouda was the likely choice for the position given her professional qualifications, including serving as Deputy Prosecutor to Luis Moreno-Ocampo during his nine-year tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the Court. Given the extent of the ICC’s work in Africa – all seven of the countries with cases before the court are African – the choice of an African prosecutor seems especially appropriate.
In August, International Forensic Program (IFP) Director Stefan Schmitt and two of the program’s expert consultants, Dr. Robert C. Bux and Attorney Nery Osorio, traveled to Bogota, Colombia as part of their ongoing project with local partner organization EQUITAS to support the independent forensic investigation of cases of forced disappearance and extrajudicial executions.
PHR’s Director of the International Forensic Program, Stefan Schmitt, recently appeared in an interview with the BBC World Service to discuss the UN International Day of the Disappeared.
Recently the Obama Administration unveiled landmark legislation which has the potential to strengthen how the US deals with the prevention of mass atrocities and serious human rights violations. The inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board (PSD-10) aims to close existing gaps in US law and provide new economic, diplomatic, and political deterrents to ensure that the US responds swiftly and unequivocally to all manner of human rights violators.