Saturday, June 25, 2016

Malakal Massacre: UN peacekeeping and accountability

Voice of America has this report on the fallout of UN peacekeeping deficiencies that led to a massacre earlier this year in South Sudan:
The spokesman for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations said the U.N. has accepted responsibility for its lack of swift response during the February massacre of internally displaced persons in the South Sudanese city of Malakal. 
The U.N.’s Nick Birnback said some peacekeepers did not respond in time to protect civilians who were attacked by gunmen Feb. 17 and 18 at the U.N. Protection of Civilian (POC) compound. At the time, the U.N. had contingents from Rwanda, Ethiopia and India in Malakal. Thirty people were killed, and 123 others were wounded in the attacks. 
“In the process of an inquiry, we looked at the systems that were in place and how those systems could be strengthened, but we also looked at individual unit responsibility. The U.N. peacekeeping is currently engaging directly with the concerned troop-contributing countries to address the underperformance of certain UNMISS (United Nation Mission in South Sudan) personnel, and that includes training and preparedness.” 
Birnback said the U.N. Peacekeeping Department will repatriate some peacekeepers and their commanders who were on duty during the attack. Birnback confirmed that the U.N. Peacekeeping Department has been investigating the Malakal attack in South Sudan in order to prevent it from happening again in future peacekeeping operations. 
“There will be action taken, whether [against] individual units as a whole or those in command of certain units.” 
Birnback said the U.N. has been reviewing its posture and stepping up measures to improve safety in what he terms “a very challenging environment.” Birnback pointed out that responsibility also rests with those who carried out the attack. He added the U.N. will send back those peacekeepers and commanders who did not respond appropriately during the attack. 
“We work with our troop-contributing countries. We need them. We thank them for their service. But when something happens that involves a unit not responding in a way that it needed to, it’s logical that both us and the troop-contributing country in question will take whatever action is necessary to make sure that does not happen again, and that does include repatriation of individual units when appropriate and repatriation of commanders who did not live up to their responsibility.” 
What actual steps are taken in light of this incident will be instructive as to the viability of the current arrangements for UN peacekeeper discipline and accountability. So far, the UN gets a D.

Jurisdiction over Spain's Guardia Civil

A Citizens for Cantabria candidate for the Chamber of Deputies has assured the Union of Civil Guards that his faction will work to prevent the application of the Code of Military Justice to the Guardia Civil for disciplinary offenses except in extraordinary cases. Details here (in Spanish).

Publish or perish?

Pres. Horacio Cartes
As reported here, the Paraguayan Minister of National Defense is resisting Thursday's demand by the country's Senate that three laws governing military justice be published, calling it an effort to destabilize the country. And so this strange legal fight continues. The problem is not only embarrassment to President Horacio Cartes, but the fact that some number of past court-martial convictions will presumably have to be invalidated if publication in the Presidential Gazette was required for the laws to take effect.

Mexican Supreme Court accepts case challenging military justice reform legislation

The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that the constitutional case recently filed by the National Commission on Human Rights challenging the 2015 military justice reform legislation is admissible. Revolución 3.0 reports:
According to the CNDH, 44 articles violate human rights such as: the prohibition on extension of military jurisdiction over civilians; rights to individual freedom, access to information, freedom of movement, due process, legal security, privacy, protection of personal data, and the presumption of innocence, and the principles of pro persona and legality.

New military justice code coming for Puerto Rico National Guard

The Puerto Rico House of Representatives has passed a bill updating the 1969 code of military justice that currently covers the commonwealth's National Guard. Details here (in Spanish). Only recently, Alaska enacted a new State Code of Military Justice, replacing the one enacted before statehood.