About Juliette Rousselot

Juliette Rousselot was the International Advocacy Assistant for the Science for Human Rights (SHR) program. In this position, she provided general support to the program, as well as advocacy support for country work on SHR projects, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the Crisis Prevention and Response work. She holds BAs in International Relations and Communication from the University of Southern California and an MA in International Affairs from the George Washington University. A native of France, she researches conflicts and conflict resolution in sub-Saharan Africa, French security policy and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs on the continent.
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Rally in DC on Tuesday to Demand Justice for Sri Lanka

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Just a few months ago, the New York Times ranked Sri Lanka as the top place to visit as a tourist in 2010. While Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, the article failed to mention the outstanding issues that remain one year after the end of the conflict. Issues such as the failure by the Sri Lanka government to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by both Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE.

So join us on Tuesday, May 18th, to rally outside the Sri Lanka embassy in DC. The rally will kick off our four-month global action asking for an international, independent investigation into war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

Where: Embassy of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008

When: Tuesday, May 18th.

Time: 12:00-1:00 pm

And keep reading our blog in the next few months to find out more about the campaign and what Amnesty is doing to ensure justice for the survivors of Sri Lanka’s conflict.

MINURCAT's Future Still Hangs in the Balance

MINURCAT’s future still hangs in the balance. Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously decided to postpone making a decision on whether or not MINURCAT, the UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic, should be renewed.

Refugees in Mile refugee camp, eastern Chad. Copyright Amnesty International

Refugees in Mile refugee camp, eastern Chad. Copyright Amnesty International

All 15 members of the UNSC felt they needed more time to think about the recommendations put forward by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and to determine Chad’s capacity to protect civilians without the help of the peacekeeping mission.

We’ve been pushing for the UN Security Council to continue protecting civilians in the region by renewing MINURCAT’s mandate. At least 10,000 people worldwide have already taken action. There is still time to add your voice take action now and ask Secretary Clinton to support MINURCAT’s renewal.

Check Out Our New Video on Chad

Last week, we told you about the need for UN peacekeepers to stay in eastern Chad to help protect refugees and IDPs. We also sent an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about our concerns. Now you can check out our new video that sends a powerful message to Secretary Clinton and all of the US Government that we need greater civilian protection in Chad.

And don’t forget to ask Secretary Clinton to support MINURCAT’s renewal! We need you to take action today to make sure peacekeepers can stay in Chad and the Central Africa Republic. MINURCAT still has a chance.

Civilians Still Need Protection in Eastern Chad

UN peacekeepers that have been crucial in protecting civilians in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic (CAR) are being asked to leave once the mission’s mandate ends on May 15th. Without these peacekeepers, human rights abuses in the region will almost certainly increase, further endangering the lives of the refugees and internally displaced people living in camps.

Both the conflict in neighboring Darfur, Sudan, and Chad’s own internal conflict have created hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people, many of which now live in refugee camps in the eastern part of Chad, close to the border with Sudan.

Refugees in Mile refugee camp, eastern Chad

Refugees in Mile refugee camp, eastern Chad

Despite recent improvements, security in these camps remains a major issue. Amongst other issues, violence against women and girls is common both within and outside of the camps, and acts of violence are carried with almost complete impunity. And the UN peacekeepers are the only ones who can provide protection for these people.

Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, has asked the UN peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MINURCAT, to withdraw from Chad when the mission mandate’s comes to an end on May 15th. But it’s not too late. If the United States can take a leadership at the UN Security Council, MINURCAT has a chance. And so will the people living in eastern Chad.

It’s up to you to take action today to ask the US government to be a leader in ensuring MINURCAT’s renewal.

US Senators Show Support for Uganda's LGBT Community

Last week, the U.S. Senate was unanimous as it passed a resolution calling on members of the Ugandan Parliament to reject the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill and to repeal similar laws aimed at discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Co-sponsors of the Senate resolution stressed the “universality of human rights,” while sending a message to Secretary of State Clinton to more closely monitor human rights abuses that are motivated by sexual orientation. We have been a part of the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and have expressed serious concerns over the bill, joining other human rights groups in calling for the bill’s repeal. The passing of the Senate’s resolution is a victory for human rights defenders and a boost for our calls for equality and human rights.

Widespread international criticism of the bill has led the Ugandan Parliament to establish a committee to review the bill, which recommended changes be made to the bill but without actually calling for the bill’s repeal. The bill is currently before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee. The Committee has given no indication of when they would begin to debate the bill but we are continuing to monitor this very closely.

Msia Clark, Uganda Country Specialist, contributed to this post

Now is the Time for Sri Lanka's Parliament to Drop Emergency Laws

Since 1971, Sri Lanka has been operating almost continuously under a State of Emergency. These emergency laws have granted state authorities sweeping powers of detention and have permitted the use of secret prisons, a practice that encourages human rights abuses like enforced disappearances, torture and death in custody, which could constitute crimes under international law. In the last thirty years, thousands of Sri Lankans have spent years in detention without trial.

The war is over. Perpetuation of the emergency is now just being used as a weapon against political opposition, and as a quick fix for poor law enforcement practices and a dysfunctional justice system – Madhu Malhotra, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific program

During the last phase of the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), we used satellite imagery to demonstrate the prison-like conditions displaced civilians faced, used aerial photography to demonstrate violations of international humanitarian law, and geovisualization tools to track the violence and growing humanitarian crisis. This information has helped us to campaign for the release of prisoners held under the emergency laws and for an end to the countless unmonitored human rights violations occurring.

Today, Sri Lanka’s first post-war parliament is meeting to discuss the next steps the country must take in the wake of its 27-year war. Now is the time for Sri Lanka’s parliament to press for the release of people still detained under these emergency laws, unless they are charged with an internationally recognized criminal offence, and are tried in regular civilian courts to international standards for fair trial.

Kristin Ghazarians contributed to this blog post

Little Access to Justice for Women in Uganda

Lately, when we think about Uganda, we usually think about two things: the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But let’s not forget about another important issue: the Ugandan government’s failure to fully address the issue of violence against women in Uganda.

Our new report, “I Can’t Afford Justice: Violence against Women in Uganda Continues Unchecked and Unpunished,” paints a stark picture of the violence and lack of justice women in Uganda are faced with on a daily basis. Violence against women and girls in Uganda is widespread and is exacerbated by discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, class and age.

Attitudes that accept and justify violence against women are widely held within Ugandan society. When we interviewed women in Uganda, they expressed their frustrations with the obstacles to pursuing justice in their communities. For many, laws are not enforced, harassment of victims is widespread, and there is no easy access to justice.

An African woman’s no means yes – Ugandan government official

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Sexual Violence Still Prevalent in the DRC

Displaced people in Kibati camp, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), November 2008. The Kibati site had a population of 6,000 until the recent fighting started just over a week ago when the camp population surged to an estimated 40,000 people. Copyright: UNHCR/P. Taggart

Displaced people in Kibati camp, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), November 2008. Copyright: UNHCR/P. Taggart

Today, Oxfam International and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative released a report on the rampant use of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The news is sobering: tens of thousands of women have been systematically raped by combatant forces between 2004 and 2008.

Rape is an extremely effective wartime weapon. It is strategically used to shame, demoralize and humiliate the enemy. By systematically raping women and girls, armed groups assert power and domination over not only the women, but their men as well (page 7)

Perhaps most shocking of all their findings is that gang rape is widespread and prevalent, especially in rapes committed by armed combatants. And while many rapes are still being committed by armed combatants, the report also found that the incidence of rape by civilians had greatly increased since 2004, increasing by 1733%, while incidence of rape by armed combatants are actually decreased. The authors of the report grimly call this trend a “civilian adoption of rape.”

 

Rape survivors awaiting surgery, Panzi hospital, Bukavu, South-Kivu province. Copyright Amnesty International

Rape survivors awaiting surgery, Panzi hospital, Bukavu, South-Kivu province. Copyright Amnesty International

 

Given the widespread violence perpetrated by armed combatants in the DRC, a withdrawal of United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUC) troops is likely to lead to increased violence and even less protection for women and girls. The debate to extend MONUC, whose mandate is up for renewal at the end of May, has already begun in the United Nations Security Council.

Amnesty strongly opposes any withdrawal or drawdown in MONUC troops. Instead of requiring the peacekeepers to leave, the government should work with the UN in resolving the many protection challenges that remain. Especially with regards to sexual violence, government forces do not have the capacity to assume the security functions currently fulfilled by MONUC, and the government has not shown the political will to make its forces capable. A withdrawal of MONUC troops will severely hurt the DRC’s chances for peace, and further limit the potential for justice and protection of victims of sexual violence.

Take action now to help protect Justine Masika Bihamba, a women’s rights defender in the DRC who has been repeatedly threatened and attacked because of her work on behalf of survivors of sexual violence.

Kristin Ghazarians contributed to this blog post

Science for Human Rights Program Unveils New Toy

AGM Countdown: In the run up to Amnesty International’s Annual General Meeting in New Orleans this weekend, the Science for Human Rights program will be posting a new blog entry every day this week. All of the projects presented this week—and many more—will be at display in New Orleans.

For this year’s Annual General Meeting, the Science for Human Rights Program (SHR) is unveiling a cool new toy. This new toy, which we’re calling the “SHR Explorer,” enables you to check out a selection of the satellite images we have acquired and analyzed over the years, and lets you really see the extent of human rights violations in all different parts of the world. By using the slider, you can really see the striking differences between before and after images taken of the same exact place.

Screenshot of the SHR Explore. Copyright 2010 DigitalGlobe. CLICK IMAGE TO GO TO SITE

Screenshot of the SHR Explorer. Copyright 2010 DigitalGlobe. CLICK IMAGE TO GO TO SITE

Images from Zimbabwe and Chad show the extent of housing demolitions in select areas of those countries. In both Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, and N’Djamena, Chad, housing demolitions have caused immeasurable pain and suffering to people who have been made homeless by their own government.

In Lebanon, Georgia and Nigeria, violence has caused widespread damage and destruction to civilian infrastructure. Satellite images of Beirut, Lebanon, appear to prove that Israeli forces used cluster bombs in civilian areas during the August 2006 conflict, and those of Tskhinvali, Georgia, show many missing rooftops as result of the war between Georgian and Russian forces in August 2008. In Nigeria (our most recent project) the images show how many structures in the city of Jos have been destroyed by fire during recent clashes in the region.

And in New Orleans, aerial photographs demonstrate the slow pace of reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The first aerial image shows the flood that happened right after Katrina hit, and the second image shows what the same area looks like 4 years later, in 2009.

The Explorer is really going to be a powerful new tool as we continue to document and monitor, and do advocacy and campaigning work on various human rights abuses all over the world.

Check it out today!

Gaza Blockade: Amnesty International Delivers 23,000 Signatures to Clinton

A boy poses in front of one of more than 4,000 houses in the Gaza Strip that the UN said were totally destroyed or beyond repair after the war. (c) IRIN 2010. Photo by Sahari Karam/Irin. CLICK IMAGE TO SEE COMPLETE SLIDESHOW

A boy poses in front of one of more than 4,000 houses in the Gaza Strip that the UN said were totally destroyed or beyond repair after the war. (c) IRIN 2010. Photo by Sahari Karam/Irin. CLICK IMAGE TO SEE COMPLETE SLIDESHOW

Today, we delivered a petition to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, asking her to urge the Israeli government to lift the blockade of Gaza immediately. More than 23,000 people signed the petition, making it Amnesty International’s most successful Facebook petition to date.

>> Check out IRIN News’ photo gallery, which showcases powerful photographs of life in Gaza.

Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip leaves more than 1.4 million Palestinians cut off from necessary and life-saving supplies, exacerbating a situation of extreme and desperate poverty. The blockade restricts the entry of basic goods, such as food and fuel, on which the population depends on for survival.

The blockade is strangling virtually every aspect of life for Gaza’s population, more than half of whom are children. The increasing isolation and suffering of the people of Gaza cannot be allowed to continue. The Israeli government must comply with binding legal obligation, as the occupying power, to lift the blockade without further delay – Malcolm Smart, Middle East and North Africa Director, Amnesty International

Israel argues that the blockade is a natural response to the continued attacks by Palestinian armed groups, including the rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel. But the blockade doesn’t distinguish between those responsible for the rocket attacks and those who are just trying to make it through another day. It collectively punishes the entire population of Gaza, including many women and children, who are just trying to survive with no resources.

The people of Gaza share with everyone else the right to dignified lives, free of indiscriminate and prolonged suffering. They should not be subjected to this continuation of collective punishment brought on by the blockade – Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory

To learn about similar petitions in the future, please join Amnesty International USA on Facebook.

Learn more about the situation in Gaza:

Suffocating: The Gaza Strip Under the Israeli Blockade (PDF)

Troubled Waters – Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water (PDF)