The Netherlands and Canada jointly submitted a case against Syria to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the Damascus regime of committing numerous violations of international law, including torture, since the start of the country’s civil conflict in 2011. The primary objective of the application is ICJ action compelling Syria to desist from any future use of torture. If the ICJ finds that it holds authority to rule on the matter, it will mark the first instance of an international court judging Syrian torture allegations. (Photo: ICJ)
The concluding of a peace agreement between Senegal and separatist rebels in Casamance is being hailed by the government as “an important step” toward ending the 40-year conflict in the southern region. The deal was signed in neighboring Guinea-Bissau by a delegate from President Macky Sall’s administration and Cesar Atoute Badiate, leader of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). The long-simmering conflict was re-ignited in 2021 when the Senegalese army launched a major offensive against the rebels. But Seydi Gassama, director of Amnesty International Senegal, noted that the MFDC is now but one of several rebel factions. “The negotiations must expand to include these factions so that a peace deal can be quickly signed with all the factions and peace can be established throughout all of Casamance,” Gassama said. (Map: PCL Map Collection)
Senegal’s military has launched a new offensive against a faction of the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). The operation follows the death of four soldiers and the capture of seven others in fighting with the MFDC faction led by Salif Sadio, which has remained in arms in defiance of a 2014 ceasefire. A military statement said the offensive aims to “destroy all armed gangs conducting criminal activities” and “preserve the integrity of the national territory at all costs.” Casamance—the narrow southern strip of Senegalese territory sandwiched between Gambia to the north and Guinea-Bissau to the south—has seen a pro-independence insurgency since 1982, making it Africa’s longest-running conflict. Tens of thousands have been displaced, the rural economy is devastated, and large stretches of territory have become no-go zones due to landmines. (Map: PCL Map Collection)
US-led forces are currently carrying out war games in Morocco, the periodic “Afrian Lion” exercises—this year taking place near the disputed region of Western Sahara. Morocco is trumpeting this as a re-affirmation of US recognition of its claim to the territory. The Trump administration last year formally recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Moroccan diplomatic recognition of Israel as a part of the so-called Abraham Accords. But Spain, the disputed territory’s former colonial ruler, is opposing Morocco’s current push for international recognition of its claim. Just before the war games opened, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya called US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to reverse Washington’s recognition of Moroccan rule in Western Sahara. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)
A village of semi-nomadic Fulani herders was attacked in Mali New Years Day, with at least 33 residents slain and several homes set aflame. Survivors said the attackers were traditional Dogon hunters, known as dozos. The army was rushed to Koulogon village in central Mopti region to control the situation. But the perpetrators may have been assisted by the armed forces. Dogon residents of the area have formed a self-defense militia, known as Dana Amassagou, to prevent incursions by jihadists from Mali's conflicted north into the country's central region. The militia is said to have received weapons and training from the official armed forces. However, driven by conflicts over access to land and shrinking water resources, the militia has apparently been attacking local Fulani villages. Hundreds were killed in clashes between Dogon and Fulani last year, and a Senegalese rapid reaction force under UN command was deployed to Mopti in response to the violence. (Photo of Fulani elder via IRIN)
The "King of the Afro-Bolivians," Julio I, is said to be South America's last reigning monarch, although he lives as a peasant cocalero in the Yungas region on the Andean slopes north of La Paz. The descendants of slaves brought in by the Spanish to work haciendas and silver mines, the Afro-Bolivians today have constitutionally protected autonomy. They have joined with their indigenous Aymara neighbors to demand greater rights for the coca-producing high jungle zone. Julio, of Kikongo royal blood, was crowned in a ceremony recognized by the Bolivian state in 2007. Last month marked 10 years of his official reign. (Photo: Casa Real Afroboliviana)
The International Organization for Migration reports that its staff have documented "slave markets" on North African migrant routes, preying on young African men bound for Libya.
New "draconian" anti-terrorism laws could "restrict freedom of expression and roll back the rule of law in Senegal," according to a report by Amnesty International.
A court in Senegal convicted Chad's former dictator Hissène Habré of crimes against humanity committed during his rule, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
The special tribunal hearing the war crimes case against Chad's ex-dictator Hissène Habré will now also hear charges against sitting president Idriss Deby, Habré's former army chief.
France expands military operations across the Sahel to chase down jihadist insurgents, as Mali opens peace talks with Tuareg separatists that have seized much of the country.
Senegalese police detained former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre to face an African Union trial on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.