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News in the Humanosphere: International court hears case on destruction of cultural heritage sites in Mali

Sankoré mosque, Timbuktu (Leslie Lewis/flickr)

The International Criminal Court prosecutor made the case to judges in The Hague that an Islamist extremist deserves to face trial for crimes against humanity for participating in the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Timbuktu. This would be the first-ever international war crimes trial for the crime of the destruction of cultural heritage, and the first time a jihadi faces ICC prosecution. “They said that the accused, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, was part of a Qaeda-linked group that seized the north of Mali in 2012 and imposed an extreme form of Sharia law until the radicals were driven out by French troops. Prosecutors in The Hague said that Mr. Mahdi had led the razing of 10 shrines around Timbuktu, a town on the southern edge of the Sahara that gained prominence as an ancient trading crossroads and a vital center of Islamic learning from the 15th century to the 17th century.” (NYT

Security Council set to vote on New North Korea sanctions today…After nearly two months of bilateral negotiations that at one point involved U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, China agreed to support the unusually tough measures intended to persuade its close ally North Korea to abandon its atomic weapons program.” (Reuters

Traffic app leads to deadly clashes…Two Israeli soldiers said to be using a traffic app mistakenly entered a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank overnight, sparking clashes that killed one Palestinian and wounded 15 people, officials said Tuesday. (AFP

Stat of the day: More than 131,000 migrants and refugees have reached Europe via the Mediterranean this year, more than the total in the first five months of 2015, the United Nations said Tuesday.  (AFP


It appears there is another delay to the arrival in Juba of South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar’s forces, a crucial part to the implementation of the agreement signed last August between the Juba government and the SPLM-In Opposition. (VOA

Burundi officials have discovered a mass grave with around 30 corpses in the nation’s capital of Bujumbura, the city mayor said. The police suspects regime opponents of politically motivated killing. (DW

A roadside bomb set by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab killed at least five soldiers and injured eight others on Tuesday outside the Somali capital Mogadishu, security forces and a spokesman for the militants said. (Reuters

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a devastating drought which has compromised the nutrition of people living with HIV. (IPS

Zimbabwe’s former vice president Joice Mujuru launched a new party to challenge her ally-turned-adversary Robert Mugabe, promising to revive the economy and repair strained relations with the West. (Reuters

Central African Republic’s constitutional court confirmed former mathematics professor Faustin-Archange Touadera, has been elected president, national radio reported on Tuesday, setting the stage for Touadera to be sworn in later this month. (Reuters

Barclays Bank said on Tuesday it planned to sell its 62 percent stake in Barclays Africa Group over the next two to three years. (Reuters

A Zimbabwean court has allowed the largest diamond mine in the Marange fields to return and assume control of all assets after challenging government’s decision to stop mining operations. (Reuters



Aid agencies on Tuesday launched an international appeal for $1.8 billion for 2016 to ease the suffering from a year of fighting in Yemen, where 21 million people now need help. (AP

The United Nations will begin the next round of Syria peace talks on March 9, U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told Reuters on Tuesday. (Reuters

An Egyptian forensics official has told the public prosecutor’s office the autopsy he conducted on an Italian student showed he was interrogated for up to seven days before he was killed, two prosecution sources said. (Reuters

The U.N. Population Fund said Tuesday that its clinic in Jordan’s largest camp for Syrian refugees has safely delivered more than 5,000 babies since opening in 2013. (AP

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed on Tuesday on the need to urgently implement the cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria and for the warring parties to return to the table for political negotiations, a U.N. statement said. (Reuters


Myanmar’s parliament will bring forward a vote for the next president to March 10, it was announced Tuesday, leaving little time for Aung San Suu Kyi to strike a deal to let her take the top office. (AFP

North Korea says it will boycott the U.N. Human Rights Council and “never, ever be bound” by U.N. resolutions critical of its rights record. (VOA

Two more people in China have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, bringing the total number of cases in China to eight. (VOA

A Japanese government study has found nearly a third of working women who responded to a survey reported being sexually harassed on the job, such as unwanted physical contact or being subjected to degrading comments. (VOA

A Thai tuna processing factory has agreed to pay staff $1.3 million compensation for labor abuses, an official said on Tuesday, in a rare victory for migrant workers in the country’s scandal-stricken seafood industry. (Guardian

Ranikumari Khokar is campaigning in India to end a caste-based practice that condemns women to clean human waste by hand. (Guardian

Tens of thousands of supporters chanted and threw rose petals Tuesday at an ambulance bearing the body of a Pakistani Islamist executed for killing a liberal governor, as schools closed and police guarded flashpoints. (AFP

Although China officially ended its decades-long one-child policy in January, millions of parents who had previously given birth to more than two children are still dealing with its aftermath. (VOA

The Americas

Federal prosecutors who uncovered a huge corruption scheme at oil company Petrobras are looking into whether Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received undue favors from engineering firms they are investigating. (Reuters

Brazil V Facebook. In the latest clash between a U.S. internet company and Brazilian law enforcement authorities, police in São Paulo have detained the regional vice-president of Facebook for failing to provide information requested by a criminal investigation. (Guardian

Mexico has confirmed 11 pregnant women are infected with the Zika virus, out of a total of 121 cases, the government said. (Reuters

Argentine President Mauricio Macri is sharing a grim assessment of the South American country with his compatriots. (AP

A U.S. federal judge said Monday the north central state of Indiana cannot attempt to deter the resettlement of Syrian refugees, calling an order by Governor Mike Pence clearly discriminatory. (VOA

…and the rest

The European Union is proposing increased humanitarian aid for Greece, where more than 20,000 refugees and migrants are stuck after borders were tightened along the Balkans preventing them from trekking north to wealthier parts of Europe. (Reuters

Some migrants can be told where they must live in the European Union as long as the reason is to help them integrate into society, the EU’s top court ruled on Tuesday. (Reuters

Austria wants to deter Afghans from seeking asylum by funding a campaign of advertisements on Kabul buses, on Facebook and on television telling them not to expect a warm welcome. (Reuters

Turkey’s top judge asserted his court’s independence on Tuesday after President Tayyip Erdogan and the justice minister both criticized a ruling that the detention of two prominent journalists had violated their rights. (Reuters

The Council of Europe, which safeguards human rights and the rule of law across the region, has criticized Greece for police violence and poor conditions in its over-crowded prisons, urging Athens to overhaul a system reaching “breaking point.” (Reuters

Greek police say there could be up to 10,000 people — mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees — stuck at the country’s Idomeni border crossing now in deteriorating conditions. Hundreds of tents fill the fields stretching toward the border fence, which is patrolled on the Macedonian side by scores of regular police, Macedonian special police forces and police from other Balkan countries. (AP


Zimbabwe Could Really Use a Super Tuesday (UN Dispatch

Leadership doesn’t equal power or influence for women (Humanosphere

How Eritrea is turning to Dutch courts to silence its critics (Guardian

Airbnb Is Changing The Way Tourists Get To Know Africa (Goats and Soda

Smackdown: Provide the people of Africa with training, or with cold, hard cash? (Africa Can End Poverty

What Barclays’ Africa Exit Means for Kenya (Daily Nation

Secret aid worker: why I hide my Israeli identity (Guardian

Book Review: Alex de Waal, the Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (From Poverty to Power

The inconvenient truth about mobile giving (Devex

Outflanking the war on drugs? (IRIN

Evidence of Ballot Box Stuffing in Uganda’s Presidential Election (Africanis Perspective

Five ways to make aid locally sourced (Guardian

This Counts as Progress for Syria. (UN Dispatch


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