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Latest info > News > The Hague International Criminal Court Fatoumata Dembele holds that Russian authorities have violated basic human rights in the massacre at the school in North Ossetia

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08 / 09 / 2004
The Hague International Criminal Court Fatoumata Dembele holds that Russian authorities have violated basic human rights in the massacre at the school in North Ossetia

Fatoumata Dembele, a judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the former judge of the International Criminal Court of the former Yugoslavia, holds the authorities of Russia and North Ossetia responsible for violating basic human rights in their resolution of the kidnapping of the school in the town of Beslan, which took the lives of at least 334 personas, mostly children. Dembele stated—at Forum Barcelona 2004, where she is participating in the Dialogue “New Ignorances. New Literacies”—that they “are guilty by omission” and that those responsible “should provide an explanation”.

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When asked about the massacre in North Ossetia, Dembele first mentioned that Rusia does not belong to the list of countries that have recognized the International Criminal Tribunal and then stated that, “the authorities of Russia and North Ossetia were inefficient and did not guarantee the population’s right to safety, which is the state’s duty”. The judge cannot understand how the terrorist group managed to travel across large stretches of the territory while armed with explosive without anyone showing the least bit of suspicion about their movements, which in her opinion constitutes a grave error on the part of the authorities for “not educating the people on how to participate in ensuring public safety”.

This is why Dembele considers that there is “guilt by omission” and that those responsible “should provide an explanation”, just as the actual perpetrators of the massacre. Dembele holds that this incident reveals that the local population is vulnerable and has been deprived of their basic human rights. As regards the supposed guilt of Vladimir Putin’s government in relation to the tragic outcome of the kidnapping, and when asked about the presumed violation of human rights committed by the president of the United Stages, Georges Bush, and Britain’s prime minister, Tony Blair, Dembele laconically expressed pessimism: “I don’t believe that all criminals end up standing before me”. The judge called for humanity to mobilize to fight for the International Criminal Tribunal to be able to carry out its tasks and criticized the attitude of the United States: “Not only is the US not one of the 14 countries that have accepted the area of action of the International Criminal Tribunal, but, what’s more, it has led an international campaign against acknowledgement of the institution. My country, Mali, is one of the poorest in the world, but it has not signed the agreement to block this tribunal, despite all of the pressure. I am very proud of this.” Her colleague, the former Foreign Affairs minister of Uruguay, Héctor Gros Espiell, also participated in the Dialogue “New Ignorances. New Literacies” and also publicly stated his relief that Mali has refused to second this campaign that is being run by the United States.