Two Bosnian Serb officials sentenced to 22 years in prison for crimes against humanity

Stanisic (left) and Zupljanin were found guilty of crimes committed across Bosnia in 1992

Stanisic (left) and Zupljanin were found guilty of crimes committed across Bosnia in 1992

Judges at the International Criminal Court in the Hague today sentenced two former Bosnian Serb police officers to 22 years in prison for their role in the Bosnian War in the early nineties.

The two men, Mico Stanisic 58, and Stojan Zupljanin, 61, were convicted of crimes against humanity for their part in a campaign to remove Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs from the region. The conviction included murder, torture, sexual assault, unlawful detention and deportation.

Stanisic was interior minister of the Bosnian Serb republic and Zupljanin a senior security official at the time of the war. They are both regarded as associates of Bosnian Serb ex-leader Radovan Karadzic, who himself faces charges before the tribunal including that of genocide for allegedly masterminding ethnic cleansing in Bosnia after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, including the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

Some of Stanisic’s and Zupljanin’s crimes were committed when Serb forces took over the city of Prijedor in 1992, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people. Many inhabitants were taken to detention camps, including a particularly notorious one at Omarska, where detainees were raped and killed. Others were held in “deplorably inhumane” conditions.

Survivors at a concentration camp in Prijedor

Survivors at a concentration camp in Prijedor

“Over 100 persons were executed in room three at Keraterm camp in one night around July 25 by Serb guards,” according to a summary of the judgment read out by Judge Burton Hall. “At Omarska camp … mass executions were held from late July onwards.”

“The chamber finds that the goal of these actions was the establishment of a Serb state as ethnically pure as possible,” Judge Hall continued. “Through these acts and omissions both intended and significantly contributed to the plan of removing Muslims and Croats from the territory of the planned Serbian state.”

Stanisic gave himself up in 2005 and Zupljanin was arrested in 2008 after more than nine years on the run.

Around 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian conflict and over two million people were displaced. The tribunal has indicted 161 people, mostly Serbs, for their role in atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia. Only six trials remain to be completed.


Angelina Jolie and William Hague visit survivors of sexual violence in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo


Angelina Jolie and William Hague in the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday ©AFP

Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague visited the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday to meet survivors of sexual violence as part of their campaign to tackle rape in war zones.

The number of women, girls, men and boys who have been subjected to rape in conflict zones numbers in the hundreds of thousands. 50,000 were raped in Bosnia, 64,000 in Sierra Leone, 200,000 in Congo and 400,000 in Rwanda. The UN has estimated that only 30 convictions have resulted from the Bosnian War.

Jolie and Hague spent time at the Nzolo Internally Displaced Persons camp, north of Goma and the Lac Vert camp on the edge of Goma. Their next stop is Rwanda.

The aim of the trip is to force the Group of Eight world powers to address the issue more seriously and the Foreign Secretary has said he will make the issue his priority when he hosts the annual meeting of G8 foreign ministers next month in London.

Hague has already put in place a 70-strong specialist team of police, lawyers, psychologists, doctors and forensic experts to help survivors and witnesses and has also contributed £1 million this financial year to support the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Angelina Joile and William Hague in the DRC ©Telegraph

Angelina Joile and William Hague in the DRC ©Telegraph

“More often than not the international community looks away, the perpetrators of these brutal crimes walk free and the cycle of injustice and conflict is repeated. We have to shatter this culture of impunity,” Hague said. “It is time for real, meaningful action by the governments of the world to say that the use of rape as a weapon of war is unacceptable, to bring perpetrators to justice and to lift the stigma from survivors. This is my personal priority for the meeting of G8 foreign ministers.”

Jolie said on the trip: “This visit is about hearing first hand from people who have endured rape and sexual violence during the conflict in the eastern DRC. We want to learn the lessons that their experience holds for how the world can protect thousands of women, men and children at risk of rape in many other conflict zones. And we want to persuade governments around the world to give this issue the attention it deserves. Unless the world acts, we will always be reacting to atrocities, treating survivors rather than preventing rape in the first place.”

“It’s often that we speak about the drama and the pain and the horrors of the Congo but it’s also a wonderful place with extraordinary people. The big message is that this initiative started by the Foreign Secretary is extraordinary, but what we’re here to do is to try to scale it up and make this a worldwide focus. It’s been going on in every war, every crisis and it’s often an afterthought – and it’s due time to end this, and put an end to impunity, and they deserve it.”

Join more than a billion people around the world to support Earth Hour tonight

Earth Hour: 8:30pm Saturday 23rd March 2013

If you notice any partial blackouts around the country this evening fear not – it’s all in honour of Earth Hour.

At 8:30pm local time, people around the world will switch off or dim their lights for one hour to show their concern and support for the environment.


Buckingham Palace

More than 7,000 cities and towns across 152 countries on all seven continents are expected to participate, with the world’s major landmarks all joining in. It kicks off with the Sydney Opera House followed by the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Christ the Redeemer, the Empire State Building and countless others.

The Houses of Parliament last year

The Houses of Parliament last year

Last year Earth Hour went into space when astronauts reduced power on the International Space Station and this year newcomers to the event include Tunisia, Palestine, Galapagos, Suriname, French Guyana, Rwanda and the most remote island in the world, St. Helena.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) organises the event each year with the aim of getting hundreds of millions of people to turn off their lights in a huge, symbolic show of support. This year, as we all switch off our lights, they want the focus to be on the kind of energy we use because they believe that to create a better future for our planet we need to move away from dirty fossil fuels and onto clean, green renewable energy which works with the power of nature, not against it.

Christ the Redeemer last year

Cristo Redentor last year

Earth Hour also plans to help the environment beyond the 60 minute blackout with their I Will If You Will campaign. It aims to encourage positive action for the environment by empowering people and organisations to share their commitment to the planet with friends, family, colleagues, fans or even a whole nation.

Colosseo di Roma

Colosseo di Roma

The idea is simple. Someone makes a promise to do something if a certain number of people commit to take an ongoing action for the environment, beyond Earth Hour.

The action could be big or small; it might be a simple lifestyle change or maybe something that leads to political change. It might require 10 people to do something, or 10,000. The point is that I Will If You Will allows anybody to become the inspiration to their friends, family, colleagues and communities by sharing what they’re willing to do to protect the planet.

La Tour Eiffel

La Tour Eiffel

Since it began in Sydney seven years ago the Earth Hour movement has grown into the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment. In 2007 the event had 2.2 million participants but grew to an estimated 1.8 billion participants in 2012.

At the global media launch for Earth Hour 2013, CEO and Co-Founder Andy Ridley spoke about the movement’s massive environmental outcomes beyond the hour, “People from all walks of life, from all nations around the world, are the lifeblood of the Earth Hour interconnected global community. They have proven time and time again that if you believe in something strongly enough, you can achieve amazing things. These stories aren’t unique, this is happening all over the world.”

Comic Relief raises a record £75 million


People from all over the country have helped to raise over £75 million for Comic Relief this year. Alongside the money raised from viewers phoning in during the BBC’s telethon to donate, TK Maxx raised £3.7m through sales of the Red Nose Day T-shirts and homeware, British Airways donated £2m, Sainsbury’s raised more than £10m through sales of their Red Nose Day merchandise and singer Jesse J raised £500,000 by having her head shaved.

Jesse J after the chop...

Jesse J after the chop…

The government also promised to back the public’s support with a donation of £16m to the overall total, specifically for Comic Relief’s work to improve the lives of women and girls in Africa.

It will go on improving literacy, helping girls go to school, provide care for expectant mothers, help women farmers, promote women’s rights and be used to help reduce violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls, such as genital mutilation.

BT’s 10,000 volunteers handled 458,000 calls to the donation line during the live TV show, peaking at 200 calls per second.

The BBC’s telethon this year included many celebrities and comedy sketches. In one skit David Walliams confronts several celebrities he’s been ‘intimate’ with, featuring appearances from the likes of supermodel Kate Moss, footballer Frank Lampard and Hollywood stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Grant.

Gwyneth Paltrow and David Walliams

Gwyneth Paltrow and David Walliams

Walliams is inspected by Doctor Christian Jessen from Embarrassing Bodies and told he has to pay a visit to everyone he’s slept with in the last year, suggesting that he’s picked up a sexually transmitted disease. When visiting Kate Moss she tells him: ‘That was the most erotic night of lovemaking I’ve ever had.’ David shrugged and said: ‘To be honest love it wasn’t in my top ten.’

Kate Moss and David Walliams

Kate Moss and David Walliams

The highlight of the evening’s comedic entertainment, though, had to be the resurrection of David Brent in a mini-episode of The Office. Ricky Gervais not only brought Brent back to life in aid of Comic Relief but his character also starred in the hilarious music video ‘Equality Street’

Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office Revisited

David Brent and rapper Dom Johnson in Equality Street

Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by scriptwriter and film director Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually) and comedian Lenny Henry in response to the famine in Ethiopia. It was launched from a refugee camp in Sudan on Christmas Day that year.

Of the money raised this year, Richard Curtis said: “Once again the extraordinary generosity of the British public has put Comic Relief in a position to be able to serve thousands upon thousands of people with very hard lives in Africa and the UK.

“It’s almost impossible to thank enough all those who took part in the event, all the members of the public who fundraised and all those who gave so generously on the night.”


It’s Red Nose Day!

Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry

“Creating a just world free from poverty”

Today is Red Nose Day, otherwise known as Comic Relief. Every year the country comes together to raise money to bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people around the world.

Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by scriptwriter and film director Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually) and comedian Lenny Henry in response to the famine in Ethiopia. It was launched from a refugee camp in Sudan on Christmas Day that year during Noel Edmonds’ Late, Late Breakfast Show on BBC 1. Now every year the BBC holds a telethon one evening in March in order to raise millions of pounds to help those who need it most.

Since the start of Comic Relief, the charity has raised over £800 million for people in the UK and around the world and because of this:

  • 600,000 people have access to healthcare
  • 164,000 children received an education
  • 52,000 people have accessed clean water
  • 118 projects have been funded that help sexually exploited and trafficked young people
  • 15,786 UK projects have helped support people living incredibly tough lives around the country

At the start of Comic Relief, when everyone else was turning a blind eye to the number of young people sleeping rough on city streets in the UK, one of the very first grants they ever made enabled the homelessness charity Centrepoint to buy two washing machines – a much-needed resource for the young people who had nothing but the clothes on their backs. They also funded research on the issue which put youth homelessness back on the political agenda.

They have also used funds to bring together two key domestic violence agencies and levered government funding to create the first ever 24-hour, free-phone, national helpline.  They developed the first ever online system to show vacancies at refuges for women in desperate need. Both services have helped thousands of women and have vitally saved lives.

In the mid ‘90s, they supported four widows in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and now continue to support survivors in great need with counselling and practical help so they can earn a living. Comic Relief have played a small but significant part in creating the new Rwanda.

This year  people are raising money all over the country for Comic Relief by being sponsored for things, selling unwanted items, waxing body parts, dressing up, holding bake offs etc. For ideas on how to help raise money today please check out the website here.

Even the smallest donation can have a huge impact. The boys from One Direction recently went out to Ghana to see how your cash changes lives in developing countries. You can support them by donating here.

Donating £5 can buy exercise books for 5 children living on the streets of Ghana so they can go to school. It can also buy a simple vaccine that can mean the difference between life and death.

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can help this Red Nose Day. TK Maxx are currently selling the Stella McCartney designed official Comic Relief t-shirts, as modelled by Rihanna and Kate Moss below. They cost just £9.99 and are made from Fairtrade certified cotton – wear one and you’ll be sending a positive message back to cotton farmers in Mali that we continue to support them. Read more about the farmers here.

Rihanna in the Marilyn Comic Relief t-shirt

Rihanna in the Marilyn Comic Relief t-shirt

Kate Moss in the Tommy Cooper t-shirt

Kate Moss in the Tommy Cooper t-shirt

Alternatively you can donate to Comic Relief here.

The telethon starts tonight at 7pm on BBC 1.

Red Nose Day –

Comic Relief –

Thanks for reading,


red nose day

15 faces, 15 reasons for wanting to read and write

©Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Photographer Brian Sokol has been posting portraits of Malian refugees taking an adult literacy class in Burkina Faso on the UN Refugees Agency Instagram page.

Sokol and UNHCR reporting officer Hugo Reichenberger spoke with 15 Malian refugees attending an adult literacy class in Goudebou refugee camp. Each of them had a different reason for learning to read and write.

“Reading will make me understand the world better,” says Mohammed. “This is my first chance to learn.”

Follow the series here:

Share this from the UNHCR page on Facebook here:

Visit the UNHCR website: