Eric Stover is Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor of Public Health. He was the Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) until December 1995. Since 1993, he has severed on several medicolegal investigations as an “Expert on Mission” to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
Eric Stover, HR activist and writer – USA
In March and April 1995, he conducted a survey of mass graves throughout Rwanda for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In June 1984, Mr. Stover testified for the prosecution at the trial of leaders of the military junta which ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.
While international criminal tribunals have increasingly relied on forensic evidence to support prosecutions for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, these investigations have resulted in only a small number of the deceased being identified because of evidentiary needs or a lack of resources. It is argued that an international network of forensic scientists should be established to develop standards in this field. These should be guided by the principle that identification of the missing is just as important as collecting evidence.
The international war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have increasingly relied on forensic scientists to collect physical evidence of mass killings associated with acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Typically, these investigations have resulted in only a small number of the deceased being identified because the tribunals lack the resources to conduct thorough investigations of the missing or because the evidentiary needs do not require that all of the victims be identified. Meanwhile, the families of the missing are left in a limbo of “ambiguous loss”, torn between hope and grief, unable to return to the past, nor plan for the future. Without bodies and funerals, they often are unable to vizualize the death of their loved ones and accept it as real. Under the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, families have the right to know the fate of their relatives. (Read more on ICRC and the whole article in PDF).
A text by Eric Stover and Marieke Wierda International Herald Tribune, OCTOBER 14, 2005:
… which should prevail? – NEW YORK The first indictments ever issued by the International Criminal Court last week should be seen as a victory for advocates of justice everywhere. The indictees are leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a spiritualist rebel group with no clear political agenda that has waged a vicious war against the people of northern Uganda for nearly two decades.
To fortify their ranks, LRA commanders have abducted thousands of children and adults to serve as porters and soldiers. They have forced girls, some as young as 12 years old, into what amounts to sexual slavery, and have inflicted horrific injuries by cutting off the ears, noses, lips and limbs of defenseless civilians. Of the 2,585 people we recently interviewed in four districts in northern Uganda for our study, “Forgotten Voices,” 31 percent told us they had had a child who was abducted, 23 percent said their children had been mutilated and 45 percent said they had witnessed the killing of a family member.
What better candidates for indictment could there be than those who organize and order such heinous crimes? Proponents of the International Criminal Court argue that this is exactly what it was created for and that even its critics, like the Bush administration, which has declared the LRA a terrorist organization, could hardly object. But the situation is not that simple.
Nineteen years of war have turned northern Uganda into a humanitarian catastrophe. Over 1.6 million people now languish in hundreds of squalid camps and shelters where they are dependent on handouts from the UN World Food Program to survive. Clean water and medical care are scarce. Malnutrition and such diseases as malaria, scabies and tuberculosis are rampant. Most camp residents live in fear and despair and simply want the war to end. (Read the rest of this long article on Internat. Herald Tribune).
In the early 1990s, Stover and a British deminer, Rae McGrath, undertook research on the social and medical consequences of land mines in Cambodia and other developing countries. Stover is the author of numerous books, reports, and articles on medicine and human rights. His articles and photographs have appeared in the Smithsonian, The New York Times, Science, The Washington Post,, New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, New Scientist and other professional journals. In 1992, he wrote and co-produced a NOVA-WGBH documentary on the search for the graves of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Bolivia. (Read the interview on globetrotter).
Some Publications by Eric Stover:
Health Professionals and Human Rights in the Phillippines;
Human Rights and Scientific Cooperation in the Americas;
Scientists and Human Rights in Argentina Since 1976;
The Breaking of Bodies and Minds: Torture, Psychiatric Abuse, and the Health Professions;
The Cases of Persecuted Engineers in Iraq, Argentina, and the Soviet Union;
The Open Secret: Torture and the Medical Profession in Chile;
The Search for Brazil’s Disappeared: The Mass Grave at Dom Bosco Cemetery;
The Graves: Srebrenica and Vukovar (with photographer Gilles Peress);
Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (Little, Brown, Inc.);
The Breaking of Bodies and Minds: Torture, Psychiatric Abuse, and the Health Professions (W.H. Freeman);
Medicine Under Siege in the former Yugoslavia 1991 -1995 (Physicians for Human Rights);
Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch).