Weekly News Recap (14-20 Sept 2020)

Photo by Министерство обороны Российской Федерации

Statement by the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs on the International Day of Democracy

This year the African Union celebrated the International Day of Democracy under the theme “COVID-19: A Spotlight on Democracy”. African Union is committed to its Agenda 2063, in which it set to achieve peaceful and secure Africa with good governance, respect for human rights, justice, the rule of law.

However, the measures adopted by many African countries as a response to the pandemic have not been in line with the set goals at all. They imposed restrictions on human rights, rule of law, justice and constitutionalism. As the countries all around the globe have been adopting measures that to different extents interfere with human rights, it is essential that the measures are legal, non-discriminatory, proportionate to the magnitude of the threat and, especially, temporary.

Year 2020 has been by the African leaders pronounced as the year of Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. Accordingly, the African Union has been mainly investing in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. The latter has become even more significant in the combat against Covid-19, as it is presumed that the states with democratic and peaceful societies are more likely to take joint action.


Anti-torture committee urges Moldova to end persistent inter-prisoner violence and intimidation

On September 15, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a report in which it urged Moldova to take a resolute action to put an end to inter-prisoner violence and intimidation linked mainly to informal hierarchies in the country’s prisons.

The report shows that the main concern of the pertaining problem lies in unreported inter-prisoner aggression which comes from the lack of trust in staff’s ability to guarantee safety of prisoners. Additionally, report also raises concerns about inadequate health-care staffing resources in prisons and the length of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure.


ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I rejects Comoros’ request for judicial review of the Prosecutor’s decision not to open an investigation

On September 16, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’) rejected the request for a judicial review of the Prosecutor’s decision against the further investigation of crimes allegedly committed in Israeli interception of the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip on 31 May 2010.

The situation was referred to the ICC on 14 May 2013 by the Union of the Comoros but the Prosecutor decided not to initiate an investigation due to assumption of the lack of sufficient gravity required for the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Despite the findings that the Prosecutor failed to correctly assess the gravity of the case(s) that could potentially arise from this situation, the Pre-Trial Chamber I decided not to request the Prosecutor to reconsider her decision again.


Syria: Violations and abuses rife in areas under Turkish-affiliated armed groups

On 18 September, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned about the observation of grave violations, such as increased killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people, seizures of land and properties and forcible evictions, in parts of Syria under the control of Turkish forces and Turkish-affiliated armed groups.  

Bachelet urged Turkey to launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation into the incidents.


The Netherlands holds Syria responsible for gross human rights violations

On 18 September, the Netherlands announced to hold Syria, specifically referring to the Assad’s regime, responsible under international law for gross human rights violations and torture (specifically pursuant to the UN Convention Against Torture).

Dutch Minister of foreign affairs, Stef Blok, pointed out the existence of plethora of evidence and called for establishing the responsibility for the alleged crimes.

In the diplomatic note addressed to Syria, Dutch government reminded of the country’s obligations to cease the violations and offer reparations to the victims. In this respect, the Netherlands urged Syria to take a step towards the dispute settlement and enter its first phase – negotiations.

The Netherlands considers submitting the case to arbitration, or to the ICJ.

This decision follows the horrific numbers of killed, missing and displaced people, which indicate that in the past decade, the conflict in Syria involved grave violations of human rights of up to 12 million people.


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