Weekly News Recap (5-11 Oct 2020)

© Photo by Cancillería Argentina via Flickr

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

  • Resumption of computation of time at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • First criminal complaint on behalf of Syrian sarin attack victims filed in Germany
  • Request for an interim measure lodged by Armenia against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights
  • IACHR referred the case of the Tagaeri and Taromenane Indigenous People in Ecuador to the IACtHR
  • IACtHR: Argentina responsible for the unlawful, arbitrary and discriminatory detention by the Police of Buenos Aires Province and the Federal Police
  • ECtHR: Switzerland responsible for violating the freedom of expression of a journalist
  • ECtHR: Deficiencies in Russia’s regulatory framework on anti-extremist legislation resulted in a breach of freedom of expression
  • ICC, Situation in Darfur: Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman shall remain in custody
  • IRMCT: Conclusion of witness testimony in the Stanišić and Simatović case
  • ECtHR: Georgian Police’s raid on LGBT organization’s office in Tbilisi breached the applicants’ human dignity

INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

  • OPCW: Syria’s chemical weapon program under scrutiny
  • Formation of a transition government in Mali
  • Council of Europe: New position of the Special Representative on Antisemitic and Anti-Muslim Hatred and Hate Crime
  • Iraq and Kurdish Regional Government reach an agreement over Sinjar District
  • United Nations: Call on Turkey not to unilaterally act in Cyprus
  • Ceasefire and hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

Resumption of computation of time at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

On 5 October, after the improvement of the situation in relation to COVID-19 pandemic, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights decided to resume the computation of time limits effective from 1 August 2020 for all matters that are currently in progress before the Court. This includes all pending cases at the merits and reparations stages, reporting on the implementation of judgments and advisory opinions.

On 18 May 2020, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights suspended the computation of all the time limits that were currently in progress before the Court, effective from 1 May to 31 July 2020, excluding computation of time in relation to requests for Provisional Measures.

https://www.african-court.org/en/index.php/news/press-releases/item/368-resumption-of-computation-of-time


First criminal complaint on behalf of Syrian sarin attack victims filed in Germany

On 5 October, a group of non-governmental organizations including the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and Syrian Archive filed a criminal complaint on behalf of chemical weapons attack victims to the Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor. This complaint includes evidence from the most detailed investigations to date into the sarin attacks on Eastern Ghouta and Khan Shaykhun that took place in 2013 and 2017. Additionally, the dossier includes new information and investigative leads and shows that the Syrian government carried out the attacks.

https://www.justiceinitiative.org/newsroom/justice-initiative-joins-syrian-groups-in-filing-first-criminal-complaint-on-behalf-of-sarin-attack-victims


Request for an interim measure lodged by Armenia against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights

On 6 October, following the request for an interim measure lodged on 4 October by Armenia against Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights indicated an interim measure calling on all States directly or indirectly involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including Turkey, to refrain from actions that contribute to breaches of the rights of civilians, and to respect their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

On 29 September, the Court also indicated an interim measure, calling upon both Azerbaijan and Armenia to refrain from taking any measures, in particular military actions, which might entail breaches of the Convention rights of the civilian population, including putting their life and health at risk.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6816855-9120472


IACHR referred the case of the Tagaeri and Taromenane Indigenous People in Ecuador to the IACtHR

The case referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on 6 October concerns the international responsibility of Ecuador for a series of violations of the rights of the Tagaeri and Taromenane indigenous peoples in the context of State’s projects affecting their territories, natural resources and their way of life. Members of the concerned community have chosen to live a life without having any contact with the majority population. This will be the first case before the IACtHR involving indigenous people in voluntary isolation.

https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2020/245.asp


IACtHR: Argentina responsible for the unlawful, arbitrary and discriminatory detention by the Police of Buenos Aires Province and the Federal Police

On 6 October, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) found Argentina responsible for the violation of the rights to personal liberty, protection of honor and dignity, and judicial guarantees and judicial protection of Mr. Carlos Alberto Fernández Prieto and Mr. Carlos Alejandro Tumbeiro. The IACtHR also found Argentina responsible for the violation of the right to equality before the law and the prohibition of discrimination, to the detriment of Mr. Tumbeiro. This case concerns the illegal and arbitrary arrests by the Police of Buenos Aires Province and the Federal Police of Argentina, respectively, as well as the lack of adequate supervision on the part of the judicial authorities who heard these cases in Argentina.

https://www.corteidh.or.cr/comunicados_prensa.cfm?lang=en&n=627


ECtHR: Switzerland responsible for violating the freedom of expression of a journalist

On 6 October, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held Switzerland responsible in a case concerning Ms. Jecker, a journalist who complained that she had been compelled to give evidence during a criminal investigation into drug trafficking when the Swiss authorities had required her to disclose her sources following the publication of a newspaper article about a soft-drug dealer who had provided her with information. The ECtHR found that the requirement for a journalist to give evidence and disclose the source was not sufficiently justified and that the interference with the exercise of Ms. Jecker’s freedom of expression could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6815935-9118718


ECtHR: Deficiencies in Russia’s regulatory framework on anti-extremist legislation resulted in a breach of freedom of expression

On 6 October, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found interference with the applicants’ freedom of expression in a complaint brought by the chief officer and deputy chief officer of a human rights NGO. The Russian authorities had found that a poster displayed during a protest against a law on minors and encouraging adolescents to participate in further protests against the law had amounted to planning an “extremist activity” under the legislation and could lead to liability for an offence. The ECtHR found that the anti-extremist legislation formulated in broad terms, making the application unforeseeable and leaving too wide a discretion to the prosecutor.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6815945-9118728


ICC, Situation in Darfur: Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman shall remain in custody

On 8 October, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber II on the defendant’s request for an interim release, rejecting all five grounds of appeal raised by the Defence and noted that Mr Abd-Al-Rahman’s detention is necessary to ensure the integrity of the investigation and the proceedings and the safety of the witnesses. On 9 June 2020, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman was transferred to the ICC’s custody after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic.

https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1539


IRMCT: Conclusion of witness testimony in the Stanišić and Simatović case

On 8 October, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) concluded hearing witness testimonies in the case Prosecutor vs. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović. The case has been the first retrial held before the Mechanism and has followed the 2013 ICTY Trial Chamber’s acquittal of the accused of all charges and the ICTY Appeals Chamber’s order for a retrial. At the Hague branch of the Mechanism, the Trial Chamber heard 51 Prosecution witnesses and 29 witnesses for both accused. The trial judgment is expected in the first half of 2021.

https://www.irmct.org/en/news/20-10-08-conclusion-witness-testimony-stanisic-and-simatovic-case


ECtHR: Georgian Police’s raid on LGBT organization’s office in Tbilisi breached the applicants’ human dignity

The applicants, who worked at the organization, complained that the police had insulted and threatened them, and put them through humiliating strip-searches. On 8 October, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the police officers’ behaviour during the raid in 2009, motivated by homophobic and/or transphobic hatred, had been grossly inappropriate and found violations of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and the prohibition of discrimination.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6818287-9123094


INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

OPCW: Syria’s chemical weapon program under scrutiny

On 5 of October, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was still assessing whether Syria’s stockpiles and production facilities were destroyed, in accordance with the UN Security Council’s resolution 2118 (2013). Other investigations on the alleged use of toxic products in Aleppo and Saraqib (2018 and 2016, respectively) revealed that “chemical weapons were used or likely used”, thus leading the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs to stress the importance of identifying and judging the culprits. The UN member states remain divided regarding how to act, as they were conflicted not only over procedural matters but also on the OPCW’s investigation itself. Some countries, such as South Africa, recognized the OPCW’s impartiality, while others, such as the Russian Federation, accused it of serving “Western countries” interests. The mission to verify the destruction of Syria’s facilities is still on tracks, with new deployment to Damascus of the Declaration Assessment Team.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14318.doc.htm


Formation of a transition government in Mali

On 5 October, a transition government was formed in Mali with the appointment of the Interim President Bah Ndaw (former Defence Minister) and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. Formation of the transition government has been a step towards the planned formation of a constitutional government, within an 18-months period. The sanctions against Mali were lifted after weeks of negotiations by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had condemned the coup which took place on 18 August 2020. The EU, as well as the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), support the transition period and claim the need for taking “practical steps” in the government reforms. President Ndaw stressed his commitment to implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation. The main challenges for the newly formed government are terrorist attacks and assisting civilians in the issues related to the pandemic.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14320.doc.htm

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/86440/mali-d%C3%A9claration-du-haut-repr%C3%A9sentantvice-pr%C3%A9sident-josep-borrell-sur-la-d%C3%A9signation-du_fr


Council of Europe: New position of the Special Representative on Antisemitic and Anti-Muslim Hatred and Hate Crime

The Council of Europe’s Director of Communications Daniel Höltgen has been appointed to the new position of the Special Representative on Antisemitic and Anti-Muslim Hatred and Hate Crimes. Starting on 1 November, the Secretary General’s Special Representative will liaise with counterparts in the Council of Europe member states, exchange information and best practice with different partners and enhance co-operation towards effective counter-strategies at the European level. The position was created following an alarming increase in antisemitic and anti-Muslim attacks in parts of Europe, often incited and aggravated by hate speech online.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/secretary-general-appoints-special-representative-on-antisemitic-and-anti-muslim-hatred-and-hate-crimes


Iraq and Kurdish Regional Government reach an agreement over Sinjar District

On 9 October, Iraq and the Kurdish Regional government agreed on the status of northern Iraq’s Sinjar district (Ninewa). In 2014, the Yazidi minority was subject to killings, trafficking and enslaving by the Islamic State members in this region, and 3000 women and girls are still missing to this day. Yazidi rights campaigner and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Nadia Murad, announced that 100 000 Yazidi people were back in their ancestral territories. The UN stated its commitment to stabilising the region and recognised the need for establishing better infrastructures, security and public services as well as a unified administration, that could otherwise lead to a worsening of the situation for the civilians.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/10/1075102


United Nations: Call on Turkey not to unilaterally act in Cyprus

On 9 of October, the UN Security Council called on Turkey to cancel its plan on opening the coastline of Varosha (Cyprus). The Security Council strongly advised parties not to engage in unilateral actions that could create more tensions in the region. The Council President, Dmitry A. Polyanskiy, reminded the actors involved of the previous resolutions related to Varosha, and that all parties should respect these. A meeting between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot stakeholders should take place in the coming months, as the Secretary-General is committed to engaging in constructive talks. In September 2020, the UN had already warned Turkey not to interfere in the relations between the Cypriot communities, especially in the region of Varosha, left abandoned by its inhabitants fleeing the Turkish army in 1974.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14322.doc.htm

https://news.un.org/en/story/2010/09/352932-turkey-must-respect-independence-cyprus-general-assembly-hears


Ceasefire and hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh

On 9 October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appealed for a ceasefire, as civilians were still caught up in hostilities. Several artillery strikes and the use of cluster munitions have been reported and the information gathered by the UN human rights office suggests that 53 civilians have been killed. The UN reminded the belligerent countries to respect their commitments to international humanitarian law and called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The access to clean water, sanitation and other health necessities in the COVID-19 pandemic is virtually impossible for the civilians.

Interviewed by Euronews on 9 October, the Armenian Prime Minister and Azerbaijani President blamed each other for the violent outbreak in the region and did not mention any prospect of ceasefire talks. On 10 October, both States agreed to a truce brokered by Russia in Moscow in the first diplomatic contact between the two States since the outbreak of hostilities. On the very same day, both States started accusing each other of violating the ceasefire as hostilities resumed.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/10/1075022

https://www.euronews.com/2020/10/09/europe-s-week-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-deepens-and-the-rule-of-law-dispute-continues

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-armenia-azerbaijan-diplomacy/armenia-and-azerbaijan-accuse-each-other-of-violating-nagorno-karabakh-ceasefire-idUSKBN26V005

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