Weekly News Recap (2-8 Nov 2020)

Photo by REUTERS/Eva Plevier via Bing




ICC President addressed UN General Assembly to present Court’s annual report

On 2 November 2020, the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, addressed the UN General Assembly to present the Court’s annual report. The report describes the progress made by the Court in 2019-2020, detailing its activities, ongoing cases, key judicial decisions and reparations processes despite practical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among notable developments, one accused was sentenced; the hearings in one trial were brought to conclusion; one trial commenced; charges were confirmed against two accused; one suspect, whose first arrest warrant had been outstanding for more than 13 years was transferred to the Court; two new investigations were authorized; and the Prosecutor received a referral of one new situation.



Paul Gicheru surrendered to the ICC custody and made first appearance before the ICC

Mr Gicheru, a lawyer formerly based in Kenya, surrendered on 2 November 2020 to the authorities of The Netherlands. On 3 November 2020, he was surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) custody. On 6 November 2020, Paul Gicheru appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber A of the ICC. Mr Gicheru is suspected of offences against the administration of justice by corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.


Arrests of Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi by the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor

A Pre-Trial Judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers has confirmed the indictment against Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi on 26 October 2020. Following their arrests by the Specialist Prosecutor on 4 and 5 November, Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi were transferred to the Detention Facilities of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague. Following that, the victim application process started in these cases. The initial appearance of the accused is scheduled for 9, 10 and 11 November.



ECtHR: Statement on requests for interim measures concerning the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh

On 4 November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) made a statement on requests for interim measures concerning the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. The ECtHR found that the issues raised in the new requests are already covered by decisions taken previously and restated these decisions. ECtHR did not see purpose to indicate additional interim measures.


ECtHR: Admission of evidence obtained through ill-treatment inflicted by private individuals in breach of the Convention

On 5 November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of Ćwik v. Poland that there had been a violation of a right to a fair trial in a case concerning an applicant, a member of a drug trafficking gang. The procedural history of the case involved an audio casette evidence recorded when another gang member had been tortured by the drug trafficking gang. The ECtHR emphasized its rule that admitting into evidence statements obtained as a result of torture or ill-treatment prohibited by Art. 3 of the Convention rendered the proceedings as a whole unfair. This is the first case in which the ECtHR has applied this rule in respect of evidence obtained as a result of ill-treatment inflicted by private individuals. Two judges expressed a joint dissenting opinion, noting that no violation of a right to a fair trial occurred in their view, since the ill-treatment had not been inflicted by State organs.



UNGA Disarmament and International Security Committee: Nuclear-Weapons Resolutions

On 3 November, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) held votes on nuclear‑weapon‑related draft resolutions and decisions provisions. A draft resolution was approved on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, with Iran’s reservations on negotiations in the region related to the lack of coordination between Israel and the United States. On the establishment of dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons, delegates noted the draft did not take history into account and was not inclusive towards victims of nuclear weapons. While other draft resolutions were adopted (African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty; Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status; and the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia), there were debates on the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as many nuclear-weapon states called on the lack of transparency and non-proliferation norms. On 4 November, India took the lead to pass a resolution to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It was accepted by consensus.



The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States monitored the General Elections in the United States

Starting on 30 October, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States monitored the General Elections in the United States of 3 November. The observers followed up on issues related to electoral organization and technology, political participation of women, electoral justice, political-electoral financing, voting by mail, media and freedom of expression, and electoral districting. After the elections, the Mission will present a preliminary report with its observations and recommendations in order to contribute to the strengthening of the electoral processes in the country.


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Call for a dialogue process in Ethiopia

On 4 November, a conflict broke out in the region of Tigray (Ethiopia). The Federal Council launched state emergency for 6 months, in response to an alleged attack on a military base by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). On 6 of November, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a general de-escalation and to start a dialogue process. The conflict however intensified as on 6 November the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reported air strikes on military targets, and the House of Federation, the Parliament, stated that the Tigray government “violated the constitution and endangered the constitutional system”. On 7 November the Prime Minister and the TPLF showed no will to de-escalate the conflict, and reports of fighting spreading to the Amhara region and near the border with Eritrea and Sudan were made.



UNGA Disarmament and International Security Committee and OPCW: The Syrian situation with chemical weapons

On 4 November, the First Committee accepted five draft resolutions to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and rejected one on biological and chemical weapons use. It was argued that it was too politicized and could have meddled with existing disarmament instruments. A draft resolution on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction was also passed, and representatives linked it to the Syrian stock that is still to be destroyed. As the Syrian government missed the October deadline set by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), it was called on by the senior United Nations disarmament official on 6 November to respect its commitments. The OPCW declared to have no further information from Syria, thus stating that its “initial declaration of the elimination of all chemical weapons in its possession cannot be considered accurate and complete”.



UN Security Council: Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 5 November, the UN Security Council extended its stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, unanimously adopting the resolution 2549 (2020). The mission EUFOR-ALTHEA will be pursued for 12 more months, as the main Serb party opposes the Peace Accord signed 25 years ago. The EU involvement is part of a broader international collaboration with the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities following the Dayton Agreement. The High Representative and European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina highlighted the progress made since the agreement was signed, but also the lack of reforms since 2006 and the recent tensions in the region. More so, concerns have been expressed regarding the coming elections in 10 days and the escalation from the Serb party leader’s rhetoric against other communities.



European Council: Sanctions against the Syrian Regime

On 6 November, the European Council updated the list of individuals and entities sanctioned by the EU. Eight persons were added, due to their involvement with the regime and the war economy. It is only part of the EU sanction regime, which also banned oil imports, restricted investments and Syrian bank assets in the EU. The sanctions are comprised of travel ban and assets freeze. The EU is constantly investigating developments in Syria, in light of the conflict and its commitment to reach a political stability (see UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué).

The names of the incriminated individuals have been published in the Official Journal.


European Council: Sanctions against Belarus authorities

On 6 November, 15 individuals were sanctioned by the European Council. All are part of the Belarus authorities, including Alexandr Lukashenko and his National Security Adviser Viktor Lukashenko. The santion regime is established on the basis of the repression of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists. The situation in Belarus has worsened since the August 2020 elections, which were declared lacking democratic legitimacy by the High Representative. These restrictive measures are applied to 59 individuals, whose names are published in the Official Journal.


United States: Joe Biden elected the U.S. President

On 7 November, Joe Biden has become the 46th President of the United States. The symbolism present is double: Pennsylvania votes gave him the presidency, and his Vice-President, Kamala Harris, is the first black women at this office in the history of the United States. His accession to the White House not only sends a message of unity, but also the revival of transatlantic relations. Germany, Denmark or France as well have on their agenda economic and environmental concerns to address. On the other hand, more nationalist leaders –Bolsonaro,  Orbán, Johnson have lost an ally. There are still concerns about the legal battles Trump will launch, as he still has supporters, and resources.



Elections in Myanmar

On 8 November, Myanmar held elections. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated his hope that it will lead to “inclusive sustainable development”. The country is still shaken by multiple conflicts and ethnic discrimination as the Rohingyas have been banned from participating in the elections. This contrasts with Mr. Guterres’s call on 6 November for “peaceful, orderly and credible” elections. More so, other challenges must be faced by the next government as tensions and conflicts are also impacting civilians.



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