Weekly News Recap (9-15 Nov 2020)




KSC: The Initial Appearance of Jakup Krasniqi, Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and Rexhep Selimi

On 9 November 2020, at his initial appearance before the Pre-Trial Judge, Jakup Krasniqi pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment. A few hours later, at his initial appearance, Hashim Thaci pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment. On 10 November, Kadri Veseli pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment and on 11 November, the last accused in Thaci et al. case, Rexhep Selimi, also pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment. On 11 November, the Pre-Trial Judge decided to convene a status conference in the presence of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and the Defence on 18 November 2020, requesting both parties to provide written submissions.



Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China called upon the ICC Prosecutor to accept a complaint alleging genocide against Uyghurs by China

On 9 November, it was reported that 63 Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China parliamentarians representing 14 countries had written to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) urging her to accept a complaint, brought by Rodney Dixon QC, alleging genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples by China. While China is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the parliamentarians point to the ICC ruling regarding crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar when crimes commenced on the territory of an ICC state party fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. The parliamentarians describe the mass detention and deportation of Uyghurs from Tajikistan and Cambodia, both States Parties, into China.


In 2012, Mr Navalnyy and Gunko lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning their arrest at Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 during a political rally. Navalnyy claimed that a police officer had used excessive force during his arrest. On 10 November 2020, the ECtHR unanimously held that there had been a violation of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, violation of the right to security and liberty, violation of the right to a fair trial and the violation of the freedom of assembly.


IRMCT: The Initial Appearance of Félicien Kabuga

On 11 November 2020, Félicien Kabuga appeared before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) in The Hague. Mr. Félicien Kabuga stands charged of seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. At the request of Kabuga’s Counsel, the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, Judge Bonomy, entered a plea of not guilty on Kabuga’s behalf.


Australia to prosecute troops for war crimes in Afghanistan

On 12 November 2020, Australia announced a new investigative agency to investigate and prosecute allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. The Office of the Special Investigator is to be formed after a four-year investigation into allegations. Defense Force Chief Gen. Angus Campbell is expected to make public a redacted report on the four-year investigation.


ECtHR: Refusal to grant the applicant contact rights in respect of a child born to her ex-partner via assisted reproductive techniques

On 12 November 2020, in the case of Honner v. France concerning the refusal to award contact rights to the applicant in respect of the child which had been born to her former partner using assisted reproductive techniques while the two women were a couple, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held unanimously, that there had been no violation of the right to respect for family life. The ECtHR was of the view that despite the fact that the applicant had raised the child during his early years the applicant’s rights could not take precedence over the best interests of the child. The ECtHR upheld the decision of the French authorities which rejected the applicant’s request on grounds of the child’s best interests. The ECtHR noted that by duly giving reasons for the decision, the French authorities had not failed to fulfil their positive obligation to guarantee effective respect for the applicant’s right to respect for her family life.


UN: Election of the ICJ judges

On 11 and 12 November 2020, five judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have been concurrently elected by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council for nine-year terms beginning on 6 February 2021. The elected judges are as follows: Mr. Iwasawa (Japan), Mr. Tomka (Slovakia), Ms. Xue (China), Ms. Sebutinde (Uganda), all four current members of the ICJ. The fifth elected judge is Mr. Nolte (Germany).



ICC: The Prosecutor published Guidelines for Agreements Regarding Admission of Guilt

On 12 November, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) published her Office’s Guidelines for Agreements Regarding Admission of Guilt. The Guidelines are meant to provide the Office of the Prosecutor with a policy on agreements regarding admission of guilt, in particular, whether and when it may be appropriate for the Office to enter into such agreements, and if so, under what circumstances and subject to which terms.



NATO’s 16th Annual Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

On 10 November, NATO’s Secretary General restated the need for nuclear control and disarmament, and recognized that it would happen in a “balanced, reciprocal and verifiable way”. Noting that nuclear weapons have been reduced in Europe by more than 90 per cent over 30 years, the Secretary General remained confident in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the tools it provided, and reminded the international community of its role in the disarmament process. He especially called on the United States and Russia to pursue their leading efforts on arms control, and clearly stated the need for China to “engage in arms control negotiations”. At this occasion, over 50 countries participated in the online event organized by Romania.


Nagorno-Karabakh: Agreement to end the conflict reached

On 10 November, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed an agreement with Russia. 1960 Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed for a five years mandate, principally to patrol frontlines. It, however, did not bring peace in Armenia, as hundreds took the streets to protest against the territorial concessions. On the other side, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev celebrated the deal’s “historic importance”. On 14 November, tensions remained, as residents near Nagorno-Karabakh set their homes on fire before fleeing to Armenia, as part of the mass exodus after the announcement of the region being handed to Azerbaijan.




Council of the EU: Extensions of Sanctions on Venezuela and the Refugee Conference in Syria

On 10 November, the EU and its High Representative called on the Syrian regime to engage in its commitments towards refugees and the release of detainees. The EU manifested scepticism towards the conference on refugee return held in Damascus on 11-12 November, and did not attend the event, as the actions undertaken in Syria do not match the framework set by the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

On 12 November, the Council of the EU unanimously decided to pursue sanctions against Venezuela due to the multi-layered crisis and ongoing actions against democracy, rule of law and human rights. The sanctions are extended to 14 November 2021 and include assets freeze on 36 individuals and an arms embargo.



China: Disqualification of Members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council

On 11 November, the Committee of China’s National People’s Congress passed the “Decision on the Qualification of Members of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”, which states that elected legislators can be put down if they support independence, do not acknowledge China’s sovereignty or threaten national security. Members of the Legislative Council can be disqualified without any due process. Immediately four opposition lawmakers were disqualified by the Hong Kong Government and fifteen others resigned in protest. The Council of the EU called for the immediate reversal of these decisions by Beijing and Hong Kong authorities, as the EU supports Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” principle. The adopted Decision is part of a broader Chinese strategy, as on 30 June it imposed the National Security Law. The UK Government also blamed China for not respecting its commitment towards Hong Kong’s autonomy.



UN Security Council: Resolution 2551 (2020) on Somalia

On 12 November, the UN Security Council adopted the Resolution 2551 (2020). The Security Council extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Somalia until 15 December 2021. Arms embargo for Somali forces will not include arms delivery, technical and financial assistance and training but will prohibit weapons and military equipment supplied to the Somali National Security Forces or Somali security sector institutions from being resold outside of official security forces. The only other forces excepted from the partial ban are the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the European Union Training Mission in Somalia, in order to fight against piracy.

The UN Security Council also called on the federal Government of Somalia to implement the Somalia Transitional Plan and ensure the management of their military equipment, as well as to work with other actors to curb money-laundering and terrorism financing. The UN Security Council encouraged the federal Government of Somalia to take measures, including a national identification programme and exerted it to stop exporting charcoal, sales of which may be used in terrorist activities. There were concerns made on the democratic processes in Somalia and conflicts between Djibouti and Eritrea, while Somalia’s delegate stated its regret over crucial issues not included in the draft and called on the international community “to address root causes“.


UN Security Council: Resolution 2552 (2020) on the Central African Republic

On 12 November, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution 2552 (2020) and thus extended the MINUSCA’s mandate until 15 November 2021, as well as maintaining its 11,650 military personnel and 2,080 police personnel. The UN Security Council outlined the upcoming presidential, legislative and local elections (2020 and 2021) and kept the mission’s objective of creating conditions to reduce the presence and threats of armed groups, as well as to prioritize assistance to authorities. The UN Security Council called on the Central African Republic authorities to make the elections “fair, free, transparent and peaceful”. All stakeholders are to implement the 2019 Political Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation between the Central African Republic authorities and 14 armed groups.


Council of the EU: Joint Statement on Terrorism

On 13 November, the EU Home Affairs Ministers released a joint statement on terrorist attacks in Europe at the occasion of the anniversary of the attacks in Paris. The Ministers stated the need for transnational solutions, and presented their actions to fight terrorism in the EU.  The European framework for Counterterrorism will be further strengthened via a European police partnership that is part of comprehensive Council conclusions scheduled for presentation in early December.

The Ministers stated their commitment not to stigmatize religious groups and not to tolerate violations of democratic order and European Member States values, as well as “foreign influencing of national civil and religious organisations through non-transparent financing”. They also announced further controls at the entry of the Schengen area as well as a systematic use of the Schengen Information System (SIS), and called on the European Commission to “provide increased support to a more fluid expulsion”. Furthermore, they invited the European Commission to take measures in regard to Europol’s mandate and to present an ambitious Digital Services Act (DSA).


UN Secretary-General: Concerns about the 1991 ceasefire in Western Sahara

On 13 November, António Guterres expressed concerns about violations of the ceasefire in Western Sahara, as well as the consequences that could unleash if the status quo is broken. The UN has long been involved in de-escalating tensions in the in Western Sahara’s Buffer Strip (Guerguerat area). On 6 September 1991, the Moroccan government and the Frente POLISARIO reached a ceasefire, and a referendum on self-determination was to be organized. As an agreement was not reached the latter was never held. Recently, an operation was allegedly launched by the Moroccan government against a reported pro-independence Frente POLISARIO highway blockade. The UN restated its commitment to maintain the ceasefire and political processes.


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