Weekly News Recap (11–17 Jan 2021)

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

ECtHR: The right to respect private life not violated in Munir Johana v. Denmark and Khan v. Denmark

The case concerned the applicants’ expulsions from Denmark after repeated convictions for various criminal offences despite both defendants having lived there from a young age. On 12 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that there were no violations of Article 8 of the Convention “the right to respect for private life,” finding that that the domestic authorities had taken into account the applicants’ particular circumstances, their specific crimes and criminal records, and their ties to Denmark. The Court reiterated that a State is entitled to control the entry and residence of foreign nations and reviewed whether or not the expulsion decisions were in accordance with the law and proportionate. The Court found that the domestic courts had examined the “nature and seriousness” of the offenses thoroughly, and held that the interferences had been proportionate and not a violation of their rights.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6902459-9267175


HRC: DRC violated the right to life of Pascal Kabungulu

On 12 January, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) found the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) violated the “right to life” of Pascal Kabungulu, a leading human rights defender, committed to ending corruption and impunity in the DRC. Mr. Kabungulu served as the Executive Secretary of Héritiers de la Justice, a human rights group that uncovered and documented human rights violations and war crimes in the country. On 31 July 2005, three armed men wearing masks and uniforms- alleged to be state agents, broke into Kabungulu’s house and shot him in front of his family. They stole Kabungulu’s computer and some personal belongings before fleeing. After more than 15 years of legal and political efforts, no decision has been made on the criminal trial for Kabungulu’s murder. The Committee calls on the DRC to pursue the investigation and criminal proceedings into Kabungulu’s murder in a prompt, effective, and transparent manner and to provide his family with adequate compensation.

https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR/C/130/D/2731/2016&Lang=en

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26651&LangID=E


STL: Appeals in the Ayyash et al. case

On 12 January, Defence Counsel for Mr Salim Jamil Ayyash filed notices of Appeal against the Trial Chamber’s Judgment of 18 August 2020, and against the Sentencing Judgment of 11 December 2020, in the Ayyash et al. case. The Legal Representative of Participating Victims (LRV) also filed a notice of Appeal against the Sentencing Judgment. The case relates to the 14 February 2005 attack in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 22 people including former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and injured 226 others. In its Trial Judgment (18 August 2020), the Trial Chamber found Mr Ayyash guilty as a co-perpetrator for the five counts charged in the amended consolidated indictment. The three other accused: Mr Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Mr Assad Hassan Sabra and Mr Hassan Habib Merhi, were found not guilty. On 11 December 2020, Mr Ayyash was sentenced to life imprisonment for each of the five counts on which the Trial Chamber had found him guilty to be served concurrently. Defence Counsel for Mr Ayyash challenges the finding of guilt for each of the charges, stating the Trial Chamber committed numerous errors of law and fact throughout the Trial Judgment.

https://www.stl-tsl.org/en/media/press-releases/filing-of-notices-of-appeal-marks-the-start-of-the-appeals-phase-in-the-ayyash-et-al-case

https://www.stl-tsl.org/crs/assets/Uploads/20210112-F0005-PUBLIC-Ayyash-Notice-of-Appeal-ConvictSentence-EN-Web.pdf


IACHR: Precautionary measures expanded in Venezuela to protect the rights of persons suffering from multiple sclerosis

It was reported on 13 January that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) through Resolution 4/2021 of 7 January expanded precautionary measures filed by the organization “Defiende Venezuela” after considering that the applicants’ right to life, integrity, and health were placed in a serious jeopardy. The applicants requested the Commission to protect the rights of persons suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) after it was alleged that the Venezuelan Social Security Institute (IVSS) would not be delivering the prescribed medications. The Commission, in accordance with Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure, asked the State of Venezuela to adopt the necessary measures to protect the life, personal integrity, and health of the beneficiaries by adopting immediate measures that would allow access to adequate medical treatment- in accordance with applicable international standards.

http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/decisions/pdf/2021/resoluci%C3%B3n%204-2021.%20mc-1286-18-ve%20-en.pdf

https://www.oas.org/en/IACHR/jsForm/?File=/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2021/007.asp


IACHR: Precautionary measures in favour of Yandier García Labrada

It was reported on 13 January that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted on 7 January precautionary measures in favour of Yandier García Labrada. Mr Labrada an activist and member of the Christian Liberation Movement is currently being detained in the “El Típico” prison for the crimes of “contempt and public disorder.” Resolution 5/2021, which granted the precautionary measures are in response to the lack of adequate medical care following alleged beatings received by the Mr Labrada during his detention. The Commission requests that Cuba: a) adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of Mr. Yandier García Labrada, according with international standards; b) agree upon the measures to be implemented with the beneficiary and his representatives; and, c) report on the actions taken in order to investigate the alleged events that led to the adoption of this resolution with the aim of preventing their reoccurrence.

https://www.oas.org/en/IACHR/jsForm/?File=/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2021/008.asp


IACHR: Precautionary measures in favour of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil

It was reported on 13 January that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted on 4 January precautionary measures in favour of the members of the Guajajara and Awá Indigenous Peoples of the Araribóia Indigenous Land, who find themselves at risk in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly considering their situation of vulnerability (due to the historical situation of violence due to activities to defend their rights), shortcomings in health care and the presence of unauthorized third parties in their territory. The Commission warned that the action plans in favor of indigenous peoples have a general and/or programmatic nature, without the State having clarified how they are being implemented in favor of the beneficiaries and if they are effective. Consequently, the IACHR requested Brazil to: adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to health, life, and personal integrity, implementing, from a culturally appropriate perspective, preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, as well as providing adequate medical care in accordance with applicable international standards.

https://www.oas.org/en/IACHR/jsForm/?File=/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2021/009.asp


ECtHR: Violation of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment in Sabalic v. Croatia

The case concerned Ms Sabalić’s allegation that the authorities’ response to a violent homophobic attack against her had been inadequate. She had been attacked in a nightclub when she had refused a man’s advances, disclosing to him that she was a lesbian. On 14 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that there had been a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3, ‘the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment’ in conjunction with Article 14, ‘the prohibition of discrimination.’ The court found that the minor-offence proceedings against the applicant’s aggressor had not addressed the hate-crime element of the offence and had resulted in a derisory fine. Those shortcomings had amounted to a fundamental defect in the proceedings. It would therefore have been justified for the authorities to terminate or annul the minor-offence proceedings and to reexamine the case, instead of them rejecting the applicant’s criminal complaint on grounds of double jeopardy.

The case concerned Ms Sabalić’s allegation that the authorities’ response to a violent homophobic attack against her had been inadequate. She had been attacked in a nightclub when she had refused a man’s advances, disclosing to him that she was a lesbian. On 14 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that there had been a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3, ‘the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment’ in conjunction with Article 14, ‘the prohibition of discrimination.’ The court found that the minor-offence proceedings against the applicant’s aggressor had not addressed the hate-crime element of the offence and had resulted in a derisory fine. Those shortcomings had amounted to a fundamental defect in the proceedings. It would therefore have been justified for the authorities to terminate or annul the minor-offence proceedings and to reexamine the case, instead of them rejecting the applicant’s criminal complaint on grounds of double jeopardy.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6904894-9271515


ECtHR: Violation to the right to a speedy decision found in E.K. v. Greece

The case concerned the applicant’s conditions of detention in the Soufli and Feres border posts, the Attika Sub-Directorate for Aliens (Petrou Ralli), and the Amygdaleza Detention Centre, along with the lawfulness of his detention, and whether the review of the lawfulness of that detention had been effective. On 14 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that there had been no violation of the prohibition of Article 3 ‘torture and inhuman or degrading treatment’ nor  a violation of Article 5 section 1, ‘the right to liberty and security.’ The court found only a violation of Article 5 section 4 ‘the right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention.’ The Court found the applicant’s conditions of detention had not been contrary to the Convention and the applicant’s detention had not been arbitrary and had been “lawful”. The Court noted, however that the applicant had not benefited from a sufficiently thorough assessment of the lawfulness of his detention.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6904902-9271533


CJEU: Clarification on return decisions for unaccompanied minors

The case TQ v Staatssecretaris van Justitie en Veiligheid concerned an unaccompanied minor who was 15 years old when he applied for a fixed-term residence permit in the Netherlands based on grounds of asylum. TQ claimed to have been the victim of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in which he now suffers from serious psychological problems. The Netherlands legislation draws a distinction based on the age of the unaccompanied minor. In regards to minors under the age of 15, an investigation as to whether there are adequate reception facilities in the State of return is carried out before a decision on that application is adopted, with those minors being granted an ordinary residence permit if no such reception facilities are found. For minors aged 15 years or more, such an investigation is not carried out, with the Netherlands authorities appearing to wait until the minors in question reach the age of 18 in order subsequently to implement the return decision. It is in that context that the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) was referred to the question on whether the distinction drawn by the Netherlands legislation is compatible with EU law. On 14 January, the Court held that before issuing a return decision in respect of an unaccompanied minor, a Member State must take into account the best interest of the child at all stages of the procedure. It follows that, if reception facilities are not available in the State of return, the minor concerned cannot be the subject of a return decision. Moreover, if the return is no longer guaranteed, the Member State concerned would not be able to enforce the return decision.

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-01/cp210005en.pdf


ECtHR: Ukraine v. Russia case concerning Crimea partly admissible with patterns of human rights violations

On 14 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) declared the application partly admissible. The decision will be followed by a judgment at a later date. The Court found that the facts complained of by the Ukrainian Government fell within the “jurisdiction” of Russia on the basis of effective control that it exercised over Crimea. It took into account in particular the size and strength of the increased Russian military presence in Crimea from January to March 2014 without the Ukrainian authorities’ consent or any evidence to prove that there was a threat to Russian troops stationed there under the relevant Bilateral Agreements between them. It also found the Ukrainian Government’s account coherent and consistent throughout the proceedings before it. They had provided detailed and specific information backed up by sufficient evidence to prove that the Russian troops had not been passive bystanders, but had been actively involved in the alleged events.  

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-6904972-9271650


ECtHR: The right to respect private and family life violated in Vig v. Hungary

In January 2013, the National Police Commissioner ordered “enhanced checks” be carried out in Hungary in order to “to operate a screening network preventing illegal migration.” As part of this, checks were carried out at a community centre in Budapest where the applicant was attending a festival. The police checked the applicant’s identity, asked him to go outside where he was subsequently searched, before being allowed to leave. The applicant lodged a constitutional complaint in May of 2013, which was rejected as time barred. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found on 14 January that the legislature failed to provide any real restrictions or checks on the executive’s issuing of authorization for “enhanced check” and declared the complaint under Article 8 of the Convention admissible, holding that there had been a violation.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-207362


INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

UNSC: US wants to recognise Yemen’s Houthis as a Terrorist Organization

On 10 January, the US government decided to designate Ansar Allah, known as the Houthi rebel group in Yemen, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under domestic law. On 14 January, senior UN officials expressed concern over the potential impacts of such a decision. The head of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, said that the WFP is struggling now without the designation and after the designation, it would be catastrophic. “It literally is going to be a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people in Yemen,” he said. He also called for Gulf States “to pick up the humanitarian financial tab for this problem in Yemen”. Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Some 16 million people will go hungry this year, and 50 thousand are already starving to death, amid a shortfall in aid. Preventing a massive famine is the most urgent priority.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1081822

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1082082


EU: Declaration on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

On 11 January, the High Representative of the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on the behalf of the EU, reiterated its strong commitment to and continued support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), which is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and achievement of multilateral diplomacy. The EU expressed concerns on the initiation of uranium enrichment to up to 20% by Iran at the underground Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, which was confirmed by the IAEA on 4 January. The EU urged Iran to refrain from further escalation and reverse this course of action without delay. The EE also welcomed President-elect Biden’s positive statements on the JCPoA and looks forward to working with the incoming US-Administration.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/01/11/iran-declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-joint-comprehensive-plan-of-action-jcpoa-following-latest-iranian-activities/


EU: Extension of the mandate of EU civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Mali

On 11 January, the Council of the EU decided to extend the mandate of the EU civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Mali until 31 January 2023 and has allocated it a budget of over €89 million, from 15 January 2021 to 31 January 2023. The Council has also decided to adjust the mission’s mandate to enhance its ability to assist and advise the Malian internal security forces by supporting a gradual redeployment of Mali’s civilian administrative authorities to the centre of Mali. EUCAP Sahel Mali is the EU civilian mission based in Bamako. It was launched on 15 January 2015 following an official invitation by the Malian government to assist the internal security forces with reasserting the government’s authority over the whole of the country in the wake of the ‘Northern Mali Crisis’, which left large parts of the country under the control of various factions.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/01/11/eucap-sahel-mali-mission-extended-until-31-january-2023-and-mandate-adjusted/


OSCE: Elections in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

On 11 January, the OSCE international observers to the Kyrgyzstan presidential election reported that despite a large number of candidates and initiatives to improve the election process, the integrity of Kyrgyzstan’s early presidential election was weakened by a major imbalance in the outreach and visibility of the candidates as well as allegations of misuse of public resources.

On the same day the OSCE observers also reported about parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan. They reported that despite the effective preparations an uncompetitive campaign and systemic de facto limitations on fundamental freedoms were observed. OSCE addressed numerous long-standing recommendations on issues ranging from fundamental freedoms through eligibility to vote and stand for elections, voter registration, and the publication of election results.

https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/475559https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/475544


UNSC: Elections in the Western Africa Region

ON 11 January, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) briefed UNSC on several elections that have taken place in the region in recent months. According to the statement the elections in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger were peaceful and non-violent. On the contrary, he noted that there was an unacceptable level of violence in Guinea but that the polls overall went well. In the Gambia ongoing efforts to promote dialogue among political parties towards constitutional reform were noted, and he lauded discussions in Côte d’Ivoire to rebuild national cohesion despite electoral turmoil. During the briefing, the UN envoy noted that the region faces a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted significant progress in focusing on youth and women in the region concerning education.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1081812


UNSC: Statement by the President of the Security Council on terrorism

On 12 January 2021, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the topic entitled “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”, the President of the UNSC issued a statement on behalf of the Council. The UNSC reaffirmed that terrorism in all forms and manifestations continues to constitute one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable. The Council also emphasized that the threat of terrorism is continuing, affecting the Member States across the world and stressed that the Member States have the primary responsibility in countering terrorist acts and violent extremism conducive to terrorism. The Council underscored the importance of a whole of government and whole of society approach and stressed the importance of cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, particularly civil society, in countering terrorism.

https://undocs.org/S/PRST/2021/1


UNSC: Situation in Mali

On 13 January, Special Representative and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said the country is in a 18-month transition period, leading to presidential and legislative elections. He said that several missions and meetings had taken place in Bamako since the August coup and described consultations between the Government and the signatories of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation as “encouraging”.

On 14 January, it was reported that four UN peacekeepers were killed and five others wounded in an attack by unidentified armed elements in the vast Timbuktu region. UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the actions and emphasized that “attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime.” The MINUSMA was established in 2013 after terrorist groups took control of major towns in the North of the country, the year before. Since then, the security situation in Mali has improved owing to efforts of the UN Mission, national security forces and international partners. However, attacks against civilians and peacekeepers continues, and MINUSMA remains the most dangerous UN operation in the world.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1082002

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1082062


UN: Attacks in the CAR

On 13 January, after the presidential and legislative election in the Central African Republic (CAR) in late December, further attacks near the capital, Bangui  were carried out by unidentified armed combatants. As a result, two MINUSCA peacekeepers died and another wounded. The UN Secretary-General recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and called for action to ensure accountability for “heinous attacks”. On 15 January, UNHCR reported that since 27 December nearly 60 thousand people have been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. The CAR is struggling with violence and attacks since late December which resulted in overall refugees of 120 thousand people.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1082022

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1082192


OSCE: Sweden presented its priorities in 2021

On 14 January, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ann Linde addressed Sweden´s priorities in 2021. She highlighted that multilateral co-operation is the best way to address the common challenge. She noted that political and economic security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and equality are interrelated and interconnected. She stressed a high priority in conflict resolution efforts in the region noting the ongoing conflicts and crises in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Belarus. She also raised the strong and unique joint commitment within the OSCE to the participation of civil society and strengthening of gender equality.

https://www.osce.org/chairmanship/475769

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