Weekly News Recap (5-11 Apr 2021)




IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of a Member of the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration in Cuba Extended

On 5 April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 30/2021, which extended the precautionary measures in favor of Esber Rafael Ramírez Argota, a member of the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration (CIR), after considering that he is in a serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to his rights to life and integrity in Cuba. Previously, the IACHR had granted precautionary measures to other members of the CIR. The Commission observed that the alleged facts are framed in a particular context that the country is going through, with special hostility towards members of the CIR, which was reflected in the actions of State agents, who carried out the alleged facts in detriment of the proposed beneficiary. In this regard, special appreciation was given to the fact that Esber Ramírez was detained without his whereabouts being known for approximately three days, the wife having been informed that “he would be detained indefinitely under the investigation process” but without specifying the place of detention. Information was requested from the State, which did not send its response.


IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of a Journalist in Nicaragua

On 5 April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 31/2021, by which it was decided to extend precautionary measures in favor of Javier Iván Olivares, after considering that he is in a serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to his rights to life and integrity in Nicaragua. The Commission identified that the specific situation of Javier Iván Olivares, is inserted in the general repressive context of freedom of expression in the country that has been identified by the IACHR. In this regard, threats, harassment or surveillance by persons identified as police continued, which have extended to their families. The IACHR understands that as independent journalists, they continue to be exposed to the risk factors previously assessed in the precautionary measures of 2018 and in the extension of 2020. In this context, the Commission warned that the beneficiary has received “warnings” related to his work as a journalist. Information was requested from the State, which has not responded to date.


Pakistan: Imprisonment for Terrorist Financing

As reported on 5 April, Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore sentenced on 3 April five leaders of the organization Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) to nine years in prison for terrorist financing. JuD was founded by Hafiz Said and is known as the political arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 dead. The UN listed LeT as a terrorist organization in May 2005. Saeed was designated a terrorist individual by the UN in December 2008 for his involvement with LeT and al Qaeda. Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Act of 1997 prohibits the financing of terrorism.



Russia: The Court Upheld the Verdict Handed Down to Oleksandr Marchenko

As reported on 6 April, Russia’s Third Court of Appeal upheld on 1 April the 10-year sentence handed down to Oleksandr Marchenko. Oleksandr Marchenko is a Ukrainian citizen who had his car stolen by militants in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and was eventually convicted of espionage in Russia. The court ignored the fact that he was severely tortured in the occupied Donbas before he was abducted to Russia. The court issued its decision and has not yet provided the reasons and assessment of the defense’s arguments. However, Yevgeny Smirnov, Marchenko’s lawyer, insists that espionage has not been proven. Smirnov has said that a cassation appeal will be lodged, however, in Smirnov’s view, the recognized political prisoner’s chances of justice before the case reaches the European Court of Human Rights do not look good.




STL: Decision in the Ayyash et al. Case on the Defence Counsel Standing to Appeal the Conviction

On 6 April, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) informed about the 29 March decision of the Appeals Chamber which concluded that the Defence Counsel representing convicted accused Salim Jameel Ayyash has no standing to appeal the Trial and Sentencing Judgments handed down by Trial Chamber I in Ayyash et al. case (STL-11-01). In a decision issued on 29 March 2021, the Appeals Chamber Judges reached this conclusion on the basis that the legal framework for in absentia proceedings at the STL does not contemplate a Defence appeal in absentia. Counsel for Mr Ayyash have not been appointed nor accepted by Mr Ayyash, who absconded and has not been found. An arrest warrant against Mr Ayyash is outstanding. The case concerns the attack on the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri by explosives on 14 February 2005 in Beirut.



ECtHR: Freedom of Expression Violation in a Case Concerning Fine for Blagoev Statue Santa Claus Protest

On 6 April, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment in the case of Handzhiyski v. Bulgaria. On 14 June 2013 demonstrations broke out around Bulgaria against the then new Government. The applicant was at that time chairman of the local branch of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, a political party which did not hold seats in Parliament and which supported the anti-government protests. The case concerned the applicant’s placing of a Santa Claus hat and a sack on the statue of Dimitar Blagoev in the main square of Blagoevgrad on Christmas Day as a form of political protest. He was convicted and fined for minor hooliganism. The Court found in particular that the applicant had engaged in protest and even satire, and had not damaged the statue. Although people may have been insulted, that fact had not been enough to justify the interference with his freedom of expression. The Court thus found that the interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression had not been necessary, leading to a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.


Jordan: Former Crown Prince Accused of Plotting Coup as 16 Suspects Are Arrested

On 6 April, former crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein was accused of conspiring with foreign parties to undermine the country’s security. The former crown prince was stripped of his title by the King, and the title was given to King Abdullah’s elder son, Hussein bin Abdullah II. Hamzah has denied the conspiracy allegations in a video and said, that he was under house arrest. Jordan authorities noted that 16 people had been arrested including a former Royal court head. According to sources, the suspects had been in contact with foreign entities and there was a plan to destabilise the Kingdom.



CEDAW: Human Rights Violations of an Activist in Libya

On 7 April, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) published its decision adopted on 18 February 2021 concerning Libya’s violations of the human rights of an activist working on women’s rights. Libya failed to investigate and prosecute her unlawful arrest and torture by a militia group affiliated with the government. On 9 August 2012, while participating in a workshop on women’s rights in the city of Benghazi, Ms. Abaida was forced to leave the meeting by several armed men. Later that day, she was arrested and taken away from her hotel room by an Islamist militia group, the Martyrs of 17 February Brigade. She was detained at different compounds run by the government and by the Martyrs of 17 February Brigade, which was at that time receiving money from Libya’s Defence Ministry to carry out law enforcement functions in southern and eastern Libya. It is the first decision adopted by CEDAW in response to an individual complaint brought against a country from the Middle East and North Africa region.



ECCC: Pre-Trial Chamber Issued Considerations on the Appeals Against the Co-Investigating Judges’ Closing Orders in Case 003

On 7 April, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) issued its Considerations on the Appeals against the Co-Investigating Judges’ Closing Orders in Case 003. On 28 November 2018, the International Co-Investigating Judge issued his Closing Order (Indictment) sending MEAS Muth for trial, while on the same day, the National Co-Investigating Judge issued his Order Dismissing the Case against MEAS Muth (Dismissal Order). After a review of the Case File, the Pre-Trial Chamber found the Appeals of the National and International Co-Prosecutors admissible while the Appeal of the Co-Lawyers for MEAS Muth was declared inadmissible. As a preliminary issue, the Pre-Trial Chamber considered that the Co-Investigating Judges’ simultaneous issuance of the two conflicting Closing Orders was illegal, in violation of the ECCC legal framework. The National Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber considered that the two Closing Orders of the Co-Investigating Judges possessed the same value and stood valid. The National Judges considered that both Co-Investigating Judges enjoyed equal status and that the Pre-Trial Chamber should not be allowed to find that one Co-Investigating Judge’s act prevailed. They opined that the two Closing Orders maintained the same value. Concerning the Appeal of the International Co-Prosecutor, the International Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber upheld two appeal grounds related to the National Co-Investigating Judge’s legal errors.

Concerning the validity of the Closing Orders, the International Judges clarified that, in case of unresolved discord between the Co-Investigating Judges on whether to issue an indictment or a dismissal order, the ECCC legal framework dictates that the indictment be issued as proposed. Accordingly, the Dismissal Order, in addition to being substantively null and void, constituted an attempt to defeat this default position and was thus issued ultra vires, while the Indictment remained substantively valid and in conformity with the applicable legal framework. After confirming that MEAS Muth was among the most responsible for the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, the International Judges concluded that the Trial Chamber shall be seised of the International Co-Investigating Judge’s Indictment.



USA: New York Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of a Lawsuit Against National Westminster Bank for Aiding a Terrorist Organization

On 7 April, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York upheld the dismissal of a civil lawsuit in the case of Weiss v. National Westminster Bank PLC which accused National Westminster Bank of aiding a terrorist organization linked to Hamas that carried out attacks in Israel. On appeal, plaintiffs contended principally that the district court misapplied the ruling of Linde v. Arab Bank and imposed unduly stringent standards requiring that the material support provided by the bank be traceable to the attacks on plaintiffs in order to hold the bank liable as a principal for the attacks. Plaintiffs also contended that in concluding that plaintiffs’ evidence of the bank’s violation of § 2339B was insufficient to permit an inference that the bank was generally aware that it was playing a role in terrorism by Hamas, as required to make the bank liable as an aider and abetter. In its decision, the Court refrained from lowering the high standards for holding financial institutions liable for helping to fund international terrorism.



KSC: Appeals Panel Assigned to Deal with Appeals on Preliminary Motions in Gucati and Haradinaj Case

On 8 April, following the 15 March appeals by Gucati and Haradinaj against the Pre-Trial Judge’s decision on their preliminary motions regarding, inter alia, alleged defects in the confirmed indictment, President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) Ekaterina Trendafilova assigned a Court of Appeals panel consisting of Judges Michèle Picard, Emilio Gatti and Kai Ambos to decide on the appeals. On 8 March 2021, the Pre-Trial Judge dismissed in their entirety the preliminary motions filed by Mr Gucati and Mr Haradinaj.


ECtHR: No Violation of the Convention in the Court’s First Ruling on Compulsory Childhood Vaccination

On 8 April, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held by a majority that that there had been no violation of the right to respect for private life. The case concerned a general legal duty to vaccinate children in the Czech Republic against nine diseases.  Parents who fail to comply, without good reason, can be fined and non-vaccinated children are not accepted in nursery schools (an exception is made for those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons). The Court established that, under its case-law, compulsory vaccination, as an involuntary medical intervention, represents an interference with physical integrity and thus concerns the right to respect for private life protected by Article 8 of the Convention. The Court noted that in the Czech Republic the vaccination duty was strongly supported by the relevant medical authorities and that with regard to immunization, the objective is that every child is protected against serious diseases. In consequence, the measures complained of by the applicants had been in a reasonable relationship of proportionality to the legitimate aims, the protection of people against diseases. The Court concluded that the impugned measures could be regarded as being necessary in a democratic society.



South Sudan: Abducted Women Released as More Remain Missing

On 5 April, fifty-eight women and children were released and reunited with their families as more remain missing, to date. UN Spokesperson stated that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has been working with agencies from the United States and the United Kingdom to broker peace deals that have led to the release of some of the abducted women and children. Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric noted that more than 600 women still remain missing after inter-community conflicts broke out last year. The abductions often involve sexual violence against women and the women are viewed as property- exchangeable with cattle as a bride price.


Mali: Political, Security and Humanitarian Situations Worsening

On 6 April, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of UN Peace Operations told the UN Security Council that the security situation in Northern and Central Mali is deteriorating greatly. The Mali Defence forces continue to suffer repeated and significant attacks and losses, and many towns are under constant threat of armed groups. Recently, heavily armed terrorists attacked a UN Stabilization mission camp in the Kidal region, killing four Chadian peacekeepers and wounding more than 30 others. The country is struggling to restore stability and rebuild after years of conflict between Government forces and rebels. The seizure of the northern region to radical extreme Islamists has also worsened the situation.


DRC: Country Facing Acute Hunger

On 6 April, data released by World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), found that over 27.3 million people, or 1 in 3 people are in acute food insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Conflict remains one of the main causes of hunger as it disrupts agriculture in the eastern provinces which is key in food security. Despite the end of DRC’s Civil war, militia violence continues to persist in the eastern borderlands of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. Peter Musoko, WFP’s DRC representative, notes that political stability is key to strengthening food security in vulnerable populations. Congolese civilians are forced to flee for their lives, and farmers are deprived of access to their farmlands.


Sudan: Fighting Breaks Out Leaving Dozens Dead in West Darfur

On 6 April, days of tribal clashes has left scores dead in Sudan’s West Darfur, as thousands flee their homes. UN Special Representative Volker Perthes, noted that 56 people have been killed and thousands more have been displaced from their homes. Clashes between Arab Tribes and Massalit communities have been ongoing since mid-January. To contain the escalating situation, the Security and Defence Council in Sudan declared a State of Emergency in the Western Darfur region. The UN official noted that the UN and its humanitarian partners are mobilising resources to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis.


Myanmar: Clashes Displace Thousands

On 7 April, the UN humanitarian office reported that the clashes between security forces and regional armed groups have killed at least 17 people and displaced many others. At least 7,100 civilians are now internally displaced within the two regions due to indiscriminate attacks by the armed forces and rebels. A medical clinic in Mon state township was destroyed by gunfire from the fighting. The political crisis across Myanmar continues to escalate, worsening the humanitarian situation. UN agencies have also reported sharp increases in fuel and food prices in many parts of the country due to market and supply chain disruptions.


Ethiopia: As Hostilities Continue in Tigray, the Humanitarian Situation Remains Dire

The humanitarian situation in Tigray, Ethiopia remains dire said, a spokesperson in UN Secretary-General Office on 7 April. While there is an increase in humanitarian access, hostilities are still continuing in the North-Western and Southern zones. Stéphane Dujarric noted that militias from Amhara region have joined the conflict with reports of some troops from Eritrea. While some humanitarian assistance is reaching conflict areas, some roads are partially inaccessible. The continuing conflict is exerting pressure on UN humanitarian partners who are grappling with resource and capacity challenges.


Nigeria: Attacks Against Security Formations

On 8 April, the Niger Delta Ethnic group, Ikwerre People Congress, expressed concerns over increased violence in old Eastern Nigeria. Government facilities, police, and civilians have been attacked and killed by unknown perpetrators. The group acknowledged government efforts to stabilise the region but noted that the efforts are shifting to perdition. They have accused the Nigerian government of interference with the autonomous regions in the Niger Delta. The attacks against civilians, police, and government institutions have disrupted development in the region as investors shy away from the volatile region.


UNSG: Statement on Inhumane Explosive Devices Crushing Lives and Ending Livelihoods

On 8 April, the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) António Guterres said that the presence of explosive devices and landmines in conflict zones has the potential to stall stability and hinder development. Speaking to the UN Security Council, Mr. Guterres noted that these devices are often left in the path of women walking to work and children on their way to school. The UN has made some advances in demining conflict zones between 2018-2020, with 560 square kilometres demined in Colombia, Iraq, Cambodia, and Afghanistan. That safe land is now free for markets, schools, agriculture, and infrastructure. Despite the progress made, however, conflict is becoming urbanized with many armed groups proliferating, increasing use of IEDs and complicating efforts to respond to these threats.


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