INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
- ICC: TFV Implements Full Assistance Programme to Victims in CAR
- ECtHR: Violation of the Freedom of Expression in a Case Concerning Displaying of Flags in Romania
- IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favour of Tsotsil Indigenous Families from Twelve Identified Communities in Mexico
- OHCHR: Call for Compliance with the Nigerian Federal High Court’s Decision to Release Mubarak Bala
- IACHR: Approval and Publication of Friendly Settlement Agreement Regarding Dixie Miguel Urbina Rosales of Honduras
- IACHR: Approval and Publication of Friendly Settlement Agreement Regarding Edgar José Sánchez Duarte and Family from Colombia
- IACHR: Approval and Publication of Friendly Settlement Agreement Regarding Ecar Fernando Zavala Valladares et al. of Honduras
- KSC: Applications of Hashim Thaci, Rexhep Selimi, Jackup Krasniqi and Kadri Veseli for Interim Release Dismissed
- ICJ: Conclusion of the Public Hearings on the Question of Reparations in the Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
- UNSC: Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Reported on Abyei Region
- UNSC: Unanimous Adoption of Resolution 2573 on Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population
- UNSC: Public Statement on South Sudan by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
- UNSC: Call for New Means of International Discussion about Violence in Syria
- Palestine: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People Asked UNSC for Action
- Kosovo: Prime Minister Met with NATO Secretary-General and EP Foreign Affairs Committee
- EU: EP Resolution on Russian Military Build-Up, Navalny Case and Solidarity with Czechia
- EU: Recommendations to Improve Partnership with India
- EU: EP Adopted Several Resolutions on the Human Rights Situation in Pakistan and Latin America
- EU: EEAS Spokesperson Commented on Unrest at the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Border
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
ICC: TFV Implements Full Assistance Programme to Victims in CAR
On 26 April, the International Criminal Court (ICC) informed that the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) full assistance programme is now underway in Central African Republic (CAR). The new assistance programme builds on the TFV’s pilot project which launched in September 2020 and which aims to help a group of pre-identified most vulnerable victims in Bangui. The full programme has a wider reach in terms of number of individuals who can benefit from the programme and the geographical areas it will cover. The assistance programme offers an integrated package of medical and psychological care, as well as socio-economic support including education, vocational training and income generating activities. A priority of this programme is supporting the vulnerable and marginalised survivors of sexual and gender-based crimes. The TFV’s implementing partners in CAR are the Mukwege Foundation, Médecins d’Afrique, Dan Church Aid (DCA) and national organisations Association des Femmes Juristes de Centrafrique (AFJC), and Le Comité Inter-africain sur les Pratiques Traditionnelles ayant effet sur la Santé des Femmes et des Enfants (CIAF/Centrafrique).
ECtHR: Violation of the Freedom of Expression in a Case Concerning Displaying of Flags in Romania
On 27 April, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment in the case of Tőkés v. Romania. Mr László Tőkés, a Romanian national belonging to the Hungarian minority group and an elected member of the European Parliament had displayed the flags of Szeklerland and the Partium territory on 18 June 2014 and December 2015 respectively, on the building housing his office in Oradea. The Romanian authorities imposed sanctions for using flags for advertising purposes without first obtaining temporary permits in accordance with relevant statutory provisions. The ECtHR ruled, by a majority, that the domestic courts had not provided relevant and sufficient reasons to justify the interference with Mr. Tőkés’s right to freedom of expression. Consequently, the court found that the ‘interference complained of, had not been necessary in a democratic society’ and thus violated Article 10. Romania was directed to pay Mr. Tőkés 2,112 euros in respect of costs and expenses.
IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favour of Tsotsil Indigenous Families from Twelve Identified Communities in Mexico
On 27 April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) informed about the adoption of Resolution 35/21 of 23 April, by which it granted precautionary measures in favour of the Tsotsil indigenous families residing in twelve identified communities across Aldama, Chiapas in Mexico, after considering that the situation meets prima facie the seriousness, urgency, and irreparability requirements mentioned in Article 25 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure. According to the request, the indigenous families in the Aldama communities were at high risk due to attacks, harassment and threats due to the presence of armed persons in the area which would have forced them to be displaced at various times, in the context of a territorial conflict in that area. The Commission acknowledged the actions taken by the State to address the alleged situation, however, it cautioned that armed attacks on the communities were persistent despite the existence of a Non-Aggression agreement and urged the state to guarantee the rights of the inhabitants in that area.
OHCHR: Call for Compliance with the Nigerian Federal High Court’s Decision to Release Mubarak Bala
As reported on 28 April, UN experts urged Nigerian authorities to enforce the decision of the Federal High Court to release Mr. Mubarak Bala, who was arbitrarily arrested on 28 April 2020 and continues to be detained in Kano State, without any formal charges following allegations of blasphemy. Mr. Bala has spearheaded several human rights education campaigns promoting freedom of religion and strived towards creating awareness on religious extremism. Despite the Federal High Court directing his release on 21 December 2020, the authorities have failed to comply with the Court’s order leading to serious threats to Mr. Bala’s security and his overall well-being in detention. The experts highlighted that such arrest and prolonged detention not only result in flagrant violation of fundamental rights, but also undermines the competence of the judicial system and further imparts a chilling message to the extremist groups that silencing and intimidation of human rights defenders is justifiable.
IACHR: Approval and Publication of Friendly Settlement Agreement Regarding Dixie Miguel Urbina Rosales of Honduras
On 28 April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) communicated its decision to approve and publish the Friendly Settlement Agreement signed on 17 March 2017 between the Honduran State and Miguel Antonio Urbina Ortega and the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), an organization that acts on behalf of the victims, thereby acknowledging the efforts of the Honduran State to build a public policy regarding friendly settlements and alternative conflict resolution. The agreement is the outcome of several negotiations following the case of forced disappearance of Dixie Miguel Urbina Rosales, who was allegedly arrested on 22 October 1995 by a patrol of the Public Security Force (FUSEP) and till date it had not been possible to find his whereabouts, nor have those responsible been identified, tried and punished. By signing this agreement, the Honduran state recognized its international responsibility for the violations of the rights to life, personal integrity and guarantees of judicial protection and further committed to implementing a range of reparation measures. The IACHR applauded the efforts made by all the parties throughout the process of negotiation and invited the State to continue using the friendly settlement mechanism to resolve other issues pending in the petition system and individual cases with respect to the country.
IACHR: Approval and Publication of Friendly Settlement Agreement Regarding Edgar José Sánchez Duarte and Family from Colombia
On 29 April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported its decision to approve and publish the Friendly Settlement Agreement, signed on 9 December 2020 between the representatives of Edgar José Sánchez Duarte and family, and the Colombian State, after admitting the petition on grounds of alleged human rights violations under the American Convention on Human Rights. The agreement is the outcome of several negotiations following the case of extrajudicial execution of Edgar Sánchez Duarte by members of the former Anti-kidnapping and Extortion Unit (UNASE) in Cesar, and the lack of investigations and punishments for those responsible for the events. By signing this agreement, the Colombian state recognized its international responsibility for human rights violations of the right to life, integrity and personal liberty, lack of guarantees, and judicial protection and further committed to provide medical and psychological support and financial assistance amongst many others. While applauding the efforts made by all the parties throughout the process of negotiation, the IACHR noted that the measures related to medical and psychosocial care had not yet begun its execution and therefore, the agreement could only be approved with a partial level of compliance.
IACHR: Approval and Publication of Friendly Settlement Agreement Regarding Ecar Fernando Zavala Valladares et al. of Honduras
On 30 April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) communicated its decision to approve and publish the Friendly Settlement Agreement signed on 12 June 2019 between the Honduran State and Hugo Ramón Maldonado on behalf of the CODEH organization; Leonel Casco Gutiérrez, representing the organization APRODEH and Fredy Omar Madrid; who act on behalf of the victims, thus acknowledging the efforts of the Honduran State to achieve full compliance with its obligations outlined in the agreement. The agreement is the outcome of several negotiations in the case concerning massive and unjustified dismissal of National Police personnel as a result of a decree published in the official gazette.
By signing this agreement, the Honduran state recognized its international responsibility for the violations of rights to judicial guarantees and judicial protection and further committed to implementing a range of economic reparation measures. The IACHR highlighted the efforts made by all the parties throughout the process of negotiation and also congratulated them for their willingness to advance the alternative resolution of cases.
KSC: Applications of Hashim Thaci, Rexhep Selimi, Jackup Krasniqi and Kadri Veseli for Interim Release Dismissed
On 30 April, the Court of Appeals of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) dismissed the appeals challenging the decisions on Hashim Thaci, Rexhep Selimi, Jackup Krasniqi and Kadri Veseli’s applications for Interim release. The accused were arrested on 4-5 November 2020, pursuant to their individual arrest warrant issued by the Pre-Trial Judge following confirmation of an indictment against the accused. On 22 January 2021, the Judge rejected their application for interim release on the grounds that there were sufficient risks that the accused would abscond, obstruct the progress of Specialist Chambers’ proceedings or commit further crimes against those perceived as being opposed to the Kosovo Liberation Army, including (potential) witnesses. The accused argued that the Pre-Trial Judge had applied an impermissibly low general threshold under relevant statutory provisions to justify their continued detention, which according to them violated Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights. They further submitted that the Pre-Trial Judge erred in refusing to consider relevant mitigating factor with regards to the potential length of the pre-trial phase while assessing the proportionality of their interim detention, which is mandatory according to the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Court of Appeals dismissed each of the Accused’s arguments and the appeal, while emphasising that specific reasoning and concrete grounds had been relied upon by the Pre-trial Judge in his decision authorising detention on remand.
ICJ: Conclusion of the Public Hearings on the Question of Reparations in the Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo
On 30 April, public hearings on the question of reparations in the case concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) concluded at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Court will now begin its deliberation. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) requests the Court to adjudge and declare, among others, that Uganda is required to pay the DRC in compensation for the damage resulting from the violations of international law found by the Court in its Judgment of 19 December 2005. Uganda requests that the DRC is entitled to reparation in the form of compensation only to the extent it has discharged the burden the Court placed on it in paragraph 260 of the 2005 Judgment ‘to demonstrate and prove the exact injury that was suffered as a result of specific actions of Uganda constituting internationally wrongful acts for which it is responsible’.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
UNSC: Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Reported on Abyei Region
On 26 April, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix reported to the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) on the relations between Sudan and South Sudan concerning the Abyei region. In October 2020, the Government of Sudan hosted the Joint Political and Security Mechanism to implement, among other measures, joint military observer teams and border-related measures. According to the official who presented the latest report to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), modest progress towards the implementation of the seven benchmarks set out in the Security Council resolution 2550 (2020) has been reached. UNISFA, established through Security Council resolution 1990 (2011), has continued to engage with local stakeholders to discuss ways to advance the peace process despite logistical constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga stressed that whilst the work of the UN switched to online activities due to the pandemic, the situation in Abyei is affecting real people, and listed a series of issues affecting the relations between the two countries. Afterwards, several States’ representatives took the floor.
UNSC: Unanimous Adoption of Resolution 2573 on Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population
On 27 April, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted resolution 2573 (2021) for the “Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population.” The resolution condemns acts that, in the context of armed conflicts, threaten or harm civilian populations and essential infrastructure. A strong condemnation of such practices, which constitute violations of international humanitarian law is particularly relevant in the context of the pandemic due to the crucial importance of already overwhelmed healthcare facilities for the survival of civilians. The maintenance of good infrastructural connections is also essential for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid including food, medicines, and COVID-19 vaccines in conflict zones. In recent years, attacks on critical infrastructures have exacerbated the suffering of people in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Syria. In this regard, the Council condemned starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, which may constitute a war crime. According to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UNSC should take further action in five key areas. Calling upon the Council to take action, he highlighted: ensuring all parties better respect international humanitarian law; adopting an “avoidance policy” regarding the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas; ensuring that sanctions and counter-terrorism measures are in compliance with international humanitarian law; adopting policies that minimize the impact of military operations on the environment and dependent civilians; and adopting measures to ensure health care and interconnected services such as water, sanitation and electricity are protected to safeguard against public health risks.
UNSC: Public Statement on South Sudan by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
On 28 April, after the examination of the third report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in South Sudan, the Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict convened a message to all parties to armed conflict in South Sudan and to community and religious leaders. At a glance, the message condemned all violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in South Sudan; expressing grave concern at the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children; urging all parties to the conflict to immediately end and prevent all abuses and violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, abduction, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law. The message also touched upon a number of issues including attacks on schools and hospitals, the recruitment of children by armed forces, the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence, denial of humanitarian access, and called for accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, stressing that all perpetrators of such acts must be swiftly brought to justice and held accountable without undue delay, including through timely and systematic investigation, and, as appropriate, prosecution and conviction.
UNSC: Call for New Means of International Discussion about Violence in Syria
On 28 April, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, while providing an overview to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the Secretary-General‘s latest report, raised concerns about an escalation of violence including the recent airstrike by Israel and attacks by ISIS which are warming up the hostilities in Syria. He pointed out a number of priorities such as the effective implementation of a nationwide ceasefire pursuant to resolution 2254 (2015) and the eradication of listed terrorist groups. The destitution faced by the population after a decade of conflict, corruption and mismanagement, war economies, Lebanon’s financial collapse, the pandemic, sanctions and fuel shortages are just some of the main critical issues highlighted by the Special Envoy. According to him, the way forward should include progress towards the restoration of the country’s social fabric through advances concerning ‘the releases of detainees and abductees and meaningful actions on missing persons.’ The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, pointed out the current scarcity of adequate equipment and infrastructures to face the increasingly high numbers of COVID-19 infections. At this stage, the Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility will cover approximately 20% of the population. He noted that ‘[a]lthough not nearly enough, it is a vital first step in protecting medical workers and those most vulnerable.’ With regard to sanctions, the United States and the European Union should be more cautious in ensuring that their actions do not hinder the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Syria. In the debate which followed, several States’ representatives took the floor.
Palestine: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People Asked UNSC for Action
On 28 April, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People sent a letter to the President of the UN Security Council (UNSC) Dinh Quy Dang calling the UNSC to guarantee the absence of Israel’s interference in the preparation and holding of Palestinian elections. The content of the letter, as reflected by the words of the Committee Chair Cheikh Niang, stressed that ‘the Palestinian people are avid to take charge of their own destiny and participate in the elections throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem, as reflected in the advanced preparations by the Palestinian Elections Commission and the high number of registered eligible voters, including women and youth.’ In the opinion of the Committee, ‘democratic elections are a crucial factor for the full realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and for a just solution to the question of Palestine based on relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and agreed parameters that ensure the realization of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, along the pre-1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State.’
Similar reflections were shared on 30 April by the European Union High Representative Josep Borrell. The EU believes that ‘strong, inclusive, accountable and functioning democratic Palestinian institutions based on respect for the rule of law and human rights are vital for the Palestinian people, for democratic legitimacy and, ultimately, for the two-state solution.’
Kosovo: Prime Minister Met with NATO Secretary-General and EP Foreign Affairs Committee
On 29 April, one month since the formation of Kosovo’s new government, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gervalla-Schwarz met with the European Parliament (EP) Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). The topics discussed during the meeting encompassed Kosovo’s European integration process, the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the Kosovo-Serbia relations. During his visit to Brussels, Albin Kurti also met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ‘for an exchange of views on the latest developments in the Western Balkans.’ The Secretary-General stressed NATO’s support for the EU-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and he emphasised NATO’s commitment to the stabilisation of the situation in Kosovo through the KFOR mission which is part of the UNSC resolution 1244 (1999), aimed at providing ‘a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.’
EU: EP Resolution on Russian Military Build-Up, Navalny Case and Solidarity with Czechia
On 29 April, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution by which it stressed deep concerns generated by the military build-up of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border. Parliamentarians agreed that in case of an invasion by Russia ‘the consequences for such a violation of international law and norms would be severe’ as ‘[s]uch a scenario must result in an immediate halt to EU imports of oil and gas from Russia, the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT payment system and the freezing of assets and cancellation of visas for Europe of all oligarchs tied to the Russian authorities.’ On the same occasion, the EP expressed ‘deep solidarity’ with the Czech Republic after revelations showed the involvement of Russian intelligence services in the 2014 explosion of a weapons facility in Vrbětice, which caused the death of two civilians. Also, the EP called for the ‘immediate and unconditional release of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’ stating that politically motivated charges constitute a violation of fundamental rights and Russian authorities bear positive obligations with regard to Navalny’s health, bodily and mental integrity.
EU: Recommendations to Improve Partnership with India
On 29 April, in view of an upcoming high-level bilateral meeting between the EU and India, the European Parliament (EP) has adopted a report with several recommendations to improve the countries’ partnership. In the words of the rapporteur Alviina Alametsä (The Greens/EFA, Finland) ‘India and the EU, as the world’s largest democracies, have all the possibilities to build a better planet.‘ She noted that ‘to fulfil our potential, we need to be more ambitious in our cooperation on preventing climate crises, promoting human rights, building connectivity, sustainable trade and defending a multilateral international order‘, adding that ‘[w]ith this report, we seek to advance a stronger commitment to our mutual values and to a strategic partnership that will benefit Europe, India and the world beyond.’ However, during the discussion concerns of the human rights situation in India emerged, as well as the need to strengthen international peace and stability in the region.
Meanwhile, the dire COVID-19 situation in India grows worse. On 1 May, the Country hit yet another daily global record with 401,993 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to more than 19.1 million with 3,523 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the overall fatalities to 211,853 according to the health ministry. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.
EU: EP Adopted Several Resolutions on the Human Rights Situation in Pakistan and Latin America
On 30 April, the European Parliament (EP) adopted three resolutions assessing the human rights situation in Pakistan and Bolivia, and the COVID-19 situation in Latin America. As the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting hard on the Latin American continent in terms of lives, economic and social costs, EU Parliamentarians call on European and Latin American governments to strengthen bi-regional cooperation and foster preparedness, access to healthcare and vaccines. Effective solidarity can be shown through the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and by improving the capacities of the COVAX initiative.
With regard to Pakistan, the EP condemned the ongoing detention based on flawed evidence of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, a Pakistani couple sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2014. In the opinion of the EP, ‘controversial blasphemy laws […] incite harassment, violence and murder against those being accused.’ The EP called for the immediate release of the couple and for overturning their death sentences. On the same occasion, the EP condemned the arbitrary detention of former Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez. She and other members of the 2019-2020 interim government were detained on charges of ‘terrorism, sedition and conspiracy, and are accused by prosecutors of taking part in a coup in 2019. The EP asked for their immediate release as they complied with their duties under the Bolivian constitution when taking posts within the interim government.
EU: EEAS Spokesperson Commented on Unrest at the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Border
On 30 April, the Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the European External Action Service (EEAS) Peter Stano released a statement after recent clashes at the border between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. Following ‘numerous casualties’, an agreement on a ceasefire has been reached. The EU through its representatives and delegations has been engaged in diplomatic contacts with the parties involved. The Lead Spokesperson stated that whilst the Union is willing to support the stability in Central Asia through regional programs and technical assistance, both sides need to undertake all the necessary steps to avoid any conflict in the future.