INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
- ECtHR: Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by the Court of Cassation of Armernia Accepted
- France: Claim for Agent Orange Damage in Vietnam War Rejected
- Australia: Ban on India Travel Upheld
- ECtHR: Denial of Surviving Allowance to Single Mother Deemed Discriminatory and Violative
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea of an Ineffective Investigation into a Child’s Death Deemed Non-Justifiable
- ECtHR: Inadequate Care Provided to Detainee’s Mental Health
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea Regarding the Right to Freedom of Expression Deemed Non-Justifiable
- ECtHR: Applicant Organisations’ Right to Freedom of Expression Infringed
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea Against Disenfranchisement Deemed Invalid
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea Against His Conviction Deemed Invalid
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Freedom of Movement and Travel Violated
- ECtHR: Applicants’ Deprivation of Liberty in Police Custody Deemed a Violation
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Arbitrary Detention and Exposure to Inhuman Treatment in Police Custody
- India: Failure to Provide the Second Dose of Covid-19 Vaccine Violates Right to Life
- IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Ovidio Jesús Poggioli Pérez in Venezuela
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
- UNSG, OHCHR & EU: Statements on Israel-Palestine Violence
- EU: Council Approved Conclusions on Security and Defence
- UNSC: Statement on Terrorist Attack in Kabul
- UNSC: UNITAD Presented Report on Genocide and War Crimes Committed in Iraq by the Islamic State
- UNHCHR: Statement on Myanmar, 100 Days after the Coup
- UNSC: Mandates of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia and of UNISFA Extended
- OHCHR & UNAMI: Freedom of Expression Increasingly Curtailed in Kurdistan
- UNSC: Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Updated the Council on Recent Developments
- UN: Secretary-General’s Visit in Moscow
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
ECtHR: Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by the Court of Cassation of Armenia Accepted
On 10 May, the Panel of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has accepted a request for an advisory opinion submitted by the Court of Cassation of Armenia on 11 March 2021. In its request, the Court of Cassation of Armenia has asked the European Court of Human Rights to provide an advisory opinion on whether the non-application of limitation periods for imposing criminal responsibility in respect of torture or equivalent criminal offences with reliance on sources of international law is compatible with Article 7 of the Convention, if domestic law does not require such non-application of those limitation periods. The advisory opinion requested by the Court of Cassation of Armenia relates to the execution of the Virabyan v. Armenia judgment delivered by the ECtHR in 2012, with the applicant’s “ill-treatment” in police custody in 2004 being qualified as “torture” by the Court. Following the judgment, a criminal case was instituted against two police officers in 2016 but dropped ten months later on the grounds that the limitation period had expired, in accordance with domestic law.
France: Claim for Agent Orange Damage in Vietnam War Rejected
On 10 May, a French court rejected a lawsuit by a French-Vietnamese woman against 14 companies that produced and sold a toxic herbicide dubbed “Agent Orange”, used by U.S. troops during the war in Vietnam. A 79-year-old Tran To Nga, who covered the conflict as a journalist and who claims was a victim of Agent Orange, wants to appeal the decision. The multinationals had argued they could not be held responsible for use the U.S. military made of their product. The court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to judge a case involving the U.S. government’s wartime actions. Vietnam says several million people have been affected by Agent Orange, including 150,000 children born with severe birth defects. The US compensates its veterans exposed to the defoliant but does not compensate Vietnamese nationals.
Australia: Ban on India Travel Upheld
On 10 May, Australia’s Federal Court rejected the first part of a challenge to the Australian government’s India travel ban. The ban on travel to and from India was introduced last week by Health Minister Greg Hunt in response to the developing COVID-19 crisis in the country. Any individual found guilty under the determination faces up to five years in jail, a $66,600 fine, or both. an Australian citizen trapped in India, applied to the Federal Court to have the ban overturned on the basis that it was unreasonable and overly restrictive on vulnerable Australians wishing to return home. While accepting that the ban marks the “first time such a determination has been used to prevent Australian citizens and permanent residents entering Australia,” Justice Thawley was unwilling to accept that the Health Minister acted outside the decisional freedom afforded to him. Thawley found that the advice of the Chief Medical Officer was appropriately considered and that limitations within the determination acted as sufficient safeguards.
ECtHR: Denial of Surviving Allowance to Single Mother Deemed Discriminatory and Violative
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against Bulgaria in the case of Yocheva and Ganeva v. Bulgaria. The first and the second applicants, Katerina Borislavova Yocheva and Katerina Nikolova Ganeva, are Bulgarian nationals born in 1974 and 1966 respectively, and live in Sofia. They are single mothers to minor children. This case concerns the denial of monthly family allowance payable to applicants under Section 7(9) of the Family Allowances for Children Act 2002, which allows for payments for families with one living parent. The applicants were refused access to the allowances as they had not shown that their children had been recognised by their fathers and that the latter had expired. The ECtHR observed that the authorities had not provided any reasonable or objective justification for excluding the first applicant’s family from receiving the benefits under the Act. It unanimously held that the first applicant had suffered discrimination under Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as the conditions for accessing payments were in breach of their rights, and that interpreting the phrase “with only one living parent” to mean “with one deceased parent” discriminated against their families, where one parent is unknown. Bulgaria was directed to pay pecuniary damage worth 3,915 euros (EUR), non-pecuniary damage worth EUR 4,500 and costs and expenses: EUR 2,160 to the first applicant. However, the court dismissed the second applicant’s complaints as having been lodged out of time (six months).
ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea of an Ineffective Investigation into a Child’s Death Deemed Non-Justifiable
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against the applicant in the case of Penati v. Italy. The applicant, Antonella Penati, is an Italian national who was born in 1963. She lives in San Donato Milanese. The case concerns the killing of the applicant’s son, who was eight years old at the time of the events, by his father during a “protected” contact session between father and son on public premises belonging to the municipal authority. The child was at that time in the care of the social welfare department, which was responsible for arranging the contact sessions, in a context of heightened conflict between the child’s parents. Relying on Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention, the applicant alleged that the national authorities had breached their positive obligation under that provision by omitting to take all the necessary measures to protect the life of her child. The ECtHR ruled that the authorities had carried out an effective criminal investigation, taking reasonable steps available to them to secure the evidence concerning the events and hence there has been no violation of Article 2. The court specifically observed that the materialisation of the risk had not been foreseeable in this case and that the responsibility of the social services employees had been confined to only ensuring the child’s proper development and had not extended to his physical safety.
ECtHR: Inadequate Care Provided to Detainee’s Mental Health
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against Romania in the case of Epure v. Romania. The applicant, Culiță Epure, is a Romanian national who was born in 1978 and lives in a specialised State institution providing care to disabled adults in Măicăneşti (Romania). The applicant suffers from epilepsy and has been diagnosed on several occasions with slight to moderate mental impairment. This case concerns the domestic authorities’ allegedly inadequate response to the applicant’s medical needs while in detention from 6 December 2016 to 16 June 2019, in particular having regard to the state of his mental health. He had been serving an eight-year sentence for rape from 2014. During this time, he had been held under a maximum-security regime in Focşani Galaţi and Giurgiu prisons. Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention, the applicant complained that the prison regime under which he had been placed was incompatible with his mental condition; that he had not received appropriate medical treatment for his mental disability; and that he had not been provided with a personal care assistant permanently, as required by his state of health. The ECtHR observed that in view of the applicant’s state of health and his disability, the national authorities failed to implement and provide a coherent and appropriate therapeutic strategy capable of responding adequately to the applicant’s medical needs during the specified period, thus subjecting him to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention. Romania was directed to pay the applicant non-pecuniary damage worth EUR 3,000.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea Regarding the Right to Freedom of Expression Deemed Non-Justifiable
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment and granted partial relief to the applicant in the case of Kilin v. Russia. The applicant, Roman Olegovich Kilin, is a Russian national, born in 1991 and lives in Kemerovo (Russia). The applicant was convicted for public calls to violence and ethnic discord on account of video and audio files involving neo-Nazis, racial epithets, people of apparently Caucasian descent, that had been made accessible via popular social network account (VKontakte). The applicant relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the Convention, alleged that his criminal conviction had been in violation of his rights and that his trial had been held in camera. The ECtHR while considering the racist nature of the material dissipated and the absence of any commentary on such content, upheld the domestic courts’ ruling that ‘the impugned material had incited ethnic discord and, foremost, the applicant’s clear intention of bringing about the commission of related acts of hatred or intolerance’. Hence, the court found that there has been no interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression (Art. 10). However, it also ruled that the applicant’s procedural rights had been violated as an appeal hearing in camera is not mandatorily required as a safety consideration.
ECtHR: Applicant Organisations’ Right to Freedom of Expression Infringed
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against Russia in the case of RID Novaya Gazeta and ZAO Novaya Gazeta v. Russia. The applicants, “Redaktsionno-Izdatelskiy dom ‘Novaya Gazeta’” and “Izdatelskiy dom ‘Novaya Gazeta’”, are Russian organisations. The first is a publisher and the second is a joint-stock company and was the founder of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. Since 2007, under the terms of a contract, the first applicant’s organisation, acts as the editorial board and publisher of Novaya Gazeta. The case pertains to an article referred to as “Gang, agency, party. Who are the ‘Legal Nationalists?’” published in the Novaya Gazeta in 2010 on the anniversary of the assassination of anti-fascists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova by alleged ultra-far-right individuals. The article focussed on, amongst many things, an organisation called Russkiy Obraz. On 31 March 2010, the Rozkomnadzor (a federal mass-media regulator) issued a caution for alleged dissipation of extremist information in relation to the above article, that was upheld by the courts. The applicants, relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention complained, that the caution procedure used against them under the anti-extremist legislation resulted in an unlawful and disproportionate interference with their right to freedom of expression (especially their freedom to impart the results of investigative journalistic work) and that they could not secure effective remedies in that regard. The ECtHR observed that the interference with the applicant organisations’ right to freedom of expression was not “necessary in a democratic society” and thus, there has been a violation of Article 10. The Court was also not satisfied that there was a convincing justification for the use of the anti-extremism caution in this case.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea Against Disenfranchisement Deemed Invalid
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against the applicant in the case of Caamaño Valle v. Spain. The applicant’s daughter (M.) suffers from an intellectual disability. As M. approached the age of 18, the applicant initiated a request for M. to be deprived of her legal capacity and that her legal custodianship over her disabled daughter be extended. When granting the request, the First-Instance Judge also decided that M.’s right to vote should be revoked. The applicant appealed unsuccessfully against the disenfranchisement of M. The ECtHR, while acknowledging the locus standi of the applicant, ruled that disenfranchisement of her disabled daughter (based on in-depth individualised assessments by the domestic courts) was justified, as only citizens capable of assessing the consequences of their decisions and of making conscious and judicious decisions should participate in public affairs.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Plea Against His Conviction Deemed Invalid
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment in the case of Halet v. Luxembourg, ruling that there had been no violation of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression. The applicant, Mr. Halet was employed by the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which provides auditing, tax advice and business management services. This case pertains to Mr Halet’s criminal conviction in the ‘Luxleaks’ case for disclosing tax documents concerning some of his employer’s clients, as the courts did not accept whistleblowing as justification for his actions. The ECtHR observed that the ‘domestic courts had struck a fair balance in the present case between the need to protect the rights of the applicant’s employer on the one hand and the need to protect the applicant’s freedom of expression on the other’. The court, in particular, upheld the fine imposed by the domestic courts as completely reasonable as well as a relatively mild penalty that would not have a real chilling effect on the exercise of the freedom of the person concerned or of other employees.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Freedom of Movement and Travel Violated
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against Ukraine in the case of Stetsov v. Ukraine. The applicant, Oleg Nikolayevich Stetsov, is a Ukrainian national, born in 1969 and resides in Dergachi (Ukraine). In 2008, Mr Stetsov had stood surety for a loan contract between a bank and a commercial company, which subsequently failed to reimburse the loan. The bank sued Mr Stetsov in order to recover the remaining debt and the late-payment penalties. In 2014, following a court of appeal’s ruling, Mr Stetsov was prohibited from leaving the country until he had fully paid off the debt. This case concerns the ban imposed on Mr Stetsov on account of his failure to reimburse a debt established by a judgment. According to domestic law at the material time, that prohibition could not be lifted until the full amount of the debt had been reimbursed. The ban had thus lasted for at least four years. The ECtHR observed Mr Stetsov had been subjected to measures which had been insufficiently justified and could not have been re-examined or reviewed until the deadline constituted by the date of full reimbursement. It further noted that the authorities had failed to honour the obligation to ensure that any interference with a person’s right to leave his country was justified and proportionate vis-à-vis the circumstances, right from the outset and for the duration of the interference. Thus, there had been a violation of Mr. Stetsov’s right to freedom of movement.
ECtHR: Applicants’ Deprivation of Liberty in Police Custody Deemed a Violation
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously issued a Chamber judgment against Russia in all the four cases of Sharkov v. Russia, Gorokh v. Russia, Petukhov v. Russia and Batrakov v. Russia. All the applicants are Russian nationals, who were born in 1969, 1962, 1987, 1990 respectively. The case concerns excessive use of force/ill treatment by police officers, lack of independent investigations into their complaints as well as the use of their confessional statements at their trials concerning individual offences. The ECtHR, while admitting all the four cases on the aforementioned grounds, carefully applied the standard of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and found that the factual basis behind recourse to physical force against the applicants was unclear and therefore, deemed unnecessary. It further condemned the actions of the domestic courts highlighting the failure in their obligation to conduct an effective investigation into the applicants’ credible allegations of violence at the hands of the police, thereby violating of Article 3 of the Convention under its substantive and procedural limbs. Russia has been directed to pay both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to the applicants.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Arbitrary Detention and Exposure to Inhuman Treatment in Police Custody
On 11 May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a Chamber judgment against Russia in the case of Sannikov v. Russia. The applicant is a Russian national, who was born in 1979 and lives in Kimry, the Tver Region. The application relates to the legitimacy of the applicant’s deprivation of liberty, his alleged ill-treatment by police, the lack of an effective investigation into his complaint and the use of his confession statements at his trial. The ECtHR reiterates that ‘any deprivation of liberty must not only have been effected in conformity with the substantive and procedural rules of national law but must equally be in keeping with the very purpose of Article 5 namely, to protect the individual from arbitrariness.’ In view of this observation, the court found applicant’s deprivation of liberty on suspicion of the crimes against a particular individual before his formal detention as a suspect, in that case, was significantly in excess of the statutory period prescribed by the domestic law and was therefore unlawful. Furthermore, the court by applying the standard of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ found that the factual basis behind recourse to physical force against the applicant was unclear and therefore, deemed unnecessary. It further condemned the actions of the domestic court, highlighting their failure in conducting an effective investigation into the applicant’s credible allegations of violence at the hands of the police, thereby violating of Article 3 of the Convention under its substantive and procedural limbs. Russia has been directed to pay both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to the applicant.
India: Failure to Provide the Second Dose of Covid-19 Vaccine Violates Right to Life
On 13 May, the High Court of Karnataka in India found that not providing a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine would amount to a violation of the right to life protected under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The court noted that there was a shortage of vaccine doses required for providing second dose for nearly 1.9 million people in India and raised concern over the authorities’ failure to abide by stipulated timelines for administering the second dose. The court observed that more than 0.8 million people will not get their second dose on the given day and held that there cannot be any distinction between the words “due” and “overdue” when it comes to administration of the second dose. As ruled by the court, it is an obligation of the Governments to ensure that the second dose is provided as per the existing timeline when the second dose is due. If not provided, it will be a violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Ovidio Jesús Poggioli Pérez in Venezuela
On 13 May, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 41/21, granting precautionary measures to Ovidio Jesús Poggioli Pérez, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, after considering that he is in a serious and urgent situation presenting a risk of irreparable harm to his rights. According to the request, the proposed beneficiary was deprived of liberty by state agents on 26 April 2021. He was reportedly accused of treason to the country and of instigating others to revolt. Therefore, a judge from a military court ordered his deprivation of liberty at the headquarters of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGECIM). However, due to lack of space, on 29 April he was transferred to the National Center for Prosecuted Military Members (CENAPROMIL). Subsequently, the beneficiary’s relatives and friends went to both detention centers and were informed that he was not housed in either facility, nor in the custody of the Prosecutor’s Office or the judge that presided the case. Therefore, his whereabouts are currently unknown according to the applicants. Consequently, the IACHR requested that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Poggioli Pérez.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
UNSG, OHCHR & EU: Statements on Israel-Palestine Violence
On 10 May, the spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Peter Stano released a statement following ‘[t]he significant upsurge in violence in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, as well as, in and around Gaza.’ According to the official, ‘[a]ll leaders have a responsibility to act against extremists [and]… further civilian casualties must be prevented as a priority.’ On 11 May, the EU High Representative Josef Borrell reaffirmed with a similar message; the ‘EU is dismayed at the large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries, including children […] [w]hile recognising Israel’s legitimate need to protect its civilian population, this response needs to be proportionate and with maximum restraint in the use of force […] [t]he EU calls for an immediate end to the ongoing violence. Everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which will, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides.’ The same day, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was ‘gravely concerned’; he called on Israeli security forces to ‘exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force.’ According to the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville ‘[t]he use of indiscriminate weapons […] is strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law and must stop immediately,’ he appealed to a ‘re-doubling of efforts to calm down the situation and avoid any further violence.’
EU: Council Approved Conclusions on Security and Defence
On 10 May, the Council of the European Union adopted a set of conclusions on Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The EU is working on increasing its capacity to act autonomously, promoting its values, peace and security, reinforcing its resilience and preparedness. In this regard, investments, enhancement of civilian and military capabilities, as well as cooperation with key regional and international partners and organisations will be fundamental pillars. In furthering the implementation of the EU Global Strategy, the development of ‘an ambitious and actionable Strategic Compass’ is expected. In doing so, ‘the fist-ever comprehensive 360-degree EU threat analysis’ delivered by the EU Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity, thanks to the inputs from Member States’ intelligence services, pushes to more regular and comprehensive mechanisms for strategic dialogue and information sharing. Among the many issues addressed, the Council stressed the importance of tackling environmental matters and climate change in close cooperation with relevant international partners such as the UN, NATO, OSCE and the African Union (AU).
UNSC: Statement on Terrorist Attack in Kabul
On 10 May, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) severely condemned the deadly terrorist attack which took place in Dasht-e-Barchi in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 8 May 2021. The death toll amounts to approximately 50 victims, as the attack struck in the proximity of a school, many of them were young girls and more than 150 civilians were injured. The frequency with which such events occur raises concerns, particularly, in consideration of the high number of attacks involving Afghan schools and other education facilities. The targeting of such facilities must be severely condemned because it impinges on the free enjoyment of the right to education whose realisation is, in turn, fundamental for the achievement of peace and security. While reiterating how ‘terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security’, the UNSC also called on States to cooperate with Afghan authorities to bring perpetrators to justice.
UNSC: UNITAD Presented Report on Genocide and War Crimes Committed in Iraq by the Islamic State
On 10 May, the Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD), Karim Asad Ahmad Khan presented UNITAD’s sixth report to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). According to independent criminal investigations carried out by UNITAD, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) committed genocide against Yazidi people due to their faith. In this sense, ISIL aimed at destroying physically and biologically this community; the atrocities conducted included executions, abduction and enslavement, and various forms of sexual violence. In another investigation concerning the 2014 attacks on Shia personnel from Tikrit Air Academy, UNITAD gathered enough evidence to label the facts that occurred as ‘war crimes of murder, torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity’; additionally, the release of a video recording of such abuses in 2015 ‘constitutes a direct and public incitement to commit genocide against Shia Muslims.’ Other inquiries concern the development and deployment of chemical and biological weapons and crimes committed against Christian, Kaka’i, Shabak, Shia Turkmen and Sunni communities in Iraq, as well as the massacre of predominantly Shia inmates at Badush prison.
UNHCHR: Statement on Myanmar, 100 Days after the Coup
On 11 May, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville released a press briefing on the situation in Myanmar. After more than 100 days since the military coup of February 2021, both the violent crackdown on opponents and civil society and civil movements and disobedience are underway. Recent data from reliable sources indicate that as of 10 May, the security forces have killed at least 782 people ‘using unnecessary, disproportionate and lethal force to suppress demonstrations and other forms of public participation,’ but this is not all. The authorities are committing other gross human rights violations including, ‘daily raids on private homes and offices,’ arbitrary detentions and violations of the right to a fair trial, establishment of Military tribunals and application of martial law with the imposition of the death penalty, targeting and reprisals against civil society, activists, trade unionists, journalists and academics. At this stage, the military leadership do not seem in compliance with the five-point plan agreed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 24 April. On 12 May, the Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Surya Deva and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews called on businesses and investors to act in compliance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, thus cutting economic and financial ties with the military junta as payments and financial flows ‘may aid the perpetration of widespread and systematic human rights violations.’
UNSC: Mandates of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia and of UNISFA Extended
On 11 May, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted resolution 2574 (2021) to extend and broaden in scope the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. As for now, the Verification Mission will continue its work until 31 October and will now include the verification of compliance with the sentences that will be issued by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace investigating ‘crimes committed during the 50-year conflict between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).’ On the same occasion, the UNSC extended until 15 November the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2575 (2021). Particularly, the UNSC urged Sudan, South Sudan, local authorities and communities to ensure the demilitarisation of the region and adequate cooperation to UNISFA. The support of the latter will be fundamental for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM).
OHCHR & UNAMI: Freedom of Expression Increasingly Curtailed in Kurdistan
On 12 May, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released a report on ‘Freedom of Expression in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.’ The report documented patterns of repression, threats, and intimidations against citizens exercising their ‘right to report on or criticize the actions of the public authorities.’ In turn, the consequences suffered – restrictions on movements, arbitrary arrests, charges for defamation or prosecutions under national security laws – generate chilling effects ‘on others seeking transparency and to hold public authorities to account.’ According to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and head of UNAMI, ‘[t]ransparency, accountability and openness to questioning is vital for any healthy democracy.’ The report, which contains a number of recommendations, has been shared in advance with both Federal and Regional authorities and ‘includes the response from the Kurdistan Government as an annex.’
UNSC: Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Updated the Council on Recent Developments
On 12 May, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths updated the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). According to his view, the ongoing Marib offensive risks compromising ‘Yemen’s broader stability, and social cohesion, possibly causing the conflict to spill into areas that have remained mercifully far from [the] fighting.’ During the last year, he has participated in several rounds of negotiations with the parties involved; a very much desirable nationwide ceasefire and the lift of import restrictions would provide significant humanitarian relief especially in Ansar Allah-controlled areas, where fuel and food supply shortages affect also the ordinary functioning of critical infrastructures such as hospitals. He believes that, at this point, ‘[a] deal [to stop the fighting, address critical humanitarian issues and resume the political process] is very much possible’, yet to achieve this result greater international support is needed. Afterward, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Mark Lowcock briefed the UNSC with the latest developments on the humanitarian situation in Yemen and states’ representatives took the floor.
UN: Secretary-General’s Visit in Moscow
On 13 May, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres went to Moscow following an invitation by the Russian Government. During his visit, the Secretary-General met senior officials and virtually President Vladimir Putin. As stated in the official readout of the meeting, the parties discussed ‘the importance of renewed commitment to multilateralism, solidarity and cooperation in order for the international community to address the unprecedented global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change’ and ‘a number of international and regional peace, security and humanitarian issues and the need to resolve conflicts through political dialogue, mutual respect and understanding.’ The Secretary-General, who has received an honorific doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, has thanked President Putin for the commitment and support of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and expressed his interest in deepening such cooperation in the three pillars of the UN’s agenda – Peace and Security, Sustainable Development, including Climate Change and Biodiversity, and Human Rights.