Weekly News Recap (14-20 June 2021)

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

Myanmar: Trial against Aung San Suu Kyi Commenced

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader, appeared in court on 14 June for the start of trial expected to last for weeks. The trial is being conducted behind closed doors. Information on the trial can thus, only be obtained through Suu Kyi’s legal counsel or the state media. The trial comes after more than four months after the country’s military seized power in a coup. The court in the capital of Naypyidaw addressed charges, including that Suu Kyi violated a communications law by allegedly importing and using a number of walkie-talkie radios, and violated coronavirus restrictions during election campaigning last year. However, the most serious charges against her, of corruption and violations of the State Secrets Act have yet to be assigned a trial date. Critics have called this a “sham trial”, with Human Rights Watch calling them “bogus and politically motivated.” The UN Deputy Spokesperson reiterated the UN’s position for her and all of the senior members of her administration to be freed, as well as the Secretary General’s calls for a reversal of the February coup and the restoration of the legitimate government of Myanmar.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/14/asia/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-trial-intl-hnk/index.html

https://apnews.com/article/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-trial-e44a208c40440242e062c57be6f8362a

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/db210614.doc.htm


ECCC: Decision on Succession Request to Continue Civil Party Action

On 14 June, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979 (ECCC) held that Mean Eng is the successor to Chhun Saman’s Civil Party claim.

https://www.eccc.gov.kh/sites/default/files/documents/courtdoc/%5Bdate-in-tz%5D/F57_1_EN.pdf


USA: Supreme Court Refused to Move California Suit against Oil Companies to Federal Court

On 14 June, the US Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal by a group of oil companies challenging a California state court ruling permitting two California cities to sue for damages related to climate change, meaning the case would be heard in the state court. The cities of Oakland and San Francisco claimed that fossil fuel giants BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips created a public nuisance through their contributions to climate change, which caused flooding, shoreline erosion and saltwater damage to city infrastructure. By rejecting this case, the Supreme Court refused to create a new category to open doors for state suits to be heard in federal court.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/061421zor_6j36.pdf

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/06/us-supreme-court-refuses-to-move-california-suit-against-oil-companies-to-federal-court/


ECtHR: Judgement Concerning a Dismissal of a Public-Sector Employee for Having “Liked” Facebook Posts

On 15 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of Melike v. Turkey held that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the dismissal of Ms Melike, a contractual employee at the Ministry of National Education, for having clicked “Like” on various Facebook articles (posted on the social networking site by a third party). The authorities considered that the posts in question were likely to disturb the peace and tranquility of the workplace, on the grounds that they alleged that teachers had committed rapes, contained accusations against political leaders and related to political parties. The ECtHR reiterated that there was little scope under Article 10 § 2 of the Convention for restrictions on freedom of expression in two areas: political speech and matters of public interest and held that Turkey was to pay Ms Melike 2,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7050322-9520940


ECtHR: Judgement Concerning a Criminal Conviction of a Student on Account of his Comments about Erdogan

On 15 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on the case of Ömür Çağdaş Ersoy v. Turkey. The case concerned the criminal conviction of a student (Mr Ersoy) of the ODTÜ (Ortadoğu Teknik Üniversitesi) who was charged with insulting a public official on account of his functions. The authorities had accused Mr Ersoy on the basis of statements he had made about the then Prime Minister (Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) in a speech given in front of the Ankara Law Courts on 22 December 2012, during a rally in support of students who had been placed in police custody on 18 December 2012 in the ODTÜ university campus for having protested against a visit by the Prime Minister. The Court held that there was a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as there were the restrictions on political speech or on debates on questions of public interest. It also pointed out that the limits of acceptable criticism were wider with regard to a politician, in that capacity, than with regard to a private individual. The Court held that Turkey was to pay Mr Ersoy 2,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7050339-9520960


CJEU: Case Concerning Cross-border Processing of Data

On 15 June, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a Judgment in Case of Facebook Ireland and Others (C-645/19). The President of the Belgian Privacy Commission brought an action against Facebook Ireland, Facebook Inc. and Facebook Belgium, aiming to put an end to alleged infringements of data protection laws by Facebook. The Court held that under certain conditions, a national supervisory authority might exercise its power to bring any alleged infringement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before a court of a Member State, even though that authority is not the lead supervisory authority with regard to that processing.

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-06/cp210103en.pdf


ECtHR: Case Concerning Return to the Conflict Zone of Ukraine

On 15 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on the case of Y.S. and O.S. v. Russia (no. 17665/17). The case concerns a court order for O.S. to be returned to live with her father in Donetsk (Ukraine). The applicants, Y.S. and O.S., are both Russian and Ukrainian nationals who live in Nakhodka, Primorye Region (Russia). In 2001, the first applicant married a Ukrainian national, A.S., and settled in Donetsk. After the birth of O.S. in 2006, the marriage broke down and in 2011, Y.S. moved to Nakhodka (Russia). The second applicant remained in Donetsk (Ukraine). In 2014, civil unrest broke out in Eastern Ukraine. An illegal secessionist movement, the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, took control of Donetsk. The first applicant tried to have the second applicant moved to Russia, but was prevented from doing so by A.S. In January 2016, the mother went to Donetsk and took her daughter to Nakhodka. A.S. lodged an application before the Russian courts for the child’s return to Ukraine under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which was allowed by the Tsentralniy District Court of Khabarovsk and on appeal by the Khabarovsk Regional Court, despite the first applicant’s arguments concerning the risk to the second applicant if returned to a conflict zone. Relying on Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicants complained that the court judgment ordering the second applicant’s return to Donetsk interfered with their family life, and that if enforced, the second applicant would run the risk of physical harm in that State. The Court found that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7050293-9520899


ECtHR: Case Concerning Ill-treatment in Police Custody in Russia

On 15 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment in the case of Barovov v. Russia (no. 9183/09). The case concerns the alleged lack of an effective investigation into the applicant’s ill-treatment in police custody during questioning for allegedly handling a counterfeit banknote. The injuries suffered by the applicant included rupture of the spleen, internal bleeding, rib fractures, brain injury, concussion and severe bruising. After almost 12 years, a preliminary investigation and criminal proceedings by the authorities ended with the conviction of two police officers for having subjected the applicant to ill-treatment. However, they were exempted from serving their sentences under one applicable provision of the Criminal Code due to expiration of the ten-year statutory time-limit, and received suspended terms of imprisonment under another applicable provision of the Criminal Code. No disciplinary measures were taken against them. The Court found that there had been a violation of  Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights and awarded a compensation in amount of 11,943 EUR.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7050293-9520899


Germany: Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf Convicted an ISIS Member of Crimes against Humanity Committed against Yazidis

On 16 June 2021, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf convicted a German ISIS member of crimes against humanity. The 23-year-old German woman, who also holds Algerian nationality, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison. In 2013, Sarah O. travelled to Syria to join ISIS, like over 1000 others who left Germany to join ISIS’ ranks abroad. She married ‘Ismail S’, a German-Turkish national who is still wanted by German authorities. In 2015, the couple began to enslave Yazidi women and girls who had been kidnapped during ISIS’ genocidal campaign and sold to ISIS fighters. Over two years, they imprisoned seven Yazidi women, some of whom were resold to others. One 14-year-old girl died while in captivity. After more than 1,5 years and 92 trial days, the court found the defendant guilty of membership in a foreign terrorist organisation, assault, deprivation of liberty, aiding and abetting rape, enslavement and religious and gender-based persecution as crimes against humanity.

https://www.olg-duesseldorf.nrw.de/behoerde/presse/Presse_aktuell/20210616_PM_SarahOUrteil/index.php


USA: Federal Appeals Court Upheld Decision Striking Down North Carolina Abortion Restrictions

On 16 June, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to strike down North Carolina’s statewide abortion restrictions. For the past 140 years, North Carolina has criminalized the “procurement or administration of abortion as a felony.” In 1967, the state enacted an exception to the abortion ban that permitted abortions to be performed in the case of “medical emergencies,” which were narrowly defined by the exception. Following the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the State enacted a further exception to its abortion ban that permitted abortions performed before the twentieth week of pregnancy. This is not the first time federal courts have struck down North Carolina’s abortion laws. In 2014, a federal court blocked a 2011 law requiring abortion providers to show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman. 

https://oltem1bixlohb0d4busw018c-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/4th-circuit-opinion-nc-20-week.pdf

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/06/federal-appeals-court-upholds-decision-striking-down-north-carolina-abortion-restrictions/


Colombia: JEP Condemned the Attack against the Leader of the Victims in Huila and Asked the National Protection Unit to Adopt Urgent Measures for her Protection

On 16 June, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) condemned the attack against Derly Pastrana Yara, a recognized leader of victims accredited before the JEP in case 07 ‘Recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict’. Due to her important work, Derly Pastrana Yara is a special intervener before the JEP in that case. The attack occured on Tuesday night. The JEP asked the National Protection Unit to immediately provide the necessary protection measures. In order LRG-MC-065, the JEP required the the National Protection Unit (UIA-JEP Victim, Witness and Intervening Protection Group) to immediately take the necessary measures to strengthen the security of Mrs. Pastrana Yara.

https://www.jep.gov.co/Sala-de-Prensa/Paginas/La-JEP-rechaza-atentado-contra-l%C3%ADder-de-v%C3%ADctimas-en-Huila.aspx


USA: Supreme Court Sided with Nestle and Cargill in the Case Alleging Child Slavery

On 17 June, the US Supreme Court ruled that food giants Nestlé USA and Cargill cannot be sued for child slavery allegedly committed on African farms from where the companies buy their cocoa. Six African men alleged that they were trafficked from Mali and forced to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The petitioners claimed that both companies perpetuated slave trade to keep cocoa prices low. The court ruled that the group of petitioners had no standing because the abuse happened outside the US. But it stopped short of a definitive ruling on whether the Alien Tort Act – an 18th century law – could be used to hold US companies accountable for labour abuses committed in their supply chains abroad. In its decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court ruled that while Nestlé USA and Cargill provided the farms with technical and financial resources, there was no evidence that business decisions made in the US led to the men’s forced labour.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-416_i4dj.pdf

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57522186

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-sides-with-u-s-companies-in-case-alleging-wrongdoing-abroad/


Switzerland: Alieu Kosiah Convicted of War Crimes Committed in Liberia

On 18 June, a Swiss court in Bellinzona found Alieu Kosiah guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to 20 years for crimes including murder and rape. Alieu Kosiah was detained after a civil rights group, Civitas Maxima, presented the Swiss attorney general with evidence of his involvement in war crimes, including the deliberate killing of civilians, sexual violence, abuse of corpses and acts of cannibalism. The crimes took place while Alieu Kosiah was fighting with Alhaji Kromah’s United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy rebel group against Charles Taylor’s troops in the remote Lofa County in the 1990s.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57528500


INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

UNGA: Special Committee on Decolonisation Approved Three New Draft Resolutions Relating to NonSelfGoverning Territories

On 14 June, the Special Committee on Decolonisation of the UN General Assembly opened the substantive portion of its 2021 session. It approved three draft resolutions relating to the world’s 17 remaining Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. The first resolution “Information from Non‑Self‑Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73(e) of the Charter of the United Nations” would request that administering Powers respect their Charter obligations by transmitting to the Secretary‑General information on the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories under their respective administrations. The second resolution “Dissemination of information on decolonisation” would request that the Department of Global Communications and the Department of Political and Peace-building Affairs continue their efforts to make information on relevant decolonisation efforts of the UN widely available. The third resolution “Question of sending visiting and special missions to Territories” would request the development of a plan for the conduct of visiting missions to the Non‑Self‑Governing Territories. In the session, the Special Committee elected a new Rapporteur and took up the questions of Gibraltar, Tokelau, Western Sahara, British Virgin Islands and French Polynesia.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/gacol3344.doc.htm


NATO: Leaders Agree on 2030 Agenda to Strengthen the Alliance at Recent Summit

The NATO Summit in Brussels wrapped up on 14 June, with leaders agreeing on a NATO 2030 agenda to ensure that the Alliance can face challenges over the next decade and beyond. They took decisions to strengthen political consultations, reinforce collective defence, and address the security impact of climate change. NATO leaders reaffirmed the Alliance’s dual-track approach of defence and dialogue towards Russia and pledged to continue to support NATO partners Ukraine and Georgia, bringing them closer to the Alliance. NATO stressed that Russia’s “aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” while also highlighting its multi-domain military build-up, hybrid actions, as well as military integration in Belarus. Leaders also agreed on the need to address the challenges posed by China’s growing influence and international policies, and to engage with China to defend NATO’s security interests. China’s growing military power is presenting NATO with challenges that must be addressed. This marks the first time NATO has portrayed Beijing’s power as such a threat to global security. NATO leaders also agreed on a new cyber defence policy for the Alliance.

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_184998.htm

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_185000.htm


UN: OCHA Condemned “Brutal Killings” of Five Polio Vaccination Workers in Afghanistan

On 15 June, five health workers carrying out a polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province were killed and four others injured. The UN Humanitarian Coordination Office (OCHA) said these were five separate attacks on health workers. The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, said that he was “appalled by the brutality of these killings.” The polio vaccination campaign had only begun this month and aimed at reaching nearly 10 million under-fives. According to news reports, Afghanistan reported 56 new cases of polio last year. However, officials have reported that only one wild polio virus case has been detected in the country since October last year. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed that he was “deeply saddened” by the attacks, adding that “access to essential health service and immunisation campaigns should be unimpeded so that communities can be protected.”

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094062


UNGA: Resolution Recognising Right of Return for Georgia’s Displaced Persons Adopted

On 16 June, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the right of return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and their descendants, regardless of ethnicity, to their homes throughout Georgia, including in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. By a vote of 80 in favour to 14 against, with 70 abstentions, it adopted the text “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia” under its agenda item on protracted conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova. The resolution furthermore stressed the need to respect the property rights of all internally displaced persons and refugees affected by the conflicts in Georgia, reaffirmed the unacceptability of forced demographic changes and underlined the urgent need for unimpeded access for humanitarian activities.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/ga12338.doc.htm


UNHCR: COVID-19 Poses a Major Threat to the Life and Welfare of Refugees in Uganda

On 17 June, it was reported that UNHCR and the World Bank, together with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics conducted a phone survey for tracking the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on refugees in three rounds. The survey revealed the devastating toll of COVID-19 on the living conditions of refugees in Uganda and highlighted the need for strengthened support to refugee communities to mitigate the suffering inflicted by the pandemic. It also showed that refugees in Uganda were faring far worse than their host community on key dimensions to welfare, such as employment, food security and mental health. Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative to Uganda expressed his concerns as to the condition of refugees in Uganda and reiterated that their living conditions may not only deteriorate but is also untenable. UNHCR and partners in coordination with the government have continued to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees in Uganda, and support efforts towards a comprehensive refugee response.

https://www.unhcr.org/en-in/news/press/2021/6/60cb0dc14/covid-19-poses-major-threat-life-welfare-refugees-uganda-60cb0dc14.html


Israel & Palestine: Israel Strikes Gaza after Hamas-Backed Activities Fire Incendiary Balloons

On 17 June, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip for a second time since a shaky cease-fire ended last month’s 11-day war. The strikes came after activists mobilised by Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers launched incendiary balloons into Israel for a third straight day. No immediate casualties from the strikes were reported. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said the strikes were carried out in response to the “arson balloons launched from Gaza into Israel” two days earlier. Hamas said they were a response to a march by Israeli nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem. The IDF stated its fighter jets had hit military compounds operated by Hamas in Gaza City. It added that its forces were preparing for a “variety of scenarios including a resumption of hostilities.” The air strikes were the first carried out under Israel’s new government, which took office that previous Sunday.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-57492745

https://apnews.com/article/west-bank-israel-middle-east-health 3619c2694df63cc92bdec9cce2e69493


UN: Political Impasse in Haiti amid Rising Humanitarian Needs

On 17 June, Helen La Lime, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Haiti and head of UN’s integrated office in the country voiced deep concern over the “ever-growing polarisation of Haitian politics.” She also told the UN Security Council that with the worsening socioeconomic condition, rising criminal gang violence and a resurgence of COVID-19, Haiti’s leaders must commit to good-faith dialogue aimed at ending longstanding and damaging impasse. The UN Team in Haiti led by the United Nations Integrated Office in the country, known as BINUH has continued to work hand in hand to help authorities address both immediate challenges as well as structural drivers of instability. Ms. La Lime stressed the importance of implementing the national social protection policy to catalyse the fight against impunity and corruption and operationalise the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. She further emphasised that Haiti’s Humanitarian Response Plan for 2021-2022 still faces a shortfall of $198 million and that 1.5 million people in the country are currently in need of humanitarian support, 1.3 million of whom are severely food insecure.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094242


UN: Secretary General Called for Crimes of Sexual Violence in Conflict to be Brought out of “the Shadows”

On 17 June, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, Antonio Guterres underlined that sexual violence in conflict “reverberates down generations” and threatens both human and international security. He further emphasised that even as COVID-19 has triggered new obstacles for survivors to report crimes and access support services, tackling the root causes of sexual and gender-based violence should also be included in the recovery process, as well as upholding the rights and needs of the survivors as we work towards ending these horrific crimes. Virginia Gamba, Children in Armed Conflict (CAAC) Special Representative expressed her concern for the children born of rape during conflicts who face distinct, sometimes life-threatening and enduring risk. She reiterated the importance of focusing on key areas, such as strengthening accountability measures to end cultures of impunity and ultimately prevent recurrences to better protect children sexually abused in armed conflicts. She also underscored the need to recognise the work of monitoring and reporting teams, as well as protection advisors for women and children as “essential services” and priorities that must be adequately funded. She expressed her hope that this commemoration would “spark decisive change” for children survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094232


UNGA: Resolution Adopted Calling for Nations to Prevent Flows of Arms to Myanmar

On 17 June, the UN General Assembly called for a stop to the flow of arms to Myanmar and urged the military to respect November election results and release political detainees, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The resolution was adopted with the support of 119 countries. Belarus requested the text be put to a vote and was the only country to oppose it, while 36 abstained. Myanmar, whose UN ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, supports the ousted democratic government, voted “yes” along with Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines while China, Russia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei abstained. The countries abstaining said the crisis was an internal issue for Myanmar, others did not think the resolution would be helpful, while some states complained it did not adequately address the plight of Rohingya Muslims. An initial draft UN resolution by Liechtenstein included stronger language calling for an arms embargo on Myanmar. However, all ASEAN nations opposed the language in the draft resolution, writing in a letter to Liechtenstein that the draft “cannot command the widest possible support in its current form, especially from all countries directly affected in the region.” The ASEAN countries stressed the importance of the adoption of the resolution by consensus. Thus, as opposed to the text in the draft calling for “an immediate suspension of the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons and munitions” to Myanmar, the compromise text “calls on all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.”  Kyaw Moe Tun ultimately expressed his disappointment at how long it took the UN General Assembly to adopt a “watered down” resolution.

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N21/153/22/PDF/N2115322.pdf?OpenElement

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/southeast-asian-nations-oppose-arms-embargo-myanmar-report-2021-05-28/


UNGA: Antonio Guterres Unanimously Re-Elected as Secretary-General

On 18 June, the UN General Assembly unanimously elected Antonio Guterres to a second term as Secretary-General, giving him another five years at the helm of the 193-member organisation. Guterres, the only candidate for the UN’s top post, said he was “humbled and energized” by the support of the world’s nations and said the “driving theme” of his second term will be “prevention in all its aspects – from conflicts, climate change, pandemics to poverty and inequality.” Immediately after his re-election, Guterres took the oath of office and delivered an address urging U.N. member nations “to do everything we can to overcome current geostrategic divides and dysfunctional power relations.”

https://www.euronews.com/2021/06/18/guterres-re-elected-for-second-term-as-un-secretary-general

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