Weekly News Recap (21-27 June 2021)

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Effective Investigation into Alleged Sexual Abuse Violated in Estonia

On 22 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Estoniain the case of R.B. v. Estonia. The applicant was born in 2007. In September 2010 her parents separated following which the applicant continued to live with her mother and met with her father following an agreement between the parents. This case relates to the applicant’s complaint that the authorities had failed to conduct an effective criminal investigation into her allegations of sexual abuse by her father, who was acquitted following a breach of the procedural rules in the collection of evidence. The applicant’s mother alleged that she had become suspicious of the father’s behaviour in 2009, however, she started noticing changes in her daughter’s behaviour in 2011 when her daughter returned from visits with her father. She complained that her daughter, when questioned, had revealed that she had been sleeping naked with her father, that she had massaged him all over the body, including his genitals, and that he had inserted his fingers in her anus and vagina, causing pain. The ECtHR noted that the alleged sexual abuse of the applicant clearly falls within the scope of Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention, triggering the State’s positive obligations to enact criminal-law provisions punishing effectively, the sexual abuse of children and to apply them in practice through effective investigation and prosecution. However, the Court, in this case, found that ‘there were significant flaws in the domestic authorities’ procedural response to the applicant’s allegation of rape and sexual abuse by her father, which did not sufficiently take into account her particular vulnerability and corresponding needs as a young child to afford her effective protection as the alleged victim of sexual crimes.’ Accordingly, the Court, without expressing an opinion on the guilt of the accused, held that the ‘manner in which the criminal-law mechanisms as a whole were implemented in the present case, resulting in the disposal of the case on procedural grounds, was defective to the point of constituting a violation of the respondent State’s positive obligations under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention.’

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210466


ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Private Life Unlawfully and Disproportionately Interfered with in the United Kingdom

On 22 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against The United Kingdom in the case of  S.W. v. the United Kingdom. The applicant who was born in 1968, is a resident in St. Albans. The case relates to the complaint made by the applicant regarding accusations of professional misconduct made by a Family Court judge in the course of a fact-finding hearing wherein she had testified as a professional witness. The ECtHR found that the domestic judge’s decision first to ‘criticise the applicant in such strong terms without giving her an adequate opportunity to respond, and then to direct that those criticisms are shared with the local authorities where she worked and with the relevant professional bodies, significantly affected her ability to pursue her chosen professional activity, which in turn would have had consequential effects on the enjoyment of her right to respect for her ‘private life.’ Also, the Court acknowledged that the ‘applicant did not have access to an effective remedy at the national level capable of addressing the substance of her Article 8 complaint and by virtue of which she could obtain appropriate relief.’ This observation was based on the judgment of the Court of Appeal that recognized the criticisms to be  ‘manifestly unfair’ but did not provide sufficient redress to the applicant as regards claim for compensation, as that would not succeed success given the fact that she was unlikely to establish an absence of good faith on the part of the judge.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210494


IACHR: IACtHR Requested to Adopt Provisional Measures to Protect People Seeking to Participate in November Elections in Nicaragua

As reported on 23 June, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) to adopt provisional measures in order to protect the rights of Juan Sebastián Chamorro, José Adán Aguerri, Félix Maradiaga, Violeta Granera, and their families, who face a situation of extreme seriousness and urgency, and whose rights are at risk of suffering irreparable harm in Nicaragua. Despite the precautionary measures granted between 2018 and 2019 and currently in force, the identified persons continue to be at risk, a situation that has increased in the context of the current crisis of human rights in the country. In particular, the identified persons seek to participate in the general elections of November 2021 as part of the political opposition groups they represent. In this sense, it is worth noting that they are public figures, members of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and the Blue and White National Unity; who hold leading and visible roles against the measures promoted by the current Nicaraguan government since April 2018, and they have manifested in opposition to the repressive actions of the state against the civilian population in the context of a human rights crisis. In addition, they seek for the general elections of November 2021 to be democratic.

https://www.oas.org/en/IACHR/jsForm/?File=/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2021/156.asp


ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Not be Extradited in View of His Poor Medical Condition Upheld in Armenia

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Armenia in the case of Khachaturov v. Armenia. The applicant, a Russian national of Armenian origin, faced extradition from the Armenian authorities to Russia where criminal proceedings for attempted bribe-taking were pending against him. The applicant unsuccessfully challenged the extradition decision which became final on 30 November 2017. On that date the Court granted his request for an interim measure and, subsequently, on 6 February 2018, decided to maintain the measure. The applicant challenged that his medical condition rendered him unfit for a transfer, either by air or land. The case relates to whether the transfer of the applicant, for extradition, who was seriously ill, might have led to a real risk of him being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3. The Court found that there would be a violation of Article 3 of the Convention if the applicant was extradited to Russia without the Armenian authorities having assessed the risk faced by him during his transfer in regards to his state of health. In reaching this finding, the Court took into account the applicant’s particularly poor state of health and observed that his transfer, even in the presence of an accompanying doctor, would result in a real risk of him being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=002-13317


ECtHR:  Intellectually Disabed Applicant’s Right to Fair Criminal Proceedings Deemed Non-Justifiable in Slovakia

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against the applicant in the case of Hasáliková v. Slovakia. The applicant, who was born in 1972 is a resident of Slovakia and currently serving a sentence in Levoča Prison on charges of murder. The case relates to a complaint made by the applicant alleging the criminal proceedings, in which she had been convicted of murder and sentenced to a fifteen-year prison term, had been unfair. She claimed that no reasonable steps or adjustments had been made with regard to her intellectual disability and that, consequently, her rights had not been duly and effectively protected. She further complained that she had not had enough time to choose a lawyer and that her confession made before the police had served as the basis for her conviction even though she had later retracted it. The government stated that no argument related to the circumstances of the applicant’s arrest had been raised before the domestic courts and that her allegations were not supported by any evidence. The Court accepted the arguments put forth by the government and held that the applicant clearly did not raise these complaints before the competent authorities at the relevant time, apart from certain assertions made to the courts which were aimed mainly at challenging the admissibility of her pre-trial statement. Hence the court found no violation of Art. 6 with regards to the proceedings being unfair, and especially the fact that her mental health was not taken into account in the process.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210496


ECtHR: Applicant’s right to fair hearing violated in Croatia

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Croatia in the case of Dodoja v. Croatia. The applicant was born in 1963 and lives in Split. The case relates to the applicant’s claim that he had been sentenced to a higher penalty on account of a police statement of his co-accused, who had absconded and was being tried in absentia. The Government argued that the proceedings initiated against the applicant had been lawful and complied with the applicable Convention standards. They further mentioned that efforts had been made to ensure the presence of the co-accused at the trial, but eventually, he had to be tried in absentia. The ECtHR, while examining the fairness of the proceedings acknowledged that the conviction of the applicant was entirely based on a police statement of a co-defendant who had been absent from the trial, and whom the applicant was unable to confront or question, despite it being used as decisive evidence against him. As a consequence, the court found a violation of Art. 6 and Art. 3, as the applicant was ‘convicted of a more serious form of the offence and sentenced to a more severe penalty on the basis of evidence in respect of which his defence rights had been appreciably restricted.’

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210687


ECtHR: Applicants’ Exposure to Inadequate Detention Conditions Deemed Unlawful in Ukraine

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued judgments against Ukraine in the cases of Lashch v. Ukrain and Palanchuk v. Ukraine. The applicants were born in 1983 and 1985, respectively. The case relates to applicants’ complaints regarding inadequate conditions of detention and the lack of any effective remedies in domestic laws. The ECtHR observed that both applicants were kept in detention in extremely poor conditions during their detention period. The court further emphasised that a serious lack of space in a prison cell should be accounted as an important factor in determining whether the detention conditions described are ‘degrading’ from the point of view of Article 3 and may disclose a violation, both alone or taken together with other shortcomings. The Court could not locate any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion on the admissibility and merits of the complaints made by the applicants. Hence the Court held that the applicants’ conditions of detention during the period indicated were inadequate and that the applicants did not recourse to any effective remedies in respect of these complaints. The respondent state was directed to pay damages to both the applicants within three months.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210476

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210475


ECtHR: Applicants’ Deprivation of Liberty in Detention Deemed Unlawful in Ukraine and Russia

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued judgments against Ukraine and Russiain the cases of Tanasiychuk and Derevyanyy v. Ukraine and Vasilyev and Others v. Russia. Both the cases relate to the excessive length of criminal proceedings including that of their pretrial detention and the lack of any effective remedies in the domestic laws of the respective States. The applicants alleged that the length of the criminal proceedings in question had been incompatible with the ‘reasonable time’ requirements. The Court found in both the cases that the length of the proceedings including pre-trial detention of one of the applicants were excessive and beyond the ‘reasonable time requirement.’ Hence the Court noted a breach of Article 5 and 3 of the Convention in both the cases and directed the respondent States to pay damages to the applicants.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210477

https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22itemid%22:[%22001-210497%22]}


ECtHR: Applicant’s right to a fair trial violated in Ukraine

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued judgment against Ukraine in the case of Shkirya v. Ukraine.  The applicant, who was born in 1973  lives in Kremenchuk. On 20 November 2008 the applicant lodged an administrative claim with the domestic court against his employer seeking payment of social benefits connected to his military service and damages for pecuniary losses. Hwever, the present case pertains to the alleged failure of the national courts to determine the applicant’s supplementary claim of additional monetary requests, depriving him of his right of access to a court. The ECtHR reiterated that ‘the right of access to a court includes not only the right to institute proceedings but also the right to obtain a determination of the dispute by a court’. In this case, the court observed that the ‘applicant was deprived of his right of access to a court’ as the domestic court of appeal as well as the higher  courts did not address the issue of his additional monetary claim on merits and accordingly, there had been a violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210498  


ECtHR: Applicants’ Exposure to Inhuman Treatment in Judicial Custody Declared Derogatory in Ukraine

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Ukrainein the case of Starenkyy and Others v. Ukraine. The applicants, who are Ukrainian citizens were serving their sentences in Sokal Prison no. 47 (“Sokal Prison”) in the Lviv region. The case relates to complaints made by the applicants that they had been subjected to unjustified violence during a fire evacuation from one prison to another in March 2012 and that there had been no effective domestic investigation into that matter. The applicants alleged that the domestic authorities had made no meaningful efforts to establish the truth regarding their ill-treatment or to punish those responsible. Rather, in their view, the investigation was formalistic and flawed and its conclusions were mainly based on testimonies of the prison staff and other officials involved in the evacuation. The Government, however, argued that all possible investigative steps had been taken in response to the applicants’ complaints, including a fully-fledged investigation and that its findings had been upheld by courts on several occasions. The ECtHR held that the applicants were victims of inhuman and degrading treatment prescribed by Article 3 of the Convention, especially as regards to mass beating with truncheons, sticks and electric cables, as well as punches and kicks during their passage through the “live corridor” of fifty to seventy metres long. The Court further observed that there was no effective investigation into this alleged ill-treatment of the applicants during their evacuation and directed the respondent State to pay damages to all the applicants.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210682


ECtHR: Applicant’s Allegations on State’s Failure to Effectively Investigate into Racially Motivated Police Brutality Upheld in North Macedonia

On 24 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against North Macedonia in the case of  Memedov v. North Macedonia. The applicant was born in 1981 and lives in Trier, Germany. The case relates to complaints of racially motivated police brutality in respect to the applicant, who states that he is of Roma ethnic origin, and the alleged failure of the respondent State to investigate possible racist motives for the acts he has complained of. The ECtHR, in deciding whether the respondent State complied with its obligation to investigate possible racist motives, observed that the ‘prosecuting authorities, the sole authorities with competence to investigate possible racist motives, failed to comply with their duty under Article 14 of the Convention, read in conjunction with Article 3, to take all possible steps to ascertain whether or not a discriminatory attitude might have played a role in the events.’ The opinion of the court was based on the fact that the applicant’s submissions regarding racist remarks made to him by the police were not adequately examined by the authorities. Furthermore, the Court outlined that its task was to ‘establish whether or not racism was a causal factor in the impugned conduct of the police officers, such as to give rise to a breach of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 3.’ In this regard, however, the Court found that the evidence could not be regarded, in itself and the absence of other concrete corroborating evidence, ‘as a sufficient basis for concluding that the respondent State is liable for racist ill-treatment.’

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210683


Iran: UN Human Rights Experts Urge to Halt the Execution of a Child Offender

On 24 June, human rights experts at the UN urged Iran to stop the execution of a young Iranian man, who was scheduled for execution on the 28 June; emphasising that he was a child at the time of the commission of the crime and was reportedly tortured to force a confession of guilt. The case relates to Hossein Shahbazi, who was arrested at the age of 17 for allegedly stabbing a classmate during a fight in 2018. According to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a signatory, he was still considered a child at the time of his conviction. Mr Shahbazi was reportedly interrogated by police for multiple days without access to a lawyer or his family. During this time, he was subjected to immense torture and was compelled to confess having committed the crime, following which a request for his re-trial has been pending before the Supreme Court. While Iran had amended its Penal Code to allow judges to explore alternative sentences for child offenders in case of any uncertainty about their “mental development” at the time of committing the crime, experts are deeply concerned that the judiciary has failed’ to take into account these legal provisions that can prevent the imposition of the death penalty on a child offender.’ The execution of children and persons who committed a crime while under the age of 18 is prohibited by international human rights law.’ The experts call upon the Iranian authorities to honour their obligations under international law and immediately halt the execution of Hossein Shahbazi.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/media.aspx?IsMediaPage=true


USA: Minnesota Judge Sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22.5 Years for Death of George Floyd

On 25 June, Hennepin County Judge Peter sentenced Cahill Derek Chauvin on Friday to 22.5 years for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April 2021. Prosecutors successfully argued that a harsher sentence needed to be handed down due to various aggravating factors. As a result, the ruling was a 10-year increase over the recommended sentencing guideline for second-degree murder. Prosecutors sought a maximum sentence of 30 years while Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, requested a probationary sentence and a motion for a new trial. This request was rejected hours before the scheduled sentencing. The other three former Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, will be tried together in a trial set to begin August 23. All four officers also face federal civil rights charges.

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/Chauvin-Sentencing/c14b8665cad28229/full.pdf


Sudan: Surrendering Former Officials to the ICC

As reported on 27 June, Sudan will surrender former officials who are wanted for alleged international crimes in the Darfur region to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Sudanese government will hand over ousted President Omer al-Bashir and former leading members of his government. Ex-President Omar al-Bashir and three officials were indicted by the ICC on charges, including war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Bashir was ousted by the military after mass protests in 2019 and is now serving a jail sentence for corruption.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/sudan-to-hand-over-former-president-omer-al-bashir-to-icc/2286582

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57628697


INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

Canada: Bill Recognizing UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ Receives Royal Assent

On 21 June, a bill by the Canadian Parliament recognizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 (UNDRIP) and creating a legal framework for its implementation received Royal Assent. The legislation requires the government to initiate appropriate measures to align the country’s laws with the UNDRIP, alongside developing and implementing an action plan to this effect. This action plan must be developed in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and shall include provisions to address injustices, combat prejudice, and eliminate all forms of violence, racism, and discrimination against Indigenous peoples. Interestingly, this bill was passed in the same week, a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children was unearthed at a former Catholic residential school in British Columbia.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/06/canada-law-recognizing-un-declaration-on-indigenous-rights-receives-royal-assent/


ILO: First International Treaty to Address Violence and Harassment in the Work Comes Into Force

On 21 June, it was reported that during ‘Action Week’ the first international treaty on violence and harassment in the work world would come into force on 25 June 2021; two years after it was adopted by the International Labour Organizations’ (ILO) International Labour Conference (ILC). The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190)  has been ratified by only six countries i.e. Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Somalia and Uruguay, to date and ratifying countries are legally bound by the provisions of the Convention a year after ratification. Convention No. 190, together with Recommendation No. 206, recognizes the right of everyone to a work environment free from violence and harassment and provides a common framework for action. The Convention also provides the first international definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment. To mark its entering into force, the ILO will launch a global campaign to promote its ratification and implementation. The campaign aims to explain in simple terms what the Convention is, the issues it covers, and how it seeks to address violence and harassment in the world of work.

https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_806022/lang–en/index.htm


UN: Slow Progress, Stubborn Cycles of Violence, as South Sudan Turns 10

On 21 June, Nicholas Hayson, Secretary General’s Special Representative told the UNSC members that South Sudan, the UN’s youngest Member State is marking its tenth anniversary of independence amid the languishing political progress and a range of humanitarian challenges.  Mr Hayson also being the head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) stated that so far in 20221 more than 80 per cent of civilian casualties have been attributable to inter-communal violence and community-based militias. The UNMISS is continuously collaborating with local authorities and communities to promote reconciliation, secure the release of abducted women and children, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. In addition to this, the UN Special Representative also sounded alarm about the weakened rule of law institutions and the deteriorating economic condition which have led to an increase in criminality and targeting of humanitarian workers. In 2021 alone, 4 humanitarian workers have been killed in South Sudan and millions of dollars of humanitarian supplies have been looted or destroyed. The UN Special Representative pledged  that UNMISS will continue to take the lead in promoting and advocating for safe humanitarian aid delivery and  called for “irreversible progress towards peace”, which will require tangible progress against the benchmarks of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094462


UNHCR: Vaccine Gap Poses A Risk For World’s Stateless

On 22 June, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned that many of the world’s stateless people may miss out on vaccinations as a result of their lack of citizenship or proof of identity. Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s International Protection chief stated, “there are millions of [people] known to be stateless, without [any] nationality” which has caused a hugely damaging impact upon their fundamental human rights and now, they may also be excluded from accessing life-saving vaccinations. She further reiterated that issues of marginalization and barriers to access must be addressed, and special consideration should be given to the situation of stateless people; as most of them are excluded from accessing health care services. The agency, in its recent report on ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Stateless Populations’, noted that the majority of national immunisation plans do not provide clarity on their coverage of stateless people. There is also a formal UN mandate put in place by the UNHCR to prevent and reduce statelessness and to protect stateless people. Current estimates put the global population of stateless persons around 4.2 million although, the actual figure is believed to be substantially higher.

https://www.unhcr.org/en-in/news/press/2021/6/60d06e444/unhcr-warns-vaccine-gap-risk-worlds-stateless.html


OHCHR: UN Expert Alarmed by Prolonged Detention of Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain

On 22 June, Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders called upon Bahrain to immediately release three human rights defenders suffering from long-term detention, as a result of their legitimate promotion and protection of human rights in the country. She further stated that she had received reports on the situation of the human rights defenders which stated, that Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja had suffered facial fractures, while Mr Naji Fateel and Mr Abduljalil Al-Singace had been placed in solitary confinement and denied basic medical care and their right to practice their religion. While other human rights defenders such as Abbas al Omran and Ali Abdulemam were tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison for forming an illegal organization and spreading false information; they have been granted asylum and are currently residing outside the country. In 2012 and 2015, respectively, Bahraini authorities revoked their citizenship. The UN expert reiterated that the criminalization of human rights defenders in retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful efforts to advocate for the rights of others in Bahrain is concerning not only for the detrimental impact on the lives of those individuals and their families but for the chilling effect it creates on civic space in the country.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27190&LangID=E


Expert Panel: Definition of ‘Ecocide’ Unveiled for Adoption by ICC

On 23 June, a working definition of ‘ecocide’ was finally presented by the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide following months of debates and discussions in the hope that such a definition would be adopted by the International Criminal Court. This independent experts panel had been convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation, an NGO, established to promote and facilitate steps towards making ecocide a crime at the International Criminal Court (ICC), to prevent the devastation of nature and so protect the future of life on Earth. It has been proposed by the panel to include ‘e’ i.e. ‘the crime of Ecocide’ to Article 5(1) of the Rome Statute. The proposed Article 8 would state, “ecocide means unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.” The proposal also puts forth a recommendation to include a new paragraph within the preamble, ‘that the environment is daily threatened by severe destruction and deterioration, gravely endangering natural and human systems worldwide.’ The experts believe that these proposals would serve as a ‘basis of consideration for an amendment to the Rome Statute of the ICC, which must expand its jurisdiction to adjudicate complaints of ‘serious environmental harm’, already acknowledged worldwide as a matter of international concern. Given the loopholes inherent in contemporary global environmental governance, there is an urgent need for stringent regulations to combat large polluters. Such amendments would entrust ICC with the authority to not only covers actions that occur during warfare but also hold business and government leaders to account for their actions in times of peace when most environmental disasters occur.

https://www.stopecocide.earth/press-releases-summary/top-international-lawyers-unveil-definition-of-ecocide


UN: Central African Republic Entrenched in ‘Unprecedented Humanitarian Crisis’ and ‘Asymmetric War’

On 23 June, Mr Mankeur Ndiaye, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic (CAR) and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSA) voiced his concerns over a military counter-offensive against the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) which is an alliance of armed groups that had launched attacks against forces loyal to the government ahead of the Presidential vote in December which returned President Touadéra to power. He further told the Security Council, that defence forces, soldiers from nearby countries, and other security personnel have been fighting an asymmetric war against armed groups which has sparked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic and has resulted in new waves of displacement with 57 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. The Special Representative also underscored that recent widespread rights abuses committed by State forces have further emboldened armed groups, exacerbated fears of radicalization, and compromised any chance of establishing trust between citizens and their leaders. He noted the development of a special investigative commission on abuses committed by CAR State forces and their partners and stated that MINUSCA intends to continue to document the rights violations in order to report them publicly, to “preserve a framework for frank, transparent and constructive dialogue” with the authorities. He also noted that hate speech and incitement to violence against MINUSCA and CAR partners have become “increasingly strident the past few months.” Furthermore, the looting and militarization of civilian infrastructures, such as schools and hospitals, have been hindering already inadequate access to basic services, and undermines the protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance, along with peace and stability efforts.

https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14558.doc.htm

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N21/142/64/PDF/N2114264.pdf?OpenElement

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/15/africa/central-african-republic-russian-mercenaries-cmd-intl/


UNGA: For Twenty-Nine Consecutive Years US Votes Against the Resolution Demanding an End to the Embargo on Cuba

On 23 June, 184 countries voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution to demand the end of the US economic blockade on Cuba. For the 29th year in a row, the US has voted against the resolution along with Israel while Colombia, Ukraine, and Brazil abstained. The resolution has been approved by the General Assembly since 1992 when they began to vote (on an annual basis) on the issue. The vote of the Assembly, however, only carries political weight in terms of international diplomacy, it is only the US Congress that can lift the economic and commercial and financial embargo that has been in place for the past five decades. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, who was present during the vote in the General Assembly  stated,  that the blockade was a “massive, flagrant and unacceptable violation of the human rights of the Cuban people, further adding that embargo is about “an economic war of extraterritorial scope against a small country already affected in the recent period by the economic crisis derived from the pandemic” with estimated losses to be $9.1 million in 2020. The sanctions have made it harder for his country to acquire the medical equipment needed to develop COVID-19 vaccines, as well as, equipment for food production. While, Rodney Hunter, Political Coordinator for the US Mission stated that during the vote that the sanctions are “one set of tools in Washington’s broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise fundamental freedoms.” He further underscored that despite the blockade, the US recognizes the challenges of the Cuban people and therefore, the US has been a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094612

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N21/146/92/PDF/N2114692.pdf?OpenElement


UNSC: More Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza and the Need for a Lasting Ceasefire Pushed by UN Envoy

On 24 June, Tor Wennesland, the Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process stated that the UN is working closely with all the concerned parties and partners, to solidify a ceasefire and allow the entry of urgent humanitarian assistance. He further stated that the cessation of hostilities that was negotiated last month between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip remains “very fragile.” The ceasefire was declared on 20 May, after 11 days of rocket and air attacks across the border area between Gaza and southern Israel, leaving more than 240 reportedly dead, the majority on the Palestinian side, with thousands injured. The UN envoy pushed all to facilitate unimpeded access while the UN is continuously coordinating with the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to Gaza. He also echoed the significant risks of a renewed escalation and highlighted that there was an urgent need to re-establish a political horizon to restore hope to both Palestinians and Israelis, further reiterating the UN’s commitment to supporting the parties in resolving the conflict and ending the occupation in pursuit of two States, Israel and Palestine, “living side-by-side in peace and security” as international efforts focus on halting hostilities in the longer term, providing humanitarian assistance and reconstructing Gaza. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094712


UNICEF: Emergency Assistance Provided to Displaced Children and Families Displaced by Solhan Attack In Burkina Faso

It was reported on 24 June that following the armed attacks on the village of Solhan in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, UNICEF has deployed emergency assistance in support of the Government and local authorities in the Sebba area, a few kilometres from the affected village. The 5th of June attack by a non-state armed group resulted in the death of more than 130 civilians, including a high number of children, according to national authorities. In recent months, the attacks and human rights violations against civilian populations have increased; from March to May 2021, security incidents resulted in the deaths of 152 civilians but in June alone, 178 civilians were killed, including many children. Burkina Faso is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and currently, there are more than 1.2 million internally displaced people, 61 per cent of them are children, compared to more than 136,000 displaced people during the same period in 2019 which is a tenfold increase in just three years. In coordination with the Government of Burkina Faso, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF has provided immediate assistance including food and access to safe drinking water to vulnerable families and has redoubled its efforts to support the authorities while addressing this humanitarian crisis in particularly hard-hit areas, and is also supporting the Government at the national level to expand access to social protection, health and education services for children and youth throughout the country.

https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/unicef-provides-emergency-assistance-displaced-children-and-families-displaced


European Council: Sanctions Imposed on Key Sectors of Belarus Economy Including Interception, and Dual-Use Military Technology, Potash Fertiliser, and Petroleum

On 24 June, the Council of European Union introduced new restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime in order to respond to the escalation of serious human rights violations in Belarus and the violent repression of civil society, democratic opposition and journalists, as well as to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021. The new targeted economic sanctions include the prohibition to directly or indirectly sell, supply, transfer or export to anyone in Belarus equipment, technology or software intended primarily for use in the monitoring/interception of the internet and telephone communications, and dual-use goods; and technologies for military use and to specified persons, entities or bodies in Belarus while trade in petroleum products, potassium chloride (‘potash’); and goods used for the production or manufacturing of tobacco products is restricted. The decision taken by European Council on 24 June fully implements its conclusions of 24 and 25 May 2021, in which EU heads of State and Governments called on the Council to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines, and to adopt the necessary measures, including additional listings of persons and entities based of the relevant sanctions framework, and to adopt further targeted economic sanctions. The EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Belarus since 2020 and the measures that have been adopted in response to the fraudulent nature of the August 2020 Presidential elections in the country, as well as, the intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protesters, opposition members and journalists. A total of 166 persons and 15 entities are currently subject to restrictive measures.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/06/24/eu-imposes-sanctions-on-belarusian-economy/


UNICEF: Worsening Situation in Sub-Saharan Africa as a Result of Secondary Impacts of COVID-19

On 25 June, James Elder UNICEF spokesperson in his briefing note at the Palais des Nations in Geneva stated that Sub-Saharan Africa is in the throes of a deadly uptake in COVID-19 and at present the rate of infections, the current surge will exceed the previous one within weeks and as more contagious variants spread, and vaccines continue to be perilously slow in reaching Africa, with hospitals being pushed beyond capacity. Namibia, last week, had the highest death rate in Africa, hospitals are full and there are not enough oxygen tanks. In South Africa, a third wave is threatening to be even worse than the previous two which is stretching an already strained healthcare system and so far only 2.5 million people have received at least one vaccination of a population around 57 million. The UNICEF continues to support Governments, the World Health Organization and other partners to tackle the COVID-19 health crisis and the secondary impacts on children and their families, via procurement and delivering COVID-19 vaccines, especially for healthcare and essential workers; strengthening healthcare and cold chain systems; procuring oxygen tanks; advocating governments to keep children in school or learning while at the same time supplying water and sanitation to schools across the continent and doing many other things. He further stated that as part of its annual Humanitarian Appeal for Children, UNICEF has called for US$ 659 million to help countries with the delivery of vaccines, therapeutic and diagnostic tools in 2021.

https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/geneva-palais-briefing-note-worsening-situation-sub-saharan-africa-result-secondary

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