INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
- IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Social and Youth Leader Yiner Hernán Quiguantar Cortés in Colombia
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Private and Family Life Violated in Austria
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Rreedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion Upheld in Armenia
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Freedom of Speech and Assembly Violated in Russia
- CJEU: Austria’s Apex Court Refers Facebook’s Data Collection Scheme to CJEU
- The Philippines: Supreme Court Ruled that the ICC Has Jurisdiction over Crimes that Occurred before the Philippines’ Rome Statute Withdrawal
- Croatia: Bosnian Croat Ex-Fighter Charged with War Crimes
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Respect for Private and Family Life Violated in Azerbaijan
- ECtHR: Aplicants’ Deprivation of Liberty in Detention Deemed Unlawful in Azerbaijan
- HRC: Mauritius Law on Storing Biometric Data on Identity Cards Violates Privacy
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Private and Family Life Violated in Ukraine
- IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Karla Patricia Ñamendi Mendoza and Her Family in Nicaragua
- ECtHR: Applicants’ Right to a Fair Trial Violated in Serbia
- ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Liberty and Security Violated in Hungary
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
- Mali: UN Human Rights Experts Condemn Increased Attacks on “Descent-Based Slaves”
- USA: The Biden Administration Has Transferred the First Detainee Out of Guantanamo Bay
- Syria: UN Experts Urge 57 States to Repatriate Women and Children from Squalid Camps
- OHCHR: Human Rights Defenders Under Siege In Myanmar
- OHCHR: Laws are Needed to Regulate Spyware Systems Like ‘Pegasus’
- EU: Proposal for Setting Up a New Authority to Counter Financial Crimes Across EU
- Iraq: The Bomb Attack in Al-Sadr City, Baghdad is Strongly Condemned
- UN: Lifesaving Assistance Needed for Venezuelan Cancer Patients Hit by US Sanctions
- FAO: A Healthy Environment is Necessary for Healthy Food Says FAO Director-General
- WHO: Vaccine Inequity Undermining Economic Recovery
- UNHCR: Increased Jihadist Attacks in Burkina Faso Spark Record-Breaking Displacement
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Social and Youth Leader Yiner Hernán Quiguantar Cortés in Colombia
On 19 July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) informed about the adoption of resolution 53/2021 of 15 July 2021 which granted precautionary measures to Yiner Hernán Quiguantar Cortés in Colombia after considering that he is in a serious and urgent situation presenting risk of irreparable harm to his rights. The request indicates that the beneficiary, a 22-year-old young man, a political, indigenous and youth leader in the Department of Cauca, has been the target of threats and harassment as a result of his activities as a leader and defender of human rights. The request provides information on various threatening events that reportedly started in 2019 and intensified during 2021, in which the perpetrators have made references to his work. In this sense, it was reported that on June 11, 2021, the beneficiary was physically attacked and threatened with death. Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR asked the State of Colombia to adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Yiner Hernás Quiguantar Cortés; consult and agree upon the measures to be adopted with the beneficiary and his representatives; and report on the actions taken to investigate the alleged facts that led to the adoption of this precautionary measure, so as to prevent such events from reoccurring.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Private and Family Life Violated in Austria
On 20 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Austria in the case of Polat v. Austria. The applicant, a citizen of Austria was born in 1974 and resides in Bregenz. The case concerns the applicant’s objections on religious grounds to the post-mortem examination of her prematurely born and subsequently, deceased son, which she alleged violated her rights under Articles 8 and 9 of the Convention. Relying on Article 8 of the Convention, she complained that she had not been informed of the extent of the post-mortem or the removal of her son’s organs for preservation purposes. In addition, she complained under Article 13, read in conjunction with Articles 8 and 9, that she had not had any legal remedy available to challenge ex ante the carrying-out of the post-mortem. The European Court of Human Rights reiterated that the present case required a balancing exercise between the protection of the health of others through the conduct of the post-mortem examination and, the protection of the applicant’s right to respect for her private and family life (Article 8) and her right to manifest her religion (Article 9). While the Court held that both these rights are not absolute, it, nevertheless concluded that the authorities failed to strike ‘a fair balance between the competing interests at stake by reconciling the requirements of public health to the highest possible degree with the right to respect for private and family life, nor did they weigh the applicant’s interest in burying her son in accordance with her religious beliefs into the balance. This failure to conduct a balancing exercise constituted a violation of Articles 8 and 9 of the Convention.’ The court also found that the behaviour of the hospital staff towards the applicant clearly lacked the diligence and prudence required in such a situation, as the hospital omitted to provide the applicant with sufficient information on the extent of her son’s post-mortem, and of the removal and whereabouts of his organs.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Rreedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion Upheld in Armenia
On 20 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Armenia in the case of Avanesyan v. Armenia. The applicant, an Armenian national was born in 1995 and lives in Masis, Armenia. The case concerns the applicant’s refusal to perform military service for reasons of conscience, and his conviction for draft evasion. The European Court of Human Rights noted that ‘any system of compulsory military service imposes a heavy burden on citizens. It will be acceptable if it is shared equitably, and if exemptions from this duty are based on solid and convincing grounds. However, a system that imposes on citizens an obligation which has potentially serious implications for conscientious objectors, such as the obligation to serve in the army, without making allowances for the exigencies of an individual’s conscience and beliefs, and with the imposition of penalties in case of refusal, will fail to strike a fair balance between the interests of society as a whole and those of the individual.’ The Court found that the applicant, in the present circumstances of his case, ‘had no possibility – or was deprived of the possibility – to perform alternative civilian service instead of military service, a circumstance which led eventually to his conviction and imprisonment.’ Therefore, it is sufficient for the Court to conclude that the ‘authorities failed to make appropriate allowances for the exigencies of the applicant’s conscience and beliefs, and to secure to him a system of alternative service that struck a fair balance between the interests of society as a whole and those of the applicant, as required by Article 9 of the Convention. It follows that the applicant’s conviction constituted an interference which was not necessary in a democratic society within the meaning of that provision.’
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Freedom of Speech and Assembly Violated in Russia
On 20 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Russia in the case of Yartsev v. Russia. The applicant, a Russian national was born in 1988 and lives in Moscow. The case concerns the applicant’s conviction for an administrative offence for shouting slogans during a lawful public assembly that did not correspond to the declared aims of that assembly. The applicant argued that the interference with his right to freedom of expression had not been “prescribed by law.” In regards to the government’s assertions that the applicant’s conviction had been lawful because, by shouting slogans that had not corresponded to the declared aims of the approved public event, he had participated in a separate public event that had not received official approval, the European Court of Human Rights reiterated the observations made by the City Court as to the incorrect application of domestic laws by the district court. Hence, the ‘legal provisions prohibiting participation in public events that had not been notified or had not received official approval could not serve as a legal basis for the applicant’s conviction.’ Moreover, the court observed that the domestic courts did not convincingly demonstrate as to how shouting slogans, the applicant had committed a breach of the established rules of conduct for public events is punishable under the relevant laws. Thus, the applicant’s conviction for shouting slogans (that did not correspond to the declared aims of the lawful public event in which he participated) did not have any basis in domestic law and accordingly, his right to freedom of speech and assembly had been unduly interfered with.
CJEU: Austria’s Apex Court Refers Facebook’s Data Collection Scheme to CJEU
On 20 July, Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice called upon the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to review four fundamental questions regarding the legality of Facebook’s collection and use of EU customers’ data. These questions stem from a civil suit filed by Maximilian Schrems, an Austrian lawyer and privacy activist, who claimed that Facebook deprives users of the rights and protections they enjoy under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The fundamental issue, in this case, relates to the question of whether or not Facebook relies on the consent of its users or a contract with them for the collection and processing of their user data. Before the GDPR was enacted, Facebook stated that users “consented” to its processing of personalized advertising. However, with the GDPR coming into effect, the standards against which consent is to be calculated have risen and now the law mandates the right of withdrawal to be allowed in cases where users want to revoke their consent. While Facebook presently claims that its consent clauses must be viewed as a contract where users order personalized advertising; the Court has acknowledged Schrems’ views on Facebook using this new position as a way to bypass the regulations, and to strip users of all rights linked to consent. Other issues the Court called for ECJ’s guidance on included data minimization, collection and processing of sensitive data, and whether personalized advertising can be used in a blanket manner for aggregating and analyzing data without restriction.
The Philippines: Supreme Court Ruled that the ICC Has Jurisdiction over Crimes that Occurred before the Philippines’ Rome Statute Withdrawal
On 21 July, the Philippines Supreme Court publicly released its March 2021 decision in which it found that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over alleged crimes that occurred prior to the Philippines’ effective withdrawal from the Rome Statute on 17 March 2019, contradicting President Rodrigo Duterte’s assertion it has no jurisdiction. Under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a State Party’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute is effective one year after the receipt of the notification addressed to the UN Secretary-General. The withdrawal does not apply retroactively. Instead, the State Party is obligated to cooperate with the ICC in connection with investigations and proceedings commenced prior to the date of effective withdrawal. Hence, the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute—deposited on 17 March 2018 and effective 17 March 2019—does not prevent the ICC from continuing its preliminary investigations into the alleged crimes that occurred prior to 17 March 2019. On 8 February 2018, the ICC Prosecutor announced her decision to open a Preliminary Examination into alleged crimes against humanity carried out in the context of the Government of the Philippines’ “war on drugs” campaign, which was launched on 1 July 2016. Following that, President Duterte announced in March 2018 the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute with “immediate effect”.
Croatia: Bosnian Croat Ex-Fighter Charged with War Crimes
Croatian police announced on 21 July that they have arrested and charged an unnamed 53-year-old Pero Vincetic, known as ‘Horse’, with war crimes against civilians in Orasje in 1992. Vincetic is a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, the Bosnian Croat wartime force. Croatian police stated that there is a well-founded suspicion that in May 1992 in Orasje, the suspect, then a 24-year-old member of the Croatian Defence Council, brutally physically and mentally abused two civilians by exposing them to intense pain, suffering and humiliation. Vincetic has already been indicted in Bosnia and Herzegovina for “war crimes of rape and sexual abuse in the Orasje municipality, as well as for committing other war crimes against Serb victims in that town during 1992 and 1993.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Respect for Private and Family Life Violated in Azerbaijan
On 22 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against the state of Azerbaijan in the case of Azer Ahmadov v. Azerbaijan. The applicant, a journalist and national of Azerbaijan was born in 1962 and lives in Baku. At the time of the events, he was the editor-in-chief of the opposition-oriented newspaper, Azadlıq. A.K., another journalist employed by the Azadlıq newspaper, was allegedly beaten and stabbed on two different occasions while returning home from work for researching an article and taking photographs of trees that had been cut down in an area. Criminal proceedings were instituted in relation to both assaults. However, one of the proceedings was discontinued while the criminal investigation into A.K.’s stabbing, largely based on tapped conversations led to the conviction of S.S. (with whom A.K. allegedly had a relationship). The District Court in March 2008 had allowed an application authorising secret surveillance of A.K. and his contacts for a period of six months. The applicant unsuccessfully appealed arguing that the impugned decision had only authorised tapping of A.K.’s telephone. Hence, only his calls to A.K. or the latter’s calls to him could be intercepted while his telephonic conversations with another colleague had been unlawfully intercepted. The government argued that the same telephone number had been used by the applicant and A.K., and therefore the interception of the applicant’s conversations had been unavoidable. The European Court of Human Rights observed that ‘as secret surveillance is a serious interference with a person’s right to respect for private life, the judicial authorisation serving as the basis for such surveillance cannot be drafted in such vague terms as to leave room for speculation and assumptions regarding its content and, most importantly, to the person in respect of whom the measure is being applied.’ In this case, in absence of any clarity as to which telephone number or numbers were to be tapped and the relevance of the connection between those numbers and a person genuinely suspected of having committed a criminal offence, the word ‘contacts’ and the terms in the impugned decision as a whole, were too broad and imprecise. Thus, the court ruled that the interference in question was not ‘in accordance with the law’ as prescribed under Article 8 § 2 of the Convention.
ECtHR: Aplicants’ Deprivation of Liberty in Detention Deemed Unlawful in Azerbaijan
On 22 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against the state of Azerbaijan in the case of Badalyan v. Azerbaijan. This case relates to the alleged ill-treatment during detention, in violation of Article 3 of the Convention and the unlawful detention in violation of Article 5. The applicant is an Armenian citizen who was born in 1978 and lives in Haghartsin in the Tavush region of Armenia. He went missing in May 2009 and was captured by the Azerbaijani forces. His relatives contacted the Armenian authorities, after which he was registered as a missing person in Armenia and a search for him was undertaken. However, his whereabouts remained unknown to his family and the local authorities until November 2010 when he was registered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as an Armenian captive held in Azerbaijan. Thereafter the applicant was regularly visited by the ICRC in detention until March 2011 when he was released to the Armenian authorities through the mediation of the ICRC. The applicant alleged that his health conditions deteriorated following harsh torture, mental anguish, and starvation, as he was deemed to be a military prisoner and was regularly harassed to divulge information. He also complained that his cell door was hit with metallic objects, due to which he now suffers from a hearing disorder. Moreover, he was not informed of the reasons for his detention in a language that he could understand and was deprived of the possibility to challenge the lawfulness of his detention. The European Court of Human Rights found that the ‘government failed to provide satisfactory and convincing explanations to show that the applicant’s serious mental injuries identified immediately upon his release and diagnosed later were neither entirely, mainly or partly caused by the conditions of his detention and the treatment he underwent while in the respondent State’s captivity. Hence, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.’ Furthermore, the Court found that the Azerbaijan government did not put ‘forward any materials or concrete information to show that the applicant was to be regarded as a prisoner of war’, thereby resulting in a violation of Art. 5.
HRC: Mauritius Law on Storing Biometric Data on Identity Cards Violates Privacy
On 22 July, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) found that Mauritius’ 2013 National Identity Card Act violates its citizens’ privacy rights, as there are no sufficient guarantees that the fingerprints and other biometric data stored on the identity card will be securely protected. The Committee’s decision responds to a complaint filed by M.M., a 67-year old Mauritius national, who claimed that the country’s smart identity card system has contravened his privacy right under Mauritius’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Mauritius launched the country’s first identity card scheme back in 1995, and in order to prevent multiple applications for identity cards with faked names and information, the authority amended its legislation in 2009 with biometric data requirements and increased penalties for non-compliance. A new smart identity card was subsequently launched in 2013 to replace the old identity card. Photini Pazartzis, the Chair of the Committee stated that it is of paramount importance that robust safeguards, to protect the right to privacy are included in any biometric scheme developed by countries. The Committee further added that, Mauritius did not provide enough information about such measures and that they looked forwards to receiving clarification in the framework of the implementation phase. The Committee called upon Mauritius to review the grounds for the storing and retention of fingerprint data on identity cards based on the existing data security concern and to provide M.M with an effective remedy.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Private and Family Life Violated in Ukraine
On 22 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Ukraine in the case of Dubovych v. Ukraine. The applicants, born in 1949 and 1944 are Ukrainian citizens. The case relates to the issue of an illegal search being carried out at their residence and the unavailability of effective domestic remedies for addressing their relevant complaints. Following a search warrant issued by the local district court, based upon a police request referring to ‘operative information’ pertaining to drug dealing and trade of stolen goods, the police searched the house and grounds on two different occassions and found no suspicious items. Thereafter an internal investigation concluded that the documents submitted to the court in order to obtain the search warrant had been forged, and the procedural rules concerning the filing of documents in criminal cases had been grossly breached. Based upon the aforesaid conclusion, the district prosecutor’s office suggested to initiate a criminal investigation into the relevant circumstances, which, was refused. The Court found that the search in question constituted an interference with the applicants’ right to respect for their private life and their home, as the search was conducted pursuant to a warrant based on falsified material, and was not undertaken ‘in accordance with the law.’
IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Karla Patricia Ñamendi Mendoza and Her Family in Nicaragua
On 22 July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 54/2021 , granting precautionary measures in favor of Karla Patricia Ñamendi Mendoza and her family, after considering that they are in a serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to their rights in Nicaragua. According to the request, the beneficiary Karla Patricia Ñamendi Mendoza is being subjected to threats, harassment and acts of violence by state and parastatal authorities as a result of her work in opposition to the current government, at least since 2018, having worsened since March of 2021. Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of the Regulations, the IACHR requested Nicaragua to adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Karla Patricia Ñamendi Mendoza and her family; agree the measures to be adopted with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and report on the actions taken to investigate the events that led to the adoption of this precautionary measure and thus avoid its repetition.
ECtHR: Applicants’ Right to a Fair Trial Violated in Serbia
On 22 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Serbia in the case of Ivković and Others v. Serbia. The applicants, who are nationals of Serbia alleged that the length of their respective civil and/or administrative proceedings had been incompatible with the ‘reasonable time’ requirement. The European Court of Human Rights reiterated that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of a given case and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicants and the relevant authorities and what was at stake for the applicants in the dispute. Therefore, based upon detailed examinations of all facts and circumstances, the Court did not find any fact or argument capable of justifying the overall length of the proceedings at the national level. The Court found that in the instant case the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the ‘reasonable time’ requirement.
ECtHR: Applicant’s Right to Liberty and Security Violated in Hungary
On 22 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment against Hungary in the case of Gujdi v. Hungary. The case relates to the excessive length of the pre-trial detention of the applicant. The applicant is a Hungarian national, who was born in 1995. He alleged that his pre-trial detention had been unreasonably long. The European Court of Human Rights examined all materials submitted before it and could not locate any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion as to the merits of these complaints. Relying on its case law, the court considers that the length of the applicant’s pre-trial detention, in this case, was excessive and he was entitled to receive the compensation, he had originally claimed.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
Mali: UN Human Rights Experts Condemn Increased Attacks on “Descent-Based Slaves”
On 19 July, both Mr Alioune Tine, UN independent expert on the human rights in Mali, and Mr Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, jointly called on Mali to prevent attacks against its so-called slaves. This joint statement came in reaction to the 4 July incident when people from Makhadougou village in the eastern Kayes region tried to prevent people they considered “slaves” from working their field by using machetes and rifles, injuring 12 people. UN experts both warned that such incidents are on the rise, with twice as many people injured this year as in 2020. Mali outlawed slavery in 1905, but a system of “descent-based slavery” persists in the country, where slave status is ascribed to some people because their ancestors were allegedly enslaved by the families of the so-called masters. According to the joint statement, “[t]he dramatic increase in attacks this year shows the Government’s gross failure to protect its people, particularly those who already suffer the most from discrimination and violence.” Mr Alioune and Mr Obokata further expressed their concerns about impunity, saying that the Government’s failure to hold pro-slavery perpetrators accountable sends a shockingly disturbing signal. Paradoxically, those rejecting the “slave” designation and trying to stand up for their rights, as well as, anti-slavery organisations are regularly, violently attacked by traditional or religious leaders and their allies, including, in some cases, state authorities themselves.
USA: The Biden Administration Has Transferred the First Detainee Out of Guantanamo Bay
On 19 July, the Pentagon announced that a Moroccan prisoner, Abdul Latif Nasir, has been transferred from the controversial detention facility to its country of nationality six years after the Periodic Review Board process determined that his “war detention” “no longer remained necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security.” The Department of State (DoS) declared, Biden’s administration “is dedicated to following a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population of the Guantanamo facility while also safeguarding the security of the U.S. and its allies.” Today, there are 39 detainees who remain at Guantanamo Bay.
Syria: UN Experts Urge 57 States to Repatriate Women and Children from Squalid Camps
On 19 July, UN human rights experts expressed serious concerns at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation at the Al Hol and Roj camps in northeast Syria – home to over 64,000 people, mostly women and children, and urged 57 States whose nationals are held there to repatriate them without delay. The experts reminded States concerned, that the repatriation process must be done adhering to international human rights law. They further stressed that States must refrain from any actions that would expose individuals to further human rights violations on their return to their country of nationality and that they should actively support their re-integration with adequate social, psychological, and educational support. Experts said, they were gravely concerned that the exercise- reportedly to evaluate security threats, lacked regard for basic principles of due process and solely targeted families with alleged links to foreign ISIL fighters; including women and children, who already suffer from heightened discrimination, marginalisation and abuse based on their alleged affiliation with the group. They added that the process had largely excluded humanitarian actors, including medical personnel.
OHCHR: Human Rights Defenders Under Siege In Myanmar
On 19 July, Ms Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Mr Thomas Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar expressed their utmost concern for the situation of human rights defenders in Myanmar. The UN Special Rapporteurs are both calling for a stronger international response to the military coup, including sanctions and an arms embargo against the junta. In a joint statement, the Special Rapporteur mentioned that the brute force terror campaign that is being witnessed in Myanmar continues to be directed towards human rights defenders. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) received information relating to arrest warrants issued against human rights defenders, raids on their homes, seizure of their possession and harassment of their relatives. “Since the coup, and despite enforced internet blackouts along with difficulties accessing basic resources, […] they have been documenting mass violations being perpetrated by the military. As a result, they have been targeted,” said Ms Lawlor. She further added that women human rights defenders are facing heightened risks, including threats of gender-based violence. Experts recalled that since the beginning of the coup, 892 men and women have been killed and that the time of “expressions of concern” has passed and actions are “desperately” needed.
OHCHR: Laws are Needed to Regulate Spyware Systems Like ‘Pegasus’
On 19 July, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that there has been widespread use of the Pegasus software, illegally undermining the rights of those under surveillance. According to reports, the Pegasus data leak allegations which surfaced through a consortium of media organisations over the weekend, suggests widespread and continuing abuse of the software, which the manufacturers insist, is only intended for use against criminals and terrorists. The Pegasus malware infects electronic devices, enabling operators of the tool to obtain messages, photos and emails, record calls, and even activate microphones, according to the consortium’s reporting. The leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers which reportedly belong to those identified as people of interest, by clients of the company behind Pegasus, including some governments. While the NSO Group’s own website lists accountability and integrity as two of its core values, Amnesty International’s investigation raises serious concern about the systematic misuse of that spyware, including to facilitate the commission of human rights violations worldwide, e.g. Hungary, Mexico, India, France, Azerbaijan, etc. and on a massive scale. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded all States that surveillance measures can only be justified in narrowly defined circumstances, with a legitimate goal and that they must be both necessary and proportionate to that goal. Stating further, that without human rights compliant regulatory framework there are “simply too many risks” that the tools could be used to intimidate critics and silence dissent.
EU: Proposal for Setting Up a New Authority to Counter Financial Crimes Across EU
On 20 July, the European Commission presented an ‘ambitious package of legislative proposals’ to counter money laundering and terror financing mechanisms in the EU. The package comprised of four proposals, the most important being the establishment of a new anti-money laundering watchdog. This new watchdog would be entrusted with promoting cooperation amongst financial intelligence units (FIUs) of the different Member States while serving as the EU’s central authority and coordinating with national authorities to ensure accurate and consistent application of EU rules. Other provisions consist of a single EU rulebook for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT); full application of the anti-money laundering and CFT rules to the cryptocurrency sector; an EU-wide limit of €10,000 on large cash payments; and directives on cooperating with non-EU countries to combat global anti-money laundering. Commissioners namely, Valdis Dombrovskis and Mairead McGuinness referred to these rules as some of the ‘toughest in the world’ and urged Member States to apply them consistently and under close supervision. The commissioners stated that ‘the scale of the [money laundering] problem cannot be underestimated and the loopholes that criminals can exploit need to be closed. Today’s package significantly ramps up our efforts to stop dirty money from being washed through the financial system. We are increasing coordination and cooperation between authorities in Member States, and creating a new EU AML authority. These measures will help us protect the integrity of the financial system and the single market.’
Iraq: The Bomb Attack in Al-Sadr City, Baghdad is Strongly Condemned
On 20 July, the terrorist organisation “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in the Wahailat market in the Al-Sadr City district of Baghdad, which killed at least 35 people and wounded dozens. The bombing occurred on the eve of the Eid al-Adha holiday. Despite the territorial defeat of the terrorist organisation in 2017, it still represents a security threat principally through lone wolf attacks directed against civilians. Sheema Sen Gupta, UNICEF Representative in Iraq, declared “[t]his horrific attack right before Eid Al-Adha is a terrible reminder of the violence Iraqi children continue to face.” She further urged that “[c]hildren should be protected at all times and to grow in a safe environment free from any form of violence.” This deadly attack is another demonstration of a well-established operational pattern of the terrorist group. Although large bomb attacks have slowed since the terrorist organisation’s military defeat, the civilian population is still targeted. On 21 January, a twin suicide attack targeted a crowded market in the Bab al-Sharqi area in the capital killed 28 persons.
UN: Lifesaving Assistance Needed for Venezuelan Cancer Patients Hit by US Sanctions
On 21 July, UN rights experts warned that hundreds of Venezuelan cancer patients could die as a result of the excessively strict application of United States sanctions aimed at Venezuela and the state-owned oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela. A group of Special Rapporteurs stated that they had alerted the US government, and other countries and entities with a stake in the situation, calling on them to “mitigate the unexpected consequences of sanctions, and reinstate treatment for people whose lives now are in danger.” They also said that targeting the state-owned oil gas company, as a way of controlling the political agenda in Venezuela, has had devastating consequences for hundreds of people who are undergoing treatment for transplant rejection, both in Venezuela and abroad. Moreover, the people on the waiting list for transplants have also been informed that their treatments will not continue with around 190 cancer patients waiting for foreign treatment. According to the experts, some 14 children including three toddlers, have died between 2017 and 2020, while waiting for treatment under the programme.
FAO: A Healthy Environment is Necessary for Healthy Food Says FAO Director-General
On 22 July, Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) called on G20 Environment Ministersto step up joint efforts, increase investment and work more closely with FAO for game-changing impacts on the planet. He called upon the G20 Ministerial Meeting on the Environment, discussing solutions for nature and sustainability ranging from combating climate change to building sustainable cities. He also made a strong case for increasing water use efficiency and fostering sustainable water management to address water scarcity and improve water and food quality, further emphasising the need for stepping up biodiversity-friendly approaches including more investments in related actions. He stated that current levels of investment were insufficient and if the goal to restore degraded land could be fully funded then the target of halting deforestation would be achieved by 2030 and reversing biodiversity loss and land degradation can reap $1.4 trillion per year. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which has been recently launched and led by FAO and the UNEP provides itself as an excellent opportunity to mobilise collective efforts. The Director-General further emphasised that FAO’s work was guided by the need to transform agri-food systems, making them more efficient, resilient, inclusive and sustainable – all to achieve FAO’s ‘Four Betters’: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.
WHO: Vaccine Inequity Undermining Economic Recovery
On 22 July, new data released by WHO, UNDP, and University of Oxford New Global Dashboard on COVID-19 Vaccine Equity finds low-income countries would add $38 billion to their GDP forecast for 2021 if they had the same vaccination rate as high-income countries. Global economic recovery is at risk if vaccines are not equitably manufactured and distributed. According to the new data, COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a lasting and profound impact on the socio-economic recovery in low and lower-middle income countries unless urgent action to boost supplies and assure equitable access for every country, is taken. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO stated that vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19, further adding that economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all. Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator stated that in some low and middle income countries, less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated which contributes to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He further added that it was time for swift and collective action, as this new COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard would provide governments, policymakers and international organisations with unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
UNHCR: Increased Jihadist Attacks in Burkina Faso Spark Record-Breaking Displacement
On 23 July, UNHCR reported that rising violent attacks by jihadist groups in Burkina Faso is forcing recording-breaking numbers of people to flee both inside the country and across international borders. Six per cent of the population in the West African country is now internally displaced, with more than 1.3 million people uprooted in just over six weeks according to the latest government figures. Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesperson stated that since January, more than 17,500 people have fled to neighbouring countries, nearly doubling the total number of refugees from the country in just six months, and there are now 38,000 Burkinabè refugees and asylum seekers across the region. Around 11,000 Burkinabè asylum seekers are in neighbouring Niger, up from 7,400 at the start of the year. Mali is also hosting 20,000 Burkinabè asylum seekers with 6,600 people arriving in the Timbuktu region this year alone. Together with the authorities, UNHCR and partners are providing food, shelter, relief items and care, however, violence and insecurity continue to hamper humanitarian access. The agency is seeking $259.3 million for operations in the region this year, but so far only half the funds have been received.